Evidence of meeting #107 for National Defence in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.)

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Stephen M. Cadden  Commander, Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre, Department of National Defence
Jacques Allain  Commander, Peace Support Training Centre, Department of National Defence
Julie Dzerowicz  Davenport, Lib.
Richard Martel  Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, CPC
Sarah Jane Meharg  President, Peace and Conflict Planners Inc., As an Individual

11:40 a.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, CPC

Richard Martel

Fine.

They are given training of course, but what risks do the members of the Canadian Forces in Mali face on the ground?

11:40 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

Their mission first and foremost is medical evacuation. And so the troops don't travel on the roads, where there is a risk of ambush or improvised explosive devices.

I would say that for the most predominant threat in that theatre the bulk of our troops will be shielded by being inside a well-protected compound and also by flying over it. We have appropriate countermeasures should there be a threat to the aircraft itself. We're very confident that we are state of the art in being able to ensure that our helicopters have that level of protection.

On the tactical training for the troops, I wish I could have brought for you one of the small sections of four soldiers. They're all about six feet, five inches tall, and they are amongst the best-trained, most lethal soldiers I've seen. I saw them last June just prior to their deployment. They are very well-trained and competent, sir.

11:40 a.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, CPC

Richard Martel

Thank you very much.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

You have about two minutes, Ms. Gallant.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

You mentioned the road to mental health. What about the decompression afterwards? We have not had any briefing on Mali. We were not allowed to debate it. Basically, this study is the only way we're finding out anything. When the soldiers are ready to come home, are they receiving the decompression?

11:40 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

I will have to look into that, ma'am. Quite honestly, I'm not tracking this particular mission, but I can get you a very quick and simple answer to that.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Okay.

In terms of chain of command with the UN, how does that intersect with the role of the Canadian Armed Forces? Are we the final arbiter in how our troops will take action in theatre?

11:40 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

The chief of the defence staff always retains full national command over any soldiers deployed anywhere in the world—any Canadian Armed Forces members. Sorry, my bias is showing. He has the ability to countermand any orders. We have absolute responsibility to remain loyal to his order. He can override or direct as he chooses.

We are guided by the laws of armed conflict, which give us a clear ethical guideline if we're to obey or not obey an order given by another command or another commander. I'm very comfortable that we have a national chain of command that is inviolate and can be followed, ma'am.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Did the people who are actually doing the medevac in the Chinooks go through your training, through your centre, as well?

11:45 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

They didn't come through the centre, ma'am, but they all came through Wainwright, where we put them through a simulation exercise to test them and augment whatever skills they needed.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

UN peacekeeping missions are notorious for having high rates of sexual harassment and assault. Was any training given to deploying CAF members to protect themselves from these acts, and did they receive training to make sure that they were not part of committing these acts?

11:45 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

They have not received anything specific that I'm aware of for this mission. They have received, non-stop over the past four years, reinforcement of what appropriate behaviour is and isn't, how they report it and how they move forward. I'm very proud to say that there have not been widespread accusations ever against Canadian peacekeepers for sexual assault or harassment.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

For the gender adviser, is that person actual military?

11:45 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

Yes, ma'am. That is a military person from Colonel Allain's organization.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Under what circumstances would—

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to hold it there. You've had your five minutes.

I'm going to give the floor to MP Gerretsen.

September 25th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

General, going back to what we were talking about earlier, you illustrated for me the difference between the Peace Support Training Centre and some of the training in peace centres that we've had. You also talked a bit about how you think there might be a need in Canada. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I think you said that anything that would improve upon our ability to train those who are out promoting peace in the world would be a good thing for the UN.

Since 2016, when the Peace Support Training Centre opened in Kingston, do you have any either anecdotal or measured improvements? Are you able to point to anything that says, yes, as a result of this support training centre, the following occurred and it was a benefit to have that? Do we have any way of measuring, any way to quantify, the success of the training centre?

11:45 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

Can you think of any stats, Jacques?

11:45 a.m.

LCol Jacques Allain

No, sir. I'm trying real hard.

11:45 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

I can't see us quantifying, sir.

I can tell you from personal experience that when I deployed to Haiti in 2012 for a year, after having spent three years in staff positions, they gave me a complete refresher on the tactical aspects that I needed to do and a cultural indoctrination to the country itself. I interacted with some Haitians working for Global Affairs Canada who told me what to expect. Also, I got a good primer on the operation of the United Nations and things that I'd want to pay particular attention to in order to make sure that we followed all the regulations properly.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Do we have any way or has anything been set up to properly evaluate and measure the success of these new centres that we establish?

11:45 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

Honestly, sir, for us the measure of success is when we interview soldiers at the end of a mission and they tell us whether they were sufficiently trained to go or if there is additional training they require or that their successors require. It's a pretty simple metric for us, but it's really about what else we need to do to go forward.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Are you able to point to the metrics beforehand versus after? Is the anecdotal information, if that's what you're getting back, that people are valuing the training they had in advance?

11:45 a.m.

MGen Stephen M. Cadden

I have not seen reports of anyone saying, “I went untrained to this country. I was unprepared. I didn't have the skill sets”, but I would have to go back through the reports and look.

Do you have anything to offer there, Jacques?

11:45 a.m.

LCol Jacques Allain

No. I don't have any metrics.