Lee A. Windsor - Former Assistant Programme Coordinator- Conference of Defence Associations Institute
A soldier must have confidence in his own, his section and platoon and highers ability to apply deadly force and protect itself. Only when they posses that high level of confidence born from skill at arms will they be able to apply that deadly force calmly and with absolute precision
Colonel James Calvin, 1998
For many Canadians, Somalia has become a symbol of their armed forces in the 1990's. The 1997 Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of the Canadian Forces to Somalia claimed that during Operation Deliverance systems broke down and organizational discipline crumbled.... in the Canadian Airborne Battlegroup, and that planning, training, and overall preparations fell far short of what was required. The report passes this assessment on to all the men and women of the Canadian Forces. We can only hope that Somalia represents the nadir of the fortunes of the Canadian Forces. There seems to be little room to slide lower. Public bombardment with popular media with images of Shidane Arones beaten body and senior officers testifying before the Somalia Inquiry, coupled with official condemnation from the Commissioners has reshaped the opinion of a generation.
The commissioners arrived at their harsh assessment after examining a series of specific negative incidents on an otherwise successful mission. The message conveyed to the public by the Somalia commissioners is clear. The Canadian Forces of the 1990's are poorly trained, incompetently led, badly equipped and full of barbarians and racists. It seemed obvious that without immediate and radical government intervention the institution would decay to the point of absolute ineffectiveness. This message became embedded in Canadian popular culture in the 1990's.
The story of the Somalia Asignificant incident and subsequent coverup by senior officers and bureaucrats is not reflective of the Canadian Forces as a whole. Indeed, the key to understanding this nations military experience in the 1990's lies in the Former Yugoslavia. Since 1992, Canadian soldiers, sailors, and aircrew have been working to restore peace to that region. They have acted as peacekeepers, negotiators, aid workers, and quite often they were forced to be soldiers. On the whole, the story of Canada in the Balkans is one of professionalism, skill, and achievement. This paper will explore a specific example intended as a counter-balance to Somalia. Events in the Medak Pocket of Croatia took place only short months after the Airborne Battlegroup returned from Africa.
In mid-September 1993 United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) soldiers from 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia=s Canadian Light Infantry advanced into the disputed Medak Pocket with orders to implement the latest cease-fire between Croatian Army troops and Serb irregular forces. They were reinforced with two mechanized companies of French troops. The Canadians, well schooled in the delicate art of peacekeeping, discovered that their negotiation skills were not immediately required there. Instead they found themselves back in their primary war-fighting role when Croatian Army units opened fire with machine-guns, mortars and artillery in an effort to stop the Canadian advance. To complete their assigned mission the Patricia=s were required to threaten the use of, and ultimately use deadly force against the Croatian Army. However, the true test of military professionalism and discipline came after the smoke cleared, the Croatians backed down and the Canadians immediately reverted back to their role as impartial peacekeepers in their dealings with individuals that minutes before had attempted to kill them.
Resolute Canadian and French action came at a time when the UN reputation in Croatia was at a low ebb due to repeated failures to successfully secure the infamous United Nations Protected Areas (UNPA=s). Colonel George Oehring, commander of UNPROFOR Sector South claims Athis unit won for the whole mission a credibility and respect that will be long remebered by the opposing parties and much facilitate our future efforts here. For their efforts, 2PPCLI was awarded a United Nations Force Commander=s Commendation from French General Cot, the first of its kind of one of only three awarded in UNPROFOR=s history.

I oft poke the PPCLI, but it's all in jest, without me going in to long essay on how brothers are, many wouldn't understand.

But let me make this perfectly clear...On 15 Spetember, 1993 The PPCLI formulated what Canada's Armed Services has always been, an elite Military Force, with the ability to switch roles as fast as one can swap a hat.

This would be one of their finest hours and certainly one of our Nations, as well.

Je Me Souviens.