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What should the Canadian Infantry Association be?

Rick Goebel

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Later this month, the CIA Annual General Meeting will discuss, among other things, how to update the CIA role in confronting a changing military.

I‘d like to hear from current and former infantrymen in this forum what you think an infantry association should be and do and how it should be structured.

Rick
 
M

Master Blaster

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Sir;

I am not much on Associations or Organizations but I would suggest that anyone attempting to amalgamate (sorry, poor choice of words) the ‘Infantry‘ will have to overcome the fear of losing Regimental ‘identity‘.

It may be possible to query the various associations that now exist and ilicit delegates to attend a forum (real or Virtual) that can contend with issues like the one I mentioned.

Are you speaking of the Regular Army and the Reserves? Most successful, longstanding Vets associations are usually aligned with the Reserve elements specially in the outlying rural areas of this country.

I don‘t envy your daunting task but I admire your desire to accomplish the mission.

All the Best

Dileas Gu Brath
 
H

herr_scooter

Guest
One of the things that struck me was the difference between the objective of the Infantry Association and who it has as members. It appears from reading your website that current and former Non-Commisioned Members of the Infantry Corps are precluded from joining the Association.

If the objective of the Association is to foster a greater esprit de corps within the RCIC then it will have a tremendous difficulty doing so when it precludes the largest single group within the Corps from joining (There are far more NCMs in the RCIC as a whole then officers). I would be interested in knowing whether or not the RCAC Association allows NCM‘s as members as the RCAC has a far greater "Corps" mentality.

Furthermore there are a large number of former NCM‘s both regular and reserve who have gone onto bigger and better things and would be pleased to advocate for the RCIC in their present positions, be it through support to the Militia‘s employer support program or direct political advocacy. Let us not forget that serving Infantry Officers are severly hampered by there ability to participate in the political process (party memberships, writing to Minister‘s of the Crown, and speaking out against policies that may negatively affect the Corps). Former members of the RCIC have no such limitations placed upon them.

I could expound further on this point but this is based on one small interpretation of the Associations membership policy and its role. If I am mistaken then further advertisment of the Association, it‘s role and the benefits of membership need to be made within the RCIC. If I am mistaken, I fear the Association, despite it‘s goals (which are laudable) will be seen to have little effect at the lowest levels of the Corps.
 

Rick Goebel

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Thank you, Master Blaster and Herr Scooter for your comments.

Master Blaster, I would like to assure you that the CIA as presently constituted (membership is by unit) is no danger to the regimental system. In fact, there are those who would say that this structure actually weakens the association by letting regimental concerns get in the way of issues that affect the corps as a whole. You can look in on www.ducimus.com to see the current structure of the association, but I‘d like to know if you would like to see the association be more regimental or less regimental. I was struck by your mention of a "virtual" meeting. The CIA was formed in the days of very primitive communication. What means do you think infantrymen (current or former) would be willing and able to use to further the goals of the association (either the present ones or new goals suggested by you)?

Herr Scooter, if you go to http://www.rcaca.org/News-Frameset.htm and click on Members, you can see what the RCACA says about who can be members. It looks to me like they include NCMs. "Sustaining Members" of the RCACA, however, are the armoured units and the officers in them according to http://www.rcaca.org/Officers.htm (well down on the page). Do you think that a structure like the RCACA or something even more democratic would be better than what we have now? It appears that you think the purpose of the association is appropriate, but is there anything you would add or delete?

Thanks again,
Rick
 

bossi

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My two cents worth is this:

The Infantry Association should include amongst its‘ tasks the chore of educating those who would believe the infantry is no longer a vital entity on the "orbat" (I almost said "on the battlefield", but there are too many politically correct advisors and consultants out there who would have difficulty understanding the concept of "the battlefield" ...)

I draw a parallel to the election promise to cancel the purchase of the EH 101 helicopters - some oh-so-smart political advisor decided it would be a good idea. I‘m worried that one day a similar genius might decide votes could be garnered by promising to contribute more social workers to U.N. missions (instead of infantry) ...

Anyway, I won‘t belabour my point, lest I bore the multitudes.
Suffice it to say I believe a public information campaign is necessary to ensure future generations maintain a healthy respect for the infanteer.

Dileas Gu Brath,
M.A. Bossi, Esquire
 
G

gobrien

Guest
Gentlemen,

This is a very worth discussion. For years the CIA has slowly slipped into an organization that was not recognized for it‘s objectives and goals. It had lost a focus on two of it‘s main objectives both focused inwardly. Too much concentration on the issue of lobbying, and no focus of building a strong association has left us divided, invisible to our members, and in some areas almost an impediment to professional discourse.

I would like to quote our Commandant, who last year admonished us to remember, One Army, one Infantry. I believe the association has wonderful value. It can bring all elements of the Canadian Infantry together to discuss issues that affect us all, Reserve and Regular. But we must now focus on building a stronger association. The local associations must lead the way. We should focus on close issues of Infantry topics. Ours is not a platform for bandstanding for LFRR. Yes there are LFRR issues to be addressed in our discussions, but they are Infantry issues of training, equipment, augmentation.

Our objectives are still valid, but we must build a stronger association first, involve a greater representation into the association. Open to all Infanteers, of all ranks.

We need the Regular Army Infantry participation, we need senior Infantry officers involvement, we need Reservist contribution in understanding that great dynamic, we need to work hard on an association valued by its members.

So whats the point, here is a simple pathway I would suggest;

1. Review our membership to include more actively a wider base membership.

2. Focus on strengthening the association through a rejuvenation of the local associations, branches.

3. Review a different way to generate funds to deal with the increasing financial burden or change the way we do business.

4. Continue the recent trend of keeping to the right topics of Infantry matters internally, until we can determine what it is and how we would like to re-enter the lobbying activity.

5. Remember one Army, one Infantry, made up to two distinct elements each having common and separate issues.

So, that, long winded, is may contribution.

Gary O‘Brien
LCol
RCR
 

bossi

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No disrepect intended, but I find it ironic - on one hand, several Reserve infantry units are being cut back to "minor unit" status (essentially being reduced to company strength this time ... and next time?) - on the other hand, reservists are being encouraged to participate in the Infantry Association.

I can‘t help but think the "left hand" and "right hand" aren‘t talking.

Normally, a strong reserve is coveted, yet even as we "speak" our Reserve is being disembowelled.

Sorry - I find it difficult to be enthusiastic, in light of this latest round of "reserve-bashing". Let me know when a Regular Force regiment is reduced to "minor unit" status, and then I will accept that cuts are being shared.

Dileas Gu Brath,
M.A. Bossi, Esquire
 
G

gobrien

Guest
I believe a response to the Esquire Bossi‘s latest is better posted at the D-Net LFRR site than here.

My comments are a Reservists opinion. The CIA is a predominately Reserve organization. 52 Reserve Infantry Bns support that. At the next AGM hopefully we will see more Regular CO‘s than before.

It is difficult to separate the LFRR issue from the CIA because it is the Reserve Infantry that could bear the lions share of change. My point is that the CIA is not the battleground for LFRR opposition. It should be a place were we can review and speak about Infantry matters to be considered in LFRR.

I don‘t think this is "right hand. left hand" syndrome either, except, maybe we can get the Regular Army to participate more than in the past. As a recently former Reserve Infantry Bn CO, I do not want to go to the CIA and discuss issues of Reserve Pay systems, and Cap Badges, I want to talk constructively about Reserve Infantry Training, equipment distribution, doctrine, and opportunities for Reserve Infanteers to participate in augmentation in more than individual positions. These are the discussions for the CIA we need. One unique forum where we all discuss the issues, not one where a group of Reserve CO‘s sit around and complain about a Reserve system that is failing and a Regular Army that cares not.

But, maybe, I am not thinking straight, and should just take my toys and abandon the CIA as well.

Sorry for the Tone.

OB
 

bossi

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"whither the CIA", or "wither the CIA" ... that is the question.
Yup - it would be nice if everybody would play nicely in the same sandbox, wouldn‘t it?

Anyway, I noted an interesting article in the Washington Post about how the U.S. Air Force "lobbys" (here‘s an excerpt):

Air Force Offers Right Stuff for Capitol Stress
By Al Kamen
Monday, September 11, 2000; Page A21

While the final session of the 106th Congress may not be bloodier than past ones, members of both parties are likely to leave town angry and frustrated. And we know it‘s not good for people to stew about such things. Downright unhealthy, in fact.

Not to worry. The Air Force is coming to the rescue. It‘s got a sure-fire way for House and Senate staffers to reduce tension, relieve frustration and work out aggression. Plus there‘ll be some nifty toys to play with.

Yes, it‘s a trip to the " ‘Home of the Fighter Pilot,‘ Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, from 5-7 October 2000, for a series of operational updates, a firepower demonstration and Aerospace Power briefings," says the invite from Maj. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, director of legislative liaison.

You‘ll start Thursday afternoon from Andrews AFB on a military plane and on arrival will get a "brief tour of the Thunderbirds‘ hangar and mission," attend a reception and have a leisurely evening. Friday starts slowly with briefings but then you‘ll "get a hands-on look at our latest hardware and witness a live-fire demonstration." And these guys know how to blow things up--ask Slobodan Milosevic.

Then it‘s back home on Saturday, heart-rate lowered and much at ease. "We sincerely hope you will mark your calendar," Moseley writes. You bet.
- 30 -

Dileas Bu Brath,
M.A. Bossi, Esquire
 

bossi

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Carrying on the discussion of what the Canadian Infantry Association should or could be doing, here is an article from The Guardian on the British Parachute Regiment.

Unfortunately, we do not read articles like this about our Canadian Infantry regiments (i.e. especially since the Canadian Airborne Regiment bit the dust, and articles in today‘s papers make it sound like the RCR and RCD were the only Canadian regiments to send troops to South Africa):


Regiment founded in war and ready for anything

The paras Skills honed in the jungle were crucial

Special report: Sierra Leone

Steven Morris
Monday September 11, 2000

The troops from the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment chosen for yesterday‘s rescue mission comprised some of the fiercest, most highly-trained frontline soldiers in the British army.
Since their formation in 1940 the paras have built a formidable reputation for penetrating enemy lines, often in the most inhospitable and perilous of conditions.

Their role has had to change with the times. It is unlikely that troops will ever be parachuted en masse into a battle zone, as happened during the second world war. However the skills the paras were renowned for - surviving and fighting effectively after being dropped in enemy territory - are still crucial.

Each battalion of the regiment comprises up to 550 soldiers. One battalion always takes the "airborne battle group" role and is ready for quick deployment anywhere in the world, living up to the paras‘ motto, Utrinque Paratus - ready for anything. Each battalion includes specialists in sniping, demolition and communications.

"Train hard, fight easy", is one of the regiment‘s catchphrases. The paras have their own training company, with officers expert in rooting out recruits who do not have the physical or mental hardness to survive battle conditions. The regiment is keen to dismiss the idea that would-be recruits have to be "superhuman" and "as hard as nails", but the training remains notoriously tough.

Skills such as fighting in the jungle are honed during training exercises in places like Belize. The troops in yesterday‘s rescue are bound to have been familiar with the very difficult and dangerous terrain they faced. A crucial skill would have been knowing exactly how their equipment would work in wet and humid conditions. They are also familiar with working in tandem with helicopter back up.

The possible role of the SAS in the rescue remains unclear. The government, as always, refused to confirm or deny whether they were involved, but it would be no great surprise if they were.

The illustrious history of the Parachute Regiment dates back to June 22 1940, when Winston Churchill sent a note to the War Office asking for a corps of 5,000 parachutists to be raised. By September the following year the 1st Parachute Brigade was formed, followed by 1st Airborne Division by the end of 1942.

The Parachute Regiment 6th Airborne Division spearheaded the glider-borne raid and capture of Pegasus bridge in Normandy in the dead of night on June 6, 1944. The raid was immortalised in the film The Longest Day.

Despite its proud history, the regiment‘s long-term future has been unclear in recent years. After the Falklands war there was a hiatus during which the regiment was not sent into major combat zones, to the frustration of its rank-and-file soldiers and officers.

But in the past year or so the paras have seen duty in Kosovo, a three-week mission to Sierra Leone in May this year - during which time they killed four Revolutionary United Front rebels in a battle - and yesterday‘s rescue.

- 30 -

Dileas Gu Brath,
M.A. Bossi, Esquire
 

bossi

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(don‘t you just hate it when you click on the mouse, and then ... ?)

From CBC:

Canada mounts unique memorial effort for vets
WebPosted Sat Sep 9 00:15:33 2000

SIFFLEUR FALLS, ALTA. - Canadian paratroopers who jumped behind enemy lines half a century ago were remembered with the biggest, tallest war memorial in the world on Friday.
Four peaks in the Rocky Mountains were renamed in honour of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion at a special ceremony in Alberta.

The majestic summits are now known as "ex coelis" – Latin for "Out Of The Clouds," the battalion‘s motto.
A haunting bugle played as dozens of Second World War veterans, all dressed in burgundy uniforms, stood silently.
Some bowed their heads, while others sobbed quietly, remembering comrades who gave their lives parachuting behind German lines.

"It feels good, to a point," said Art Fleming. "But it brings back the sadness. We‘re thankful to God that we survived."

A parachute was pulled off a grey monument, revealing their unit‘s story carved in granite.
But it was the distant towers of stone touching the clouds that touched the hearts of the old soldiers.

"Very shortly, we‘ll all be gone," said Andy Anderson, who helped organize the tribute.
"And we feel somewhat comforted that there is something solid left here in memory of what we did so many years ago."
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G

gobrien

Guest
Mr Bossi makes one of my points almost perfectly. In our association the problem is not just a general ignore signal from the Regular Infantry, but a general lack of constructive contribution from Reservists. The "old Militia attitude" of negativity has removed our ability to positively affect our future. We have become in some cases colllections of whinning Eyores, too smart to realize we are passing up on opportunities to improve ourselves.

The CIA is that opportunity. It has not been a place where people all get along in the sandbox, but a place where we all agree there are different sandboxes and share our experiences, parochial and other. In reality, it shouldn‘t be a place where we all get along, just a place where we all feel free to contribute.

It is also a place, I believe, that should be free of the political influence. Where issues of political decisions are analysed against the Corps, and the Infantry Corps position is debated and formulated.

Without these changes I give little hope for the CIA. I will be at the next AGM to participate in this debate and I only hope all others interested attend as well.

Ducimus

OB
 
M

Master Blaster

Guest
Mr. Goebel;

I believe that this forum has demonstrated the ability to put forward ideas (both popular and otherwise) in a reasonable, stable method to be reviewed at the leisure of all who wish to view it. A similar web page forum format, set up via the CIA with access limited to approved representatives may be the answer to the ‘virtual‘ way. I don‘t know if there is the technical ability within the structure to set up such a system but there are many organizations that can help you in this regard depending on the budget allotment you establish for such a foray. The SysOp for the War Diary (Mike Bobbit) may be able to direct you in an appropriate direction.

Regarding your question of more or less ‘Regimentalism‘, I believe that the comments made by Mr. Bossi and G. O‘Brian are rather clear...to divide is to become weakened and it appears from your comments (and the comments of others) that the CIA is as weak as it can stand to be at this moment in time and must strive to become stronger if it is to survive.

I know nothing of your Organization but can tell one thing by the comments directed at this topic...as long as some have and others don‘t have there will be division, it‘s human nature. Dedicate the tasks of creating a ‘new and revived‘ CIA from the ashes of its‘ former self and develope persons within the structure that believe in the single premise that the Infantry is the center of the military universe and that the Private Soldier is the most important asset that the Infantry can have. Every single effort to make the Private Soldier the best it can possibly be is the role of the CIA as I see it. Anything less will fail the soldier in the field and that, ladies and gentlemen, will be the end of the Infantry.

Sir, I hope that my pontifications are tolerated and that you enjoy the re-emergence of what could become a powerful tool in the developement of the Canadian Infanteer.

Dileas Gu Brath
 

Rick Goebel

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Just jumping in to let everyone know that I‘m still listening. There have been some very useful comments here. Please keep them coming.

Ducimus
Rick
 
G

gobrien

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Rick,

I think we all sorta agree that we need to change. Change the focus, change the direction, change the way we are doing business in the CIA.

How about some basic suggestions; a review of the current duration of term for the president. Can anything be done in one year? I would suggest a two year term may help with building some additional synergies.

Another, how about hearing from the Branches? My Branch is all but dead, and just now coming to life, but what do other Branches do for their members. Given the demand of time on us all how do we find people to run the Branches.

We talked about a lot of changes last year in Barre, even the timing of the event was called into question and I thought basically agreed on, save of course Winnipeg in the Winter, brrrrr.

WE started last year on some positive ideas. We must keep these initiatives going.

Yours Aye,

OB
 

Rick Goebel

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You can see what was discussed at the AGM at http://www.ducimus.com/AGM2000RGA.htm
 
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