Friday, March 15, 2013

Armed and Dangerous?

Moving to Canada in 2002 means I keep learning about stuff in mid-story.  The latest news is that the Canadian Forces are being re-branded as the Canadian Armed Forces.  I never really knew where the old CF name came from, but it turns out that Prime Minister Chretien dropped the Armed from the original CAF.*  The easy joke would be that as he cut the military's budget, he also saved money by reducing their name.  But one can speculate about soft power and peacekeeping and all that.
* Correction: CF has been used prior to Chretien (thanks to Phil Lagasse for pointing this out to me).

The relevance is that the Conservatives are now using CAF again.  The key piece of legislation on Canadian defence stuff, the National Defence Act, apparently allows for both, so either name will do.  CAF plays well in the defence community as "“it does, in our small circle within the armed forces and those who are around it, give a sense of what we’re actually about.”"  During the early days of the Afghanistan effort, journalists would ask if the CF were trained for combat.  The answer, of course, was yes, combat was their day job.  So, I see the point that reminding folks about the A might not be a bad idea.

However, after so many years of killing and being killed in and near Kandahar, the CF has pretty well established it is a combat force, so there is little need to re-brand.  Still, with budget cuts and Harper's own inclinations to manage risk (message management?), there is little chance of significant combat (unless dropping bombs on those who cannot reply in kind counts) in the near future.  Perhaps there is a greater need for a CAF in an era of no deployments.

My preference? Well, I like the CF as it is.  The Forces sounds pretty cool to me and distinct.  Other countries have armed forces--Canada simply has the Forces.  But then again, I am new here compared to these institutions, and I have a keen fondness for Star Wars, so "Force" sounds good to me.

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