Thursday, July 9, 2015

Taking on Sexual Harassment in Canadian Armed Forces

This story suggests that there are divides within CAF over CDS Lawson's stance on harassment: "lack of leadership!"  That there are conflicting imperatives to fight sexual harassment but to be quiet.  The Chief of the Navy apparently has been much clearer to his sailors.  Given Lawson's initial reaction, his then bungled statement, and this apparent leadership division, I am not surprised that the top brass are "literally counting the days until he leaves."

I can speak to a bit of this as I have some junior officer friends who faced a real challenge: that the roll out of the report was met with no new instructions for how to communicate to the troops.  My friends chose to talk directly to their subordinates about the report, and then found themselves hanging out to dry as their superiors were like "hey, wait, we don't have guidance."

Given that this military, so proud of mission command in Afghanistan--delegating to the commanders on the ground, does not know how to operate when it comes to these issues, it is definitely time for some new leadership. While much can be structural/institutional/cultural, the reality of modern militaries is that the chain of command matters a great deal.  So, although real, quality leadership is not a magic elixir, it can produce far more change and reform than a change in bosses in other realms (such as academia).

General Jon Vance's job was always going to be tough.  It is up for debate whether it is now easier (easier to do better than his predecessor) or harder (more messes to clean up). I vote for harder.

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