9/11 brought maturation of Forces: top general


Advertise with us

THE terrorist attacks of 9/11 forever changed the world for Canada's military, the country's top soldier told a luncheon crowd Friday.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/09/2010 (4584 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE terrorist attacks of 9/11 forever changed the world for Canada’s military, the country’s top soldier told a luncheon crowd Friday.

Gen. Walt Natynczyk, chief of defence staff, told a Canadian Club of Winnipeg meeting the Armed Forces have evolved into an elite military machine, the envy of the world and capable of tackling any assignment — in peace or on the battlefield.

"We all realize how much more turbulent, how much more chaotic, how much more unpredictable the world has become," since 9/11, Natynczyk told reporters following his speech. "I’m very proud of the training, the discipline, of our men and women, in how we can adapt to various environments… . The kind of ambiguity we face every day — that’s the norm."

A former Winnipegger and Daniel McIntyre High School graduate, Natynczyk cracked jokes while pacing around an expansive ballroom and explaining the evolution of Canada’s military since he joined fresh out of high school.

Natynczyk’s plane was late getting into Winnipeg, forcing him to miss lunch but he launched into a 36-minute speech without notes, constantly praising the men and women who serve in the military, those who have served, their families, and Canadians who enthusiastically support them.

From his opening comments, Natynczyk owned the crowd, delivering his remarks with energy and humour that could earn him a spot as guest host on Ellen Degeneres’s talk show.

"Normally I introduce myself, whenever I go across Canada, as Walt from Winnipeg," Natynczyk said, to enthusiastic applause. "It was only 35 years ago last month that I left Daniel Mac high school… and joined the military. Thirty-five years goes pretty quick and over that time the Canadian Forces has changed."

Natynczyk said today’s Armed Forces stand in stark contrast to the military he joined, which often lacked personnel and equipment and couldn’t do its job.

Natynczyk described the 1990s as the military’s decade of darkness, when personnel and funding were cut by 35 per cent and the military was so short of funds it was cheaper to demolish some buildings on bases because they couldn’t afford to maintain them.

The situation was so bad on the battlefield that Canada’s military was ineffectual, he said, citing for example the experience in Bosnia as Yugoslavia broke apart into warring republics.

"We could not stop violence then. We were spectators to violence."

The military’s reputation changed in 1997, he said, when 18,000 troops were dispatched to help Manitobans deal with the Flood of the Century, and later in Quebec with the ice storm.

"The Canadian Forces were reconnected with Canadians from coast to coast," Natynczyk said. "Canadians then saw that their soldiers, the men and women, were the kids next door, their neighbours, their distant relatives, who’d come in and whose primary focus — the primary mission for the Canadian Forces — is to defend Canadians and Canadian interests. And here we were doing that literally in their backyards and they were re-acquainted with their own military."

Natynczyk said the evolution of the Canadian military was accelerated by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Canada now has the equipment it needs to properly engage the enemy on the battlefield and more soldiers and sailors than it has bunks to hold them.

"Right now is the best time to be in uniform in my 35 years," Natynczyk said.

The military can be directed to hot spots around the world on short notice, can deal with natural disasters at home, combat pirates on the high seas and conduct search and rescue missions across the Arctic, he added.

The grit of the men and women in Canada’s military is admired by other countries’ armed forces, he said.

"I’ve been on the job (as chief of defence staff) two years now and I can tell you, man for man, woman for woman, we are second to none and we don’t give ourselves enough credit for that."


Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us