Home Religion Religion in the Ranks: Belief and Religious Experience in the Canadian Forces
Integration and Unification of Services
At home, politicians intent on bureaucratizing and rationalizing the forces floated the idea of integrating the three defence 'services' or 'elements' - the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy, and Canadian Army - under one Chief of Defence Staff in order to save money (Kronenberg 1973; Morton 1990, 228). The idea of integrating the three services under one director had been a 'persistent rumor' for many years before the process actually began in the late 1950s (Fowler 1996, 117; Morton 1990, 250).11 For many military members, attempts by government and military advisors to rationalize and bureaucratize the CF clashed with their own dedication to tradition and military custom and became a serious point of frustration. Prior to integration the chaplaincy had been organized into three separate sectors for the army, navy, and air force, each headed by both a Protestant and a Roman Catholic chaplain. Integration meant that chaplains would form into a single chaplain service directed by two principal chaplains: one Roman Catholic and one Protestant. These were known as Chaplain Branch (Protestant) and Chaplain Branch (Roman Catholic). Further, all chaplains in the integrated branch could be employed in any of the elements, air force, army, or navy, regardless of their own affiliation (Fowler 1996, 118; Reynolds 2003, 14). For example, under this new model, a navy chaplain might serve on an air force base or deploy with infantry personnel. Upon receiving approval from the Roman Catholic Bishop Ordinary and the Protestant Canadian Council of Churches' Committee on Chaplain Services (often shortened to 'the 5Cs' because of the acronym), integration in the branch officially occurred on 22 September 1958 (Fowler 1996, 124). These authorities had each appointed a chaplain general12 to run their side of the branch. There were to be 'two chaplains general at the brigadier level, two directors of religious and moral training who would be colonels, and several command chaplains at the rank of lieutenant colonel____As well, a letter was sent to all
chaplains stressing that no one would lose his rank or his job because of integration' (124).
Chaplains belonging to Protestant denominations remained part of the Protestant branch and served all military personnel who were not Roman Catholic. Roman Catholic priests remained responsible for all Roman and Orthodox Catholics, who were then, and continue to be, the largest single denomination in the CF (14).
In February 1968 Bill C-243, the Canadian Forces Unification Act, came into effect, and all remaining groups in the separate services were reorganized with new badges, new titles, and a unified rank structure (Bland 1987; Morton 1990, 249-54). Furthermore, the distinct uniforms of the navy (effectively black, but more commonly known as 'navy blue'), army (khaki), and air force (medium blue, known as 'air force blue') were replaced with a common 'CF Green' more in keeping with the American style (Morton 1990, 252). Although Allan English suggests that the integration of the three services during the 1950s and 1960s was the originating point for what can now be seen as a distinct 'Canadian Forces culture' (2004, 96), this period marked a low point in morale as personnel felt that political and economic interests undermined military traditions (Bland 1996). One air force member I interviewed remembered this time with disgust: 'We were so mad when they unified the services and took away our uniforms. Now instead of looking like army, navy, or air force members, we looked like bus drivers!' Happily for this member, and others of the same mind, by the mid-1980s many of the unification requirements slackened and military personnel were permitted to return to their distinct elemental uniforms. One lasting change for the chaplains, however, was that they continued to be posted to any of the three services as needed, regardless of their own elemental affiliation.
Under unification, the military adopted a business model that replaced the traditional military style of leadership based on customs, traditions, and military identity with a modern structure defined by centralization of authority, rationalization of structures and roles, an emphasis on efficiency in all practices, and bureaucracy. The result - according to CF members at least - was a more conformist and bland institution, something like what Max Weber described when he noted that the tendency of modern society towards bureaucratization eroded culture, undermined traditional values, and created instead a uniform society (1958, 181). Civil servants began to replace a number of senior personnel at National Defence Headquarters, civilian business administrators were employed to develop managerial skills, and leaders of service branches were given the new title deputy minister (Critchley 1993, 226-37). This process at work here is known as the 'civilianization' of the forces (Bland 1996, 1999; Critchley 1993; Kasurak 1982). The goal of this process was to examine all positions in the CF, seeking cost savings and greater efficiency. Chaplains complained that commanding officers who had valued them in earlier years now considered them a drain on economic resources that could be spent better elsewhere. One chaplain described this era with some frustration: 'Here we were facing huge new challenges and our most experienced people were being shipped out the door. Then, ironically, a few years later when senior command saw they still needed us, they were hired back as civilian consultants at some ridiculous rate [of pay] to do the job they had been doing for years! It was ridiculous and it caused chaos in the branch' (Benham Rennick 2006d).
In the end, while savings were minimal, integration had 'achieved the primary purpose of promoting a complete unification policy as well as an effective and efficient co-ordination in the organization and administration of the Chaplain Service' (Fowler 1996, 128) to make it look more like a modern business than a traditional military institution (Pinch 1999, 156-7, 61-65). Although many chaplains neither liked nor understood the new shape of a branch reconfigured by 'modern bureaucratic military efficiency,' these changes paved a way for the creation of a chaplain training school in the 1990s that I discuss later in this chapter (Fowler 1996, 122, 129, 256).
At the same time that budget cuts, unification, and streamlining of the services were occurring, prevailing attitudes among Canadians about militarism were changing. In response to the American presence in Vietnam and civil unrest in the United States, peace movements swept across university campuses and public protests broke out throughout North America.13 Even as the CF began to look less like the British Forces and more like the American Forces, Canadians were making the point that they did not want the Canadian military to act like the Americans. A new outlook was developing that would push Canada increasingly into non-conflict operations and give rise to a new definition of the role of the military for both members and those outside the CF.
The Canadian churches and their personnel employed as military chaplains during this time developed a decidedly different perspective on military participation from what they had during earlier conflicts. While the Great War years had seen clergy people rallying to the cause of war in Europe and engaging in the battles, Christian leaders in the 1960s were aligning themselves more closely with the peace movement. In fact, at the 1968 Manitoba Conference of the United Church of Canada, a group traditionally supportive of Canada's military and its chaplaincy programs, members argued to remove all UCC ministers from the military and prohibit them from serving in the CF altogether (Fowler 1996, 214). While the conference did not adopt the measure, the fact that it was even debated shows how the climate had changed. Padre Bill Howie, a United Church military chaplain at the time, explained how even military chaplains could be on the side of peace: 'I don't have any difficulty with the ethical questions in regard to the "war machine" any more than a rural minister would worry about the growing of rye and barley and the likelihood of their being used for booze... my people sometimes might have the burden of the necessity of "war guilt" but they are people with problems and that is why
I am here. I minister to people, not to a policy or a machine. Military people need a ministry as does anyone else... Most chaplains are really pacifists at heart - I know I am' (213).
Despite efforts by both Pearson and Pierre Trudeau to make Canada a nation of peacekeepers,14 Canadians at the time considered peacekeeping to be a dismal failure after humiliation and loss in the Congo, Egypt, Cyprus, and Vietnam (Morton 1990, 259-60).15 Nonetheless, David Bercuson remarks that during this era peacekeeping became so integrated in Canadian military operations that civilians 'tended to forget that armies exist to fight wars' (Bercuson 1996, 58-60). In fact, during the 1970s, other than the enforcement of the War Measures Act in Quebec and the ongoing UNTSO (Middle East) and UNFICYP (Cyprus) missions, Canadian military personnel participated in only four other operations. These included the International Commission for Control and Supervision (ICCS 1973) in South Vietnam, UN Emergency Force II (UNEF II 1973-9) on the Egypt-Israel border, UN Disengagement Observer Force Syria (UNDOF 1974-present), and UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL 1978) (United Nations Association in Canada 2007).
The years between the end of the Second World War and the late 1970s marked some profound changes in both the Canadian Forces and civilian attitudes towards militarism. Unlike the pride and hopeful enthusiasm that prevailed in the difficult years following the Second World War, the American experience in Vietnam had tainted public attitudes towards soldiers and military operations during the 1960s and 1970s. Economic recession forced CF leaders to seek cost savings that, while producing a more streamlined and efficient system of operations, also cut budgets and abandoned military traditions to a point that harmed morale. Peacekeeping operations provided a tolerable and even commendable alternative to combat operations, and yet both funding and public approval continued to languish.
Radical as the changes had been during the years between the end of the Second World War and the Vietnam era, the next three decades brought their own crises and reforms that directed the evolution of the military chaplaincy even further from its origins. Outside of the military, momentous changes occurred in the value systems that had traditionally informed Canadian society. Individuals demanded greater levels of personal freedom, new religious alternatives arose, and disillusionment with the churches challenged the previously strong influences of traditional Christian denominations in Canada. At the same time, Canada began to see an influx of new immigrants importing values based on systems other than what Christian Canadians understood as 'normal.' In the ensuing decades, the influences of these social changes would present both the CF and the chaplaincy with significant challenges.
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