ARCHIVED - BOARD OF INQUIRY INTO COMMAND, CONTROL AND LEADERSHIP OF CANBAT 2

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Backgrounder / January 19, 1997 / Project number: BG-97-009

ISSUE

The Commander of Land Force Command, Lt-Gen Maurice Baril, publicly announced last July a Board of Inquiry to shed light on the issues, make recommendations for appropriate action and investigate possible failures in leadership and command and control in a Battle Group known as CANBAT 2 in Bosnia.

BACKGROUND

CANBAT 2, based on 12e Régiment Blindé du Canada (12 RBC), including subunits of the Royal 22e Régiment, artillery, engineer and various support elements, served in the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), Bosnia Herzegovina from October 1993 to May 1994. At the end of the tour, allegations arose about misbehaviour on the part of members of the unit at Bakovici Hospital, namely, misuse of alcohol, abuse of patients, sexual misconduct and black market activities. During subsequent investigations other concerns were raised about the state of discipline and overall effectiveness of the unit which resulted in the Board of Inquiry.

Summary investigations on the disappearance of a .50 calibre machine gun and alleged inaction of Canadian soldiers surrounding the death of a Serb soldier were rolled into the Board of Inquiry which submitted its report on 15 Nov 96. The report was reviewed by Lt-Gen Baril's staff to confirm that the terms of reference had been addressed, that the recommendations were fully supported in the report and joining evidence, that severances under the Access to information Act were recommended and that recommendations for action by Lt-Gen Baril were prepared to address the concerns raised in the report. The reviewing team completed its work 20 Dec 96.

It must be recognized and acknowledged that the vast majority of the CANBAT 2 soldiers accomplished their duties commendably and in a professional manner throughout the tour, in a particularly austere and inhospitable environment and under a difficult operational situation in a civil war zone.

FINDINGS

The overall conclusion of the Board of Inquiry was that the CANBAT 2 Battle Group had the makings of a good unit but endured more than its share of problems primarily due to the inexperience or ineffectiveness of certain key personnel. The major allegations of misconduct made public last July were investigated.

There was unprofessional conduct on the part of certain individuals fraternizing with nurses and interpreters, including alcohol consumption and consensual sex; the shaving of a female patient by a soldier did occur and the soldier was not dealt with by appropriate disciplinary action at the time; there was misuse of alcohol by a number of members of CANBAT 2; a number of individuals were abusive towards certain patients and one in particular. Most of the alcohol abuse and unacceptable behaviour occurred in elements of the Royal 22e Régiment which were under command of the Battle Group.

There was an incident of black market activity involving a member of the unit and other less significant incidents where members loosely interpreted regulations. The .50 calibre machine gun that disappeared was stolen by belligerent forces and not sold to them as was alleged. But false information was provided to investigators to protect the image and reputation of the platoon involved.

The Board did find that the Canadian soldiers in the incident involving the death of a wounded Serb acted in the best tradition of the Canadian Army by offering humanitarian assistance to a wounded belligerent. That the Serb eventually died of his wounds is regrettable but is in no way related to a lack of medical attention from the Canadians as originally alleged. Everything that could reasonably have been done to assist the wounded Serb was in fact done. The Canadian soldiers involved are to be commended for acting correctly and with dispatch.

The Board found that there were leadership failures by certain individuals at all levels of the unit. These failures can be primarily attributed to individuals, but there is a recurring theme of inadequate supervision of subordinates.

Many of the problems experienced were not exclusive to CANBAT 2 but rather they could be found sporadically at all rank levels within the Army. These include issues of command and control, leadership and ethics training, army culture and the regimental system.

Individuals whom the Board deems responsible for incidents of misconduct or unprofessional behaviour are identified and recommendations are made for appropriate administrative action against them.

ACTIONS

The Commander of Land Force Command has accepted the findings and recommendations of the Board of Inquiry, with only minor reservations in a few instances, and has developed an army action plan to implement the many detailed and specific recommendations.

In addition, with regard to the major recommendations, the Commander has additional plans as follows:

To address individual cases, a Special Career Review Board (SCRB) will be convened to determine the administrative measures required for each individual service member identified for misconduct or shortcomings in the Report. The report makes specific recommendations in each case. Having the same review board adjudicate all the files will ensure standardized treatment which would be fair and equitable to all concerned. A Career Review Board evaluates an individual's career and recommends appropriate action up to and including release from the Canadian Forces.

Where possible, rather than initiating other studies and investigations, the intent is to resort to recent, existing studies and initiatives and modify or reorient the work of committees and study groups when necessary. To address the systemic army-wide problems identified by the Board, the following actions have been or will be undertaken:

  1. The establishment and publication by the Commander of Land Force Command of required army norms and Standards and what desired values, attributes and qualities the army will foster within its ranks.
  2. The establishment of an Army Command Selection Board to ensure that the army chain of command will have direct input into the selection of commanding officers and key Chief Warrant Officer appointments. Furthermore, leadership and ethical behaviour will be given added emphasis in the army's evaluation and promotion systems.
  3. A review of the selection criteria for army personnel within the recruiting process, in order to clearly define what the army requires as candidates and that these people will fit into the army value system.
  4. An analysis of the command and leadership education process through the officer and non-commissioned member professional development councils to ensure that leadership principles essential to an army are primary within the training and education process.
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