9/11 and Canadian Special Operations Forces: How "40 Selected Men" Indelibly Influenced the Future of the Force
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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In less than two decades, Canadian Special Operations Forces CANSOF grew from a 100-man hostage-rescue unit to a 2,500-person Command capable of prosecuting missions across the special operations spectrum. The seminal event causing this transformation is examined within this monograph. The common narrative explaining the rise of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command CANSOFCOM states that 911 is the seminal event. Herein, a new narrative is proposed. One that posits the 2001-02 deployment of a 40-man CANSOF Task Force to Operation Enduring Freedom OEF is the seminal event. This Task Forces disproportionately positive impact on the Canadian national scene caused key national actors to take note of the strategic utility of special operations forces. Twenty-four interviews with defence and security subject matter experts from the political, federal public service, military and academic domains, as well as two leading Canadian national journalists provide unique insights into CANSOFs ascendancy. Analyzing published defence policy since World War II and Canadas 20-year experience with her national counter-terrorism task force prove two key points. First, defence policy is extant, consistently expressing the requirement for an irregular capability for the conduct of operations in asymmetrical environments. Therefore, 911 did not change Government of Canada GoC expectations per se. Second, the one-year CANSOF OEF commitment produces a highly positive national strategic effect for the GoC. As a result, in less than a decade CANSOF transitions from a single, domestically focused, national counter-terrorism task force to where today CANSOFCOM is employed as a distinct element of national military power. This transformation from a single strategic resource to a strategically relevant, hard power option currently provides the GoC with greater strategic choice when she looks to deploy military forces alongside her allies.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics