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ANDERSON: An exaggeration too far

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May 02, 2017 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


There is no question that Harjit Sajjan is a brave soldier who did three tours overseas and exemplified the Canadian military tradition. He was Mentioned-in-Dispatch and has two Chief of Defence Staff Commendations and a handful of medals, including one for being wounded. Leaving aside the question of how one is qualified to lead DND by virtue of being an operational officer with little or no training in international relations or organized force projection, Sajjan was in-country during the worst years of Canada's deployment to Afghanistan and deserves respect for it.

But he's also an accused liar.

It would be easy to say that he was misled by the culture of lies inherent to the Liberal Party, but his repeated stretchings of the truth - over his own role, over Iraq's reaction to the withdrawal of our CF18s, and a generally misleading beefing up of his image - are his own doing.

Just to be clear, he was a Lt. Colonel - only two steps above being a junior officer. Above him are full colonels and four consecutive general ranks. Moreover, he was a Major or lower for most of his time overseas...Major being the lowest senior officer rank in the CF, and his role at the time of Operation Medusa was "Special Assistant to US Army Major-General James Terry." And he was doing so as a reservist. The chances of him being the "architect" of a major operation are nil. Zero.

Talking up one's own military career is fairly common. I know one fellow who spent years as a junior non-commissioned member, finally taking a role overseas for two months in a minor garrison duty deployment, and then coming home and talking like Sgt. Fury - implying repeatedly on the internet that he was a hardened warrior who had "seen it all." I can see why a Lt. Colonel who is suddenly promoted from a relatively minor rank to Defence Minister, an appointment that puts him above the highest General in the military, might feel that he has to inflate his role.

But not flat out lie, in what has apparently become a pattern.

This particular untruth - that he was architect of a major operation - is a step too far. It's one thing to say nothing while the CBC - the propaganda mouthpiece of the Liberal Party - promoted him with flattering stories and called him "Canada's badass Defence Minister," but quite another to simply make things up and promote them himself.  To the soldiers now under him, from the Generals who worked through the ranks for years by virtue of merit, to new recruits who have to trust that the leaders above them value their lives as much as their own, this kind of grandstanding breeds disrespect.

Morale is already at rock bottom under another "lost decade" of Liberal mismanagement of the military, reminiscent of the devastating decade under Jean Chrétien, which saw the military stagger along, under-equipped, under-funded, and under-staffed, until it was thrust into a hot war with inappropriate worn out equipment like unusable cold-war era tanks and green camouflage in a desert theatre. While Trudeau plays pop star on the world stage, throwing handfuls of money at feel-good, virtue signalling causes, Canada's military is back to using worn out equipment from Afghanistan, flying aircraft from just this side of the Vietnam era, and struggling to maintain any semblance of a navy. 

Now to find out that they are being led by a self-aggrandizing fabricator will be the last straw for many. If Sajjan has lost the respect of the soldiers he leads, he must step down.

— Scott Anderson is an educated redneck from Vernon. His academic background is in International Relations, Strategic Studies, Counterterrorism, and poking progressives with rhetorical sticks until they explode. Not surprisingly, he is also an unashamed knuckle-dragging conservative, or so he's told all the time.


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