There has been much coverage of the announcement on that the CO of Task Force Afghanistan, Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard, has been relived of his command and returned to Canada “following allegations he had an intimate relationship with a member of his staff”.
From my vantage point, I wouldn’t say that myself and other CF members are “reeling”, as the Globe and Mail puts it, but there do seem to be a lot of people shaking their heads and saying, as one my favourite historians, Jack Granatstein, that this was pure “stupidity” on the BGen’s part. Members of the military are prone to office romances, as in any other workplace, but these liasons are strictly forbidden in theatre, and the ban against sex even applies to couples serving together. The official army term for sex in a combat zone is “fraternization” and it’s forbidden because it has a corrosive effect on the trust and impartiality that is necessary for the chain of command to work.
“The people who are at the top simply must follow the rules and must set an example,” says Canadian military historian Jack Granatstein. “If they don’t then there is no enforcing discipline on others, and maybe more important, things down the ranks. How can I enforce discipline, when Private Jones says to me, yeah but you’re screwing so and so.”
In one of my favurite mil blogs, BruceR’s Flit, I note that this event is pretty much unprecedented in Canadian military history. The closest parallel one could find is General R.F. Keller, Canada’s D-Day commander, who was distracted from his job by drink and his mistress. As BruceR puts it, “clearly this is going to be one for the history books, too. I guess the larger lesson is that no one in an operation this big is ever indispensable.