In April the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute hosted its Annual Strategy Conference. This year's theme, "Strategy During the Lean Years: Learning From the Past and the Present," brought together scholars, serving and retired military officers, and civilian defense officials from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to discuss strategy formulation during times of penury from Tactitus to Force XXI.
Dr. Joel J. Sokolsky of the Royal Military College of Canada made the point that for Canada defense policy and strategy traditionally have been made in times of penury. During the Cold War, Canadian policy was one of a strategy of commitment. Since the end of the Cold War, Ottawa has adopted a strategy of choice derived from Canadian national interests. The document upon which Canada bases its defense policy is the 1994 Canadian White Paper. Dr. Sokolsky argues that the current defense policy acknowledges the problems endemic to peacekeeping, but that the rising tide of peacekeeping operations may have passed. Fortunately, Dr. Sokolsky maintains, the current White Paper also allows for a general commitment to multilateral approaches to security. Canada and the United States have stood together for more than half a century; allies and partners in war and peace. As the Canadian Defence Forces and the U.S. Army seek to shape change rather than to be shaped by it, they cannot help but profit from an open debate of the difficult issues that confront them.