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A new era begins.

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In May 1991, after eight quarterly issues, the Canadian Forces' inflight publication came in for a landing as a monthly magazine available by subscription and on newsstands across Canada.

Editor James Scott came aboard to help with the heavy lifting as Esprit de Corps expanded its offerings of book reviews, military history (including "Uncommon Valour," tales of Canadian soldiers decorated with the Victoria Cross) and a developing penchant for aggressive, opinionated and well-researched journalism.

Scott, in the first issue, warned of the woeful state of funding and military preparedness, writes more prophetically than he could have imagined, "Externally, we may enjoy the privileged position in 1991 of having no enemies, but we cannot know if this will be the case in 2001 or beyond."

In the second issue, Taylor took it to the government: "With the appointment of Marcel Masse as Defence Minister and the subsequent announcement of pending base closures, personnel cutbacks and procurement delays, it would appear that the Canadian military is forever destined to win wars on foreign soil and lose battles on Parliament Hill."

That issue also featured an exclusive interview with Vice-Admiral Charles Thomas, who that April had resigned as vice-chief of defence staff over policy differences with the government. The Department of Defence had taken the unusual step of releasing Thomas' letter of resignation, along with a response from Chief of Defence Staff John de Chastelain attacking Thomas' motives rather than addressing his concerns about the direction of the Canadian Forces.

The government noticed. Not long after publication, Air Canada, which now handled the Canadian Forces' charter flights, informed the magazine that "due to concerns over editorial content" it would no longer be welcome onboard, on orders from the Department of National Defence.

Esprit de Corps went to the media with this story of censorship, and the PR offensive worked. Esprit de Corps was quickly reinstated on the flights.

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Throughout 1992, Esprit de Corps' masthead swelled, with Les Peate, Norm Shannon, Bill Twatio, Colonel Bill Sutherland, Peter Worthington, Roy Thomas, Tricia Brennan, Mike Reyno, Andrew Cline, Doug Nairne, Cathy Hingley, Roger Thompson and Nathan Brown, Keith Davies, Julie Simoneau, Susan Mader, and Roy Thomas listed among the burgeoning roster of contributing writers, feeding a growing magazine's needs.

Esprit de Corps continued to land increasingly significant interviews with such decision makers as Associate Defence Minister Mary Collins and Chief of Defence Staff John de Chastelain. Of course, not every interview subject was so eager to sit down with the military mag. The April '92 issue, for example, featured "A Non-Interview with Defence Minister Marcel Masse." The minister, after over 10 months of interview requests from Esprit de Corps, instead had his office send a press package of talking points. The resulting article, which rated Masse "out of touch with his country, his department and reality," repeated the magazine's cordial invitation for a personal interview.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the same issue editor Jim Scott handed the first of many endorsements of the upstart Reform Party of Canada, of which he wrote, "has put a fright into every backroom scallawag in Ottawa, which is reason enough to vote for them." (Mr. Scott, as It turned out, would later follow his convictions and find backroom employment in the Reform Party's research bureau.)

Military history and current events collided as contributing editor Bill Twatio delved into the historical record to dispute claims made in the controversial CBC documentary The Valour and the Horror that casualty figures from the Normandy campaign had been covered up.

Esprit de Corps' globe-trotting continued, with visits to Canadian soldiers in the Northwest Territories, Cambodia, Croatia and the UK. On the home front, Esprit de Corps kept a steady eye on the ongoing political dance over the troubled EH-101 helicopter procurement. Few could have predicted that in 2009 we would still be waiting for the Sea King's replacement, the CH-148 Cyclone.

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Esprit de Corps' readers had begun to talk back, and the dialogue resulted in the October 1992 debut of Posted In, the magazine's correspondence section, with letters from Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington, General Lewis MacKenzie and Liberal MP Bob Wood.

MacKenzie, who had just assumed his responsibilities as commander of Land Force Central Area, would also join the magazine's gallery of interviewees, as would Colonel Serge Labbe, commander of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, from his post in Mogadishu, Somalia, where the unit had begun its fateful posting to guard UN aid shipments.

That spring, when the news of the beating death of Shidane Arone became public, Taylor, while expressing an ultimately vain expectation that "the military justice system will prevail. in its inimitable, swift, stern fashion," reminded readers that soldiers are in essence trained killers, despite a widespread Canadian desire to see them as peacekeepers.

The magazine continued to cover developments in federal politics, including the Federal Court's ruling on gays in the military, and the continuing underfunding of the Canadian Forces even as peacekeeping responsibilities multiplied.

In the December 1992 issue, Scott Taylor reported from Croatia on the PPCLI's risky efforts to enforce the peace, to a chorus of indifference from the mainstream Canadian media. "To the surprise and disdain of the Canadian troops." he wrote, "the dangers which they face. and the recent casualties which they have suffered, have not been mentioned." A major factor in this lack of coverage, reported Taylor, was DND's reflexive refusal to release information.

There are exceptions to this stonewalling, and one is duly credited: "Public Affairs Officer Captain Rick Jones deserves a special mention for 'bending the rules' and 'turning a blind eye' ... without his efforts this might have been a standard dog-and-pony-show review. Thanks."

In December, Esprit de Corps published an account of 2RCR's tense standoff with Serbian forces at Srebrenica. Taylor also took a claustrophobic cruise aboard HMCS Onandaga, one of Canada's aging Oberon diesel submarines.

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With a federal election in the offing, Esprit de Corps published statements of defence policy from the Liberals, NDP and Reform Party for the August issue. The separatist Bloc Quebecois was excluded from the survey, and the Progressive Conservatives, interestingly, refused to provide their policy.

The November issue was a sombre Remembrance Day issue, profiling and saluting the dozen Canadian soldiers who had lost their lives in training or peacekeeping operations. One of them, Captain Jim Decoste, second in command of the administration company, 2PPCLI, adorned the magazine's cover.

Captain Decoste, a close friend of the Taylors, died when his jeep collided head-on with a civilian truck near Gradac, Croatia. Just days before the accident, Katherine Taylor had visited Decoste's unit in Croatia, where she d been commissioned (despite an attempt by NDHQ to "de-authorize" the trip minutes before her plane left) to sketch scenes of the soldiers dally lives. Her first-hand impressions and drawings also appeared in the Remembrance Day issue.

Esprit de Corps also pushed for more answers on the death in Belet Huen of Somali prisoner Shidane Arone and the curiously unreported battle between Canadian and Croatian forces at the Medak Pocket.

The magazine, with the help of Sun Media, also blew the whistle on DND fabrications regarding the death of Cpl. Daniel Gunther, who was hit in the chest with a rocket-propelled grenade 40 minutes into a ceasefire in Bosnia. A military press release had claimed Gunther died of injuries received when a mortar shell landed near his APC, characterizing the death as closer to an accident or misadventure than a deliberate murder, despite the clear information available in the original significant incident report.

Reaction from NDHQ to this expose was swift, as the magazine was once again banned from Canadian Forces flights. This time, the eviction stood. Esprit de Corps had been abruptly granted its full independence.

The brass would grow no more pleased with the magazine's coverage now that it was outside the tent shooting in.

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Scott Taylor aggressively challenged yet another cover-up by the Defence Department in his February 1994 Letter from the Publisher. The capture and abuse, including mock executions, of 11 Canadian peacekeepers at the hands of drunken Serb soldiers remained unreported by NDHQ until it was discovered by the New York Times.

Esprit de Corps' editorial policy of "plain talk and bad manners" had, however, earned the magazine some credibility, and the same issue featured a three-page interview with Lieutenant-General Gordon Reay, commander of the army. The July 1994 issue marked Esprit de Corps' strongest editorial statement to date. The cover depicted Trooper Kyle Brown. who had been sentenced to five years in the death of Shidane Arone in Somalia. The headline: "Scapegoat."

Inside were pages of analysis of how the media had been manipulated throughout the Somalia incident, the political background of the scandal and reminders that Brown, who had written to Esprit de Corps in an attempt to explain his side of the story, had been under orders to "abuse" prisoners and had himself been the one to inform his superiors about the murder of Arone.

Esprit de Corps uncovered the misuse of $19,503.46 for regimental items for the public affairs branch, a personal expense improperly authorized by one Major Robert Butt. The story "Exposing Major Butt" would not be the last update on the saga, nor the last of the increasingly off-colour puns with which they would be headlined.

The next issue only ramped up the controversy, with its sensational cover story on "Sex in the Service" and an eight-page special report on corruption at National Defence.

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The stark new black and white look that greeted readers on the cover in November 1994 was more than backed up by even more combative content inside, including a scathing indictment of NDHQ's treatment of Lyne DesRosiers, whose son, Pte. Janathan Brunet, died of an apparent suicide in Quebec City, and an essay by a new contributor, retired colonel and former National Defence insider Michel Drapeau, on the leadership crisis in the Canadian Forces.

The very next issue, as news broke of a government inquiry into the Somalia scandal, featured an exclusive, in-depth interview with Trooper Kyle Brown.

Increasing use of Access to Information requests. under the expert guidance of Col. Drapeaus generated a flood of substantiated stones of military mismanagement and outrageous perks for senior officers in the new "Bongos to Bunkers" section.

In January of 1995 Esprit de Corps was unwillingly thrust into the middle of the Somalia story as a pair of amateur videos, coupled with the Somalia scandal, led to the Chretien government's decision to disband the Canadian Airborne Regiment. Scott Taylor, in hopes of shedding more light on the Kyle Brown case, had released the first of these videos, which included soldiers uttering racial slurs, and was thus accused of having killed the Airborne.

The second video, which showed the notorious Airborne hazing rituals, was followed swiftly by the government's decision to disband.

The increasingly financial cost of doing battle with the defence establishment, however, was taking its toll, and in the February 1995 issue, Esprit de Corps was forced to say goodbye to editor James Scott while promising readers, "As Editor Emeritus, his punchy editorials will still appear in Esprit de Corps on an occasional basis (whenever he's on a crusade or a tirade)."

The Somalia story, of course, was far from over, and the May issue, in advance of the Somalia Inquiry, briefed readers with a comprehensive primer on key witnesses likely to be summoned, from former Defence Minister Kim Campbell and key ministerial staffers on down.

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As the Canadian Forces dealt with further budget cuts and plummeting morale tone Forces-wide survey found 83 per cent of service members had lost confidence in their leadership), Esprit de Corps itself continued to struggle as advertisers who did business with the Defence Department bowed to financial pressure from the government to pull out of the magazine.

October 1996 saw another memorable cover, a Katherine Taylor painting of then-Chief of Defence Staff Jean Boyle behind bars, along with a quotation from his testimony before the Somalia Inquiry: "I broke the spirit of the law."

Inside, Esprit de Corps addressed media reports that its protracted battles with NDHQ had pushed it to the edge of bankruptcy, and revealed that readers had rallied to its rescue:

"With only eighteen magazines produced and distributed in the past twenty-four months, Esprit de Corps had reached the point (mid-August) where we could no longer meet payroll or minimum monthly overhead expenses. However. once the story of Esprit de Corps' imminent demise broke in the media, our offices were flooded with pledges of support and generous donations. In just over two weeks, nearly $35,000 had been raised and needless to say (as evidenced by this edition) we're back in full production."

The battle continued, and the Chretien government's imposition of an arbitrary deadline on the Somalia Inquiry, effectively ending the investigation before it began to explore events which occurred on the Liberal watch, invited the usual outraged scepticism from Esprit de Corps. The protection of brass and bureaucrats, not to mention their political masters, it seemed, was the order of the day.

In March 1997, the magazine underwent another redesign and cut costs with a lowered page count, "to produce a leaner, meaner product--more often. Rest assured that we'll continue to provide hard-hitting editorials, report first-hand on front line news, uncover backroom scandals and promote past and present military glory."

What had begun as an ambitious 84-page monthly magazine was now reduced to just 32 pages per edition.

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Esprit de Corps carried on its brand of investigative journalism with a May 1997 story on misbehaviour by Canadian troops during their 1992-1993 peacekeeping mission to Cambodia.

A release of documents through the Access to Information and Privacy Act detailed a number of shocking incidents, including a naval officer accused of running a brothel, a soldier's mysterious death while on leave in Bangkok and sexual fraternization with the troops by two successive commanding officers, the second a female acting major.

Another soldier had made a videotape of himself having sex with a prostitute, which somehow ended up added to an official training film about the Cambodian mission.

No charges resulted from any of these incidents. and NDHQ, already busy containing the fallout from the Somalia mission, had seemingly decided to bury the bad news from Cambodia and bury it deep.

In July, in addition to in-depth analysis of the Somalia Inquiry--and a reminder that the Chretien government's directives barred it from actually looking at the beating death of Shidane Arone and successive cover-up--Esprit de Corps listed a dozen suspicious and still inadequately explained deaths of Canadian service members in the previous five years.

A remarkable thaw in relations occurred in October 1997 as the Hon. Art Eggleton became the first Minister of National Defence to consent to an interview with Esprit de Corps, headlined "Lunch with Eggs."

After repeated refusals from nine ministers, Eggleton's accessibility and willingness to discuss reform seemed encouraging, even if, as Scott Taylor wrote, "When certain specific points were pressed home, Minister Eggleton would revert to the political expedient of providing 'name, rank and serial number party line responses.'"

"Change takes time," Eggleton told Taylor. "Don't measure me by what I'm telling you. Just keep an eye on what develops." Esprit de Corps' response: "Don't worry--we will."

(The lunch fare that day was, in fact, a plate of egg salad sandwiches.)

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In 1998 and 1999, debates continued over women in combat roles and a proposed Holocaust gallery in the Canadian War Museum, and a new crop of whistleblowers, including Captain Bruce Poulin, aired their stories in Esprit de Corps.

Thanks to yet another Access to Information request, Esprit de Corps was able in its April 1999 issue to quote from a remarkably favourable internal DND review of Tested Mettle: Canada's Peacekeepers at War, the latest book from Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan:

"An extremely readable, very entertaining book ... Strategically, this book will be good for the army. It says what soldiers (and senior officers) would like to say about our limited capabilities, the burden of overtasking, and the consequences of the money crunch ... However, since the thesis is 'look how well the peacekeepers do regardless of how poorly-led the army is,' it is not likely to be well accepted by very senior officers and civilian staff."

Meanwhile, new wars called, and Taylor reported from Belgrade in the thick of the NATO bombing campaign, with his emphasis on the messy reality behind the official version of events:

"On the same day that Louise Arbour announced the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic as a war criminal, foreign journalists were taken to a bomb site just south of Belgrade. The blast had struck a Serbian family killing their two children, aged four and eight, and seriously injuring both parents. The bomb had fallen on a rural village which contained no industrial, let alone military, targets (Tragically, this family had moved from their home in Belgrade two weeks earlier because they felt their children would be safer in the country ... As the press surveyed the grisly scene, one reporter took the opportunity to ask the residents for their reaction to the UN's indictment of President Milosevic. In an emotional outburst an elderly Serb made a sweeping gesture towards the blood-spattered rubble and said, 'The people who ordered this, they are the real war criminals.'"

It was a rare occasion for a military magazine to report on the suffering of the 'enemy' during the actual war.

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Esprit de Corps continued its independent coverage of the Kosovo campaign in July with an analysis of NATO's superior information war effort under the direction of alliance spokesman Jamie Shea, cautioning, "it seems that the NATO PR-machine is bent on demonizing the Serb people, not just the president, Slobodan Milosevic, in order to justify their unprecedented entry into a brutal civil war."

Readers were also updated on the "forgotten front," the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been entirely overshadowed by the bombing in Yugoslavia.

The September 1999 issue carried a reminder that Esprit de Corps was still succeeding in generating persistent and underhanded opposition:

"Over the past several years, the staff here at Esprit de Corps have come to expect our office being under occasional surveillance (we once surprised a pair of would-be snoops in their van, causing the duo to make a hasty getaway) and we're now accustomed to operating with 'others' listening in on our phone lines. (Although for fun we still transmit the odd 'red herring' communication just to provoke them into giving themselves away.) However, up until recently, the 'powers-that-be' behind these cloak-and-dagger escapades have contented themselves with simply 'monitoring' us and have not actually interfered with our activities.

"In the last few weeks that policy has apparently changed and things have moved up to the next level. On 30 August, we received an anonymous phone call from an individual who stated he wished to drop off a 'brown envelope' after hours. He was instructed to leave the package at Scott Taylor's residence--our office building mail slot is inaccessible in the evening. Sometime between 10:00pm and 7:00am an envelope was left in the Taylor mailbox. Unfortunately for our would-be whistleblower, the 'snoops' intercepted the contents. Presumably in order to send us a message, the 'snoops' left us the empty envelope which appeared to have once contained an audio cassette tape (based on the size and shape of the creases left on the envelope.)"

The contents of that package remain unknown to this day.

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In April 2000, Esprit de Corps revisited the stories of some disgraced senior officers previously exposed in the magazine. The "where are they now" updates were distinguished by a marked lack of consequences for the officers' crimes. Among them was Colonel Reno Vanier, who while under investigation for fraud disappeared for 12 days only to be pulled from the Rideau River "babbling in Creole." After a plea bargain on fraud charges, Vanier retired on a full pension and found lucrative work training Saudi troops. Also living happily ever after, Lieutenant-General Armand Roy, forced to pay back $86,000 in misappropriated funds and fired, only to be caught still using his government phone card, was topping up his pension working on an advisory body for Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, and disgraced former CDSs John de Chastelain and Larry Murray, topping up their pensions at the Irish Peace Commission and Veterans Affairs. respectively.

Throughout 2000, Esprit de Corps followed the vindictive court martial of Sergeant Mike Kipling, who was court-martialled for refusing to take a controversial anthrax vaccine while deployed to the Persian Gulf.

The May 2000 issue exposed another botched cover-up by the public affairs branch at NDHQ, this time the detention, abuse and interrogation of two Canadian soldiers by the Congolese secret police. From public affairs (which had approximately tripled in size and doubled in budget from the previous two years) there was no report of the incident, and only attempts to minimize and spin it when contacted by Esprit de Corps and then mainstream media following up on the magazine's report.

Another eye-catching cover, headlined "Forces' Combat Bra ... Busted!" commemorated the demise of the Canadian Forces' abortive $2.4 million project to design a combat bra (officially designated Brassiere Template Underwear) for female troops. The eight-person project had finally been abandoned after two years of dubious studies and costly political correctness in favour of giving female soldiers an allowance to purchase their own underwear--incidentally, the very solution that had been in place before the whole bra boondoggle began.

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In March 2001, Esprit de Corps debuted "Citizen Soldiers," a new regular feature focused on Canada's reserve units and their contribution to Canada's military preparedness, by Howard Michitsch.

The magazine also continued to investigate links between previously unacknowledged exposure of Canadian soldiers to depleted uranium during the Gulf War and mysterious troop illnesses collectively referred to as 'Gulf War Syndrome.' A special report also investigated other physical and mental illnesses possibly related to an experimental anthrax vaccine and the anti-malarial drug mefloquine.

The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon signalled a new era for the Canadian military, one for which budget cuts had left it ill-prepared.

"Now that Canada has joined U.S. President George Bush's war on terror," Scott Taylor observed, "Canadians have suddenly taken a renewed interest in military issues. Indicative of how few people have followed the slow, painful demise of our Armed Forces is the shock and alarm being expressed from coast to coast over media reports that our combat cupboard is virtually bare."

In a fevered atmosphere of post-9/11 spin and speculation in the mainstream media, Esprit de Corps endeavoured to arm readers with information in a special issue, "Canada and the War Against Terror: Situation Report," which included a history of political violence and of military intervention in Afghanistan, as well as backgrounders on Osama bin Laden and the Taliban and our own JTF2 commandos.

Also unsparingly covered was the somewhat unsteady early Canadian response to 9/11, like our pledge of anti-submarine ships against landlocked Afghanistan, and a bizarre (and quickly rescinded) directive from newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff Ray Henault advising military personnel not to wear their uniforms enroute to work, lest they be targeted by terrorists.

Much of Esprit de Corps's coverage holds up well today, especially the accurate prediction that Iraq would be the next front in the U.S. war on terror.

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In December 2001, Esprit de Corps called attention to weaknesses in the military justice system, as exemplified by the case of retired Warrant Officer Matt Stopford, who was left permanently blind in one eye and suffering multiple infirmities after being poisoned by his own men in Croatia. Despite their confessions, the statute of limitations had run out, and so none faced any charges, and DND, citing privacy regulations, refused to release the perpetrators' names or any administrative action taken against them.

In the January 2002 issue, Major Bruce Henwood, who had lost both legs beneath the knee when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine in the former Yugoslavia in 1995, offered his first-hand take on recent improvements and continued shortcomings of the Canadian military n achieving what he called the "three Cs--compassion, compensation and closure"--when dealing with injured soldiers.

Not long after the deployment of 750 Canadian troops to Afghanistan, Esprit de Corps was regrettably reporting on the deaths there of Corporal Ainsworth Dyer, Sergeant Marc Leger and Privates Nathan Smith and Richard Green, mistakenly targeted by an American F-16 pilot's 225-kg bomb during a training exercise.

As the old saying goes, "Friendly fire isn't," and ever since Stonewall Jackson was killed by one of his own troops, the U.S. military has recorded many such incidents. An Esprit de Corps summary of recent mishaps involving the American military, mostly characterized by a marked lack of consequences for the soldiers responsible, added context to the latest tragedy.

In the same issue, readers received an update on the possible role of depleted uranium (DU) armour-piercing shells in the Gulf War and health problems for soldiers and widespread birth defects among Iraqi infants:

"The disproportionately high instance of abnormal birth defects in Iraq, especially near Basra, defies explanation. Historically, the results can only be compared to Hiroshima, after the detonation of the nuclear bomb in 1945."

Canada and allied nations have still not fully analyzed the long-term health effects of DU.

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October 2002's issue featured a story and photos by Canadian filmmaker Garth Pritchard, who was present the night Canadian casualties (hit by U.S. friendly fire) started arriving at Charlie Med, an American medical facility:

"There was confusion. How many dead? How many injured? We didn't know. They were still coming in.

"I went to the American operating tent. Two doctors were working feverishly to save a Canadian's life. It was Sergeant Lorne Ford. He was four feet in front of me on an operating table. American surgeon Dr. John Sorenson, transplant specialist, was working over Lorne's badly mangled leg."

As U.S. President Bush stepped up rhetoric against Saddam Hussein and continued to peddle unproven allegations about al-Qaeda links and weapons of mass destruction, Scott Taylor reported from inside Iraq on the country's presidential referendum and preparations for the coming conflict:

"The sprawling Defence Ministry complex has been almost completely vacated, and the Iraqi military headquarters are now scattered throughout Baghdad office buildings. Top officers openly say that Iraq cannot possibly match U.S. military might in the open desert, instead vowing to turn major Iraqi urban centres into deathtraps.

"The Americans slaughtered us to the Gulf War and we could do noticing. For the past 11 years. they have bombed us whenever they wished and we could do nothing,' said one general. 'Now, if the Americans come into Baghdad, they will finally learn what war really is.'"

On the home front, the shower of lucrative government contracts for retired senior officers continued. In the 18 months since Maurice Baril's retirement as chief of defence staff, Access to Information documents revealed he had supplemented his generous pension with over $200,000 in consulting contracts.

Other lucky senior brass pensioners winning big contracts were Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire ($330,000), Vice-Admiral Lynn Mason ($275,000), and Lieutenant-General Ray Crabbe ($178,490).

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Esprit de Corps observed the 50th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, in which 516 Canadian soldiers died, with a special commemorative issue in May 2003.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration's" mission accomplished" rhetoric was succinctly rebutted by demoralized soldiers on the ground in "post-war" Iraq.

As Taylor wrote in the July 2003 issue, "In late May, when I met up with soldiers from the 3rd Division as they patrolled the anarchistic streets of Baghdad, their morale was already in the proverbial toilet. 'This place sucks ... big time!" said Corporal Dave Jackson, a military policeman. 'These people don't want us to stay here, and that's the one thing we agree on.'"

In August, the magazine provided a look ahead at Canada's mission to Kabul, Afghanistan as part of the UN-sanctioned International Security and Assistance Force ISAF), and crunched the numbers to show the strain it would put on the Canadian Forces:

"In terms of manpower, the overstretched army has had one hell of a job finding enough 'effective personnel' to flesh out this new commitment. In addition to the two six-month Afghanistan rotations consisting of 1,800 soldiers each), the Canadian Forces are still required to maintain 1,200 troops in Bosnia plus another 300 peacekeepers to a dozen or so other UN hotspots. In fact, the manning situation is so severe Chief of Defence Staff Ray Henault has already admitted that, upon completion of the Afghan operation, the Canadian army will be unfit to consider any new deployments for an additional 18 months. (In other words, our military will be hors de combat until sometime around January 2006.)"

Troop levels aside, the government's announcement of the replacement of C-2 Leopard main battle tanks with half the number of wheeled, light-armoured Stryker Mobile Gun Systems (MGS) inspired even less confidence at Esprit de Corps.

Among other reservations, Taylor noted, "Our air force does not have the lift capacity to transport these machines anywhere at all."

As events would unfold, the MGS project was cancelled before this became a problem.

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2004 found Esprit de Corps guardedly optimistic about the Martin government's approach to defence, as evidenced by the decision to finally restart the endlessly delayed replacement of the Sea King helicopters.

In the same issue, however, official opposition leader Stephen Harper provided his own damning assessment of the underfunded state of the military under the Liberals: "The Liberals cut over $20 billion in real cumulative dollars from the national defence budget since they took office in 1993. As a percentage of the size of our economy, Canada spends less on defence than any country in the NATO military alliance, save tiny Luxembourg."

Esprit de Corps' April 2004 issue introduced a new feature "Ask the Budman," in which readers were encouraged to send questions to be answered by Canadian Forces Ombudsman Andre Marin, whose struggle to establish an independent and effective office had been covered at length in past issues.

In the next issue, Scott Taylor brought the latest bad news from Kosovo, where, five years after the NATO intervention, ethnic violence continued, this time in the destruction of an 11th century Serbian Orthodox church by an Albanian mob. after German peacekeepers evacuated the priests and abandoned the site.

In July's issue, Taylor reported once again from Iraq, and the strange economics of the occupation, from a $1,000 payment to the family, of a nursing student mistakenly killed by an American patrol in Kirkuk, to U.S. servicemen buying up devalued Iraqi dinars in hopes of future profit, or signing on with private security companies at $20,000 a month. Taylor himself was told kidnappers had put a $2,000 price on his head, in hopes of commanding a $1-million ransom from the Canadian government, a hefty return on investment.

That September, Taylor would be taken hostage by the Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq and held for five days, during which he would be beaten, tortured and repeatedly threatened with execution.

Needless to say, that experience led to a drastic reduction in Taylor's trips into Iraq.

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The death of Lieutenant Chris Saunders in a fire aboard HMCS Chicoutimi raised serious questions about not only the Victoria-class submarines leased from the British, but the Canadian military's entire underwater strategy.

As Taylor argued in an October 2004 editorial: "Our submariners should not have to make do with bargain basement used junk that at the very best allows them to hone their skills while testing those of allied sailors. Canada does not have to worry about losing its 'underwater capability' because it has long since become nothing more than a charade. Are our sub crews top-notch professionals? Absolutely. But four diesel-electric subs is neither a strategic resource nor a tactical deterrent."

The troubled deployment of Disaster Assistance Response Team to tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka in January 2005, occasioned an Esprit de Corps examination of the team, founded in 1996 and deployed on only two previous missions:

"The central problem is that the team is a force that exists primarily on paper. Although some 200 specialists are assigned to it, all these troops are still on active service on bases across Canada.

"The annual budget allocated to DART is a meagre $250,000 and this money is spent mostly on maintaining some pre-positioned equipment and on 15 part-time officers who shuffle the papers and keep the records up to date.

"As it would be too costly and too disruptive for the rest of the military's already overstretched operational and training commitments, no annual exercises are conducted wherein the far-flung members would meet and work alongside their national teammates."

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On April 11, 2005 Esprit de Corps relaunched its monthly magazine with a completely redesigned look. With more pages and more colour, the new format helped put the efforts of our soldiers, sailors and airmen back in the forefront. Pictured in front of an impressive display of the 144 covers published to date are staffers (left to right) Julie Simoneau, Diana Rank, Bill Twatio, Katherine Taylor, Scott Taylor, and Donna Tillotson.
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Title Annotation:Esprit de Corps history and outlook
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Date:Apr 1, 2009
Words:5813
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