Preparing for Peace:
Myths and Realities of Canadian Peacekeeping Training

A. Walter Dorn, Josh Libben

Published in International Journal, Vol. 73, Iss. 2, pp. 257-281 (26 July 2018) (pdf). 

Preparing for peace FirstPage Abstract IJ 2018

Modern peace operations
Peacekeeping training: Then and now
Myths about peacekeeping and training 




During the Harper years (2006–2015), Canada significantly reduced the training, preparation, and deployment of military personnel for United Nations (UN) peacekeeping. Now, despite the Trudeau government’s pledge to lead an international peacekeeping training effort, Canada’s capabilities have increased only marginally. A survey of the curricula in the country’s training institutions shows that the military provides less than a quarter of the peacekeeping training activities that it provided in 2005. The primary cause of these reductions was the central focus on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Afghanistan operation and several lingering myths about peacekeeping, common to many Western militaries. As the Trudeau government has committed to reengaging Canada in UN operations, these misperceptions must be addressed, and a renewed training and education initiative is necessary. This paper describes the challenges of modern peace operations, addresses the limiting myths surrounding peacekeeping training, and makes recommendations so that military personnel in Canada and other nations can once again be prepared for peace.

Keywords Canadian Armed Forces, military training and education, peace operations, peacekeeping, United Nations 


As United Nations (UN) operations have evolved from “traditional peacekeeping”—monitoring and separating armies during a ceasefire—to “modern peace operations,” including peace implementation, nation-building, and protection of civilians, the operations have become more complex and challenging. Hence extensive and specialized training is crucial. Such training can have a significant impact on the mission’s capacity for conflict resolution, negotiation, and non-traditional military skills.1 While armed forces usually devote significant resources and strategic thought to how their men and women in uniform are trained, Western countries are varied in the degree to which they conduct peace-operations-specific training, not only for their own forces but for the nations they might help train. Western countries are grappling with ways to prepare for the realities of modern UN operations as they return to peacekeeping after a long absence.2

Canada provided key leadership and large numbers of forces in UN peacekeeping for a half-century. It was a leading contributor during the Cold War, providing about 10 percent of the peacekeeping personnel. When the Nobel Prize was given to peacekeepers in 1988, some 80,000 Canadian military personnel shared in the honour. In 1993, Canada was still the largest contributor, with over 3,200 military personnel in the field. But when the number of peacekeepers deployed by the UN surged to new heights in the new century, Canada (like many other Western nations) did not increase its contribution.3 They did just the opposite: in 2006, the newly elected Harper government reduced the country’s peacekeeping contribution from 300 to fifty military personnel, and in 2011 lowered that number to thirty. So when the UN reached an all-time high in 2015 (over 93,000 military personnel), the Canadian contribution remained at a low of less than thirty military personnel.4

The government of Justin Trudeau, elected in October 2015, pledged to “renew Canada’s commitment to United Nations peace operations.”5 In his mandate letter to his defence minister, Trudeau stipulated the goals of “providing well-trained personnel to international initiatives that can be quickly deployed, such as mission commanders, staff officers, and headquarters units”; and “leading an international effort to improve and expand the training of military and civilian personnel deployed on peace operations.”6 In practice, however, the Trudeau government actually decreased the contribution during its first two and a half years in office to an all-time low of nineteen military personnel.7 The government pledged in August 2016 to provide up to 600 military personnel for UN peace operations, but two years later the anticipated deployment of some 200 air force personnel to Mali has only just begun. A quick reaction force was also pledged, but the destination has not yet been announced. To understand how the goal of providing “well-trained personnel” and “leading an international effort” in training can be achieved, we must look at the status of Canadian peacekeeping training and how it has changed. As well, several myths surrounding peacekeeping training must be addressed for effective recommendations to be made.

This study examines the status of training and education of Canadian military personnel, by focusing on the officer corps, since these officers can be expected to hold important positions in future peacekeeping deployments when the country finally reengages. These men and women in uniform will serve in both command and staff positions, including conceivably as UN force commanders—a position held by Canadian soldiers seven times in the 1990s, but none since.8

A thorough review of contemporary military training shows that during the Harper years (2006–2015), the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) lost more than three quarters of the peacekeeping training activities it previously sponsored.9 This remains true despite the government's stated goals. Significantly, in exercises and simulations, Canadian officers no longer take on roles of UN peacekeepers as they once did. At Canadian military training institutions, courses and simulated exercises in 2016 focus primarily on “alliance” or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-style operations, resulting in significantly fewer opportunities for officers to view missions from a UN perspective or gain understanding of UN procedures and practices. The Trudeau government policy of “returning Canada to the United Nations” and deploying hundreds of Canadian peacekeepers means that a change in CAF training curricula is needed.

The combat mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from 2005 to 2011 gave CAF personnel valuable experience in combat and counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. Such NATO operations involve a broad range of tasks, including civil–military cooperation (CIMIC) and working with international (mainly NATO) partners and host-state players, requiring CAF members to develop a host of skills beyond general combat. While there are similarities between these types of missions and international peace operations, there are also fundamental differences in the training, preparation, and practice of peacekeeping deployments. War-fighting and counterinsurgency are enemy-centric missions that involve an offensive approach, whereas peacekeeping is based on a trinity of alternative principles: consent of main conflicting parties, impartiality, and the defensive use of force.10 As well, UN procedures and practice, developed over seven decades and in over seventy field operations, are significantly different from NATO’s. Therefore, a major shift in mentality and approach, as well as an increased knowledge base, is necessary for soldiers from Canada and other NATO nations to participate effectively in future UN peace operations. Special skills, separate from those learned in Afghanistan and warfare training, would need to be learned or relearned, including skills in negotiation, conflict management and resolution, as well as an understanding of the evolution of peacekeeping.

To elaborate, COIN focuses on defeating an insurgency, while peacekeeping focuses on the peace process—a process that includes most, if not all, combatants. NATO operations are military-led, while UN operations are civilian-led (by a special representative of the secretary-general, or SRSG). While the UN Security Council mandates both NATO and UN missions, the former tend to use a lead-country approach, while in UN missions, the UN Secretariat provides the selection and direction of the mission’s leadership. NATO provides operational direction from headquarters outside of the mission, while the UN gives far more responsibility to the field leader—that is, the SRSG. NATO operations include well-equipped forces from Western nations, while UN operations are composed of forces from over a hundred nations of the world. In the NATO system, the “player pays” the costs of participation in a mission, while the UN reimburses the costs (or most of them) of contributing countries. Finally, NATO participants often strive to bring a whole-of-government approach to their tasks, an approach which does not apply in peacekeeping. Rather, the UN seeks a “whole-of-world” approach, with the many UN agencies, funds, and programs to draw upon, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In modern peacekeeping, military success is highly dependent on non-military components, including UN police, civil affairs personnel, non-governmental organizations, and local actors engaged in building a viable peace. Moving from NATO to UN operations also necessitates learning to work with different military partners, given that the majority of peacekeeping forces currently come from the developing world. The UN also has different means of logistics support and operational control procedures than NATO. All this requires specialized training and education for Canadian military personnel to become adept at peacekeeping.

The decline in peacekeeping training and education in the CAF is readily apparent when looking at the primary training institutions that have been tasked to prepare Canadian officers for service. This study looks at the Royal Military College (RMC), the Canadian Army Command and Staff College, the Canadian Forces College (CFC), the RMC Saint-Jean, the Peace Support Training Centre, and the now-defunct Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.

Methodologically, this project conducted an extensive review of the curricula of these key institutions since 2005. Analysis of the peacekeeping-related content within these education and training programs was conducted, looking at in-class lectures, seminars, exercises, and distance learning. The study found that the number of activities devoted to the UN and to peace operations is less than a quarter of what it was in 2005. Indeed, the level of peacekeeping training has declined to levels seen prior to the 1992–1993 Somalia operation, a deployment that resulted in major failure and an extensive inquiry which in 1997 recommended a substantial upgrade to the Canadian peacekeeping training regimen.

Training and preparedness are core elements of the CAF mandate. The men and women in uniform seek to be constantly ready for any number of operational demands that the Canadian government may require of them. Especially with the Liberal government’s declared policy of reengagement in UN peacekeeping, the CAF needs to increase the level of preparedness and training for peace operations if it is to be ready to serve effectively in peace operations. Canadian soldiers have served as excellent peacekeepers in the past, and can do so again, with some preparation.

To this end, this paper recommends the reinstatement and updating of the many training programs and exercises that have been cut, as well as the introduction of new training activities to reflect the increasing complexity of modern peace operations. Many of the peacekeeping courses, exercises, and simulations from the past could be revived and updated at minimal cost. Using lessons learned by other peacekeeping contributors on the training required by modern peacekeeping, as well as UN resources such as the updated Core Peacekeeping Training Materials, new materials and programs could be rapidly developed. Finally, it is recommended that a new peace operations training centre for civilian, military, and policy peacekeepers be established as soon as possible to address the gap in capacity left by the closure of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in 2013. Only through such a significant increase in training can Canadian personnel be truly prepared for peace, especially in complex modern operations in war-torn areas of the world.

Modern peace operations^

Since Canada’s disengagement with UN peace operations, there has been a drastic increase in the complexity, scope, and requirements of peacekeeping missions, as well as UN capacity.11 UN forces have gained much experience contending with raging conflicts, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, factional infighting, and spoilers of the peace process, as well as threats to themselves and their mission.12 Peacekeepers must now protect local populations as well as stop conflicting parties from shooting at each other, and get the parties to the negotiating table, a task that needs finesse and the systematic development of new skills beyond combat. Though combat power is an essential component, modern peace missions must also engage in tasks that are outside traditional military operations: economic and social reconstruction (i.e., peacebuilding), assistance in elections, transitional justice, assistance to secure law and order, and a host of other tasks in addition to the traditional task of monitoring and separating. To be effective in modern operations, peacekeepers need to know about a myriad of procedures within the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Field Support (DFS) and the diverse UN family of agencies, funds, and programs, as well as non-governmental organizations working as partners in the field.

The major functions of modern peace operations are illustrated in Figure 1, using terminology shared in the doctrines of the UN, NATO, the United States, and Canada, as well as a number of academic studies.13 At different stages of a conflict, the goals and roles change, though virtually all the listed activities are needed in all stages, just to a greater or lesser degree. As conflicts are about to escalate, the main UN goal is prevention, which requires early warning tools and pre-emptive action. “Peacemaking,” in UN and NATO doctrine, is the main tool here: the negotiation and fostering of a ceasefire or peace agreement. However, if this fails and the conflict becomes full-fledged, the UN finds that it engages primarily in mitigation, using humanitarian assistance to save lives. In the most severe cases, peace enforcement must be used against recalcitrant parties committing atrocities. As the conflict winds down and the termination phase is achieved through conflict weariness and/or diplomatic intervention, a ceasefire can be agreed upon. At this point traditional peacekeeping can play a major role in maintaining the ceasefire and a potential peace agreement, sometimes by creating buffer zones or physical space between conflicting groups. In the recovery stage, the UN must engage in peacebuilding to develop the physical, economic, and social infrastructure that can sustain peace and foster a growing economy under democratic rule. This period also necessitates reconciliation between the former belligerents, which can take many forms, including judicial means such as truth and reconciliation commissions, tribunals, or referrals to the International Criminal Court.


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Figure 1. Schematic showing conflict intensity over time (simplified) and the UN’s corresponding goals and roles.

As Figure 1 indicates, the operational demands placed upon the modern peacekeeper are far greater than the requirements typical of Cold War peacekeeping missions. “Traditional peacekeeping” primarily involved a small force interposed between two belligerents, or unarmed monitors covering a ceasefire or demilitarized zone, as the Canadian Peace Support Operations Joint Doctrine Manual correctly noted in 2002,

Few peace support operations now follow the traditional template. Both the military and civil requirements in modern multi-disciplinary peace support operations far exceed those of traditional missions. The wider range of military tasks can include assisting in disarmament and demobilization, monitoring of elections, de-mining assistance, restoration of infrastructure and conducting concurrent enforcement operations.14

In the 1990s and early 2000s, catalyzed by the Somalia Inquiry, the Department of National Defence (DND) recognized the need for specialized training to prepare for such difficult and unique environments. Substantial progress was made from 1995 to 2005. But, as we shall see, the decade that followed saw a shift in doctrinal thinking and a substantial reduction in training for peacekeeping.15

Not only is UN peacekeeping more complex; it has become much larger. The UN deploys over 90,000 uniformed personnel (military and police) in field operations, more than any other international body or government. Figure 2 shows the growth in the twenty-first century. In addition, the civilians deployed in UN peace operations number about 20,000, bringing the total to about 110,000 UN personnel in UN peacekeeping operations.16 With 125 countries currently contributing, Canadian peacekeepers will need to work with a large range of international partners of varying skill sets.

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Figure 2. Number of uniformed personnel in UN peacekeeping operations since 2000.


There are fourteen UN peacekeeping operations being conducted across four continents.17 The mandates of modern peace operations have grown increasingly robust. The Force Intervention Brigade, deployed to the Eastern Congo in 2013, received the first and only UN Security Council mandate for “offensive operations” against rebel groups. In the post-Afghanistan period, European countries are contributing more to UN missions, particularly in Africa.

At the end of 2017, a total of just twenty-four Canadian military personnel were serving in UN peacekeeping. Canada ranked well below countries such as Tunisia and Mongolia, as well as each of the permanent members of the Security Council.18 Since 2005, Canada has deployed more police officers than military personnel, but the number recently became similar, with twenty-one police peacekeepers currently deployed, all in the UN’s Haiti mission. Even including these police contributions, however, Canada ranked at its all-time low of eighty-first of 121 UN member states contributing uniformed personnel at 31 May 2018.19

As shown in Figure 3, the CAF contributions—which had already been in decline since 2000—experienced the most significant drop in March 2006, with the close-out of Canada’s contingent in the Golan Heights.20 This Canadian task force had played a major logistics role in the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) since the mission’s creation in 1974. Canada also provided the force commander for UNDOF in 1998–2000, the last time the country was given military command in a UN mission.21 In early 2017, Canada’s delay in providing troops meant that it could not compete for the force commander position in Mali.


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Figure 3. Number of Canadian military (green) and police (blue, dotted) personnel in UN peacekeeping since 2005, also showing the leaders of the governments in power (UN DPKO).


The loss of CAF experience in the field since 2005 carries a high price. The CAF, which once deployed to peacekeeping in large numbers, now has little peacekeeping experience on which to base its contributions to UN operations. The methods, standards, numbers, and doctrines of the UN have all evolved considerably over since 2005 as the UN experienced the surge of modern peacekeeping. Neither CAF nor its doctrine have kept up with this surge. For instance, its “peace support operations” manual is dated November 2002.

As mentioned, the growing complexity and scope of peace operations has greatly increased the training requirements for military personnel deployed in radically different mission environments across the world. In its assessment of global peacekeeping training needs, the UN reported,

Given the dynamic nature of peacekeeping and the unique challenges that peacekeeping personnel face on an everyday basis, there is a need to ensure that they are adequately equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to perform their duties. Peacekeeping training is a strategic investment that enables UN military, police, and civilian staff to effectively implement increasingly multifaceted mandates.22

If Canada is to deploy military personnel to UN operations or provide leaders in coming years, and lead an international peacekeeping training initiative as mandated by the Liberal government, Canadian personnel will themselves require greater training than they had in the 1990s and early 2000s. Unfortunately, as we shall see in the next section, the training mechanisms and institutions involved in peacekeeping have been eroding since the turn of the century, to the extent that Canada is in danger of becoming fundamentally unable to field adequately trained peacekeepers with insider knowledge of the UN.

Peacekeeping training: Then and now^

Like armed forces around the world, the CAF expends a great deal of funding, personnel, and thought on matters of training and education. It is a continuous process, with different institutions designated to provide courses, exercises, and seminars to personnel at different rank levels. The system for military officers is divided into five developmental periods (DPs): DP1, mostly for officer cadets focusing on basic training and occupational qualification; DP2, mostly for lieutenants and captains focusing on occupational skills and knowledge with initial experience at the unit and tactical level; DP3, for majors and lieutenant colonels (navy commanders) at the operational, joint, and formation level; DP4, for colonels and navy captains at the national security level; and DP5, for general/flag officers at the strategic and policy level.

For the purposes of assessing the changes in peacekeeping training and education provided to officers over the last ten to fifteen years, we examined the courses, exercises, and other activities provided by the five primary military institutions that, historically, have provided training/education to Canadian officers:23 RMC (Kingston), Canadian Army Command and Staff College (Kingston), Canadian Forces College (Toronto), RMC Saint-Jean, Peace Support Training Centre (Kingston), and Pearson Centre (now defunct, formerly based out Cornwallis, NS, and then Ottawa).

The RMC is currently the only degree-granting federal university in Canada. Located in Kingston, Ontario, it prepares candidates for service in the Canadian officer corps. Though primarily oriented towards educating officer cadets in DP1, RMC also provides undergraduate and graduate programs of study for other members of the Forces and for civilian students.

RMC is one of the few Canadian military institutions that have not seen the number of peacekeeping courses decline since the early 2000s. All of the courses from 2001/2002 relating to UN peacekeeping continued in the 2017/2018 academic year.24 However, the peacekeeping summer training institute that RMC co-sponsored has been discontinued. In the years 2000–2003, RMC had a partnership with the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre and Acadia University to sponsor a rigorous graduate-level credit and certificate program in peacekeeping/peace operations.

After graduating from RMC and serving as officers for several years, soldiers of various ranks (second lieutenants, lieutenants, captains, and majors) undergo further training and education at the Canadian Army Command and Staff College through the Army Junior Staff Qualification, the Army Operations Course, and the Command Team Course. Through distance learning, peace-support-operations-specific material is found in the section on “Canadian Army Doctrine of Stability Operations,” mostly in the student-led tutorial exercise on “Stability Operations and Influence Activities.” In the early 2000s, there was a lecture devoted to the UN and Peace Support Operations, but this was dropped. Preparations are being made to reintegrate some UN content into the curriculum.

Of four exercises held in the Army Command and Staff program simulating stability operations, none currently requires students to directly play the role of UN peacekeepers. The College does hold a civil–military seminar over two days. This seminar does not cover the UN or peace support operations, but has in the past included briefs on a number of relevant themes, such as non-governmental organizations working in disaster management—including Plan Canada, Global Medic, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, World Vision, the 1st Canadian Division—CIMIC, Haiti hurricane path/vegetation map, the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), and the United Kingdom Comprehensive Approach.

Selected army officers, after being promoted to major or lieutenant colonel, may get the chance to further their education by joining officers from the navy and air force at the Canadian Forces College (CFC) in Toronto, which is mandated to provide leadership education within the CAF in a whole-of-government framework. The Joint Command and Staff Programme (JCSP) at the Canadian Forces College (CFC) was introduced in 2005 as a replacement to the Command and Staff Course. With this shift came a significant loss in PSO material, including the only exercise of a strictly peacekeeping nature.

In terms of coursework, in 2001/2002 officers taking courses at the CFC had eight lectures directly relating to peacekeeping, and one discussion group and one seminar on the topic, amounting to around fifteen hours of contact time. By comparison, the last program offered only one lecture on the UN for the entire class, and none at all on peacekeeping.25 The most peacekeeping-relevant exercise at CFC, Exercise Friendly Lance, was conducted from 2001 to 2005. It simulated a UN Peace Implementation Force, and often involved expert consultants from the UN and the Canadian government providing advice on the conduct of peace operations. This exercise was replaced with Warrior Lance, a simulated exercise involving a far more enforcement-type operation (a NATO-style international intervention). The current iteration, which is based on the Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) scenario of the US military,26 has students plan a short-term stabilization operation that is under US, not UN, command. Finally, an elective on Peace Operations was offered in most years in JCSP over the past decade.

The National Security Programme, also held at the Canadian Forces College, is designed for colonels and recently-promoted brigadier generals, as well as executive-level civilians in the Canadian public service. These students are the future military leaders of Canada (and other nations), yet under the current training regime these officers receive only a single lecture-discussion at CFC on the UN.27 By contrast, previous programs held a number of activities concerning the UN and peace operations, including a lecture-discussion (“Canada and the United Nations,” held in New York City), a lecture (“International Organizations”), and a case study (“Operation Assurance—Zaire”). There was also a “Peace Support Operations Symposium” for a day and a half, but this was last held in 2005.

For exercises in the National Security Programme, a simulation called Unified Enforcer was the only exercise that simulated peacekeeping at CFC Toronto, though officers took on the role of a multinational peace support force under a NATO-like alliance not of a UN force. Still, it was considered a peace support operation, deployed with the consent of conflicting parties under a peace agreement. The exercise ran from 2002 to 2007. In subsequent years, the program ran Exercise Strategic Power, wherein students were asked to plan a Canadian contribution to a coalition mission similar to the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo. While the students in Strategic Power did not plan peacekeeping operations or role-play as peacekeepers or UN commanders, they did interact with consultants who provided advice about UN agencies/operations.

At the highest level of professional development for officers, there is little training and education for general and flag officers. There are few formal courses at this level, since the traditional thinking has been that officers who reach this level already have sufficient training and education, and can also teach themselves on the job—though this approach is currently being reconsidered. One DP5 program, the Executive Leaders’ Programme, is held for one week annually at the Canadian Forces College. However, this course does not appear to have ever had a peacekeeping component.

On the other end of the career and rank spectrum is the training of new recruits and non-commissioned members. Much of this is done in the RMC Saint-Jean. Located at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec, this institution focuses on providing CEGEP (introductory college-level) education to officer cadets selected from high schools, in Quebec and from other provinces, prior to further university-level education at the RMC in Kingston. The cadet programs at RMC Saint-Jean last one or two years, with both the science and social science programs, and a focus on the four pillars of both military colleges (academics, leadership, athletics, and bilingualism). There are no peacekeeping-specific courses at this level, in part because the College must follow the curriculum designed by the Quebec Ministry of Education.28

In addition to its cadet program, Saint-Jean is home to the Chief Warrant Officer Osside Profession of Arms Institute, which trains and educates future leaders of the Non-Commissioned Member (NCM) corps on the issues that form the basis for almost all forms of military operations. In this capacity, instructors and faculty at Saint-Jean conduct an Intermediate Leadership Programme, Advanced Leadership Programme, Senior Leadership Programme, and Senior Appointment Programme qualification for specially selected chief petty officers/chief warrant officers. In 2004/2005, there were many teaching points relating to peacekeeping, including “The Suez Canal Crisis and the beginnings of peacekeeping (1956),” “The application of the Medak Accord in Croatia (1993),” “Rwanda: Operation Assurance (1996),” and points on “Canada’s military obligations within NATO and the UN.” Perhaps most relevant was a teaching point on “Identifying the types of peace support operations.” No similar points were found in the curriculum of a decade later. Similarly, no direct peacekeeping course content was found for the senior leadership course.

Unlike the institutions described above, the Peace Support Training Centre (PSTC) was created with peacekeeping specifically in mind. The PSTC, located within Canadian Forces Base Kingston, was created in 1996 in response to the Canadian Forces’ own recognition of a major lack of peacekeeping training. The debacle in 1993 in the Somalia operation was a major motivating factor in establishing the PSTC. The Somalia Inquiry’s final report (1997) concluded the following about the run-up to the Somalia operation,

There was no formalized or standardized training system for peace operations, despite almost 40 years of intensive Canadian participation in international peace operations. No comprehensive training policy, based on changing requirements, had been developed, and there was an absence of doctrine, standards, and performance evaluation mechanisms respecting the training of units deploying on peace operations …

Indeed, at that time (1992), the training policy of the CF [Canadian Forces] was based almost exclusively on a traditional mode of general purpose combat preparation.29

The Somalia Inquiry urged that all Canadian Forces members receive PSO training from the newly created PSTC. The Basic PSO course became the staple of the Centre for many years.30 However, after the Kandahar deployment in 2005, the PSTC changed its course offerings. The Basic course dropped from 88 percent of the training calendar to 45 percent.31 Rather than focusing on PSO, the PSTC diversified to meet the operational need, taking on a much wider array of tasks than its name suggested.

In 2008, the PSTC transformed the Basic Peace Operations Course into the Individual Pre-Deployment Training course. With this shift, the course and the Centre itself became significantly more combat-oriented. Whereas before the PSTC’s focus had been on UN deployments, the pre-deployment regimen now emphasized weapons drills, the use of force, and information security. Many of the combat skills that were previously taught by a soldier’s home unit, such as firing a service rifle, defending against chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological materials, and throwing grenades, became a core part of what had been the Basic Peace Operations Course. Among the items dropped was “Peace Support Operations—General Mission and Mission Area Information,” and “Peace Support Duties.”

By 2014/2015, only one of its eight courses was focused on peacekeeping: the Peace Support Operator Course.32 In line with the direction of the Forces as a whole, the PSTC shifted its training to “Full-Spectrum Operations (FSO) within the contemporary operating environment.”33 During Canada’s combat involvement in Afghanistan, the PSTC had been re-geared towards counterinsurgency missions. The Peace Support Operator Course was renamed the United Nations Military Expert on Mission (UNMEM) Course, which primarily serves persons deploying as UN military observers. It includes foreign military participants, as well as Canadians from the military, and civilians on an international standby list. Simulating an operational theatre with specifics of language, culture, and belligerent parties, students are instructed in traditional peacekeeping skills, such as observing and reporting, manning observation posts, patrolling, and negotiating/mediating. Additionally, officers are given skills in landmine awareness, first aid, and ethics. Over the thirty-day course, students are expected to learn about “the law of armed conflict (LOAC), Canadian defence ethics and army ethos, potential ethical dilemmas facing soldiers deployed in PSO, and conduct expected of individuals representing the UN in operations.”34

The PSTC is officially Canada’s Centre of Excellence for peace support operations, and maintains a facility that includes two simulated UN observation posts, a simulated village, and a mine-awareness training area. However, in the past, CAF members who have gone through pre-deployment training at the PSTC have flagged the lack of cultural awareness training in the program, noting that such training was limited to “a couple of days of language.”35 Even for combat-heavy deployments in Afghanistan, many members felt that the PSTC might have provided more cultural and theatre-specific education to better prepare them for their missions. This move away from peace support training at the Centre is not in line with the recommendations made by the Somalia Inquiry in 1997, whose impetus in part led to the founding of the PSTC. The Inquiry recommended that

the Canadian Forces training philosophy be recast to recognize that a core of non-traditional military training designed specifically for peace support operations (and referred to as generic peacekeeping training) must be provided along with general purpose combat training to prepare Canadian Forces personnel adequately for all operational missions and tasks.36

In summary, we have found that the PSTC provides less than a quarter of peacekeeping training to its participants, as compared to 2005.

The greatest decline in peacekeeping training came with the demise of the Pearson International Peacekeeping Training Centre. The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (often referred to as the PPC, even after being renamed the Pearson Centre in 2012) was originally created by the Canadian government as a peacekeeping training facility for officers and civilians from Canada and around the world. Headquartered in the former Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis in Nova Scotia, the PPC operated the Cornwallis facility from 1994 until 2012.37

Under the rubric of “the new peacekeeping partnership,” the PPC was the first international peacekeeping training centre to include “integrated” training, meaning military, police, and civilians trained together. At its height in the 1990s and early 2000s, Cornwallis hosted over a dozen courses per year, focusing on preparing civilians, police, and military personnel for deployment in UN peacekeeping operations. The PPC initially operated with core funding of about C$4 million, shared equally by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and the DND.38 The latter department paid tuition fees for Canadian military students and the salaries of officers seconded to work at the PPC, as well as supporting foreign military personnel attending the PPC through Canada’s Military Training and Assistance Program (MTAP).

The United Nations Integrated Mission Staff Officer Course (UNIMSOC) was held annually over six weeks at the PPC’s Cornwallis campus. After 2006, this course was supplemented by a three-week Senior Management Course (SMC) on UN Integrated Missions, aimed at teaching upper-level military officials about the planning, political, and strategic aspects of peace missions. But by 2011, there were no Canadian Forces officers sent to the United Nations Integrated Mission Staff Officer Course and SMC programs. Instead, the vast majority of students came from Africa, with some from Latin America and South Asia—regions that, after 2000, became the primary contributors of UN peacekeepers. By 2006, the PPC was educating four times as many international participants (1,691) as Canadian participants (393).39

One of the major achievements of the PPC was to serve as a model for the establishment of peacekeeping training centres around the world. The PPC was the prime mover behind the creation of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres (IAPTC), which has grown from twenty-one organizations to over 260 member organizations in over forty countries.40 The first IAPTC meeting was held at the Pearson Centre, and PPC officials were heavily involved in the organization’s early years.

Due to lack of funding and government support, the PPC was closed in December 2013. So this pioneering peacekeeping institution is no longer a Canadian flagship, now defunct on the international scene and no longer contributing to the IAPTC or the advancement of peacekeeping training and education, at a time when cutting-edge thinking is still needed. Canada currently has no facilities or institutions dedicated to the integrated training of military, police, and civilians for peacekeeping deployment. With the demise of the continuous running of courses at the PPC, Canadian force members lost at least half of the activities accessible to them.

In past decades, for specific trades within the armed forces, some UN-specific training was carried out. For instance, a two-week “United Nations Logistics Course” was held annually at the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics in Borden, Ontario, but the course was discontinued in the mid-2000s. Until that point, it proved particularly useful for logistics officers who were deployed to the UN’s mission on the Golan Heights, a contribution that Canada dropped in 2006 after thirty-two years.

The decline in peacekeeping training provided by the CAF has not been limited to its own soldiers. The number of foreign nationals trained in Canada to serve in peace operations has declined as well, despite the fact that the number of peacekeepers serving worldwide has increased substantially. The loss of the PPC had a major impact on training of international students, and the Government of Canada has cut the military assistance it provides to other countries in the form of training and education. Recent allegations in UN peacekeeping operations surrounding cases of sexual misconduct, corruption, and peacekeepers abandoning their posts have highlighted the need for rigorous training programs for soldiers from major troop-contributing countries, an area in which Canada was once a global leader.

The DND established various military training programs for foreign officers as part of a “defence diplomacy” initiative. These were under the MTAP. In the past, these programs have provided military training and education to over seventy developing, non-NATO countries. More recently, the renamed Military Training and Cooperation Programme (MTCP) has prioritized support for Ukraine, working in conjunction with Operation Unifier to promote defence reform and capacity-building in that country. Since 1993, approximately 1,900 Ukrainian defence personnel have participated in training and military exercises through this program. The program conducts activities for foreign officers both within Canada and outside, improving students’ language capabilities, professionalism, and capacity to undertake multilateral peacekeeping.

A three-week Tactical Operations Staff Course, sponsored by MTAP, ran for twenty-two iterations from 2005 to 2012 at peacekeeping training centres in countries like Kenya, Ghana, and Mali. It graduated more than 500 students over seven years, and held exercises where foreign students role-played as UN peacekeepers in detailed and realistic simulations. Until 2013, there was also a Junior Command and Staff Course held in Aldershot, Nova Scotia, to prepare foreign officers for possible future staff positions, including in PKOs.

The Directorate of Military Training and Cooperation (DMTC) continues to hold the United Nations Staff Officer Course annually, using institutions in Africa, Asia, and South America as venues for training officers from developing countries for peacekeeping deployment.

In 2008–2009, the MTAP annual budget was C$22 million, with a significant focus on training for officers of the Afghan National Army rather than traditional peacekeeping training. In 2016, the MTCP budget was C$16 million. While a small portion of this assistance supports capacity-building with peacekeeping partners such as the Malaysian Peacekeeping Centre (MPC), the vast majority of the MTCP is devoted to broader capacity-building of foreign militaries, including foreign military personnel from Ukraine and the Baltic States, where the main perceived threat is Russia.

The Canadian Defence Academy organizes Senior Officer Seminars—about five per year, for about thirty foreign officers per course. Each course is done with a foreign partner, such as Botswana, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, and Serbia. In these seminars, peace support operations and civil/military cooperation are often used as the theme. For instance, one seminar, funded by DND and held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012, was called the Senior Officer Peace Support Operations Seminar.

Finally, the Réseau de recherche sur les opérations de paix, based at the Université de Montréal, provides world-class research and education for military and civilians from French-speaking countries. With partial funding from the Government of Canada, it organizes conferences, seminars, regional forums, and technical training sessions for African states, especially those in la Francophonie. But it has not done training since 2015. Even so, because of cuts to the peacekeeping training of Canadian soldiers in recent years, Canada currently trains more foreign officers in UN peace operations than it does its own officers.

Beyond the lack of political support for peacekeeping in the Harper government and the much delayed action of the Trudeau government, three enduring myths about the nature of peacekeeping training have held back the preparedness of CAF members.

Myths about peacekeeping and training^

Myth #1: Peacekeeping missions are easy, low-intensity, low-level operations41

This myth stems primarily from the selective Cold War experience where peacekeeping missions mostly act as buffer zones between relatively stationary armies. Many therefore believe that UN peacekeeping operations are less intense than NATO operations like the one in Afghanistan, requiring less preparation and training. As described earlier in this report, however, the mandate and complexity of peace operations have evolved considerably since the end of the Cold War. To deal with the switch from interstate to intrastate conflict, modern operations became multi-dimensional, requiring highly trained and dedicated personnel who are intensely familiar not only with the specifics of their deployment, but with the operational mechanics that are unique to the UN, and to the limits of the Security Council mandate. The peacekeepers have to meet very high post-war expectations under demanding circumstances. They must also be well-prepared for combat, especially to repel attacks by spoilers of the peace process.

As examples, the ongoing UN operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali are particularly complex and deadly. The mission in the Congo has a Security Council mandate for “offensive operations” against illegal armed groups, meaning that parts of the force are authorized to disarm and neutralize such groups by force if necessary. As the mission is a peacekeeping operation, this is done quite selectively. The peacekeepers in Mali, meanwhile, must navigate a complex environment of separatism and extremism to prevent or mitigate deliberate attacks against themselves and the civilian population. Since its creation in 2013, the UN mission in Mali has suffered over thirty fatalities a year, making it the most dangerous peacekeeping mission currently deployed. In order to be effective and secure in these missions, peacekeepers must be specially trained in combat. They must also work alongside a wide array of different national forces from both the developed and the developing world. These are not low-intensity operations requiring low skill levels. To be effective, peacekeepers need to be well-trained in many skilled areas.

Myth #2: General combat training is sufficient to prepare troops for peacekeeping deployment

If the notion that peacekeeping is an easy, low-intensity deployment is false, it is also untrue that soldiers trained for combat operations are sufficiently trained to be peacekeepers. The complex environment faced by UN peacekeepers means that the old notion that the best way to train a peacekeeper is to train a general-purpose, combat-capable soldier is no longer appropriate. While combat training remains essential for UN soldiers, much additional and specialized training is required. In Canada, the last fifteen years have seen a particular focus on training for NATO-style international interventions, given the CAF’s high-profile role in Afghanistan. However, modern peacekeeping missions involve fundamentally different dynamics facing personnel deployed on the ground, where there is greater emphasis on negotiation and mediation, and there are greater restrictions on the use of force.

While some aspects of the CAF experience in Kandahar may be transferable to future peacekeeping deployments, there is also a need for dedicated courses, exercises, and training institutions to provide preparation for peacekeeping. It is not sufficient for the CAF to train purely for war-fighting on the assumption that preparation can be “scaled back” for stability operations like peacekeeping. Canadian soldiers need skills outside the domain of traditional war-fighting training (such as non-lethal weapons, de-escalation tactics, and negotiation skills) to ensure the “qualitative readiness” for possible future operations.42

In communications to member states, the UN has emphasized the need for specialized training of national troops in the pre-deployment stage. The UN’s Global Training Needs Assessments identified the training priorities of the following: understanding the UN and peacekeeping institutions and processes; mandated tasks (such as protection of civilians, child protection, and promotion of human rights); cross-cutting issues such as gender and how to integrate them into one’s work; and the application of UN peacekeeping fundamental principles (such as consent, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate).43

Myth #3: Canada’s low level of engagement in peacekeeping operations has lessened the need for peacekeeping training in Canada

As mentioned, Canada was for decades recognized internationally as a leader in UN peacekeeping. It provided the largest number of troops during the Cold War, and in the early 1990s still held the number one spot, with some 3,300 troops at its peak in July 1993. While the number of personnel deployed in the field by the UN has reached an all-time high (approximately 100,000 uniformed personnel), the Canadian Forces’ contribution in May 2018 came to an all-time low (with only nineteen military personnel deployed). For some, this low level of engagement with UN peacekeeping justified the cuts in training infrastructure that have occurred over the last decade. Some may ask, “What is the point of holding a large number of courses, exercises, and simulations available to all CAF officers if fewer than fifty personnel are deployed to UN missions?” This perspective, however, fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of military training, as well as the current political call to reengage in peacekeeping operations. The aim of training regimes is not solely to address the operational requirements of yesterday, but to ensure that military members are prepared for a wide range of possible operations that the Forces will be asked to engage with in the future.

A new policy direction under the Trudeau government means that the Forces will be asked to send more personnel to peace operations around the world. Indeed, the government’s 2015 throne speech announced a plan to “renew Canada’s commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations.” In March 2018, the Canadian government announced the deployment of a helicopter task force to the UN peacekeeping operation in Mali, with a quick reaction force to be deployed to a mission in the future. By cutting its training activities dedicated to peacekeeping to less than a quarter, the CAF has significantly reduced its flexibility, speed, and preparedness in this domain, and runs the risk of being less than able to follow the Government of Canada’s current and future directions.

Indeed, the loss of CAF experience in the field since the early 2000s has carried a high price. The CAF, which once deployed in large numbers, now has little peacekeeping experience on which to base its contributions to UN peace operations or the proposed leadership in international peacekeeping training. The methods, standards, numbers, and doctrines of the UN have all evolved considerably over the past two decades, as the UN experienced two surges (see Figure 2), but Canada has not kept up.


As shown, modern peacekeeping operations require specialized training and preparation over and above the pre-deployment training given to military personnel for deployment as combatants. Like other Western countries seeking to reengage with UN peacekeeping, Canada is facing the challenge of preparing its armed forces for deployment after years of low-level engagement with the UN. Additionally, the minister of national defence has been asked to lead internationally in training for peace operations. So Canada will need extensive and modernized peacekeeping training programs to ensure that its armed forces are fully equipped to accomplish these tasks and help train others. In reality, the trend among most of Canada’s military institutions has been towards less peacekeeping training.

Despite the prevailing trend, the RMC, which teaches both officer cadets and graduate students, has managed to maintain roughly the same level of peacekeeping courses since 2000, though it no longer co-sponsors peacekeeping summer institutes. The Canadian Army Command and Staff College, which provides the Army Operations Course to soldiers of the captain rank, currently provides much less preparation for involvement in UN peace operations than it did in 2005, though in 2017 it began redeveloping UN-related content for its curriculum.

The Canadian Forces College in Toronto provides joint education for the future leaders in the officer corps in Canada and selected other nations. Its activities (lectures and exercises) relating to peacekeeping have been reduced to less than half of what they were in 2005. The JCSP went from seven lectures and two discussions on peacekeeping in 2005 to two lectures in 2017/2018, one of which was given only to one stream (roughly one third of the students). At the higher (national security) level, the case studies and exercises on peacekeeping were dropped. However, the higher-ranked students (mostly colonels and navy captains) continue to make a useful trip to New York City for lectures from UN and diplomatic leaders, though this is diluted because of visits to other New York sites (e.g., Wall Street and the NY Stock Exchange). The CFC once had an exercise where students actually role-played as peacekeepers planning an operation; some current exercises simulate an alliance that provides offensive military capability to back a PSO, but as with the Army Operations Course, the role-playing is for NATO-like structures and not the UN.

The PSTC in Kingston was established in 1996 to focus on peace support operations, but over the last decade it has lost that focus. Under the demands of the Afghanistan operation, it shifted to training and preparation for NATO-style interventions. With the exception of the UNMEM course (formerly UN military observer and liaison course), it does not offer any UN-centred courses among its ten courses. Still, material in the other courses can be useful to peacekeepers, and peace operations content will likely increase. In review, the PSTC offers less than a quarter of what it did in 2005 on peace operations.

Finally, and most significantly, the PPC, which for almost two decades provided cutting-edge peacekeeping education to over 150 Canadian military personnel a year and many more foreign national officers, was shut down in December 2013 following the loss of federal support. With that closure, Canada lost its only peacekeeping facility to train military personnel, police, and civilians together. More than a dozen annual courses were lost, about half of the total previously available to CAF members. Except for the RMC, the institutions (Canadian Army Command and Staff College, Canadian Forces College, and RMC Saint-Jean) lost the majority of their courses and materials on peacekeeping. So it is safe to conclude that CAF officer education on peacekeeping is at less than a quarter of what it was at the turn of the century.

This article recommends the restoration of many of the training programs and exercises that were in place during the late 1990s and early 2000s, albeit updated to reflect the evolving nature of modern peacekeeping. The current CAF training structure prioritizes combat readiness, counterinsurgency, and more traditional military skills. A revitalized peacekeeping training program would reintroduce instruction and role-playing on conflict resolution skills, and cultural awareness. It would also offer greater awareness of the role of the UN and the unique structure of peacekeeping operations, including on:

  • UN roles, for example, nation-building, elections, conflict prevention, and protection of civilians;
  • UN organization, including command and control (C2) measures and CIMIC;
  • UN doctrine and operating techniques, tactics, and procedures;
  • UN components and actors, especially those of UN police and human rights officers, and UN agencies, funds, and programs;
  • Non-UN partners, such as local governments and regional powers;
  • “Humanitarian space” and non-governmental organizations, including direct exposure to active field organizations;
  • History, experiences, and lessons in peace operations of the past;
  • Political roles, including of the “soldier–diplomat” facilitating peace;
  • Negotiation and mediation between conflicting parties, and success in peace processes;
  • De-escalation techniques, including those for firefights and inter-group conflict;
  • Protection of civilians;
  • Dealing with sexual exploitation and abuse;
  • Responses to the host state, including human rights violations committed by it; and
  • Transition to a peace-building mission.

To help accomplish this range of activities, the restoration of a dedicated peacekeeping training centre in Canada, filling the gap left by the closure of the PPC, would be an important step in enhancing CAF officer training towards UN operations.

The Trudeau government has pledged a sizable deployment of units: up to 600 military members to one or more robust peacekeeping operations. In March 2018, after extensive deliberation and long delay, the Government of Canada announced a deployment of six helicopters and military support personnel to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Additionally, Canada has launched the Elsie Initiative on Women in Peacekeeping, which includes a training and technical assistance package for one to two troop/police-contributing countries. While details and timelines for Canada’s Mali deployment remain unclear, and while these announcements still fall short of the Trudeau government’s initial peacekeeping pledge, the need for specialized preparations and training for peace operations for CAF officers is becoming more and more pressing.

In 1997, the government inquiry into the Somalia Affair decried the state of peacekeeping training in the Canadian Forces, drawing a direct link between inadequate training and the debacle in Somalia. Some twenty years later, this advice and these lessons have become valid again. A much wider array of knowledge and skill is required for peacekeeping operations than is normally covered under general-purpose combat training. Broadening the knowledge and skill base through education and training is also a way of shaping appropriate attitudes and setting the right expectations to help CAF members adapt to the demands of both traditional peacekeeping and modern peace support missions.45

Speaking at the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on 21 September 2016, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Jonathan Vance made a strong case for Canadian involvement in peace operations.

I can think of no chief of defence that I know or work with around the world that wouldn’t first try to find ways to prevent the conflict, to mitigate it. The use of force should never be done just for the sake of using force … So I believe that the UN is a valuable institution through which, given a correct analysis and a correct application of military forces … can help to lead to the other things that need to occur in the political, social and economic space to provide real and long-term change.46

Reengaging in peace operations is not merely altruism, it is enlightened national interest. Peace operations help contain conflict, disease, crime, illicit trafficking, and the involuntary movement of people. In its first speech from the throne, the Trudeau government made the commitment “to contribute to greater peace throughout the world,” stating that “the Government will renew Canada’s commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations.”47 More specifically, Prime Minister Trudeau asked the minister of national defence to lead an international training effort for peace operations.48 Improved training within the CAF will contribute significantly to these goals. The same applies to many other industrialized nations who are seeking to reengage in UN peace operations to make our world safer and better.


Declaration of Conflicting Interests^

The author(s) declared the following potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Professor Walter Dorn is an employee of the Department of National Defence. He teaches a course on peace operations in JCSP at CFC, and has taught a peacekeeping courses at RMC in the past. This fact-based evaluation was done impartially, using quantitative analysis to the greatest extent possible. He is using his contractually-guaranteed academic freedom to make a critique of the peacekeeping training activities in the Canadian Armed Forces.


The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.



See, for example, David Curran, “Peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and the role of training,” More than Fighting for Peace? (New York: Springer, 2017), 17–35, and Alex J. Bellamy and Paul D. Williams, eds., Providing Peacekeepers: The Politics, Challenges, and Future of United Nations Peacekeeping Contributions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 25–47.

Joachim A. Koops and Giulia Tercovich, “A European return to United Nations peacekeeping? Opportunities, challenges and ways ahead,” International Peacekeeping 23, no.5 (2016): 597–609.

A. Walter Dorn, “Canadian peacekeeping: Proud tradition, strong future?” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal12, no. 2 (2005): 7–32.

Troop contribution numbers in this paper are drawn from the UN, “Troop and Police Contributors (as of 30 April 2018),” htps:// (accessed 20 May 2018). See also International Peace Institute’s “Providing for Peacekeeping” database, (accessed 19 June 2018).

5 Government of Canada, “Speech from the Throne,” 4 December 2015, (accessed 9 July 2018)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “Minister of National Defence Mandate Letter,” undated [issued in November 2015], (accessed 20 June 2018).

UN data for 31 May 2018, available from Walter Dorn, “Tracking the Promises: Canada’s Contributions to UN Peacekeeping” (updated monthly), (accessed 20 June 2018).

The Canadian generals who served as UN force commanders in the 1990s were: MGen Clive Milner, United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) (1989–1992); MGen Armand Roy, United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (1991-1992); MGen Roméo Dallaire, United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) (1993–1994); MGen Guy Tousignant, UNAMIR (1994–1995); BGen Robin Gagnon, United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) (1997); LGen Maurice Baril, Multinational Force (MNF) (1996); and BGen Cam Ross, United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) (1998–2000). MGen Denis Thompson served as commander of the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai (2014–2017), but that operation is completely separate from the UN.

This paper draws from A. Walter Dorn and Joshua Libben, “Unprepared for peace? The decline of Canadian peacekeeping training (and what to do about it),” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Rideau Institute, Ottawa, February 2016.

10 UN, “United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Principles and Guidelines” (Capstone Doctrine), 2008, (accessed 20 June 2018).

11 In the traditional sense, peacekeeping is about providing security, including by monitoring belligerents and interposing peacekeepers between them. Note: the UN uses the term “peacekeeping” to cover the entire spectrum shown in Figure 1. In Canadian and NATO doctrine, the term “peace support operation” (PSO) is used, though the Global Affairs Canada is shifting to the term “peace operation,” which is also becoming more used in the UN.

12 John Otte, “Modern United Nations peacekeeping: Towards a holistic approach to addressing conflict,” Conflict Trends 2 (2014): 3–10.

13 The latest doctrines of nations on peace operations can be found at (accessed 20 June 2018). An academic source that reviews many of these types of concepts is Oliver Ramsbotham, Hugh Miall, and Tom Woodhouse, Contemporary Conflict Resolution, 4th ed. (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016).

14 Department of National Defence, Peace Support Operations, Joint Doctrine Manual B-G J-005-307/FP-030, 6 November 2002.

15 In some treatments, training is distinguished from education: training helps military personnel respond to similar (well-defined) situations in a similar manner (quickly and in unison, requiring the military personnel to “think alike”). In education, the goal is complex problem-solving, where different approaches must be considered (“think differently but act consistently”). In modern peace operations, both training and education are required. In the title of this paper, for simplicity, training was used to encompass education as well.

16 UN, “Troop and Police Contributors.”

17 Three UN missions—in Haiti, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire—were closed down or transitioned into police-only operations in 2017–2018.

18 The Security Council’s P5 military personnel contributions, as of November 2015, are, respectively: China (2,479); France (849); the United Kingdom (345); Russia (64); the United States of America (43).

19 UN, “Ranking of Military and Police Contributions to UN Operations,” 31 May 2018, (accessed 9 July 2018).

20 The three temporary increases in Figure 3 are due to temporary contributions to the UN Mission in Ethiopia-Eritrea (UNMEE) and the UN stabilization mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The 2004 spike is from a re-hatting of Canadian soldiers who were part of the US-led intervention force in Haiti.

21 By contrast, Canadian police forces, mostly from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, have provided the police commissioner in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for almost the entire time since the mission’s creation in 2004 until the mission ended in 2017.

22 UN, Department of Field Support and Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Training: A Strategic Investment in UN Peacekeeping, Global Peacekeeping Training Needs Assessment, final report, 2012–2013.

23 Due to the decentralized manner in which CAF members, commissioned and non-commissioned, are trained at the unit level, it is difficult to comprehensively assess the changes and trends in peacekeeping training for these troops over the last ten to fifteen years. Much anecdotal evidence, however, points to the lack of unit level training for peacekeeping, including at locations like the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre. Additionally, because the majority of deployments of Canadian Forces in peace operations since 2002 have involved officer-level deployments on an individual basis, rather than formed units, this paper focuses primarily on training of officers rather than non-commissioned members.

24 The two-credit War Studies course “International Peacekeeping” from 2005 was broken into two one-credit courses: “Evolution and Theory of International Peacekeeping,” and “Contemporary Peace and Stabilization Operations.” Despite the division, there has been little change in the overall peacekeeping coverage of these courses.

25 In one of the three distinct streams, there was a lecture on “The Evolution of Peace and Stability Operations,” but it was only available to about one third of the JSCP residential students. In 2015/2016, the program offers an elective course on “Peace and Stability Operations: An Evolving Practice.” This course is only offered to a small number of students (around fifteen), given that it is one of nine or so electives on offer. In 2016/2017, CFC did not offer the elective course, but it is on offer again in 2017/2018.

26 DATE information is provided in Kelly Jo Bridgwater, “Decisive Action Training Environment: Future Training Grounded in Today’s Intelligence,” US Army, 27 November 2012, 20 May 2018).

27 The colonels do, however, visit New York City for two to three days in an Experiential Learning Visit. This experience gives them good exposure to UN officials and national diplomats.

28 Royal Military College Saint-Jean, “Two-year academic programmes (2014–2016),” (accessed 20 June 2018).

29 Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia, “Dishonoured legacy: The lessons of the Somalia Affair: Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia” (Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1997): 558, 560.

30 Trista Grant-Waddel, “‘Soldiers first’: The evolution of training for peacekeeping in the Canadian Forces, 1956–2000” (PhD thesis, Western University, Ontario, Canada, May 2014), (accessed 20 May 2018).

31 M. A. Rudderham, “Canada and United Nations peace operations: Challenges, opportunities, and Canada’s response,” International Journal 63, no. 2 (2008): 381.

32 The other courses the PSTC offers are on Information Operations, Individual Battle Task Standards, Psychological Operations, and Civil Military Transition Team. There is also a somewhat PSO-related course in CIMIC designed for the ranks of lieutenant or higher (officers) and sergeant or higher (non-commissioned). Owing to the multidimensional nature of modern peacekeeping, CIMIC skills can be quite useful for peace deployments, though this course is designed for a broader set of operations than just peacekeeping.

33 National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, “Training at the Peace Support Training Centre,” (accessed 20 June 2018).

34 Michael Thompson, Courtney Hall, and Barbara Adam, Current Canadian Forces Education and Training for Moral and Ethical Decision Making in Operations, 2009, Defence Research and Development Canada, DRDC no. CR 2009-043, The current PSTC course list is found at (accessed 20 May 2018).

35 Emily Spencer and Tony Balasevicius, “Crucible of success: Cultural intelligence and the modern battlespace,” Canadian Military Journal 9, no. 3 (2009): 45, (accessed 20 May 2018).

36 Commission of Inquiry, “Dishonoured legacy,” 628.

37 The full closure of the Pearson Centre occurred in November 2013.

38 The total budget for the PPC varied from C$10–15 million. Source: Pearson Peacekeeping Centre Annual Reports 2005–2011.

39 Data from Annual Report 2006/2009, Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.

40 See “IAPTC Membership,” (accessed 20 June 2018).

41 See, for example, the statement by Canadian military historian Jack Granatstein: “It is a truism that a war-trained soldier can fight and also do peacekeeping. A peacekeeping-trained soldier, however, cannot fight in a war—at least, not without dying quickly.” J. L. Granatstein, “Fatal distraction: Lester Pearson and the unwarranted primacy of peacekeeping,” Policy Options, May 2004, 69.

42 Major David Hill, “Finding the right balance of stability to combat capability in the Canadian Army’s training system” (Master of Defence Study (MDS) major research paper, Canadian Forces College, 4 May 2014), (accessed 20 June 2018).

43 Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Training: A Strategic Investment in UN Peacekeeping, Global Peacekeeping Training Needs Assessment, final report, 2012–2013.

44 This critique is implicit in the statement by Canadian military historian Sean Maloney: “The UN has not been able to recover its reputation as an institution in the past decade. There is little or no point in committing Canada to UN operations until that deficiency is rectified, should that ever occur.” Sean Maloney, “Why keep the myth alive,” Canadian Forces Journal 8, no. 1 (2007): 100–102.

45 Commission of Inquiry, “Dishonoured legacy,” 560.

46 The full transcript of General Vance’s remarks to the Senate Committee can be found at (accessed 20 June 2018). Ironically, under CDS Jon Vance, the CAF personnel contribution fell to its lowest level in over a half century. Not since the first UN peacekeeping force was proposed by Canadian foreign minister Lester B. Pearson in 1956 has the number deployed been so low. But a sincere effort is being made to find ways to contribute, especially in Mali.

47 Canada, “Speech from the Throne,” 4 December 2015.

48 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “Minister of national defence mandate letter.”


Author Biographies

Walter Dorn is Professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada and the Canadian Forces College. He has served in UN operations in several contexts and worked at the UN in New York, including as a member of the UN’s Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping. He is author of Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping, and editor of Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace. He served with the UN while on sabbatical in 2017–2018, as the UN's “Innovation and Protection Technology Expert.”

Joshua Libben is a graduate from the University of Ottawa’s School of Political Studies. He completed his dissertation on troop contribution dynamics in UN peacekeeping in 2017. He was also the 2016–2017 Cadieux-Léger Fellow, working as a policy analyst at Global Affairs Canada’s Foreign Policy Research division.