March 04, 2015

Veteran's shocking claim: Canadian media puts our soldiers at risk

Jonathan WadeRebel Commentator

Could the Canadian mainstream media jeopardize both the mission and the lives of Canadian operators in Iraq?

Sadly, the answer is yes.

Since the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command — commonly known as CANSOFCOM — was created, its units have been operating in a very secretive environment. From the mountains of Afghanistan to the desert of Iraq, Canada’s Special Forces have distinguished themselves by proving they are one of the world’s best.

In fact, the very first spectrum of any Special Operations Command around the world is to work in the shadows of the conventional forces. But Canadians wanted to know more about their Special Operations Forces.

The Canadian Special Forces current Commander, Brigadier-General Michael Rouleau, has vowed to bring more transparency in his command. He held press conferences recently about what the real mission is in Iraq and to provide the media with insensitive information.

While this is a good thing, it could also turn to vinegar quickly. The Canadian media will suck as much information as possible on current Canadian Special Operations Forces deployments around the world.

The huge media frenzy on the Special Forces Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) in Iraq has been a sign of what could get wrong with more transparency. The JTAC’s role is to direct airstrikes while keeping the collateral damage at the lowest level possible.

Many media have been accusing the Canadian government to hide the true nature of Canada’s Special Forces deployment in Iraq. But if the National Defence issued a statement in the early stages of the Iraq intervention about the use of JTACs, their life would have been in jeopardy. Islamic State fighters would have been made aware and extensive patrolling might have let them find the small team.

To preserve the initiative, the Canadian Special Forces operators need secrecy and they need to know that the Canadian population understands and respect that. As a combat veteran of Afghanistan—even with no prior Special Forces experience —I cannot stress enough that working in complete secrecy is paramount,  both for the security of our operators and for the success of the mission. Our operators are silent professionals, they will do anything to get the mission done; a mission issued and authorized by the Canadian government.

What amazes me is how the Canadian media will do anything to get a few lines in their newspapers or a few minutes on national TV while completely disregarding the safety of our operators abroad. It is our duty — as Canadian civilians or veterans — to not let that happen.

Jonathan Wade served in the Canadian Forces with distinction for more than fourteen years prior to his honorable discharge in June 2014, a career which led him to travel across the globe, deploying to Afghanistan in 2009 to mentor and advise the Afghan National Army—where he was awarded the Chief of the Defence Staff Commendation—and shortly to Haiti following the earthquake of 2010.

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commented 2015-09-20 12:56:45 -0400
Thanks for your service, and yes, you are quite correct in your column.
It goes much farther than the Leftwing Media Party, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair are both calling for more transparency in our Special Forces deployments, and Canadian Armed Forces in general, once again showing how massively stupid they really are.
We are at war with Isis!
Isis who specializes in media and social networking. Maybe it is time to lay some espionage charges against these lefty buffoons and opposition MPs?.
commented 2015-03-05 11:01:47 -0500
Hey Robert, thanks for your question!

As a matter of fact, the mission in Afghanistan clearly demonstrated that Canadian soldiers are not only “peacekeepers” but can also prove that they are real warriors. I was fortuante enough to train Afghan soldiers right on the frontline and they were always telling us how we were great soldiers; we would fight alongside them while many other countriues would stay back and let them do the fight.

Of course we have a great history of peacekeeping and we can’t let this go away. However, with the current international conflict situation, Canadian soldiers will be called upon for combat operations and the Canadina population HAS to keep supporting them. While I agree that “peacekeeping” mission can still be good—such as in Haiti—I do believe that Canadian soldiers will have more of a combat role in the near future.
commented 2015-03-05 10:55:27 -0500
Jonathan thanks for your service. I have a question. I moved to Ontario from NJ and I always hear people on the left here boast of the CF as “peacekeepers” which in and of itself noble. The unfortunate thing is the people who say this seem to fail to understand that peace is kept by warriors that are willing to stop the bad guys by force. The Canadian military has a long tradition of being a well trained robust offensive fighting machine and in my opinion that tradition seems to be diminished by those who seem to get angry when the CF engages in battles. To simply call the CF “peacekeepers” is not a proper recognition of all that they’ve accomplished through the years. How do you and other CF members feel when you here people complain that missions in Afghanistan and such are bad because they believe the CF are just “peacekeepers”?
commented 2015-03-04 23:39:43 -0500
Brian Peckett – this is exactly how I think. Those JTACs made sure the JDAMs were dropped with pinpoint accuracy thus keeping collateral damage to its minimum. Having said that, the JTAC teams are small group of operators / soldiers relying more on secrecy and concealment than on their own firepower. It is PRIMORDIAL to keep them in the shadow so they can keep doing an excellent job.
commented 2015-03-04 22:03:57 -0500
In modern warfare, when you send fighter aircraft to drop bombs on the enemy, you also send ground troops to guide the weapons in to the target. They are, by necessity on the front lines. That means they may be fired upon on occasion. But without them we would be dropping unguided bombs in areas where civilians and combatants are very hard to tell apart. Is that preferable to the msm? When the msm got on their high horse to complain (loudly) about our skirmishes on the ground near the front lines, they (un?)intentionally told isis to expand their security patrols around important areas because we will use a ground spotter to guide a bomb run. In my opinion, that is called aiding and abetting the enemy.
commented 2015-03-04 21:40:05 -0500
Unfortunately its not that obivous for many mainstream media Peter :| … Thank you Anthony and Pamela! True North – you are spot on!
commented 2015-03-04 20:53:45 -0500
Doesn’t everyone realize that?
commented 2015-03-04 20:11:16 -0500
You guys are awsome.Full support from me.The left just cant stand its forces fighting for freedom,sad display if ignorance on their part.
commented 2015-03-04 17:48:32 -0500
Thank you for your service Jonathon! I look forward to future articles from you. Back in the day, the media had respect for the troops and missions but not so today. The Feds have a duty to protect our forces by having good relationships with the major networks. Of course political positioning would have to take a back seat.
commented 2015-03-04 16:27:35 -0500
The problem is that the main stream media refuses to recognize that we are at war. They happily print whatever they can get their hands on and never consider the consequences, because they refuse to understand that we are fighting a real war with real soldiers with real lives and that every one of them puts their lives on the line for us, every time they go out.
When the Special Boat Service went into Africa to try to kidnap Rommel, there was no demand for transparency. Whey our paratroopers dropped in behind the lines in Europe to threaten the enemy from behind the front, there was no demand for transparency. When Canadian troops stormed ashore at Dieppe there were no reporters printing every bit of information they could find, before the landings. Why? Because we were at war and the press was controlled and to a large part were part of the effort.

Today, without acknowledging that we are at war, they print any information they can without a thought for the guys on the front line or way out in front of it. The main stream press needs to be censored for their cavalier attitude about our armed forces under fire.
commented 2015-03-04 14:19:39 -0500
Sorry that was me – Task Force Spartan – wrong Twitter handle.
commented 2015-03-04 14:07:16 -0500
Thank you all for your kind comments! I read them all and I am happy you like what I’ve wrote.

I agree that DND has a role to play in secrecy by “policing” their soldiers—most especially the ones who have access to sensible information.

It is everyone’s job in the CF to uphold OPSEC to its highest level and NEVER divulgate informations to media regardless of their political alignment.
commented 2015-03-04 13:47:42 -0500
Here’s another idea. One I assume – and bloody hope – is already being used.

Propaganda is media feed. Give it to them.
commented 2015-03-04 13:44:17 -0500
To me, this sounds like a military discipline issue.

Rules about safety, security and secrecy should be clear, understood by all, and never violated. No one with sensitive information can afford to give a damn about media, public or partisan demands for transparency. Anyone who divulges information that was first required to be vetted by the DND should be harshly disciplined.

If the chain of command is not stringently enough enforced, let’s tighten that up. If some fool has allowed a rule to trust media not to divulge secrets they are told, then change that. Don’t blame the leopard for its spots. Don’t trust media.

We see this in our police who ignore legislation and endorce for the interests of organized crime. We see it in our judiciary who ignore not only legislation written by a parliament freely elected by us, the voters of Canada, but who also ignore the very freedom on which our Constitution is based when they ignore law and make their own.

We cannot afford any military rogue that ignores the rules that keep our forces safe and provides unauthorized information to the media to score political points. Nor can we afford to tolerate any rule that allows media access to military secrets. Might as well invite our enemies to dictate strategy directly to our forces.

The media may be annoying and persistent but they cannot publish information some military agent has not given them … unless they are engaging in criminal activity to get it, in which case they should be charged, detained, and prosecuted.

Here is the bottom line. Media are not military. Do not trust them with secrets.
commented 2015-03-04 13:35:09 -0500
Awesome article, Jonathan. I appreciated every word you wrote.
commented 2015-03-04 13:32:41 -0500
Thanks for your thoughtful commentary Jonathan. It’s great to have someone with your experience on the site. It seems to me that “transparency” has become another buzzword hawked around media, bureaucrats and politicians to justify sticking their noses everywhere for their own agendas. I agree that in a democracy the people need to know what their military is doing but that doesn’t mean knowing every detail of every operation and especially where disclosure will jeopardize operations and put military personnel in harms way. It would be sufficient at certain points during or at the conclusion of an operation, when our people are out of harms way, for a briefing to be provided to the media and to the people in general. If that’s not soon enough or detailed enough for the msm, they can go pound salt. That’s the price you pay for living in a secure and safe nation.

Overzealous msm’ers should consider what became of their onetime darling Julian Assange after he revealed details that put military personnel and cooperative civilians at risk. It’s been downhill ever since for him.
commented 2015-03-04 13:24:23 -0500
Good article Jonathan. This has been a concern of mine as I have friends in field. Another concearn of mine is the Liberal and NDP players in the briefings that have leaked “information the Canadian people needed to know”. I was concerned when the information was broadcast on the news as it would likely make all Canadian forces a bigger target. Anyone leaking information that causes grievous harm or death of any Canadian or Allied Operator should be charged with Treason, no mater if it is a Politician, Bureaucrat, General, Soldier, Civilian or Journalist.
commented 2015-03-04 12:39:23 -0500
Exactly James – as I stated on Facebook: “As a combat veteran of Afghanistan myself, I understand the importance of OPSEC. Having said that, I do believe that once DND has cleared information, it is up for grab by the media—and I don’t see an issue about it. The real problem lies in the willingness of many mainstream media to toss the OPSEC aside so they can get a breaking news such as the whole JTAC story. The JTAC story was published before DND could react and it forced them to divulgate valuable information because of it. The fact that ISIS now knows that our Special Operators are working in small teams to guide the bombs dropped by the coalition’s aircrafts puts them in danger. ISIS will extensively patrol their area to seek and destroy those small JTAC teams.”
commented 2015-03-04 12:33:36 -0500
A thoughtful write Jonathan. More discussion of this topic may give the media cause to think. During the second world war the slogan was “loose lips sink ships”. Now we have instant news through social media so one thoughtless comment (I personally am guilty of many) can aide the enemy. What bothers me more than thoughtless media is a “thinking” media with agendas (such as discrediting government) …yet have no moral bearing other than a left ideology and zero concern for our troops.
commented 2015-03-04 12:11:16 -0500
Indeed Eileen – it is unfortunate that many will jeopardize both the mission and the lives of our soldiers abroad to get a breaking news.
commented 2015-03-04 11:47:25 -0500
Any info released by the military should be only on a “needs-to-know” basis. However, the mainstream media are like bloodhounds, always on the trail of the “hottest scoop” that will sell their media to the public and perhaps make someone “famous” .