Military expert brings his views on armed force to McMaster


His work on infantry tactics became the bible of the American Marine Corps and has now been translated into Chinese. His comments on the shape and structure of the Canadian Forces have drawn fire across the country.

Renowned military historian and professor Lt.-Col. John A. English brings his controversial views on the armed forces to McMaster University later this week when he presents the McMaster/Argyll Lecture in History and Public Affairs.

What can we expect of war in the 21st century? What kind of reform is needed in the Canadian Forces? How should our reserves be restructured?

“Current trends point toward the continued downsizing of forces and the globalization of advanced military technology. This means that, contrary to popular perception, mass may still be as important as ever in war,” argues English.

He offers his views of where the Canadian army is and should be headed in the 21st century in a lecture and slide presentation titled “The Instrumentality of Armed Force and the Future Shape of the Canadian Army” on Saturday, April 29 at 2 p.m. in Room 104, Chester New Hall. Admission is free.

“John English is the ideal writer to probe this vital subject,” Jack Granatstein, director of the Canadian War Museum, has written. “Dr. English's view are strong; so is his language. What is important is that the debate about defence be engaged with Canada's national interest firmly in mind.”

A retired Canadian army officer, English is a widely regarded infantry tactician who has published several critically acclaimed books on Canadian military history. He is currently professor of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College.

His Lament for an Army: The Decline of Canadian Military Professionalism (1998) offered a scathing indictment of the state of professionalism in the Canadian army in the aftermath of the Somalia affair. Other titles he has authored include: A Perspective on Infantry, The Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign: A Study of Failure in High Command, and Marching Through Chaos: The Descent of Armies in Theory and Practice.

The only non-American instructor at the U.S. college, English was educated at Royal Roads, the Royal Military College, Duke University and Queen's University.

English's lecture is sponsored by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's) and McMaster University's Faculty of Humanities and Department of History.

Organizers hope that the lecture will become an annual event.