FICTION

The Army's Keyman

The Chief of Staff's job is to blueprint Canada's Army and plan the nation's defense

GRANT DEXTER June 15 1942
FICTION

The Army's Keyman

The Chief of Staff's job is to blueprint Canada's Army and plan the nation's defense

GRANT DEXTER June 15 1942

The Army's Keyman

The Chief of Staff's job is to blueprint Canada's Army and plan the nation's defense

GRANT DEXTER

IF YOU met him in civilian clothes you would probably take him to be a lawyer, certainly a professional man.

Six feet tall, slim, grey hair brushed straight back from the forehead; mustache close-clipped, neat; straight blue eyes; affable manner this is Lieutenant General Kenneth Stuart, Chief of the General Staff, successor to Lieutenant General H. D. G. Crerar.

He is the son of an Anglican clergyman, was born at Three Rivers, Quebec, Sept. 9, 1891. He is a graduate of R.M.C. and the Imperial Staff College in England. He served in the Canadian Engineers in the last war, winning the D.S.O. and the Military Cross.

Between wars he was District Engineer Officer at Calgary, Quebec and Victoria; Director of Military Intelligence and Operations at National Defense headquarters; and Commandant of R.M.C. This war has .brought him three appointments—military representative on the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Defense Board; Vice-Chief of the General Staff; Chief of the General Staff.

He is a Scot by , descent but not of the dour, traditional type. He is high-strung, quick in thought and movement. Long arms shoot out for desired papers, he begins to answer questions before you have finished asking them. True, this man could be stern and ruthless. There is a glint of steel in those eyes. But as you talk with him in his office at headquarters he is relaxed. His humor is not of the dry sort; it is spontaneous.

“Ken” Stuart carries his rank modestly. As he sits at his desk, his appearance is in sharp contrast with most of his predecessors, whose photographs are on the walls of his office. Only since the last war have Canadians held this high army post. As you glance at the photographs— Crerar, McNaughton, MacBrien, Thacker and beyond—it is no time until you come to the cocked hats with the brush of white feathers, masses of gold braid and the curved sabres of days long past.

In peacetime.it wouldn’t make much difference to the average Canadian who was Chief of the General Staff. But in wartime he is one of the half-dozen most important men in the country.

In peacetime he gives orders to a handful of brass hats who, in turn, pass the orders along to four or five thousand regulars and to the militia. He has the spending of about eight million dollars.

When war comes the C.G.S. has to plan and to begin the training (if possible complete it) of scores of thousands of soldiers, and to supervise the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars. This fiscal year (ended March 31) it is $880,000,000; next fiscal year it will exceed $1,000,000,000.

Briefly, it is General Stuart’s job to:

1. Recommend the size and kind of an army we need.

2. Advise as to the type and quality of the

weapons with which this army should be equipped.

3. Train the army.

4. Originate and carry out plans for the defense of Canada.

Naturally he cannot do this single-handed. Nor can the general staff do it without the co-operation of the other great branches of the National Defense Department.

The feeding, housing, clothing and transportation of the army is done by the Quartermaster-General’s department. Once General Stuart has laid down the broad requirements for equipment and weapons the Ordnance department does the detailed specifications and the ordering. The troops are raised and disciplined by the Adjutant-General’s department. These are separate departments.

It is a stiff assignment to have to draw up the blueprint for Canada’s Army, and General Stuart, naturally, would not tackle the job on his own. With respect to determining the size and makeup of our army, he is advised by General A. G. L. McNaughton and the British War Office. In the training of the troops, also, he follows the British pattern.

Planning the defense of Canada is a neverending task. General Stuart was Canada’s military representative on the Canada-United States Permanent Joint Defense Board until he became Chief of the General Staff. Now his vice-chief is the member, but he is kept intimately in touch with all developments.

To carry out his duties efficiently, the work is divided into four directorates—training, staff duties, operations and intelligence, and historical records. He co-ordinates the work of all four and must assume personal responsibility for everything they do.

General Stuart works a seven-day week. His day begins about 8.45 a.m. He takes

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three quarters of an hour for lunch, usually around one o’clock. Often there is no time to go out and his lunch is brought to him. The afternoon trick goes through until 7 or 7.30 o’clock and he is back at his desk at 8.30 to carry on until midnight or later.

Sunday is his best day. Outside demands are reduced and there is time to overtake arrears in routine work. This routine, of course, is frequently broken into by trips of inspection and missions to Washington. Hitherto the C.G.S. has been to England once or twice each year.

Apart from the endless stream of visitors, military and civilian, he must keep in close contact with his staff, consider and recommend promotions. He must be constantly in touch with the Minister of National Defense.

In addition, there are the bodies which serve to co-ordinate the work of the Army, Air Force and Navy and of the Army itself. The Chief of the General Staff is a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which includes the staff heads of the three services and which discusses technical

problems concerning the Army, Air Force and Navy. He is a member of the Defense Council which comprises the three defense ministers, their deputies and chiefs of staff. This council deals with policies affecting the war effort in the broadest aspects.

There is also the Army Council, comprising the Minister of National Defense, the Deputy Minister, the C.G.S., the Adjutant-General, the Quartermaster - General, and the Master-General of the Ordnance. This council is the universal joint of the four major branches of the army, for while operations and training are the responsibility of the general staff, the raising, supplying, moving and arming of the troops must he carried through efficiently. A plan of operations which was beyond the capacity of any of the other branches would have to be modified.

Advance Training

TO MANY it may seem impossible that a man so unused to handling a vast organization like a modern army should be able to do so efficiently.

General Stuart understood this line of thought and in answer to questions he dealt with it impersonally and realistically. A permanent force officer, he explained, trains and studies against the day of war and when the guns begin to fire he gets his chance.

I asked him why it was that so few nonpermanent force men had reached the top in this war, as compared with 1914-18. His answer was that there were very few properly trained permanent force men in the Canadian army in 1914, certainly not more than half a dozen. In between wars, however, a great change had taken place. There had been, said General Stuart, a stream of officers from Canada to the staff colleges in Britain and India and thus, in 1939, we had highly trained men available for the upper rungs of the new Canadian Corps.

In this regard, Gen. Stuart was very firm in his opinion as to the ability of the permanent force officers. He said that he was satisfied that in the past twenty years the permanent force had attracted ‘‘a fair proportion of the brains of the country.” Certainly, he said, if the peacetime army is to be of any use in war, it cannot be allowed to exist in peacetime on ‘‘small fry.”

While very appreciative of the quality of the permanent force officer, Gen. Stuart disclaimed any partiality. He spoke of the militia with affection. He said that he had been in part responsible for the militia staff courses in prewar years which had equipped nonpermanent

force officers for higher commands. The graduates of these courses, he said, were now the backbone of our army. About seventy-five per cent of today’s brigadiers are militia men. But while all this was true, General Stuart said that a good proportion of the top general staff officers will almost certainly continue to be 1 permanent force men.

From all this it is apparent that if anyone at Ottawa knows how the army thinks this war is going to be won, General Stuart is the man.

Asked this question, General Stuart answered with emphasis. His view is that we must keep in our ¡ minds constantly a realization that the j major enemy is Germany. We must not allow ouselves to be distracted by other theatres of war. Once Germany is licked, Italy and Japan won’t last long, he said.

Therefore, our main wareffortmust be to destroy Germany. The Army (here a wry smile) has been in a difficult position because the Navy and the Air Force have seen practically all of the action. Some ¡ people think that the Navy or the I Air Force, singly or in combination, ! will win the war. The Army, he j said, did not share either view. Nor j does the Army believe that infantry j and tanks alone can achieve victory.

‘‘We know that the war can only be won by the intelligent co-operation of all three. In some cases the Navy will have the predominant part; in others the Air Force; in yet others, the Army. Those who claim predominance for any one arm are certainly not helping.”