Author Topic: Battle Honours for Afghanistan  (Read 79492 times)

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Offline Old Sweat

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You've made a whole bunch of good points which probably should be in a separate thread separate from 3 RCR receiving new colours.

Using the old criteria only the three regular infantry regiments would qualify, but that would be patently unfair to the armoured regiments and CSOR. I have been musing on this from time to time, and feel that DHH will have to come up with a practical solution. It would be a pity, and probably would not happen, but one can only hope DHH does not get in a snit and stick with the old guidelines. It would not end well for the directorate.

Further to the armoured regiments issue, we only had a squadron at a time in Korea, but the Strathconas received the battle (campaign) honour for Korea. There also is the precedent of the Lorne Scots which received honours for Italy and North West Europe, but did not have a unit headquarters deployed as it provided defence and employment platoons at formation headquarters, and the same criteria probably applied to the independent machine gun companies in the two armoured divisions.

Offline Michael O'Leary

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Further to the armoured regiments issue, we only had a squadron at a time in Korea, but the Strathconas received the battle (campaign) honour for Korea. There also is the precedent of the Lorne Scots which received honours for Italy and North West Europe, but did not have a unit headquarters deployed as it provided defence and employment platoons at formation headquarters, and the same criteria probably applied to the independent machine gun companies in the two armoured divisions.

In addition to the requirement for line regiments to have HQ + 50% of the unit involved, for those units that were only deployed at subunit level (such as the brigade support weapon companies in the Second World War), those subunits could earn battle honours for their regiments. I suspect that was applied for the Strathcona's in Korea, but we can't make the assumption that it becomes a blanket policy for Afghanistan. We'll need clear updated guidelines because if anyone doesn't like whatever the published solution turns out to be, that becomes the first thing that has to be challenged, or upheld..

Offline George Wallace

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In addition to the requirement for line regiments to have HQ + 50% of the unit involved, for those units that were only deployed at subunit level (such as the brigade support weapon companies in the Second World War), those subunits could earn battle honours for their regiments. I suspect that was applied for the Strathcona's in Korea, but we can't make the assumption that it becomes a blanket policy for Afghanistan. We'll need clear updated guidelines because if anyone doesn't like whatever the published solution turns out to be, that becomes the first thing that has to be challenged, or upheld..

At the same time, although only a small portion of a unit may have been deployed, the remainder of the unit did supply reinforcements and rotated other parts of the unit through the duration of the 'conflict'.  Although the RCD, RCR, Van Doo, PPCLI, LdSH (RC), etc. only provide a portion of their Reg't/Bn to the fight, those were regularly rotated out and replaced by other portions of the Home unit.  If you look at the Regts/Bns today, you will see that most of the members who served during those times, wear the Decoration.  Would this not be enough to constitute the award of a Battle Honour?
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Offline Michael O'Leary

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At its most basic, eligibility for a battle honour requires that a unit was standing "in the line of battle," not simply a cumulative number of soldiers that went through the area of conflict. There is, of course, the example set for the South African War where a large number of Militia Regiments received the theatre honour for numbers sent with the various front line units of the Canadian contingents. This was also reflected in the award of First World War honours to some Militia regiments who, while not perpetuating combat units of the CEF, demonstrated that at least 250 men (see paras 10 to 13 here) from their perpetuated battalion(s) were present with eligible combat units at specific battles. The key, in both cases, is the expectation that the numbers being examined were in front line units.  Finally, we can look at the current approach to the War of 1812, which seems to have devolved into a simplistic attendance award without concern for detailing specific combat actions for each group of soldiers identified as a "Regiment of Militia." It all comes down to what criteria we develop (that also meet any required political approval), and then how the eligible regiments are determined.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 10:35:16 by Michael O'Leary »

Offline Wolseleydog

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #79 on: March 13, 2013, 21:09:14 »
What about 1 RCR in Op MEDUSA?

I take all of the points up-thread, which might be summarized as (1) a formed unit, with its HQ and maj of sub-units present and active participants; and (2) must be (in classical terms at least), what one might call a "stand-up fight".

Fair enough.  Notwithstanding the debate over whether we want to update the criteria for contemporary ops that don't face a conventional enemy, I still see at least one obvious candidate for a battle honour in Afghanistan: 1 RCR in Op MEDUSA, Sep 2006.

This was not "just some firefights" (or "TICs") and the entire bn maneuvered and fought as bn sized unit, within what (grew to become) a brigade plus sized action, in which specific territorial objectives were captured to a depth of several kms, with 12 Canadian fatalities.  (even an asslt riv xing, for God's sake!)  For any not entirely familiar with the action, see, for instance:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Medusa
http://www.amazon.ca/Clearing-Way-Mark-Gasparotto/dp/1926582594
http://www.amazon.ca/No-Lack-Courage-Operation-Afghanistan/dp/1554887666
http://legionmagazine.com/en/index.php/2007/09/operation-medusa-the-battle-for-panjwai/

In fact, I'm rather surprised by the relative lack of mention of MEDUSA in this thread.

My real questions, I suppose, are:

(1) what do commentors there think about an Op MEDUSA battle honour for the RCR (regardless of what they think about any other possible battle honours for Afghanistan); and

(2) has anyone heard any talk about this specific possibility (at DHH, NDHQ, elsewhere)?

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #80 on: March 13, 2013, 22:57:10 »
What about 1 RCR in Op MEDUSA?

I take all of the points up-thread, which might be summarized as (1) a formed unit, with its HQ and maj of sub-units present and active participants; and (2) must be (in classical terms at least), what one might call a "stand-up fight".

Fair enough.  Notwithstanding the debate over whether we want to update the criteria for contemporary ops that don't face a conventional enemy, I still see at least one obvious candidate for a battle honour in Afghanistan: 1 RCR in Op MEDUSA, Sep 2006.

This was not "just some firefights" (or "TICs") and the entire bn maneuvered and fought as bn sized unit, within what (grew to become) a brigade plus sized action, in which specific territorial objectives were captured to a depth of several kms, with 12 Canadian fatalities.  (even an asslt riv xing, for God's sake!)  For any not entirely familiar with the action, see, for instance:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Medusa
http://www.amazon.ca/Clearing-Way-Mark-Gasparotto/dp/1926582594
http://www.amazon.ca/No-Lack-Courage-Operation-Afghanistan/dp/1554887666
http://legionmagazine.com/en/index.php/2007/09/operation-medusa-the-battle-for-panjwai/

In fact, I'm rather surprised by the relative lack of mention of MEDUSA in this thread.

My real questions, I suppose, are:

(1) what do commentors there think about an Op MEDUSA battle honour for the RCR (regardless of what they think about any other possible battle honours for Afghanistan); and

(2) has anyone heard any talk about this specific possibility (at DHH, NDHQ, elsewhere)?

I've never seen an 'Op Anything' on a Battle Honour before. For example, Op Corporate was the Falklands War, but units involved received 'Falkland Islands' on the battle honours.
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Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #81 on: March 13, 2013, 23:11:27 »
My real questions, I suppose, are:

(1) what do commentors there think about an Op MEDUSA battle honour for the RCR (regardless of what they think about any other possible battle honours for Afghanistan); and

(2) has anyone heard any talk about this specific possibility (at DHH, NDHQ, elsewhere)?

As you have noted, the main thrust of the conversation here to date has been on the need to redefine the eligibility requirements for battle honours in the modern era. Without that work done first by DND/DHH, then any discussion of individual actions only serves to situate the estimate.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #82 on: March 13, 2013, 23:27:07 »
In my opinion, due to the number of unit operations and the degree of combat, I think a better battle honour would be Zharei/Panjwayi 2006, which units involved in R1 and 2 would be eligible for.
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Offline fake penguin

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #83 on: March 14, 2013, 03:05:23 »
In my opinion, due to the number of unit operations and the degree of combat, I think a better battle honour would be Zharei/Panjwayi 2006, which units involved in R1 and 2 would be eligible for.

So for R1 and R2 would just 1ppcli and 1RCR get the battle honour because it was their tour, or does 2ppcli also get it. Even though R5 was 2ppcli's tour they sent a company to both R1 and R2. Forgive my ignorance but someone mentioned 1RCR getting the  battle honour, i always thought the whole regiment would get it regardless which battalion did the fighting.
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Offline fake penguin

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #84 on: March 14, 2013, 03:51:52 »
So for R1 and R2 would just 1ppcli and 1RCR get the battle honour because it was their tour, or does 2ppcli also get it. Even though R5 was 2ppcli's tour they sent a company to both R1 and R2. Forgive my ignorance but someone mentioned 1RCR getting the  battle honour, i always thought the whole regiment would get it regardless which battalion did the fighting.

Never mind was too lazy at first to read whole thread, didn't get on computer till late. Read the whole thread and it looks like you need a certain percentage of troops to qualify for a battle honour.
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Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #85 on: March 14, 2013, 11:29:03 »

Never mind was too lazy at first to read whole thread, didn't get on computer till late. Read the whole thread and it looks like you need a certain percentage of troops to qualify for a battle honour.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem between the "old" regulations for battle honours and the new way of generating forces. That is why we need to see how the regulations get re-engineered before regiments can start to look at what actions may or may not fit (or where they may have to make a special case to support nominating an action that falls "outside" the boundaries).

Offline dapaterson

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #86 on: March 14, 2013, 12:05:28 »
Don't worry, though, as recently shown, if you whine for 200 years you'll get a battle honour, deserving or not...
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Offline Sheep Dog AT

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #87 on: March 14, 2013, 12:19:46 »
Don't worry, though, as recently shown, if you whine for 200 years you'll get a battle honour, deserving or not...

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Offline Michael O'Leary

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Offline Wolseleydog

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #89 on: March 15, 2013, 14:44:28 »
@ daftandbarmy: I take your point – I don’t propose that the actual wording of the battle honour be “Op MEDUSA”.  I just mean that they should get one for that action.

@ Michael O’L:  I take your point about DHH rethinking criteria for the modern era – my point is simply that I think the RCR qualify under the existing classic criteria, at least for MEDUSA.  Why not award that one as “concurrent activity” as it were, while pondering how to update the system?  Just a thought.

Offline Brihard

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #90 on: March 29, 2013, 10:09:42 »
'Zhari/Panjwayi', or 'Pashmul' or what have you certainly seems merited as a specific battle honour.

A more generally granted theatre honour would probably best serve the (in my mind) legitimate desire for many force generating units (particularly militia) to be recognized. My regiment has South Africa, and at ~90 pers deployed to Afghanistan we've certainly exceeded what we sent there. Many other units are in the same boat. Our history and heritage system can by all means modernize with the rest of the military, as long as it focuses of achieving intent and not simply spinning the wheels of process. It would be a damned shame if our approach to history and heritage were to fossilize.
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Harper looks at bestowing Afghan war battle honours on Canadian units
« Reply #91 on: November 12, 2013, 06:13:20 »
Harper looks at bestowing Afghan war battle honours on Canadian units
By: Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press, 11/11/2013
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/harper-looks-at-bestowing-afghan-war-battle-honours-on-canadian-units-231396151.html

OTTAWA - Canadian units that fought in Afghanistan are being considered for battle honours by the Harper government, which is casting around for ways to commemorate the conflict as it draws to a close after more than a decade.

A memorandum to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, obtained by The Canadian Press under access-to-information legislation, lays out the options for recognizing individual regiments for specific battles and the overall war itself.

"Battle honours are awarded to provide public recognition to combatant military units for active participation in battle against a formed and armed enemy," says the May 13 note by the country's top public servant, Privy Council clerk Wayne Wouters.

"The awarding of battle honours has deep historical roots and must be done in a thorough manner to ensure units are properly recognized."

The fact most of the fighting was against Taliban militants, who chose hit-and-run attacks and remotely detonated bombs, may complicate the process but ultimately won't stop the acknowledgment, said historian Jack Granatstein.

There is precedent for the honour set by Canadian units that fought in the Boer War between 1899 and 1902, he said.

Different levels of battle honours — from recognizing an entire theatre of operations to specific campaigns, battles and actions — give the government a choice. For example, the disastrous 1942 Dieppe raid was the subject of a separate action honour.

Such recognition allows the regiments involved to display the name of the battle on their flags or colours. It is a British military tradition that dates back to 1760 and is a point of pride within each unit.
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Offline Rhodesian

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Re: Harper looks at bestowing Afghan war battle honours on Canadian units
« Reply #92 on: November 14, 2013, 08:54:48 »
Great news. I, for one, look forward to the day when an Afghanistan battle honor is on the colors, right beside the battles we learn about in training

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Quote
The Conservative government will roll out the red carpet for the Canadian military and their families on Friday by presenting battle honours to the army and air force units that fought in Afghanistan and navy ships that deployed for the war on terrorism, The Canadian Press has learned.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will announce on Friday that 63 army regiments, including special forces and the navy’s fleet diving unit, and four squadrons of the air will be bestowed an Afghanistan Theatre Honour and 15 warships will receive the Arabian Sea honour ....
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Offline dapaterson

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #94 on: May 09, 2014, 09:42:42 »
Strictly speaking, there's a difference between Theatre and Battle Honours; today's announcement will be solely Theatre Honours, I think.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Took a while for the bump, but here's the latest ....


63 army regiments?

According to Wikipedia there are 20 armoured regiments and 50 infantry regiments (70 in all) in the Canadian Army. My question is: which seven regiments will be distinguished by not having Afghanistan as a battle honour?
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I have a supplementary question: Can Michael O‘Leary explain what rules or precedents might have been used to decide this?

Edited to add:

As datpaterson said, and the Globe and Mail confirms, these are Theatre Honours not Battle Honours. The difference, as I understand it, is that a theatre honour may be displayed on regimental property (signs, memorials, etc) but not on the colours.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 09:53:13 by E.R. Campbell »
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Offline dapaterson

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #96 on: May 09, 2014, 09:59:04 »
Off the top of my head, I believe the standard is that a unit that contributed 20 or more personnel over the life of the operation will receive the theatre honour.

Keep in mind, however, that each of the three Reg F and one Res F Bns of The RCR (for example) would receive the honour if they meet the criteria, so we have to count units, not regiments.

As well, the count of 63 may include other units such as the fleet diving units (which provided numerous EOD personnel) and the Tac Hel sqns plus, of course, CANSOF units.
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #97 on: May 09, 2014, 10:02:19 »
I heard this was coming down the pike a couple of weeks ago. The criteria seems to have been that the regiment provided a significant number of personnel for service in Afghanistan. That gets pretty subjective, so I guess it's best to wait and see.

We did this sort of thing before, first in perpetuating CEF units and then for South Africa.

And as noted, these are theatre honours. Perhaps there will be later awards of battle honours for battles/operations like Panjwai or Medusa. 

Offline Michael O'Leary

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I have a supplementary question: Can Michael O‘Leary explain what rules or precedents might have been used to decide this?

I know that units were asked to provide lists of members who deployed to Afghanistan, establishing only the numerical participation. To the best of my knowledge, no categorization as made to determine how many deployed in "line of battle units" (which, historically are the ones eligible for battle honours) and which people were in support roles (base, HQ, etc.).

It would appear that we have taken the concept used for South Africa of a minimum contributed number of soldiers (but for which units provided troops to line units, not in large numbers also to huge static establishments), and wedded that idea to the War of 1812 award concept (in which every named units got the same battle honour, no matter how few soldiers might have been there), with the result of maximum awards with minimum critical examination of actual contributions to the battlefield units that deployed.

For the CEF awards of battle honours for regiments that did not perpetuate a fighting unit, they were required to prove that 250 men from units they helped raise were present at a given battle, in line units. ( http://regimentalrogue.com/battlehonours/firstworldwar-btlhnrs.htm )

The CEF awards also distinguished between the theatre level honours "France and Flanders" for units that were in the field and "The Great War" for others.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Battle Honours for Afghanistan
« Reply #99 on: May 09, 2014, 10:49:57 »
Thanks, Michael ... at least there was some logic to it, I guess.

I'm not, in any way, opposed to updating or Canadianizing our honours and awards systems, for individuals and for units, but I do hope we will keep high standards for both. (Although I think the standard for  VC has been too high since 1945.)
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