MGen MacKenzie was unique among the senior leaders who appeared before us, and were involved in the Somalia deployment, in evincing a proper understanding of and respect for the inquiry process.
MGen (ret) MacKenzie testified before us in an honest and straightforward manner. He alone seemed to understand the necessity to acknowledge error and account for personal shortcomings. We did not always accept everything that he said, but we accept that what he offered us was the truth as he saw it. Unlike some senior officers who appeared before us, he was never less than courteous and respectful in the way that he gave evidence or responded to our questions.
Also, MGen (ret) MacKenzie fully accepted the need for a public accounting of what went on in Somalia. He invariably supported our effort to probe the incidents and events in the wider public interest. We regard his comportment and demeanour throughout his testimony before us as consistent with the highest standards of military duty and responsibility.
To a certain extent, MGen MacKenzie was a victim
of his own success. As a bona fide hero of the Canadian Forces,
his superiors wanted to parade his successes in front of the troops
and our allies. He was therefore tasked to represent the Canadian
Forces (CF) in a wide variety of settings to the detriment of
his ability to adequately supervise and control those matters
that were his core responsibilities. While his superiors are principally
to blame for the unbalanced and distracting set of extra-curricular
obligations that MGen MacKenzie was asked to assume, he must still
carry a share of the criticism since he accepted this role without
question or complaint.
MGen MacKenzie was well aware that the Canadian Airbome Regiment (CAR) was facing serious leadership problems in the pre-deployment phase. He was informed by BGen Beno almost immediately upon assuming command at LFCA, and several times thereafter, of concerns raised about LCol Morneault's leadership,1 and that it might be necessary to replace LCol Morneault. In these communications, MGen MacKenzie was a passive recipient of information: he took no steps to personally investigate the problems he was told about; he did not advise BGen Beno of his opinion concerning what LCol Morneault may have been doing wrong and what his shortcomings may have been;2 and he took no steps to assert his leadership role as a means of solving the crisis. Rather, he limited his response to expressing over the telephone his confidence in BGen Beno's ability to properly assess and solve the problem,3 and left the situation to develop on its own.
We find MGen MacKenzie's actions inadequate under the circumstances. By his own admission, the senior command faced a unique situation with the CAR in the fall of 1992. The Commanding Officer (CO) was replaced in mid-stream -- a virtually unprecedented move in peacetime -- yet MGen MacKenzie remained passive. MGen MacKenzie failed to properly address the breakdown in the chain of command between the Brigade Commander and the CO of the CAR. Though he knew of a mounting crisis that could possibly have compromised the participation of the CAR in the Somalia mission, MGen MacKenzie failed to take adequate corrective measures to initially prevent the crisis and, subsequently, measures to resolve it satisfactorily.
MGen MacKenzie, although carrying out duties at the behest of his superiors, could have immediately returned from Fort Leavenworth when the decision was made to remove LCol Morneault, and personally visited the CAR to ascertain that the change in leadership proceeded well. The virtually unprecedented removal of a CO in peacetime, indicative of a profound crisis of leadership at a crucial point, was insufficiently canvassed over the telephone,4 suggesting the removal was made in too casual a manner by the senior officers.
His refusal also to grant LCol Morneault's request for a board of inquiry that would have objectively examined the necessity of his removal and highlighted the extent of the problems in the CAR was an error in judgement.5 Furthermore, MGen MacKenzie's concern, apparently shared by his superiors, for the "optics" of regimental affiliation in the debate over who should replace LCol Morneault was inappropriate to the extent that it represents a departure from standard selection criteria based on merit.
MGen MacKenzie, perhaps as a result of the distractions created by his superiors' wish to have him appear in disparate venues, also adopted a passive approach in his treatment of the serious disciplinary problems within the CAR (the pyrotechnics and car-burning incidents).6 Once he learned of the discipline problems, he had ample opportunity to intervene and impose his own standard of discipline upon the CAR, but he did not do so. His trust in BGen Beno to handle the matter,7 and to inform him if BGen Beno had any serious difficulty was appropriate, but MGen MacKenzie should have verified that the necessary changes were in fact made.8 After LCol Morneault had been replaced, MGen MacKenzie never inquired as to what measures were taken by BGen Beno or the new CO to restore discipline, trust, and obedience among the troops.
MGen MacKenzie, however, did issue belatedly a revised policy letter on discipline and good order to the Special Service Force (SSF) and other headquarters on November 20,1992, stressing the importance of the responsibility of senior commanders.9
The senior officers to whom MGen MacKenzie reported testified that they were not aware of the car-burning incident (LGen (ret) Reay), or of the full extent of the disciplinary problems (LGen (ret) Gervais). It is not necessary for us to resolve the question of who was told what to conclude that, once informed, MGen MacKenzie should have ensured that his senior commanders personally received a full account of the disciplinary incidents. The crucial decision to replace the CO of the CAR was made by all responsible senior officers without the benefit of first-hand information.
While MGen MacKenzie did take a personal interest
in the selection of LCol Mathieu as the new CO of the CAR, he
was largely uninvolved after that point. Given the serious nature
and extent of the problems within the CAR, we find that he should
have taken a closer personal interest in ensuring its operational
readiness, particularly in light of the short time that was available
to LCol Mathieu as the new CO.
MGen MacKenzie did not personally observe any of the CAR training preparations during the pre-deployment phase. He testified that he had no reason to question the information being provided to him by BGen Beno.10 Nonetheless, MGen (ret) MacKenzie admitted that perhaps he should have personally observed Exercise Stalwart Providence, and that the obstacles (that is, the commitments that he had taken on with the encouragement of his superiors) which prevented his attendance could have been overcome.11
After the replacement of the CO, MGen MacKenzie chose to rely on BGen Beno to ensure that LCol Mathieu would implement the existing training plan for the CAR and sort out serious discipline problems.12 He believed that the documentation of deficiencies in the unit, combined with the policy directive he issued, would give a clear indication as to where the new CO's priorities should lie. However, he should have exercised the closer supervision that was clearly warranted in the circumstances.
As the Commander of LFCA, MGen MacKenzie ought to have ensured that the rules of engagement (ROE) were produced in a timely fashion so the troops could be properly trained in them. He was obliged, accordingly, to ensure that NDHQ was aware that a sufficient amount of time specified by him was required, to press the NDHQ to produce the ROE within that time, and to rectify any insufficiencies that may have emerged in the process.
He did not do this. He gave no evidence that he required any change in schedule to facilitate an earlier production of the ROE. Though he ought to have known that the ROE were not ratified until December 11,1992, on the day the advance party was to be deployed, and only two days before the advance party in fact deployed, he offered no evidence of any concern for this constraint, and did not attempt to rectify the problem.
We do not accept MGen MacKenzie's inaction regarding
the significant matter of production of the ROE. He failed to
appreciate the fundamental importance of adequate ROE training,
and the need for having adequate time for that purpose. He passively
and unacceptably allowed events to occur as they did. He did not
emphasize to his superior that more time was needed and, thus,
failed in discharging his responsibility.
While his military duty was to ensure the operational
readiness of the CAR and the CARBG for the Somalia mission, MGen
MacKenzie, as Commander of LFCA, due to competing demands on his
time and energy, failed to demonstrate the requisite attention,
care, and leadership expected of him under such circumstances.
He did not attend the Stalwart Providence operational readiness
exercise and instead trusted blindly BGen Beno's phone reports
about LCol Morneault. The single visit he made to Petawawa while
LCol Morneault was CO was not to address the crisis facing the
CAR, but to address a contingent that was being deployed to Yugoslavia.
By his presence and personal action, he could have brought his
talent and inspirational leadership to bear on the CAR. His visit
to Petawawa provided him with an opportunity to ascertain the
extent of the breakdown in the chain of command between BGen Beno
and LCol Morneault, but he failed to seize it.
With MGen MacKenzie's absence, required by duties imposed in large measure by his superiors, BGen Beno obtained an unwarranted degree of freedom from oversight. Despite the fact that MGen MacKenzie was necessarily absent from his post due to obligations condoned by his superiors, errors in the chain of command below him remain MGen MacKenzie's responsibility and they, in turn, flow upwards from him to the highest levels of the command structure.
MGen MacKenzie's fundamental failing was that he exercised inappropriate control and provided inadequate supervision, a failing we have seen repeated at levels both above and below him. With that inadequacy came an inability to properly inform his superiors of emerging concerns and difficulties. With this state of affairs came the perpetuation of error.