CIC Winnipeg: Presentation by Colonel Kevin Brown

Nov 19, 2019 | News

Wednesday, May 1

Col. Brown’s presentation began with an introduction from CIC Winnipeg branch president Brad Kirbyson, who noted a few highlights of Col. Brown’s career. Col. Brown then discussed a few of his personal experiences before he laid out the elements of the presentation. The presentation was centered around five central ideas that he was able to describe due to his career experience and the next steps he will be taking in his role as the Canadian Defence Attaché (CDA) in Kabul, Afghanistan.  The presentation began with a description of what it means to be a diplomat, followed by what it is like to work in a Canadian Embassy, the role of a CDA, the Canada – Afghanistan relationship, and the “interesting times” that lie ahead for him in Afghanistan. Together these five components provided an insight into the life of a Canadian diplomat from a seasoned Infantry Officer’s perspective.

Col. Brown explained the role of a diplomat in the context of Article 3 of the Vienna Convention.  Under Article 3, a diplomat must serve five main functions.  The first function is to represent the sending state in the receiving state; the diplomat conveys the ideas and morals of the state they come from when they are in the state they are sent to.  For example, a Canadian diplomat will meet with officials in the receiving state and function as the spokesman for the Canadian Government.  The second function of a diplomat is to protect the interests of the sending state and its nationals while they are in the receiving state, within the limits permitted by international law.  The third function is to negotiate with the government of the receiving state on behalf of the sending state.  The fourth is to ascertain by lawful means the conditions and developments in the receiving state, and reporting on them to the government of the sending state.  The fifth and final function of a diplomat is to promote friendly relations between the sending state and the receiving state to develop economic, cultural and scientific relations.  Together, these five functions describe a diplomatic mission and Col. Brown’s broad mandate as the Defence Attaché at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul.

Having described the functions of a diplomat, Col. Brown then described what it is like working in a Canadian Embassy.  He focused on four key components: Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and its services; other government departments (OGDs); Canada based staff; and locally engaged staff.  GAC is responsible for Canada’s foreign policy and Canada’s external affairs, including international trade and commerce and international development. Canada’s foreign policy consists of strategies chosen by the Canadian Government that promote its national interests and help to achieve its goals within the sphere of international relations. GAC’s functions are conducted by personnel representing five separate, internal directorates: Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Service (FPDS), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), Development Aid, and Consular Services. Col. Brown explained that his focus will be on Stability and Security projects for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), in cooperation primarily with FPDS colleagues. The OGDs that regularly have a presence in Canadian embassies are the Department of National Defense (DND), Public Safety Canada, the RCMP, the CBSA, and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Col. Brown highlighted the functions of these different components and how they affect work at a Canadian embassy.

Col. Brown’s principal role as the CDA in Kabul will be to represent the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the DND.  His responsibilities include strategic planning, implementing cooperation agreements and supporting the promotion of the Canadian defence industry. He will participate in representational activities and information exchanges, and he will provide advice to senior staff at the mission. The CDA and the CAF support staff are considered diplomats and must respect the sovereignty of the host country.  In addition to being responsive to the Head of Mission, as a Defence Attaché, Col. Brown will be responsible to the CAF’s Director of Foreign Liaison (DFL). DFL is responsible for the whole CDA program, in 42 countries, and is the focal point for the Foreign Service Defence Attachés in Canada. CDAs are provided specialist training, such as workshops to enhance interpersonal skills that allow them to operate effectively in the diplomatic environment.  Upon his arrival in Kabul, Col. Brown will prioritize establishing a routine and reporting on developments in Afghanistan, establishing working relationships with counterparts in the Afghan Ministry of Defence (MoD) and other members of the International Diplomatic Community, and understanding the priorities of the Embassy so that he can contribute to mission success. Afghanistan is a high threat environment, which will make it difficult and dangerous to move around Kabul and to travel in the countryside.

GAC is heavily involved in Afghanistan, with almost 200 projects throughout the state, mostly through development aid and contributions to international trust funds.  Canada has shifted away from large infrastructure projects and moved towards social priorities instead.  In Afghanistan, GAC focuses on “Women’s and Girl’s Rights First” with organizations such as Women, Peace and Security (WPS) at the forefront.  Health is another major issue Canada focuses on, including the eradication of polio.  Canada also contributes through various trust funds, such as the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOFTA).  Overall, GAC focuses on humanitarian assistance, peace, law and order, and development projects.  The military relationship Canada maintains with Afghanistan includes funding professional training for members of the ANDSF.  This training is not for combat-related skills but rather to develop skills in inter-agency and peace support planning, logistics, and defence resource management.

The complex situation in Afghanistan is exciting for Col. Brown because he will be present while numerous issues of great importance to the Afghan people are scheduled to take place, such as the delayed Presidential Elections.  A major challenge will be navigating the multiple peace processes that reflect the different interests that Russia, China, and the United States have for peace in the region.  Further, Col Brown will be keeping track of three different “Jirga” or councils: the Loya Jirga, the Women’s Jirga, and the Peace Jirga.  Multiple processes with numerous stakeholders who do not share a common vision create confusion and will inhibit progress towards a durable peace.  Finally, any effort to find peace in war-torn Afghanistan, at least in 2019, is potentially compromised by the Taliban’s recent announcement of the Summer “fighting season” and an increase in violent attacks.

Interesting times do indeed lie ahead for Col. Brown.