Lessons of War and Peace: What Can We Learn from Military Coalitions of the British Empire and Commonwealth?
Canada’s armed forces have never conducted expeditionary operations on their own. They have always deployed abroad as members of a coalition, whether as part of the British Empire, NATO or some United Nations–sanctioned operation. Such alliances have been a part of Canada’s past and are almost certain to be a part of its future. How did we operate within these coalitions? What worked and what did not? These are the questions that Dr. Douglas Delaney, Canada Research Chair in War Studies, seeks to answer.
The focus of Delaney’s research is coalition warfare. He will examine how the militaries of the British Empire and Commonwealth educated, trained and equipped themselves to work together during the first half of the twentieth century. Taking an Imperial or Commonwealth perspective, Delaney and his research team aim to break out of the “national bubbles” that have dominated the military histories of Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India.
The relevance of Delaney’s research today is apparent in the recent challenges of coalition warfare in Afghanistan. These challenges have sparked renewed interest in the military history of the British Empire, which spawned one of the most enduring and closely integrated military alliances of the modern era. But what were the mechanisms and arrangements that made it work? Sometimes, the best new ideas are to be found in our past.
Delaney’s research will expand our understanding of how military coalitions function in war and peace. It also promises to yield important findings that could inform Canada’s future coalition operations.