Following the fleet:
Canada’s navy has told former sailors to shut up about changing the naval forces’ name back to Royal Canadian Navy, a senior officer testified Monday.
“The navy has sort of said to the Naval Officers' Association of Canada: Do not push it. We have bigger fish to fry and we do not want to get everybody upset about something that we can live without,” retired Cmdr. Chris Thain, president of the Winnipeg branch of the Naval Officers Association of Canada, told a Senate committee.
Canada’s navy is officially called Maritime Command.
Nothing stirs the blood quite like "Maritime Command."A cold, military bureaucratic bit of terminological exactitude. Like calling your mother "parental unit one." One wonders a what and a where about these bigger fish. Surely men with destroyers should not be concerned about fish, however big. Perhaps the problem is with the mammals located in Ottawa.
All large organizations, even ones that do useful things like the military, are bureaucracies. A bureaucrat is accountable to the system he inhabits, not whomever the system is intended to serve. The paper-shuffler yearns not to shuffle paper, but to rule those who shuffle it. To reach that lofty perch he must conform to the attitudes and views of his masters. In turn he will expect similar obedience from his subordinates. At a basic level it's the only way a large organization could work, without degenerating into anarchy. The problem emerges when the cogs forget they are also human beings, living in something greater than a bureaucratic mechanism.
The current crop of officers in the Canadian Forces is now two generations removed from Hellyerification. Those officers who opposed this "reform" of our military were sacked, or found their careers stalled. No minister of the crown wants to hear his subordinates tell him: "No, Minister." In other departments subterfuge - a la Sir Humphrey Appleby - is used to thwart ministers. Soldiers, sailors and airmen are a simple lot. Talking out of both sides of your mouth is poor military leadership. It is, of course, an essential attribute of a modern politician.
The politicians appoint - whatever the official promotion workflow - the generals, who appoint the colonels and so on down the line. The new and improved Hellyerized Canadian Forces had very little place for customs and traditions, the rites of passage and confirmation that create regimental identities. Away went the distinctive service uniforms, replaced by a drab olive green, for a time even the system of ranks was changed. Ship captains were called Colonels-at-Sea. While the uniforms and the ranks came back, the Royal part of the name has yet to.
To men who risk life and limb, these tangible bits of their identity were taken away, out of some zealous desire for administrative conformity. The greatest victim of these modernizing jacobins was the monarchy. The dropping of the terms "Royal" from the navy and air force was a not so subtle way of cutting Canada off from its past. Whereas other nations try to build traditions, as a way of strengthening a sense of national identity, the Canada of the 1960s decided to do away with as many traditions as possible. The quest for modernity took the form of a systematic amnesia. Now the amnesiacs who run Canada, and the military, are trying to prevent us from recovering one small, but important bit of what was lost.