Chapter 4 Above the Rooftop of the World: Canadian Air Operations in Kashmir and Along the India–Pakistan Border


Above the Rooftop of the World: Canadian Air Operations in Kashmir and Along the India–Pakistan Border

Matthew Trugden
 

Originally published as Chapter 4 in Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace (A. Walter Dorn, Ed.), Ashgate Publishing, Farnham, UK, 2014, pp. 61-76. (pdf version)

 

From 1949 to 1995, the Canadian government worked to assist the efforts of United Nations in bringing peace to the Indian subcontinent. This was first done through the provision of military observers for the United Nations Military Observer Group India–Pakistan (UNMOGIP). A Canadian officer, Brigadier Harry H. Angle, also served as the first Chief Military Observer of UNMOGIP until his tragic death in a plane crash in July 1950.[1] However, beginning in the mid-1960s, Canada’s role began to evolve.

In 1964, the Canadian government dispatched one CC-108 Caribou along with three officers and five ground crew from No. 102 Composite Squadron to support UNMOGIP. This unit would eventually be renamed 424 Squadron and would be later re-equipped with a CC-138 Twin Otter. Furthermore, as part of Canada’s commitment to the newly created United Nations India–Pakistan Observation Mission (UNIPOM), which was formed after the second Indo–Pakistani War, in 1965, the Canadian military provided not only many of the missions’ observers and its commanding officer, Major General Bruce Macdonald, but also UNIPOM’s air component of two Caribous and three CC-123 Otters, as well as their crews and support personnel. This Canadian air contingent was also assigned the task of supporting UNMOGIP while it was in the area, carrying out the twin tasks of air transport and air observation. Although most of these aircraft would be withdrawn with the end of UNIPOM’s mission in 1966, a single Canadian transport plane remained in the area to support UNMOGIP until 1975. In addition, CC-130 Hercules aircraft would continue to assist UNMOGIP until 1995, even after the last Canadian Army observers were pulled out in 1979.

This chapter will use this experience as a case study to understand the contribution of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to UN operations during the Cold War. I first outline the background to the crisis between India and Pakistan that led to the dispatch of UN military observers to the region in the late-1940s and the reasons why Canada decided to contribute personnel to this force. I also describe how Canada’s contribution to peace observer missions on the Indian subcontinent evolved in the mid-1960s due to developments in Ottawa and because of the outbreak of the second Indo-Pakistani War. Then I discuss the Canadian air operations as part of UNMOGIP in the late 1960s and the early 1970s using oral history interviews and other primary source material provided by former Canadian Forces personnel. I conclude with an examination of what lessons can be learned by the Canadian government and the RCAF from this experience.
 

Background to the Mission

The origins of the UN’s involvement in the affairs of the Indian subcontinent began during the period of partition and independence. Much of the troubled relationship between India and Pakistan had its origins in the fate of the predominantly Muslim Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir. This state, which arguably should have become part of Pakistan, instead became part of India. Kashmir’s Hindu Maharaja, Hari Singh, decided to accede to India in order to get Indian troops to protect his kingdom and his ruling dynasty from irregulars from Pakistan. However, it is unclear whether the Pakistani irregulars who invaded Kashmir were Pathan tribesmen out for loot or trying to liberate their Muslim brothers from an oppressive regime. Moreover, how much the Pakistani government and military had to do with these events is still the subject of debate.[2] The result of all these factors was a sustained limited conflict between India and Pakistan that was confined to Kashmir and which ended in stalemate. Eventually, through the work of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), a ceasefire was agreed. It was then determined that UN military observers under the control of UNCIP would monitor this agreement and report on the compliance of the Indians and Pakistanis. When the UNCIP was dissolved in 1950, this observer force became known as UNMOGIP.[3]

This leads to the question: Why did the Canadian government contribute personnel to this mission? It is first important to emphasize that this decision was made at a time when peacekeeping was not seen as an important role for Canada in the world. When Brooke Claxton, post-war Minister of National Defence, referred this matter to the Cabinet, Canadian ministers were “allergic” and asked two questions: “Why is Canada one of the countries invited to appoint observers?” and “What other countries have accepted the invitation?”[4] It was likely that there was some resistance to the mission from the Canadian military due to the problems caused by the rapid post-war demobilization. By 1947 defence spending had fallen to C$200 million; by 1948 the strength of the entire Canadian armed forces was only 34,000 personnel.[5]

But there were a number of factors that worked to ensure that Canada would contribute to this mission, including that it was on the United Nations Security Council at this time.[6] Furthermore, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, General (Retired) Andrew McNaughton, was then serving as its president and had played a role in trying to mediate this conflict.[7] However, the most important factor was the positions of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and Lester Pearson, then Secretary of State for External Affairs. The Cabinet had “decided to leave this matter” to them and they agreed that Canada should send four observers to assist the United Nations in this region.[8] It was likely that such a commitment was seen to be line with the greater Canadian interest in international affairs represented by St. Laurent’s Gray Lecture in February 1947.[9] Moreover, because the mission involved a dispute between two Commonwealth countries, St. Laurent and Pearson concluded that it was important to prevent a serious crisis from breaking out between members of this organization. The situation in Kashmir also came to be seen in Ottawa as a real threat to world stability. Indeed, Canadian

officials would increasingly value the fact that Canada’s military observers provided an accurate picture of what was happening on the ground.[10] These debriefings were even distributed to Washington and London under the “CAN/US/UK Only” level of classification.[11]

Although Canada would later increase its number of observers to eight, and allow Brigadier Angle to serve as the commander of this mission until his death in a plane crash on the mission, along with some of his staff, in July 1950 there was very limited interest in this mission in the House of Commons and UNMOGIP was given little public attention.[12] This reality was partially due to the perception that UNMOGIP would be better off if it had a low public profile, given the sensitive nature of this conflict. But a more important factor was that the Kashmir dispute was seen in Ottawa to be a “delicate and embarrassing question in terms of Commonwealth relations”. It therefore became Canadian practice to “not to mention UNMOGIP except when necessary”.[13] Nonetheless, in 1964 and 1965, Canada’s role in the international effort to address this situation would change dramatically.

 
Evolution of Canada’s Role

The first and most obvious reason for Canada’s participation was the sharp rise of tensions in the area that culminated in the war between India and Pakistan in 1965. However, an increased interest in peacekeeping operations already existed in Ottawa from the early days of Pearson’s government. One example was the attention given to the idea of a UN “standby” peacekeeping force by the Prime Minister in this period.[14] The Secretary of State for External Affairs, Paul Martin Sr, also argued that Canada’s participation in these operations contributed to it being:

accepted and welcomed as a participant in important ventures. Those who ask whether we have an independent identity before the world must consider all this evidence of decision, action and participation in international affairs.[15]

Consequently, peacekeeping received increased attention in the 1964 Defence White Paper.[16]

This interest was further shown by Canada’s holding of “The Meeting of Military Experts to Consider the Technical Aspects of UN Peace Keeping Operations”, in late 1964. This conference accomplished little in concrete terms, but the fact that the Canadian government went to the trouble of holding it, overcoming some Soviet opposition in the process, showed the increased attention to these operations in Ottawa. One of the participants of this conference, Major General Indar Jit Rikhye of the Indian Army, even suggested after seeing a demonstration of Canadian forces that “airlift for peace-keeping operations might be supplied by Canada”.[17]

These factors therefore help to explain why, when the United Nations requested Canadian air support for UNMOGIP in August 1963, some Canadian ministers and officials were interested in providing a transport aircraft. It should be emphasized that this form of assistance was vital to UNMOGIP’s operations because of the need to transport the military observers and their supplies to the base camps on both sides of the Line of Control in this disputed border region, which was extremely difficult to access due to its rugged terrain.[18]

The RCAF was less than enthusiastic about this potential assignment, as the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal C.R. Dunlop, concluded that no suitable aircraft was available.[19] Despite this negative response, the United Nations continued to lobby Canada. UN officials argued that only Canada and the United States could provide an aircraft with a sufficiently well-trained crew for this task, and since the Americans could not take up this role, Canada needed to do it.[20] The Indian government and UNMOGIP’s Chief Military Observer, General Robert Nimmo, further urged Canada to provide this capability.[21] In late November 1963, even the Americans showed some interest in this issue when Turner Cameron, the Director of Southwest Asian Affairs for the State Department put it to Canadian officials that a “reliable nation” needed to provide aircraft.[22]

In December 1963, after the United Nations had again requested Canada’s help,[23] Martin wrote to the Minister of National Defence, Paul Hellyer. Martin argued that Canada had gained an “enviable reputation” for providing airlift to a variety of peacekeeping operations. He added that

I think we should endeavour, so far as possible, to meet well-founded requests for internal air transport for UN peacekeeping operations as something of a Canadian specialty. I realize that this request may involve the purchase of another Caribou ... but I would hope that this aircraft might be regarded as giving the RCAF some extra flexibility to meet requests of this nature.[24]

Martin continued to press Hellyer in January 1964 when he reemphasized UNMOGIP’s need for the aircraft and asserted that he would support the acquisition of an additional Caribou to allow the RCAF to provide support for this mission.[25]

Ultimately, Martin’s arguments paid dividends when Hellyer wrote to Dunlop that “I think it would be politic for us to agree to this request if it is possible for us to do so”.[26] Hellyer informed Martin in early 1964 that while an aircraft was not available and the RCAF would not immediately be able to meet this need, the Air Force had put in a request to the Treasury Board to acquire an additional Caribou aircraft. Hellyer then argued that he would support the dispatch of an aircraft to support UNMOGIP if this commitment was reviewed every six months and if it was authorized by the full Cabinet.[27] On 10 February 1964, the Treasury Board granted permission for this purchase and on 18 February the Cabinet approved Canada’s participation in this mission.[28] Canada’s contribution was in the form of one Caribou transport, three pilots and five ground crew.[29]

The interest in providing air support to UN peacekeeping missions would continue to influence Canadian policy in the aftermath of the second Indo-Pakistani War in 1965. The origins of this conflict were in the ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and the pressures from the Pakistani people on their government to rectify the situation. But a number of other factors also played a role, namely certain perceptions and misperceptions by the Pakistani leadership. At this point, one should note that poor Pakistani strategic decision-making is not a new phenomenon. These perceptions in Islamabad included the idea that the riots in Kashmir following the theft of a Muslim relic, a hair of the Prophet’s beard known as the Moi Maquaddas, symbolized both growing Muslim sentiment in the province and wider discontent with Indian rule. Furthermore, Indian military weakness during the Sino–Indian War in 1962 and in border clashes over the Rann of Kutch, a dissolute region inhabited largely by flamingos and wild donkeys, as well as various internal difficulties in India that emerged after Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s death in 1964, convinced Pakistan that an opportunity to resolve this situation was at hand. Their solution was Operation Gibraltar, which included the introduction of “guerrillas” into Kashmir, who would start a rebellion against Indian rule. This move would then be followed up by Operation Grand Slam, involving additional Pakistani forces. The problem was that the Muslim population of Kashmir did not revolt and Pakistani military operations quickly became bogged down. It was still worse for Pakistan that, unlike during the 1947 war, India expanded the conflict to Pakistan by striking towards the Pakistani city of Lahore. At this point, equipment and parts shortages caused by the heavy fighting and a British and American arms embargo, when combined with the fact that both countries’ military operations had reached stalemate, led India and Pakistan to accept a UN ceasefire. However, this truce created the need for additional UN observers.[30] But since UNMOGIP was confined to Kashmir and it was restricted by its terms of reference to having only a limited investigative role, the UN’s Secretary General, U Thant, concluded that it would be better to create a separate mission, UNIPOM, that would have a more flexible mandate and would also be able to monitor the ceasefire along the rest of the India–Pakistan frontier.[31]

As for Canada, Pearson’s government quickly moved to become involved in resolving the crisis. While Pearson’s attempt to become a mediator was rejected by Thant, after some lobbying by Martin, Canada was able to take up extensive involvement in the mission.[32] The Canadian government not only secured the appointment of Major General Bruce Macdonald as UNIPOM’s commander but also provided all the air transport assets for the mission. These aircraft, which included two Caribou and three Otters, as well as their crews and almost 100 maintenance personnel, were placed under the command of Macdonald’s Air Adviser, RCAF Group Captain George Murray. Moreover, Canada provided twelve of UNIPOM’s military observers.[33] Canada’s contribution in all numbered 112 personnel and represented the core of this peace observer mission.[34] Aside from the seriousness of the situation on the Indian subcontinent and the threat it posed to world stability, Canada’s strong commitment to UNIPOM was the result of several factors. These included Pearson’s and Martin’s renewed attention to peacekeeping and the government’s interest in providing air transport for these kinds of missions. Canada’s strong commitment to the Commonwealth and its close relations with India and Pakistan also played a role in this decision.

Another reason that arose was the need to maintain Canada’s international reputation. One memo to the Cabinet argued that Canada needed to participate in UNIPOM because of expectations created from its past support of peacekeeping and the leadership that the Canadian government had taken in this field. In addition, some ministers and officials understood that the desire to be involved in “crisis diplomacy” and to play more of a role in international affairs needed to be backed up. For example, although Pearson’s efforts to serve as a mediator had been rejected, Martin argued that Canada’s “willingness to support [the] SECGENS [Secretary General’s] efforts for a ceasefire have undoubtedly encouraged expectations here [at the United Nations] of a favourable CDN [Canadian] response”. Another draft memorandum even noted that there was a need to support “the leading role played by the Canadian Prime Minister in offering his services as a mediator to the two countries”.[35] This point was removed from the final submission to the Cabinet, but it does give a sense of what the thinking was behind the scenes in Ottawa.[36] The result of all these factors was that Canada committed significant resources to this peace observer mission, which undoubtedly helped to preserve its reputation as a leader in the field of peacekeeping operations. But what should not be forgotten was that it was left up to Macdonald, his fellow observers and the RCAF contingent to make this very difficult mission work.
 

Canada’s Participation in the UN India–Pakistan Observer Mission

Aside from the reality that the UN observers were “utterly dependent upon the good will and cooperation of both sides”, and if either country wanted to fight the mission was powerless to stop it, UNIPOM had numerous other problems such as the lack of suitable vehicles.[37] Moreover, not only had the mission to accommodate officers from ten different countries but also many of these men lacked the proper kit and even inoculations.[38] Macdonald also did not consider himself properly briefed for the political background of the issues surrounding the second Indo–Pakistani War. He later noted that the Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, Ralph Bunche, expected him “to know things because he knows them – not because he or anyone else has ever told me”. Macdonald added that the United Nations “really couldn’t have given me a tougher job with less preparation and less briefing”.[39]

Other difficulties surfaced with the air component of the mission. There was disagreement between the UN and UNIPOM on how many aircraft were needed, as UNIPOM’s officers wanted six Otters instead of the three assigned to them. Ultimately, these Otters were not available for financial reasons.[40] In addition, the RCAF Caribou originally assigned to UNMOGIP had been destroyed on the ground by the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) during an air strike on 7 September, when the aircraft had been parked at an Indian airfield at Srinagar. It had been destroyed despite the fact that it was located “where they [the PAF] knew it was parked”, as Nimmo later angrily complained to the Chief of the Pakistani General Staff.[41]

Although this aircraft was replaced by an RCAF Caribou borrowed from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, another Caribou was damaged during a botched landing during operations and was unavailable for the rest of the mission.[42] To add to the difficulties, there were disagreements between General Macdonald and the commander of the air contingent, Group Captain Murray, over the conduct of air operations. Murray was greatly worried about the safety of his pilots and aircraft, whereas Macdonald was “concerned with carrying out my mission in the most efficient manner possible”. In particular, Macdonald wanted the aircraft to fly as close to the ground as possible for better observation. Eventually, it was decided that the captain would always be “fully responsible for the operation of the aircraft, irrespective of the rank of the passengers”. The flight safety regulations further outlined that in the forward areas, the aircraft would not be able to fly lower than 1,500 ft while they would have to fly above 5,000 ft if they were crossing the international border.[43] Nonetheless, the RCAF’s contingent played a major role in the success of the mission.

The fact that the Canadian aircraft were deployed and made operational in a short period of time was of great importance in allowing the UN observers to accomplish their mission. The Caribous and Otters fulfilled several roles, including the aerial supply of isolated outposts and the movement of observers and VIPs, as well as flying numerous reconnaissance missions that were invaluable for allowing the military observers to inspect Indian and Pakistani activities in the desert regions along the border. Indeed, it would often “take eight or more hours of driving over difficult country to inspect an area which could be reached by air in a matter of minutes”. Moreover, these aircraft served as a vital and secure means of communication between Macdonald and the UN outposts before the mission had been equipped with enough radios. The ability of the pilots to do what Macdonald termed “bush flying” was also of great help in coping with the primitive conditions of the area.[44] Thus, with the help of the RCAF presence, the UN observers were able to do their job well.

In fact, the presence of the observers when combined with the Tashkent Agreement, brokered by Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin in 1966, succeeded in getting both sides to withdraw to their former positions.[45] As a result, UNIPOM was disbanded in March 1966. One historian later noted that “the successful completion of its task within a short time and eventual disbandment of UNIPOM was a rather rare occurrence in the UN’s experience”.[46] Nevertheless, this success represented the high point of UN peacekeeping efforts on the subcontinent.

The outbreak of the third Indo–Pakistani War in 1971 may have exposed the limitations of UNIPOM’s achievement, but the conflict passed without another peacekeeping force being created. Furthermore, after the war, the Indians concluded that UNMOGIP’s mandate had lapsed. Although Secretary-General Thant disagreed and UNMOGIP remained in the area, India has restricted UN operations on its side of the Line of Control ever since 1971.[47] Yet despite this fact Canada did not immediately end its contributions to this mission: 424 Squadron would remain in the area until its departure on 31 March 1975,[48] and the last of the Army Observers would only be withdrawn in early 1979. Canada would continue to supply a Hercules transport to move UNMOGIP’s headquarters from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to Srinagar, India, and back again every six months until 1995 when the United Nations decided to use trucks instead. Whether this decision was taken as the result of budget cuts in Ottawa or by a decision by the United Nations to reduce costs is unclear, but whatever the case, this move ended Canada’s participation in UNMOGIP after almost half a century.[49]
 

Canadian Air Operations in UN Military Observer Group India–Pakistan

Having provided an overview of Canada’s involvement with these UN peace observer missions, there is still the need to explore Canadian air operations in greater detail. This analysis will be done through the use of interviews with former Canadian Forces personnel who served in UNMOGIP, as well as other primary sources.[50] According to these individuals, the role of Canada’s UNMOGIP air contingent was to fly the military observers and mail in and out of the UN base camps where the observers were stationed.[51] Many of these flights were made so the observers could take their rest leave. In addition, in the early 1970s UNMOGIP’s aircraft was responsible for transporting the mission’s headquarters back and forth from Srinagar to Rawalpindi every six months.

While they were part of UNMOGIP, the Canadian airmen sought to provide the best support possible to the army observers. As one of the interviewees put it, it was well understood that the observers were relying on them “to come in with mail, to come in with supplies ... and the guys [the observers] wanted to get out for their R and R [rest and recuperation]. So we [the pilots] tried to be very dedicated that way”. However, it should be emphasized that in UNMOGIP, unlike UNIPOM, the Canadians did not fly any reconnaissance missions. Instead, it was the job of the army observers to monitor the ceasefire.[52]

I also learned that, at least in the opinion of the former Canadian military personnel I interviewed, the Air Force did an excellent job in supporting the mission. It provided effective training that prepared them for what they were going to face in addition to allocating capable aircraft to UNMOGIP. Certainly, the transport aircraft that were used by Canadian personnel were not perfect. The Caribou, because it had piston engines, had a limited service ceiling and rate of climb, both of which were issues, given the mountainous terrain in the area.

Although the Twin Otter had turboprop engines, it did not have the cargo capacity of the Caribou. This was a problem when the Twin Otter was used to move UNMOGIP’s HQ.[53] Nonetheless, given that these were the aircraft available either in the inventory or off the shelf, they both served this mission well. Furthermore, there were no complaints about the quality of the logistic support that they received from Canada.[54]

The interviewees related other interesting details. One example was that the RCAF, like the Canadian Army, briefed and debriefed the officers who served on UNMOGIP to prepare them for the local conditions and, presumably, to learn lessons from this experience.[55] In addition, the Canadian Army and Air Force personnel worked extremely well together and, in general, the observers from all the countries got along with the exception of the Chilean contingent.[56] A word should also be said about the issue of corruption and UNMOGIP. It goes without saying that there was a lot of small-time corruption, namely the use of a bottle of whisky at the airport to get what you wanted through customs;[57] but there were some more serious cases. One retired Canadian officer, Dr Allan English, told me a story of when he was part of the aircrew for a Hercules flight into Kashmir. There was supposed to be no cargo for the flight back to Rawalpindi, Pakistan, but he quickly noticed that logs were being loaded onto the Hercules. According to the local ground crew, this was being done on the orders of the UNMOGIP commander. He later learned that the timber was being smuggled into Pakistan to be used in the production of furniture.[58]

These interviews provided a detailed picture of the lives of Canadian personnel serving in UNMOGIP. On one hand, they were living really well, spending half the year in Kashmir, which was a particularly beautiful part of India. They had access to servants, known as bearers, and duty-free liquor and cigarettes, which led to an enjoyable atmosphere with parties every weekend.[59] One interviewee described the atmosphere as one where they “worked hard and played hard”. Not surprisingly, he described the mission as a great adventure and even had volunteered to stay three months extra in country in order to help with the transition from the Caribou to the Twin Otter.[60] Another interviewee also told me a story about a fly fishing trip in the Himalaya Mountains where he caught five trout in 15 minutes.[61]

Despite the pleasant aspects of this mission, these men did face some serious difficulties, including illness and disease. All personnel on the mission suffered from chronic diarrhoea, which had several colloquial names including “Gypo Gut”, “Delli Belli”, and “Pindi Trots”.[62] Major General Macdonald even wrote to one of his fellow officers in Canada about “a type of projectile diarrhoea, reminiscent of Cape Canaveral on a busy day, [which] is something which has to be experienced to be believed”.[63] In addition, there were more serious cases, as one of my interviewees was hospitalized with dysentery and other personnel required evacuation back to Canada.[64] Moreover, the ground crew had to deal with the extreme levels of heat and humidity while their pilot counterparts faced the hazards of flying in the Himalayas, particularly in the winter months.[65] There was also the isolation and loneliness of being in an alien culture. The writer of one diary I consulted stated that his time in UNMOGIP was “the longest year in history”.[66] There were other difficulties related to the local population. For example, in June 1967, a number of Kashmiris in Srinagar rioted after they had heard that the Israelis had bombed Mecca during the Six Day War. During the riot, they burned a couple of Christian churches and attacked the UN compound.[67]

Of course, being stationed between two heavily armed and aggressive nations was stressful as well. One of my interviewees stated that there was a brief “flare-up” between the Indians and Pakistanis that caused some concern in the mission.[68] It is important to remember that two of the aircraft, a Caribou and a Twin Otter, sent to support UNMOGIP were destroyed in the 1965 and 1971 wars. Finally, for those who noticed, there was a sense of futility. In particular, Matiowsky quickly realized that the United Nations simply lacked the resources to prevent the outbreak of conflict. To his mind, in a place like Kashmir with its valleys and mountains, there were too many places on the border where both armies could hide excess men and artillery from the UN observers. This factor, combined the inability of the observers to do snap inspections due to the need to get permission from the Indians or Pakistanis, meant that UNMOGIP’s mission was fatally flawed.[69]
 

Conclusion

From 1948 to 1995 the Canadian government and armed forces worked to assist the UN’s peace observer missions on the Indian subcontinent. This effort first emerged through the dispatch of a handful of Canadian Army observers to the area. However, in the mid-1960s, Canada’s role changed first through the dispatch of one CC-108 Caribou aircraft, along with its crew and maintenance personnel, to support UNMOGIP. Then, in 1965, in response to the outbreak of the Second Indo–Pakistani War, Canada played a leading role in the formation of UNIPOM by providing its commanding officer and its air transport component of two Caribous and three CC123 Otters. This decision was taken in response to a crisis that threatened world peace and the stability of the Commonwealth, but also reflected an increased interest in peacekeeping in Ottawa and the desire to ensure that Canada’s reputation at the United Nations was maintained. While UNIPOM would be disbanded after the successful completion of its mission in 1966, Canada would continue to use its air assets to support UNMOGIP into the 1990s. Therefore, having examined the Canadian experience on these peace observer missions, one other issue remains: what can be learned?

One lesson is that the decisions in Ottawa whether or not to support these missions were heavily influenced by individual personalities. For example, Canada’s dispatch of observers to serve in the region in the late-1940s was driven by St. Laurent and Pearson. Moreover, the allocation of the Caribou to assist UNMOGIP in 1964 and Canada’s commitment to UNIPOM were largely the result of Martin’s strong lobbying behind the scenes. He not only pushed Hellyer to supply the aircraft but also argued that Canada needed to contribute significant personnel and aircraft to UNIPOM.

Canada’s involvement with these operations further illustrated that while having a positive reputation in some field of international endeavour is a good thing, it always must be remembered that this status does not come without its costs. Indeed, the fact that Martin perceived that Canada needed to allocate resources to UNIPOM just to maintain its position as a leader in the field of international peacekeeping is an important lesson that good reputations have burdens as well as benefits. This point further shows that for Canadian diplomacy to be at its best, it needs to be backed up by a well-equipped and trained military that can effectively fulfill the commitments made by Canadian officials. This experience also demonstrates the problems of participating in small UN peace observer missions, namely that these operations will only do useful work when the parties involved want them to. As Macdonald stated, UNIPOM could do nothing if the Indians or the Pakistanis decided they wanted to fight. UNIPOM was ultimately successful, but without the political will to solve the underlying problems, it was only a “Band-Aid” solution, as was shown by the outbreak of the third Indo-Pakistani War in 1971. This reality was even more the case with UNMOGIP, as there were simply too many places for the Indians and the Pakistanis to hide weapons and soldiers in the region and the system of inspections in use was utterly inadequate.

Finally, for the RCAF, the lessons of UNMOGIP and UNIPOM are that despite the difficult conditions of the region, it did its job well. The Air Force provided quality training and capable equipment to support its personnel in the region. This experience was a good affirmation of the work that had been done to rebuild this force out of the wreckage of the postwar demobilization, which had resulted in the emergence of one of the world’s best air forces. The Air Forces’ ability to maintain this level of excellence for a period of time afterwards, despite reductions in its funding, is a tribute to the officers and men of the period. There were many issues with this mission, but the RCAF’s contribution was not one of them.

 

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Major Mat Joost for assisting me in accessing the Alan James Papers during my visit to the Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) in Ottawa.

 

Endnotes

[1] Though rumour circulated of sabotage, the plane seems to have gone down during a severe storm with the autopilot engaged. See Granatstein, J.L. “Canada: Peacekeeper – A Survey of Canada’s Participation in Peacekeeping Operations”, in Peacekeeping: International Challenge and Canadian Response, by David Cox, J.L. Granatstein and Alistair Taylor (Toronto: Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 1968), 101–02; Maloney, S. Canada and UN Peacekeeping: Cold War by Other Means, 1945–1970 (Toronto: Vanwell Publishing, 2002), 26.

[2] Extract from Minutes of Meeting of Heads of Divisions, 6 January 1948, reproduced in Mackenzie, H. (ed.), Documents on Canadian External Relations 14, 1948 (Ottawa: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1994), 232–3. For more information on these events see Schofield, V. Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010), 49–72.

[3] Granatstein, “Canada: Peacekeeper”, 101–3; Maloney, Canada and UN Peacekeeping, 25–26. Canadian Forces, “Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan”. Available at: http://www.cmpcpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp/od-bdo/di-ri-eng.asp? IntlOpId=292&CdnOpId=352 [accessed 1 June 2011].

[4] Memorandum from Acting Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs, 15 January 1949, reproduced in Mackenzie, H. (ed.) Documents on Canadian External Relations, Vol. 15, 1949 (Ottawa: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1995), 302–3. Canada was eligible to send observers partly because Canadian military personnel were able to speak English, but also because it had no colonial possessions in Asia and it was not a country directly involved in the Kashmir dispute.

[5] Bercusson, D. True Patriot: The Life of Brooke Claxton, 1898–1960 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 158, 169, 177–80.

[6] Granatstein, J.L. “Peacekeeping: Did Canada Make a Difference? And What Difference did Peacekeeping Make to Canada?”, in Making a Difference? Canada’s Foreign Policy in a Changing World Order, ed. John English and Norman Hillmer (Toronto: Lester Publishing, 1992), 225.

[7] Reford, R.W. “UNIPOM: Success of a Mission”, International Journal 27(3) (1972), 406. Sean Maloney has argued that the need for bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan under American–British–Canadian War Planning also encouraged Canada to support this mission. Maloney, Canada and UN Peacekeeping, 26–9.

[8] Memorandum from Acting Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs, 15 January 1949, reproduced in Mackenzie, Documents on Canadian External Relations, 302–3.

[9] St. Laurent, L. The Foundations of Canadian Policy in World Affairs (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1947).

[10] Background Paper, 5 April 1965, RG 25 Department of External Affairs, Vol. 10121, File 21-13-UNMOGIP Military Actions – Armistice – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan Vol. 1, LAC.

[11] Information Report, 17 1964, RG 25 Department of External Affairs, Vol. 10121, File 21-13-UNMOGIP-1 Military Actions – Armistice – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan – Canadian Contingent Part 1, LAC.

[12] Lourie, S. “The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan”, International Organization 9(1) (1955), 24; Dawson, P. The Peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (Bombay: Popular Prakashan PVT, 1995), 37.

[13] Background Paper, 5 April 1965, RG 25 Department of External Affairs, Vol. 10121, File 21-13-UNMOGIP Military Actions – Armistice – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan Vol. 1, LAC.

[14] Pearson, L. “A New kind of Peace Forces”, in Canadian Foreign Policy Since 1945 Middle Power or Satellite?, ed. J.L. Granatstein (Toronto: Copp Clark Publishing Company, 1973), 151–4; Pearson, L. “Lecture by the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, Prime Minister of Canada, in the Dag Hammarskjöld Memorial Series at Carleton University, Ottawa, 7 May 1964 (extracts)”, in Canadian Defence Policy Speeches and Documents1964– 1981, ed. Larry R. Stewart (Kingston: Centre for International Relations Queen’s University, 1982), 156–62.

[15] Martin, P. “An Independent Canadian Foreign Policy”, in Paul Martin Speaks for Canada (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1967), 20.

[16] Government of Canada, White Paper on Defence (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1964), 15, 24.

[17] Girard, C. Canada in World Affairs, 1963–1965 (Toronto: Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 1980), 320–27.

[18] The “Line of Control” is the term given to the ceasefire line of 1949.

[19] Memorandum to Chairman Chief of Staff, 30 August1963, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21489 File 2137.5 UN India and Pakistan. LAC Part 1, LAC.

[20] Memorandum to the Cabinet Committee on External Affairs and Defence, 6 February 1964, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21489, File 2137.5 UN India and Pakistan Part 1, LAC.

[21] Tremblay to Ottawa, 10 January 1964, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21489, File 2137.5 UN India and Pakistan Part 1, LAC.

[22] Message from the Canadian Delegation to the UN, 30November 1963, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21597, File 2-5081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP, LAC.

[23] Provision of Chartered Aircraft, 19 August 1965, RG 25 Department of External Affairs Vol. 10121, File 21-13UNMOGIP-1 Military Actions – Armistice – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan Part 1, LAC.

[24] Martin to Hellyer, 5 December 1963, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21489, File 2137.5 UN India and Pakistan Part 1, LAC.

[25] Martin to Hellyer, 14 January 1964, RG 25 Department of External Affairs, Vol. 10121, File 21-13-UNMOGIP Military actions – Armistice – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan Part 1.2, LAC

[26] Hellyer to the CAS, 10 December 1963, RG 24Department of National Defence, Vol. 21489, File 2137.5 UN India and Pakistan Part 1, LAC.

[27] Hellyer to Martin, 18 January 1964, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21489, File 2137.5 UN India and Pakistan Part 1, LAC.

[28] Record of Cabinet Decision, 18 February 1964, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21489, 2137:5 UN India and Pakistan Part 2, LAC.

[29] It would take months of negotiations for Canada and the UN to agree on the terms under which this aircraft would operate, Memorandum to the Cabinet, 27 August 1965, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21597, File 2-5081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP, LAC.

[30] Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict, 103–10; Lamb, A. Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy, 1846–1990 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 247; Nawaz, S. Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army and the Wars Within (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 194–5, 202–14, 220–22.

[31] Martin to Ottawa, 23 September 1965, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21597, File 2-5081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP Part 2, LAC; Message from External Affairs to New Delhi, 4 October 1965, RG 25 Department of External Affairs, Vol. 10121, File 2113-UNMOGIP Military actions – Armistice – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan Vol. 1, LAC; Dawson, The Peacekeepers of Kashmir, 237–8.

[32] Maloney, Canada and UN Peacekeeping, 227; Granatstein, “Canada: Peacekeeper”, 104.

[33] Terms of Reference United Nations Air Transport Unit India–Pakistan, 28 September 1965, RG 24 Department of National Defence Vol. 21597, File 2-5081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP Part 2, LAC; Macdonald to Moncel, 26 November 1965, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box29, File 4 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH; Outline of UNIPOM’s Activities September 1965 – March 1966, Undated, 2005/05 Allan James Fond, Box 29, File 4 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH, 4.

[34] Maloney, Canada and UN Peacekeeping, 227; Granatstein, “Canada: Peacekeeper”, 104. Brazil, Burma, Ceylon, Ethiopia, Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Venezuela contributed observers to this force. Some of the observers were borrowed from UNMOGIP and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. See, respectively, Part Three: India/Pakistan The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan and the India–Pakistan Observation Mission, 2005/05 Allan James Fond, Box 29, File 14 India and Pakistan – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, DHH; Outline of UNIPOM’s Activities September 1965 – March 1966, Undated, 2005/05 Allan James Fond, Box 29, File 4 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH, 3.

[35] Martin to Ottawa, 23 September 1965, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21597, File 2-5081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP Part 2, LAC; Memorandum to the Cabinet (DRAFT), 24 September 1965, RG 24 Department of National Defence Vol. 21597, File 25081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP Part 2, LAC.

[36] Memorandum to the Cabinet, 24 September 1965, RG24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21597, File 2-50819 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP Part 2, LAC.

[37] Macdonald to Moncel, 6 October 1965, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box 29, File 4 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH; Macdonald to Family, 19 October 1965, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box 29, File 4 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH.

[38] Outline of UNIPOM’s Activities September 1965 –March 1966, Undated, 2005/05 Allan James Fond, Box 29, File 4, India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH, 12; Reford, “UNIPOM: Success of a Mission”, 411. Furthermore, Reford described the lack of basic supplies such as radios, which required the officers to use the communications systems of the Indian and Pakistani armies.

[39] A Job for Soldiers, Undated, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box 29, File 5 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH.

[40] Ibid.; Message from Canadian Delegation to the UN,16 October 1965, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21597, File 2-5081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP Part 2, LAC.

[41] Dawson, The Peacekeepers of Kashmir, 76. Fortunately there were no casualties. The United Nations accepted full liability for the loss of the aircraft. See: PERMISDNY to EXTERNAL, 7 September 1965, RG 24 Department of National Defence, Vol. 21597, File 2-5081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP, LAC; Lansky to Trimble, 8 September 1965, Vol. 21597, File 2-5081-9 United Nations Emergency Force UNMOGIP Part 2, LAC.

[42] A Job for Soldiers, Undated, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box 29, File 5 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH; Memorandum to the Minister, 7 September1965, RG 25 Department of External Affairs, Vol. 10121 File21-13-UNMOGIP-1 Military Actions – Armistice – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan – Canadian Contingent Part 1, LAC.

[43] The clause about flights over the international boundary was included at the insistence of the Indian government. A Job for Soldiers, Undated, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box 29, File 5 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH; Macdonald to Moncel, 6 October 1965, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box 29, File 4 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH; Macdonald to Moncel, 26 November 1965, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box 29, File 4 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH.

[44] Outline of UNIPOM’s Activities September 1965 –March 1966, Undated, 2005/05 Allan James Fond, Box 29, File 4 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH, 13; A Job for Soldiers, Undated, 2005/05 Alan James Papers, Box 29, File 5 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH.

[45] Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict, 111–12.

[46] Shafqat Hussain Chauhdry. United Nations India– Observation Mission (UNIPOM) 1965–66 Vol. II. Ph.D. Dissertation 1979, 2005/05 Allan James Fond, Box 29, File 16 India and Pakistan – UNIPOM 1965–66 Vol. II, DHH.

[47] The Indian government has continued to supply UNMOGIP with the same level of administrative support as before 1971. United Nations, UNMOGIP Background. Available at: http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/unmogip/backgro [accessed 1 June 2011]; Part Three: India/Pakistan the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan and the India– Pakistan Observation Mission, 2005/05 Allan James Fond, Box 29, File 14 India and Pakistan – United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, DHH.

[48] Untitled Press Release, 4 February 1975, 75/179, DHH.

[49] Canadian Forces. Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan. Available at: http://www.cmpcpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp/od-bdo/di-ri-eng.asp? IntlOpId=292&CdnOpId=352 [accessed 1 June 2011].

[50] I conducted interviews with Merv Matiowsky in Trenton, Ontario, on 4 March 2011, and with Bernard “Ted” Green in Belleville, Ontario, on 6 June 2011. Mr Matiowsky was one of the RCAF’s pilots in UNMOGIP from May 1970 to September 1971. Mr Green served as a member of the ground crew from June 1967 to May 1968. Moreover, I utilized the diary of Sergeant James H. Baker who served with UNMOGIP from June 1966 to June 1967. Finally, I consulted Dr Allan English on 15 May 2011 about his experiences with this mission.

[51] Matiowsky interview (see Note 50).

[52] Ibid.; Merv Matiowsky, email message to author, 22 January 2012.

[53] Matiowsky interview (see Note 50).

[54] Ibid.

[55] This practice was not extended to NCOs. Green Interview (see Note 50).

[56] Mr Matiowsky did not know the reason for this situation. (Matiowsky Interview, see Note 50).

[57] Ibid.

[58] English Interview (see Note 50).

[59] Matiowsky Interview (see Note 50).

[60] Ibid.

[61] Green Interview (see Note 50).

[62] Ibid; Matiowsky Interview (see Note 50).

[63] Macdonald to Parker, 14 February 1966, 2005/05 Allan James Fond, Box 29, File 6 India and Pakistan – MacDonald Papers, DHH.

[64] Green Interview (see Note 50).

[65] Ibid; Matiowsky Interview (see Note 50).

[66] Sergeant James Baker wrote on his arrival home “Hooray!! HOME AT LAST! (Thank God!) THE LONGEST YEAR IN HISTORY (+LONELY)”. Diary of Sgt. James H. Baker (see Note 50).

[67] Ibid.

[68] Matiowsky Interview (see Note 50).

[69] Ibid.

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