There has been considerable discussion, most of it positive, about the court martial of Major General Michael Rouleau, commander of Canada’s Special Operations Forces Command.
His sentence was lighter than many expected, lighter than those imposed on others who did not, immediately, take full responsibility for their actions and, instead, tried to hind behind excuses. But it was precisely because, from the very instant the negligent discharge happened, that MGen Rouleau took full, public responsibility and hid behind nothing, that the judge awarded a relatively light sentence.
The Canadian Forces have had too many instances, over the past couple of decades, of senior, often very senior officers blaming subordinates, hiding behind rules and regulations and, generally, not welcoming full responsibility for their actions …
… Major General Rouleau is to be commended for turning the tide. Of course, he’s not the first officer to step up and admit when (s)he made a mistake and accept the consequences, but he is a refreshingly senior, open and quotable one … soldiers and civilians will notice.
It is worth, I think, quoting from MGen Rouleau’s biography:
“Mike Rouleau joined the Canadian Armed Forces and was commissioned as an Artillery officer in 1986 and served in this role in Valcartier, Quebec and Lahr, West Germany until 1992.
In 1994 he joined Canada’s nascent counter-terrorism unit, Joint Task Force 2 (JTF 2), where he commanded both tactical-level assault forces and Special Operations Task Forces (SOTFs).
In 1999, he retired from the military and joined the Ottawa Carleton Regional Police Service. Following 9-11, he re-enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces, returning to JTF 2 as Chief Instructor then served as Second-in-Command of 5 RALC in 2004/05.
After attending the Canadian Forces Command and Staff Course, BGen Rouleau commanded a SOTF in Afghanistan in 2006/07. He then assumed command of JTF 2 for two years. Upon completion of the Canadian Forces National Security Programme in 2010 and a variety of subsequent strategic level portfolios, BGen Rouleau served as a liaison to US CENTCOM HQ (Forward) in Jordan in 2013.
MGen Rouleau has deployed on operations in the Balkans, Africa, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. His decorations include the Governor General’s Commendation (Sarajevo 92), the Meritorious Service Cross (Afghanistan 07), and he was inducted as an Officer within the Order of Military Merit in 2013. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a Master of Defence Studies, and a Master of Arts Degree in Security, Defence Policy and Management. He has been married to Nathalie for 22 years and together they have an amazing 18 year-old daughter, Annabelle.“
There are good leaders throughout the Canadian Forces, at sea, in army units, in flying squadrons and in supply depots, workshops and offices, across Canada and overseas, in every rank from corporal to general. But there are some less than good ones, too, and even a few bad ones. Mike Rouleau just showed us all what a good leader does, we hope others will take note and improve themselves and help to weed out the leadership failures.