Dear CDA community members,

Now that I’ve been a few months in office, I owe you all an update about the direction that the organization has begun taking under my watch. My philosophy thus far has been to develop a higher impact / lower cost approach that is volunteer-driven and strategically focused. We’re finally starting to reap the fruit and there’s much to share with you.

Lots of things happened behind the scenes and as such went unnoticed. I’ve been meeting stakeholders, including CDA member associations to engage them on the research side of the Institute and corporate sponsors to renew financial commitments and pave the way for the future, as well as applying for research grants and using this as leverage to recruit new and exciting partners into the mix. By the time autumn arrives, we should be able to launch a revamped CDA Institute with its eyes set on the future.  Until then, here are a few updates on our many areas of programming.

E3 Conference: Our most successful Graduate Student Symposium in years was held in cooperation with the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, ON

The annual CDA Institute graduate conference took on a new shape this year as we partnered up with the Balsillie School to deliver an event that brought students from coast to coast to present their research. The room was packed and the judging committee was composed of representatives from the CDA Institute, Dalhousie U, Balsillie School, the Royal Canadian Military Institute, and Canadian Forces College Director of Programmes, Col .Ryan Jurkowski. The top paper awards were given to Adam MacDonald (Dalhousie) for his piece on Canada and freedom of navigation in the Pacific and Rachel Glowinski (UofT) for her piece on DAESH’s learning curve regarding the high risks associated with metadata gathering on social media.

Connecting with the Canadian Forces College

Last month, our edition of the Vimy Papers series was the first of a new co-publishing arrangement with the Canadian Forces College through which we will be sharing with you the best papers written by senior officers who are enrolled in the Joint Command and Staff Programme and the National Security Programme. The next batch of submissions will be peer-reviewed over the summer months and we’ll be sharing them with you in the fall.

So what was it? CANSOFCOM Maj Berardinelli, who was posted in Iraq, wrote a fascinating piece on DAESH in which he explores the state-like qualities of the insurgency. The essay was described by CFC faculty as having a nuanced and complex argument – one of the best essays to come out of the Joint Staff and Command Programme in the past year.

Expert Series

With regard to events, my plan is for the CDA Institute to organize fewer, but better targeted ones. A recent example of this model was the first of our “Expert Series”, which featured BGen Colin Keiver who offered his key takeaways from commanding OP Impact in Iraq, only a few weeks after returning from heading the mission. The conversation was held under Chatham House rules and was both candid and illuminating. Former CDS Gen Tom Lawson, who attended, described it as a “superb access”.

The Vimy Gala Is Just Around the Corner: November 8th

We’re doing things a bit differently this time around. Speeches will be streamlined to provide you with more time to enjoy the event with friends and colleagues from coast to coast to celebrate the sector, our fallen heroes, and the inspiring laureates.  The event has already begun selling out (we started early this year) – so companies that wish to sponsor the event and/or purchase a table will need to act fast (contact Jennifer here). Individual tickets for the remaining seats will be put on sale at a later date. As for the awards, you can still nominate outstanding individuals for the Vimy Award and the Nichola Goddard Award, but time is running out: deadline is August 15.

Ottawa Conference: We’re Going Big & We’re Going Global

With regard to the March 4-5 2020 Ottawa Conference, we have already started booking some high-quality speakers for next year, including pollster Nik Nanos, who will be presenting an up to date overview of the Canadian population’s perspectives on national defence, security, and the military profession. CJOC Commander Michel Rouleau will be taking the floor on the theme “How We Fight”. CDS Jonathan Vance has confirmed he will take the podium, which will be significant, given the upcoming 2019 federal election. The academic panels will focus on presenting the most up to date research and will bring together a wider multi-disciplinary set of scholars offering solutions-oriented analysis. My promise to you is this: the Conference will be a big show, and we’ve begun sending invitations internationally through our embassy partners and academic networks so that the people you will get a chance to hear will bring fresh and new ideas to the Ottawa scene.

Research Update

The CDA Institute recruited the talented Leah West (Carleton) and Robert Martyn (Queen’s) as Associate Editors back in the spring. They have allowed us to sustain our publication agenda and provided excellent feedback to our writers. (Thanks Leah! Thanks Bob!) Furthermore, we’ve also homed in on four research “clusters” in areas we regard as most relevant and timely. To give these life, we’ve brought together an international crew of scholars and practitioners that will propose solutions-oriented research and publications in the following areas over the next 2 years:


2) NEW FRONT LINES: THE TRANSFORMATIVE NATURE OF DIGITAL WARFARE – Cyber, AI, Cloud, network enabled warfare, secure systems engineering


4) INDUSTRY & PROCUREMENT – Connecting industry capabilities and technological development to defence policy needs – thinking through the future of procurement in Canada.


Research Cluster 1: Recruitment & Retention

The first cluster we’re rolling out on recruitment and retention unites academics from 6 Canadian universities, alongside two foreign military academies (US Army War College and Royal Military Academy of Belgium) and corporate research partners IBM, Nanos, and Calian who will be providing technology and expertise. The New Zealand, British and Australian embassies in Ottawa have pledged to give us a hand connecting our work to their respective ministries of defence, and we’ve brought the Chief of Defence Staff Commander’s Initiative Group, MILPERSCOM and DRDC into the fold. Together, the network will take on an evidence-based quest to uncover best practices and propose original HR strategies for Canadian Armed Forces based on new data mining and data generation. We will be organizing a nation-wide survey regarding perspectives into the profession of arms and the desire to serve, as well as focus groups with military recruits, mid-career reservists and regulars, and military families to talk about the recruitment process, and the challenges of transitions and work/family life reconciliation . We’ll have much to report on by the time we present the preliminary findings during the 2020 Ottawa Conference next March.

Your Support Matters

Thank you for your continued support. And remember: we are a registered charity organization with a mandate to educate Canadian citizens and provide peer-reviewed evidence-based research on foreign and defence policy. Please take a moment now to donate to the cause and to the success of our mission by clicking here to DONATE.


All the best,

Dr Youri Cormier (BIO HERE)

Executive Director

Conference of Defence Associations & CDA Institute


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