Update: Mo’vember

By now, most around the department have come to appreciate, or perhaps disdain, the attempt of a few brave men to grow a moustache for Mo’vember (also known as “Hipster Appreciation Month”).  This has been motivated by the effort to raise awareness on prostrate issues. The results have so far varied.

We here at The Blog of War thought it would be a good idea to post a pictorial progress report for those colleagues, friends, family, and cyberspace followers that reside outside the department.

We hope you enjoy these pictures, and remember men, it gets “fuller”.

Only nine more days to go!


15th Annual Graduate Strategic Studies Conference (2013) – Call for Papers

The 15th Annual Graduate Strategic Studies Conference will take place 1 – 2 March 2013, at the University of Calgary. The graduate students at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies welcome researchers from around the world to share their research on global security issues of the past, present, and future.

Subject matter and research methods that push the boundaries of current knowledge are encouraged. The conference is open to both undergraduate and graduate students from all areas of study. Assistance with travel and accommodation costs may be available.

Last year’s conference saw contributors coming from as far away as Russia, Israel, and Australia. We look forward to having stimulating discussions and debates from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives. There will also be a number of keynote speakers, including noted British historian, Dr. Eric Grove.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following: Arctic security, cyber security, East Asia and Middle East conflicts, human security, intelligence, joint operations, maritime security, military history, nuclear proliferation, peacemaking, psychology and war, resource and energy security, strategic culture, and unconventional warfare.


Proposals including contact information, a short biography, and a 250-word abstract should be sent to info@strategyconference.ca.

Please confine presentations to a 15-minute format.

Deadline for Proposals: 11 December 2012.

Website: http://www.strategyconference.ca

The 2012 Kingston Contingent

CMSSers capture the castle (aka RMC). MIA: Rebecca Jensen

On Thursday, October 25th, a determined group of six CMSS students made their way to the Royal Military College to prove their worth among a strong group of 31 graduate students from across Canada. CMSS has sent many delegations of students to the Canadian Defence Association’s annual graduate student symposium – affectionately known within CMSS as “The Kingston Conference.” This year’s conference was entitled Canada’s Security Interests, and the CMSS contingent for the most part (the scribe cannot speak for herself) performed admirably and received strongly positive feedback. Read on for a rundown of the events as they unfolded!

On Wednesday night, several CMSS students traveled from across the country to meet up in Kingston with Katie Domansky and Rebecca Jensen, who were already ensconced in Kingston after presenting at the International Society for Military Sciences (ISMS) 2012 conference earlier in the week. Undaunted after already presenting once, these two brave PhD students were putting the finishing polishes on their presentations for their second conference of the week. They were supported by Nathan Hawryluk, who had also presented at the ISMS conference and remained in Kingston to support his colleagues for round two (and to purchase souvenirs for his son).

The most intrepid explorer to make the trip to Kingston on Wednesday was our resident Australian PhD exchange student Stephen Hayes, who experienced more of our fine country and its transportation routes than he necessarily wished to before arriving in Kingston well after dark. Despite this potentially dispiriting trip, Steve was in fine form for his presentation on the following day.

A highlight for many of the CMSS delegation was being reunited with MSS student Jeremy Stuart, who traveled from Quebec to attend the conference and support his classmates.

The first day featured a panel comprised nearly entirely of CMSS PhD students, with Katie Domansky, Rebecca Jensen, and Bill McAuley all featured in the four-person panel on “Operations Abroad: From Doctrine to Tactics”. Avoiding the temptation to conspire to make this panel one of the most ‘memorable’ ever seen at a conference, the three gave very well-received presentations. Katie and Rebecca analyzed different elements of the international intervention in Libya, which prompted considerable interest in the Q&A section, while Bill McAuley shone with his presentation on “Canada’s tactical fixation”, focusing on improvised explosive devices, which was delivered energetically and without notes.

Following close on his colleagues’ heels, Stephen Hayes (recorded in the program as representing Western Australia, but we knew that his heart was with CMSS) gave a powerful presentation on the economic elements of Russian policy in the Arctic and its implications for international relations in the region.

The second day featured CMSS’s two Masters student presenters. Maria Robson spoke on the conference’s intelligence-themed panel, speaking on Canadian signals intelligence and intelligence alliances. Her panel also included presentations on intelligence accountability and cyber security and piqued considerable interest from attendees. Last but not least, Matthew Sutherland presented on what his moderator termed the “most eclectic” panel of the conference. Matthew’s presentation on a proactive, intelligence-led model for the RCMP was followed by two different takes on “Domestic Security Threats”, encompassing everything from missile defence to H5N1.

The conference ended triumphantly for one of the CMSS attendees: Bill McCauley was well rewarded for his efforts by a well-deserved place on the podium as one of the top three presenters at the conference. Congratulations, Bill!

CMSS can be proud of its strong showing in the recent CDA Institute conferences, and this year is no exception. Best of luck to CMSS’s 2013 contingent!

Maria Robson, MSS Student

Headed South of the Border

I was asked by a certain unnamed PhD student to write up my conference trip to the United States in October and amazingly, I have actually gotten around to doing so. During the summer I applied to three conferences and to my delight I was accepted to all three. These are the ASMEA conference in Washington DC, the ISA Security chapter conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the Annual ISA conference in San Francisco which will be held in April 2013. So far I have attended the ASMEA conference which was held on October 11-13, 2012 in the Key Bridge Marriot Hotel and the ISSS/ISAC 2012 Annual Conference held in Chapel Hill on October 4-6, 2012. I must thank CMSS and the Israel Studies Program at the University of Calgary for their generous funding and thank Dr. Duane Bratt the Chair of the Department of Policy Studies at Mount Royal University for giving me a full 10 days off from my teaching duties without even making me feel guilty.

The first conference I attended in beautiful Chapel Hill, covered a wide variety of security issues from a theoretical perspective. The topics actually gel almost perfectly with the type of work done at CMSS. Some of the panels which took place centered on the issues of nuclear proliferation, civil conflict, civil-military relations, counterinsurgency and peace building, terrorism, security studies as a field, energy and the environment, deterrence and sadly a round table on Lord of the Rings as a metaphor for IR theory. The attendees were probably 60% graduate students and noticeably dominated by the impressive Duke University Political Science students. There were also graduate students there from the finest institutions: Oxford, the University of Chicago, Kings College and the University of Michigan just to name a few. I did my best to take advantage of the impressive networking opportunities that the conference had to offer and met: Thom Shanker, the Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times, General McMaster, commander of the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, T.V Paul one of the most notable Political Science professors in Canada and many others. I also met many excellent graduate students and invited them all to Calgary for the S3C Conference.

Shanker was also the keynote speaker and gave a notably fascinating speech on US counterterrorism in promotion of his excellent new book (written with Eric Schmitt) Counter Strike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al-Qaeda. The speech included the droll observation that “The relationship between Pakistan and the US is like a dysfunctional marriage. Both sides stay together for the kids.” The kids in this analogy are of course, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. I am not ashamed to say that I bought the book and got Mr. Shanker to sign it with an almost childlike enthusiasm. Another amusing moment at dinner was when one of the ushers came up to me at dinner, noted my University of Calgary nametag, and said “oh great! I am from Nova Scotia!” Not wanting to disappoint him with my blatantly non-Canadian identity I mumbled “that’s great, eh.”

My panel was on Grand Strategy and Strategic Culture and my presentation title was “To Build and Be Built: Strategic Culture Above and Below the State”. It was very similar to what I presented at the S3C conference although it had a far more theoretical slant to it. I shared the stage with three other excellent panelists. The format at the conference encouraged discussion and the post panel festivities were as long as the presentations themselves. The comments were incredibly informative as the rooms were littered with top notch academics, Pentagon officials, think tank analysts and security journalists. The panel was capably chaired by Kiron K. Skinner of Carnegie Mellon University, hardcore realist who challenged the very notion of strategic culture and grand strategy in the vibrant discussion she led. I found myself defending constructivist dogma against my better judgment.

The second conference I attended was the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa annual conference. As I regrettably had few opportunities to tour the stunning landscapes of North Carolina, I decided to make the most of my time in Washington D.C. On my first night at the conference I blew off the keynote speech by her excellence the ambassador for Bahrain. Instead I took a long walk over the Key Bridge through Georgetown, then through the GWU campus to the White House and down to the National Monument then went through to the Arlington Cemetery and back up to Rosslyn just in time for the Vice Presidential debate. I then ordered some Chinese from the China Garden Restaurant and chilled. Honestly, that was the highlight of the trip.

The ASMEA conference was very different. The focus was historical and the organization has a noted conservative bent, as it was formed by Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami in order to combat what they view as an excessive liberal bias in Middle Eastern studies. The panels were dominated by professors mostly from smaller universities with relatively few graduate students around. To spice things up, this time I presented on the totally new and revolutionary topic of settlers… I found myself placed in what seemed like the worst panel in the entire conference. Titled “Topics in the Middle East” and placed in the coveted, last panel of the conference on Saturday afternoon spot. To my astonishment the room was packed. I get up to deliver my presentation and….panic. The PowerPoint does not work. I had to give the presentation without the cues from my slides. However, the problem was overcome and I did as good a job as I could have, albeit sans pretty pictures.

The room exploded with questions and I found that about 60% were targeted at me. I guess that is what I get for picking a controversial topic. The questions ran the gamut from how I define strategy (thanks Dr. Terriff for drilling that one into me) to a nuanced criticism using Van Creveld, to lengthy political diatribes. To make things more amusing, my father showed up and decided to ask the following question: “what is the difference between culture and narrative”. I answered that doozie to the best of my ability and said “thanks dad” as raucous laughter erupted in the room. The presentation was better received by the Middle East crowd. The Washington policy hordes were generally disinterested as I was not talking about the US. I was inundated with cards and requests to send my paper to various people.

The US conference experience was highly rewarding and satisfying and I deeply recommend it to all Canadian graduate students and to CMSS students in particular. The US is the beating heart of international academia. According to the Shanghai Academic Rankings (which have no reason to be pro-American in their bias) 8 out of the 10 best schools in the world reside in the US. If you are looking at a career in academia, you chances of getting a job are much higher below the border as there are no less than 6,900 accredited universities and colleges in the United States as opposed to only around 200 in Canada. As I talked to people in these conferences, I was pleased to hear that the University of Calgary enjoyed a solid reputation. However, not a single person I talked to had heard of CMSS. Let’s make a concentrated effort by applying to conferences in the States and representing the Centre honorably. The Kingston, Halifax and S3C conferences that we all know and love serve us greatly as a tool to practice our presentation skills and sharpen our material. We should use these skills to improve our image worldwide by participating in the world’s best conferences.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim


Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye!  Let it be known that the men of CMSS are hereby asked to celebrate Mo’vember.

For those unaware, Mo’vember is “an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives.” Yes, it is the one-month of the year when society encourages men to grow a moustache, regardless of how pubescent it may look, while not considering them to be a creeper (not guaranteed).

In order to encourage the men of CMSS to participate, two courageous PhDs have already stepped forward, put away their razors, and have begun their quest.  Being somewhat follically-challenged, this head start – or perhaps lip start – will not result in any advantage.   Yet, it takes a few to encourage the rest, and that is what they are attempting to do!

The rules are simple.  You must grow a moustache.  You CANNOT grow a beard or a goatee (aka the mullet for the new millennium). In other words, men are discouraged from growing a beard/goatee and then cutting in a moustache after a week or two.  If you are already rocking a beard, you should immediately reduce it to a ‘stache or go clean-shaven and start anew. The choice is yours.  However, your moustache must be shaved in daily and must be displayed from today/tomorrow until November 30th.

If you are actually able to grow a full, lush, beautiful moustache, you have our full respect, but perhaps you would like to display your manhood in a unique style? There are countless options: perhaps a Hulk Hogan, Albert Einstein , Burt Reynolds, or an  Otto von Bismark may suit you? But please none of THESE! Anyone capable of growing an Ambrose Burnside will receive full bragging rights, although some may consider it a beard.

Ladies, please do not feel excluded! Your role in this celebration is essential.  It is your job to support/encourage/shame the men of CMSS into taking the first step. Without your support, some may not have the courage to endure. Please help us in our celebration!

Photos shall be taken at the end of the month and posted to the Blog of War for all to witness!

We shall see you all tomorrow night at the S3C American election event rocking your new ‘stache!!

For more information on Mo’vember please check out the official website.

Get your Mo’ on!