Military charges senior officer with making derogatory remarks about commanders, allies

Former chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) © Provided by

Military police have charged a senior officer with making derogatory and disloyal comments about Canada’s military leaders and NATO allies while serving abroad.

In a brief statement released Monday, the Department of National Defence (DND) says Col. Robert Kearney, the assistant chief of staff at the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in Innsworth, United Kingdom, has been charged with five counts of “conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline” under Section 129 of the National Defence Act.

The charges came after military police received a complaint last fall at the detachment in Geilenkirchen, Germany. The offences are alleged to have taken place in the United Kingdom and Romania.

The first offence allegedly occurred in December of 2021 and four subsequent offences ranged from January 2023 to November 2023, said the DND statement.

Kearney, a veteran of the Afghan war who served as a strategic adviser to former chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance, was known in military circles for his blunt, clear-eyed assessments of complex military and leadership issues.

The case will be handled under the military justice system. The defence department has refused to comment on the specifics of what Kearney is alleged to have said and who was offended.

Kearney would not comment on the charges. His lawyer also declined to comment.

The fact the case is proceeding under Section 129 of the NDA is worthy of note, say military law experts. It’s a wide-ranging service offence that has been rarely used since June 2022, when the military justice system was overhauled.

Although prolific on social media, Kearney’s posts were mostly personal and when he did comment on the military or allies, it was with congratulatory notes wishing various units a happy anniversary.

He did express concern in 2022 after serving members of the Canadian military, including senior leadership, gave a standing ovation to a speech at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute’s annual Vimy Dinner by a retired general.

Retired lieutenant-general Michel Maisonneuve said Canada had lost its way and railed against “cancel culture,” wokeism and the media.

Kearney responded on Facebook by saying that the annual gala had been “sullied with arrogance, entitlement, and not in keeping with the humility & spirit of the event.”

He went on to say he hoped “folks that have worn/wear the uniform, past & present, will not think that all senior leaders support the hubris & arrogance displayed, over being humble, appreciative, and showing humility in such a forum. I also hope that more senior folks, (retired & serving), will speak out in the future. Canada deserves better.”

Source: CBC News