About The Ruxted GroupThe Ruxted Group was formed, in 2005, by a group of people with an interest, knowledge, and experience in the profession of arms and in associated defence, security, and foreign policy issues.
The Group's aim is to correct the all too prevalent errors in the media. Much of the Ruxted Group's product has stayed true to that aim.
Although it comments on policy and political matters, Ruxted is apolitical; it has and will continue to criticize and/or commend politicians of all stripes whenever it thinks it necessary.
The Ruxted group strives to be:
Administrative concerns, including copyright should be addressed to ruxted [at] ruxted.ca.
Ruxted Group Founding Principles
The Ruxted Group was founded in part because of concerns that Canadians were not being fully informed regarding defence issues. Political agendas, institutional laziness and a reluctance of government to provide proper context has led to a dearth of properly validated defence information.
Recently, The Ruxted Group was persuaded that its own credibility required it to provide a public face for itself. Our new masthead reflects that. We have adopted the (English) newspaper custom of making public the names of our editorial management team while preserving the anonymity of individual contributors and sticking with unsigned editorials.
We have also considered, amongst our members, the issue of bias: that which many perceive to exist in the media and that which might exist in Ruxted.
We do not believe the mainstream media is biased.
We believe that most journalists are intelligent, informed people with thoughtful opinions of their own. We would be surprised if journalists and editors could keep all of their own biases out of everything they report. We expect them to strive for fairness and balance and most accomplish that.
Columnists are, by definition, another matter. They are allowed, indeed paid, to put their biases on parade - they are in the business of providing opinions and context to the hard news reported by their colleagues.
Editorials are also opinion. They are the considered opinion of a journal's publisher and usually an editorial board.
Ruxted is and will continue to be in the opinion business.
We have, and will, take issue with the opinions expressed by people: columnists, editorialists, commentators, and so-called experts from academe, various institutes and think-tanks. We will, we hope, always refrain from attacking the people, themselves. We will continue to strive to deal with the message, not the messenger. When we fail, we trust readers will call us on it.
We are sceptical about both the qualifications and motive of some of the messengers. That's not a problem unless and until the media trots out less than well-qualified commentators and passes them off as experts in defence and especially military matters. There are plenty of real experts out there, on all sides of most issues. There are also polemicists and self described activists who are too often invited to comment on matters about which they know little and care less. The Ruxted Group understands that the media wants to provide balance but points out that bringing a poorly qualified journalist or a completely unqualified peace activist to the table to discuss military tactics doesn't do that. What it does do is transform news analysis into political commentary.
Ruxted has noticed that some of the more radical proposals or studies from anti-military activists are not questioned in some news stories; balance appears unnecessary when an anti-military or anti-establishment view is expressed. The same cannot be said about items originating in the defence community, and too often the search for an alternate, balancing view leads to the usual suspects appearing, perhaps because a better qualified commentator is unlikely to provide the controversy which is the life blood of TV news.
If the story is tactics, then we expect the media to invite a tactician - there are plenty out there. If the topic is policy, then we expect the media to invite a policy analyst. There are plenty of those, too. If the topic is strategy, we expect the media to invite some of the many well-qualified and available strategists. When the topic is partisan politics, we welcome the presence of the polemicists and partisan activists.
The problem, we think, is not media bias. Rather it is a combination of the institutional laziness we complained about originally and a perceived need to embellish some stories - especially when they might involve complex matters like operational military tactics. How better to hyperbolize the story than to invite an unqualified activists to change the subject from tactics to anti-American politics.
We have biases. We hope they are out front and visible:
1. We have expressed our support for a strong, clear, responsible foreign policy which will, perforce, require a strong, and effective military to give weight to it;
2. We want Canada to practice the Responsibility to Protect about which successive governments preached so hard;
3. We want Canada to be a leader amongst the middle powers in the world - for the good of the world;
4. We oppose mealy mouthed shilly-shallying from any and all political parties, especially when they are in power as a government and have a duty to inform Canadians.
5. We want the Government of Canada and the opposition parties in parliament to state clear, consistent views on the current mission in Afghanistan. We believe that Canada is as rich, sophisticated and blessed (by history and geography) as Afghanistan is poor, war ravaged and cursed by its history and geography. We believe that Afghanistan deserves our help. We believe that abandoning combat operations in Afghanistan in early 2009 is tantamount to abandoning the whole country because we do not believe the Afghans will be ready, in early 2009, to provide security in Kandahar and we do not believe that anyone else is ready, willing and able to replace us there.
There is this to consider about bias: there is a public manifestation, and a private wellspring (the visceral emotional underpinning which is not usually a creature of pure reason). What has been listed above is the public part. The emotional foundation of bias for many Ruxted members is some part of the following: to be among the best of the world's armed services; to serve a nation and people worth serving; to make a difference in the lives of others in the worst possible circumstances (poverty AND violence); to work with first-tier professionals and equally first-rate equipment; to be a leader and manager of such armed services. Most Ruxted members spent parts of their lives in the military. We acknowledge our personal biases, too, and accept that they colour our opinions.
We invite Canadians to read our opinions - biases and all - and to weigh them against the other facts and opinions presented. We ask only that you also consider the biases of these other sources of information, so that as informed Canadians you may better challenge our opinions, and those of other commentators.
Selected Ruxted Group Contacts
Mike Bobbitt - Publisher
Michael Bobbitt, Publisher for The Ruxted Group, served as an Infantry Officer in the Reserves for most of the 1990's. He left the service in 2000 to pursue a career in the Ottawa high-tech sector. Michael has spoken at several trade shows about IT Security and worked as a Technical Editor for Information Security Magazine for a number of years. He has filed a cryptology related patent and has owned several small security companies. Michael is currently Director of Professional Services at a security technology company and operates Milnet.ca in his spare time.
Brian Reid - Executive Editor
Brian A. Reid, The Ruxted Group's executive editor, was born in Fort Erie, Ontario and grew up in Ridgeway, where Canadian troops fought Fenian invaders in 1866. (His great-grandfather watched the battle from the roof of the barn on the family farm.) He joined the regular Canadian army as a gunner in 1957. As it soon became obvious that he would never make a soldier, he was commissioned in the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery in 1961. During a military career that spanned nearly four decades he served in regimental, staff and liaison appointments in Canada, Europe and the United States. His last appointment, before he retired in 1994, was in the Joint Military Plans and Operations Staff at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. Brian Reid is the author of Our Little Army in the Field: The Canadians in South Africa, 1899-1902, No Holding Back: Operation Totalize, Normandy, August 1944 and of studies in Fighting for Canada: Seven Battles, 1758-1945 and More Fighting for Canada: Five Battles, 1760-1944, and he is the co-author of RCHA - Right of the Line. He also has written a number of magazine articles on military history subjects. He is currently working on a study of Operation Tractable, which followed Totalize in 1944, and a history of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. Brian Reid resides with his wife, Patricia, near Ottawa and his interests include, besides military history, travel, cooking and picking up after a large Labrador Retriever.
Edward Campbell - Managing Editor
Edward R. Campbell is the managing editor of The Ruxted Group. He enlisted in the Canadian Army as a private soldier and subsequently earned a regular commission. He served for over 35 years in nearly a dozen different ranks wearing several cap badges in the normal range of regimental duty appointments, from 'squaddie' to commanding officer, in various units in Canada and overseas. After attending some academic, specialist and professional courses in Canada, Britain and the USA, he served in more senior command and staff appointments in Canada and Europe. In the '80s and '90s, he served in NDHQ as director of a small, specialist staff branch dealing with national and international technical, policy and operational matters. After retiring from the Canadian Forces he managed a (non-military) national advisory board which provided technical, regulatory and policy inputs to the Government of Canada.
Marshall MacFarlane - Associate editor
Marshall MacFarlane enlisted in the 89th Field Battery, 3 RCA in the fall of 1983. He was the 3rd generation of MacFarlanes to serve in the 89th. He remained with the Battery until 1996 when he took his release. During his career there, he had served as a Gun Number, Detachment Commander, and Troop Sergeant Major (TSM). MacFarlane is a Charter Member of Unit #95 of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans of Canada (ANAVETS) and served as the first Unit President from 1995-1997. He has been a freelance writer since 1984, when he was granted his first monthly column with the outdoor magazine Wilderness Tales N Trails. He has also been a columnist with The Maritime Sportsman. Since living in Arizona he has been a staff writer and Assistant Editor with The Arizona Outdoorsman magazine. He was a long-time staff writer and columnist with the Johnson Ranch Hot Spot Journal. Other works have appeared in The Arizona Republic, Raising Arizona Kids, and Eastman's Hunting Journal. Currently, Marshall still does freelance work and his blog "Desert Rat" is one of the most popular in the Skinny Moose Media outdoor blog network. He is a member of the Western Outdoor Writers (WOW) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). He lives in Queen Creek, Arizona with his wife and daughter.