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Feeling Secure With The Media

Heroes Remember

Feeling Secure With The Media

If I had a choice between twenty personal body guards and one camera from a reputable media outlet, I’d take the camera every time. People don’t want to commit war crimes or screw up or kill people when there’s a camera there filming it. So if you get a CNN cameraman, or ABC or whatever. I mean, I’m slightly exaggerating to make the point, but it’s true. I would take the media with me in difficult circumstance and feel a lot more secure. Cause we would always be out-numbered. I mean there were 300,000. Most of them armed in Sarajevo, pissed off at somebody on the other side of the street from another ethnic group or whatever, and just about everybody hated us because we were a protection force that weren’t protecting anybody. We were just bringing in food and medicine. And so, from that point of view, there’s no way you’re gonna fight back and win. I mean, when I received a ridiculous order from the UN that said, “Use such force as necessary to guarantee the safe delivery of humanitarian aid,” that’s something the security council thought of. So I just said to myself, okay there’s 300,000 people here. It’s surrounded. The city is surrounded. I’ve got less than a thousand. We’re lightly armed. I’m going to ignore the order. And some of my soldiers said, “Yeah sir but we can, we can fight our way through that checkpoint, you know, that’s holding us up every morning.” And I said, “Yeah you sure can, but there’s twenty- eight more before you get to a safe border somewhere or the Adriatic and split. So you’re going to fight your way successfully and on the second one you’ll all be dead. So there’s no way that I’m going to permit you to do that.” So that’s where, that’s where I have some disagreement with other people who think you’re always a slave to the mission. No you’re not!

Major-General MacKenzie relates his comfort level and preference for the presence of the media during confrontations in the field.

Lewis MacKenzie

Major-General Lewis Mackenzie was born April 30, 1940 in Truro, Nova Scotia and raised in nearby Princeport. He is a graduate of Xavier Junior College, Sydney, Cape Breton and the University of Manitoba. He is a retired general, author and media commentator. General MacKenzie is famous for establishing and commanding Sector Sarajevo’s part of the United Nations Protection Force UNPROFOR in Yugoslavia in 1992. As a result he became the only Canadian, military or civilian, to be awarded a second Meritorious Service Cross. After his many years of service, General MacKenzie retired from the Canadian Forces in 1993. His personal account of his military experiences are written in a book he wrote, “Peacekeeper, Road to Sarajevo”. As well, MacKenzie wrote his second book, “Soldiers Made Me Look Good”. Since retirement, MacKenzie is a regular commentator and in demand as a lecturer in leadership. Major-General MacKenzie continues his role as a leader and a positive influence for the Canadian Youth.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Lewis MacKenzie
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Royal Canadian Regiment

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