Language selection


Rules of Engagement

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: In war, soldiers have clearly defined rules of engagement. Tell me about that rule of engagement during a peace keeping mission? Well, it can be, and let's not use Rwanda as an example, because I don't think it's a very good example, but they are fairly clear and defined, and there has to be no doubt in a soldier's mind as to what it is. And, and this is a something where I think Canada has made great stride and has made it very clear to its soldiers what it is and what they are not supposed to be doing. Many of them, if not all of them, now go on peacekeeping mission with a little plastic card in their in their hand clearly specifying what the engagements, the rules of engagements are, and they are count they are repeated to them countlessly, countless of time and continuously through orders group, through discussions with their supervisors, and so on so forth. So we, we do very well with regards to that and Canada has to do it that way and has to be conscious of the impact of not having those would have on a soldier and, interestingly enough, and I'm not sure if it's true and I have a friend of mine who is a lawyer in the military, and, and then now he, he works at the International Trial in Hague for war crime, and he said, you know, if you don't follow the rules of engagement when you come home you will be tried and, and you will, you could go to jail. And that was interesting enough because in 1994, when I was in Rwanda, I had none and I made my own, and like I said earlier on, that was I was coming home. Interviewer: So you had no rules of engagement? No. It was, there was none. I mean, I don't recall ever discussing it with General Dallaire or anybody else for that matter. We were stuck in the middle of two forces that hated each other and often had to cross the, the front lines to do our business so I was fired at by, by both sides, so, you know, which one, you couldn't take a side first of all, you probably wouldn't know which one to take and, second of all, you, you had no rules to engage them. So we manouevered around it most of the time, but there were time where I was at, that was at the ready to fire my weapon if things were getting any worse. So, you know, we make laugh, we make fun of it afterwards a little bit when we meet and we talk about that sniper corner and things like that, but during the time that we were there, there was not a lot of smiles, when it comes to that. So, but we survived, all of us survived, and many of them of my peers have done extremely well in their career afterwards, and I'm sure all of them understand very well now what rules of engagements are.

Mr. St. Denis explains the meaning of 'rules of engagement,' and relates how they are impressed on soldiers during missions today. He then recalls how there were no rules of engagement defined while in Rwanda.

Jean Yves St. Denis

Mr. Jean Yves St. Denis grew up in Rodden, Quebec. He decided university wasn't for him, so he enlisted with the Canadian Army after graduating from high school in 1986. Mr. St. Denis had a very diverse 21 year career with the Canadian military, serving in Calgary, Germany, Ottawa, Rwanda, and Valcartier. While in Rwanda, Mr. St. Denis worked closely with General Dallaire, and witnessed many atrocities which affected him deeply for a long time after his return to Canada. With three overseas peacekeeping missions to his credit, Mr. St. Denis retired from the military in 2004, at which time he began working for Shell Canada.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Jean Yves St. Denis
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Royal Canadian Horse Artillery

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: