The group that founded the original Canadian Military Intelligence Association (CMIA) can trace its roots soon after World War II. It originally included officers of the Canadian Armed Services and the Armed Forces of the Commonwealth who had WWII experience in Intelligence activities. Its aim was to further the interests of Military Intelligence by attending the annual meetings of the Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) and to provide direct assistance to the various Militia and Regular Force training establishments.
After WWII, informal meetings began in Montreal and Toronto. On 16 February 1946, a dinner meeting attended by 32 individuals was held in Montreal where it was decided to form a permanent organization called the “Canadian Intelligence Corps Association, Montreal Branch”. In Toronto, another meeting was held on 1 November 1946 with 70 present. The groups were advised to get a charter from the Secretary of State and make a formal request through Army Headquarters to the CDA. Upon approval, DND would provide some financial support.
On 10 December 1946, Colonel Peter Wright (1st Canadian Army G2 – using today’s equivalent staff titles) asked for approval of the name “Canadian Military Intelligence Association”, which was officially granted on 8 January 1948. CMIA was established as “a Body Corporate and Politic without share capital for the purpose of carrying on in more than one province of Canada…to further the interests and promote the efficiency of Military Intelligence in the Canadian Army”.
The first official CMIA general meeting was held in Toronto on 20 November 1948. The meeting confirmed Peter Wright as President, Jock Murray as Vice-President, and Eric Acland as Secretary-Treasurer. Ten other Directors were also appointed. Advisory Committees immediately advocated for an increase in the number of Intelligence units and ensure that all aspects of Intelligence were covered in the training programs of both the Militia and Regular Force. The by-laws were amended to permit members of the Regular Force, the RCN, the RCAF, and Commonwealth countries to become Associate members on payment of a nominal annual fee.
On 2 December 1948, CMIA was accepted into the CDA at its twelfth Annual Meeting. This was an important milestone as resolutions submitted by the CMIA within the CDA resulted in the formation of six Militia Intelligence Companies: No. 1 in Montreal, No. 2 in Toronto, No. 3 in Halifax, No. 4 in Vancouver, No. 5 in Winnipeg and No. 6 in Edmonton. Additional resolutions led to Russian language training being undertaken in these units. The CMIA was also influential in establishing the Canadian School of Military Intelligence (CS of MI) at Camp Borden.
General H.D.G. Crerar was the first Honorary Colonel Commandant of the C Int C appointed 3 February 1949, which was renewed in 1954, and again in 1959. In 1962, his title was changed to Colonel Commandant. General Crerar established an affiliation with the British Intelligence Corps (a relationship formally approved and renewed by Her Majesty in 1982) and later in his tenure, badges were exchanged with the Australian Army Intelligence Corps. Colonel Peter Wright, General Crerar’s successor, established the Colonel Commandant’s Advisory Council and Fund. The Fund was used to expand the C Int C Quarterly, purchasing Corps regalia for the CS of MI kit shop and hosting the “Crerar” dinners – prestigious events which included distinguished Canadian and foreign government personalities.
In 1965, the CMIA’s close liaison with the Regular Force was disrupted as a result of Integration when the Canadian Provost Corps, the C Int C, the Clerk-Intelligence trade and Air Force Police were combined under the newly created Security Branch. Integration forced a review of CMIA’s status. A Security Services Officers Association, composed of Regular officers who were mostly Military Police, expressed a desire to amalgamate with the CMIA. This was not allowed under CDA Regulations. However, a compromise was reached in which the two groups became the Canadian Intelligence and Security Association (CISA) – a change in name without abdicating the original purpose of the CMIA. CISA remained in existence until a few years ago when it changed its name to the Canadian Intelligence and Military Police Association (CIMPA). This group, however, legally dissolved in 2011.
The former Canadian Forces Intelligence Branch Association (CFIBA), on the other hand, stems from the start of the Intelligence Branch in October 1982. The membership consisted of Branch members exclusively. The Association was formed in parallel to CISA, which remained an amalgamation of Security and Intelligence members. In the intervening years, the CFIBA carried on the intent and spirit of the original CMIA. However, there was a common misunderstanding that the CFIBA was part of the Canadian Armed Forces or the Intelligence Branch. Moreover, there was also a misperception that the CFIBA was not open to the wider Military Intelligence community. In early 2013, the CFIBA membership voted to change the Association name to the CMIA allowing the Association to present a more robust and effective voice as an advocate of the Military Intelligence function. Finally, a return to the CMIA designation, reflecting a more inclusive membership and a wider membership base, validated the original intent and spirit of those founding members while continuing to foster the proud history of the Military Intelligence community.
The colours scarlet, dark green and white denote the evolution of the Intelligence Branch from the Canadian Corps of Guides, the Canadian Intelligence Corps (C Int C), and the Canadian Forces Security Branch, respectively. The North Star symbol embodied in the C Int C badge is also found in the Branch badge, further preserving historic ties. The compass rose shape of the badge draws notice to the world-wide scope of Branch responsibilities.
Almighty God, by whose grace we are called upon to positions of trust and responsibility! We ask for your blessing upon all who serve in the Intelligence Branch of the Canadian Forces, at home and abroad. Inspire us with the courage to always seek the truth, and the wisdom to give proper counsel to our comrades. Give us the strength to persevere in the face of doubt and adversity, and clarity of vision that we may always know the light when it is revealed from the darkness; that by serving others honourably and with wisdom, we may serve you well and be worthy of our calling. Amen.
29 October 1982
The Canadian Military Intelligence Community traces its specific origins back “to those British and French officers who were employed at various times in the early history of Canada as scouts, guides, agents, liaison officers, and on other duties”. Both General James Wolfe and his adversary in the Battle for Quebec, Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran kept most of the Intelligence available close at hand during the events leading up to their fatal encounter on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.
The Canadian colonial Militia owed much of its organization and procedures to principles laid down by the Duke of Wellington, who had organized a Corps of Guides unit in 1809. The first unit in Canada, based on Wellington’s ideas, was the “4th Troop of Volunteer Cavalry of Montreal (or Guides)” which was formed on 7 February 1862. This unit fought against the Fenian Raid of 1866, but disbanded in 1869.
When Louis Riél returned from exile in the United States in 1884 and unrest began in the West, most of the Dominion Land Surveyors, who were engaged in surveying the western regions, volunteered to take part in the North West campaign. They became The Dominion Land Surveyor’s Intelligence Corps. When the fighting ended, the unit was disbanded in September 1885.
During the South African or “Boer War“ (1899-1902), several Canadians trained and served in the British Intelligence system during the war. This was a success and led to the appointment of the first Intelligence Staff Officer of the Canadian Militia, Lieutenant Colonel Victor Brereton Rivers, RCA, a veteran of the battles of Fish Creek and Batoche.
Shortly after his appointment, the Corps of Guides (C of G) was created in the Canadian Army on 1 April 1903 and by 1914, totaled about 500 all ranks. When the Great War broke out, “the Corps of Guides” volunteered for service as a body and moved to Valcartier as part of the general mobilization”. It quickly became evident, “that the Corps could not be employed under the conditions of warfare” for which it had been designed. The Corps of Guides was soon absorbed into existing units and formations and owing to their special training in reconnaissance and scout duties, officers were used essentially as staff captains for Intelligence and general staff officers. Non-commissioned officers and men were absorbed into cavalry, horse artillery and various other duties and, subsequently, into the Cyclist Corps.
During the First World War, the Cyclist Corps formed a highly effective reconnaissance capability which came into its own during the “100 Days” in 1918 and the Canadian Corps operations conducted during the pursuit of the German Army to Mons. In addition, a Counter-Espionage Section designated “Intelligence (b)” was added to the Canadian Corps establishment in 1918. Intelligence (b) was mainly composed of Canadians who had trained and served as linguists or policemen in the British Army. They successfully identified and arrested hundreds of enemy agents involved in clandestine activity.
After the war, the Guides units were also converted into cyclist companies. The years between the wars were lean ones for Intelligence as the Guides lost their appeal and were disbanded on 31 March 1929. This left only a small staff in Ottawa and some districts carrying out Intelligence functions.
On 4 April 1932, the Air Force Intelligence Staffs and the remaining Military Staffs of the Canadian Army were amalgamated. The Canadian Intelligence Corps (C Int C) would not come into being until well after Canada’s declaration of war on 10 September 1939.
At the start of the Second World War, approximately 60 all ranks were dedicated to Intelligence duties. Then Field Security (FS) was created from the Provost Corps, which was subsequently formalized into the C Int C on 29 October 1942, similar to the British Army Intelligence Corps. By 1943, for the first time, all Intelligence appointments within Canada’s Army formations and units were filled by Canadians only. At the same time, Naval and Air Force Intelligence staffs were supporting the Battle of the Atlantic as well as strategic targeting on continental Europe.
In 1948, the Canadian Militia was authorized six Intelligence Training Companies to provide trained Intelligence personnel to augment the Regular Force when needed. During the Cold War, members of the C Int C were engaged in a variety of Intelligence duties, including deployments in Germany and Cyprus. Following unification in 1968, the C Int C, the RCAF Clerk-Intelligence trade, the Canadian Provost Corps, and the Air Force Police were united to become the CF Security Branch.
By 1981, the CF Security Branch was comprised of two separate branches: Intelligence and Security. The Chief of Defence Staff subsequently approved the formation of a separate CF Intelligence Branch. Sir William Stephenson accepted the appointment as first Colonel-Commandant of the Intelligence Branch on 1 October 1982. Re-badging ceremonies were held 29 October 1982, on the 40th anniversary of the birth of the C Int C. At that time, the Branch was less than 400 all ranks.
Since 1982, Intelligence Branch personnel have served at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, in all theatres of operations, and provided specialty capabilities in the Imagery and Human Intelligence fields. The importance of Intelligence in support of decision-making has regained its prominence and the Branch has more than doubled in size in the past eight years in order to meet operational requirements. This has included the reactivation of five of the six original Reserve Intelligence Companies and the establishment of the Canadian Army Intelligence Regiment. Moreover, 2016 marks the re-establishment of the C Int C incorporating all Army Intelligence Regular and Reserve members as part of the Corps within the Intelligence Branch.
Today, the Branch has more than 1600 all ranks, Regular and Reserve Force from all three Services. Deployed across Canada