Canadian and American Staff Ride/
Graduate Student Study Tour of Sicily and Italy

Participants from the 2009 Can-AM tour in front of Sterlin Castle, near OrtonaThe Can-Am staff ride has evolved substantially in scope and participation since its inception in 2006.  Run annually, the objective of the tour is to bring together civilian graduate-level students and military officers from Canada and the United States with the aim of exposing participants to distinct national approaches of war that are both complementary and conflicting.  The combination of civilian and military students allows for the interchange of academic and professional perspectives on the application of policy on the battlefield.

The unique education and professional development exercise is delivered on location throughout Italy at important historic sites, monuments and battlefields of the Second World War.  Italy's unique geography and distance from Allied ports and bases made military operations there especially difficult. Nowhere else in the Second World War was there a wider variety of international contingents included in the Allied force. A focus on the three contested amphibious landing areas in Sicily, Salerno and Anzio enables participants to work through the Allied problem of developing joint air, sea and land practices that could ensure success in Normandy in June 1944. Therefore, the campaigns in Sicily and south Italy provides students with an ideal classroom and subject to study of the challenges of coalition warfare.

The Can-Am staff ride focuses on four central themes. These include a look at the strategic vision to the tactical execution, the coalition warfare, the importance of the Italian background and its people in shaping the Allied campaign, and the impact of the difficult campaign on Allied troops sent in to fight.  These themes are addressed using examples from Canadian, American and British military experiences in Italy, although Italian, Polish, Indian, Free French, Brazilian, Greek, and German military efforts are also considered.  

Led by Dr. Lee Windsor of the Gregg Centre, participants are guided through battlefields at Gela, Agira, Troina, Salerno, the Moro River, Anzio and Monte Cassino. Soldiers and students are driven around in nine-passenger vans in this intensive 11-day tour, allowing the group to investigate the intimate details of Italian battlefields as well as to continue the discussion along the drive. Participants are required to lead a daily seminar and conduct a presentation on a fallen soldier, by his graveside.

The Staff Ride is open to sponsored graduate students from SDF Centres, Canadian Forces and US Armed Forces Academic Institutions as well as interested graduate students and faculty from Canadian and US universities. 

For more information on the Can-Am staff ride tour, please contact Dr. Lee Windsor.