The Persian Excursion: The Canadian Navy in the Gulf War


239 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919769-78-0
DDC 956.704'42371




Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein is a professor of history at York University, the
co-author of the Dictionary of Canadian Military History and Empire to
Umpire: Canada and the World to the 1990s, and the author of The Good


The Canadian government’s decision to send troops to the war against
Iraq was greeted with a mixed response in the country, and not least in
Parliament. Quebec’s response, especially, was noticeably cooler than
that in the rest of the land, but by the time the shooting started a
majority of all parts supported the effort. And rightly so. Commodore
Miller’s book is one of the first on the Canadian military
contribution and it is important because our naval contribution was very
significant. His account of how the navy had to scramble to get its old
ships ready for operational service is at once heart-rending and
heartwarming—the ingenuity and devotion with which difficulties were
overcome was clearly remarkable. Miller also had a key position in
picking the staff and in working with the Allied command, and his
account adds substantially to what we know, most especially on the naval
blockade’s role in pinning Saddam to the mat. Very important, for
example, was that the Canadian ships were virtually unique in their
ability to talk in a secure fashion to all ships; none of the other
allies could talk to each other as easily. The British and American
navies, for example, lacked compatible communications systems.

This is a very good book, well written, intelligent, aware of the
difficulties a middle power must face. Significantly, Miller notes that
one of the key early decisions was that the three Canadian warships
would serve together under Canadian command as a task group. That
decision could have—would have—been made by Canadian officers in
World War I and II. Some things never change.


Miller, Duncan E., and Sharon Hobson., “The Persian Excursion: The Canadian Navy in the Gulf War,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,