Word today of Robert Semrau’s much-delayed sentence: reduction in rank (to Second Lieutenant) and dismissal from the Canadian Forces (but not dismissal with disgrace). Semrau has thirty days to appeal, but my guess is he won’t. This sentence is remarkable considering that only a few months ago there was plenty of speculation that Semrau might end up in prison, perhaps for a long duration.
According to National Post reporter, Andrew Duffy, the judge – LCol Jean-Guy Perron – noted that Semrau was a first time offender and had a stellar record as a soldier and leader. I suspect that Semrau’s outstanding performance record strongly influenced the sentence. Judge Perron also rejected comparisons between Semrau’s actions and the murder of Somali teenager Shidane Arone.
And in keeping with my outlook on the US military deserters, I feel that Semrau should not appeal: he should take his lumps.
Semrau would always be a distraction in the forces. A living symbol of the warrior-ethic that doesn’t entirely mesh with the soldier-ethic officially embraced by the Canadian Forces (of which I may perhaps write about at a later time). Unlike other military officers who fought to keep their military careers, Semrau does not seem to be the type of person content to linger in backroom offices toiling on procurement projects or research. Semrau wants to lead. Unfortunately – even if they let him back in – he won’t be able to do that in the Canadian Forces.
I suspect that Semrau would be welcomed back to Saskatchewan with open arms. I believe there are many opportunities for him in this province. This is where he was born, and support for soldiers here is strong. And the nuances of battlefield law not widely understood.