Book cover image for: Scattering Chaff: Canadian Air Power and Censorship During the Kosovo War

Scattering Chaff: Canadian Air Power and Censorship During the Kosovo War

Bob Bergen

$34.99 CAD / $34.99 USD (S)

448 pages, 20 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

978-1-77385-030-6 (Paperback)

978-1-77385-032-0 (Institutional PDF)

978-1-77385-033-7 (ePub)

978-1-77385-033-4 (mobi)

February 2019

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About the Book

Winner of the C.P. Stacey Award for Canadian Military History. The unknown story of the Canadian Air Force in the Kosovo War, bringing the voices of pilots to the forefront and exposing how the Canadian Military deliberately choked media coverage to control narratives about the war.

Most Canadians know little, if anything at all, about the role of the Canadian Air Force in the 1999 Kosovo Air War. Yet lives were at put at stake as mission dedication and military skill were pushed to the limit.

Some of Canada’s most prominent journalists attempted to report on the war, but came away virtually empty handed. Daily briefings given at the National Defence Headquarters provided so little information most Ottawa journalists simply stopped going. The decision of the military to choke Canada’s news media was deliberate and based on a tactical and strategic rationale.

Scattering Chaff explores the role of the Canadian Air Force in the bombing campaigns of the Kosovo Air War while examining the military’s interference with the news media attempting to report to the Canadian public. It explores the ways in which the military has come to manage the media as an element of operational security, mission focus, and of popular opinion.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with the war’s Canadian participants and a treasure-trove of unpublished documents and photographs, this book is an unprecedented investigation of a little-known conflict and the forces that prevented it from being better known. 

About the Author

Bob Bergen is an adjunct assistant professor at the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. He was a staff journalist at The Albertan from 1976-1980 and the Calgary Herald from 1980-2000. He is the author of Censorship, The Canadian News Media, and Afghanistan.

Praise for Scattering Chaff

Scattering Chaff is an informative and enjoyable read which illuminates a largely-overlooked war in which Canadian service members risked their lives, the Canadian Forces manipulated and suppressed the news media, and for which Canadian citizens paid without knowing what they were buying.

Bergen’s highly readable book is a significant contribution.

—Krenare Recaj, Canadian Military History

Compelling “inside the cockpit” reading . . . [those] who work in—or at least have appreciation for—the broader public affairs dynamics of any given operation will find it particularly interesting.

—Steven Bright, Canadian Military Journal

The opening chapter of Scattering Chaff offers a riveting cockpit view of the sorties Canadian CF-18s flew over Serbia . . . What emerges is a wholly fleshed-out portrait of Canadian fighter-bombers in action. Such descriptions give Bergen’s work a drama and verisimilitude appropriate to the subject. But the compelling narrative is only a vehicle for the book’s two-pronged critique of Canadian military management.

—Geoff White, Literary Review of Canada

A well-researched and accurate capture of the war we fought. It is the only book of its kind and has significant historical value.

Lieutenant-Colonel Kirk Soroka, Retired

Bob Bergen has written an extraordinary and compelling account of Canada’s participation in the Kosovo Air War. The book is an indispensable guide for anyone interested in what it was like to be in the thick of war, the nature of media coverage and the politics of Canadian involvement. Scattering Chaff is well crafted, deeply researched and a superb read.

—David Taras, professor and Ralph Klein Chair in Media Studies, Mount Royal University

Finally, the full story of the Canadian contribution to the Kosovo Air Campaign of 1999. Bergen tells the story of the people involved and the missions. Fascinating stuff that fills a major gap in our understanding of an important Canadian Armed Forces NATO operation.

—David J. Bercuson, Director, Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary 

Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Nomenclature

Introduction—Kosovo: Canada’s Unknown Air War

Chapter 1. A Fearsome Aerial Ballet

Chapter 2. Planning for War

Chapter 3. I Cringed Every Time it Rained

Chapter 4. Don’t Go to War Without It

Chapter 5. The Fog of War

Chapter 6. Prelude to Censorship: Media, Body Bags, and the Persian Gulf War

Chapter 7. Like an Overnight International Courier

Chapter 8. A Blanket of Secrecy

Chapter 9. Fiction and Iron Will

Chapter 10. On Body Bags and the News Media

Chapter 11. Canada Missed a Good News Story

Chapter 12. Homecomings

Chapter 13. Context-less Facts, Ambiguity, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies





C.P. Stacey Award for Canadian Military History | 2019