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Newfoundlander coming to the aid of devastated areas of the world

Ian Bradbury, formerly of Springdale and Gander, is a former Canadian Forces infantry officer who has founded the First New Allied Expeditionary Force.
Ian Bradbury, formerly of Springdale and Gander, is a former Canadian Forces infantry officer who has founded the First New Allied Expeditionary Force.

Like many people around the world, Ian Bradbury struggled with the conflicts between Iraq and Syria and how he could help those impacted.

Former military, it is understandable how the crisis overseas hit him harder than most. His response though could be considered above and beyond what the majority of people would do. 

Bradbury came to Springdale in his early elementary years. The son of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, he was gone again before he started Grade 4. His parents Ted and Susan Bradbury, Corner Brook natives, moved to Gander, where Ian finished out his high school days. 

Bradbury remembers his father, who now resides in Prince Edward Island, as an active sports coach during their time in central Newfoundland. Bradbury himself enrolled with the 537 Gander Air Cadet League of Canada as soon as he was eligible. 

After finishing high school, he enlisted with the Canadian Forces infantry. His days with the Royal Canadian Regiment included an overseas rotation in Yugoslavia. His military time ended with a medical leave in 2003, but his duties to his country continued. 

His first, of many government positions, was with the Canadian Privy Council’s security and intelligence branch. While working there he attended the Algonquin College enrolled in its security management program. He continued to do security-related work for the Canadian government including border services and Transport Canada. He would later go with the Organization of American States doing counter-terrorism work and also some private contracting in the fields of threat risk and vulnerability assessment. 

Bradbury found himself in Qatar teaching at the College of the North Atlantic’s security academy for a time, before returning to do some work with the Canadian government once again.

Former military, it is understandable how the crisis overseas hit him harder than most. His response though could be considered above and beyond what the majority of people would do. 

Bradbury came to Springdale in his early elementary years. The son of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, he was gone again before he started Grade 4. His parents Ted and Susan Bradbury, Corner Brook natives, moved to Gander, where Ian finished out his high school days. 

Bradbury remembers his father, who now resides in Prince Edward Island, as an active sports coach during their time in central Newfoundland. Bradbury himself enrolled with the 537 Gander Air Cadet League of Canada as soon as he was eligible. 

After finishing high school, he enlisted with the Canadian Forces infantry. His days with the Royal Canadian Regiment included an overseas rotation in Yugoslavia. His military time ended with a medical leave in 2003, but his duties to his country continued. 

His first, of many government positions, was with the Canadian Privy Council’s security and intelligence branch. While working there he attended the Algonquin College enrolled in its security management program. He continued to do security-related work for the Canadian government including border services and Transport Canada. He would later go with the Organization of American States doing counter-terrorism work and also some private contracting in the fields of threat risk and vulnerability assessment. 

Bradbury found himself in Qatar teaching at the College of the North Atlantic’s security academy for a time, before returning to do some work with the Canadian government once again.
Some of the First New Allied Expeditionary Force’s attention goes to bettering the lives of children.

Do more 

However, the war between Iraq and Syria awakened a desire within him to do more. 

“Quite honestly, it became quite heavy on me,” he said via telephone from his home city of Ottawa. “Seeing a lot of things that should be responded to in some ways and somehow, and seeing that not happening and watching it spiral to the cases that we are dealing with today. Looking at it, I said it was time to do something about it.” 

When you spend most of your life analyzing and assessing vulnerabilities of nations and its people, Bradbury says it becomes who you are. Observing the responses of the different countries, he said it was obvious lines of division were forming. 

“I couldn’t help but question how the hell, in this day and age, the world wasn’t responding,” he said. “It was being plastered all over social media. We were watching modern day slaughter and genocide take place in front of our eyes, and we weren’t doing anything.” 

Maybe it was being the son of a police officer or possibly the values instilled upon him as an air cadet, but he learned early in life about serving others first. Being in the military, and serving overseas enforced the importance of that mantra. 

Bradbury says he learned how seemingly small things translate to such a significant difference in certain parts of the world. 

“You may be only giving some food and necessities of life pieces, but what that translates into over time, and what they remember and how they live and things they do, can have some pretty profound impacts,” he said.
Some of the First New Allied Expeditionary Force’s assets provide medical services.

Formation of an organization 

Bradbury founded the First New Allied Expeditionary Force in 2014. It is a non-profit, non-governmental, peace support, humanitarian aid, and civil development aid organization. 

The organization’s global crisis response programs are aimed to support the well being of people in areas of disaster or conflict, while fostering conditions for sustained regional stability and security. 

It includes specialist teams that deliver relief to vulnerable, at-risk, and suffering people through aid delivery, disaster response, advisory and education programming and community engagement. 

Many people throughout the western world had a similar response to the overseas conflicts as Bradbury. People began travelling to the Middle East to offer assistance, igniting some alarms within him. 

His early attempts to raise interest in such an organization failed, but did not deter him. He continued to gather information through his contacts, and it was clear to him the Kurdistan government needed help. If nobody else was stepping up, he felt it was time. 

Initially, he targeted westerners travelling to the Middle East. He wanted to make sure everything was above board with the groups they were dealing with. 

“I admit, I made sure they weren’t walking into the hands of ISIS,” he said. “Ultimately, when they approached me and told me they were going to join group A, B or C, I’d do some very quick double checks to make sure they were talking at least to who they thought they were.” 

He said many times he warned people things didn’t appear as it seemed. 

The First New Allied Expeditionary Force could begin coordinated response efforts. This humanitarian response would grow into such areas as medical services, water and sewer, power generation and food delivery. 

“It kept getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “It was pretty amazing the support that would come as we were out there conducting these assessments.” 

 

White Paper 

Bradbury released a White Paper in 2015 suggesting solutions to Kurdish military and civilian authorities overwhelmed by humanitarian disasters and increasing instability. The 15-page paper laid out a vision on how to provide the assistance they desperately needed. 

He was happy with the response, but acknowledged there was not a lot of domestic support. Early media of the organization did not portray them in a positive light, according to Bradbury, which led to erroneous perceptions. The support was strongest in America and in Europe, he said. 

He said the current government’s engagement plan is similar to the white paper they produced. He believes the commonalities represent a change in the perception of their organization at higher levels of the Canadian government. 

The Force’s current objective revolves around medical needs in and around Kurdistan, he said. 

Their work is not restrictive to that area though. They are involved in Tansania for example, working with the American-based Castle International. They have also teamed with the Arab Peace Corps out of Washington, D.C. 

“We go around to some of those camps, and it is absolutely heartbreaking,” he said. “A lot of kids need help. A lot of kids are really badly hurt, and a lot of kids are badly injured physically and psychologically.” 

Their actions are limited however. The organization is self-funded, only receiving just over $3,000 in donations the past two years. 

“Sometimes I look at what we are doing and I think we are a little bit crazy,” Bradbury said. “At the same time, all of us absolutely love what we are doing and are pretty dedicated. As long as we can keep roofs over our hands while we are doing this, we will keep doing it.” 

While their projects have been small to date, he says they have had a lot of influence. People from other countries have been reaching out for assistance, he said, especially in the areas of humanitarian and medical development.
Education is also a priority for First New Allied Expeditionary Force.

Next 

Operation Crane is the next big project for them. It will provide nutritional supplement to the hardest hit areas of the Nigerian famine. They partnered and launched the social movement, “The Stand 2016,” in September. It is a call for a 21st century intercultural peace agreement. 

It was a nervous time for the young man who considers himself still a Newfoundlander who grew up on the streets of Springdale and Gander. However, he is flourishing off the success and support he is receiving. 

“I am still in shock some days when I think about it,” he said. 

Bradbury will continue to push for a positive change in the way aid gets delivered globally in crisis areas. Even if it continues to be one small piece at a time.

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