Newsletter - RUSI Vancouver
Highlights of the May 23
World War II: May 25 - 30, 1942
John Thompson Strategic Analyst - Quotes from his book “Spirit Over Steel”
Liberals Steer Toward Boost in Defence Spending
Appearing to retreat on previous claims
David Pugliese, National Post - May 14, 2017
Future of Drones is Small and Cheap
C4ISRNET: Mark Pomerleau - May 12, 2017
Move Over Humvee, the US Army Has a New Ride
Hugh Lessig, Daily Press via AP - May 13, 2017
Vancouver Artillery Association Yearbook Updates
Who Is It?
Vancouver Career Connect - May 31
NOABC Speakers Lunch - May 31
June Lunch: Taste of India - June 1
Canada 150 Tour of Point Atkinson Lighthouse Station - Several dates
Robert W. Mackay's Newsletter "Forces with History"
Our government’s report on its Defence Policy Review is months overdue. In the course of roundtable discussions and numerous written submissions the Department of National Defence heard from serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans, politicians, bureaucrats, and members of the public.
It is a given that the Canadian Armed Forces are not sustainable on current funding. It is not possible to meet Canada’s defence requirements given the status quo. The hard fact is, though, that our government has increased the deficit by 30 billion dollars. None of that has gone to support the Forces, and the government is unlikely to add to the deficit for something as unimportant to Ottawa as the defence of Canada.
In the meantime, the minister has gone off to report on the Defence Policy Review to the Trump administration. I expect the results of the Review will be hinted at during upcoming NATO meetings, and only after that will all be revealed to the Canadian public. No doubt the government hopes thereby to minimize complaints from the US and NATO about inadequate funding by Canada (.88% vs the agreed-upon 2%!).
One thing is certain, and that is that the current government will not adequately fund the Canadian Armed Forces in the near future. Perhaps the defence budget will be stretched even thinner to finance an African “peacekeeping” venture.
For a realistic appraisal of what Canada should be doing, look no further than the report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence which can be found at:
Our Prime Minister is off to a NATO meeting late this month, before which the government is expected to come out with its much-anticipated Defence Policy Review report. I think we can safely predict Mr. Trudeau and the Minister of National Defence will come up with either a suggestion of an actual (miniscule) increase in defence spending, or a further rationalization as to why Canada doesn’t need to spend more. (Punching above our weight, and all that.)
In the meantime, there is a growing list of urgent priorities for the minister:
- Patrol aircraft
- Submarine upgrade/replacements
- fighter aircraft
- surface ships
- ground-based defence system for the army
- bulldozers, front-end loaders, trailers, etc, to name a few.
Meanwhile, even the minister himself has apparently noted that our naval capability is at a forty-year low.
The plan, apparently, will be to 1) dig us out the hole; and 2) build an “even stronger” military. What a concept.
Items in this newsletter have been concerned with the navy, army, and air force. When checking out personnel numbers in the RCN, Canadian Army, and RCAF, it turns out that there is another Force to be reckoned with in Canada.
The RCN numbers roughly 8,500 in the regular force; army 21,600; and RCAF 14,500. (By way of contrast, when I joined the navy in 1959 I was one of 20,000 sailors. The other services in the Canadian Armed Forces have been similarly reduced; but that’s another story.
In a further contrast, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has approximately 18,500 sworn police officers on strength—making it the second largest Force in Canada, after only the army. And the RCMP has never been far from the headlines, from the 1874 Great Trek West until the latest stories of arrests made, gangs targeted, female members abused, and members agitating for union status.
A Force With History, for sure. With much more to be written.
This is the first edition of Forces With History since the budget of March, a budget that puts Canada at risk.
It’s no wonder we haven’t seen much of Minister of Defence Sajjan. If he had any plans to shore up our dwindling armed forces they’ve been completely sidelined. Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence to show that when it comes to defending Canada and spending the necessary funds, it’s the tail that wags the dog.
Example: Irving Shipbuilding, prime contractor for the construction of the navy’s frigate replacement ships, complains that when they finish the last of the six scheduled Coast Guard patrol vessels (not icebreakers, but that’s another story) their yard will sit idle. Ottawa is nowhere near to spending money on the proposed warships. So Irving, in apparent desperation, has pitched a plan to simply build more of the Arctic patrol vessels, whether the Coast Guard wants them or not.
Example: The government, various MPs, senators, interested organizations, retired and serving members of the forces and numerous others took part in the government’s ballyhooed Defence Policy Review. No results of this huge effort have been published. In an understated paragraph David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute notes the following:
“In an interview during the budget lock-up, Finance Minister Bill Morneau indicated that the Defence Policy Review will indicate the Liberal government’s level of ambition for Canadian defence policy. Budget 2017, by removing funding over the next two decades, suggests quite strongly that the forthcoming defence policy will lower Canada’s level of defence ambition.”
The Liberal government has spoken clearly. The results of the Defence Policy Review will propose something that fits into the paltry funds already allocated. Never mind the need to replace submarines, purchase fighter aircraft, and get the Canadian Surface Combatant into the water. Apparently there’s lots of time for defence spending in far-off-in-the-future “Sunny Ways” administrations.
Forces With History #89 struck a chord, with lots of feedback pro and con the F-35. On the same topic, I highly recommend a column by David J Bercuson in the Marcy/April edition of LEGION magazine.
Mr. Bercuson lays out a clear timeline, from Harper's initial commitment to the F-35, his "unrivalled act of political cowardice" in backing away from it, to Trudeau's invention of the "gap" necessitating an "interim" purchase of Super Hornets. In the meantime, it seems it will take Minister Sajjan and his department five years to think about considering a proper replacement for the F-18s, a process that if started now would obviate the need for an "interim" purchase of what could be a financial millstone around the neck of the RCAF for decades to come.
Monday March 6th's National Post featured an article on the government plans to purchase an "interim" 18 Super Hornets to fill a nonexistent gap in our defences. Such a purchase is designed, not with defence in mind, but as something for our government to hide behind as they stall on making important, hard decisions on the armed forces file. The NP article cites unnamed retired RCAF generals who say the interim purchase is a mistake.
Here's an interesting comment by a retired RCAF captain, William V. Best:
The other technical advancements in the communications and sensor equipments make the F-35 as far ahead of the Super F-18 and any other proposed aircraft as it was ahead of the CF-104 Starfighter. The F-35 compares roughly to a Tesla being compared to a 1958 Ford Thunderbird automobile. Both look very pleasing to the eye but that is where any real comparison departs in opposite directions if that is a meaningful metaphor.
Captain Best's quote is part of a longer open letter he wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau on February 23rd. If any readers would like to receive a copy of his entire letter, just let me know by return email.
* P. S.You're entitled to a free ebook when you buy a paperback copy