Archive for the ‘CANADA FIRST’ Category

DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN COMMENTARY: MOVEMENT ON A NEW CANADIAN FORCES SEARCH AND RESCUE AIRCRAFT BY THE SPRING?

February 8, 2010

DEFENCE WATCH ANALYSIS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The official word from the Defence Department on the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue aircraft project is that the various government players will be ready in the “spring” to make a recommendation on how to proceed on the program.

And the unofficial response from the aerospace industry? Don’t hold your breath.

Most people in the aerospace and defence community remember Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s boast in December 2008 that he was going to buy a new FWSAR aircraft fleet by the spring of 2009. Yes, buy.

“As Minister MacKay has noted, these aircraft are a critical component of Canada’s home guard and, simply put, we need to have them,” Jay Paxton, the minister’s press secretary, told Defence Watch on Dec. 17, 2008. “The minister’s goal is to procure FWSAR early in the new year. Beyond that, it is premature to speculate on the exact nature of the aircraft.”

It also appears it was a little premature of MacKay to claim that the government would buy a FWSAR aircraft in the spring of 2009.

So now the project will be moving forward in the spring of 2010.

But then again, DND can’t even give a specific date or define what the term “spring” means.

Would that be April, May or even June?

Asked what month in the “spring” that DND expects to make its recommendation on the way forward on FWSAR, Defence Department spokeswoman Lianne LeBel responded, “Spring.” (You have to feel sorry for some of these public affairs officials who are sent out with five or six printed “media response lines” that say nothing. The FWSAR project office is too scared to put someone up front to deal with the news media since they would be facing some tough/embarrassing questions, such as how come it is taking so long to buy an aircraft?….so they shove Ms. LeBel into the fray)

That aside, LeBel did give Defence Watch a rundown on the official government “media response” on what is happening with FWSAR.

“In July 2009, the Government of Canada requested industry’s feedback on the proposed requirements and key considerations detailed during the FWSAR Industry Day,” LeBel pointed out. “Industry was given 60 days to comment. The submission period concluded on September 15 and the Department of National Defence (DND), Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), and Industry Canada (IC) have reviewed the submissions from industry. Industry’s feedback will complement the work already done by DND to ensure the new aircraft is the best possible solution for Canada’s complex SAR environment. A recommendation to Government on a proposed solution to acquire FWSAR is planned for Spring 2010. The DND project office, with their counterparts at PWGSC and IC, is currently formulating the recommendation that will be advanced for Government approval.”

“Don’t buy into that DND line for the media,” one aerospace industry veteran told Defence Watch. “This program is moving at a snail’s pace. Don’t expect any fast action, spring or summer.”

Added another long-time FWSAR observer: “They told you it would be ready in the spring? Well, at least that’s an improvement over their usual the program will be moving forward ‘soon’.”

The Defence Department, Public Works and Industry Canada have brought in the National Research Council to look at search and rescue in the country and make recommendations on what is needed in an aircraft. In turn, NRC has brought in some researchers from various universities to help out. The report is due March 5 but could be delivered as early as Feb. 15, according to some observers.

DND does have some breathing room on FWSAR. The Buffalo will continue to fly until 2014/2015 or even perhaps beyond that date.

C-130s could also be used to contribute to SAR coverage as they do already. With the arrival of new C-130Js, older C-130s used for SAR could be replaced with “younger” C-130s now currently in the transport fleet. The only problem is that it the C-130 is an expensive aircraft to operate for SAR, air force officers acknowledge.

A COMPARISON BETWEEN CANADA’S JOINT SUPPORT SHIP AND THE NEW DUTCH JSS; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE REPORT

January 26, 2010

A COMPARISON BETWEEN CANADA’S JOINT SUPPORT SHIP AND THE NEW DUTCH JSS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

As the Canadian Navy’s Joint Support Ship remains stalled, the Royal Netherlands Navy is moving ahead with the construction of its own similar vessel.

The Royal Netherlands Navy has signed a contract for the construction of its JSS with Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) slated to build the vessel. The JSS will replace HNLMS Zuiderkruis, a supply ship more than three decades old.

Canada’s JSS project is still in limbo, waiting for the Harper government to move on producing a national shipbuilding strategy. Canadian defence industry representatives told Defence Watch on Friday that they expect the shipbuilding strategy to be completed by the spring. “There are indications it’s coming by the end of the first quarter,” said an industry official said.

The three Canadian JSS would replace the existing 40-year-old plus supply vessels which haul fuel and ammunition for naval task groups at sea. The ships would also provide support to the Canadian Army and special forces, carrying troops, vehicles, helicopters, ammunition and a hospital, as well as act as a command center for ground forces sent ashore.

The Royal Netherlands Navy’s ship appears similar. It  is to measure 205 metres in length and will displace over 28,000 tons. The JSS will be used for a wide variety of missions, including replenishment-at-sea,  transport of materiel and personnel, medical, technical and logistic support, and for strategic sea-lift and sea-basing missions. The number of crew is set at around 150. The ship’s speed is expected to be 18 knots.

The Dutch JSS would have roll on/roll off capabilities and a steel beach stern for accommodating cargo transfer via landing craft. The JSS is to be delivered in July 2014.  The Canadian JSS is supposed to be around 28,000 tonnes and 200 metres in length, with a speed of 21 knots. It would carry a crew of a little more than 200 and have a roll-on/roll-off capability as well.

The difference between the Canadian and Dutch JSS is in the procurement approach. The Dutch vessel’s hull will be built at the Damen shipyard in Galati, Romania, with the rest of the construction in the Netherlands.

Canada’s JSS fleet would be built entirely in Canada.

The JSS was originally announced in 2004 by the Martin government but the focus on Afghanistan diverted DND’s attention to equipment issues related to that war.

As a result, JSS went on to the backburner for a bit. It did eventually proceed, only to derail in August 2008 after industry failed to meet the government’s specifications within the allotted budget.

“We’re pretty much ready to be talking to the [defense] minister about what we need to do to advance the JSS so we’re ready to go,” Vice Admiral Dean McFadden told Defence Watch in the summer.

FOR MORE NEWS SEE DAVID PUGLIESE’S DEFENCE WATCH

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

CANADIAN FORCES HIT BY BUDGET CUTS; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE REPORT

January 26, 2010

Forces attack expenses to save $190M; Money to be redirected to Harper government’s Canada First defence strategy

The Ottawa Citizen

Dec 28 2009

By David Pugliese

The Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian military is looking for savings of more than $190 million by March to help pay for the Harper government’s defence strategy.

The navy will cut training for its reserve forces in January and reduce infrastructure maintenance and repairs while the air force will scale back on non-operational training, cut some of its flying time as well as scale back non-essential repairs.

The army recently revealed its cuts including trimming some training and reducing the number of reserve soldiers employed full-time.

The reductions come as the federal deficit has climbed to more than $55 billion this year and the Conservative government has signalled the public service will face cuts.

The air force is required to cut $59 million while the navy has $52 million in reductions to make, according to the Canadian Forces. It was recently revealed that the army’s portion of the reduction is $80 million.

The air force’s reductions represent seven per cent of its annual budget; the navy’s is six per cent. The army’s share is five per cent of its budget.

All three services are reducing travel and attendance at conferences.

The Defence Department could not say whether other organizations within DND are also facing reductions.

The Canadian Forces is not calling the reductions a “cutback.” Officers are instead referring to them as “adjustments” as the money saved is being redirected toward the priorities of the Canada First defence strategy.

The strategy, the Harper government’s blueprint for the future military, promises to spend tens of billions of dollars on new equipment.

Steve Staples, president of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa, said DND is in a better position than other departments to weather the expected cuts to the federal government. He said social, health and arts spending will likely be hit hardest as the Conservatives tighten budgets.

“These cuts that DND has to make are a drop in the bucket since the department has been enjoying large increases each year for many years,” said Staples, who has criticized what he calls excessive spending on the military. “Compared to other departments, DND is the teacher’s pet of the government.”

The money saved is to be “allocated to best meet responsibilities defined by the Canada First Defence Strategy,” an e-mail from the Canadian Forces noted.

Some defence analysts had questioned where the money would come from for the strategy, but in May 2009, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the policy was fully funded. “The funding will be there, I assure you. It’s locked in,” he told an audience of hundreds of industry and defence representatives in Ottawa during a military trade show.

MacKay also assured the audience the recession would not affect Canadian Forces’ plans to spend billions on new equipment and that he had the support of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Military officers characterized the “adjustments” as a normal part of the Defence Department’s financial management process.

A recently released report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, done in conjunction with the Rideau Institute, determined that for the fiscal year ending in March, Canada will have spent a little more than $21 billion on national defence. That’s nearly 10 per cent of all federal spending.

After adjusting for inflation, Canadian military spending this year was up 9.6 per cent compared to last year and is 15 per cent higher than Canada’s defence spending at the peak of the Cold War in 1952-1953, the report noted.

But other groups have argued that more money needs to be spent on the Canadian Forces to re-equip it for the future.

Air force spokesman Maj. Jim Hutcheson said most of the cuts for that service are based on its fuel and oil budget. “While some of this year’s budget adjustment is absorbed due to the fact that fuel prices have remained lower than last year’s average, there may be some selective reduction in flying hours,” Hutcheson explained.

He did not give further details on what aircraft flights might be reduced.

Although the navy is cutting its spending on petroleum and oil, those reductions will not affect ship operations, Lt.-Cmdr. Sue Stefko noted.

Normally the navy would use extra money at the end of the government’s fiscal year to buy additional fuel for its strategic reserve. As a result of the reductions, there will less fuel for that reserve.

Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Jay Janzen said the money saved by that service will be used to support other higher priority programs such as training soldiers for international and domestic operations and purchasing new equipment.

The army has a $5-billion plan to purchase several types of new armored vehicles as well as refurbish light-armored vehicles damaged or heavily used during the war in Afghanistan.

The reductions that hit the army reserves, however, have angered some of the part-time soldiers who said they left their civilian jobs for temporary full-time work with the regular forces, only to be told they are no longer needed.

FOR MORE NEWS SEE DAVID PUGLIESE’S DEFENCE WATCH

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

CONSERVATIVE SENATOR SAYS CANADIAN FORCES DOES NOT FACE CUTS: OTTAWA CITIZEN DAVID PUGLIESE

January 26, 2010

DEFENCE DEPARTMENT BUDGET CUTS? WHAT CUTS ASKS TORY SENATOR

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Marjory LeBreton, government leader in the Senate, has assured that chamber that no cuts have been made at the Department of National Defence, even as militia units have their budgets reduced and the jobs of reservists are eliminated.

Speaking to Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, LeBreton said “there were no cuts” to DND and questioned Dallaire’s claims that there were.

Dallaire has raised concerns that ongoing reductions will hit the Defence Department’s budget. In a recent exchange in the Senate, Defence Watch sources said Dallaire warned LeBreton that the reductions will have an impact on operations and pointed out that militia units are already feeling the impact.

But LeBreton suggested that isn’t the case and instead she highlighted the money the Conservatives spent on Chinook and Griffon helicopters. She said that DND has been the biggest benefactor of the Harper government and noted that Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natyncyk recently told a Senate committee that he was happy with the level of funding.

LeBreton again told Dallaire that she had no idea what he was basing his claims on, and again praised the Harper government for its contributions to the military.

Conservative Senator David Tkachuk also praised the Harper government.

Said one source: “I don’t think those two have a clue the militia has been cut back.”

The Canadian Army is cutting 300 full-time reserve jobs from the force’s to save about $15 million, according to news reports. That money will be earmarked for other needs.

Reserve unit budgets are also being reduced. For instance, 31 Canadian Brigade Group in Southwestern Ontario had its budget cut by about 16 per cent, noted one media report. That reduction means that $2.5 million will be taken from its $18.2-million budget.

In total about $80 million in Army funding is being shifted to make up for shortfalls in other areas. More reductions may be on the way.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

CANADIAN CLOSE COMBAT VEHICLE PROJECT DELAYED BY DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN REPORTER

November 16, 2009

 

BY DAVID PUGLIESE

OTTAWA CITIZEN

 

The Close Combat Vehicle project has fallen behind its schedule with the delay being attributed to issues around industrial region benefits, Defence Watch has learned.

 

A solicitation of interest and qualifications or SOIQ was supposed to be issued in September to industry with a request for proposals to follow by mid-November.

 

Neither has been issued.

 

The Defence Department has declined to discuss the CCV project or allow officials to do interviews on the acquisition, estimated to be worth around $1 billion. As a general rule, neither the Canadian Army nor the office of Assistant Deputy Minister Dan Ross allow media interviews on equipment programs.

 

Public Works and Government Services spokeswoman Celine Tremblay noted that the government is working closely with the defence industry to address requirement for the Close Combat Vehicle.

 

An industry day was held on September 2 and 3 and feedback was received during one-on-one sessions with contractors, she added. That information was assessed to ensure potential changes are addressed within the Solicitation of Interest and Qualifications.

 

“The Government of Canada will issue the SOIQ for the Close Combat Vehicle (CCV) on when the review process is complete,” Tremblay stated in an email.

 

Defence sources say there is general agreement within the bureaucracy on the need for the armoured vehicle program but there has been some concern about how industrial regional benefits will be handled. The Harper government has been concerned about the criticism that it has received that billions of dollars has been spent or earmarked for new military equipment but Canada’s industry has seen little work from that spending.

 

However, defence sources believe that government concerns regarding industrial regional benefits can be dealt with and they expect a request for proposals for the CCV to be issued within the next month.

 

The Close Combat Vehicle project will involve the procurement and fielding of the armoured vehicles as well as the development and implementation of a through-life in-service support contract.

 

The Canadian Forces will acquire 108 vehicles with an option for up to 30 more. The contract is scheduled to be awarded by summer 2011 with initial operational capability (IOC) declared one year later in July 2012, according to DND officials. The CCV is expected to reach full operational capability by July 2015.”

 

The Canadian Forces sees the CCV as bridging the gap between light armoured vehicles (five to 20 tonnes) and heavy armoured vehicles (more than 45 tonnes), coming in between 25 and 45 tonnes. The CCV will allow infantry to operate in support of the Leopard 2 tanks, providing the Army with a more balanced and integrated fleet, according to the Army.

 

Nexter Systems, the French armored vehicle firm,  is offering the Canadian Army its wheeled VBCI armoured vehicles for the CCV project. The Hagglund’s tracked CV90 from BAE Systems is also being offered for CCV.

 

At this point, armoured vehicle manufacturer Rheinmetall has not indicated whether it will take part in the project.

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

 

CANADA’S NEW ARCTIC FORCE BY DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN JOURNALIST

November 13, 2009

Reserve units to form core of new Arctic force

By David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen
March 22, 2009

The Canadian army has designated four reserve units to form the backbone of a new Arctic force to be created over the next five years.

 

Eventually the units, with about 480 personnel in total, could conduct exercises up to four times a year in the North. They would also be available to respond to any incident in the Arctic.

 

At the same time the Canadian Forces is continuing with its expansion of the Canadian Rangers, made up of First Nations and Inuit reservists. That expansion to around 5,000 personnel is expected to be completed by 2012.

 

The reserve units are 1 Royal New Brunswick Regiment, Voltigeurs de Quebec, Grey and Simcoe Foresters from Ontario and the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

 

The army will start off with small numbers of soldiers but eventually work its way up to having company size units, with about each having around 120 personnel, said Lt. Col. Bernie Ciarroni of the directorate of land force development, responsible for reserve issues.

 

“It will take place over a five-year period,” he said. “We’re now looking at what resources could be put toward this.”

 

The work up will give troops a chance to develop the skills they need as well as get additional equipment for Arctic operations, Ciarroni said.

 

Depending on the situation, regular army units may respond first or combine to join forces with the reserve units in reacting to an incident in the Arctic.

 

But Ciarroni noted the selected reserve units will constitute the leadership of the Arctic companies. “Our focus is getting them up there so they can understand the environment and survive in it,” he said. “That’s our principle thing at this stage of the game.”

 

Initially the units will go up North once or twice a year but other initiatives would be included as time goes on. The first operation could be scheduled for the fall.

 

Ciarroni said that the focus is to have units working in the fall and the spring. “Our intention is to work up there in peak periods,” he explained. “If it is 72 below zero and pitch dark I don’t think we’ll be up there unless we really had to be.”

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has emphasized that Canada will increase its military presence in the North as part of his government’s Canada First defence strategy. Over the years the government has announced a series of initiatives, ranging from the proposed construction of Arctic and offshore patrol ships for the navy, an icebreaker for the Coast Guard, and an Arctic training centre for troops. Such initiatives are still years away from becoming reality.

 

Harper has also signalled concern about incidents where foreign military vessels, including those from the U.S., have entered Canadian northern waters without permission from Canada. There have been a number of sightings of mysterious vessels in the country’s northern waters, the latest taking place last summer. Some in the military believe the vessel, sighted by hunters at the northern portion of Baffin Island, was a foreign submarine.

 

Harper has pointed to the oil, gas and mineral deposits in the country’s Arctic region, resources which he noted are critical to the country’s economic growth. “Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic; we either use it or lose it,” Harper said in July 2007. “And make no mistake — this government intends to use it.”

 

But Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the Senate’s defence committee, questioned the government’s focus on the use of military forces in the Arctic. He said while having a military capability for the North is useful, the emphasis should be on adding more RCMP and employees from other government agencies to boost the Canadian presence in the region.

 

Kenny also said that more resources should be directed to the Canadian Coast Guard so it can expand its operations in the North.

 

Ciarroni said the Arctic companies will develop good relations with the Rangers and the local population, ensuring those links continue on a regular basis.

 

The navy and air force are also looking at ways to increase their presence in the north.

 

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

THE MISSING LINK IN THE CANADA FIRST DEFENCE STRATEGY

August 21, 2008

THE MISSING LINK IN THE CANADA FIRST DEFENCE STRATEGY

(WHO SCUTTLED  THE “BIG HONKING SHIP”?)

by Colonel Gary H. Rice, CA/CF Ret’d

 

 

Recently, the Globe and Mail reported that the Conservative government has revised its expectations of success in Kandahar. Knowing that the situation on the ground in Regional Command South is ever changing and our military commitment there is evidently slated to end in 2011, such a policy shift may indeed prove to be a politically good one.

 

What does not seem to tally, however, is the absence in Mr. Harpers governments Canada First Defence Strategy of any provision for the Canadian Forces Expeditionary Command (CEFCOM) that would enable it to fully discharge its intended role through the acquisition of a capability to field a Standing Contingency Task Force (SCTF).

 

This omission is puzzling, considering that Conservative party defence policy under his leadership had long recognized the need for strategic sea and air mobility of rapid reaction forces by heavy airlift and amphibious ships. The recent purchase of four C-17 Globemaster III aircraft adequately addresses the former but the latter requirement remains unsatisfied.

 

If correct, the reduction of CEFCOMs mission capability arising from the abandonment of prior notions to field a SCTF embodying an amphibious capability is seen to be a most worrisome turn of events, given that in 2005 the government of the day’s intention was to increase the deployability of Canadas forces to trouble spots around the world through the creation of such a force.

Without sea lift amphibious carriers for the delivery of combat and logistic support of our ground forces in security and humanitarian missions CEFCOM will remain a largely hollow command unable to field rapid response and contingency task forces.   

 

It is noteworthy that in a speech delivered at the April 29, 2008 Navy Summit, Honourary Navy Captain, Conservative Senator Hugh D. Segal, boldly advocated the addition of an entirely new and global maritime capability in the form of amphibious ships and said “we need to be able to have it in more than one theatre at a time.”

 

Later, the esteemed military historian, Dr. Jack Granatstein wrote and expanded upon Senator Segals suggestion. “Our sailors must be able to transport and support Canadian troops operating overseas, sometimes perhaps on a hostile shore. The presently planned three Joint Support Ships can’t do this; four might be able to manage, but six would be better, along with what General Rick Hillier called “a big honking ship” that could transport four to six helicopters and a battalion-sized expeditionary force. Such ships can also do humanitarian work -in tsunami-hit Indonesia, for example- that we can scarcely tackle today.”He said. And he was right.  

 

Similar viewpoints addressing the need for a Canadian amphibious capability were also recently expressed in the Conference of Defence Associations Institutes 2008 Vimy Paper by the former commander of our Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral (Retd) Roger Girouard  and Rear Admiral (Retd) Ken Summers, the former Commander CF Middle East during the 1990 Gulf War. These highly insightful and pointed assessments reinforce the fundamental need and critical lack in Canadas capability to deploy and support our forces in the worlds littorals from their bases in Canada.

 

Based at Shearwater, Nova Scotia, and employing a whole of government approach, the envisaged SCTF was to be comprised of navy, army, air, special operations, and representatives of key government department ready to deploy anywhere in the world with ten days notice.

 

Indeed, the recent construction at Shearwater of a force headquarters building and the Minister of National Defences wise decision on March 28 to regain a priceless strategic national asset by recovering Crown ownership of Shearwaters upper airfield and other lands that were previously sold to the Canada Lands Corporation gave every indication that the future of CEFCOM and the SCTF was assured.

 

Implicit in past governments vision for a SCTF was the requirement to acquire one or more amphibious assault ships specifically designed for the embarkation and transportation of a militarily credible battle group comprised of 700-800 troops, their vehicles, weaponry other paraphernalia, and the enabling sea and air connectors.

 

With no requirement for a sitting Prime Minister to secure prior air space or port clearances the SCTFs amphibious ships would afford political decision makers and military commanders unparallelled maximum flexibility and allow them the currently unavailable option of pre-positioning it in international waters in the vicinity of a gathering security crisis or an impending natural disaster.

 

This joint seaborne quick reaction force was to have had an initial operating capability by 2007, but unforseen budgetary and operational pressures arising largely from our mission in Afghanistan obliged Mr. Harper’s  government to direct the former CDS, General Hillier, to suspend further development until after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

At this time, according to the International Institute For Strategic Studies publication: “The Military balance 2008,” Canadas navy comprises a total of 47 ships: four SSK, three DDG, 12 FFG, 12 MCDV, two AOR eight YDT, and six TRG.

 

Current plans call for: the commissioning of three JSS to replace the existing two AORs, the addition by 2010 of two more TRG vessels and up to eight Polar-class 5 Arctic Patrol Vessels; and starting in 2015, the construction of 15 ships to replace Canadas old Tribal Class destroyers (DDG) and its Halifax Class frigates (FFG). This could ultimately increase the fleet size to some 58 ships.

 

Significantly, though, nowhere in the Canada First Defence Strategy is there any hint of any plans for the future construction of the additional amphibious warships that would be required by CEFCOM to enable it develop the previously envisaged SCTF amphibious capability.

Numerical objectives and force capability requirements assume meaning only in the context of rigorous political and military assessments and approved programme goals, they do not validate the worth or relevance of a given strategy. They beg two larger issues: what political, economic, and security interests are Canadian naval forces intended to serve? And what is to be the navys distinctive contribution to Canadas national security in this new century? It was thought that part of the answer would lie with the SCTF and its fully developed amphibious capability.

 

Acknowledging that the Harper government is fully aware that in addition to its responsibility to adequately provide for the defence of our northern attic, carrying on with the transformation of our forces, and successfully pursuing to its successful conclusion Canada’s current mission in Afghanistan, it must also be fully cognizant of its obligation to prepare our nation and its armed forces to respond to the rapidly evolving global geo strategic revolution that is now underway. In short, there will be wars to fight after Afghanistan and Canada must stand ready to carry it share of the West’s burden.  

 

This is a change that is rapidly shifting North Americans and Canadians focus from Europe and the Atlantic Ocean to the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean and peoples of the teeming nations of the Asia-Pacific littoral. This is where Canadas future prosperity lies. This

 

This is where Canadas future security challenges will arise. This is where Canadas future battles will be fought. This where Canadas future body politic must be engaged. And this is where Canadas future military must be fully prepared to fight in the defence of Canadas national interests.

 

Recognizing the importance of the burgeoning two way flows of people, commerce and natural resources between Canada and the Asia-Pacific Region implies that Canada, perforce, must turn its national face westward and significantly expand its now lilliputian diplomatic, intelligence, and military presence.

 

To properly defend and advance Canadas interests in this vast area will require the use of all of its available instruments of national power. Soft power government initiatives underpinned by a standing military presence in the waters off our west coast and in the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean will represent the nations’ bulwark and help assure its continued security and prosperity.

 

To adequately secure Canadas interest the nations’ hard power elements must comprise a militarily credible surface, sub surface fleet, and a joint seaborne amphibious capability. For maximum efficiency and effectiveness this force must be fully interoperable with the armed forces of our closest allies in the region: the United States and Australia; the former possessing the worlds most powerful navy and amphibious forces, the latter now swiftly moving to acquire its own modern amphibious capability through the acquisition of a new class of highly capable, minimally crewed and cost efficient amphibious warships.

 

The sad reality of the apparent current situation with regard to the uncertain future of the SCTF, however, may well be that visionary efforts made under the former CDS to implant “jointness” within the CF may now be beginning to give way to much of the same old myopic, parochial and service-centric approaches to the nation’s defence strategy that have so often failed Canada in the past. In this context our navy’s long and continuing lack of purpose built expeditionary amphibious shipping to deliver and support security and humanitarian forces in the world’s littorals at effective and viable levels is seen to represent a critical deficiency in military capability.

 

It may also be that some politically compliant and newly minted admirals and generals may have failed to face up to the stark reality that the future JSS will have only very limited usefulness in supporting even small unopposed landings. Contrast this with the nations amphibious capability that was so effectively demonstrated in 1956 during Operation Rapid Step by Canadas aircraft carrier, HMCS Magnificent, when it was quickly reconfigured for troop lift and speedily despatched by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in response to the United Nations request to send a peace keeping force to Egypt.

 

Sadly such a national capability, was destroyed long ago with the scrapping of our last carrier, HMCS Bonaventure, in 1970. Since then we have seen the humiliating consequence of leasing civilian cargo ships and the the GTS Katie incident and in the gallant effort by the ships of Atlantic Command to deliver aid at New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

 

So long as Parliament, the government of the day, and the Canadian Forces leadership, remain willing to accept that our nations future strategic, political and military options will be unnecessarily reduced by the absence of a militarily credible seaborne joint expeditionary capability, Canada, in my opinion, will never live up to its full potential as an influential global middle power.

 

In view of the geo political importance of this matter and its relationship to the future defence and well being of Canada and its peoples it is time for Mr. Harper to clearly state his governments intentions with regard to the future fielding of a SCTF with a militarily credible enabling amphibious capability. An early  decision to join with the Australians and secure a Canadian equivalent to their new Canberra Class amphibious ships would be a positive and most welcome sign.   

 

 


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