Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Defence of Canada under Harper

Canada's political, social and physical geography define its defence priorities. Unless there is a massive shift in US politics, it has no land connection to any existing or potential military adversary. Our small population density and massive geography compared to the US means that even if that were a hostile relationship, the 49th parallel is too long to manually defend anyway.

Even without NORAD and NATO, Canada still sits between the major strategic military opponents: Russia and the United States. This means that confrontations between these two major military powers could occur near Canada's coasts and skies, not on the ground.

This fact makes the RCAF and RCN the key services of the Canadian Forces required for the strategic defence of Canada. We are surrounded by a lot of sea and airspace.  Like it or not, the Army's major territorial role tends to only involve aid-to-the-civil power actions, usually around emergencies like fire and flood, or tactical security for high profile international events and meetings and extremely rare armed stand-offs.

Under Harper's watch, both the RCAF and RCN are suffering rust-out and mismanaged procurement.

The RCAF is due to replace its CF-18 fighters and Sea King helicopters in the next few years. The replacement for the CF-18 is still likely to be the insanely expensive and problem plagued F-35, which may yet be cancelled leaving Canada without a combat air force. The smart scandal-rumour is that the RCAF even now does not have enough serviceable fighters to intercept Russian patrols near Canada, and the USAF has to do it instead. The Sea King replacement is the expensive, beta-standard Cyclone helicopter likely to suffer significant teething problems when it does become operational.

The RCN just lost an ancient destroyer to rust, with other ships and subs in repair after damage. The ability of the Navy to fully crew its vessels is also in doubt.  Earlier this year, HMCS Protecteur suffered a major fire and had to be pulled from another exercises and towed back to Canada. Last year, that same ship was damaged in a collision with the Algonquin, which suffered severe damage. And before that, HMCS Corner Brook sailed into the seabed and was nearly lost. At this loss rate, there won't be any ships in the water in another year or two.

Today we learn that HMCS Whitehorse, a smaller coastal warship got pulled from an exercise because of discipline problems with its sailors.

What is happening to the Navy? Is this a result of political neglect impacting morale and training, leading to slip-ups? Will the RCAF follow?

Under Harper's watch, Canada is losing the key armed services necessary for its defence. Keep in mind also that Harper's labour policies are eroding the capacity of Canadians to find employment in Canada. Harper's economic policy also privileges highly risky resource extraction at the expense of the environment, destroying the climate and landbase.

The Cons are clearly hell-bent on weakening Canada from within.

Under different circumstances, you'd start to think they were agents of some enemy power because they are passively and actively crippling the economic and military security of the state.


Steve said...

The F35 the flying Unicorn created by a committee may have hit reality radar. The single engine that Airshow said could never fail may be a fatally flawed hubris fan. The single engine of the F35 must be a Swiss Army knife, this means it must generate the thrust of two engines. Seems we may not have the technology to accomplish that with any reliability.

The more I look at the Rafale the more I like it.

The Mound of Sound said...

Did you read Colin Kenny's op-ed in the Times-Colonist? He discusses how, on Harper's watch, Canada's military spending has declined to 1% GDP, leaving the military without remotely enough funds to meet its capital needs.

Someone needs to revisit MacKay's huge donation to Irving shipyards for those Arctic patrol vessels.