Thursday, August 16, 2007

Is Jay Hill dishonest, or can he just not read?

Big City Lib picked up government whip Jay Hill's column from The Voice of The North in which Hill expounds on the great things that will happen now that Canada has C-17 Globemaster aircraft. By way of example Hill refers to the 2004 South Asia Tsunami and the fact that Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team couldn't be sent immediately into the disaster area.
Nations around the world rushed to send personnel, equipment and medical supplies. Canada’s own Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly two weeks later. Why did a supposed “quick response” unit, established to deliver humanitarian assistance and clean water in domestic and international disasters, take so long to arrive? Well, DART had no means to get there.

Indeed, is it any wonder that the 2004 Tsunami was the first time the Canadian Forces DART unit had been deployed since 1999? You see, Canada had no aircraft to carry DART to its mission. The former Liberal government of the time, which had steadfastly refused to adequately equip the Canadian Forces, had to scramble to secure transportation for the unit. In the end, they rented an aircraft from Russia for a whopping price tag of $4.4-million U.S.

Big City Lib refers back to the time of the disaster with a quote from Tony Gilles of Lakehead University which clears up the fact that, even then, DART was not a quick response unit. BCL, at the end of his post, expresses some regret that the original link to Gilles is no longer accessible.

Actually, I don't view that as a problem. BCLSB has an original accurate quote from an authority and that should suffice. Except that it's unlikely Jay Hill will seek out a liberal blog as an authority should he be challenged on his fallacious assertion.

So... we're here to help.

Jay Hill should check out the actual DART site before making public statements that DART is a "quick response" unit.

DART is no such thing. In fact, Canadian Forces Joint Headquarters, which coordinates DART, makes it very clear that the team is deployed after the rapid emergency response units. (Emphasis mine)
Operational Criteria

In order to have optimal impact in the prevention of loss of life and suffering, the DART addresses the secondary impacts of a disaster. The secondary impacts include casualties resulting from injuries sustained during the disaster and from the spread of sickness and disease such as dysentery and typhoid that can occur when large populations are displaced and living in crowded conditions without adequate sanitation and drinking water. Accordingly, the DART's primarily capabilities are provision of primary medical care and purified water.

Following a disaster, it is apparent that there are three phases of disaster response; they may be termed: the Immediate Life Saving Phase, the Stabilization Phase, and the General Recovery Phase. The DART is not meant to be active in the search and rescue activities of the Immediate Life Saving Phase and therefore is not required to arrive at a disaster location within hours of the disaster occurring. The DART is also not intended to remain active during the longer-term General Recovery Phase, they are to remain in theatre approximately 40 days at which time organizations focused on the redevelopment phase would arrive to take over. Recovery is ideally left to local authorities and international humanitarian organizations (possibly supported by the private sector) that specialize in this complex effort and havea long-term commitment. Therefore the DART focuses on relief activities of the Stabilization Phase; however, this concept in no way precludes the CF from contributing other forces during any of the three phases.

Something else Mr. Hill should learn. Units of the Canadian Forces mounted to perform relief tasks are labeled as to their precise capability. If DART was a "rapid response" unit, the word "rapid" or "quick" would have been included in the original title. It isn't and it never was.

Since Hill apparently doesn't have a grasp of the facts with respect to airlift, I doubt very much that he understands what really makes DART less than an instantaneous response organization.

Hill probably joins a good number of people who think that DART, and its roughly 210 personnel, are sitting about CFB Kingston twiddling their thumbs, occasionally playing with their water makers, waiting for the world's next big disaster.

He'd be wrong, just as he was in describing DART as a "quick response" unit.

DART, aside from a few technicians and planners, is virtually unmanned. The equipment is stowed away. The people required to man DART come from other units. They are designated for DART when it's activated. The rest of the time they're in regular units, many scattered across the country. And I can tell you from personal experience that when a unit like this is suddenly activated it is nothing short of a mad scramble to try and get the required people to make it work.

DART Composition

The DART is comprised of about 210 highly trained personnel designated from several units in the CF
Jay Hill apparently doesn't know that.

Unless Hill's "not so new" government has altered the manning policy of the Canadian Forces to create a personnel establishment surfeit, the response time of the DART will not change. Given that the Harperites, in opposition, supported the reduction in manpower of the Canadian Forces in the 1990s, they bear as much responsibility as previous government for whatever speed of response exists in any CF unit today.

And, as for the cost of deploying the DART using leased aircraft (dual purpose An-124-100s), that is a mere fraction of what the C-17 Globemaster is costing the Canadian taxpayer. Even at $4.4 million per deployment, the DART could be sent anywhere in the world and retrieved 350 times for the same cost of the small fleet of C-17 Globemasters.

Hill has also, quite conveniently ignored the fact that NATO has established a multinational strategic airlift contract for NATO military purposes, using six An-124-100 (larger than a C-17), to be made available to Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

That means Canada will have excess strategic airlift capability since Canada's C-17s will sit idle for about 80 percent of their operational lives.

But, we rushed out and bought the C-17. In a no bid contract.

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