If the CF can't get the money to do everything it would like (or even need) to do as a fully self-sufficient, multi-role military perhaps we need to take a closer look at how we can provide the most bang for our buck with our allies. When do we deploy on our own? The rest of the world is going through the same cutbacks that we are so will we just end up with a whole bunch of smaller, less capable allied militaries that can each work less effectively alongside the Americans?
Maybe if we look at the gaps that exist in the effective deployment of our probable coalition partners (our typical deployment scenario) we could identify some capabilities which we could develop/expand in order to magnify the strengths of our partners. If our partners have forces to deploy but can't get them there then maybe we could expand our air transport fleet. More air-to-air refueling or AORs to support allied air/naval deployments. Specialist units like electronic warfare, counter-battery, CRBN, etc. I'm not saying that these are the specific capabilities we could/should focus on...just giving some possible examples.
There would of course then have to be a trade-off by decreasing, or possibly even eliminating, other existing capabilities (this is fundamentally about the money after all). For example, what if we dropped out of the armoured business and relied on our more capable allies to provide that support when required (like some of our allies relied on our tank support in Afghanistan when they didn't have the capability in theatre)? Where could we put that money in other capabilities that would provide an even larger positive impact on coalition military operations than our relatively small armoured force? Again...I'm not making that recommendation, just using it as a possible example.
A possible side benefit could also be that some of these capabilities might be more politically sellable to the Canadian public than more traditional military capabilities. Procuring and deploying support units/equipment is much more politically safe than nasty, warlike thinks like tanks, submarines and stealth fighters.
Such a policy certainly wouldn't be without risks either. The world is a very uncertain place and what happens if a situation should arise where we really NEED a particular military capability and don't have it available anymore? Canadian blood and treasure could certainly be on the line. There is also the political risk that we wouldn't get credit from our allies for the things we do in the same way as putting "boots on the ground" in a more traditional way. If we're not seen as useful and helpful then we could lose much of our say at a lot of important tables around the world. I think such a policy would certainly require a VERY close relationship, cooperation, coordination and interoperability with our closest allies. We'd need to work hand-in-hand with them so that they're intimately aware of how important OUR role is in their successful fulfillment of THEIR roles.
Regardless of what we do money for the CF will likely be quite tight for a number of years to come. Any course of action (or inaction) is going to have impacts on the capabilities of the CF. The military might wither across the board, waiting for a return of money and a chance to renew in the same basic structure, or it might make some very specific and targeted changes which could see the CF with very different capabilities and structures than it has currently. Either way I think it's important to have these very basic level discussions so that the government and the CF can be proactive in facing the budget constraints rather than just reacting to them.
And this brings us back to a nine year old thread: Defining
Foreign and Defence Policies.
We cannot structure
a force, not in any sensible way, much less assign resources to our defence
, until we know what we want the military to do.GR66
suggests, for example, that we might
want to discard the capability for unilateral, solo deployments. That's an idea, but upon what is it based?
I see a spectrum
of problems for which the military is part
of the solution:<== Very Low Intensity == Low Intensity == Low/Mid Intensity == Mid Intensity == Mid/High Intensity == High Intensity ==>
I can, without stretching my imagination too far, conceive of situations (in the Caribbean, for example) where we might have vital interests
that are not shared with any of the major powers but which might
convince us to intervene, militarily, into a (Very) Low Intensity
situation in order to protect or promote our own interests. That doesn't mean that we should
, much less must
have a capability for unilateral military action; it does mean that we should decide
, after due consideration, to give up that capability, not just slough it off.
The government has expert military advisors. But we, ordinary Canadians
, as the NDP would call us, have a right and, indeed, in my opinion, a duty
to tell our politicians what strategic
objectives we want the Government of Canada to pursue.
I would suggest that any Canadian can develop a "little list"
of tasks (s)he insists our military must be ready and able to perform. Mine would include, but, probably, not be limited to:
1. Provide the Government of Canada with reliable, expert military advice;
2. participate in gathering and analyzing strategic, operational and tactical intelligence;
3. Maintain near real time surveillance (and identification) over Canada's land mass, the waters contiguous to it, and the airspace over both;
4. Be able to intercept any intruder
into the territories, waters and airspace we claim as our own and "deal with" such intruders;
5. Conduct small scale (less than 5,000 people) unilateral
, low intensity military operations when our vital interest require; and ---------- After appropriate periods of mobilization and with (perhaps considerable) extra resources ----------
6. Conduct small and medium scale (less than 15,000 people), mid intensity operations as part of a coalition of like minded nations when our interests are served; and
7. Conduct large scale (anything from 25,000 to 2.5 million people), high intensity military operations with a coalition that includes our traditional allies in order to restore peace and security.
My first five are what I think
the CF should be able to do, day after day, year after year, decade after decade, with a modest, fixed budget - in my view, something akin to 2% of GDP.