Author Topic: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic  (Read 3626 times)

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Offline Humphrey Bogart

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2020, 15:50:22 »
Are you sure that war with Russia is more likely than with China?  NATO/Western Europe has a much larger population, combined military and economy than Russia.  The Russian economy is also highly dependant on energy exports to their "enemy" in the west.  Russia's military is much smaller than during the Cold War, and even ignoring the West's nuclear deterrence, Russia simply doesn't have the manpower to take and occupy all of NATO.  It's simply too large and populous.  Russia can't defeat the whole of NATO without WMD's and would cause their own destruction if they went nuclear. 

China on the other hand is the world's most populous nation with the world's 2nd largest economy.  Its likely military targets (Taiwan, rocks off their coast, North Korea in the case of a collapse, etc.) are much more limited and achievable compared to what Russia would have to take on.  The most effective Western response to any Chinese aggression would also likely be with naval and air forces (including subs). 

I'd suggest that the West coast might be a very important place to base at least half of our subs.

 :2c:

Edited to add:  Not in any way suggesting that we should NOT beef up our Atlantic and Arctic presence.  In my perfect world we'd increase the size of our MPA, surface and sub-surface fleets so that we could meet any possible threats on all three coasts.  Just questioning the logic of shifting all of our subs to the East coast when the argument could be made that there could be serious Chinese threats that subs would be very useful against.

I disagree with your thesis that China is a larger threat than Russia for a number of political, economic and geographic reasons which I will elaborate on:

1.  Political:  China is a Peer Competitior, Russia is a Rogue Actor

It's no secret that China wishes to alter the status quo, but they are unlike Russia, a peer competitor.  The RAND Corporation recently put out a paper that outlines the problem far better than I can, here is an excerpt from it:

Quote
Great power competition has returned. China and Russia have begun to reassert their influence regionally and globally:
 
Today, they are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely in critical commercial zones during peacetime. In short, they are contesting our geopolitical advantages and trying to change the international order in their favor. However, Russia and China represent quite distinct challenges.
 
Russia is not a peer or near-peer competitor but rather a well-armed rogue state that seeks to subvert an international order it can never hope to dominate. In contrast, China is a peer competitor that wants to shape an international order that it can aspire to dominate. Both countries seek to alter the status quo, but only Russia has attacked neighboring states, annexed conquered territory, and supported insurgent forces seeking to detach yet more. Russia assassinates its opponents at home and abroad. Russia interferes in foreign elections, subverts foreign democracies, and works to undermine European and Atlantic institutions.
 
In contrast, China’s growing influence is based largely on more-positive measures: trade, investment, and development assistance. Among permanent United Nations (UN) Security Council member nations, China has even become the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. These attributes make China a less immediate threat but a much greater long-term challenge.
 
Russia can be contained, employing updated versions of defense, deterrence, information operations, and alliance relationships that held the Soviet Union at bay for half a century. China cannot be contained. Its military predominance in east Asia will grow over time, compelling the United States to accept greater costs and risks just to secure existing commitments. But it is geoeconomics, rather than geopolitics, in which the contest for world leadership will play out. It is in this former domain that the balance of global influence between the United States and China has begun shifting in China’s favor.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE310.html

Politically it makes no sense to focus Military efforts on China because it's a fools errand to do so and undermines our response to the real military threat to Canada and The West writ large, which is Russian Aggression in Europe and elsewhere.  China has a large military but has shown no real willingness to use it, all of their efforts at this point have been relatively positive.  China could overwhelm and rapidly invade Taiwan now if it wanted but there is no real reason to do so.  China will continue to get stronger economically and continue to enhance its sphere of influence.  This economic fueled growth will continue and will necessitate doing business with China.  Russia has shown themselves to be a hugely destabilizing force and they have a Military that they are not afraid to use.  They are a Proto-Criminal Petro State and are far more dangerous than China from a Military standpoint.  They also have an imperialistic and highly militarized society.

There is an interesting book published in the 1990s in Russia called "The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia" by Aleksander Dugin.  It has become a highly read book in Russian Military and Political Elite circles and has been widely read by Russian Military Staff.  You can read a bit about it here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Geopolitics#cite_note-HI01-1

In 2017, An Australian media source wrote that, this manifesto of sorts is starting to come true and pretty much "reads like a checklist for Putin's actions".  https://www.news.com.au/world/europe/1990s-manifesto-outlining-russias-plans-is-starting-to-come-true/news-story/343a27c71077b87668f1aa783d03032c

A picture of what this book's world order end state looks like:



2. Economics:  The economic reasons why Canada should focus it's efforts towards Russia rather than China is quite simple.  It lies in the fact that both Countries are commodity superpowers.  The TSX is the 9th largest Stock Exchange in the World and it also lists more Mining + Oil & Gas Companies than any other exchange in the World.  Canada is a World Leader when it comes to Resource Extraction and also happens to be a bastion of Free Market Capitalism and Liberal Values.

China is the World's largest market for commodities.  They are much like Japan was pre-Second World War, they have an economy that is growing rapidly but are commodity poor and must import much of the resources used to fuel their manufacturing and industry.  They also have a burgeoning Middle Class that has an ever increasing appetite for consumer goods and luxuries.



https://www.visualcapitalist.com/chinas-staggering-demand-commodities/

How can a Country like Canada, being the commodity superpower that we are, ostracize the biggest potential future market we have for our goods and services?  This makes no sense from a business or economic standpoint.  Look at our trade and exports in Minerals atm:



China imports 5% of our annual mineral exports and we are heavily reliant on the American export market, which is natural given our proximity to the US but the Chinese Economy presents tremendous growth opportunities for us that just aren't being realized with an Anti-China stance.

It should be noted that Russia is also a commodity superpower but they use their resource wealth in very nefarious ways.  The most recent Oil Market Crash being largely perpetuated by them walking out on OPEC which exacerbated the already tenuous position global markets were in as a result of COVID-19.

This action has had an outsized influence on us as well.  It's a form of economic warfare and has crippled the Canadian Oil Sector with price of WCS dropping to below 0$ at one point.  Yes Russia did temporarily cripple itself by starting the price war in the first place, but it also forced the Saudis to react and inadvertently cripple the American Shale Industry which long term, hurts everyone else far more than it will hurt Russia.  Some of have said that the price war hurt Putin more but I have a feeling that long term, the facts will say otherwise.

So again, we have Russia acting as a rogue state, seeking to destabilize world commodity markets which has the knock on effect of not only weakening us seriously but also the positions of our Allies and I am to be told that China is somehow a bigger threat to us than Russia? 

3.  Geography:  This one is fairly self-explanatory.  China is far away while Russia is more proximate. This proximity is apparent when looking at a global map centered on the Arctic Ocean which Russia has made quite clear, it views as an Ocean that it should dominate.



The Northern Sea Route is already becoming a viable shipping route and is 40% shorter than the comparable route through the Suez Canal.  Russia has been making significant investments in this area and wants the Arctic for themselves.

Canada has shunned militarizing the Arctic of course and the Northwest Passage isn't yet a viable shipping route but it will become one eventually.  I find it incredibly naive that we think Russia, which has shown no resistance to using Military Means everywhere else to achieve its aims elsewhere, will somehow approach our interests in the Arctic with a peaceful and cooperative approach.



All this to say, I think we, along with the Americans and others, have our guns pointed at the wrong adversary.  Yes China has committed acts of subversion and stole from us, as we have also done to them but they have largely tried working within the established international framework and are rising to their natural position.  Russia is a rogue actor, is highly militarized and is a very big destabilizing force in the world.  They actively undermine our Allies and use force to achieve their objectives.  I think they are a far bigger threat to us than the PRC. 

Our lack of investment in a credible Military deterrence toward them is going to cost us dearly in the future. 











Offline lenaitch

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2020, 15:50:51 »
The OP started the discussion regarding a standing NATO military presence in the Arctic, which may have merit, seeing as we are apparently currently incapable of doing it by ourselves, although it becomes a sovereignty issue when it involves territorial waters.  Building up Iqaluit to base status is likely a good idea but I have to believe it comes at significant cost, regardless of whether the staffing is permanent or rotational.  You folks better than I are able to appreciate what goes into staffing and operating a base, particularly one with flight operations.  If the staffing is 'borrowed', what is the impact on the contributing locations.    Given the size of many of the trades that would be involved (flight crews, maintainers, armourers, etc., etc.) how would that impact operations 'back home in areas such as training, exercises, deployments, etc., and how often would that same folks be back for another go-round?

The discussion then move to arming the Coast Guard.  True, you can give them a gun and train them how to use it, but they need the legal and moral authority to use it in anger; this is more than the stroke of a pen.  Given the right command authority, the military can launch a torpedo at a blip on a screen.  What would be the CG's authority to shoot an anything or anybody other than self-protection?  Even a senior police commander could not order me to shoot the next person who comes out the door - I needed to support my own grounds under the law.  The CG currently provides part of our sovereignty presence in the Arctic, as do the RCMP.  What is the need for an expanded maritime constabulary presence in the Arctic beyond what the police (and possibily DFO) provide?  Illegal immigration?  Drug running?  Do we expect a CG breaker with a machine gun to go toe-to-toe with a foreign warship?  I'm not even sure an AOPS is up for that, and it's a military vessel.

There are currently fairly clear labour laws regarding an employees ability to refuse unsafe work, which generally do not apply to military and emergency service providers, which some exceptions.  It's not just a union thing.  The employer (the government in this case) is obligated to not put employees in harm's way if it's not part of their job.  The concept of 'harm's way' is governed by the conditions of their employment.  Mashing around the Arctic ice in a winter storm has some inherent risk, but the crews signed on for that.  Expecting them to employ deadly force, with the natural expectation that they might get it back, they did not.  As suggested, giving guns to paramedics does not make them cops.  'A cat can have kittens in the oven but it doesn't make them biscuits'.

If we want the CG to be an armed service with all that goes along with that, it needs to be written into the CAF.  Some CG employees might be up for it - I suspect many would not.

Offline Colin P

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2020, 16:12:05 »
Fish Cops and municipal police are union members, so unions do allow people to get into harms way. The arming of the CCG I mentioned is basically defensive and overwatch of other services boarding parties. The risks do not change much, just the response. We supported/transported Fish Cops boarding certain ethnic fishboats that were believed to be armed with SMG's with only two nervous pistol armed Fish Cops and in a thin skinned Hovercraft.   

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2020, 16:37:21 »
Obviously not everyone and everything with a gun needs to be in the CAF.

Obviously the government decides what the responsibilities of a service are, and hires people accordingly.  Those who do not wish to play, may leave.

Having an armed CG component, if that is what we want, is simply a matter of deciding so.
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Offline Navy_Pete

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2020, 16:52:27 »
This seems like a massive pipe dream, and we'll be lucky not to get deep cuts with the COVID tap running fully open for spending.  Also, massively underestimates the challenges with manning a base and being able to do maintenance needed for that kind of presence, and would be a big lead time with huge expenses.

For that kind of investment would make more sense to replace the subs with something with more legs under the ice, but that is equally unlikely.

Offline Colin P

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2020, 17:00:15 »
Canada needs to continue to upgrade all of it's Arctic infrastructure, not just military related. I would also start naval reserve units up there with smaller patrol boats stored in hangers during the winter and operating in the western and eastern Arctic in the open water season. They can support the Rangers, RCMP, other government agencies. Class A and B jobs up there will have a lot of positive impacts on communities. Improve training facilities up there that we can rotate units through for training, including Allied nations. We should have at least two ice strengthen LST's which would give the military a lot of flexibility in the North. 

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2020, 17:13:49 »
Canada needs to continue to upgrade all of it's Arctic infrastructure, not just military related. I would also start naval reserve units up there with smaller patrol boats stored in hangers during the winter and operating in the western and eastern Arctic in the open water season. They can support the Rangers, RCMP, other government agencies. Class A and B jobs up there will have a lot of positive impacts on communities. Improve training facilities up there that we can rotate units through for training, including Allied nations. We should have at least two ice strengthen LST's which would give the military a lot of flexibility in the North.

While concurrently striving to increase health, and other human related, outcomes for the inhabitants to something less akin to a poorly run 3rd world country....
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Colin P

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2020, 18:03:47 »
The current health, economic and community issues in the North are a geo-political risk to Canada and hamper our ability to maintain and exert our sovereignty in the North. 

Offline Eye In The Sky

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2020, 20:30:52 »
So we balk at the idea of temporarily placing people further north even though we do it in far more remote (Alert) places?

ALERT was built with a specific purpose in mind, for a 'real' mission that dates back decades and continues today and will continue tomorrow.  It is relatively cheap to operate (doesn't involve committing aircraft and vessels 'day to day' to conduct it's mission.

What is 'further north' than ALERT for Canada/Canadian interests (that we may have or want to have a claim over in the future)?
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #34 on: May 25, 2020, 21:25:50 »
What is 'further north' than ALERT for Canada/Canadian interests (that we may have or want to have a claim over in the future)?

The continental shelf (Lomosonov Ridge, in great part).

That means Arctic icebreakers and underwater survey equipment, however. Not basing people on the ice!

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #35 on: May 26, 2020, 00:50:24 »
The continental shelf (Lomosonov Ridge, in great part).

That means Arctic icebreakers and underwater survey equipment, however. Not basing people on the ice!

Unless we finally send a manned mission to the north pole, by foot :)
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Offline lenaitch

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #36 on: May 26, 2020, 23:09:53 »
Fish Cops and municipal police are union members, so unions do allow people to get into harms way. The arming of the CCG I mentioned is basically defensive and overwatch of other services boarding parties. The risks do not change much, just the response. We supported/transported Fish Cops boarding certain ethnic fishboats that were believed to be armed with SMG's with only two nervous pistol armed Fish Cops and in a thin skinned Hovercraft.

It has nothing to do with unions allowing anything.  In Ontario, Section 43 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act lays out an employee's right to refuse dangerous work, unionize or not, and police are among the group of workers that are exempt.  A key component is if the risk is inherent in the work.  For a cop, the risk of getting shot is inherent - being made to drive on bald tires is not. Assuming "fish cops" are DFO, no doubt there is similar federal legislation.  I have no difficulty with defensive overwatch of maritime law enforcement; that is part of their mandate, but the discussion seemed to me as proposing the CG as part of an Arctic naval military presence, not law enforcement.  Perhaps I misunderstood.

Perhaps it would be beneficial to mimic the USCG divisions of white fleet (national security), black fleet (bouy tenders, etc.) and red fleet (heavy ice breaker).

Offline LoboCanada

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #37 on: May 26, 2020, 23:25:56 »
It has nothing to do with unions allowing anything.  In Ontario, Section 43 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act lays out an employee's right to refuse dangerous work, unionize or not, and police are among the group of workers that are exempt.  A key component is if the risk is inherent in the work.  For a cop, the risk of getting shot is inherent - being made to drive on bald tires is not. Assuming "fish cops" are DFO, no doubt there is similar federal legislation.  I have no difficulty with defensive overwatch of maritime law enforcement; that is part of their mandate, but the discussion seemed to me as proposing the CG as part of an Arctic naval military presence, not law enforcement.  Perhaps I misunderstood.

Perhaps it would be beneficial to mimic the USCG divisions of white fleet (national security), black fleet (bouy tenders, etc.) and red fleet (heavy ice breaker).

In Ontario Labour Law, the concept is called a "Bonafide Occupational Requirement". It is completely reasonable to be exposed to XYZ risk as a part of your duties as a worker in a XYZ role.


 

I think considering such a monumental (financial, doctrinal, cultural (within CCG) and legal) it would be unwise to use the CCG as a military force.

Instead, arm a small group of larger CCG vessels, with specialized CCG teams, under the legal umbrella of Special Constables (as a legal status) in conjunction with an onboard RCMP team, would be a worthwhile and measured Law Enforcement asset in an area where none previously exists. No division of CCG resources since these team would only be required to man the HMG and could even be dual-rolled similar to RCN Boarding Parties.

No change to the org mandate, relatively inexpensive, no military angle, not a large strain on CCG resources. Recent examples of arming previously unarmed federal law enforcement officers include (on a certain level) CBSA and Conservation Officers.


Offline CloudCover

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #38 on: May 26, 2020, 23:27:48 »
Seems to me this whole "arming the coast guard" with .50 calls and 20mm guns was suggested as a route of action with the Hero class by P. McKay when he was MND, second by Professor Byers and then "shot down" by the CCG and the RCMP itself: 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/government-to-consider-arming-coast-guard-vessels-1.1199547

Cant find a reference here but I do remember the discussions as unworkable for that class of ship, particularly if the opposition returns fire and ruins everyone's day with a swimming test.


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Offline CloudCover

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #39 on: May 26, 2020, 23:30:20 »
In Ontario Labour Law, the concept is called a "Bonafide Occupational Requirement". It is completely reasonable to be exposed to XYZ risk as a part of your duties as a worker in a XYZ role.


 

I think considering such a monumental (financial, doctrinal, cultural (within CCG) and legal) it would be unwise to use the CCG as a military force.

Instead, arm a small group of larger CCG vessels, with specialized CCG teams, under the legal umbrella of Special Constables (as a legal status) in conjunction with an onboard RCMP team, would be a worthwhile and measured Law Enforcement asset in an area where none previously exists. No division of CCG resources since these team would only be required to man the HMG and could even be dual-rolled similar to RCN Boarding Parties.

No change to the org mandate, relatively inexpensive, no military angle, not a large strain on CCG resources. Recent examples of arming previously unarmed federal law enforcement officers include (on a certain level) CBSA and Conservation Officers.

Again, if one is contemplating using naval gunfire, one had better be prepared to receive it as well. That is not within the design specs of most CCG ships.
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #40 on: May 26, 2020, 23:36:59 »
Russia should be a natural counterweight to PRC global ambition's.Russia could lose Siberia and its important resources. So an arrangement with NATO would be smart. Anyone who has spent time in the arctic would know that the region would not be a great battlefield. Deny the region certainly to potential enemies which could be done with airpower and USN's nuke subs. Boots on the ground I hope not.

Offline Colin P

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Re: Why NATO needs a Standing Maritime Group in the arctic
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2020, 00:08:50 »
It has nothing to do with unions allowing anything.  In Ontario, Section 43 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act lays out an employee's right to refuse dangerous work, unionize or not, and police are among the group of workers that are exempt.  A key component is if the risk is inherent in the work.  For a cop, the risk of getting shot is inherent - being made to drive on bald tires is not. Assuming "fish cops" are DFO, no doubt there is similar federal legislation.  I have no difficulty with defensive overwatch of maritime law enforcement; that is part of their mandate, but the discussion seemed to me as proposing the CG as part of an Arctic naval military presence, not law enforcement.  Perhaps I misunderstood.

Perhaps it would be beneficial to mimic the USCG divisions of white fleet (national security), black fleet (bouy tenders, etc.) and red fleet (heavy ice breaker).

We had that: "Red fleet" (CCG), Gray fleet (Fisheries) "white fleet" was Science/CHS. There was also the smaller Grey/white fleet of DPW vessels (dredges, repair vessels and snag pullers) There was a lot of heartache bringing them together.