Author Topic: Future Canadian Airborne Capability and Organisation! Or, is it Redundant? (a merged thread)  (Read 258028 times)

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Offline daftandbarmy

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Interesting. To maintain the fight we need supporting elements we do not have. It makes sense.

So to fly an airborne force to our far north
1. Initial wave F echelon troops with some atts
2. Second wave seems like it should be engineers with heavy equipment, medics (establish forward casualty post), sigs, an extra rifle platoon or company
3. Need air superiority (this scenario assumes we are fighting a conventional force).

Can hercs be fitted with skis to land a fairly flat snow covered field?
How long would it take to get chinooks to follow the initial drop? Assuming we can set up re-fueling points along the way?
Do Tac Hel squadrons have the ability to run an austere airfield for choppers?

What the hell I'll throw this in. How easily can we quickly modify a herc with 1-2 mini-guns on port side and turn it into ad ad hoc specter gun ship? Would it be worth it to give the jumpers some extra muscle?

Any plan like that would have to be anchored on working from existing villages and other inhabited areas. Those would have to be our 'Air FOBs', which means we should invest in upgrading the infrastructure in all those mainly Inuit populated communities across our northern flank.

We would look pretty silly if we flew and Airborne Brigade 2000 miles north of Ottawa, then have to racetrack because the winds were too high which, based on my relatively limited experience in the high arctic, is often. We would require the ability to airland in a variety of different areas in the eastern and western arctic.

Of course, any successful Arctic excursion is mainly a feat of logistics, not tactics, so we need more propeller beanie wearing 'logistics brainiacs' on this job than 'meat bombs', at the outset anyways.

But, in the meantime, I'm still waiting for someone to let us walk a platoon to the north pole and plant a Canadian Armed Forces Flag there, just to make an international fashion statement of course :)
"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 GR66

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I'm still looking for a concrete example of something that Russia or China might deem vital enough to their national interest to risk a general war with NATO (or at least the USA) by either seizing or attacking with conventional ground forces in the Canadian arctic.

With the exception of Hans Island, I don't believe that there are any disputes between Canada and any other nation over ownership of any of the islands of the arctic archipeligo.  How could landing military forces on any landmass that is already legally acknowledged as being Canadian soveriegn territory be seen as anything other than an act of war. 

There are certainly disputes over where the water boundaries of various nation's Exclusive Economic Zones are, but how would launching a military invasion of soveriegn Canadian territory help with these claims when they would almost certainly result in a war with NATO/USA? 

As a stretch I could see China or Russia claiming that Canada has relinquised any claims it has over certain territory due to lack of occupation or use but again I'd suggest that that could much more easily be prevented by civil investment and economic development of the arctic rather than by designing a military force to counter a foreign invasion.

That doesn't mean that I think that Canada shouldn't have an airborne capability for a number of other military purposes or that we shouldn't have the ability to rapidly deploy a variety of types of assets in the North, but I think that organizing our airborne forces around the premise of repelling an arctic invasion is mistaken.

Offline George Wallace

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I'm still looking for a concrete example of something that Russia or China might deem vital enough to their national interest to risk a general war with NATO (or at least the USA) by either seizing or attacking with conventional ground forces in the Canadian arctic.

......... 

Natural resources.  Oil.  Diamonds.  Uranium.  Other precious metals.

Canada's arctic is chock full of natural resources.

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Offline Eye In The Sky

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Russia is building up its naval forces again.  They are expanding their ability to conduct sustained ops in the arctic over the course of the next few years.

ISIL, the GWOT might be the soup de jour for the next few years.  IMO, the thing to look for 10 years from now is the claim to resources in places like the Arctic.  Would Russia risk a war with NATO...perhaps the question is, would NATO risk all-out war with Russia over 'some frozen Canadian tundra'. 

Cold War II could literally be that, for all we know where the world will be in 5, 10 years.  Some things are going back more to the way they were.  The US is likely going to re-open a base in Iceland.

The times, they are a-changin'...back?
The only time you have "too much gas" is when you're on fire.

Offline Chris Pook

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I joined in 80.

That was 36 years ago. 

Back then I heard the argument that nobody is ever going to attack the North.  The SSF/CAR was a waste of time. The CAST Brigade wasn't something that we wanted to do/were capable of doing. AMF(Land) was a sop to the Danes.

4 CMBG and the Heart of Darkness was the only game in town worth playing.  And Mulroney bought into that and doubled down.

Curiously, since then, the activities on which the CAF seems to have been tasked look a lot more like CAST/AMF(L)/SSF missions than 4 CMBG missions.

And Canada doesn't need defending.  Nobody wants the North.  Not even Canadians.
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Offline Eye In The Sky

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And Canada doesn't need defending.  Nobody wants the North.  Not even Canadians.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11944219/Russia-builds-massive-Arctic-military-base.html

 20 Oct 2015

Russia's defence ministry said on Tuesday it has built a giant military base in the far northern Arctic where 150 soldiers can live autonomously for up to 18 months.

The ministry said the building erected on the large island of Alexandra Land, which is part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago, is 97 per cent complete.

Named the "Arctic Trefoil", or three-lobed leaf, the sprawling three-pointed structure is coloured red white and blue like the Russian flag.

The base is a permanent structure located on the 80th parallel north and has an area of 14,000 square metres (150,000 square feet).

The building can house 150 soldiers and stock enough fuel and food to let them work there autonomously for a year and a half, the ministry said.

The soldiers can move around the base from one building to another without going outside to face winter temperatures which can reach minus 47 degrees Celsius (-57 degrees Fahrenheit). Fuel can be pumped in from tankers.

Franz Josef Land is a chain of islands between the Barents and Kara seas north of Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

It has maintained a Russian border post but the military presence there was withdrawn in the 1990s. It returned last November, when the Northern Fleet dispatched air defence contingents there.

This year Russia has reopened a landing strip there equipped for large transport planes in order to deliver building materials.

Russia is building up its Arctic military infrastructure as part of a recently updated Naval Doctrine, which proclaims the region as a top priority due to its mineral riches and strategic importance.

Russia has already built a similar military base called the "Northern Shamrock" on Kotelny island in the East Siberian Sea further south on the 75th parallel.

Russia has increasingly asserted itself as an Arctic nation, this year filing a United Nations claim for a vast swathe of the region including the North Pole, and holding war games in the area.


------------------------------------
 





They sure seem interested in the region to me.   8)

« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 12:43:18 by Eye In The Sky »
The only time you have "too much gas" is when you're on fire.

Offline Chris Pook

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North of Great Slave, East of Great Bear and West of the Barren Grounds, I can put an outline of the country of Switzerland on the ground and cover five diamond mines.  Salt water is accessible via Bathurst Inlet.

What happens if the locals decide they want a better deal than Ottawa is offering them and they pull a Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence, looking for diplomatic recognition from other countries?  Native land claim. Well established resource base.  Foreign investors.  Foreign governments.  Is that a domestic or a NATO issue? 

If NATO doesn't react in the Baltics will it react in Canada? 

We can't know all the "what ifs".  But you can ask yourself what might you be able to do if.
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Offline GR66

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Natural resources.  Oil.  Diamonds.  Uranium.  Other precious metals.

Canada's arctic is chock full of natural resources.

I'm not questioning the fact that the arctic has lots of natural resources.  So does the Russian arctic.  Maybe I've caught a nasty case of the "Sunny Ways"  :boke: but I honestly think we're a long way from Russia being so short of their own resources that they would go to war to seize ours.  And while European NATO members may not go to war for "some frozen Canadian tundra" I seriously doubt that the USA would stand by and accept such a blatant challenge to the Monroe Doctrine. 

Any I certainly wouldn't envy the Russian position if they were to try and take and hold Canadian territory in the far North and trying to set up mineral or oil extraction facilities.  It's hard enough to operate up there without active military forces trying to disrupt you.  I'm quite confident that it would cost much, much more than they could possibly ever gain from it.  And as Infanteer noted "Why not just shoot their resupply down and let them starve and freeze?"

As for China...they would have to go over Canadian and/or US territory in order to launch an airborne invasion of the arctic and any naval forces would have to fight their way through the choke point of the Bering straight.  Their logistical situation would be even more difficult than the Russians and they would be risking their vital export trade to their biggest export partner (the US) by taking such an action.

Short of M. King Hubbard being right afterall and "Peak Oil" unexpectedly hitting and the Gulf/Iranian/Russian/Venezualan/US oil wells all run dry making undiscovered arctic oil worth the risk of war I don't see an arctic invasion in the cards.  Might they encroach on our EEZ and start drilling wells on our side of a disputed boundary?  That I an see...but not sure what an airborne brigade would bring to that fight that wouldn't be better done by air and sea power.

Again...I do think that Canada likely should have an airborne capability for overseas deployment and greatly improved ability to rapidly move equipment, personnel and resources to the Arctic (and everywhere else in Canada), but I personally see this particular scenario very low down on the probability scale.

Much more likely in my mind that we'd have to quickly send our airborne forces to the Scandanavian Arctic to counter Russian attacks aimed at unbalancing NATO while they attempt to retake the Baltic states for example than having to use them to retake Sachs Harbour from a Russian invasion.

Just my personal opinion though of course.

Offline GR66

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North of Great Slave, East of Great Bear and West of the Barren Grounds, I can put an outline of the country of Switzerland on the ground and cover five diamond mines.  Salt water is accessible via Bathurst Inlet.

What happens if the locals decide they want a better deal than Ottawa is offering them and they pull a Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence, looking for diplomatic recognition from other countries?  Native land claim. Well established resource base.  Foreign investors.  Foreign governments.  Is that a domestic or a NATO issue? 

If NATO doesn't react in the Baltics will it react in Canada? 

We can't know all the "what ifs".  But you can ask yourself what might you be able to do if.

This scenario to me is significantly more likely than a Russian (or Chinese) direct invasion.  But again I'll come back to my argument that a much better counter to this possibility is to develop the Arctic so that it and its people are prosperous (and therefore unlikely to want to trade Canadian citizenship for the questionable benefits of becoming Russian) rather than building a military capacity to counter it IF it happens.

Again...not in anyway saying that economic development of the North AND improvements to our airborne capability can't or shouldn't happen at the same time.  I just don't think that tailoring the force and optimizing it for what I believe is a low-probability threat makes a great deal of sense.

Since I'm sure that I've more than made my point I'll leave it at that so as to no longer distract from the discussion.

 :salute:

Offline daftandbarmy

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I'm still looking for a concrete example of something that Russia or China might deem vital enough to their national interest to risk a general war with NATO (or at least the USA) by either seizing or attacking with conventional ground forces in the Canadian arctic.

With the exception of Hans Island, I don't believe that there are any disputes between Canada and any other nation over ownership of any of the islands of the arctic archipeligo.  How could landing military forces on any landmass that is already legally acknowledged as being Canadian soveriegn territory be seen as anything other than an act of war. 

There are certainly disputes over where the water boundaries of various nation's Exclusive Economic Zones are, but how would launching a military invasion of soveriegn Canadian territory help with these claims when they would almost certainly result in a war with NATO/USA? 

As a stretch I could see China or Russia claiming that Canada has relinquised any claims it has over certain territory due to lack of occupation or use but again I'd suggest that that could much more easily be prevented by civil investment and economic development of the arctic rather than by designing a military force to counter a foreign invasion.

That doesn't mean that I think that Canada shouldn't have an airborne capability for a number of other military purposes or that we shouldn't have the ability to rapidly deploy a variety of types of assets in the North, but I think that organizing our airborne forces around the premise of repelling an arctic invasion is mistaken.

Based on Russia's approach to the Crimea and other places, they are probably already occupying our arctic territories and we don't even know they are there.
"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 GK .Dundas

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Based on Russia's approach to the Crimea and other places, they are probably already occupying our arctic territories and we don't even know they are there.
Why not the Luftwaffe did it and we never knew about it until the early nineties.
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Offline Thucydides

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For the Russians or Chinese (or even the Americans) to succeed they mearly have to block or disrupt "our" access to arctic resources, rather than immediatly attempt to extract and exploit them on their own. In fact, the scenario Chris Pook wrote upthread is fully in keeping with Chinese "Unrestricted Warfare" doctrine; there is no immediate means of determining who or what is behind the action, there are enough factions within Canada to exploit the situation and utterly paralyse the GoC and the Chinese can gain credit by coming in after 15-18 months to "broker" some sort of agreement. As for access denial for extracting our own resources, one only has to look at attempts to isolate Albertan oil. We know American groups like the Tides Foundation have spent @ $300 million on anti oilsands campaigns, who knows how much the Saudis or other hostile nations may have contributed or abetted these efforts as well? Going in and physically blocking or disrupting physical infrastructure serves the same purpose and is more dramatic.

Similarly, the United States (our closest friend and ally) does not recognize our claim that the North West Passage is internal waters. Should global warming ever happen for real, an ice free North West Passage would cut travel time from Asia to europe considerably, and I rather doubt that Chinese container ships are going to bother with tiresome Canadian regulations if they chose to believe that the NW passage is internatinal waters.
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Online Tango2Bravo

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Read a book over the weekend by Mark Devore published by the US Army's electronic publishing office called "When Failure Thrives" regarding airborne forces in the USA, USSR and UK. Following a study of airborne theories and operations during WW2 he examines the airborne forces of those three countries in the post-WW2 period. He makes the point that airborne forces were conceived to execute "vertical envelopment." This was a failed innovation as it never really worked out during the war. He examines the path that airborne forces took following the war from an institutional perspective. In the USSR airborne forces were their own independent branch and thus continued to thrive despite their dismal WW2 performance. In the UK the airborne forces were not really institutionalized and withered following the war. He argues that the US took a middle road with less institutionalization than the USSR but with a sufficeint airborne bureaucracy to survive despite not really having a role.

Devore argues that any military organization that faces obsolescence can adopt one of three survival strategies. First, it can invest in new technologies and tactics that enable it to continue to execute its core mission. He uses the USAF's adaptation to the North Vietnamese air defence system as an example. Second, the organization can seek new roles using the same capabililties. The USMC did this in the 1930s when they switched from being the US's Latin American police force to amphibious operations. Lastly, it can rely on elite status or nostalgia to survive.

Devore argues that the US military maintains too large of an airborne capability that can be justified by past or anticipated performance. He argues that the US airborne forces survived and indeed thrived by seeking the forced-entry role combined with having key Army leaders who came from the airborne forces. The forced-entry role, for Devore, is not something to base such a large force around and he makes the point that combat jumps have become exceedingly rare and those in recent times have been primarily for show.

I think that we can see some of Devore's thesis at play in Canada. We certainly see people seeking roles for airborne forces and also appealing to its elite status. The level of institutionalization is, however, quite low meaning that our forces are kept at fairly low levels.

I imagine that Devore's work will cause some arguments in the US. It is a fairly short read and is easily accessible on the internet. As such I think its works a read.

Cheers
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Offline Blackadder1916

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Read a book over the weekend by Mark Devore published by the US Army's electronic publishing office called "When Failure Thrives" regarding airborne forces in the USA, USSR and UK.  . . .

. . .  It is a fairly short read and is easily accessible on the internet.

http://usacac.army.mil/sites/default/files/documents/cace/CSI/CSIPubs/WhenFailureThrives.pdf
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Offline Colin P

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Perhaps better to define them as “Airmobile” with parachuting as subset? Each nation creates a “airmobile” unit based around its actual capabilities, for us that would be Griffon-Chinook-C130J-C-17.  We can advise our allies what we can bring to the fight and what speed and how long they can be sustained.

I think Entebbe and Fort Eben-Emael were brilliant uses of “air mobile” Also Glider ops in Burma, not to mention some of the heli assaults in Vietnam

Offline dapaterson

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I particularly enjoy the discussion on page 70ff about Insights for Policymakers: "…[I ]nstitutionally strong military organizations rarely engage in critical reappraisals of their utility and are often successful at preserving themselves long after their core mission has become obsolete."

Reads a lot like the Shirky principle: "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution"

EDIT: formatting.
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Offline Old Sweat

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I think Entebbe and Fort Eben-Emael were brilliant uses of “air mobile” Also Glider ops in Burma, not to mention some of the heli assaults in Vietnam

The examples cited above were largely against light to nil resistance, some of the Vietnam examples excepted. Daylight assaults by glider especially were frankly blood baths. Crete comes to mind, but Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine, also had heavy casualties. The glider-borne British 6 Airportable Brigade lost more troops killed in the few hours of the fly-in than in its tour in Normandy.

 

Offline ueo

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Based on the author's conclusions, the question now becomes one of can Canada afford, in every sense of the word, any airborne capability beyond the present SAR role. We don't seem to have any military will to retain this capability as it appears that computers, drones etc are far sexier. Politically I cannot see any government making a decision to utilise any form of "entry" ops due to the manpower costs coupled with to PR problems. Also as discussed elsewhere the one remaining option is employment in the North. Not as forced entry ops but in airfield creation ops. In my mind a specific engineering problem. For proponents of the option lets deal realistically with the availability of resources including manpower as well as the probability of our becoming involved in any symmetrical battle  space. MHO only.
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Offline Chris Pook

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I particularly enjoy the discussion on page 70ff about Insights for Policymakers: "…[I ]nstitutionally strong military organizations rarely engage in critical reappraisals of their utility and are often successful at preserving themselves long after their core mission has become obsolete."

Reads a lot like the Shirky principle: "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution"

EDIT: formatting.

Paras, Rifles, Fusiliers, Grenadiers, Dragoons, Carabiniers...... (Tanks)

By the way the Marines have been around for 350 years - doing basically the same stuff:  swanning around on Her Majesty's Ships and doing whatever they are told to do.

Edit to add: Guards - but they know what their job is: Stop people killing Her Majesty.
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Offline Colin P

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It shows you though that when used correctly they can achieve significant results. As for Crete, could the Germans have captured it any other way, what would have been the cost of a amphibious operation? I think what airborne could do was oversold. As for Glider losses, I think the majority of Allied losses in Sicily were due to friendly fire.


Glider ops in Burmahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ag9Ft__KuA

Offline Chris Pook

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The examples cited above were largely against light to nil resistance, some of the Vietnam examples excepted. Daylight assaults by glider especially were frankly blood baths. Crete comes to mind, but Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine, also had heavy casualties. The glider-borne British 6 Airportable Brigade lost more troops killed in the few hours of the fly-in than in its tour in Normandy.

But company/battalion sized insertions, either where the enemy was not or where surprise was possible, were successful.  Pegasus Bridge and the first day of Market Garden come to mind. Even the D-Day night landings. Bruneval.

Throwing in gliders, in daylight,  behind aircraft that took minutes to cross the line of sight of a single anti-aircraft gun, was not a recipe for success.

Throwing in paratroopers for days on end after the locals knew they were coming was equally counter-productive.  Pace Crete and Arnhem.
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Offline Old Sweat

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I "fast read" the publication, so my comprehension is even more limited than usual. My feeling is that there is place for small scale airborne operations, but massive drops are frankly non-starters. The US forces have the capability to drop one brigade, but maintain a much larger force. That, I submit, is too large to fail in the short term and too small to succeed in the longer haul against any serious opposition.

Online Tango2Bravo

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It shows you though that when used correctly they can achieve significant results. As for Crete, could the Germans have captured it any other way, what would have been the cost of a amphibious operation? I think what airborne could do was oversold. As for Glider losses, I think the majority of Allied losses in Sicily were due to friendly fire.


Glider ops in Burmahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ag9Ft__KuA

The author of the book I mentioned gives a study of WW2 airborne operations, including Crete. He calls Crete a Phyrrhic success where the cost of success was too much. Indeed, that operation essentially ended German airborne operations. His analysis of major airborne operations indicates more failures than successes.
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Offline Baz

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Similarly, the United States (our closest friend and ally) does not recognize our claim that the North West Passage is internal waters. Should global warming ever happen for real, an ice free North West Passage would cut travel time from Asia to europe considerably, and I rather doubt that Chinese container ships are going to bother with tiresome Canadian regulations if they chose to believe that the NW passage is internatinal waters.

The US doesn't consider any full passage through the Northwest Passage international waters.  There is no passage through that is always wider than 24nm, which means some of it is de facto Canadian Territorial waters. Although there are a lot of different passages, the closest is Lancaster Sound, Barrow Straight, McClure Strait which narrows possibly only once near Resolute.

They don't recognize our 1986 Declaration of Straight Baselines, which makes all of it Canadian Internal Waters.  However, as they have not actually contested or challenged it then it could become recognized.

What they do claim is that it is an International Straight, and that therefore transit passage is enjoyed (think Straights Of Gibraltar, etc).  This would mean they would not have to ask permission; certain rules of the EEZ would still apply (esp Environmental).  However, the rules for International Straights are deliberately vague; they refer to "Straights Used For International Navigation" which alludes to they need historical precedent, but they don't formally define them.  Canada believes there is no precedent for the Northwest Passage, the US does.

This http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/98836.pdf is a relative recent statement of their position.  Note they say it is an International Straight, and make no justification; that is so that there position is that it is a fact.

Offline daftandbarmy

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The author of the book I mentioned gives a study of WW2 airborne operations, including Crete. He calls Crete a Phyrrhic success where the cost of success was too much. Indeed, that operation essentially ended German airborne operations. His analysis of major airborne operations indicates more failures than successes.

There's a quote by Patton somewhere where he suggests that Airborne Forces would have been better employed under the direct command of Army Commanders, where they could be fully integrated into the ground based  battle plan.

I can see that, and assume that 'A Bridge Too Far' wouldn't have suffered as much from the failure of the cavalry to arrive soon enough.
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