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Canadian Surface Combatant RFQ

FJAG

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Different users need different cost information; there is no one size fits all. If you are to have intelligent discussions, you need to know what is and is not included, together with the rationale for those inclusions and exclusions.

The simplest example is the Gillette model: lose money on the razor, make it back on the blades. Some suppliers will do that, offering attractively low acquisition costs but massively inflated lifecycle operating costs to acquire their bespoke parts / consumables / software. Some will transfer cost to DND/CAF - for example, if the mark II Whatchamacallit will take five aviators to operate it, where the mark I I only took one, but only provides 2x the capability, the institutional cost over the lifecycle will have grown.

While simple has a certain appeal, detailed information and analysis is also needed to make intelligent decisions.
You're exactly right. Internal users and decision makers need to know all the aspects and, for the most part, will understand the significance of the various numbers. The issue here though is what numbers does the press report these days -- basically the most horrendous number possible which in this case, like the F-35 is the absolute total lifetime cost of the system and without any context at all.

In the case of the F-35, I'm qite sure that the Liberals of the day understood the real numbers but exploited the acquisition cost v total life cycle cost issue as a political ploy to undermine the Harper government's credibility. I'm not sure why the CBC is focusing on this issue with the CSC project although I note it tends to focus more on the Navy and bureaucracy rather than the government hand that feeds the CBC.

IMHO, a good reporter would present a broader, more balanced picture of the costs and let the public make up it's own mind. But that's asking a bit much, isn't it?

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CBH99

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Different users need different cost information; there is no one size fits all. If you are to have intelligent discussions, you need to know what is and is not included, together with the rationale for those inclusions and exclusions.

The simplest example is the Gillette model: lose money on the razor, make it back on the blades. Some suppliers will do that, offering attractively low acquisition costs but massively inflated lifecycle operating costs to acquire their bespoke parts / consumables / software. Some will transfer cost to DND/CAF - for example, if the mark II Whatchamacallit will take five aviators to operate it, where the mark I I only took one, but only provides 2x the capability, the institutional cost over the lifecycle will have grown.

While simple has a certain appeal, detailed information and analysis is also needed to make intelligent decisions.
I totally agree with you.

The point I was trying to make (albeit a bit off topic, I apolgize) is that one of the things we could examine to help minimize bad press & have the average Canadian support our capital purchases is to just present them with the cost of acquisition. Not the cost of acquiring the platform/capability, and also including what it will cost to support that platform for the next 20yrs.

It makes it seem like our equipment acquisition programs are substantially more expensive than they really are (Acquisition only). Regardless of what class of ship we get for the CSC, or fighter replaces the Hornet - these things require crews, fuel, maintenance, etc. That's a given.


The decision makers will need to have a pretty good understanding of what the maintenance/support costs will be, absolutely. But the average member of the public doesn't understand how our contracts work, and therefore is left with the impression we are paying "X amount" for something and not understanding what that entails.

I think most Canadians would actually be supportive of our acquisitions, given that they are reasonable. It's the absurd price tag, mixed with the media only giving airtime to people who literally don't know WTF they are talking about, that steers public opinion the way it does.

During the Afghan war years, we were able to acquire M777's, C-17's, a new fleet of C-130J's, new Chinooks, a variety of armoured vehicles, etc etc and the public was extremely supportive because they were reasonable, required, and understood.



It was a bit of a thread hijack, I do apologize. I read something upthread that made me think of that aspect of getting the public more onside. Again, apologies for the derailment!
 

dapaterson

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Part of the goal of a degreed officer corps is to provide CAF officers with a broad-based liberal arts education, including effective communications skills. Communications skills must not be the sole province on the PA folks; the finance folks should be able to explain "This is the incremental cost, this is the acquisition cost, this is the full up cost" and not say "Read the tables." Project staff should be able to articulate (within the bounds of national security and commercial confidences) the capability being acquired and how it differs from whatever is (or is not) in service, and not say "It's in the deck somewhere."

If I tell you something and you don't understand, it's quite presumptuous for me to assume that you are the problem. Especially if it recurs again and again - maybe, just maybe, the problem is me and my failed communications, and not you at all.
 

Navy_Pete

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Part of the goal of a degreed officer corps is to provide CAF officers with a broad-based liberal arts education, including effective communications skills. Communications skills must not be the sole province on the PA folks; the finance folks should be able to explain "This is the incremental cost, this is the acquisition cost, this is the full up cost" and not say "Read the tables." Project staff should be able to articulate (within the bounds of national security and commercial confidences) the capability being acquired and how it differs from whatever is (or is not) in service, and not say "It's in the deck somewhere."

If I tell you something and you don't understand, it's quite presumptuous for me to assume that you are the problem. Especially if it recurs again and again - maybe, just maybe, the problem is me and my failed communications, and not you at all.

Comms for any of these projects go through PA (and not even necessarily DND's PAs). So usually the person that understands it passes it on to another person that kind of understands it that passes it on to someone that doesn't understand it (with a bunch of vetting in between) before if actually gets to the media.

In some very rare cases people that understand it get to talk directly to the media, and provide something like a clear cost breakdown of the project, and even the same reporter never uses it again or asks relevant questions. For example, there is an interview in the Ottawa Citizen's Defence watch section with Mr. Pat Finn, then ADM(Mat), retired RAdm, who actually worked on NSPS as a Commodore, and a lengthy discussion was broken down to a breakout of the project costs (date 27 April 2018; link not included due to site rules) . In other cases, detailed briefings were provided to multiple news outlets by people that understood things, and it was never reported on because it was too boring.

It can be really frustrating when you write something up for the PAs, they 'improve the wording', frig it all up, and then it gets translated into something totally inaccurate by the uninformed reporter that has no idea what you are talking about anyway in the papers.

As an aside, usually it's engineers on this project without a broad-based liberal arts education, so sometimes best there is a people-engineer interface. Usually it's the ones that have people skills that get promoted to a position where they would talk to reporters though, but there are definitely some lower down who are very good at their jobs, understand the issue inside and out, but should probably never talk to reporters.
 

Navy_Pete

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- One thing we (DND and GoC) should perhaps look at is the way we sell the public on the projects. We are, as far as I know, one of the only countries that includes 10yr or 20yr service & support contracts with the 'price' of the project.

Sometimes it's the same contract so you can compare the through life costs; this makes a lot of sense when a higher up front purchase cost may give you better availability/lower maintenance costs. Because it's the same RFP, the total contract value is public, but we can't actually break out the procurement cost of the equipment because any level of detail other then the overall contract value is usually considered commercially sensitive.

Otherwise if you look there have been multiple announcements limited to actual costs of just the ship, building the jetties etc that we can do when they are stand alone contracts. Also, the AOPs/JSS in service support contract (aka AJISS) is a standalone, separate project, so isn't normally included by DND in any AOPs or JSS project value discussions.

The big ticket announcements that keep coming out are because different organizations are combining the procurement, maintenance, crew costs, fuel and everything else to get a true lifetime cost (which is huge) and forcing DND to respond. The CAF has that Cost Factors Manual (or used to) that was updated annually and gave the cost to operate the various vehicles, planes and ships (per sea day, flight hour, whatever), but estimating the cost of things like fuel in 40 years has so much uncertainty it's a waste of time. Disposal etc are all important things to think about, but costing them is a total SWAG, and usually are just an order of magnitude guess, not something you can consider during build.
 
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Colin Parkinson

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You can train your PA and find the best communicator in your engineering group to explain to the media, but you have no control over the reporter (who has a Liberal Art Degree) or the editor. Both of whom don't have a clue about what your talking about. Part of the problem with the media losing so much revenue is that all reporters and editors must be multi-tasked, so even if they do want to learn more, they never have the time. Even back in the days of better funded media, I found that media reporting of stories I was involved in, were averaging around 40% error rate. My sister was a labour judge, she found an even higher error rate to the point where she could barely recognize a case she has heard from the article in the paper.
I really like the idea of just acquisition costs being announced. In backgrounder material you can outline cost differentials and methods of accounting, so you can't be accused of hiding stuff. Big business spends a lot of money preparing media releases to spoon feed the MSM in a baby food version that is easily digestible and printable.
 

Navy_Pete

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Interface... barrier... po-tay-to... po-tah-to...
lol, yeah. Personally I think a better approach would be letting the SMEs participate (maybe with some prior PA coaching?) in a real Q&A session, but not aware of that ever happening. Which is kind of weird, when you get embedded reporters in units that are free to talk with pretty much anyone during exercises or operations, or do things like ships open to visitors where really junior people can talk directly to anyone, and usually all there is some reminders what stuff is off limits, be polite and that's about it. We end up dealing with a lot of flak from uninformed idiots anyway, so why not try and be proactive. Maybe at least then you would be getting flak from informed idiots.

Kind of weird being trusted to handle real emergencies on billion dollar plus ships or other scenarios where actual lives are at risk but not to talk with a reporter. 🤷‍♂️
 

MarkOttawa

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The simple fact is that the major Canadian media are not interested in reporting facts in an objective fashion to inform public debate about defence matters; rather they essentially look for angles that can be spun to suggest scandal/malfeasance/incompetence/whatever might smell in order to raise public and political controversy and, they hope reader interest (for the general public almost always could care less about whatever the issue is). Military/naval/air force realities are irrelevant to a story line. It's a disgrace and has been so for years--since Somalia? But the Canadian public get the media they deserve.

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CBH99

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Again, I totally agree with you. 100%. We are definitely on the same page.
The simple fact is that the major Canadian media are not interested in reporting facts in an objective fashion to inform public debate about defence matters; rather they essentially look for angles that can be spun to suggest scandal/malfeasance/incompetence/whatever might smell in order to raise public and political controversy and, they hope reader interest (for the general public almost always could care less about whatever the issue is). Military/naval/air force realities are irrelevant to a story line. It's a disgrace and has been so for years--since Somalia? But the Canadian public get the media they deserve.

Mark
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Very much agreed!

What comes first though, the chicken or the egg?

Uninformed general public due to piss poor reporting on almost any topic of relevance from the MSM? Or a MSM that can get away with spouting misleading narratives because the public is uninformed? ;)


(I know this doesn't contribute to the chat at all - and maybe we should let this thread get back to the CSC, and we can carry on this chat in another thread? But we live in an age where information is LITERALLY at most people's fingertips. We all have these devices in our pockets which allows each of us, in a matter of seconds, to look up almost any piece of information known to mankind, or connect with anybody on planet Earth almost instantly. It's actually pretty crazy when you stop and think about it.

You said it well, the public gets the media they deserve. Anybody who has any interest could sit down and do some digging for all of 5 minutes, and take it upon themselves to be informed.) #wishful thinking
 

Good2Golf

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lol, yeah. Personally I think a better approach would be letting the SMEs participate (maybe with some prior PA coaching?) in a real Q&A session, but not aware of that ever happening. Which is kind of weird, when you get embedded reporters in units that are free to talk with pretty much anyone during exercises or operations, or do things like ships open to visitors where really junior people can talk directly to anyone, and usually all there is some reminders what stuff is off limits, be polite and that's about it. We end up dealing with a lot of flak from uninformed idiots anyway, so why not try and be proactive. Maybe at least then you would be getting flak from informed idiots.

Kind of weird being trusted to handle real emergencies on billion dollar plus ships or other scenarios where actual lives are at risk but not to talk with a reporter. 🤷‍♂️
Not sure about current policy, but Project Directors and Project Managers on major capital projects (MCPs) if not already qualified and current, were given the Designated Spokesperson course, and often were (are?) approached by the usual crowd of defence writers (the Murray Brewsters, Lee Berthiaumes and others of Canadian media) to confirm background and latest status of various projects. Responsibility to provide media with connectivity to such projects was not just lobbed over to PA.

regards
G2G
 

Colin Parkinson

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lol, yeah. Personally I think a better approach would be letting the SMEs participate (maybe with some prior PA coaching?) in a real Q&A session, but not aware of that ever happening. Which is kind of weird, when you get embedded reporters in units that are free to talk with pretty much anyone during exercises or operations, or do things like ships open to visitors where really junior people can talk directly to anyone, and usually all there is some reminders what stuff is off limits, be polite and that's about it. We end up dealing with a lot of flak from uninformed idiots anyway, so why not try and be proactive. Maybe at least then you would be getting flak from informed idiots.

Kind of weird being trusted to handle real emergencies on billion dollar plus ships or other scenarios where actual lives are at risk but not to talk with a reporter. 🤷‍♂️
Up until the CPC got in, it was common to have reporters and MP`s call our office directly to ask questions, generally one of us more experienced officers took the call. The restrictions continued under the Liberals. We wasted a lot of our time and theirs after the restrictions came in.
I used to speak to Nathen Cullen (NDP) frequently as his riding was in the area I was responsible for. It`s not that hard to stay out of trouble, just never say or imply stuff you don`t want to see in the paper the next day. With the MP`s/MLA and their office, mostly it`s to give them background and file status of the issue peculating in their backyard. My regional office actually had a good media relations team and we would help them with file information. I had to do a lot of Public open houses on big projects and take questions from stakeholders, public and media all the time. The key is if confronted by the media is to listen, think and then respond in a polite professional manner keeping in mind everything you say may be printed and likely printed incorrectly.
 

Dana381

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Forgive me, as I'm taking your post here and kind of running on a different track with it. (I agree with your post, btw)

When it comes to the Canadian public & defence matters, we need to remember that:

- The general public thinks about what they are told to think about, and they care about what they think they should. (As this last year of Covid news has bluntly demonstrated.) They will forget and move on to something else the very moment the media tells them to do so.

- Most Canadians want a strong & capable military. For whatever reason, our mainstream media only seems to give airtime to the hippies & social justice warriors. I think most Canadians would be perfectly fine with us buying new kit, and would probably support it if it was reasonable.

- One thing we (DND and GoC) should perhaps look at is the way we sell the public on the projects. We are, as far as I know, one of the only countries that includes 10yr or 20yr service & support contracts with the 'price' of the project.

Without understanding our contracts are usually broken down into a) the purchase of the equipment, and b) a lengthy support contract for that equipment... the projects stand out as really expensive.

I think the public would be a lot more receptive to some of the projects if we just published the cost of acquiring the equipment. (C-17, Chinook, C-295 SAR birds, etc.)

The fact that this equipment needs to be supported once in service is a given - any country that has any military equipment at all spends money maintaining it.



As I mentioned upthread, in regards to the CSC, the media is creating a problem out of nothing. It doesn't matter which ship we end up with, the costs once in service will be pretty close. Ships need crews, crews need food. Crews need paychecks. Ships need fuel, etc.

We don't say "This 2020 Hyundai Elantra is $140,000" (Lifetime maintenance, gas, insurance, etc etc.) Anybody who buys a car knows they need to support the car with those things.



Bah. The solutions always seem to simple :cautious:

Sorry to take so long to notice your reply, I don't think my notifications are working properly.

I don't think your on a different track, I think you just said what I was saying only better. I am a mechanic not a wordsmith after all. Public perception needs to change first I believe.

The Media cries scandal every time the military spends money unless they know it is popular. Many of the intermediate posts talk about this in detail. I don't recall much media attention to the FWSAR contract because saving lives is cool. The air force could have spent whatever they wanted with little media fanfare because SAR is a warm fuzzy feeling generator when they succeed and a tragedy when they don't. So attacking new SAR equipment is seldom popular. If the warfighting abilities of the Canadian forces were cool they would not be able to attack it like this.

I believe your second point 100%. When it comes to weapons systems or or anything that doesn't directly save lives I believe most Canadians want our military to be top class. I just see the media grab something from each contract and find someone that will say it's a bad deal and try to run it into the ground. The sea-king replacement contract was a prime example. the EH-101 was acceptable as a SAR bird but too expensive for regular naval duties. 🤷‍♂️

Your third point is on point in my opinion. I believe that is one way to improve public perception of our military. The contracts as they are announced now seem incredibly absurd. $4 billion dollars for 4 C-17's for example. It would sound much better If the contracts were announced as two separate contracts, say 2 billion for four planes and 2 billion for 20 years of maintenance and spare parts (I don't know the actual breakdown and its not important to my point). I think the public would be much more understanding. The car companies use that system all the time, They advertise $99 weekly for a compact car. The car that you can buy for $99 likely has never been sold because it is an ultra base model with no desired features and absolutely no extras. Also no dealers keep it in stock because they know that you will pay more if you don't have to wait for it.

I do believe that is only one way to improve public perception though. I believe people everywhere are proud of their countries military successes, even Canadians. I have personally seen this when telling stories to non military lovers. If the military spent time and/or money trying to improve public perception via advertising, film and TV show rights, and actively engaging with the public (ex: flyover of sporting events) they could turn perception around. I believe most Canadians know extremely little about our military however they think military stuff is cool. I know many of these people watch shows about the U.S. military and think "that's so cool!" but these people take little to no effort to get to know their own military. I also think the GOC doesn't want to improve public perception because then the public will demand we equip our military properly. The GOC has shown repeatedly that it is content to do the least it has to even arguing how the 2% NATO spending commitment is calculated. That reminded me of my teenager taking out one garbage can because I didn't tell him to take out all the cans. :rolleyes:
 

MarkOttawa

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By Dana381:

I don't recall much media attention to the FWSAR contract because saving lives is cool. The air force could have spent whatever they wanted with little media fanfare because SAR is a warm fuzzy feeling generator when they succeed and a tragedy when they don't. So attacking new SAR equipment is seldom popular.

In fact media generated lots of new SAR aircraft controversy on basis RCAF was trying to rig the bidding (accurately I believe) for C-27--better transport in secondary role--vs C295. All that delayed final competition and selection for a long time--whole process lasted from 2004 to 2016 ( https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/rescue-required-canadas-searchandrescue-aircraft-program-03350/ ).

That said your point about pointy-stuff having a general media disadvantage is I think valid. See also this 2016 post on the Coast Guard getting quite a few new helos, effectively sole-sourced (horrors!) from Bell Quebec, that was barely covered ( https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2016/...5-canadian-coast-guard-light-helos-delivered/ ).

Mark
Ottawa
 

Cdn Blackshirt

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Just to followup on previous debate regarding if CAMM in isolation being sufficient in the role of CIWS (versus being supplemented by 35mm, 40mm, 57mm air burst gun systems), see new article on swarming air launched drones.

Clarification request if not OPSEC: If you wanted to, is the space forward of the VLS suitable to add a through deck solution (such as transferring the Halifax class 57mm)? Or is there below deck engineering which would mean you'd have to go with a lighter surface mount solution like 35mm or 40mm?

 

Cdn Blackshirt

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@Cloud Cover

It's funny I read that exact article....what I found interesting was not in the main body of the article, but in the comments as one of the posters ("Dogs Nads" :ROFLMAO:) made the following statement, which as not corrected by anyone else, I assume is accurate.

In response to question: "Do these guns provide air burst capability?", they replied:

"No. Point detonation only. It’s not worth doing air-burst from anything under 35mm in practice (and even then its marginal). Basically the shell size below 35mm doesn’t have enough space for the fusing, sufficient explosive and shell casing to have decent fragmentation.

Realistically you need 40mm + to make it worthwhile."
 
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