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For the size of Canada, how large should our armed force be?

Infanteer

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The size of Canada is irrelevant - the size of our Forces should be dictated by what strategic ends we wish it to achieve.
 

observor 69

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Infanteer said:
The size of Canada is irrelevant - the size of our Forces should be dictated by what strategic ends we wish it to achieve.

In a perfect world free of political influence.  ;D
 

gcclarke

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Baden  Guy said:
In a perfect world free of political influence.  ;D

And we'd all have gold plated rifles that shoot rainbows! :)

Actually, scratch that. In the perfect world, the size of the armed forces would actually be 0.
 

Yrys

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gcclarke said:
Actually, scratch that. In the perfect world, the size of the armed forces would actually be 0.


That could be a "1984" world...

Humans are not perfect, and won't ever be.

Thinking of a world without armies with humans,
may means a world with strong/s government/s
who washout brains...
 

Edward Campbell

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One can argue that there is an appropriate "size" for a defence budget, in our imperfect world.

That size (expressed as a share of GDP) is based upon ambitions and realities.

For Canada the reality is, about 1% of GDP - which buys just enough "defence" to allow us to maintain a semblance of sovereignty and independence. Anything much less and we will be ignored in e.g. world trade negotiations because interconnectedness is real.

Canada, regularly, expresses ambitions to be a "leader" - at least amongst the so-called "middle powers." A seriously ambitious country would spend more than 2% of GDP on defence. See here for a more detailed analysis.

Our GDP (2008) is about $1.3 Trillion. Our defence budget (2009/10) is about $18 Billion. We spend about 1.4% of GDP on defence. That's a bit better than minimally realistic but no where near what's needed if, Big IF, we are serious about our oft expressed ambitions.

How "much" of what you get for n% of GDP is a whole different issue. But both, resources and "what" or "how much" are, or should be, parts of a nation's strategic calculus.
 

Dennis Ruhl

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If we looked around at likely threats it would be easy to conclude that we don't need much of a military.  Investing in anti-terrorist intelligence might be money better spent.  If our ships spend most of their time tied up in port, how many do we really need?  When is the last time we deployed much more than a squadron of fighters.  When is the last time we deployed more than a brigade of troops?  The answer to the last 2 questions is 64 years.

Subsequent to WWI and prior to the Cold War we kept 3 battalions of infantry and 2 cavalry/armoured regiments and 100 plus regiment militia that mobilized active service battalions as required.  I think that's a fine model for the army.  It worked from 1867 up to Korea and could still work.
 
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aesop081

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Dennis Ruhl said:
  I think that's a fine model for the army.  It worked from 1867 up to Korea and could still work.

As long as we revive the 19th of course.....
 

Neill McKay

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Dennis Ruhl said:
If our ships spend most of their time tied up in port, how many do we really need?  When is the last time we deployed much more than a squadron of fighters.

Be careful how far you take that argument.  There's always a requirement for down-time.  Using ships as an example, they can't sail all the time.  Among other things they need time alongside for maintenance.

In any given fleet of ships there will be a fraction that are ready to go on several hours' notice, some that could be made ready in a matter of days or weeks, and some that would take months because bits of them have been torn apart to be worked on.

The crew needs time ashore too.  They have training to do, leave to take, and any number of other things going on.  Just as with the ship itself, only some of the crews in a given fleet will be worked up and ready to sail at any given time.
 

Colin Parkinson

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The biggest our forces ever reached was approx. 1 million from a population of 11 million, quite impressive. I would say that our manning level needs to be at least twice the current rate and even that will be tight, actually 2.5 of our current size would allow us to maintain a expeditionary forces of the size of forces deployed to Afghanistan and maintain the other requirements the military has.
 

Edward Campbell

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Dennis Ruhl said:
If we looked around at likely threats it would be easy to conclude that we don't need much of a military.  Investing in anti-terrorist intelligence might be money better spent.  If our ships spend most of their time tied up in port, how many do we really need?  When is the last time we deployed much more than a squadron of fighters.  When is the last time we deployed more than a brigade of troops?  The answer to the last 2 questions is 64 years.

Subsequent to WWI and prior to the Cold War we kept 3 battalions of infantry and 2 cavalry/armoured regiments and 100 plus regiment militia that mobilized active service battalions as required.  I think that's a fine model for the army.  It worked from 1867 up to Korea and could still work.

If you really think the way we mobilized in 1939 and the way we cobbled together brigades for Korea and NATO circa 1950 were examples of a "fine model" then I would hate to see what you consider not so fine.

Unless I have, totally and completely, missed your point, I think you are talking through a very large hat.
 

PPCLI Guy

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Infanteer said:
The size of Canada is irrelevant - the size of our Forces should be dictated by what strategic ends we wish it to achieve.

Hmm - it is also a function of the means available - and what other instruments of statecraft a country choses to have (or not have) and in what amounts. 
 

Sonnyjim

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I was always curious what Canada would do if we were to enter another full scale conflict. How would they mass recruit but still maintain the quality of training our soldiers are getting today and gear issue on a mass scale?
 

George Wallace

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Without any significant "War Reserve", which happens to be the state that we are at right now, the conflict would be over before we would ever be able to mobilize.  Our Government would not be able to make up its mind quick enough.  Our Military would not have enough qualified pers, quarters, infrastructure, or supplies to Train the thousands required in a short timeframe.  Our Industry would likely be targeted before it was able to convert over to becoming a "war machine".  Our Communications would be the first targets, with hackers disrupting everything from Websites like this, to Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft applications, and other as of yet named systems. 

Our Government is incapable to react to any significant incident in a timely manner.  They literally need months of lead time, and I highly doubt any serious Threat would be so obliging.
 

SupersonicMax

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Dennis Ruhl said:
When is the last time we deployed much more than a squadron of fighters.

Both Fighter Squadrons fly operational missions quite a bit in Canada.  Kosovo, 1999, 2 squadrons were deployed in Aviano, Italy.  Desert Storm, 1990, 2 squadrons were deployed.
 

Dennis Ruhl

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E.R. Campbell said:
If you really think the way we mobilized in 1939 and the way we cobbled together brigades for Korea and NATO circa 1950 were examples of a "fine model" then I would hate to see what you consider not so fine.

To repeat, we have spent a trillion current dollars from 1953 to 1991 without a shot being fired in anger.  The trillion being $ 20 billion times 50 years, purely an estimate.  How prepared do we want to be and at what cost? While the first 2 battles of WWII were disasters, poor training was probably not the deciding factor.  2PPCLI, the first battalion in Korea performed very well probably because it had sufficient war veterans, especially among the officers and NCOs.

The deployment to Afghanistan proceeded slowly enough that 3 regular force battalions could have rotated through before the "cobbled together" units hit the field.
 

PuckChaser

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The deployment to Afghanistan proceeded slowly? We were caught with our pants down trying to fight on a modern battlefield with limited modern equipment or a budget to acquire it. Our procurement process is so cumbersome that'd we'd have trouble equipping our entire current manning, let alone kitting out mass-recruits for a conventional conflict.

As you've said, we've spent a trillion current dollars... however I'd wager to say those veterans from Medak Pocket would argue about firing shots in anger. $1 trillion dollars bought us a global police force. To maintain a combat effective military, we need ships, less than 20 year old fighters, and armoured vehicles that were not designed to face off against the Red Menace.
 

Edward Campbell

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Dennis Ruhl said:
To repeat, we have spent a trillion current dollars from 1953 to 1991 without a shot being fired in anger.  The trillion being $ 20 billion times 50 years, purely an estimate.  How prepared do we want to be and at what cost? While the first 2 battles of WWII were disasters, poor training was probably not the deciding factor.  2PPCLI, the first battalion in Korea performed very well probably because it had sufficient war veterans, especially among the officers and NCOs.

The deployment to Afghanistan proceeded slowly enough that 3 regular force battalions could have rotated through before the "cobbled together" units hit the field.


There is a price to be paid for being a responsible member of the family of nations. There is a higher price to being a respectable one. The Trillion dollar WAG (Wild Assed Guesstimate) is just the price we paid for being respectable, until 1970, and then just barely responsible, until around 1995.

Technological changes developed in the 1930s and '40s hugely inflated in the '60s, '70s and beyond and drove defence budgets, everywhere in the West, into crisis.

We, Canada, didn't wait for that inflation. We began to cut, deeply, in the '60s. We got rid of all the fat. Then, in the '70s, we got rid of a lot of the meat, muscle and bone, too.

I understand that you do not want to pay the price of responsibility or respectablity. That's your right as a Canadian. But you are wrong, just as Canadians were wrong in the 1930s and in 1949 and, again, in 1970. And the consequences of listening to people who think as you do is the same price we paid in 1939-45 and in Korea; and it is too high.
 

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George Wallace said:
Our Government is incapable to react to any significant incident in a timely manner

Sobering to anyone who does not possess knowledge of our military/defence.

Totally unsurprising for people who do.

Our armed forces will never be large enough to defend the whole country from a serious "threat", there's just too much space and too little resources.  Even if a small part of our country, IE the South West coast was attacked, we'd pretty much  be screwed if it was a real threat. 
 

Dennis Ruhl

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SupersonicMax said:
Both Fighter Squadrons fly operational missions quite a bit in Canada.  Kosovo, 1999, 2 squadrons were deployed in Aviano, Italy.  Desert Storm, 1990, 2 squadrons were deployed.

http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/commun/ml-fe/article-eng.asp?id=4050

Lieutenant-Colonel Alain Pelletier, now commanding officer of 425 Tac F Sqn, led a formation of four Canadian fighter jets, part of a 16-ship NATO strike package, that flew from Aviano Air Base in Italy to a pre-planned target in southern Serbia.

16 aircraft - have they shrunk squadrons that much?  Sounds like 2 half squadrons to me.

In the Gulf War think only 439 Squadron had fighters.  423 Squadron had helicopters.
 
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