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

Colin Parkinson

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Old Sweat said:
Trudeau's plan was to withdraw our NATO forces from Europe. That this foundered on the rocks of realpolitik should not disguise the point that in the early seventies in Ottawa there was talk of going back to pre-Korean War  NATO numbers. He may not have decided to re-role the CF 104s, but he was not likely to agree to purchase more suitable aircraft for a role that was planned to disappear.

If I recall the starfighter was the fastest lowflying aircraft in the world at the time. Although the bomb load was small. Might have been a hard target to hit, but likely dead if it was.
 

Dennis Ruhl

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hamiltongs said:
That would make you "critical", in that you observe it with a critical eye.

Your mixing up the many definitions of critical.  Saying I am not highly critical meant that I was not pointing out flaws or errors.  Critical can have a positive or negative connotation.

Ignorance isn't disagreement. Ignorance is the process of martialling inaccurate facts to reach a pre-determined conclusion.

I'm not sure that my facts were all that wrong and I'm not sure that very many people without airforce experience have a clue on the intracacies of air force squadrons.  The Canadian Forces awarded a battle honour to one fighter squadron in the Gulf War.  The Canadian Forces awarded battle honours to 2 fighter squadrons that served consecutively, one at a time.  Strictly speaking, I guess I still can stand by my original statement that little more than a single squadron served at any one time, however, in the Gulf War the squadron was augmented to 24 or 26 aircraft and the Kosovo squadrons were also augmented.

Can you agree that on September 10th, 2001 there was no clear "enemy" for the CF? Can you agree that since that date we have struggled and failed to generate the personnel needed to fight the enemy that emerged the day after that date? Can you agree that the role of a military is, to some extent, to exist in the absence of a clear enemy just because it's a good thing to have when you need it?

In 2001 there was no clear enemy.  The military should exist but at what level?  I say that it should be at a low level supplemented by a large trained reserve.  The more a war makes sense for national survival the easier recruiting will be.

Representative of the majority you may be, but why should 2012 be any different from 2000, 1989 and 1950? Do you own a magic crystal ball that can predict the exact date that the CF needs to start preparing for the next conflict, or are you deluded enough to believe that the world is becoming a safer place?

I am deluded into believing that the world is a safer place.  Having a brigade or two to inject into a situation should be adequate to allow expansion of combat units.  Remember Canada has only 1/9 of its infantry battalions in Afghanistan.
 

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Dennis Ruhl said:
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I am deluded into believing that the world is a safer place.  Having a brigade or two to inject into a situation should be adequate to allow expansion of combat units.  Remember Canada has only 1/9 of its infantry battalions in Afghanistan.


Safer than when? Safer than in 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999? I don't think so.

I would love to live in a Canada that had two combat ready brigades - because that's what you must mean if you are counting on them to do something, anything, while the remainder expands. Hell's bells, I would be happy to live in a Canada that had one combat ready brigade. By my reasonably well informed guesstimate Canada has zero combat ready brigades - it has some brigade HQs and some units but no combat ready brigades.

How many of the eight infantry battalions that are not in Afghanistan are combat ready?
 

Infanteer

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Dennis Ruhl said:
Remember Canada has only 1/9 of its infantry battalions in Afghanistan.

Are you sure about that.  Discounting battalions preparing or battalions that have just returned (and usually shrink) I'd be willing to bet you that your "1 battalion" estimation is out to lunch.
 

Old Sweat

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Infanteer is spot on in his above statement. I submit that we have closer to two battalions in theatre once we add in the PRT force protection organization and the OMLT and a few other bits and pieces.

I wonder if there is a critical mass below which it is impossible to maintain a combat ready, deployable battle group? Maybe it should be measured in terms of companies or platoons, I don't know. Maybe it is better expressed in percentage of GDP devoted to defence.

Certainly for much of our history we did not maintain effective combat ready land forces except for the fifties and sixties with a residue in Europe for the next two decades. As for reserves, it largely was a focus of community pride rather than an army on the shelf. The wars ranging from the North West Rebellion to Korea and the NATO build-up demonstrated that it was a hollow force, once we get past the rhetoric and regimental pride. An example, and I am only citing it because I know it well. In October 1899 Canada mobilized an infantry battalion of roughly 1000 all ranks for service in South Africa. Roughly 150 NCMs, including the RSM and all eight 'CSMs' were regulars. Of the members of the battalion, the CO estimated about half were no better than raw recruits and about a third had no previous military experience. His assessment of the officers was even more critical. And these, presumably, were the cream of the crop.
 

Ex-Dragoon

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Infanteer said:
Are you sure about that.  Discounting battalions preparing or battalions that have just returned (and usually shrink) I'd be willing to bet you that your "1 battalion" estimation is out to lunch.

Like so many of his views....
 

Dennis Ruhl

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Old Sweat said:
Certainly for much of our history we did not maintain effective combat ready land forces except for the fifties and sixties with a residue in Europe for the next two decades. As for reserves, it largely was a focus of community pride rather than an army on the shelf. The wars ranging from the North West Rebellion to Korea and the NATO build-up demonstrated that it was a hollow force, once we get past the rhetoric and regimental pride. An example, and I am only citing it because I know it well. In October 1899 Canada mobilized an infantry battalion of roughly 1000 all ranks for service in South Africa. Roughly 150 NCMs, including the RSM and all eight 'CSMs' were regulars. Of the members of the battalion, the CO estimated about half were no better than raw recruits and about a third had no previous military experience. His assessment of the officers was even more critical. And these, presumably, were the cream of the crop.

A 110 year old example?  Today the reserves have in all likelihood more than ten times the training.  In the ancient past militia units went through some years without any training.  The vast majority of the officers in WWI and WWII came from militia units because the regulars started as only 3 understrength battalions.

As to the preparedness of the other 8 battalions, would it not be a reasonable assumption that all units be prepared for the job they've waited 50 years to do?  So much for the value of a standing army.  I think you're helping my argument.
 

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Dennis Ruhl said:
A 110 year old example?  Today the reserves have in all likelihood more than ten times the training.  In the ancient past militia units went through some years without any training.  The vast majority of the officers in WWI and WWII came from militia units because the regulars started as only 3 understrength battalions.

As to the preparedness of the other 8 battalions, would it not be a reasonable assumption that all units be prepared for the job they've waited 50 years to do?  So much for the value of a standing army.  I think you're helping my argument.


That's absolute rubbish and tells me, forcefully, that your ignorance extends well past the air force and the navy. You know nothing at all about the army, ancient or modern.

The skillset of any militia soldier circa 1900 was certainly much, much closer to that of a regular than is the case today. That's why, today, even "well trained" regulars and all reserve force personnel have to undergo long and intensive training, maybe too long. The skills required in battle, today, are many, varied and complex. They are too many, too varied and too complex to be fully and properly covered in a regular's basic and trades training; they cannot be found in the reserves - except for a several dozen soldiers who are just, recently, back from the battlefield.

Given your self proclaimed ignorance of the air force and navy and your demonstrated ignorance of the army one wonders why you are still "contributing."

I apologize for coming on a bit "strong," Mr. Ruhl, but, really, your contributions, in this thread, have been pretty much 100% wrong. It's frustrating.
 

Old Sweat

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Nonsense. As I stated, there has been no attempt to maintain a combat ready balanced force in Canada for overseas employment without a long period of training, ever.

On what do you base your statement that the vast majority of officers in both world wars came from the militia other than urban myth? I do not have the figures for the Great War handy, but there are two factors that are germane about the Second World War. On 15 November 1940 the Minister acknowledged in the House that many of the mobilized Militia officers were unsatisfactory and that the army was going back to the system used in the First World War of promoting from the ranks. As it worked out, of the 43,224 individuals granted commissions in the Canadian army in the Second War, less than half - 20,723 - rose from the ranks. A cursory look at the strength of the pre-war militia would indicate that most of the others entered from civilian life.

And there only was one infantry regiment before the Great War and three before the Second. In neither case were the units organized and trained as battalions. Instead they were split up across the country in company-sized detachments. In 1939 the RCR had four companies with bases in Halifax, St Jean, Toronto and London, with the two PPCLI companies were in Winnipeg and Esquimalt. The lone Vandoo company was in the Citadel in Quebec City.

The average militia member may receive better training that his predecessors, but the units are hardly in any better shape, albeit for different reasons. If anything the militia as a mobilization base is in worse shape than in any time before the mid-fifties.
 

dapaterson

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VIChris said:
I understand there's a cost to transport and refurbish our equipment, but is it really greater than buying more equipment when we need it next? I know for a fact it costs an off the street retail customer only $1500 CDN to ship a car from Japan to Western Canada. Were we to charter a full cargo ship - many of which are sitting idle these days - I have a hard time believing a deal couldn't be struck that would be favorable.

And in terms of leaving old equipment there, does that not help arm the people we were just fighting with? Are our forces not seeing Afghan insurgents using old Soviet block equipment currently? Do we destroy the equipment? I ask thee questions as it pertains directly to irresponsible spending, and public opinion, though I know it's on a tangent from the OP. Maybe a new thread is needed here?

On this note: Much of the equipment was purchased without long-term maintenance plans, without integration into training - because it's intended to be used and disposed.  Keeping dozens upon dozens of mixed fleets strains the maintainers who are already unable to maintain VOR rates where commanders would like them to be.

And re: The Reserves today

We're essentially mobilized to a significant degree.  Over half the leadership (MCpl and +) in the Reserve Force is on full-time service of some sort - and thousands of soldiers as well.  The ability to the current system to sustain itself (let alone provide any sort fo surge) is questionable.

Getting back to the core question:  First principle of war:  Selection and maintenance of the aim.  What is the aim for the CF?  CFDS (the strategy, not the dentists) is in theory that aim - so what do we need to achieve the goals therein?  What can we eliminate to add resources where they are needed?  And how to we align that with the neccessity for the CF to be a nationally representative institution - what degree of redundancy / inefficiency are we willing to accept to maintain a national presence?
 

Michael OLeary

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Old Sweat said:
In October 1899 Canada mobilized an infantry battalion of roughly 1000 all ranks for service in South Africa. Roughly 150 NCMs, including the RSM and all eight 'CSMs' were regulars. Of the members of the battalion, the CO estimated about half were no better than raw recruits and about a third had no previous military experience. His assessment of the officers was even more critical. And these, presumably, were the cream of the crop.

Of the 1158 all ranks on the roll of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, The RCR, including reinforcement drafts, only 84 were original RCRs (i.e., R.C.R.I. at the time).  When you add in the other Regulars (6 Cavalry, 15 Artillery, 1 Engineer and 2 Medical) and 4 other Permanent Force personnel (from unspecified units) plus 4 British Army, the total only gets to 114.

The Colour Sergeant of "H" Company came from the 63rd Halifax Rifles.

And saying William Otter was critical of something is like going to Statler and Waldorf for an objective opinion.
 

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Okay folks, show's over. Mr. Ruhl is going on listening silence for a while, if not just an outright ban, I am sick of his shit here.

"Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

Scott
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bdave

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PuckChaser said:
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.

While i am not qualified to really ask such a question, i will do so anyway because i am interested in the answers some of you will provide.
Russia has shown interest in the Arctic. Especially parts which we claim as our own. What would happen and how would Canada react to an "invasion" (for lack of a better term) of Russian Military on our Arctic territory?
 

kratz

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bdave,

As a mentor, I am relictant to simply state search MilNet. I did do a search for Arctic invasion and came up with a full page of MilNet threads discussing this possibility. I hope you can make use of this simple answer.
 

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I have not read the entire thread but based on the original question I would say our military should be anywhere from 0.5% to 1% of the countries population.

The United States has around off the top of my head 2% of their population in the military which, is about 6 million of 300 million.

Canada has around (from last I heard) 60,000 in our military which is about 0.2% of 30 million.

In world war 2 Canada had around 5-10% of it's population in the armed forces.


While, we used to have a large enough military for peacekeeping the way the current world is developing with us following suite with NATO and the US we need a larger military and funding even if it's just an improvement of 0.1% of the population with the proper equipment and auxiliary.
 

Dennis Ruhl

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Dean22 said:
The United States has around off the top of my head 2% of their population in the military which, is about 6 million of 300 million.

http://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=United-States-of-America

Active Military Personnel: 1,385,122 [2008]
Active Military Reserve: 1,458,500 [2008]


Given the approximate 10 to one population differential we have less than 1/2 the regular military and 1/7 the reserves.
 

Dean22

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In the future I would advise against using wikipedia quoted sources.

This website has the actual numbers of 5.4+ million servicemen including their TIG and their % by rank.

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/u/joining_up.htm#s1
 

Edward Campbell

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Dean22 said:
I have not read the entire thread ...

And therein lies your problem. Go back to page 1. Infanteer gave the correct answer. Any and all attempts to deal with numbers of ships, tanks, troops and aircraft are silly until one has addressed his point.


Dean22 said:
... our military should be anywhere from 0.5% to 1% of the countries population.

The United States has around off the top of my head 2% of their population in the military which, is about 6 million of 300 million.

Canada has around (from last I heard) 60,000 in our military which is about 0.2% of 30 million.

In world war 2 Canada had around 5-10% of it's population in the armed forces.

While, we used to have a large enough military for peacekeeping the way the current world is developing with us following suite with NATO and the US we need a larger military and funding even if it's just an improvement of 0.1% of the population with the proper equipment and auxiliary.

All of which is completely meaningless. We are not the USA and we are not trying to do what other countries are doing.

There is a range of values for national defence spending as a percentage of GDP based on an assumption about or national goals. But if you don't state the goals - goals such as the ones former Prime Minister Martin set out in a largely forgotten 2005 White Paper - then you cannot propose any numbers.
 

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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.

Wouldn't we need a larger military than for our strategic needs since our current size was only suitable for peacekeeping? I remember a report a while ago saying we didn't have enough vehicle technicians to manage our tanks for example. I can imagine it being a lot easier managing a tank in a peacekeeping environment vs. one that has taken RPG splatter, small arms fire etc.

Also, no offense to the United States but I don't think high technology is a solution to wars when facing numbers or guerilla warfare.

If we look at World War 2 Germany did not have the numbers but they had the technological advantage that the allies did not. But the allies had numbers and they would sacrifice 100 T-34's to kill a single German tiger tank (5 t-72's for an Abrams?).
 
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