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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

Kirkhill

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Please describe the scenario where you foresee NATO being driven off the continent and forced to repeat a Dunkirk-type extraction?

When NATO splits and leaves the Eastern states facing Russia on their own? I honestly can't see Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy fronting the Russians. On the other hand I can't see the Scandinavians, the Balts, the Poles, Hungarians, and Romanians doing anything other. And I suspect the Bulgarians are just as likely to side with the Russians. Given that level of uncertainty I think it is appropriate to keep a viable exit strategy on hand. And, for me, that means keeping a ready supply of shipping on hand to rapidly relocate heavy gear en masse. There is a reason for the sayings about burning your boats behind you.

With it highly unlikely that any Canadian government will be willing to pay the cost of forward stationing a CMBG in Europe (especially with the CF-18 replacements, the CSCs and our huge pandemic debt eating up so much of the budget) I think it's fair to assume that any major Canadian military combat force deployed to Europe will be after the fighting begins.

That being the case then probably the most logical and effective thing the Army could do (in terms of rapid response while our heavy forces muster) would be to figure out what air-deployable assets we could rapidly mobilize to protect and support our forward deployed fighters (likely our most effective rapid reaction force) - airfield defence troops, AD units, engineers, etc. - or a selection of ISR assets to identify targets and/or light fires units to slow the advance.

But how do we muster any forces "after the fighting begins" with no lift assets on hand, and no willingness to risk them?

Age old proverb of Naval Warfare that is still applicable today:

"A Ship's a fool to fight a fort"

Sailing a flotilla of CSCs anywhere in to what are basically littoral waters, is a recipe for disaster in a full fledged war. The Bear would sink us faster than you can snap your fingers.

As for developing an Amphibious Capability....

Waste of money IMO. What we could use though is an actual JSS like the Karel Doorman that could be used for Commando Actions, HADR, NEO, etc.

Something that is capable of carrying additional supplies, supporting a SOTF, acting as a C2 Platform, carrying a couple of Chinooks, etc. Give it some ice-breaking capability and we could even use it up North.

I can't get over this comment I'm afraid. How did Britain end up with the Falklands, most of the Caribbean, the free run of the Pacific and taking Louisbourg and Quebec? How about the Americans taking the Pacific Islands from the Japanese? D-Day? Retaking the Falklands? I suggest there have been an awful lot of successful fools out there.

Having said that, the secret, IMO has been to supply the ships with guns that outrange those of the fort. And adding Tomahawks, SM6s, and potentially PrSMs to the loadout of the CSCs would do that. Or is standing off 1700 km from shore in blue water still considered Littoral Warfare?


I would start by going:

Europe, Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Asian-Pacific, North America, South America.

What is the Army likely to be doing in these places, how would it go about doing them, and what is the priority?


The target set defined here is essentially everywhere. That suggests to me the NEED to deploy everywhere if the Army wants to present the Government with credible options for using it. Or what is the purpose of maintaining the Army?

Is the Army CAPABLE of deploying everywhere assuming a Medium Weight LAV/MBT based force?

I am going to stipulate that there are going to be places the Army might deploy that the Navy can't reach - even with 1700 km fire support. And that air movement is going to be necessary for places like Mali and Afghanistan. That is one of the reasons I would like the Army to be able to replicate the capabilities of a CSC ashore - and that puts a heavy emphasis on the RCA.

As noted above I believe that we have the ability to move a Light Force into an uncontested airfield and establish a conveyor from Canada to the objective country and that that can be done expeditiously. Complete with a useful GBAD-CRAM capability deliverable by C-17.

I further accept that moving a Medium CMBG into that environment by air is unrealistic. If we are talking about surging the entire Brigade in a week.

But.

If we hold that airfield for a week or two we can start beefing up the Light force with, perhaps, a LAV Company? And an MBT troop? How much more reinforcement could flow in over a month? Three months? I'm fairly sure that is how you established the persistent presence in Afghanistan. And perhaps T2Bs eFP? Given time, and money, anything is possible. The problems start when neither is there but there remains that GAP between NEED and CAPABILITY. Underway noted that it is possible to buy ships to go into war zones on short notice, if you are willing to pay a fortune. And, I would add, you are willing to generate expedient plans on short notice.

The other problem, and I still maintain it is a legitimate one, is how do you extract your force when the enemy starts voting? What are we willing to sacrifice in the interests of Canada? Do we leave the Brigade to die in place? Do we reinforce it? Will our allies save us or will they be otherwise engaged? Do we withdraw the force with their gear? Or do we just withdraw the troops with whatever they can carry on their backs?

In Mali and Afghanistan the only option is by air. In the Baltic, and the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, and the China Seas there is the theoretical option of movement by sea. If it's not a practical option then perhaps that needs to made plain. Otherwise I fear we are back to the era of the CAST Brigade.

The Canadian Air Sea Transportable Brigade, for reference was a force tasked to the reinforcement of Norway in 1968 by the government of the day. It was predicated on moving a Mechanized Brigade from Valcartier, along with a couple of CF-5 Squadrons from Bagotville, to Norway on thirty days notice if Norway asked and if Norway sent the ships to Canada to pick up the Brigade. That force was seldom exercised and never used. Mulroney decided to cut the allocation and reallocate the troops to the German theater where they had been tasked prior to 1968. And then the wall fell and everybody came home.... or went to Yugoslavia.

My concern is that we may end up talking a good game, even as we continue to focus our efforts on the Russians and ignore the Chinese, and end up, once again, leaving Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Balts, Poles, etc disappointed and facing the Russians on their own.
 

Good2Golf

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I can't get over this comment I'm afraid. How did Britain end up with the Falklands, most of the Caribbean, the free run of the Pacific and taking Louisbourg and Quebec? How about the Americans taking the Pacific Islands from the Japanese? D-Day? Retaking the Falklands? I suggest there have been an awful lot of successful fools out there.
Major Capital ships of the day and, more recently, SSNs.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Kirkhill,

We put a mechanized BG in Afghanistan and sustained it there for years. It went partway by ship, and the rest of the way (shortest possible) by air. We can move mechanized BGs and CMBGs across the Atlantic. Perhaps you are obsessed with Dunkirk, but if the EFP would have the time and space to stage back onto a very vulnerable RORO it would also have the time and space to drive South and then West out of contact. If it came to a situation of being able to extract the troops but not the equipment in the opening round of a general war, we have a factory for LAVs.

If your assumption is that NATO splits then there is not much rational to talk about in the context of FORCE 2025. The countries you enumerated are in the NATO Baltic states right now.

Transporting a CMBG to Europe would be a major endeavor, but the greater challenge would be the generation of that CMBG for that conventional war. The selection and generation of those capabilities required by the CMBG is more important than worrying about how to move them across the Atlantic. At the risk of minimizing the problem, we have people who work on the movement problem.

At the risk of a history thread, you don't fight a fort with a ship (assuming equivalent technology of course). The ship (or boats) drops off sufficient soldiers and artillery out of range of the fort who then take it from the landward side. Tyre, Quebec, Louisburg, Singapore, Port Stanley. etc.
 

Kirkhill

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For you T2B


I do think though that with respect to the discussion about Tanks we are approaching the world of Grandfather's Axe. For the Americans a Tank will be an Abrams and an Abrams will be a tank.

Abrams looks likely to remain a core capability in warfighting plans through mid-century, because soldiers can’t live without it if they are to engage in ground combat with near-peer adversaries like Russia.

a revolution in digital technology would also give tanks exceptional situational awareness, lethality and adaptability.

The Army has leveraged these emerging technologies to upgrade Abrams capabilities several times, resulting in the latest version, officially designated M1A2SEPV4.

I look forward to the M1A2SEPV10 circa 2050. Remote self-loading gun launching loitering UAVs to 50 km. Lighter. New Comms. New Sensors. New power pack. New running gear. One man crew. Hover package under trials. :)
 

daftandbarmy

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Kirkhill,

We put a mechanized BG in Afghanistan and sustained it there for years. It went partway by ship, and the rest of the way (shortest possible) by air. We can move mechanized BGs and CMBGs across the Atlantic. Perhaps you are obsessed with Dunkirk, but if the EFP would have the time and space to stage back onto a very vulnerable RORO it would also have the time and space to drive South and then West out of contact. If it came to a situation of being able to extract the troops but not the equipment in the opening round of a general war, we have a factory for LAVs.

If your assumption is that NATO splits then there is not much rational to talk about in the context of FORCE 2025. The countries you enumerated are in the NATO Baltic states right now.

Transporting a CMBG to Europe would be a major endeavor, but the greater challenge would be the generation of that CMBG for that conventional war. The selection and generation of those capabilities required by the CMBG is more important than worrying about how to move them across the Atlantic. At the risk of minimizing the problem, we have people who work on the movement problem.

At the risk of a history thread, you don't fight a fort with a ship (assuming equivalent technology of course). The ship (or boats) drops off sufficient soldiers and artillery out of range of the fort who then take it from the landward side. Tyre, Quebec, Louisburg, Singapore, Port Stanley. etc.

The Scandinavian countries continue to rely on shore fortifications as a strong deterrent:

Land-Based Coastal Defence Is Indeed No Joke​


What lessons does this offer for the 21st century? Well, for a start, mobile, land-based coastal defence is especially useful as an asymmetrical tactic for a weaker belligerent fighting in its home littorals. This fits well into an A2/AD strategy a smaller state worried about being invaded might employ. Training, equipping and deploying capable land-based coastal defence unit is more cost-efficient (if less prestigious) than deploying a large navy in order to control offshore waters. Second, it is most effective if it takes advantage of rough terrain and weather. Finally, it can be an effective delaying tactic as a part of a wider defence strategy, especially if the defender is waiting for aid from abroad. By coastal defences’ very presence, an attacker might have to reconsider where it should land its invading forces.

 

Kirkhill

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The Scandinavian countries continue to rely on shore fortifications as a strong deterrent:

Land-Based Coastal Defence Is Indeed No Joke​


What lessons does this offer for the 21st century? Well, for a start, mobile, land-based coastal defence is especially useful as an asymmetrical tactic for a weaker belligerent fighting in its home littorals. This fits well into an A2/AD strategy a smaller state worried about being invaded might employ. Training, equipping and deploying capable land-based coastal defence unit is more cost-efficient (if less prestigious) than deploying a large navy in order to control offshore waters. Second, it is most effective if it takes advantage of rough terrain and weather. Finally, it can be an effective delaying tactic as a part of a wider defence strategy, especially if the defender is waiting for aid from abroad. By coastal defences’ very presence, an attacker might have to reconsider where it should land its invading forces.


Isn't that precisely what the USMC is exploiting? A deployable, relocatable, coastal artillery capability - that redefines Littoral Warfare as anything within 1700 km of a shoreline.

And if that... then does that mean that invasions, and even reinforcements, have become impractical?
 

Kirkhill

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Kirkhill,

We put a mechanized BG in Afghanistan and sustained it there for years. It went partway by ship, and the rest of the way (shortest possible) by air. We can move mechanized BGs and CMBGs across the Atlantic. Perhaps you are obsessed with Dunkirk, but if the EFP would have the time and space to stage back onto a very vulnerable RORO it would also have the time and space to drive South and then West out of contact. If it came to a situation of being able to extract the troops but not the equipment in the opening round of a general war, we have a factory for LAVs.

If your assumption is that NATO splits then there is not much rational to talk about in the context of FORCE 2025. The countries you enumerated are in the NATO Baltic states right now.

Transporting a CMBG to Europe would be a major endeavor, but the greater challenge would be the generation of that CMBG for that conventional war. The selection and generation of those capabilities required by the CMBG is more important than worrying about how to move them across the Atlantic. At the risk of minimizing the problem, we have people who work on the movement problem.

At the risk of a history thread, you don't fight a fort with a ship (assuming equivalent technology of course). The ship (or boats) drops off sufficient soldiers and artillery out of range of the fort who then take it from the landward side. Tyre, Quebec, Louisburg, Singapore, Port Stanley. etc.

Consider, then a Battle Group, supported by a floating expeditionary support base. A developing concept for the USMC. Not necessarily a new idea.

Canada did something along those lines in Somalia, backing up the (light) Canadian Airborne Regiment, living under canvas, with HMCS Preserver supplying helo support, maintenance, hospital, command and control and R&R facilities. Floating warehouse and gas station.

How about deploying a JSS and an Asterix in the first roto of an army mission? Leave them in place long enough to see how the situation develops and whether heavier weapons stored aboard might be required.

I know all sorts of things are possible. If cash. And I am truly impressed by the work arounds the CAF has managed to achieve both its, and government's, objectives.

But is Force 2025 simply an exercise in deciding to "cross that bridge when we get there"? Or are you trying to devise a functional force that will provide the 80% solution?
 

Underway

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Trains are “super fun”.

I remember the train loading in Wainwright after RV92. A day long affair, as each CN rail employee had a different opinion on how vehicles were supposed to be chained and chocked. We must have chained and chocked at least a dozen different ways that day….
Haha I totally agree. I was work party for a train loading. It was quite a workday. But really interesting nevertheless.
 

blacktriangle

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Am I the only one that thinks we should perhaps leave close combat in Europe, to say, Europeans? Send fires & ISR, advisors, plus appropriate sustainment.

On the other hand, I think Canada would be capable of contributing something like the LRRG the UK is running in Mali.
 

Good2Golf

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Am I the only one that thinks we should perhaps leave close combat in Europe, to say, Europeans? Send fires & ISR, advisors, plus appropriate sustainment.

On the other hand, I think Canada would be capable of contributing something like the LRRG the UK is running in Mali.
Which fires? What ISR?

LRRG - using TAPV?

Canada: “Meh, we’ve already done Mali…”
 

FJAG

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Had a good chance to read through it now.

Hard to disagree with him or his conclusions.
I disagree with him. IMHO he has situated the estimate. My biggest problem is the statement "

... When this design model is applied to the Canadian Army it reveals a discordant force that both maintains overly expensive and complex capabilities that it is unlikely to employ, and that simultaneously fails to invest in urgently required capabilities that have already been mastered by former third world nations. ...

While he asks all the right questions, he immediately narrows the debate by using the term "... unlikely to employ ..." to utterly dismiss an entire class of weaponry without proper argument or a proper evaluation of the courses open or a proper risk assessment.

Missing from his argument is the much needed reform to eliminate the waste of funds inherent within the central administrative overhead structure of DND/CAF nor any discussion of the options available through the use of reserve forces (particulalry for those "unlikely to employ" scenarios).

Yup. He's right. The Army's not structured right. Nope. He's wrong about his desired structure for the future. We had a similar vision two decades ago. How'd that work out for us? Let's face it. If we're so outmatched then why don't we pack the whole shebang in and simply turn the whole thing into a "rent a constabulary expeditionary force from India" when we need it. That would probably save us ten to fifteen billion a year (except of course that NDHQ/CAFHQ will still be there sucking up dollars - we'll need garlic and a wooden stake to put that 🧛‍♂️🧛‍♀️outfit down)

🍻
 

suffolkowner

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Which fires? What ISR?

LRRG - using TAPV?

Canada: “Meh, we’ve already done Mali…”
Is the TAPV not an acceptable vehicle for this mission?

It doesn't seem like LRRG is that onerous a mission, 300 troops some Jackals, Coyotes and Foxhounds?
 

Good2Golf

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Not a recce guy myself, but I’ve not heard good things about the TAPV…some joke they’d rather have BRDMs…

If we did do something like LRRG, I’d think that would be a CSOR thing, given the potential AQIM nexus.
 

suffolkowner

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Not a recce guy myself, but I’ve not heard good things about the TAPV…some joke they’d rather have BRDMs…

If we did do something like LRRG, I’d think that would be a CSOR thing, given the potential AQIM nexus.
On the surface it just seems like the TAPV would be more capable. Breaking down, rolling over and catching on fire disregarded
 

suffolkowner

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I disagree with him. IMHO he has situated the estimate. My biggest problem is the statement "



While he asks all the right questions, he immediately narrows the debate by using the term "... unlikely to employ ..." to utterly dismiss an entire class of weaponry without proper argument or a proper evaluation of the courses open or a proper risk assessment.

Missing from his argument is the much needed reform to eliminate the waste of funds inherent within the central administrative overhead structure of DND/CAF nor any discussion of the options available through the use of reserve forces (particulalry for those "unlikely to employ" scenarios).

Yup. He's right. The Army's not structured right. Nope. He's wrong about his desired structure for the future. We had a similar vision two decades ago. How'd that work out for us? Let's face it. If we're so outmatched then why don't we pack the whole shebang in and simply turn the whole thing into a "rent a constabulary expeditionary force from India" when we need it. That would probably save us ten to fifteen billion a year (except of course that NDHQ/CAFHQ will still be there sucking up dollars - we'll need garlic and a wooden stake to put that 🧛‍♂️🧛‍♀️outfit down)

🍻
It's hard to see the overly complex and expensive capabilities the Army is maintaining. If you could guarantee that the tanks would be replaced by everyones favorite wish lists, I would buy into the argument. The Leo2's are not the reason we don't have SPH's, MLRS, GBAD, SHORAD, TUA-AT, SP Mortar carrier, and drone and anti-drone capabilities
 

daftandbarmy

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Am I the only one that thinks we should perhaps leave close combat in Europe, to say, Europeans? Send fires & ISR, advisors, plus appropriate sustainment.

On the other hand, I think Canada would be capable of contributing something like the LRRG the UK is running in Mali.

That happened a couple of times before, in 1913 and 1938. They didn't do so well IIRC ...
 
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