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Initiatives launched to retain and increase RCAF personnel experience levels

FSTO

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When I left Manitoba a hog farm was using the remaining hangers (one of which burned down) but I think they have abandoned the base.

There's an extensive history of Rivers' military base here.

🍻
Really sad what happened to Rivers. I had uncles who farmed up against the south end of the base. One of them actually worked as a driver for the base commander when the based was closed.
There is a story that when the Brandon Airport was closed for resurfacing, WestJet flew out of Rivers for a period.
 

SupersonicMax

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With that said, my grounding in the subject matter of warfare, writ large, seems to have been better at young age/rank, than the current generation.

Much of it was stupid memorization, but I think we also spent more time thinking about warfare.

You spent more time thinking about conventional, near-peer warfare, which is only a small piece of today’s warfare. With all the irregular threats we, the West, are facing (including from our near-peer competitors), major force-on-force conflict is increasingly unlikely.

The lessons the “Afghanistan” generation learned are as or more valuable than what you learned in the 80s/early 90s.

Edit: Added link to an article from the SWJ on the topic. The Myths of Traditional Warfare: How Our Peer and Near-Peer Adversaries Plan to Fight Using Irregular Warfare | Small Wars Journal
 
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daftandbarmy

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You spent more time thinking about conventional, near-peer warfare, which is only a small piece of today’s warfare. With all the irregular threats we, the West, are facing (including from our near-peer competitors), major force-on-force conflict is increasingly unlikely.

The lessons the “Afghanistan” generation learned are as or more valuable than what you learned in the 80s/early 90s.

I'm pretty sure that was the prevailing attitude amongst many key decision makers in the West in 1913 and 1938 too.
 

Halifax Tar

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Anything to support that argument and how it would apply in today’s context, like some research?
"Generals always fight the last war" Not sure who that quote belongs too but...

Look at the stream Bore War -> WW1 -> WW2 -> Korea -> Vietnam -> Gulf War 1 -> Iraq/Afg

I would say the only somewhat similar two in a row would be WW2 and Korea.
 

SupersonicMax

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"Generals always fight the last war" Not sure who that quote belongs too but...
I am not talking about COIN. I agree that Afghanistan and Iraq may have tainted how we see IW. COIN is one of many IW activities. IW has been part of warfare forever. Vietnam could be characterized largely as IW. China and Russia are already using IW against the West at a threshold that isn’t enough to trigger an armed conflict. Look at Ukraine for example... and the West is getting out-manoeuvered.
 

SeaKingTacco

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You spent more time thinking about conventional, near-peer warfare, which is only a small piece of today’s warfare. With all the irregular threats we, the West, are facing (including from our near-peer competitors), major force-on-force conflict is increasingly unlikely.

The lessons the “Afghanistan” generation learned are as or more valuable than what you learned in the 80s/early 90s.
I doubt the “more valuable” part- just differently blind. I did not mention it, but we had a pretty reasonable grounding in the COIN theory of the day, too (such as it was).
 

SeaKingTacco

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I am not talking about COIN. I agree that Afghanistan and Iraq may have tainted how we see IW. COIN is one of many IW activities. IW has been part of warfare forever. Vietnam could be characterized largely as IW. China and Russia are already using IW against the West at a threshold that isn’t enough to trigger an armed conflict. Look at Ukraine for example... and the West us getting out-manoeuvered.
On this I will agree- the West does not view IW the same as Russia and China. A lot of that has to do with the terrible implications IW can have on liberal democracies. We do need to figure out how to fight in that domain effectively without destroying that which we hold most dear.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I think the Afghan generation spent as much time thinking about it, but on a micro scale, this village is this and that village is that. Different threats lead to different thinking.
 

SupersonicMax

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"Generals always fight the last war" Not sure who that quote belongs too but...

Look at the stream Bore War -> WW1 -> WW2 -> Korea -> Vietnam -> Gulf War 1 -> Iraq/Afg

I would say the only somewhat similar two in a row would be WW2 and Korea.
If you believe that GW1 was planned and fought, by Generals, the same way as Vietnam, I have some news for you!
 

Underway

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One thing was very clear in Afghanistan. When it came to the kinetic aspects of IW, training for peer on peer was fully applicable. There was nothing wrong with Canada's training system. The skills needed to fight and win at an infantry company level were the same. There were doctrinal additions of course to adjust to the battlespace and evolving threats (IED procedures of course) but core training was excellent.

The problem is when someone says IW I don't know what they actually mean because the definition is so broad. Dealing with China's Guerrilla fishing fleet is completely different than the Little Green Men in Ukraine, electronic warfare, hacking, drug smuggling, supporting an insurgency, or building the capacity of an ally (all of which fall under IW label).

The vast majority of solutions to these situations are not held by the military. Espionage, electronic security, infrastructure, diplomacy, aid policy, law enforcement etc... are far more important than the military.

The military just needs to look at threat vectors to itself, and shield against those. It can't do anything to protect national infrastructure from a cyberattack, protests and similar disruptive elements. It can only protect its own infrastructure from that same attack. When kinetics become involved we'll be fine to deal with what comes our way.

Dealing with IW is a whole of government effort. Frankly the less the military is involved likely the better in many cases.
 

Loachman

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The attitude in the old days was work hard and play hard, because tomorrow you might be getting nuked. The thing also was that nobody was safe from global nuclear war, so there was a sense it would affect all of us. It was not all roses though, alcoholism was a big issue, but on the flip side, soldiers/sailors and Airmen were expected to let off steam. Them getting into fights hardly warranted a line in the newspaper, there was not the all seeing eye of Mordor to contend with and most issues were dealt at the regimental level often without any official note on your file.
I don't think that too many of us in my time there gave much thought to any possibility of "getting nuked" (in the warfare sense). We figured if the Godless Communist Horde thought that they had a chance of winning they'd have tried already. It seemed to be more of a massive game than anything else, but still one that had to be taken seriously.

Fights? The only problem that I ever had with fights was with a bar near a training site that we were using. I had to personally swear to the manager that we were not PPCLI (the last Canadians that had been there) and sign for every one of us who entered.
 

Loachman

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I have met a few of us "Cold War" types trying to inflate stuff so they can match the guys coming back from Afghanistan. For the majority of us that war thankfully did not happen and trying to level the field with people that lived everyday in dread of an IED is just plain sad.
I can sort of see that because a lot of general warfare stuff was abandoned to concentrate on that particular conflict.

A push was made afterwards to revert back to training for general warfare, and people who'd only known Afghanistan would push back with "that's not how we did it in theatre".

A certain well-known leather-loving R**F guy tried to take our cooks and drivers away and put them in his shiny new AEW in Bagotville because we "would only fight from airfields in the future and never again operate from the field".

"Two things, sir. Firstly, when not feeding our people in the field, our cooks are working in the kitchens on their home bases and I doubt that those bases would give up essential staff who would then be under-employed in Bagotville, and, secondly, the Army is going back to general warfare training including high mobility as opposed to fixed locations and we need to be close to our supported organizations or be rendered useless, and that requires both cooks and drivers."

We kept our cooks and drivers.

I've seen similar cycles in Tac Hel before. After every peacekeeping op ended, there was a mad scramble to rebuild capabilities that had withered. Knowledge and experience levels for Majors seemed, to me, to be the most depleted. Smart people, but there were a lot of things that I took for granted that they'd never done in a multi-year period and so had to be patiently and tactfully guided along for a while.

None of the young know-it-alls should ever disparage previous experience, or older know-it-alls disparage more recent experience. There are no new lessons, only new people.

And that's why study of previous wars is worthwhile.
 

FJAG

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You spent more time thinking about conventional, near-peer warfare, which is only a small piece of today’s warfare. With all the irregular threats we, the West, are facing (including from our near-peer competitors), major force-on-force conflict is increasingly unlikely.

The lessons the “Afghanistan” generation learned are as or more valuable than what you learned in the 80s/early 90s.

Edit: Added link to an article from the SWJ on the topic. The Myths of Traditional Warfare: How Our Peer and Near-Peer Adversaries Plan to Fight Using Irregular Warfare | Small Wars Journal

I think the fallacy in the "Myths ..." article is that it presupposes how Americans perceive future wars to be fought as "traditional warfare". "Traditional Warfare" in and of itself is a loaded term to mean whatever one wants it to mean - most presume it means something like 1970s and 1980s Cold War or AirLand Battle. What we're really talking about is military doctrine.

If I have my timings right, this article came out just before TRADOC foundation publications on Multi-Domain Operations albeit the notion had floated around before that. The word "domain" only comes up once in the article and not in an overarching way. So my guess is it doesn't really address the expression of the change in doctrine from AirLand Battle to Multi-Domain (or Pan Domain as we call it here in Canada).

Rather than focus on "traditional war" I tend to think in terms of "Big or Little War". For me "Little War" is the discretionary one where we have a choice as to whether we wish to engage or not and a choice in how deeply we will commit to it and where failure does not create a crisis for the country regardless of how much of a crisis it may be for a particular political party. Afghanistan was a typical "little war". A "Big War" for me is one where we have no choice but to participate, where we may very well have to go "all in" to succeed and where failure will have severe consequences for our nation and/or lifestyle. The current war we are in with Russia and with China is a "Big War". Our doctrine for that and the tools to effect it are still under development - slower in some Western countries than others but under development nonetheless.

I think where SeaKingTaco is bang on is that for those of us who were part of the Cold War, we have a more far ranging view of what a future war looks or could look like because we've seen and worked within the "Big War" scenario. When you have that picture as part of your experience set then its easier to slot other concepts such as COIN and Pan Domain operations and various other ones into their place than if your experience set is simply based on the "Little War" scenario. Personally, I think that there will be another need for a "heavy fight". It may not be like the Cold War ones we planned for - in fact I'm positive it won't be - but it will, at its extreme end, require large quantities of full spectrum equipment and combat techniques. Let's face it, while everyone is developing the new methods of warfare they continue to produce and field heavy armoured forces with extensive conventional capabilities.

🍻
 

Loachman

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You spent more time thinking about conventional, near-peer warfare, which is only a small piece of today’s warfare. With all the irregular threats we, the West, are facing (including from our near-peer competitors), major force-on-force conflict is increasingly unlikely.

So if you guys are just going to drop bombs on tribesmen tribespeople(?) for the rest of human history, why bother wasting time and money with all of that air combat manoeuvring stuff?

History has a habit of repeating, and usually when least expected.
 

SupersonicMax

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I think the fallacy in the "Myths ..." article is that it presupposes how Americans perceive future wars to be fought as "traditional warfare". "Traditional Warfare" in and of itself is a loaded term to mean whatever one wants it to mean - most presume it means something like 1970s and 1980s Cold War or AirLand Battle. What we're really talking about is military doctrine.

If I have my timings right, this article came out just before TRADOC foundation publications on Multi-Domain Operations albeit the notion had floated around before that. The word "domain" only comes up once in the article and not in an overarching way. So my guess is it doesn't really address the expression of the change in doctrine from AirLand Battle to Multi-Domain (or Pan Domain as we call it here in Canada).

Rather than focus on "traditional war" I tend to think in terms of "Big or Little War". For me "Little War" is the discretionary one where we have a choice as to whether we wish to engage or not and a choice in how deeply we will commit to it and where failure does not create a crisis for the country regardless of how much of a crisis it may be for a particular political party. Afghanistan was a typical "little war". A "Big War" for me is one where we have no choice but to participate, where we may very well have to go "all in" to succeed and where failure will have severe consequences for our nation and/or lifestyle. The current war we are in with Russia and with China is a "Big War". Our doctrine for that and the tools to effect it are still under development - slower in some Western countries than others but under development nonetheless.

I think where SeaKingTaco is bang on is that for those of us who were part of the Cold War, we have a more far ranging view of what a future war looks or could look like because we've seen and worked within the "Big War" scenario. When you have that picture as part of your experience set then its easier to slot other concepts such as COIN and Pan Domain operations and various other ones into their place than if your experience set is simply based on the "Little War" scenario. Personally, I think that there will be another need for a "heavy fight". It may not be like the Cold War ones we planned for - in fact I'm positive it won't be - but it will, at its extreme end, require large quantities of full spectrum equipment and combat techniques. Let's face it, while everyone is developing the new methods of warfare they continue to produce and field heavy armoured forces with extensive conventional capabilities.

🍻

I think our doctrine portrays IW in a way that is inaccurate. It shows IW below conventional warfare. This lead to a perception that if you are ready for conventional warfare, you are ready for anything underneath. From speaking with many Army officers, they think the Army thinks that way (and agree it is not the right way to see the problem). All types of operations below conventional warfare differ from it and require specific training. Also, it is not a binary thing. One does not exclude the other. We need to be ready for all types of warfare (and their intricacies). But saying "we'll train for conventional warfare so we'll be ready for everything" is leading us the wrong path, especially in an environment where "asymmetric" and "hybrid" threats are more threatening than conventional force itself. IW was part (we just didn't realize it until the mid 80s/early 90s) and will be part of global competition in, imo, a more meaningful way than conventional war will be. Not to say we don't need to be ready for conventional war, just that we can't put all our eggs in that basket.

The real question is how we structure and equip ourselves to be relevant in today's security environment. Do we stay a multi-purpose force (risking having irrelevant capabilities in every aspect of warfare) or do we become a niche military, where we specialize in areas of warfare that our allies lack capacity or capability?


So if you guys are just going to drop bombs on tribesmen tribespeople(?) for the rest of human history, why bother wasting time and money with all of that air combat manoeuvring stuff?

History has a habit of repeating, and usually when least expected.

COIN (what we did in Afghanistan) does not (entirely) equal IW.... Peer and near-peer competitors also conduct IW and while its application requires a comprehensive approach (rather than just Whole of Government), the military has a key role to play. There is a wealth of academic and professional military articles on the subject south of the border.
 

Zoomie

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Back to the topic at hand. CAS sent out this letter to the RCAF.
 

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