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Re-establishing a Canadian Armoured Brigade in Europe

CBH99

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LoboCanada said:
A point i'd like to make is that why even bother having Canadian tanks in Europe at all?

How many NATO tanks are there already in Europe?

1000s i'd say, and what would a small and expensive squadron really do there that a few dozen other countries' tanks couldn't?

As an aside, what has NATO done for Canadian security to warrant us taking a leadership position in Latvia? I don't see a NATO Air Policing Mission in our North to counter frequent Russian bombing 'runs'.


Very good points indeed.

Between France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Nordic countries, and our newest friends of Latvia, Poland, etc etc -- Europe has PLENTY of tanks and IFV's for the fight.  PLENTY.


As for the NATO Air Policing mission, that's a bit unfair.  The NATO Air Policing mission is designed to provide air security to countries that don't have an air force (Iceland) or that are in the process of replacing their small air forces with modern aircraft (Romania).

Between the RCAF's CF-18's (which provide aircraft to that mission fairly often) and the USAF in Alaska, we don't need a NATO air policing mission here. 

(Their planes fly towards North American airspace, we greet.  And vice versa.  Puts hours on airframes on both sides, and keeps both sides fresh in terms of ability to scramble aircraft.  Meh.)


:2c:
 

blacktriangle

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I suppose it depends if we actually want to contribute useful capability, or just get personnel a medal and a check in the box for promotion.

Assuming we want to bring something to the table...I'll expand on what I said earlier. I'd suggest an air-ground task force of some kind. Call it Land Air Task Force - Europe (LATF-E) or Canadian Air Ground Task Force (CAGTF) or any other such nonsense someone can dream up.

AD Bty, HIMARS Bty (capable of both GMLRS and something like ATACMS or DeepStrike...call it 1 SSM Bty if you want) as well as modern tactical EW assets. In the air, F-35 and modern ISR aircraft, as well as tankers to sustain them. Build a highly mobile network of sensors, shooters, & C2.

Good deterrent, useful if actually needed, and forces the CAF to re-learn things while bringing back much needed capability for a peer fight.
 

Colin Parkinson

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LoboCanada said:
A point i'd like to make is that why even bother having Canadian tanks in Europe at all?

How many NATO tanks are there already in Europe?

1000s i'd say, and what would a small and expensive squadron really do there that a few dozen other countries' tanks couldn't?

As an aside, what has NATO done for Canadian security to warrant us taking a leadership position in Latvia? I don't see a NATO Air Policing Mission in our North to counter frequent Russian bombing 'runs'.

Not as many as you think assume a potentiel of 1800 frontline tanks with a potentiel reserve of 600 or some T-72 and T-55 divided by 13 countries who all have their own defense concerns and issues. So the amount of tanks that can be brought to bear is a fraction of that number and a potentiel frontage of 1400-3400 km the US may have 100+ tanks in Europe currently.

Germany -105 operational tanks
UK-          75-100 operational tanks
France-    406, How many operational?
Poland-      1009, 400 of which are various versions of Leopard II. the rest are PT-91 and T-72's
Italy-        320, 160 in service the rest in reserve/training school. Ariete and Leopard 1
Belgium-    35 , Leopard II
Holland-    56, Leopard II. The Dutch army supplies about 100 troops for the German/Dutch 414th Panzer Battalion (56 tanks), which fields a Dutch tank squadron with 18 tanks. These tanks are owned by Germany but operated by Dutch personnel
Norway-    36 Leopard II
Sweden-    120 Strv 122 (Leopard II)
Finland-      200, Leopard II various marks
Austria-      56 Leopard II
Romania-    226 TR-85, 400 T-55 and variants
Spain-        327 Leopard II
 

blacktriangle

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Not sure if anyone has seen the proposed structure of the Marine Littoral Regiment...but IIRC, it's an Inf Bn and long-range missile (specifically anti-ship) Bty supported by an AD Bn and a Logistics Bn. Obviously the Pacific is different than Europe, but it highlights the fact that a peer fight will necessitate LRPF and GBAD capabilities that we are sorely lacking. Perhaps better to bring some niche, high-end capabilities that can best support the "locals". Sorry for derailing this further by the way...
 

CBH99

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Perhaps it isn't so much a derailment, as much as the thread could possibly be renamed along the lines of "Supporting the European Theater"


And yes, agreed on the niche capabilities.

Manpower and funding are things we both lack.  Yes, we could reorganize to have more available people, and yes we could use the budget differently so we actually USE the budget, and not return money at the end of each fiscal year.  But those are both topics discussed at length in other threads.



Being useful in the fight, and not just 'being there', is where we have value.

A handful of MBT's, self propelled guns, and LAV's isn't the necessarily the best contribution we can make when we look at how many countries there are in Europe, and what they bring to the land fight. 

Assets such as fighters or ISR aircraft that can take our enemy GBAD, enemy fighters, and help to establish air superiority would be more useful, in my opinion.  Once NATO controls the air, the ground dynamic DRASTICALLY changes. 


 

MilEME09

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Perhaps its time we specialize the role we want the Canadian army to play. Pick one things and get really damn good at it.
 

CBH99

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MilEME09 said:
Perhaps its time we specialize the role we want the Canadian army to play. Pick one things and get really damn good at it.


1000% agree

That's what I've tried saying in other threads too.

We don't have the size to have a light, medium, and heavy brigade.  We don't have the size to really do the 'multi-purpose, combat capable'  (aka a bit of everything) we do now, we just make it work.



The Australians openly state their goal is to be "The best small army in the world."  We could very much echo that.

Pick the type of operations we want to be exceptionally good at, and focus on being 1st class at them.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Problem is that we will always be an expeditionary army, so you never know what type of war will be next, so you either have to be able to survive the first 6 months in any type of fight or split the ground forces into SF, Light and a heavy element. We may not be able to assume other people are bringing missing elements to the fight, because pretty every small western military is making that assumption. Having a heavy unit in Europe will mean working closely with our allies and having our assumptions smashed and reality intrude onto our bubbles. We already showed that having a army tuned to the Warsaw Pact threat can meet 3/4 of the missions we are likely to see. Building up a Combat group in Europe tuned to the Russian threat will help focus troops.

 

FJAG

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CBH99 said:
Perhaps it isn't so much a derailment, as much as the thread could possibly be renamed along the lines of "Supporting the European Theater"

And yes, agreed on the niche capabilities.

Manpower and funding are things we both lack.  Yes, we could reorganize to have more available people, and yes we could use the budget differently so we actually USE the budget, and not return money at the end of each fiscal year.  But those are both topics discussed at length in other threads.

True we do discuss it elsewhere as well but the aim of this thread was to see if there is a way that we can deliver more defence outputs in order to meet some specific aims set out in the SSE:

“The re-emergence of major power competition has reminded Canada and its allies of the importance of deterrence. ... A credible military deterrence serves as a diplomatic tool to prevent conflict and should be accompanied by dialogue. NATO allies ... have been re-examining how to deter a wide spectrum of challenges to the international order by maintaining advanced conventional military capabilities that could be used in the event of a conflict with a “near-peer.””  (Emphasis added).

CBH99 said:
Being useful in the fight, and not just 'being there', is where we have value.

A handful of MBT's, self propelled guns, and LAV's isn't the necessarily the best contribution we can make when we look at how many countries there are in Europe, and what they bring to the land fight. 

Assets such as fighters or ISR aircraft that can take our enemy GBAD, enemy fighters, and help to establish air superiority would be more useful, in my opinion.  Once NATO controls the air, the ground dynamic DRASTICALLY changes.

Most of those countries in Europe are not in the Baltics except in company strength. As the framework nations for Latvia, what is our NATO plan to activate and move that "multitude" of armour into theatre in a period of tension?

While I agree with the idea that there are other assets that we could bring to the fight, the original academic exercise was to see what Canada could do firstly with the assets we had, and secondly with what could reasonably be acquired.

I'm perhaps less optimistic as to what we can do against existing Russian GBAD. In brief I think they have developed a much better system of air defence, then we have the capability to take out without massive US assistance. Mostly I take a look at the numerous RAND wargames/studies that have proven over and over again that the US gets handed its butt in these conflicts and that, in particular, in the Baltics what is needed are more armoured brigades. As I indicated in the article, I'm way open to adding new technologies and even existing ones into the force mix and even changing the force mix for those, but at the end of the day I'm still firmly convinced that everything, everything that we put into our arsenal is essentially there to support the only entity that can keep and hold ground which is still the infantry (and in this case that means armoured infantry)

CBH99 said:
...
We don't have the size to have a light, medium, and heavy brigade.  We don't have the size to really do the 'multi-purpose, combat capable'  (aka a bit of everything) we do now, we just make it work.

The Australians openly state their goal is to be "The best small army in the world."  We could very much echo that.

Pick the type of operations we want to be exceptionally good at, and focus on being 1st class at them.

I honestly think that we don't have the option to be selective as you suggest. We already delude ourselves with the idea that our "agile, multi-purpose" force is capable of being a good small army. It has severe limitations in areas that we've committed ourselves to, especially NATO which mostly means a modern, well-equipped, heavy, peer capability. On top of that we have needs for a light and a medium force for other things we choose to do; peacekeeping, foreign force training, special operations, disaster response etc.

We're established for some 42,000 soldiers (regular and reserve) which is, for all intents and purposes, (even after subtracting headquarters and training establishments) two real divisions with support troops (just like Australia) That's actually not that small. It's the lack of equipment that makes us half as big as we really could be.

I fully agree that we can't be all singing and dancing as the words "multi-purpose" impute. We desperately need to specialize and get really good at things. IMHO, however, it is possible to do that within the brigade framework. We can have two divisions one RegF heavy specializing in the day-to-day more frequent light and medium roles (which are essentially part of the same skill set) and one, ResF heavy trained and equipped solely for deterrence and the less likely facing a peer role (and remember here, I'm not talking today's ResF; I'm talking about a purpose built (or rebuilt) system.)

:cheers:
 

MilEME09

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Biggest problem is we need DND to get out of fantasy land. If we can properly man 2 divisions, then we should only be 2, not 5, we need someone willing to make hard choices and push PYs back to field units and out of Ottawa and other HQs. Unless our next CDS can convince the MND it is needed, none of this really matters as we will continue to pretend something we are not, a middle power with weight to throw.
 

GR66

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I'm with FJAG on this.  I think there really isn't any reason that a country with the wealth and population we have can't have a full-spectrum capable military.  We just need to make it a priority.  While I might disagree that permanently stationing a portion of that force in Latvia/Poland is the right course for us, I in general agree with many of the proposals he's suggesting.  We don't have to be able to do everything on our own...that's why we have allies.  We just need to be able to contribute across the full spectrum of potential situations. 
 

FJAG

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MilEME09 said:
Biggest problem is we need DND to get out of fantasy land. If we can properly man 2 divisions, then we should only be 2, not 5, we need someone willing to make hard choices and push PYs back to field units and out of Ottawa and other HQs. Unless our next CDS can convince the MND it is needed, none of this really matters as we will continue to pretend something we are not, a middle power with weight to throw.

I think what bothers me the most is that we keep fooling ourselves and our political leaders that we're actually spending $21 billion per year wisely.

Quite obviously our allies (and I assume our potential adversaries) are not so deluded,

:facepalm:
 

FJAG

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GR66 said:
I'm with FJAG on this.  I think there really isn't any reason that a country with the wealth and population we have can't have a full-spectrum capable military.  We just need to make it a priority.  While I might disagree that permanently stationing a portion of that force in Latvia/Poland is the right course for us, I in general agree with many of the proposals he's suggesting.  We don't have to be able to do everything on our own...that's why we have allies.  We just need to be able to contribute across the full spectrum of potential situations.

Not sure if we're diverging here or not. I'm opposed to "permanently stationing" a force in Latvia/Poland. I'm advocating prepositioning and storage a brigade's worth of equipment in Europe but keeping the brigade's personnel at existing facilities in Edmonton for annual fly-over training and operational activation in an emergency.

:cheers:
 

daftandbarmy

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FJAG said:
Not sure if we're diverging here or not. I'm opposed to "permanently stationing" a force in Latvia/Poland. I'm advocating prepositioning o storage a brigade's worth of equipment in Europe but keeping the brigade's personnel at existing facilities in Edmonton for annual fly-over training and operational activation in an emergency.

:cheers:

Trapped in Edmonton vs. posted to Latvia...Isn’t that the equivalent of ‘abuse of troops’? :)
 

blacktriangle

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If Europe requires more armour, that sounds like a problem for Europe. It's their turf, so they need to put up the resources or accept the risk. The men and women of North America become less interested in fighting for European towns and cities with each passing day. If anything, we need to focus more on the RCAF and RCN, and less on the CA. Ships, submarines, aircraft, ground based sensors, GBAD, LRPF...provide our allies with some excellent support/enablers and let them worry about taking and holding ground. Not to mention that all the aforementioned assets would allow us a stronger defensive posture here at home. Because I highly doubt Europe or anyone other than the Americans would be running to our rescue if we were invaded...

If we are really bent on being prepared to fight in Europe, let's actually be there, ready to go in the opening hours of conflict. Preferably with some capabilities that might actually deter aggressors in the first place. Flyover would be a nightmare, IMO. We'd probably arrive just in time to experience a 21st Century Dunkirk. Better a battle group in hand than two brigades in the bush.

And while I might disagree with FJAG on what and how we should be deploying to Europe, he's bang on that we aren't getting the military capability we ought to have out of the defence budget we spend.
 
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Considering how fast Russia has proven it can mobilize large numbers of troops during snap exercises, they most likely would have rolled over any NATO force that was positioned in Latvia before any reinforcements could even get there.  If the Russians took out the airport right from the start which I'm sure they would, how are our troops going to get to this prepositioned equipment? Lativa would be under Russian control within a few days before NATO could even begin to mobilize.
 
 

CBH99

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I understand and appreciate the academic exercise in play here, regarding what we could reasonably do in a European theater.  I'll get back on track  :)


My own, very limited opinion - I've been out for a while, and I never did exercise in ways some of you did back when the military was substantially larger (no dinosaur joke!)  We just didn't train in numbers the way you guys did... so from my very limited experience...


1.  Make the forces we do have more lethal.  This could be done quickly and affordably with a decent AT system, and a decent GBAD system. 

1 (a)  By enabling our forces to maneuver and engage heavy armour at distance (NLOS Spike, or even recent Javelin) our troops could engage enemy armour while remaining mostly unseen in that type of terrain.  (If I were an MBT and that terrain of hills and forests were infested with anti-armour teams, it would be a nightmare.)

These could be man-portable systems.


1 (b)  By giving them a decent anti-air capability, we could REALLY limit the enemy ground fight.  Russia has demonstrated a fantastic ability to gather intelligence, intercept communications, and target artillery, using drones.  In the opening months of the Ukraine conflict, Russian units had drones literally orbiting overhead.  As soon as anybody used a radio or anything like that, artillery was incoming almost immediately.

By giving our units a decent MANPAD system, we could engage enemy helicopters, drones, and low flying aircraft - drastically changing the dynamic of the fight.  There are plenty of videos out there of helicopters and Frogfoots being shot down with primitive, outdated MANPAD systems.  Imagine professional troops using a modern system? 

The GBAD would, ideally, be 2 systems.  One system in a MANPAD form, able to be used by troops hidden in forests and such.  The second being a vehicle based system. 

The US Army's interim AA vehicle seems like a great project to jump onboard.  It uses the LAV chassis, easily integrates into our existing organizations, and brings both missiles & a gun to the AA fight.  Manufactured in Canada too, so nice bonus.



2.  Bring back 81mm and 60mm mortars, and give them to the infantry.  It gives them another tool in the toolbox to provide their own quick, easy, and very effective indirect fire support.

Cheap to acquire and sustain.  Easy to train folks on.  And brutally effective.  Super handy when IR illumination and smoke rounds are needed, or you just want some random explosions around your enemy to do what damage they do. 



The C16 is great to have on some vehicles, and is really effective when put on RWT.  Both the LAV and TAPV have the C16 mounted, and controlled by whoever is controlling the RWT.  Fantastic option for quick, heavy, fairly close-in indirect fire. 

But it isn't easily man portable, and it isn't ideal for use in the field.  (Man portable to your area, then assembled, fire a few rounds, then disassembled and moved again.)

The C16 is great as an option for a vehicle mounted weapon, but the infantry platoons really could use mortars.


^^ Just the introduction of mortars, a modern AT system and a modern MANPAD system alone would make the platoons/companies SUBSTANTIALLY more deadly.  None of the equipment is expensive, and none of it takes a long time to train anybody on.



3.  Long range artillery - something along the lines of HIMARS.

Perhaps reorganize the Army so the M777 systems go to one artillery regiment & the school, while the other artillery regiment focuses on long range, precision strike such as HIMARS. 

While both artillery systems offer long range fire support (distances notwithstanding) - the approach to their employment would be fundamentally different in terms of how the systems are operated. 

HIMARS again would be fairly inexpensive and easy to acquire, and would be ideal as we could plug training and spare parts in with our brother & sisters from the south.  2 vehicles fit inside a C-17, making them fairly easy to deploy.  It would give us the ability to take out key targets from extreme distances, such as enemy OP's, command vehicles, AA vehicles, EW vehicles, etc.  All of which, when taken out, changes the fight in our favour.



In the short term, focusing on the goal of this thread, that is what I would do.  All of the above is inexpensive, easy to acquire, easy to train folks on, easy to deploy, and would drastically change the game in a fight. 

In the long term, acquiring SPG's and such would be ideal.  But, looking at what is affordable and easy to do for a European operation, these are some things we could do in the near term.


If the enemy couldn't operate drones near us, it would make their artillery targeting and ISR substantially more difficult.  If their tanks violently exploded at random, as small AA teams littered throughout the countryside picked them off with a modern AT system, it would drastically reduce their capabilities and complicate their planning.  And if a long range precision fire weapon such as HIMARS could engage their radar systems, C2 systems, or high value targets such as vehicle AA systems from a few hundred km away, we could hollow out their forces in the region FAR better than we can now.


For the purpose of the academic exercise, FJAG, pre-positioning some of this equipment in Europe for emergency use if the balloon goes up would make sense.  How much excess equipment we purchase, in order to ensure we have enough to pre-position in Europe, would be decided once all the details get worked out. 

:2c:
 

FJAG

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I'm enjoying this discussion quite a bit. As I said the article was an academic exercise for me and I do like to be challenged.

I think CBH99's suggestions are all quite good, although, if we're looking at a LAV based force, I would prefer so see LAV mounted 120mm mortars like in the M1129 Stryker. Incidentally Stryker mortar platoons also have 81mm mortars on board for use on dismounted dismounted operations when required.

Stryker_MCV-B.jpg


Keeping with my theme of multiplying combat power only needed in an emergency through reserves, reserve artillery batteries could be converted to independent anti-armour; GBAD and UAV batteries that could be assigned to whatever force needs them. The key here is to make them part of a hybrid general support regiment that can through its RegF members develop the doctrine and expertise and Roto 0 force and through the reserves, bulk up their numbers when needed.

We currently have two EW squadrons that are reserve. I bet we could use a few more.

One thing nobody talks about much is medical. We need a bigger rapid deployable field hospital and field ambulances. Oh, and maintenance folks. Our NSE is fairly limited.

:cheers:
 

MilEME09

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Alright FJAG I'll bite, experiment here, take Alberta. With what you suggest for a massive retooling of most reserve arty.

20 independent rerolled back to 18th Air Defense Battery,

20th field Edmonton retains its roll as field arty,

20th field red deer rerolls to UAV

19th battery is stood back up in calgary as a dedicated anti armour battery.

All are then grouped as one unit with each city at battery strength. They run a two week summer concentration each year to bring it all together so to speak and practice Regiment level coordination. Thoughts?
 

CBH99

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Sounds like a pretty darn good idea.  Common sense & doable  :)

 
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