Five Fundamental Recommendations
- Strike Budgetary Shortfalls---Assure Canadian Sovereignty
Through Independent Canadian Capacity
Canada needs to spend with vital interests in mind. We must maintain, secure and defend the territorial integrity of Canada and the safety of Canadians at home and abroad. However, unless we want to start fighting on our soil, we have to have the means to keep, and expand, our international commitments in order to help in having the fight taken to the enemy. This means major re-investment in the Canadian Forces, because only such action will achieve three essential objectives:
Ø to protect our sovereignty;
Ø to secure the capability of independent Canadian action;
Ø to reinforce our critical relationships with the United States and our traditional allies by ultimately reaching defence spending equivalent to 1.6-1.8% of GDP allowing us to meet more of our own security and military needs.
Bold words today from Ministers of the Crown are insufficient. It is time for bold purpose manifested by concrete measures. New funding is desperately required. Real funding. Not simply window-dressing that makes the additional $115 million to be spent this year on national security look like something other than what it truly is – simply the yearly instalment of the $605 million share of the $7.7 billion package announced in December 2001 to be spread over five years.
In the pre-9/11 era doctrine had it that security was not purely a military issue. To a certain extent that may have been true. But even those who adhere to that doctrine today understand that increased funding is critical now because the cold reality remains that the Canadian Forces are the only national institution with the organization, infrastructure, equipment and manpower to respond to a national emergency. Now that every other country named by Osama bin-Laden as an infidel state has been attacked, it is time to assure that when our time comes our response will not be muted and impotent.
National Defence has difficulty even keeping up with its operating costs. The three services have identified shortfalls for this year in mandated operations as follows: Army $355 million, Navy $143M, and Air Force $137M. The recent Budget added $300M to offset the costs of the Kabul and Haiti missions, and DND is exempted from returning to the Receiver-General the $200M “efficiency” cuts that former Minister McCallum could not find. However it still works out to about a half-billion dollar shortfall.
2. Raise Manpower and Materiel Levels---Bring Battle Assets to
Multinational Command Standards
Canada must have the ability to field, simultaneously, and at any given time, two well equipped rapid response groups in order to meet our military and humanitarian obligations to our allies, international organizations, as well as to meet any new challenges that may arise at home. At a minimum, the Forces require:
Ø two new rapid deployment “battle groups” at operational readiness for service abroad;
Ø one battle group full readiness at home for domestic operations, sustainment or replacement as required.
Each battle group should have personnel levels of 4,000 or more. This level would allow for effective operations, at short notice, to separate missions, that will fit within the four rotation parameters of the Americans.
This manpower level would assure that each group was capable of sustained operations for prolonged periods not just in/out sorties. These would involve, in addition to combat, “nation-building” missions such as Bosnia, Afghanistan and Haiti.
These new battle groups must have deployment ability through airdrop, air landing and sea. Additionally, this new capability must be coupled with a Canadian readiness to provide the framework to command a multinational brigade, a multinational naval task force and a multinational air wing. To achieve these goals we must:
Ø deploy a new naval task force;
Ø deploy a new 12 aircraft squadron;
Ø immediately upgrade, whether through purchase or lease, our Forces’ strategic air and maritime lift capacity for service at home and abroad.
Seamless transport capability and deployability are critical to assuring the effectiveness of the strengthened Forces whether in national or international operations.
3. Upgrade Intelligence Capability
Whatever one might think of the failure to uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there should be no cause for self-satisfaction in Canada. The fact is that we were working on the basis of precisely the same intelligence accepted by all of our allies, indicating Saddam did possess and was likely to use such weapons. France, Germany and Russia might have rationalized their refusal to join so that they might continue to profit from sales to Saddam, but Canada’s position was simply dangerously naïve. With no independent intelligence collection agency, and only a minimal capacity to analyze that provided by our allies, we will be in no better position to make an informed decision when it comes to Korea or Iran or any terrorist threat to our interests and citizens at home and abroad.
We must immediately and massively upgrade our intelligence capabilities, by:
Ø increasing the Forces military intelligence capacity in foreign theatres,
Ø institutionalizing our intelligence-sharing both between the Forces and our domestic agencies and with our allies through a Joint Intelligence Command,
Ø formalizing intelligence relationships with frontline allies facing radical Islamist threats in order to get the best information on terrorism and terrorists directly and quickly;
Ø making meaningful military contributions to multi-national efforts by our traditional allies thereby increasing access to critical intelligence flowing from intimate relationships such as Australia has formed with the United States;
4. Augment the Reserves
Reserve and militia units are among Canada’s greatest under-utilized security and military assets. They should be re-financed, re-trained and re-directed. They will serve to increase the visibility if our Forces and foster pride and relevance in the minds of Canadians. The following immediate steps should be undertaken:
Ø increase the Reserves’ involvement with municipal and provincial authorities in order to assist in creating the co-ordination, prevention and mitigation protocols dealing with emergency planning in cases of terrorist attack, bio-chemical hazards, civil disorder, and natural disasters;
Ø make concerted efforts to attract university and community college students to reserve duty to support their education costs and provide the intelligence, engineers, CIMIC and other specialties and trades that are becoming more and more in demand in a modern military;
Ø offer timely and attractive incentives to bring more newly-arrived Canadians into service;.
Ø convene a conference of all provincial Public Security Ministers, with the relevant Federal and Forces authorities, to consider broader utilization of these units at local levels but under Forces authority, due to the unique regional roles of many reserve and militia units.
There is a more regional role in security envisioned for the reserves and present structures cater well to this, but processes of budget and authority are impediments to effectiveness and close cooperation. It may be appropriate to consider a National Guard profile and purpose.
5. Defend the Undefended Borders
Political and practical policy objectives dictate that serious action must begin now so that Canada can have:
Ø year-round Arctic patrol and operations;
Ø independent air and sea surveillance of the three oceans and Great Lakes coastlines;
Ø appropriately armed and able naval assets capable of intervention and interdiction off all three coasts and the Great Lakes;
Ø joint air and sea operational centres on the three coasts and the Great Lakes to better react to upgraded intelligence data.
These matters are critically time-sensitive particularly given the lead-time needed to acquire new assets and merge jurisdictional imperatives. Therefore
Ø an international procurement list should be drawn up demonstrating the availability for purchase of icebreakers, since Canada needs at least three, with the ability to break through a minimum of 8 ft. of first-year ice at a minimum of 3 kts.;
Ø immediate discussions should begin with Russia on the feasibility of acquiring the Finnish-built Russian icebreaker currently on the block;
Ø though the jurisdictional issues do pose significant hurdles, since there are not sufficient resources to accomplish all assigned tasks within the problematic split command responsibilities of the Navy and Coast Guard, particularly on the key security concerns of maritime approaches, planning for the integration of Coast Guard manpower and materiel into the Navy should begin now.
Temporary measures that can prove immediately effective prior to full review and implementation are:
Ø deployment of pilot-less spotter aircraft in order to provide better and broader coverage at a reasonable cost;
Ø deployment of manned aircraft along with ships and helicopters to upgrade independent Canadian interdiction capability.
As Michael Ignatieff put it, the Canadian paradox has been "that our independence is most at stake in our relations with our closet neighbour and best friend." The reality is that a stronger independent military capability will be able protect Canadian sovereignty by freeing Canada from dependence on others. A helping hand from a friend is one thing, dependency is another.
At the same time we must recognize reality and make it clear to the world that it will be a central tenet of policy that Canada intends to be intimately co-operative with our traditional allies who have made the strongest military commitments to the global war on terror, namely the United States and Great Britain, and that we will have a role in their corridors of power at least on a par with Australia’s.
Our military and intelligence capabilities are the overt manifestations of our political maturity. This maturity means that we must exhibit a readiness to assume our obligations in full.
The sad reality is that our current policies have made us vulnerable to infiltration and attack by some of the most dangerous elements from autocratic and theocratic regimes.
Recently, the Auditor General and the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence issued reports joining the chorus of others detailing how our government has failed miserably to take even the most basic steps to secure the safety of Canadians. Received in the shadow of the latest Budget, those reports underscore how little was offered in it to address the problem. It is not that the government is unaware of its obligations.
The day after the budget, Deputy PM and Public Security Minister Anne McLellan spoke to the Canadian Club in Ottawa about how “the core responsibility of any government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens – these are the foundations for every other right of citizenship, the essential conditions for every other freedom.”
The Canadian Forces have been under-funded for so long that the list of items that should not need a review is staggering. The Martin administration has a singularly unique opportunity to effect a profound redemptive change in Canada's Foreign, Defense & Security policies reflective of our nation's inherent values of integrity and decency and to recapture our authentic and legitimate stature in the world.
The window of opportunity may not be open for long.