The Department of Defence has recently opened a public consultation for Canadians who wish to have a say in the development of future defence policy. What follows is my meager offering. The link to their site is found here. I encourage anyone who is interested to comment. This is a rare chance to speak truth to power.
THE FUTURE FORCE: A Response from a Concerned Citizen
To the Hon. Mr. Sanjjan,
I wish to begin by thanking you for this opportunity to participate in a public consultation. Public consultation is the hall mark of a modern democracy, after all. Yet I am writing not only to answer the questions posed by the Defence Policy Review paper, but to raise other questions as well.
Asking Canadians for input into Defence Policy is sound in principle, but why was this not a plank of the election platform? A robust, public and frank debate is good. Elections are for that kind of thing. It seems somewhat duplicitous to have a public consultation so soon after an election where the whole issue was ignored by the Liberal party, which now holds the government. In public life, optics matter.
The second point in this preamble that I wish to raise is one of fundamental leadership. In the Bible we are warned “Where there is no guidance, a people falls” (Proverbs 11:14) If a consultation is required so soon after a general election, does this not show that there is no fundamental strategic vision? You sir are the man who holds the office. You are the Minister of Defence. Do you not know what is the need of the hour? I hope that you do posses the vision that these days require of you. Neville Chamberlain was a fine man too, but he was the wrong man for his day.
I ask that second question in the hope that this consultation is not the result of not knowing what to do, but is an attempt to get the pulse of the nation. As such, consultations are fine things, so long as the right course is set and maintained, and so long as too many cooks don’t spoil the soup.
Before turning to the nuts and bolts of each of the questions I must tell you that I am no military man. I have only a civilians’ interest in war. That is, to avoid being in one, and barring that, to have got the best military possible to ensure a win.
1. Are there any threats to Canada’s security that are not being addressed adequately?
A. Yes. There are two main threats to Canada’s security. Islamic Terrorism and Russia. Neither is being taken seriously by our leadership, in marked contrast to the previous administration. When our Prime Minister and cabinet members go on the record stating that ‘climate change causes terrorism’ all good Canadians lose their minds. Hot weather does not produce terrorism. I point to the IRA as an example of terrorism in a colder latitude, and to the domestic peace found in hot places like Australia. When our leaders say such horrendous things we all lose faith in their ability to lead.
The Russians love chess. Putin fancies himself a master of political chess. He has absorbed the Clausewitzian principle that war is a real political instrument. The Americans have completely misread him, and at every turn he has met with political success. In the Crimea his objective was to secure the naval base at Sevastopol, which in turn is needed to maintain his Black Sea fleet. That fleet is required to keep Turkey humble, the Dardanelles open, Syria resupplied, and a Russian surface fleet presence in the Mediterranean. These are all Russian strategic aims that date back to Peter the Great.
Russian oil and gas deals with China are used to unwind energy commitments in Europe, which are threatened by Canadian free-trade agreements. These energy deals with China will presage greater Pacific Ocean activity by both Russia and China.
The threat to our Artic sovereignty is real and imminent. Artic sovereignty concerns more than a mere sea route that opens up in the summer. The real issues are energy and pride. If we cannot control our own north, we lose face. To lose face in this kind of way is deadly, as public humiliation at the hands of another Power only invite beatings at every turn. Deterrence requires overwhelming force.
Russia knows as well as we that our northern littoral frontiers contain a nearly inexhaustible supply of oil and natural gas. They also know that they cannot hope to obtain it for themselves. In the event of conflict, they know that they do not have the ability to take this valuable resource from us. To meet their strategic aims they only need deny its use to us. In war they will attack and isolate our north. In peace time they will pay for environmental protest groups and lobby organisations to shut down our natural energy production. This is in fact what they are doing. Russian interference in our energy sector should be considered a primary security threat. Counter-espionage and target hardening should be key aims for our spy organisations. Russian aims must be thwarted.
Russian domestic trouble will not be the undoing of Putin’s policy. He knows his people survived Stalingrad. He also knows Stalin survived Stalingrad. No domestic calamity will save us from the Russian Imperial Renaissance. Only by securing ourselves in the strength of our arms can we hope to deter Russian aggression. If that deterrence is insufficient to secure us peace, it will not be enough to win us a war either.
2. What roles should the Canadian Armed Forces play domestically, including in support of civilian authorities?
A. The Canadian Armed Forces should recruit more. Other than that, any domestic action is reprehensible to the minds of a free people. The Army is for our defence, not against us.
3. How should Canada-United States cooperation on defence of North America evolve in the coming years?
A. Co-operation with America is required by our geographic proximity and cultural similarity. That said, we should shoulder our own load. The Americans must be brought to respect the professionalism and war-spirit of our troops. Aggressive, warlike attitudes should be cultivated by all ranks. We may be a junior partner in any coalition, but we must be respected and must always maintain the command and control of all our own troops and formations. This is especially so regarding the defence of our own frontiers. The reputation that our fighting men have in America is of vital importance to the maintenance of our freedom. If we cannot defend our own frontiers, what is to prevent the Americans from doing it for us in some future year? If they assume our defence, they will surely want control over our foreign policy and a share in our tax revenue. Annexation and the loss of sovereignty immediately follow this progression.
4. What form should the CAF contribution to peace support operations take? Is there a role for the CAF in helping to prevent conﬂict before it occurs?
A. We support peace by winning wars. Standing between hostile domestic mobs wearing blue hats does not lend itself to the character of a proud and powerful nation like ourselves. Our forces should not be deployed in peace-keeping operations. Maintaining stand-offs is no way to train an Army for war.
As for conflict prevention, this is the job of diplomats, not the Army. Clearly, the military is the wrong instrument for preventing a war. It is the instrument of winning a war.
5. Should the size, structure, and composition for the Canadian Armed Forces change from what they are today?
A. The size of the CAF should change. So far as an outsider can tell, the composition and structure seem to be of adequate nature.
Every service needs to be enlarged, in men and material. The reserves are particularly key to the future effectiveness of the Armed Forces. The CAF is designed to bulk up in time of need by drawing the trained reserves into the regular force. The regulars form the nucleus, and the reserves are called up as needed.
This is fine in theory, but there are no reserve units based in smaller population centers. The reserves draw unevenly from the general population as most units as based in places like Edmonton, Montreal, etc. This means that men living in remoter locations like northern Alberta, BC or Saskatchewan have no opportunity to serve. Where there is no public presence of a Reserve unit, recruiting will be down. Also, the prestige of the CAF will not be enhanced in places that many good men may be drawn from. If Reserve Units could be based in communities of populations ranging from 100,000-50,000 I believe the return for investment would be surprisingly good. Many of our most fervent patriots live in smaller towns.
In case of a major war, we do not currently have sufficient reserves to draw on to maintain an expeditionary force that is required to fight major actions, while sustaining casualties.
6. How can DND and the CAF improve the way they support the health and wellness of military members? In what areas should more be done?
A. After we got into the Afghan war we suddenly realized we did not have the institutions that are needed to care for wounded vets. That infrastructure needs to be built. A good look at the American VA system may be of some help. American vets get some of the best treatment that has ever been afforded to wounded warriors in history.
Much media attention has been given to PTSD, and that is good. Aside from clinical treatments, much of the emotional and mental strain of PTSD can be relieved by our honouring our veterans, giving out awards that are deserved, and treating these men as men, not as mental cases. The Victoria Cross should be awarded. There are deserving men who fought in Afghanistan. Publicise their stories, and award them.
7. Should Canada strive to maintain military capability across the full spectrum of operations? Are there speciﬁc niche areas of capability in which Canada should specialize?
A. Canada cannot afford to have a military that has capability gaps that an enemy can exploit at the Strategic, Operational or Tactical levels of combat. We should consider Victory to be our specialised niche.
8. What type of investments should Canada make in space, cyber, and unmanned systems? To what extent should Canada strive to keep pace and be interoperable with key allies in these domains?
A. The first act of any major power in the next war will be a two-pronged attack on space and cyber-space assets. The control of information, and its’ secure communication to our Forces and Allies is going to be the key to our success or defeat. We cannot afford to lose the integrity of our information gathering systems or communication apparatus’. As for the DND, a commitment must be made to win in this new type of theater at the Strategic, Operational and Tactical levels.
9. What additional measures could DND undertake, along with partner departments, to improve defence procurement?
A. Stop buying American garbage. We have specific force requirements that are tailored to our specific needs. The Americans over price everything, and always give second rate equipment.
We need to encourage a complete and native defence manufacturing industry in Canada. Canadian private enterprise can, if unshackled from nonsensical legal restraints, provide all the equipment that our fighting men require. This is what we need to win the next war, secure our interests, and protect our peace.