Mark Collins – New Canadian Defence Minister’s Mandate: End Anti-ISIS Combat, F-35, UN Peacekeeping, Ships, Budget

Note no mention (but see “Update”) in the story about the hideously expensive, inefficient and desperately slow National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (one example here, in the Liberals’ election platform money supposedly saved from not acquiring the F-35 was supposed to help the NSPS–see p. 2 PDF bottom right).  And there won’t be serious boots on the ground for UN peacekeeping:

Defence minister’s mandate letter: end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq, Syria

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given new defence minister [see post here] his marching orders — and Harjitt Sajjan’s top priority is to end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq and Syria [RCAF bombing still going on].

The Nov. 6 letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press, was also notable for what it didn’t say in terms of the other thorny issues facing the new Liberal government.

Sajjan was told to work with Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote on an “open and transparent” competition to replace Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets, but the letter makes no reference to excluding the F-35 — something Trudeau promised during the election [emphasis added, see “Canadian Election: ISIS, the F-35, Justin Trudeau and POTUS“]…

The letter does flesh out what the Liberals have in mind when it comes to re-engaging in United Nations peacekeeping.

The Trudeau government is prepared to make available “Canada’s specialized capabilities [emphasis added, i.e not infantry and probably not special forces]— from mobile medical teams, to engineering support, to aircraft that can carry supplies and personnel — on a case by case basis [see my comment here].”

Sajjan will also be expected to co-ordinate with Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion to help the United Nations “respond more quickly to emerging and escalating conflicts and providing well-trained personnel to international initiatives that can be quickly deployed, such as mission commanders, staff officers and headquarters units [emphasis added, see penultimate para here].”

No reflection of the NDP’s nonsense about making Canada the leading Western contributor to UN peacekeeping.  More relevant to the F-35:

F-35 and Canadian Election: Liberals Loose With Fighter Costs

F-35: Where’s the US Money? Plus Canada

How Long Will the F/A-18E/F Line Growl On?

F-35, or, Canadian National Fighter Procurement Secretariat Gone Poof– New Government’s Turn

More shipbuilding angles:

The Incredible Shrinking RCN: National Post Nails Government

Why not more Canadian Coast Guard Icebreakers Instead of RCN JSS?

Update: Shipbuilding in fact is mentioned along with a budget commitment it will be hard to keep–at iPolitics:

The letter also says that Trudeau expects Sajjan to work to maintain current spending levels for the Department of National Defence, including planned increases to their funding [see “2015 Federal Budget: Hot Air, Not Much There There for Defence, Part 2“].

It also specifies that he will be expected to honour the commitments former prime minister Stephen Harper made in his National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy while also investing in strengthening Canada’s navy…

Good flipping luck.  All the ministerial mandate letters are here.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


4 thoughts on “Mark Collins – New Canadian Defence Minister’s Mandate: End Anti-ISIS Combat, F-35, UN Peacekeeping, Ships, Budget”

  1. The Liberals’ defence platform also says this (p. 3 PDF):

    “We will not purchase the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber. The primary mission of our fighter aircraft will remain the defence of North America. We will immediately launch an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 that will exclude requirements that do not reflect Canada’s interests, such as first-strike stealth capabilities.”

    Now see this at the mandate letter for the Minister of Public Services and Procurement–she is to…

    “Work with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to launch an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fighter aircraft, focusing on options that match Canada’s defence needs.”

    The party stated that those needs do not include “first-strike stealth capabilities”; so the F-35 is in fact effectively, if not specifically, excluded? The wording is essentially identical in the MND’s mandate letter:

    As for shipbuilding she is to…

    “Prioritize the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy to support renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet and to ensure the Royal Canadian Navy is able to operate as a true blue-water maritime force.”

    What the heck does “prioritize” mean in reality? More money? HAH! And why “a true blue-water maritime force” before the new national defence minister can (from his mandate letter):

    “Conduct an open and transparent review process to create a new defence strategy for Canada, replacing the now-outdated Canada First Defence Strategy.”

    Consider this post from 2013:

    “What Is the RCN For?”

    Mark Collins

  2. To be fair, the F-35 isn’t a “first strike” capability. It never was due to its JSF Joint Operational Requirements Document. It is a battlefield interdiction aircraft that does its work after big threats are taken out with the F-22 or other means. Even the U.S. Navy requirement for the F-35C is not realistic to the original design. They wanted a “first day of the war” strike fighter. I guess it depends on that first day (example: threats like Libya). “The Joint Strike Fighter is demonstrably not a true stealth aircraft in the sense of designs like the F-117A, B-2A and F-22A, as its stealth performance varies much more strongly with aspect and threat radar operating frequency band.

    The degradation of the initially intended Joint Strike Fighter stealth performance occurred during the SDD program when a series of design changes made to the lower fuselage of the aircraft resulted in fundamental shaping changes in comparison with the X-35 Dev/Val prototype aircraft. The Joint Strike Fighter SDD design departs strongly from key stealth shaping rules employed in the development of the F-117A, B-2A, and F-22A, or the never built YF-23A and A-12A designs.

    As a result the tactical options available to Joint Strike Fighter users when confronted with penetrating modern Integrated Air Defence Systems (IADS) are mostly those necessary to ensure the survival of non-stealthy legacy aircraft types.

    The result of these limitations is that the operational economics of a fighter force using the Joint Strike Fighter will be much inferior to a force using a true all aspect stealth aircraft such as the F-22A Raptor.

    As with claims made for Joint Strike Fighter air combat capability, claims made for the Joint Strike Fighter concerning the penetration of IADS equipped with modern radars and SAMs are not analytically robust, and cannot be taken seriously.

    Moreover, it is clear that future Joint Strike Fighter users will pay a significant price penalty for a stealth capability unable to deliver much, if any, return on such investment.”

  3. Some good commentary from Paul Wells of Maclean’s magazine:

    I’m also a little tired of these Conservative party chicken hawks. If the fight against Islamic State is existential, then don’t send a measly six CF-18s. If procuring new fighters is fundamental to Canada’s security, procure some. If Canada doesn’t cut and run, then don’t end Jean Chrétien’s Afghanistan deployment just because Stephen Harper grew weary of the fight. If the way to stop refugees leaving Syria is to make Syria less of a hellhole, then don’t give Bashar al-Assad carte blanche.

    If, on the other hand, you belonged to a government that ended the Afghanistan mission, deployed nothing more than cross words against Assad, and did not send more hardware to the region than Belgium and the Netherlands, then maybe do a little less chest-beating.

    One more thing. For reasons that remain unexplained, except for Trudeau’s comment the day after the October election that he would draw down Canada’s military deployment in Iraq in a “responsible” way, the RCAF is still running bombing raids over there. Which means Trudeau’s policy has not yet been implemented in any way. Which means that right through Friday’s attack in Paris, Canada’s policy against Islamic State was Stephen Harper’s and Jason Kenney’s policy…”

    Mark Collins

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