Mark Collins – Defence Budget One Percent GDP: What Balance Between Canadian Armed Services?

A retired Army colonel regretfully assesses that the regular Army is too large–an excerpt from a very cogent piece at the “CDA Institute Blog: The Forum”:

Core Challenge for the Defence Policy Review: Creating the Right Balance

…Does Canada, with no credible conventional land threat and no legacy colonial responsibilities, but very substantial maritime and air approaches to police and defend, have the proportions right?..

It very much pains this proud former Canadian Army officer to conclude that this country very probably does not have the right balance. The Canadian Armed Forces have only a few “no-fail’ missions. Disaster response at home and, in a supporting role, domestic security are two of them but these will rarely require significant numbers of well-equipped and highly trained combat-capable forces. They need flexible, well-organized and disciplined troops in adequate numbers, and the means to get them to where they are needed quickly. Two missions that do need well-equipped combat-capable forces are protection of our maritime (surface and sub-surface) and air approaches, and it is a national imperative that we do these tasks well enough to hold the confidence of both ourselves and our US continental defence partners [note: defending our maritime approaches does not necessarily require the same  type of naval vessels as for blue water expeditionary operations–nor need they be built in Canada at extravagant cost other than for political reasons] .

Most other Canadian military capabilities have to be considered optional, or at least scalable to the level of national ambition. In the context of a pretty clear multi-party political consensus on limiting defence spending to about 1 percent of GDP, this means that appetites for maintaining and employing military forces also have to be limited and governments have to pay close attention to priorities. Capabilities needed to do the nation’s “no-fail” missions must be adequately resourced first. What’s left is what’s available to resource expeditionary capabilities for tasks like international peace operations…

Colonel Charles Davies (Ret’d) is a CDA Institute Research Fellow and a former Logistics officer who served for four years as the strategic planning director for the Material Group of the Department of National Defence and three years as the senior director responsible for material acquisition and support policy in the department…

As for air and maritime threats:

NORAD to Face Escorted Cruise Missile-Carrying Russian Bombers?

USN “Admiral Warns: Russian Subs Waging Cold War-Style ‘Battle of the Atlantic’”–and RCN?
[note “Comments”–and those subs can also carry cruise missiles, more here]

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

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