Canada’s Perfect (Politically) Defence Procurement System

(Caption for image at the top of the post: “An artist’s rendering of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, Lockheed Martin’s proposed design [it is the one selected] for Canada’s $60 billion fleet of new warships. Photo by Lockheed Martin Canada”.)

Matt Gurney (tweets here) lays bare at the National Post the brutal truth behind all the FUBARs–the start and finish of a piece that deals mainly with the forever acquisition of new Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) frigates for the Royal Canadian Navy. The project was officially approved in 2012 (in 2010 it had been announced that 15 ships would be procured for $26.2 billion); the first ship will probably be delivered sometime in the latter half of this decade:

Matt Gurney: Supporting local industry shouldn’t be the first consideration in military procurement

Rather than worrying about where things are built, a better question is: will Canadian soldiers be properly equipped? That’s all that matters

It is almost a truism in Canadian public policy: We are terrible at military procurement.

You hear that often. I’ve said it often. But it really isn’t true. We only think we’re terrible at military procurement because we are confused about what we’re trying to do. Our military procurements are not about actually procuring equipment for the military. They’re about creating jobs and catapulting huge sums of money into key ridings across the country.

Once you shift your perspective and look at it that way, you realize very quickly that our military procurement system is amazing. It bats a thousand. The problem isn’t with the system. We’ve just labelled it badly. If it were called the Domestic Defence Industry Subsidy Program instead of our military procurement system, we’d all be hailing it as a shining example of a Canadian public policy triumph.

This is terrible. It has cost us the lives of our soldiers, and probably will again. But it’s undeniable. Canadian politicians, Liberals and Conservatives alike, have long had the luxury of seeing defence as a cash pool, not a solemn obligation. And they sure have enjoyed that pleasure.

…Treating military procurement as just another federal jobs-creation program is engrained in our national thinking. It would have been good if COVID had knocked a bit of sense into us and forced us to, at long last, grow up a bit. But no dice. Oh well. Maybe next time.

For more on the CSC program see here, here, and here (last link is politically-attuned “defence” journalism aimed at stirring things up).

The start of a very relevant post from 2016; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose:

SNAFU, or, Canadian Defence Procurement

The start and end of a book review by Matthew Fisher, a rare Canadian journalist who is actually interested in matters military and has a real understanding of them [2020 UPDATE: Mr Fisher now writes for Global News and tweets here]–and note the deleterious role of our media generally:

New book pleads for fix to Canada’s dysfunctional military procurement system

The new book Charlie Foxtrot: Fixing Defence Procurement in Canada [see here] is a ‘cri de coeur’ for political leaders to forge a bipartisan approach when deciding what to buy for the Canadian Armed Forces.

The author, Kim Nossal, is not delusional. The Queen’s University professor [more here] recognizes that for this to happen ‘involves a considerable leap of faith.’..”

NO KIDDING. It’s an excellent book with several case studies.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

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