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–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.” However, given how procurement blunders have “degraded the Canadian military,” he argues a better way must be found to replace them than the largely dysfunctional procurement system that exists at present.
Charlie Foxtrot — military shorthand for “clusterf—” — is particularly relevant today because the Liberal government is seemingly intent on equaling if not surpassing the their Conservative predecessors’ brutal mishandling of the multi-billion dollar programme to finally buy new fighter jets [see “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?“]…
It has not only been the politicians who are to blame for Canada’s politicized procurement process. The media treat procurement as political theatre. There is little dispassionate analysis of the choices and the dilemmas involved in buying equipment that must last for decades in an environment where technological advances can render many acquisitions quickly obsolete [emphasis added, OH SO SADLY TRUE].
The government, for its part, has never hired enough procurement specialists, a problems that bogs down every purchasing process. Nossal argues that if Canada matched what its allies spend on a GNP basis, a lot of these problems would disappear. As it is, he writes, too many programs are always chasing too few dollars.
Nossal’s inevitable conclusion is that the “root cause” of Canada’s procurement failures has been an absence of political leadership. Governments have been able to get away with botching procurement for years because “the consequences of decisions made by one Parliament will not be felt until much later, usually well past the next general election.”
The only practical solution, Nossal says, is for Canada’s two leading political parties to create a bipartisan approach to defence procurement…There is zero chance that even an exceptionally brave Canadian politician would dare embrace such an obvious and honourable idea [OH SO SADLY TRUE]. Still, Charlie Foxtrot is worth reading to understand how much Canada would benefit if its leaders confounded voters and actually took the high road.
Lots more here on the constant Canadian procurement morass.
Contents via a message from the CDAI:
Ottawa, 1 December 2016 – The CDA Institute is pleased to release the latest issue of ON TRACK which features thoughtful and informative articles by experts from Canada and abroad on security and defence issues.
“Editorial – Canada is Back – The Defence Budget Must Grow…Significantly” by Tony Battista and Dr. David McDonough
“Defending Canada in the 2020s?” by Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson (Ret’d)
“Vérité, Devoir, Vaillance : Le CMR Saint-Jean retrouve son statut universitaire” par Oksana Drozdova
“Les stratégies arméniennes pour garder le contrôle du Haut-Karabakh” par Michael Lambert
“Paranoid or Pragmatic? What Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan can tell us about international rivalry” by John Mitton
“L’hiver Yéménite” par Alexandra Dufour
“Chemical Weapons use in Syria and Iraq: implications” by Dr. Jez Littlewood
“2016 Vimy Award – Acceptance Speech by recipient Dr. James Boutilier”
“Evaluating China as a Great Power: The Paradox of the ‘Responsible Power’ Narrative” by Adam MacDonald
“Supporting an Informed Public Debate: Seven Important Facts to Know about Military Requirements Planning” by Colonel Chuck Davies (Ret’d)
“Australia and Canada – different boats for different folks” by Dr. Andrew Davies and Christopher Cowan
“Space and the Third Offset in the post-post-Cold War period – Lessons for Canada and Australia” by Dr. Malcolm Davis…
The conclusion of a November 14 presentation by CGAI Senior Analyst Dave Perry to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence (the sort of serious discussion of broad defence issues we rarely see reflected in our media with their focus on procurement and scandal, real or potential):
With respect the Canada’s ability to counter possible air or space based threats to Canada, I think we do face some operational capability gaps.
Canada has no defence whatsoever against ballistic missiles. North Korea has been developing this technology for several years and is now working to launch these missiles from their submarines. While the United States has developed, a Ground Based, Mid-Course Defence against these missiles, and previously asked Canada to participate in that system, Canada declined to do so, and has subsequently never formally revisited that decision. This decision should be revisited. We should discuss the possibility of Canada joining Ballistic Missile Defence with the Americans, and if the terms are favourable, formally join.
Russian Air and Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles
The Russian military has significantly upgraded its air and naval forces in recent years and continues to do so. Over the last two years, the Russians have demonstrated this new equipment’s effectiveness as well as their willingness to use it to advance their own interests.
Russian forces successfully employed in Syria a new class of sophisticated conventional air and sea launched cruise missiles that have greatly enhanced range, are difficult to observe and are capable of precision targeting. Three aspects of this development are problematic. First, these weapons come in both nuclear and conventional variants. Second, they can be carried by Russian Long Range Patrol Aircraft and their newest and most capable submarines. Third, because of the increased distances at which these new missiles can successfully hit targets and their low observability characteristics, the current arrangements for defending North America, based on NORAD and the North Warning System, must be upgraded to counter them effectively [see “The Bear’s Bears: New NORAD Radars for Canadian North…“].
Because of this increased Russian activity around North America, we also need to enhance our ability to know what it happening in all three of our coastal approaches, and especially in the Canadian arctic. Since 2007 the Russians have conducted long range aviation patrols towards Canada’s Arctic airspace, and done so in ways that indicate an inclination on their part to link this activity to strategic confrontations with Canada elsewhere in the world. Similarly Russian submarine patrols in the Atlantic have recently reached levels not seen since the Cold War. We therefore need an expanded mix of air and space based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms [see “RADARSAT Constellation: New Canadian Satellites and Maritime, Arctic Surveillance, Part 2“].
As well, we need to maintain our ability to respond to aerial threats to North America. As Russia continues to modernize its air forces, this will require Canada to keep pace with improvements in Russian technology. As such, we need to move quickly to purchase a fleet of fighter aircraft capable of detecting the most modern Russian aircraft and sharing that information with the rest of the North American defence system [emphasis added, i.e. the F-35 which would be most compatible with the USAF]…
Further to this post (note Senegal as logistics hub in “Comments”),
the national defence minister gives a timeline and some details of types of mission but not yet where–and sensibly makes clear that new “peace operations” will not be like “traditional peacekeeping”:
Canada committed to three-year deployment in Africa
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada has committed to a three-year deployment in Africa that will be reassessed each year to ensure it has an “enduring” impact.
Canadian troops headed to Africa will operate in dangerous territory where peacekeepers have been killed, says Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
In an exclusive interview with the Star from Vancouver Sajjan said Canada has committed to a three-year deployment that will be reassessed each year to ensure it has an “enduring” impact.
It will be spread among a number of unspecified African countries, have a major focus on training and increasing “capacity” of the host nation as well as other countries’ troops, and build on existing social, economic and deradicalization programs on the ground.
“These missions, all of them, have the level of risk where peacekeepers have been hurt, they have been killed. And we’ve been looking at the risk factor in a very serious way,” said Sajjan.
Asked about his approach to deploying Canadian forces to conduct counter-insurgency operations — something the previous Conservative government was keen to avoid in Africa when it turned down requests to deploy soldiers to Congo and Mali — Sajjan said “some of it is going to be the reduction of radicalization in certain areas, in other parts it will be developing the capacity of the host nation [i.e. Mali].”
Just back from Mali, which hosts the deadliest United Nations mission in the world right now, Sajjan says it’s clear there are risks there. He said the same risks exist in the other African missions under consideration by the Liberal government.
But, he added, there are also risks to Canada of doing nothing to counter insurgent groups that are terrorizing populations and radicalizing new recruits, and suggested he and the Liberal government have made this clear to Canadians from “day one.”
“This is not the peacekeeping of the past — we need to look at what the challenges are of today and develop the peace operations for today’s challenges.”
After having travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia in late summer, and Senegal and Mali in the past week — Sajjan said he believes the UN mandate for and rules of engagement with hostile forces are “robust” enough to address the risks, particularly in Mali. The UN mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, has seen 106 casualties since it was established in 2013, including 69 from “malicious acts.”
“One thing I did learn, the mandate for the mission is robust so there no concern that our troops would be limited in any way,” said Sajjan. “I had a very direct conversation with the political leadership of the UN and the force commander about that, and the safety of our troops is always paramount.”..
Sajjan stressed that a big part of the federal analysis underway — as he, two other federal ministers, and military and civilian fact-finders have travelled to Africa — is examining how Canada’s contribution of some 600 soldiers and up to 150 police can have a maximum impact, whether it’s through military training, building on economic development programs and opportunities like on the “agriculture side” in Mali, or combating sexual violence, including by UN peacekeeping troops…
Sajjan said Canada is looking at spreading its various contributions — military, police and civilian — among a number of UN missions [see list here], not African Union-led missions, in Africa. But it will support African Union efforts at the same time…
Right now, he said, much of the public attention is on exactly where soldiers will be sent.
But he said Canadians should expect a broader mission that could see troops sent to one end of Africa while other elements of Canada’s contribution will be sent to a different part. He said there are troop and police training centres across Africa, and “a small number of troops or even RCMP can have significant impact in other areas, to make a training centre far more effective.”..
Sajjan said the government has “narrowed” the ultimate destinations for its Canadian mission, but did not tip his hand on his preference.
He said there is nothing to be read into the countries he’s travelled to, nor the fact that he recently went to Mali, saying he couldn’t fit it into the earlier trip to central and East Africa. Although he has not travelled to the Central African Republic, Darfur, or South Sudan, Sajjan said he has addressed the same questions around those missions at meetings in Ethiopia late summer.
He said the decision on where to dispatch Canada’s peace support mission is expected to be finalized by the federal cabinet before end of year [emphasis added]…
So a Schwerpunkt in Mali with several penny-packets elsewhere it seems.