October 25, 2004

Really more of a "grove"

From Josh Marshall, quoting George Bush:

"Now my opponent is throwing out the wild claim that he knows where bin Laden was in the fall of 2001, and that our military passed up the chance to get him in Tora Bora. This is an unjustified criticism of our military commanders in the field."

"The field" = "Tampa"?

Posted by BruceR at 06:39 PM

Peacekeeping brigade qualms

The current government's campaign promise to add a fourth full-time "peacekeeping brigade" never made much sense. First, there is no money: the Canadian Forces are currently running a $1 billion annual deficit, and there's been no promise of new funding. Second, there are no troops: the Forces are currently 7,000 positions understrength, and at current recruiting rates will take six-to-ten years just to fill up, before starting any expansion. Third, there are no recruits: Canadians have no interest in signing up, for the most part. A four year-long drive to increase the size of the army reserve has managed a net increase of 750. Adding 5,000 full-timers is unlikely in the current employment environment. So any reasonable projection for doing this right puts the success point somewhere in Prime Minister Martin's fourth consecutive term of office.

Tactically, the current CF force restructuring is focussed on domestic ops, lightweight (Haiti-style) ops with non-US partners, or medium-weight ops with substantial US support. There are lots of restructuring examples one could look at, but focus for the moment on air defence. The recent decisions to take both the .50 cal heavy machine gun and Javelin SAM missile (and the 35mm AA gun) out of service mean Canadian battalion-or-smaller forces overseas have no integral air defence capacity of any kind, and can only operate in an air-hostile environment under US air cover (or possibly our own scarce CF-18 jets). Otherwise, all the other side needs is one jet trainer or modern attack helicopter and we're finished. If it were to be sent overseas, the brigade-level ADATS system is effective enough for main area defence, but will be too valuable to send out with detached forces, convoys, etc. (It's also going to be relied on now as our long-distance tank killer).

So either a) the Americans are there, in which case it's not likely to be "peacekeeping", or b) the Americans aren't there, in which case it's a theatre so lightweight that air power is not an issue. (The same calculation can be made for heavy artillery, tanks, and a couple other systems we currently lack.) In most such cases you could as easily send civilian police volunteers (as has been done in Haiti). The "peacekeeping brigade," in a way, is risking becoming to Canada as ballistic missile defense is to the United States: an expensive program that saps military funds for political reasons.

Posted by BruceR at 10:21 AM