February 25, 2005


In case anyone's wondering, no I'm not shocked into silence by the federal budget or the missile decision... just busy.

The budget is less than it seems, of course... no significant new spending above a cost-of-living increase (which will be all eaten up in payraises) until 2007 is nothing to get too excited about, yet... there's plenty of opportunities to recant (starting with, as the most likely, a Liberal re-election between now and then that gives an improved NDP the balance of power). I note that the military leadership is now saying they didn't want any money for a couple years anyway, so they have time to figure out how to spend it when it comes... whereas all the Liberal environment and daycare initiatives kick in right away. Either that means we're hopelessly naive as a military, or we're putting a good face on a set-back in last-minute budgetary horsetrading (note how the immediate cash infusion dropped in the pre-budget stories from $1 billion a month ago, to $750 million just before the budget, to $500 million in the actual budget). You pick.

Only two things are keeping the military in the budget arena at all, neither directly to do with national defence... it's an easy wedge issue to placate the Conservatives (and so keep the minority government), and hopefully also to placate the Americans for ditching "missile defense."

In other news, work permitting I am seriously considering crashing the bloggers' meeting in Toronto, tonight, so if you're there I might see you.

Other updates: the RAF C-130 investigation appears to have discarded hostile action and is now looking at catastrophic wing failure as the most likely reason for the Balad air crash. There's video of the 2002 wing failure of a civilian C-130 here. The C-130 in question, a British-ized C-130E, was built in 1967. Last week the USAF grounded many of its older C-130Es, due to problems with wing cracks found on a recent inspection. There is no word yet from the Canadian Air Force, which has 19 of the older E-model Hercs, along with 13 newer C-130H's. (but see below)

Also, there will likely not be a court-martial in the Fallujah marine shooting, discussed here. previously. As with the Schmidt trial, covered here ad nauseam, I doubt this is due to the lack of a prima facie case. I suspect the real reason here is that, given all the extenuating circumstances (the soldiers' own wounding, his loss of a friend, etc.), a conviction would be impossible, and any acquittal would significantly impact future court martial cases concerning unauthorized shooting. The U.S. JAG's probably thinking it's better not to put this one to the test, and have the loss amount to any kind of open season for future prisoner-killings. They may be right.

UPDATE: As a taxpayer, I should say I'm happy with any budget that a)does cut taxes, if only marginally; b) keeps the budget balanced; c) doesn't cut military (or higher education) spending still further (I like making money, so I'm biased on those two issues). Martin's three for three on this one, as far as I'm concerned. Still wouldn't vote for him, though.

Also, final point on the Canadian C-130E's... in 2003, the Canadian Air Force reduced flying time on its entire Herc fleet by 25%, to 16,000 hours per year for the fleet as a whole, also due to evidence on inspection of wing cracks: it's possible we dodged a bullet here. As well, the three worst-shape C-130Es are now being rebuilt, as H models... more here.

Posted by BruceR at 10:38 AM