Yesterday I began to try to develop some sensible baseline roles for the Canadian Armed Forces. Looking at out geo-political situation I focused, not unreasonably, I think, on continental defence, and I developed three roles:
- To maintain active military forces to share in the continental defence of the North American homelands, of the maritime approaches to them and of the airspace over both.
- To maintain a global, blue water fleet, supported by air forces, that is able to, simultaneously, maintain a constant Canadian presence in at least two different theatres.
- To maintain trained, disciplined military units that can, on very short notice, give effective “aid to the civil power” here in Canada.
Someone, anyone would be right to ask: What about the defence of Canada, our homeland?
The first, obvious question is “defence against what? against who?” Many people, especially those of a Liberal persuasion will tell you that no one, except the USA, can attack us .. the USA will not allow it. We need not, therefore, concern ourselves with the “Defence of Canada” except in so far as it means protecting our sovereignty claims against, mainly, the USA.
I’m going to take a more prudent, a more cautious, a more Conservative approach and suggest that a spectrum of threats with which Canada might want to deal unilaterally does exist.
Consider, just for example, that Vladimir Putin, in his rush to expand his Arctic claims and the military forces needed to back them up, decides that he needs a couple more small, semi-autonomous weather stations but he needs them on our side of the Arctic Ocean.
Now, some will say that isn’t at all likely. But, isn’t it?
It is Vladimir Putin with whom we are dealing, after all, not Mikhail Gorbachev and we have plenty of evidence that Putin is contemptuous of international law and pesky little details like Canadian sovereignty. And, let’s not forget that it’s been done before. The Germans built Weather Station Kurt on the coast of Labrador in 1943 ~ said to be the only German military operations conducted anywhere in North America ~ for the same good, practical, military reasons that, even in the space age, Russia might want to do the same thing.
How would we, how could we respond to such an intrusion?
The first, obvious, answer is that we would send the famous strongly worded diplomatic note through the Russian Embassy. But, it’s still Vladimir Putin and suppose, again just for the sake of argument, that, being Putin, he laughs at us. What do we do then?
The next obvious answer is that we send two RCMP officers up to the station to either dismantle it, if it us unmanned (as Weather Station Kurt was), or to send the people there packing. But, it’s still Putin’s Russians and they are very likely to send our policemen packing in the face of automatic weapons. What then?
Once again the obvious answer is that we call in the Russian Ambassador and tell him that the Canadian Forces will be on site in very short order to demolish the Russian weather station and arrest any Russians who are found to be in Canada illegally and that they will use deadly force, if necessary, to accomplish their ends. OK, that’s the right answer and it established a requirement for a Defence of Canada Force.
What is the Defence of Canada Force?
First it is ad hoc ~ it exists on paper, only, as an organized force, but all the necessary components do exist and are ~ should be ~ ready, now, to join together in whatever sort of joint task force is necessary to accomplish a low intensity mission anywhere here in our Canadian sovereign territory.
Second, obviously, it has elements from the RCN, the Canadian Army and the RCAF which will be used, as necessary, for any given operation.
Given the vast size of Canada we know that the force will always require strategic (very long range) and tactical airlift:
It will, also, always require some Army forces who are able to go anywhere and fight under any conditions:
There will, as often as not, be a need for Navy forces, too, using ships we already have, ships that (thanks to a far sighted Conservative government) are being built now, and, perhaps some other vessels we might need to consider:
The questions of how much, how many, and so on must be left to those ~ military advisors and civilian senior officials (mandarins) and elected political decision makers ~ qualified to answer, but that answer must include: some of each … some of what we already have and, maybe, some new, additional resources, too.
Operating anywhere in Canada requires forces that are somewhat specialized, and they may need some better, more specialized equipment and capabilities:
But, my fourth baseline role is:
To maintain combat naval, land and air forces and a full range of strategic and tactical support services, able to conduct low to mid intensity operations anywhere in Canada on short notice.