My friend the Technoviking (AKA Major David Garvin of The Royal Canadian Regiment, currently posted in Washington DC) gets “down and dirty” with some food for thought for the Defence Review in his blog post. He describes, in a bit of detail, what a “real” army battle group,* ready to face a perceived Russian threat in Europe, ought to look like.
This is a level of detail which may be too much for some but it is the kind of thinking that real, battle tested Canadian officers do amongst themselves and on internet fora.
One of his interlocutors makes a vital point: “Six of the proposed 16 platoons,” Chris says, “don’t currently exist. Three of those we don’t have the corporate knowledge to support in a meaningful way. Of the nine rifle platoons, Bns currently could fully stock maybe 60%, so let’s say six of those nine. Of those nations listed we are the only one that doesn’t have modern integral anti armour in the pls. I love the 84, but it’s not going to cut the mustard foe what we’d need it to do … Yup, TOW is coming back online with a 1960s solution to 2020s problems, but this again is too little to be of major concern … Are we going mech? As at leaves us with only 6 Bns, or we again up train the light troops and extend their up training, which would probably look like a year at minimum for a years deployment. So let’s say 15 months for light guys. So up to 27 months of family disruption on a nine year rotation. That’s not gonna sit well … Right now we have to do some long hard looks in the mirror and understand we’re not who we were and we won’t be possibly ever, but definitely not anytime soon. “
And he goes on … but the point is that the Canadian Army is a pretty pale imitation of what many informed, serving officers think it ought to be. It need more people, more, new and better equipment ~ a thorough ‘refit,’ in Navy terms. And that means more money and a better organized, lower ranked, command and control superstructure. My sense is that the whole purpose of the 2016 Defence Review is to delay, delay and delay some more until events overtake the deliberations and the Canadian Armed Forces can be left to rot and rust.
Major General Emory Upton, a US Civil War commander and strategist said:
“All our wars have been prolonged for want of judicious and economical preparations.”
This applies in Canada, too; it did in 1885 when we cobbled together a force to go to the Red River and it did in 2005 when we had to “mix and match” companies and squadrons from across the army to sustain one battle group in Afghanistan. We, Canadian families, have paid a high price in lost sons and brothers and fathers for governments’ ineptitude and lack of strategic vision. That persists today and the Technoviking is right to call attention to it.
* A battle group as described by Major Garvin is close to 2,000 soldiers (and air force members0 and to sustain even one in operations in Europe we would need five up to or near full strength in Canada and a few more in reserve ~ say nine or ten in all, organized into three or four brigades.