The submissions for the Defence Review are in and you can read them Defence Policy Review website.
I think that Professor Stephen Saideman of Carleton University got it about right when he said, “my observation of this Liberal government is that NATO is an afterthought. The focus on UN and peacekeeping fits with Liberal values and is aimed at reversing the efforts of the previous government. In their defence platform, NATO was only briefly discussed. But the reality is that whenever NATO engages in an operation, Canada shows up and expends a great deal of effort: the defence of Western Europe during the Cold War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, and now the reassurance mission … [and, while] … I do think that the best decision would be for Canada to spend more on its military, but I recognize that this is probably a non-starter. Whatever increases will probably not catch up to inflation. I also recognize that Canada will continue to spend more and get less due to the insistence on buying Canadian built equipment even when better/less expensive kit is available. Given these trends, the CAF is in for hard times ahead (although calling a new decade of darkness is a bit much)—expected to keep up the pace of operations while avoiding hard decisions about priorities.“
That pretty much echoes my opinion: I believe this whole Defence Review exercise is just an excuse to take defence off the table for a year or more while the Trudeau regime spends recklessly, even wildly on social priorities that aim, in the main, to get Premier Kathleen Wynne re-elected in Ontario.
There are, of course, as many opinions as their are submissions and some are just about what one would expect. Some argued for larger fleets; some argued for changes in personnel policy; some cautioned that peacekeeping is no longer what some in the Trudeau government might wish it to be while others argued that the baby-blue beret is alive and well and should be the prime focus of our efforts; some argued for a broad range of ‘general purpose combat’ capabilities while others argued that we should look for niche roles; and some argued for more spending on “peace and security” but others said that military spending doesn’t contribute to either! In short, the shots were all over the target …
… which, I suspect, is the desired outcome.
If there is any consensus at all it is that:
- The Trudeau government wants to spend less and less and then less still on defence; but
- The world is a rough, nasty, dangerous place and we will be unable, even if we are willing, to hide from it for very long; and
- We cannot ask the Canadian Forces to do much more with any less ~ less resources (money for pay, ammunition, food and equipment) must mean fewer, easier tasks.
Several people commented on the expensive, cumbersome, overly politicized defence procurement system, but aside from a couple of narrow, specific points about the costs of “buy Canadian” policies, I saw no suggestions for real reform.
Several more commented on the need for enhanced cyber-security ~ without, generally, agreeing on what that is or who ought to be responsible for it.
I think the Liberals got what they wanted and needed … conflicting opinions that agree on, essentially, nothing at all, leaving the Trudeau regime free to say, “we asked, we listened, but we didn’t get any concrete, consensus proposals;” then they can cut the defence budget, pick and choose a few hopeless, pointless, United Nations missions and ignore strategically important ones, and continue with wasteful, pork barrelling, procurement policies.