Another thought on defence


6328921561_7a3c53f106_bI have written a lot on defence, some technical, some strategic, some practical, some, even, a little bit passionate, but I always keep in mind one thing (which is about the Army but applies, equally to “They that go down to the sea in ships” and to those who “have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings“):

Let us be clear about three facts. First, all battles and all wars are won in the end by the infantryman. Secondly, the infantryman always bears the brunt. His casualties are Slide1heavier, he suffers greater extremes of discomfort and fatigue than the other arms. Thirdly, the art of the infantryman is less stereotyped and far harder to acquire in modern war than that of any other arm. The role of the average artilleryman, for instance, is largely routine; the setting of a fuse, the loading of a gun, even the laying of it are processes which, once learnt, are mechanical. The infantryman has to use initiative and intelligence in almost every step he moves, every action he takes on the battlefield. We ought therefore to put our men of best intelligence and endurance into the Infantry.

IN PRAISE OF INFANTRY, Field-Marshal Earl Wavell, “The Times“, 19th April 1945

I have preached, before, that“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” But, we, professionals, only study logistics and engineering and so on so that we can get the bullets and beans, the fuel and frequencies to the sailors, on their windswept decks, the aircrew in their small, frail craft and the infantrymen, armed, mainly, with little but their own strength and courage, so that they can win the battles and the wars. The “professionals” study and do engineering and logistics for only one reason to keep the “poor bloody infantry” and their naval and aircrew compatriots in the fight. But it is a team and while the lowly infantry soldier is to often forgotten, until it is almost too late, (s)he is also just part of a team.

In the final analysis the strength of the military and the safety and security of every single Canadian depends upon a few sailors, aircrew members and combat soldiers. They need to be a lot of things, including well enough paid and equipped and supported, but, above all they need to be respected for what they do and, especially, for what they are prepared to do.

I think that key ingredient ~ respect ~ is lacking in this Liberal government and, in fact, amongst a majority of Canadians. A keystone of Conservative policy and a key promise from the next Conservative prime minister must be to accord to the men and women in uniform, in the Canadian Forces, the resources and respect they deserve.

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