In Part1, yesterday, I discussed my ideas for the command and control of the Canadian Armed Forces and for the sort of Navy that I think we need. These are, I hasten to emphasize, just my, very personal views, they are somewhat idiosyncratic and many people, many smarter than I, will differ.
Now I will turn to the Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
I said, over a year ago, that we needed:
- “A streamlined and “lean” command and control (C²) superstructure;
- New ships (20± first rate, “blue water,” ocean going combat vessels and a dozen coastal patrol vessels or corvettes) and fleet support ships and modern dockyards and support facilities;
- An enlarged, modern and properly organized and equipped army ~ probably of five or six brigades, two or three of them being near full, combat strength;
- New aircraft for NORAD and for expeditionary force employments, long range (especially maritime) surveillance and patrol, and a “global reach” transport force; and
- A suitable, efficient and effective supporting base, including a logistics (supply and maintenance) system and training schools.“
The Army poses complex organizational and equipment problems. It is, always, a tempting target ~ second only to the administrative and logistical, service support base ~ for experiments and cuts. Once a warship or aircraft is designed and built it is difficult to make major changes to how it works or how it is used; it’s not so with the Army ~ units can be restructured, reequipped and repurposed with (relative to the RCN and RCAF) ease. One cannot, for example, take one of the lightly armed HMCS Harry DeWolf class Arctic Offshore Patrol ships and, without spending more than a new ship would cost, refit it into a fast, heavily armed anti-submarine vessel, but one can, in about a year or so, reequip an airborne infantry battalion with armoured personnel carriers and retrain it for a brand new, mechanized role. The Army’s great flexibility makes it an easy target for meddling … especially by senior officers with special interests.
(Those who are interested in the details of Army organization and equipment, and capabilities and limitations should visit Army.ca, which has several boards in which some real experts (a few of whom follow this blog, too) try to explain ~ often in layman’s terms ~ complex things to others, many of whom are not at all expert in much of anything.)
Most Army forces are characterized as being either light or mechanized, there is a heavy component, to, in some armies. At the risk of oversimplifying, light forces are often airborne (paratroopers) or air mobile and have limited heavy equipment like tanks, while mechanized forces have lots of tanks, self propelled artillery and the infantry is ‘mounted’ in armoured vehicles. Canada needs some of each. (Heavy forces have even more thanks and the infantry is mounted in special purpose armoured fighting vehicles.)
As I mentioned yesterday, Canada should have a joint force that can project power globally. The centre of this force is a very large ship that carries hundreds of combat soldiers with their weapons and vehicles and can put them ashore by helicopter and landing craft or hydrofoil. The Army component of this force will need to be two battalions of amphibious infantry, each with some attached artillery and attack helicopters and so on – one on each of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. I’m not sure how big these battalions will have to be, possibly (actually probably) less than the 950± soldiers that one would expect to find in an up to strength mechanized infantry battalion but bigger than the 600± soldiers that, I think, we find in most Canadian infantry battalions today.
The Army also needs to be part of a joint Defence of Canada Force. The Army component should be a small light infantry brigade ~ perhaps two battalions of airborne/air mobile light infantry supported by a few heavy mortars and some heavy assault weapons. This light brigade will need a rather large engineer unit, probably a regiment, because there will be a need to construct or enhance landing fields and facilities in the far North. This force will require some specialized equipment for Arctic operations. This force will not, normally, deploy outside of Canada.
There should also be a somewhat larger light brigade (probably 5,000+ soldiers) that is part of a high readiness joint task force that can deploy rapidly into low and even mid intensity combat operations anywhere in the world.
But the bulk of the Canadian Army should be found in two divisions of more conventional troops.
The 1st Canadian Infantry Division (1CID) should have three regular force brigade groups, each of about 6,500 soldiers, plus a few specialist units ~ each brigade group should be an “all arms and services” mix of artillery, tanks and attack helicopters, infantry, engineers, signals, Army aviation, medical and logistics units. One or two of the brigade groups should be mechanized and one or two should be motorized.
That means that the regular, full time, standing Army has something like two light brigades and three conventional brigades, about 15 battalions of infantry, some large and some not so large, three regiments of main battle tanks (probably 250+ tanks) and three regiments of medium howitzers and attack, reconnaissance and utility helicopters and, and, and … My guess, based on experience, is that the Army will need to have about 50,000 soldiers in all in order to have almost 30,000 in field units. It has about 23,000 today. The first thing that 2% of GDP will have to do is to hire, train and equip more soldiers.
The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division (2CID) should be found almost entirely in the reserve force and should probably have four brigades: one in Western Canada, two in Manitoba and Ontario, one in Quebec and one in Atlantic Canada. Mostly, today’s reserve units which are called battalions and regiments, should be reorganized so that each is about a company or squadron or artillery battery and so that each is required to ‘field’ one trained platoon sized unit. The companies and squadrons should be organized into regional battalions but reserve force collective, or team training should almost never be done at above company/squadron/combat team level. Nine to 15 independent batteries of artillery should be found in 2nd Canadian Infantry Division along with several engineer squadrons and supply transport, maintenance and military police companies, etc. About 10% of the members of 2CID should be full time, regular troops. It is important to remember that Canada has what we might call a “student militia” ~ many of the junior ranks, especially, are high school and university students and many of them are in the reserve force for a good paying part time job, especially over the summer months. My guesstimate is that we will need 25,000+ reserve soldiers in about 125 reserve units, mostly small (175± reserve officers and soldiers) but a few, say about 20±, all in urban centres like Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, being larger, perhaps have 500+ reserve officers and soldiers each.
The 1st Division is composed of composite brigade groups, each self contained and able to operate, in war, on its own, on the high intensity battlefield. The 2nd Division is a base for mobilization. The brigades will not exercise, as such, and even units will only rarely work as units except in periodic civil assistance role ~ flood or other natural disaster relief operations, etc. The light brigades are ‘special’ forces designed for power projection, home defence and low to mid intensity operations.
As with the Navy, the Army, my model Army, will have it’s own, organic, Army Aviation units ~ Canadian Army officers and soldiers flying Canadian Army helicopters. That doesn’t mean three totally separate ‘aviation’ forces ~ training, especially, and maintenance can be done at national, joint schools and depots. But Navy and Army commanders must ‘own’ and operate (and manage) their own, organic aviation elements.
The Navy projects power, the Army is the only force that can seize and hold territory ~ only an Army can invade and occupy an enemy’s territory and march through his capital; but air power brings “shock and awe” and it can deliver enormous combat power quickly and, often, with surprise and precision … death and destruction come, literally, “out of the blue.” Air forces give commanders speed, flexibility and lethality … sometimes at (relatively) low risk and low cost, in terms of casualties
Canada is an immense country and our vast territories and the airspace over both our sovereign territory and the maritime approaches to it needs to be patrolled from the air … and from space ~ there is, simply, no other way to patrol our own sovereign territory. We can and we do survey our airspace by radar and satellite but only a manned, armed aircraft can “reach out and touch someone” who intrudes on it. That’s just one, fairly obvious role for an Air Force: an armed response to intruders; but we also need aircraft to, for example, move ground troops and supplies into whichever corner of our vast territory they might be needed for purely military or for civil assistance missions … as the image on the left shows, we, Canadians, even ship our aircraft by air!
Air forces are vital and while I have said, above, that both the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army need to “own and operate” organic Naval and Army aviation elements ~ mainly helicopters, but unmanned air vehicle, too, and possibly some manned, fixed wing aircraft, also ~ the Royal Canadian Air Force is the primary “air element” of the Canadian Armed Forces and it should have the lead role in e.g. flight training, to ‘wings‘ standard and in things like aircraft maintenance policy and operational airspace control and management.
There are several parts to an air force; in the Canadian case our main . elements are:
- Combat air units ~
- High performance fighter/interceptor aircraft for sovereignty enforcement and to meet our continental defence commitments under NORAD;
- High performance fighter/bomber/attack aircraft to conduct e.g. allied combat air patrol for naval forces, air superiority or bombing missions and/or to provide ground attack and bombing support for ground forces;
- Surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for use in Canada and around the world;
- Anti-submarine aircraft;
- Strategic and tactical air transport;
- Search and rescue aircraft;
- Training aircraft; and
- Passenger, including VIP, aircraft.
The question of “how many?” leads us back to the issue of Reliability, Availability Maintainability and Durability analysis and engineering I referred to yesterday. But it is always wrapped up in politics, too … in the earlier years of this decade the Conservatives said we needed 65± new, 5th generation fighters, just a few years later the Liberals said we had a “capability gap“ and we now need almost 90 4th generation fighter jets. Did the Liberals do a proper RAM-D analysis? Not bloody likely … they just pulled a number out of
their thin air. But the point is that back in the 1960s, when my cousin was flying CF-100 Canuck fighters, we needed n aircraft to meet our NORAD role in Canada; then, when we changed to the CF-101 Voodoo we only needed n/2 aircraft because the Voodoo had a longer range, greater reliability and needed fewer hours in the hanger for each hour it spent in the air than did the old CF-100; then when we changed to the CF-18 Hornet we only needed, say, n/4 aircraft, again because of a better performance envelope and much better reliability and maintainability. So it will be with the next aircraft. My guess, for fighters, is that we need five squadrons: two to provide NORAD aircraft at two major bases (one in the West (currently Cold Lake, AB) and one in the East (Bagotville, QC) and two to provide expeditionary force aircraft and one to provide an operational training unit. If the RAM-D analysis says we need, for example, 16 aircraft of Type A in a squadron to meet, say, NORAD standards, then we might agree that we need 90 aircraft, plus a few for testing and to replace losses ~ something near the Trudeau government’s guess. But, perhaps the engineers will say that a squadron needs only 12 of Type B aircraft, then the number needed for operations will be only 60, plus a few spares, and then the Harper government’s guess will look more accurate. I don’t know the number because I don’t know the type of aircraft we really need and I don’t know what the right performance standards are, either … plus I’m not a RAM-D expert.
I am, I think, on safer ground when I say that:
- Canada needs a new long range patrol (surveillance) aircraft and we probably need at least as many (18) as we have now … even though a new aircraft might have better performance and maintenance characteristics. Our CP-140 Aurora aircraft do yeoman service today and the need for their services is not diminishing, in fact it is growing; and
- We need more strategic and tactical air transport, including, for the RCAF, more Chinook heavy lift helicopters. In the real world there is no such thing as too much air transport capacity.
I will ignore both Search and Rescue and VIP transport because I think the SAR fleet is being renewed and I don’t know enough about the personnel and VIP transport business to comment.
—- End of Part 2 ~ Part 2 (the support base, training and structure) in a couple of days —-