Saturday, February 17, 2007

National Defence critic is Liberal with the truth/Feuding at Fort Ottawa?

M. Coderre's memory is faulty, or else he does not care about the facts:
Coderre...pointed out the Liberals had a comprehensive plan to replace military aircraft and other equipment, including the Hercules air transport fleet.

The only difference between the Liberal and Conservative plans, Coderre said, was the Liberal plan did not include a $3.4 billion purchase of four C-17 Globemaster long-distance transport planes...
Not quite true. In November 2005 the Martin government only agreed to buy a Herc replacement (in effect the C-130J). Then MND Graham was unable to get the government to agree to a much larger 12.1 billion dollar acquisition of tactical transports, heavy-lift helicopters, and fixed-wing SAR aircraft.

So M. Coderre is wrong on two points:

1) the actual Liberal plan was much smaller than what the Conservatives are now doing;

2) the "only difference" with the Graham package that was not accepted is not the CC-177s (oops! he didn't get that right either)--the Conservative government still has not agreed to a fixed-wing SAR purchase. Plus the Conservative package includes Joint Supply Ships and trucks.

And it now appears there is a chance there may be no SAR acquisition after all, with Buffaloes instead being re-engined and older but serviceable Hercs kept on doing SAR--as they do now for the country outside B.C. where the Buffaloes roam. The fixed-wing SAR story certainly seems to be turning into a soap opera.

M. Coderre can be contacted here.

Meanwhile Don Martin of CanWest News comments on reports of tensions between MND O'Connor and CDS Hillier. There's this ridiculous inaccuracy:

Retired general O'Connor used to be Hillier's boss, but fell just short in his dream of reaching the top spot in the military's command...
A Brigadier-General (the MND's highest rank) is nowhere near the full General of the CDS.

But this does seem plausible:

By most accounts, there was a very acrimonious showdown last month when O'Connor rolled out a six-page attachment to the mandate letter that diverted soldiers to protect Arctic sovereignty and put them in position around a dozen cities as emergency responders.

It's a prohibitively costly exercise that will lay claim to thousands of already scarce troops who are needed on international fronts, particularly with the Taliban on the rise. The way some military brass see it, a domestic priority is admirable, but those soldiers just train for eventualities that may never come.

Still, O'Connor is adamant that his Canada First defence policy is critical and has infuriated the brass by demanding Hillier plan for the questionable deployment of a rapid-reaction battalion to Goose Bay, N.L., and the relocation of the Joint Task Force 2 to Trenton, Ont., which seems more to do with electioneering than legitimate military manoeuvres...
Somehow I suspect it's not just the MND pushing the politically-motivated ideas; the Prime Minister himself made some of the silly election promises. Some posts on this issue:

Conservative campaign promises: other shoes drop/CF strength increases
Campaign promises and JTF 2
"The Goose Bay boondoggle"
Stupid Conservative defence promises
Minister of National Defence seeing the light?
Now a post of Damian's on what really needs to be done regarding budgets.

MND O'Connor can be contacted here.


Blogger Unknown said...

I might point out that O'Connor was Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) around 1980 and that Hillier spent some of his career as a junior officer in the RCDs so its entirely possible that that was when O'Connor was Hillier's boss.

11:57 p.m., February 18, 2007  

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