Thursday, December 24, 2009

"THE CANADA FIRST DEFENCE STRATEGY – ONE YEAR LATER"/Update: CF budget cuts this FY and St. Steve Staples

We at The Torch were distinctly unenthused by the "Strategy": see the posts here and here and follow the links.

Now there is a paper by Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) George Macdonald, fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, and former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. Read between the lines of the "Executive Summary" for the unappetizing reality (links added):
While the Canada First Defence Strategy, formally issued in June 2008, is a welcome encapsulation of the Government’s perspective and plans for Defence, it is very general in its strategic framework and fails to prioritize any of the initiatives described. The existence of a small but steady increase in defence funding over the longer term is very positive for planning purposes, but the ability to meet the demand for capability with the supply of resources will remain a major challenge. Adjustments to the Strategy will certainly be required as circumstances and priorities evolve, suggesting the need for a mechanism to make modifications from time to time.

Some progress has been made in implementing the policy and the specific investments identified, notwithstanding the difficulty in quantifying relevant performance measures. Announcements related to large capital purchases, often considered the bellwether in assessing the development and sustainment of military capability, have been few and far between, although some recent activity is encouraging. Moreover, some projects have suffered setbacks or have stalled.

Having said this, the acquisition of equipment is only one part of the Government’s overall defence strategy. An objective examination of progress in the other three pillars of the CFDS – personnel, readiness and infrastructure – indicates some movement towards achieving a balanced military capability, even though the actual measurement of success is challenging.
Pp. 4-6 give a useful summary of progress--and not--on major equipment acquistions (there are many useful links in footnotes throughout the piece). A few excerpts from the final section of the paper, "Concerns with the CFDS":
...there is still no obvious strategic framework, that is, no identification and prioritization of CF contributions to overall Government defence and security objectives; hence, there is no way to assess the actual utility of the CFDS and, more specifically, whether resources are adequate. The CFDS is essentially a mechanism to capture and update the Government’s thinking on defence objectives and funding. No linkage is made, for example, with a broader national security environment or the future of the defence industrial base. Having said this, the document does provide an adequate policy foundation from which to extrapolate direction in developing military capabilities...

...the combined demand for frigates and destroyers [supposed to be replaced by a "Canadian Surface Combatant", see here and here], new fighters (more here), SAR aircraft, armoured vehicles, uninhabited aerial vehicles (more here), etc in the numbers proposed will almost certainly exceed the funding available. Moreover, the demand between 2015 and 2020 will be acute as funding for these major undertakings overlaps...

...And one must not forget the need to address all pillars of a capability, especially that related to personnel, which will continue to consume about half of the defence budget. Demographic projections for the segment of the population from which military manpower will be drawn in the future suggest that efforts to recruit, train and retain the right people will become increasingly challenging...
One suspects the author was rather bending himself in order not to be too critical of the government. See also the end of this post:
Afstan hitting UK defence budget hard--and the CF?
Canadian military faces $190 million in cutbacks
All three arms of service will be affected to help pay for defence strategy amid federal deficit

The air force is required to cut $59 million while the navy has $52 million in reductions to make, according to the Canadian Forces. It was recently revealed that the army's portion of the reduction is $80 million.

Reductions by the air force represent seven per cent of its annual budget; the navy cuts represent six per cent. The army's share is five per cent of its budget [surely their operational budgets or something, not their total budgets - MC]. All three services are reducing travel and attendance at conferences...

Steve Staples, president of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa, said the Defence Department is in a better position than other departments to weather the expected cuts to the federal government's planned disbursement. He said social, health and arts spending likely will be hit hardest as the Conservatives tighten budgets.

"These cuts that DND has to make are a drop in the bucket since the department has been enjoying large increases each year for many years," said Staples, who has criticized what he calls excessive spending on the military. "Compared to other departments, DND is the teacher's pet of the government."

The money saved is to be "allocated to best meet responsibilities defined by the Canada First Defence Strategy," an e-mail from the Canadian Forces noted...

But the CFDS barely describes any concrete, discrete, responsiblities. See above.

As for St. Steve Staples and the Rideau Institute, saying that he has been critical of "excessive spending on the military" is the usual limp and hardly complete description of the joint or its president that our media usually employ, e.g. (the first example below is from the same reporter):

...the Rideau Institute, which has opposed the Afghan war and large-scale defence spending...
No need for the "has". It just plain opposes--past, present and future, regardless of the situation or facts. And it might have been worth including this aspect:
...the Rideau Institute, a left-leaning public-policy group...
"Far" left-leaning, I'd say. Just look at usual suspects who are involved.

Upperdate: Should have noted Mr Staples' real labour of love, never mentioned by our journalists and no longer mentioned at the Rideau Insitute site itself (as far as I can see):
About Us

“A ceasefire is always the first step to achieve peace.” is a project of the Rideau Institute on International Affairs, a public policy research and advocacy group based in Ottawa. is the institute’s main public outreach and advocacy arm... has pushed Canadian politicians of all stripes to oppose the war in Afghanistan... order to act as strong political forces in Ottawa that lobby for peace, the Rideau Institute and are not registered charities (and therefore cannot issue tax receipts for donations until the federal government changes its charity laws)...

You can contact through the Rideau Institute.

Rideau Institute
The Hope Building
63 Sparks Street, Suite 608
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5A6
t. 613 565-9449 ext.24

Get the picture that our media, either conciously or out of culpable ignorance, do not to give?

Predate: More on and our journalists' being economical with the truth (literally):
The Globeite secret agenda revealed!


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