Thursday, February 01, 2007

Conservative campaign promises: other shoes drop/CF strength increases

What may be done to fulfill the pledges to base regular Army "rapid reaction" battalions in Goose Bay and Bagotville (as well as Trenton and Comox). These units would hardly be the same thing and I have no idea how effectual this basing would be in military terms.

Given the headline for David Pugliese's story in the Ottawa Citizen, perhaps the Liberals should start re-running that attack ad from the last federal election campaign (paragraphs out of sequence):
Military wants more troops in cities
No--it's what the Conservative want.
...the Conservative strategy [no it's not Mr Pugliese--it's the military's "strategy" to satisfy the Conservatives - MC] calls for the regular force "footprint" to be increased across the country. A Northern Sovereignty Support Centre will be established in Goose Bay, N.L., and the 439 Combat Support Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Que., will be expanded and redesignated as an "expeditionary" unit to better support domestic and international operations. In particular, the squadron would support deployments of the military's rapid-reaction Disaster Assistance Response Team.
Why not put the Northern Sovereignty Support Centre in, er, the North? After all, "Joint Task Force(North) is currently under construction" (formerly Canadian Forces Northern Area Headquarters) at Yellowknife. Goose Bay sure is a long (political) way away.

Will 439 Squadron do all the expeditionary stuff with only Griffon helicopters? Maybe they will get some of the new heavy-lift Chinooks.
The Forces will also establish a new "naval reserve division" in Prince Rupert, BC. That move is in "recognition of Prince Rupert as a major seaport and a growing economic link between Canada and the Far East," the strategy document adds.

Between now and 2016, the army will establish "territorial response battalions" in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Niagara-Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Saint John, Halifax and St. John's. The units would be designed to react to domestic emergencies such as natural disasters or a terrorist attack.

The details are outlined in the Conservative government's "Canada First" defence strategy, which has been leaked to the Citizen. No date has been set for the strategy to be released publicly. The report outlines the direction the military will follow over the next 15 years.

During the election campaign, the Conservatives promised their government would create territorial battalions. At the time, Stephen Harper said each unit would be composed of 100 regular troops and 400 or more reservists. The strategy paper, however, does not contain details on how big the units will actually be.

The plan calls for the regular forces to increase to 70,000 by 2011 and then to 75,000 by 2016. The reserves will be increased in size to 30,000 over the next five years and then to 35,000 "over the long term."

But there will also be shifts in military personnel to better support training of new recruits as well as bolster front-line units.

"As this process unfolds, the Regular Force will also become more effective by examining current assignments, including headquarters at all levels, with the aim of redistributing 5,000 military personnel from low-priority positions to further enhance front-line units," the strategy points out. "As part of this process, some military positions may be transferred, eliminated or filled by civilians."

The current number of personnel in the regular force is about 63,800. The reserve force is now around 24,000, according to figures provided by the Defence Department.

According to the strategy, the army reserves will undergo a fundamental transformation to be able to respond more effectively to domestic emergencies in rural and urban areas. The reserves will provide the bulk of the personnel for the territorial battalions, in addition to still seeing its members volunteer for overseas missions such as Afghanistan...
But take it all with a grain of salt. From another story:
A spokesman from the defence minister’s office refused to confirm any details from the leaked document.

"This is pure speculation," said Isabelle Bouchard, comparing any analysis of the draft plan to complaining that a soup is too salty before getting a taste. "No decision has been made. The plan is not done."


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