Promises Promises

Numerous times during the past four years, Canadians were promised a Defence White Paper which would follow and respond to an updated Foreign Policy review. A Who’s Who of government leaders made such a pledge: Manley, Axworthy, Eggelton, and Prime Ministers Chrétien and Martin all added their voices to the chorus, as did ­others. Eventually, we were told that an internal review by the bureaucracy would suffice. Clearly, to anyone who has been paying attention during the past decade and has noticed Canada’s ever-diminishing role on the global stage, tinkering is not enough – a major rethink of foreign and defence policy is urgently required.

The 1994 White Paper was 50 pages and 26,000 words long. By eliminating the usual filler, I have prepared a 2005 version using a mere 700 words:

2005 Defence White Paper Assumptions

  1. Prime Minister Martin is serious about his Responsibility to Protect doctrine.
  2. Credit received by Canada, across the spectrum of international relationships, is proportional to the risks associated with the military task(s) undertaken.

International Environment
It has changed! Peacekeeping, as understood and loved by the majority of Canadians, is no more. As long as nations avoid going to war, which is the current trend, the threats to world peace will continue to be posed by terrorists, thugs, war lords, corrupt governments, and nations hell-bent on producing nuclear weapons.

Recognizing the United Nations’ Security Councils dysfunctional decision-making, dominated by narrow self-interests and rife with catastrophic failures during the past decade, Canada will instead participate with multi-national organizations like NATO, OSCE, EU, OAS, G8, L20, and other like-minded coalitions for its contribution to peace and security. This decision will not preclude Canada’s participation in UN security missions, providing they are seen by the Government of Canada to be worthy.

Domestic Considerations
Canada is on the terrorist’s hit list. North American security is a primary concern to the US and we will make a viable contribution to new continental security initiatives in order to protect our sovereignty. To do otherwise would relegate us to “spectator status” watching unilateral decisions made in Washington impact our future for decades to come. The Canadian Forces will instead develop a rapid reaction capability permitting timely deployment in an operational mode to any location in the nation including the far north.

Force Structure
The Canadian Forces will henceforth be referred to as The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The CAF will immediately initiate a restructuring that will permit it to be strategically mobile and capable of participating with like-minded nations in operations up to and including combat at sea, on land and in the air. Joint operational excellence will henceforth be a priority objective for the CAF. On the domestic front, the Reserves will be expanded, particularly in BC and Saskatchewan where there is currently little Regular Force Army presence with a view to responding within a streamlined chain-of-command to the Provincial Premiers’ requirements at the time of any crisis, natural or otherwise.

Within two years the Navy will take delivery of two San Antonio Class LPD17 assault ships, each capable of lifting a battle group of 800 to 1,000 soldiers, their vehicles, logistics, medical and helicopter support. To avoid the 10 year procurement /production period the ships will be leased from the US. An amphibious force mounting site will be established at CFB Shearwater. Break-up and sale of this invaluable facility will cease forthwith. A second site will be established on the West coast in due course.

Two of the Navy’s four destroyers will be replaced and the current fleet of frigates will be retained along with the four Upholder class submarines.

This structure will provide interoperability capabilities with our allies and security for the assault ships when they are underway.

The announced plan to purchase three Joint Supply Ships is cancelled. Two ships capable of resupplying the Navy underway will be purchased and operational within five years.

The Army personnel strength will be increased bringing all units to 110% manning levels. Units will not require augmentation prior to deployment. Balanced units with proven structures will deploy on operations, not mission specific temporary organizations which is now the case. The Army will convert one of its three existing brigades into a Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) with three balanced battle groups Two will be organized, equipped and trained to deploy by sea and the third by air with parachute and air landed capabilities. The remaining two brigades will rotate between training and reinforcement to the RRF and homeland security tasks.

The Air Force will continue with the upgrading of its F-18 fleet and the replacement of its smart weapons inventory. The C-130 tactical lift fleet will be replaced cognizant of the needs of the airborne/ landing requirements of the RRF. The Maritime patrol aircraft fleets capabilities will be maintained. Ship borne helicopters capable of lifting RRF tactical elements from the assault ships mentioned above will be purchased. Negotiations will continue with commercial airlines to provide guaranteed strategic lift when called upon by the Canadian Forces.

National Defence Headquarters will be restructured and de-integrated. The majority of civilian and military staff will be separated. A modest number of both will remain integrated and comprise the staff for the Department of National Defence. The remaining civilian staff will respond to the Deputy Minister of Defence. The military staff will create a fully integrated, joint operational Canadian Armed Forces Headquarters. The overall strength of the civilian and military staff will be reduced by 50% by January 2006 – and in achieving this goal, tasks and functions will not merely be relocated outside of Ottawa. The resulting 3,000 freed-up positions will be assigned to operational units.

The government undertakes to provide long-term guaranteed funding for this comprehensive restructuring and reorientation of the Canadian Armed Forces. Specific amounts will be announced once estimates have been completed. Grants in lieu of taxes, environmental clean up, military pensions, and ­government-directed programs, such as bilingual education and gender sensitivity training will continue; however, they will not be paid from DNDs budget thereby freeing up some $3 billion additional dollars for operations and equipment.

The reorganization and reorientation of the Canadian Armed Forces directed herein will provide for enhanced North American security and will permit Canada to play a more meaningful role in the quest for international peace and security. As a leading exponent of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, Canada will not only talk the talk, it will walk the walk.
OK, so I lied. My paper is 971 words, not 700 as promised, but I saved the Canadian tax payer at least $3 million dollars, and it didn’t take two years to write!
Addendum: The recent revelation that General Hillier has directed a review of the review is more than a little encouraging, particularly when combined with his statements on the importance of an expeditionary capability and jointness.

Major General Lewis MacKenzie retired from the Canadian Forces in 1993 after 36 years of service. Since that time he has regularly been under contract to numerous North American media outlets as a commentator on international affairs and frequently lectures at US military institutions where the opinions and experiences of retired military personnel are considered to be of some value.
© FrontLine Defence 2005