I pray that this will never happen. Read on..
Wednesday 24 January 2021
Forces adviser predicts merger with U.S. military
Burgeoning debt will force profound changes, report concludes
The Ottawa Citizen
Increasing government costs and public pressure to save money could force the merger of the Canadian and the U.S. militaries in the future, predicts a top Canadian Forces adviser.
Col. Howard Marsh, who advises the head of the Canadian Army, says that the amalgamation of the two militaries could come about around 2020 as North America's society and economy undergo unprecedented changes.
In an essay on future challenges facing military commanders and in an interview with the Citizen, the colonel outlined what he predicts will be a radically altered Canada:
In the next two decades the overall public debt will increase to $2 trillion. Large numbers of retirees will put financial pressure on the social safety net, forcing government to look for new ways to save money. A North American trading bloc will likely adopt the U.S. dollar as its currency. Soldiers will be in short supply as the battle for skilled workers increases. Military training centres and institutions such as the Royal Military College in Kingston could be shut down as soldiers' professional development is contracted out.
"With the realization that training, possibly doctrine, and command support are no longer germane to the (Canadian Forces) and that most of Canada's military capability is interoperable with the U.S.A., public discussion on amalgamating the two nations' armed forces is initiated," Col. Marsh predicts in the essay to be published in June in a Department of National Defence book.
Col. Marsh, 54, emphasizes that the merger prediction is "just one possible scenario," but he also warns that expected widespread changes will affect not only the military but Canada's public service, health care, social and pension plan systems.
"I look at the change likely to come upon us and I'm led to believe we won't be able to make it, which would probably force government or the public to ask questions about government structure or a different way of looking after the Canadian Forces," he said in an interview.
Col. Marsh believes that for the next decade the Canadian military will continue pretty much as it has in the past several years.
But he notes that because of future financial pressures caused by the country's accumulated debt, "there is a day of reckoning coming."
Among Col. Marsh's duties as Land Force Command Inspector is the job of examining emerging issues and trends. But he acknowledged that his writings, which in the past have warned about future military recruiting and financial problems, have a tendency to raise eyebrows among senior Canadian Forces leaders because of their sometimes controversial nature. That's something he accepts as part of the job.
Another concern outlined in Col. Marsh's essay is the failure of the Canadian Forces to produce officers capable of examining long-range strategic issues. The Canadian Forces, he notes, excels at producing leaders who are good at tactical, short-term thinking.
But when they reach the rank of general they are expected to switch almost overnight to handling long-range issues affecting the Canadian Forces.
"At the strategic level you have to think five or 10 years ahead.
"You are thinking globally and you're having to deal with social issues, political issues, and that's part of our problem," said Col. Marsh.
At the same time, the military's promotion system penalizes lower-level officers who don't conform to the short-term thinking. One army major told Col. Marsh he was leaving the Canadian Forces because his promotion chances were halted when he tried to examine issues beyond day-to-day military operations.
"He said, 'I've been told to stop thinking because I'm upsetting the people around me,' " according to Col. Marsh. "Can you imagine being told you're not being promoted this year because you're thinking too much?"
That officer has since done extremely well in private industry, Col. Marsh added.
The colonel's other concern is the emergence of what he calls the commercial-military ethos: the effect on the Canadian Forces of such programs as Alternative Service Delivery that contract out military jobs to private industry.
Soldiers serve because of loyalty to the institution and their comrades, he notes, and there is an unspoken soldiers' covenant that they will take care of each other in combat or if they are injured. The concern is that alternative service delivery could somehow weaken that system.
Col. Marsh wonders, for instance, how will private industry transport drivers hired for a Canadian Forces overseas mission react if the mission quickly deteriorates into war? "By and large we are at peace, so we haven't had the experience yet of a unit fighting its way out of a bad spot with ASD drivers and mechanics," said Col. Marsh. "Will the transport drivers be willing to sacrifice their lives to extract the soldiers?
"If we ever undo that soldier-to-soldier covenant, that becomes really bad for us," he added.