Another Recce Guy
Armour Forum Moderator
Member # 279
posted 30 May 2021 09:57
|Military in 'relentless decline'
Defence Department will soon be unable to meet commitments, internal report says
Canada's military is so underfunded it will be plunged into a "relentless decline" unless defence officials immediately alter the way resources are divided, says a secret government report written six weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The sustainability review, dated Nov. 2, 2001, says that to ensure the military remains effective, the Department of National Defence must consider a wide array of "major trade-offs," such as whether elements of the navy should be chopped in order to boost aspects of the army.
If the status quo prevails, the draft report warns, a military that is already stretched to the limit will become increasingly incapable of maintaining its mandate outlined in the 1994 Defence White Paper -- a mandate many observers already consider obsolete.
"The current situation cannot endure," reads the review, obtained by the National Post under the Access to Information Act. "Either corrective action is taken now, or Defence will gradually become unable to meet its White Paper commitments and respond to emerging challenges. Defence is at the crossroads."
The revelation of the strongly worded review comes as John McCallum, the newly appointed Minister of Defence, is getting acquainted with a department already plagued by low morale, unreliable equipment and what many consider to be an outdated vision.
That vision has been repeatedly criticized in recent months by numerous military analysts, a Senate committee and the Auditor-General, all of whom say the Canadian Forces are far too under-resourced to meet today's military challenges.
The Chrétien government continues to maintain that its defence policy "remains basically sound," but Art Eggleton, who was fired from Cabinet this week for granting a $36,000 contract to his former girlfriend, announced a complete re-examination of that policy in February.
The official update will not be completed until at least the fall, but the newly revealed sustainability report, which was written three months before Mr. Eggleton's announcement, paints a dire picture of the state of Canada's military.
"Shortfalls exist in all major areas of the Defence Services Program (DSP), including operations, maintenance, human resources and capital investment," reads the review.
Specific examples of the funding shortfalls are censored, making it impossible to determine whether the Defence Department felt it deserved more than the $1.2-billion over five years that it was awarded during the last federal budget.
What is clear, however, is the authors of the report feel the solution to the military's problems is not necessarily more money. Instead, the review recommends officials address the budget problems by creating a manageable balance between the number of troops and the types of equipment they use. In other words, they must decide what is crucial and what is potentially dispensable.
Some of the possible trade-offs the report says must be considered include:
- The number of personnel versus investment in high technology.
- Flexible multi-purpose forces versus single-purpose niche forces.
- Investment in regular forces versus investment in reserve forces.
- The equal capabilities of the army, navy and air force versus putting more resources into one at the expense of the others.
- Preparation for domestic issues versus international operations.
"If Defence is to maintain an active role in the world and have the ability to protect Canadians at home," the review reads, "these challenges must be addressed in a way that makes the overall program both affordable and sustainable in the long term."
The secret draft review, titled Defence Policy Update -- Sustainability, was commissioned to determine how well the Canadian Forces is meeting its White Paper mandate, which is to defend Canada and North America and contribute to United Nations operations abroad.
While the review does say that it is possible for the military to maintain its directive in light of recent challenges, it also points out many of the White Paper's glaring redundancies -- redundancies commonly cited by military experts who argue for the creation of a new defence blueprint.
The current White Paper, which commits the Canadian Forces to be "able to fight alongside the best, against the best," focuses primarily on traditional defence capabilities, such as performing peacekeeping tasks and fighting in conventional wars.
However, the paper "did not fully anticipate the magnitude of the changing world order," this latest review says, nor did it anticipate the extent to which the country would come to depend on the military for domestic disaster relief and homeland security.
The White Paper also did not foresee the negative effects that Canada's booming economy would have on recruitment during the 1990s.
Instead of diverting money toward core operations, resources had to be deflected toward reversing "the exodus of people in mission-critical occupations."
Even now, the military is struggling to maintain 60,000 personnel, which was also mandated in the White Paper.
The end result of all these unforeseen factors, coupled with dwindling funds, is an over-committed and under-equipped military full of soldiers who are "burning out" and equipment that is "rusting out."
"The ability to sustain forces in the field is becoming more difficult, as trained personnel in key occupations continue to be in short supply and spare parts inventories have been reduced to critical levels," reads the review, which took numerous months to complete.
Fewer resources have been allotted to training, the document continues, while more and more money has been routed toward maintaining overused equipment at an "acceptable standard."
Advances in technology are also outpacing the rate at which equipment is upgraded or replaced, resulting in large amounts of obsolete machinery.
(During Operation Echo in Kosovo, for example, two CF-18s were used strictly for robbing spare parts needed to keep the other planes in the air).
The document also points to Canada's inability to transport large amounts of troops in a short period of time, a concern that was highlighted when American planes had to carry our soldiers into Afghanistan.
The situation has also worsened considerably since the last sustainability review was conducted in 1999.
A number of operating budget pressures was "considerably under-estimated," the review reads, including increased health-delivery costs and the problems caused by recruiting shortfalls.
But while the current dilemmas surrounding the military are clearly burdensome, the review warns that the worst could be yet to come.
"The longer term impact is even more significant," it reads.
"The ability of Defence to transform itself to meet the realities of tomorrow will continue to be challenged by the need to devote the vast majority of resources to sustaining our current commitments."
Posts: 116 | From: Windsor, Ontario | Registered: Apr 2001