Debating Defence and Naval Policy (XIII)

David Perry: Eric Lerhe circulated some general ideas for an editorial he wanted to write and asked for suggestions:

Byers’ idea of the navy having an armed icebreaker is nonsense. We must act soon; Canadians will expect firm govt action (especially ship orders) over the next year as these vessels need 5-8 years to deliver. Other nations will be assessing our seriousness regarding the Arctic by how quickly and fully we react.”

“The US has spending $15 billion on coastal defence (Deepwater) since 2001 and we have spent less than $30 million on new at sea systems. The US is not necessarily our only sovereignty problem or our largest one. Our sovereignty/resource claims may be most heavily by challenged by Russia and perhaps China who is energy short and (apparently) has a significant arctic resource exploration effort.”

“We need to coordinate all of govt in the north but not at the expense of mixing up responsibilities and duplicating very expensive capability. The navy no longer has any expertise in ice breaking, and never had any in navigation aids, vessel safety inspections, vessel traffic management, or regulatory regimes. coast guard has no expertise in advanced C4I (especially with respect to coordination of army/air/militia activities), undersea or air surveillance, robust armed response, and taking and inflicting battle damage."

“We need to coordinate their activities to provide the maximum possible Canadian sovereignty effort, but it is wasteful to duplicate the skills of the other agencies. Perhaps the snowplow/cop car analogy works: coast guard will open and maintain the arctic sea routes, the navy will patrol them, enforce the rules (with specialist Canadian Coast Guard and RCMP support flown in when required - and that is the limit of shared crewing) and respond to both military and sovereignty challenges. The problem is that the CFDS is getting around to arctic patrol vessels late in the game and coast guard capital renewal seems to be in a decades long stall. Somehow agree with CP-140 to north but not at the expense of abandoning the Atlantic and Pacific. Has anyone told the US they are now responsible for these areas?”