Army versus Navy Capability Planning

In a recent exchange on the Security and Defence Forum Policy Discussion Board concerning Army Transformation, found here (under the "Books and Publications" heading in the Canadian Defence Policy Forum) Major Andrew Godefroy commented with the following:

Army Transformation is not a project. Transformation itself is an event that can be observed within the Canadian army, and the term as it is currently being employed is recognizing the period of approximately 1997-2007. Armies constantly transform, however, at certain points in their evolution these transformations are more easily identifiable or recognizable.

There is considerable interest in the MGS/Tank issue, but I have to say from a personal point of view it remains one of the most misunderstood subjects. Unlike the navy which usually acquires a platform and then designs capabilities for it, the army first determines what capabilities it requires and then seeks platforms that may fulfil that role. So, for example, the army has always needed and still needs the capability to deliver direct fire support. What vehicle might best provide this capability is then the subject of conceptual and doctrinal design work that follows. Concepts and doctrine are ultimately influenced by things such as the security environment, technologies, and external and internal constraints. So, therefore, whereas the MGS might have been the appropriate way to go in 1999, by 2006 much has changed making the tank the more suitable approach for now. Who knows, ten years from now it could be something else. The point is, direct fire support is needed. Something will provide that capability.

This post above elicited the following response from Ian Parker:

This comment misconstrues how the navy develops platforms and capability. The navy does not "acquire platforms then design capabilities for it". The navy has a well developed process of capability development based on the strategic needs of the country that has delivered to this country a very capable multi-purpose fleet, perhaps the best of its size in the world. What these comments miss is that the strategic defence of the nation is fundamental and that expeditionary is discretionary. The navy and the air force provide both capabilities. My sense however, with respect to army transformation is that the army lost its way and is now leveraging the mission in Afghanistan to rebuild itself - not necessarily based on required capabilities developed through a thoughtful process but through a process of "fighting the immediate fire surrounded by smoke with no clarity." Examples abound such as the acquisition of the G-Wagon, the M777, the Nyala, a lack of understanding of situational awareness and the new tank to name but a few. On the later note the actual need was air conditioning not a new tank. So, one should not throw rocks while living in a glasshouse. What is needed is a strategic plan for Canada not parochial viewpoints.

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