Dr. Elinor Sloan’s comments from her book “Security and Defence in the Terrorist Era.”

Having just reviewed Dr. Sloan’s book (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005) for Canadian Naval Review, her comments on the JSS are fresh in my mind.  Sloan wrote that “rapid deployability is dependent upon the existence of strategic lift, including airlift and sealift.”  She is concerned that only three JSS will provide a capability that, while it is “an extremely valuable and absolutely essential addition to the Canadian forces’ capability,” would be barely adequate to transport the troops and equipment for a battalion group.  This would leave the ships vulnerable to the same fate as the under-capable fleet of transport aircraft; overworked and worn out early in their service lives. (P. 124).hybr

Sloan also worries that placing so many capabilities in one hull will cause competition between the services for their support in different places at the same time.  (P. 126)  Such a weakness in force structure can create critical vulnerabilities that will limit operational effectiveness in more than one area, even without an enemy (potential or real) having done anything more than posture to create the perception of a threat.

In an earlier post on shipbuilding, I reminded our readers of Dr. Richard Gimblett’s article in Maritime Affairs that suggested a ‘transformational fleet’ for the Canadian navy comprised of ten support ships, eight frigates; four submarines; and twelve coastal patrol craft.  When speaking of the army, Dr. Sloan recommended that the basic composition of the army in this new security environment should be altered from a ‘traditional’ ratio of 3:1 of combat troops to combat support and combat service support troops to a ratio of 1:1.  (P. 130) Using an extension of this logic, her recommendation for the navy might be more along the lines of Gimblett’s formula that than suggested by Jerrod Riley.

I predict here, as I have done elsewhere, that the JSS will become the busiest ships in the fleet.  However many this first contract produces, it will become obvious that two ships are fewer than the demand requires.  Because of the vital capabilities they will bring and the strategic effects they will deliver, getting political approval for more of their type, or of related types, will be an easy thing. In fact, people will probably ask, “What took you so long?”