Possible Directions for the Canadian Defence Review

Last week the Defence Minister gave a detailed outline to Embassy Magazine on the upcoming defence review.  This, and the earlier interview by John Iveson, are starting to provide an outline of where that review might go.

Some of the key points follow:

  • It will complete by the end of 2016, assumably in time for budget 2017;
  • It will set a “road map” for the next 10 to 20 years;
  • It will be public and more, according to the minister:  “We will consult with the public, through MPs, committees, stakeholders and think-tanks, so that we have a vision in line with our foreign policy objectives,”
  • The UK Strategic Defence and Security Review, according to the minister, is “helping me to shape how Canada can look at doing [the defence review],”
  • the MND also seemed to favor the UK's use of “an interactive website to get public input.”
  • allies will be consulted

Already certain trends have been fixed by the Minister:

  • reportedly continental defence, Arctic sovereignty and Canada’s responsibilities within the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will “stay constant”
  • the size of the military will be examined;
  • where the military operates will be examined with the Minister offering future deployments will aim at: “the next stage of evolution” of the conflict in the [Syrian-Iraqi] region.  He also seemed to indicate that he is not, therefore, fixed on Iraq and will be prepared to go elsewhere:  “We need to deal with groups when they are smaller or, better yet, prevent them from being created in the first place.”
  • He indicated there is a clear role for Special Forces in this type of operation and suggested Canada should also be prepared to assist in such areas as casualty evacuation;
  • There is a recognition that the funding devoted to capital today is inadequate attended with the suggestion that addressing it immediately is unlikely.  Rather the minister stated that “10 years from now, we will have the right capability for all our services”
  • Procurement itself will be looked at in "extreme detail;"
  • Procurement staffing levels will likely increase in an apparent attempt to overcome persistent project delays;
  • The gap in naval capabilities is of great concern and he does not intend for the CF 18 replacement delays to produce the same gap;
  • The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy will move forward but there will be a “narrowing down exactly [of] which ships are needed and how many” according to the reporter;
  • Defence funding levels do not appear to be have been set although the minister offered that funding will be "consistent and predictable” and that “as the economy improves, we can look at adjusting things as well;”

There was a partial elaboration of the Throne Speech’s “leaner, more agile, better-equipped military.”  It would seem that while the overall size of the armed forces will be examined, the minister will not be trimming the “fighting force.”  He offered that “Leaner and more agile is about the ability to respond and the military’s ability to prevent and react to situations at home and abroad. We are keeping the planned increases,” he said. “But could it look different? It could.”

Broadsides will attempt to offer up and elaborate the on many views on this issue and current Canadian defence generally.  Certainly, different assessments than this one are actively sought as are those that spot new trends developing within the defence review.

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