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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Military We Really Need
The final installment.

First, I'm just a citizen, not an expert. I have "some" living experience familiarity with the military, especially the Navy, less the Army, and the Airforce only from a distance. (My Dad, who became a small plane pilot late in life, always had a special interest in the RCAF and fighter planes.)  Though I definitely, from the evidence of living it for some years, and personal contact, do not believe that all the Commanders General/ officer corp know a "great deal" better than myself. (Which was essentially the problem I had in the military :-) That said, in any case, the citizenry needs to attempt to make "logic sense" of this issue, re the kind of military the country needs... IF we are to pay for it, as we will, and it is to be of a type we actually need in the "national interest". What you want, I suggest, is NOT what we have;  a military that is much dependant upon and under the control of the US Empire "national interest", in controlling foreign lands for their own imperial purposes. (However they dress it up, or attempt to hide it behind layers upon layers of bullshit.)

And the kind of military forces you need is, by and large, to my mind and experience, determined by the operating vision you have of the country... of Canada. 

  • Are you subservient to another country, being in fact, however much you idealize it, put lipstick on it, or never speak of it? In which case, if true, admitted or not, your country is the more likely to be engaged by the dominant country, in fighting foreign wars with it, or acting as a kind of "diplomatic surrogate", acting as an "enabler" in relations with third party countries.  Especially if the country you follow about, not unlike a puppy dog in my service experience, is such as the US, which has extensive "foreign" interests it occupies and/or otherwise controls through a system of foreign military bases etc.
  • Or are you, in fact, a truly independent country... with potential enemies near or/and far, but concerned purely with the security of your own borders, lands and resources? In which case you have no imperial ambitions or extensive foreign "assets" that you feel you must "protect/control", within the country of another? If true, one can assume you have an operating foreign policy that starts from the premise of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. It is up to other people and countries to resolve their own problems, as we seek of ours. Period. Which does not mean that one may not have a view of these matters, express them, or even choose to do what one can, short of direct military intervention to effect an "indirect" influence. But always short of direct, especially military interference within the affairs and lands of another people and country. (Again, one of the pivots of your foreign policy is, it is up to all national peoples to resolve their own internal affairs.)
While there are doubtless many other particulars that go into determining the kind of military you need or have, these are the two broad starting points, in my view. Which, if true as I say they are, places this country into the first category, by all logical reckoning. For the legal and empirical evidence says that our current civilian governance and military command commitments in agreements, constant joint exercises, integrated command structures, equipment and parts dependencies, and or engagement in foreign conflict zones and other service with and at the behest of the US Empire, clearly places us so. Ours is ipso facto a subservient country, much owned and or controlled economically by foreign, largely US corporate interests (but others as well), and sharing the same essential foreign policies with it. Our military culture reflects that reality. Of which reality, most Canadians are pretty much well aware... if not knowing what to do about it.

Now some will and do defend this, and think it is the way it should be. I understand that. Especially powerful interests within capitalism in this country, and on the political Right, who see their, and the country's interest precisely as a hewer of wood and drawer of water for the US, and being an ally of it abroad, militarily and broadly in all other contexts. While a long line of  Liberal governments, with the brief exception perhaps of the Trudeau period, were as well a party to this "quasi-colonial" stamp on the country, in my read and experience of the historical record, it is in the process of being fully sealed and delivered by the Harperite, Conservative/Fascists now. We are increasingly fully engaged as an adjunct to the US Empire. The die, economically and militarily, is cast.

But clearly I advocate for the second option above: A fully independent country, that takes its borders seriously, North, East, West AND South, owns, controls and husbands its own lands and resources in first, the interests of its own people and their fully rounded national economic development. They make, or should in my view, the "stuff" they need for themselves and for the purpose of being self-reliant fully as much as possible. THEN "possibly" trading "some" of its resources for what others can do more prudently. In this latter, the interests of the people, their needs and that of their homeland being considered first.

The Vision and The Military Need

Canada's submarine, HMCS Corner Brook loading politicians
during recent "sovereignty assertion" manoeuvres in our North. 

So, clearly I advocate for a vision of the fullest sovereignty and independence for the country... over our territory, airspace, and economic resources... raw materials, plant and equipment. And I do this from the perspective that what we, in fact have, is something a great deal less than this... more a territorial, resource and military "quasi-colonial" adjunct of the United States. This dependency, I say, hampers the country's "all rounded" economic development and decision making, ties it via blood and treasure to engagement in the foreign wars of an "imperial other", that majorly serves its own interests and not those of this country. Which is the product of and  leads to economic and military agreements such as are already in place and being contemplated further.  (NAFTA, Norther Command Agreements etc) Which additionally, at the very least, conclusively jeopardizes the fullest territorial, economic, military and political sovereignty of this country. Indeed it has already created a condition of "quasi-colonial" dependence and obedience to the diktats of the US Empire.

But speaking specifically militarily here, to achieve and secure this new vision I advocate, we need a military as well with a quite different vision of the country and itself, a quite different cultural ethos, organized and trained differently for a quite different mission from that which is its present. For example, my friend and co-writer here, Koot Coot, has observed and posed the question elsewhere on Coyote Times:

...the inappropriateness of the F-35 stealth attack fighters that the "Harper Government" wants to spend billions on. I can't understand why the opposition focuses ONLY on the expense when the impracticality and unsuitability for Canadian needs is so much more relevant in my mind and a deal killer right there.
     The F-35s are designed specifically for attacking defended air space with the assistance of a mother ship to provide navigation and targeting support. Thus they seem only useful to a country planning on invading other developed countries with sophisticated air defenses (ala "Shock and Awe" over Baghdad).
     For more Canadian uses like patrolling the Arctic they are not so useful due to limited range (due to limited fuel capacity, they also have to be refueled enroute to almost anywhere either by air or landing and fueling). Not handy for protecting Canadian sovereignty in the North.
     They are also a single engine aircraft, again not the most dependable configuration for a patrol aircraft patrolling the vast wilderness of the Canadian North.
Which is exactly the kind of eye that needs to be turned to the Canadian Forces, given this different vision of the social, economic and political direction in which this country needs to develop, IF the object is a fully sovereign/independent Canada, friendly to all but beholden to none. (And my friend Koot Coot started out in the US, coming to Canada as a young man.) The threats that exist to this country, its territorial, airspace, resources, economic and political integrity are not found far off in the Middle East, or even Kosovo. Those were and are European and US Empire agendas. The threats described to this country exist, fortunately/unfortunately, much closer to home; within those who would sell the country off, and externally, again much closer to home, in the persons of those who covet our vast resource richness, much already own and control our economy, has historically had a"contingency plan" in place for invading this country, and now under recent Northern Command agreements has the jointly agreed "right" to do so . 

US made Chinook CH-47 Helicopter  of which Canada plans to purchase 15.

Russian Mi 28 "Combat Helicopter"
It is not the only threat to the territorial, economic and political integrity of this country for sure... only the most serious. We have such other threats as a consequence of illegal activity and attempts to enter the country off our West coast, fisheries issues, a similar threat to that of our southern border along the "northwest passage" of our North, from Russia and other, including the US again (They are everywhere about us.) Likewise there is a need to monitor and control the immediate skies about our entire perimeter.

We have enough immediate threats to our territory, people and resources here, close to home, to claim our attention, military assets and dollar resources such as we can afford for this task, without frittering it away by the billions fighting wars in far off lands, certainly for or as a surrogate to one of the major threats to the sovereignty of this country... the US Empire that has long coveted us itself. Rather than troops being trained to fight "in place" or "set" battles alongside the US Empire forces, entering made up impoverished Afghan villages on the Canadian prairies, for example, we need an emphasis on light infantry forces trained to fight a more "Ranger" or "guerrilla" style of war. A war that is of greater likelihood and consequence to be fought on our own diverse territories, against what is the more likely, hopefully never occurring, a superior ground and air force of much greater numbers and better equipped than we. 

Which is by far a more likely scenario nonetheless, much closer to home. Such as say, intruding its way across our southern border, or across from Alaska, or even our high north, disputing our sovereignty and/or claiming a "right of invasion" given it under an agreement signed by those who have already betrayed us from within our own parliamentary institutions.  Even if some future government, which they might refuse to recognize, removes its signature and abrogates these agreements. I mean, it's not as if the US doesn't have a history of this either.

In any case, we have been placed in a pickle here.

But first, for the moment ignoring the politics, we need an Army equipped, trained and in place to fight a more "light infantry", "Ranger" or "guerrilla" style of warfare over an extended period and landscape, much living off the land and the people, up against a significantly superior force in numbers and war toys. (It is though, a potential enemy our military have much trained alongside, and know much about, even intimately. Possessed of such knowledge and experience being far from all a total loss.) And we need, perhaps joint, army and naval bases and a permanent presence in our High North, that has become familiar with the issues of fighting there, as the Russians are, for example, and for constant patrol. (Which, in part, we cannot afford now, because we are squandering our resources fighting the US Empire cause in Afghanistan etc. It is nothing short of criminal.)

Again, we need light and high speed naval ships, designed to "slow down" and worry sea invaders, and do patrol and interdiction along our own extensive shores. A case can likely be made as well for submarines, to assist similar, with even more stealth capacity, and to quietly patrol on station, our northern waters on a constant basis, for extended periods. The operative principle again being, for all our armed forces, direct defense of the homeland on the homeland, as that which shapes our entire defense investment, training, form and style, and the kind of military equipment assets we develop and manufacture "for ourselves". Self reliance, NOT dependence.

Likewise for our airforce, with which I am least familiar, I admit, but that which best defends the homeland, assists the mobility of and covers ground forces across our entire territory, and makes it as light, fast, hit and run as possible. A case may be made for some relatively long range heavy lift and bomber aircraft, but it is light infantry troop carrying helicopters that most seem to have potential to me, for rapid deployment and movement about the regional theatres of operations. It strikes me that in the case of the most real invasion scenario, aircraft dependent on permanent and/or paved airfields, are the most likely to be the least useful and most vulnerable, from the get go. Aircraft that can be used in natural and diverse, less than ideal terrains, seems more appropriate to me. Some ideally dual equipped as gunships.

Reserve Unit of Canadian Rangers on
northern training manoeuvres 

Light, diverse, self-reliant, rapid deployment and support, hit and run, easily maintained in the field and diverse terrains/conditions for extended periods, are some of the descriptive concepts that best describe what should characterize the military that this country needs, in my view, to best serve our own "national interest". This as opposed to dependant on the eyes, ears and command priorities of "others", or the repair "parts" manufactured by them.

But again, one's view of our military needs will be shaped by your vision and perceptions of the country's "national interest". Mine is very particular, and only includes the US as preferably a friend and neighbour for sure, but held to a distance for a time, as we sort this all out. Unfortunately, because it is simply part of our geographic, political and economic reality, that they are a potential, even most likely  "invasion source". It's their historical record in the world also, again unfortunately, and in this country, Lest We Forget the War of 1812 entirely.  And I don't think we should.


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