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Capabilities and Money

Capabilities and Money

In several recent articles,1 especially A Look to the Future The Ruxted Group has discussed the sorts of capabilities that, in our view, Canada needs to protect and promote its vital interests around the world.

This is rather dull stuff and, sadly but understandably, the defence debate in Canada is usually confined to:

•   Are we George W Bush’s latest lapdog; and

•   Why was the latest big defence contract awarded to a US firm?

We understand some of the confusion about our role in the world. Why believe former Prime Minister Paul Martin’s own words when we can believe Maude Barlow’s ravings about her uniformed fear that “Canada has abandoned its traditional role as a peacekeeper, in favour of supporting U.S.-led military intervention.” That she, and her followers and fellow travellers, are demonstrably wrong means nothing. She is media savvy and, like others, committed to disarming Canada so that $20 Billion per years can be spent on her priorities.

We also understand that major defence procurement projects are expensive and Canadians should know that their hard earned money is being well spent. Once again anti-military ‘activists’ trot out easily discredited disinformation about defence spending and fantastic lies about the  militarization of Canada.

The defence spending issue is complex. Not everything related to Afghanistan, for example, was or should be funded from the defence budget, despite recent PCO direction.3 There are legitimate claims to be made on other government departments’ budgets for areas like diplomacy and development.

The problem, as we see it, is that the media is unable to inform Canadians about defence issues because:

•   By and large, and there are a few notable exceptions, the media is ignorant of defence matters;4and

•   The media needs controversy to sell its advertising space; when it cannot find controversy it needs to create it. Explaining issues, informing Canadians is not part of the media’s self defined responsibility – if it was we would not see Maude Barlow or Steven Staples commenting on military issues.

With that rather lengthy introduction out of the way, The Ruxted Group wishes to revisit and expand upon our list of capabilities:

Surveillance and warning systems – terrestrial, airborne and space based – to allow us to ‘see’ (in near real time) all the territory and inland waters we claim as our own, the contiguous coastal waters (out to and beyond 200 miles) and the airspace over both. We must be able to detect and identify every ‘intruder’ – ship, aircraft or land element – and classify them as ‘friend,’ unidentified’ or ‘foe.’

Regarding airborne avenues of approach: a surveillance capability exist in the form of CF-18 fighters, the North Warning System (a terrestrial radar chain) and the co-manned AWACS aircraft. The CF-18 will need to be replaced, perhaps the F-35 is the answer. That still leaves complete surveillance of Canada's territories and contiguous waters -- a task which Ruxted believes requires an integrated system of systems; terrestrial systems, enhanced underwater surveillance capabilities and a space based system – several satellites operating in non-geostationary orbits.

There may exist an option to delegate much of the surveillance task to a separate agency, when the responsiveness and scope to react to potential threats does not require the capability of the Nation's armed forces. The Australian Coastwatch might offer some lessons for Canada.

Territorial/sovereignty patrol/intercept forces – sea, land, air, with which we can intercept the ‘unidentified’ intruders and deal with them appropriately. That may mean arresting them, escorting tem out of our airspace or coastal waters, and so forth.

This needs to be a “whole of government” approach, rather than just a CF mission. Not all intruders are threats or even unwelcome. Part of the patrol and intercept force needs to be provided by constabulary agencies – the RCMP, the Department of Fisheries and Ocean, etc.

Parts of the CF capability also exist: the navy has coastal patrol vessels, the air force has long range  patrol aircraft, the Canadian Rangers are operating now in Canada’s North. Other CF units are trained and equipped for sovereignty patrol duties.5 More needs to be done and Ruxted is pleased to see that the Government of Canada is moving in the right direction[/u], but more needs to be done, including, [url= ]as we have said, a timely replacement for the CP-140 long range patrol aircraft fleet.

We would have done better, back on 19 July 2007, to have added another ‘capability’ Force Generation Base. With that done we can add:

Joint homeland defence forces – regular and reserve, to deal with land intruders and reinforce civil assets in the event of major emergencies. The Defence of Canada Forces will require at least one highly mobile (almost certainly parachute) army unit which is specially trained and equipped for operations in the far North. All these forces are available for aid to the civil power and civil assistance (fighting floods and forest fires, etc) tasks.

Joint expeditionary forces. These are joint naval, air, land and special[/color] forces which will be deployed to places like Afghanistan and Darfur, typically to conduct so-called 'full spectrum' operations wherein relief/development, traditional peacekeeping and war fighting are operations are undertaken simultaneously.

Force Generation Base.

These three capabilities are, essentially, a plea for a bigger, better Canadian Armed Forces.  That probably means 15,000 to 35,000 soldiers in operational units. We now have about 15,000 soldiers in all types of HQs, schools and in about 30 units. Much, much more needs to be done - starting with recruiting thousands and thousands of new soldiers

Those 25,000± soldiers will be in Force Generation Base (FGB) units. All these forces are available for aid to the civil power and civil assistance (fighting floods and forest fires, etc) tasks.  However, their primary purpose is to meet the obligations of home defence and expeditionary operations.  If we decide we want to be able to internationally deploy two lines of operation each with up to an Army battle group, an air wing, a naval task force, and all support elements, at any one time, then we will need six Task Forces and enough people for six support elements ‘in reserve.’  We need to stress the importance of well-rounded forces based on the essential building blocks of land, air, sea and special operations forces.  Therefore we see the requirements to be:

Land Force:   At a minimum The Ruxted Group believes we need four brigades – that’s 35-50 armoured (tank), reconnaissance, artillery, engineer, signals/electronic warfare, infantry, aviation, medical, intelligence and logistic support units.

Air Force:   We need the new C-17 Globemasters and the promised C-130J Hercules and CH-47 Chinooks and we need the people to fly them, service and maintain them, and install and operate airfield services overseas and at home – that will require thousands of new air force personnel, too. In addition we need tactical aircraft, able to conduct a wide range of operations. Again, perhaps the F-35 family will serve.

Navy:    In addition to the current destroyers, frigates, support ships, submarines and coastal vessels (and their timely replacements), Canada needs what Gen. Hillier calls the “Big Honkin’ Ship” – the heart of an amphibious force which gives Canada the capability to project its power and keep it ‘on station’ for protracted periods. Once again, new sailors are required – thousands of them.

In each case where new people are required there is a concomitant requirement for money. Canada needs to recruit and retain more of the right sort of people, people who are able to choose occupations in a competitive job market. Military personnel need to be well paid and they need adequate benefits and perquisites. 

Special forces: Ruxted welcomes the continued development of all elements of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) and hope that continued provision of resources, as required by the developing mission set of CANSOFCOM, is provided.  The contributing units continue to provide not only specialized forces to CF and Government of Canada operations, but where their capabilities are mutually supportive, engage in co-operative operations with the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Logistics and training forces to sustain all these forces.
Once again, some of the 25,000± soldiers will be in logistics units but Canada also needs to sustain and train a bigger, better army and that requires people: technicians, truck drivers, clerks and managers, ad infinitum. There is old maxim with which Ruxted agrees: amateurs discuss tactics but professionals study logistics. Our support base is essential for raising, equipping, training, deploying and sustaining Canadian Forces at home and abroad.

We would add a new category: Strategic Forces.

Canada needs a global ‘view’ which is obtained by intelligence gathering units. Part of this capability exists in CSE (Communications Security Establishment) but we also need other intelligence gathering agencies – probably in DND and in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, too.

We need to be cautious about throwing out capabilities that are not in vogue in order to build new capabilities.  Many in the Army's senior leadership ranks thought Canada could toss tanks aside, now we need them.  Anti-Submarine Warfare is no longer in vogue, yet the Chinese were just able to pop a submarine up into the middle of a US carrier battle group.  Air defence is also not the "it thing" right now, but if we “keep the peace” in Sudan we will need it (or end-up like the French on the other side of that continent) and we certainly want it for high profile domestic operations (G8 or Olympics).

Finally, The Ruxted Group reminds readers that $20 Billion per year, year after year, is not enough. We repeat:

“A good manageable target [for the defence budget] might be: 2.2% of GDP, year after year – declining, perhaps, to 2% of GDP after 15 or 20 years. That would be about $31 Billion (given our 2006 GDP (according to the IMF) of $1.4 Trillion) – that is half again as much as DND says it will receive in 2010.”6

1.   See also Far Distant Ships: Looking at the Future of Canada's Navy (24 Sep 07) and A Triple A+ Military for Canada
2.   See:
Government of Canada: Canada's International Policy Statement, A Role of Pride and Influence in the World, Foreword from the Prime Minister, tabled in Parliament in April 2005
3.   See:,68555.0/all.html
4.   See, e.g.!.html and
5.   See: and
6.   There are ways to shift some of the spending out of the defence budget (adopting something akin to Australia’s Coastwatch, for example) but that does not alter the gross requirement for all the tasks upon which the Government of Canada must spend if it wants to do a good job of asserting, maintaining, and, if need be, defending our sovereignty.


The Ruxted Group on : Helicopters and Money

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Helicopters and MoneyIn a recent article The Ruxted Group said: “At a minimum The Ruxted Group believes we need four brigades – that’s 35-50 armoured (tank), reconnaissance, artillery, engineer, signals/electronic warfare, infantry, aviation, medical, int


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