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Thread: New Canadian defense minister used to be a (surprise!) defense industry lobbyist.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Thumbs down New Canadian defense minister used to be a (surprise!) defense industry lobbyist.

    Fuckin neocons... THEY ARE ALL THE SAME. Every time.

    Military facelift could aggravate problems, says David Rudd


    Feb. 14, 2006. 01:00 AM


    Gordon O'Connor, Canada's new defence minister, had a tough first week. Pressed to account for his past incarnation as a lobbyist for several large defence contractors, he brushed aside allegations that any military purchases made on his watch will be tainted by favouritism, or by an undue effort to avoid the appearance of favouritism.

    He is probably right. The military will have its own ideas of what equipment sets it wants, and the defence minister does not cast the deciding vote on whether this or that aircraft/ship/vehicle is selected. That authority rests with the cabinet, the prime minister having the final word.

    But behind those headlines lurks another potential headache for the ex-general and rookie MP: how to explain to the Canadian public the massive facelift to the Canadian Forces' command structure.

    Last June, then-defence minister Bill Graham unveiled a plan to carve up responsibility for managing the Canadian Forces' domestic and international responsibilities. Whereas all operations until now have been run by the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and his staff of 1,800, the new arrangement envisions one high-ranking officer running overseas missions, one overseeing missions at home, a third taking care of special forces, and a fourth providing logistical support to them all.

    The rationale goes something like this: Over the past few years all military operations have become infinitely more complex. International operations have multiplied in number, making it harder for the Deputy Chief to exercise effective oversight of concurrent missions. Since many of these involve working alongside allies, international organizations and other government departments in "failed" states, it is necessary to have a manager and staff who can work in these uniquely challenging circumstances.

    As domestic sovereignty protection and disaster response call on somewhat dissimilar capabilities, a separate command for the Canadian land mass was also deemed necessary. Military commanders in each major region of Canada will now have the power to employ all military resources within their respective areas of responsibility. This is intended to enable them to respond more quickly to natural or man-made catastrophes.


    Similarly, the unique properties of special forces and their increased salience in counter-terror/insurgency efforts either at home or abroad (i.e. Afghanistan) necessitate a separate commander and staff. Canada's battle-tested Joint Task Force 2 (JTF-2) commandos train and operate differently than regular troops. This requires specialized oversight, lest their unique skills atrophy or disciplinary problems arise (like those that plagued the Canadian Airborne Regiment).

    In sum, channelling the military's resources through different managers depending on the task at hand is a no-brainer given the security environment in which we find ourselves. Defence officials argue that the changes will enhance effectiveness and accountability. These are (supposedly) the watchwords of the Harper government, so don't expect the Conservatives to kill the idea just because it was hatched on the Liberals' watch.

    Should Canadians rest assured that the redesign of the command structure will allow the military to deal more effectively with the challenges we throw at it? Or are these merely cosmetic changes dressed up as substance?

    The new structure, while probably justified, could exacerbate already crippling human resource problems, which in turn could scupper efforts to restore the health of Canada's beleaguered military. There are currently insufficient personnel in the units that do the hard slogging. Infantry battalions, medical and logistical units, air force squadrons and naval vessels are all undermanned. As the four new commands will have first call on experienced personnel, those at the coalface may have to cope with personnel shortages, to the detriment of both domestic security and our international commitments.

    Filling out the job vacancies in each of the commands may also suck people out of the training units. Without experienced personnel to process recruits, the under-strength Forces will continue to lose people out the back door (to retirement or injury) without being able to usher new folks in through the front.

    Then there is the perennial issue of "rank creep," whereby restructuring takes place without a concurrent effort at streamlining management. It sees the proliferation (or at least the preservation) of job slots for senior officers who might otherwise have been made redundant. What is needed are new slots for those further down the totem pole the privates and corporals who form the backbone of all modern militaries. Failure to do this, while reshaping only the top echelons, is a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Paradoxically, better management at the top may exacerbate some of the very problems that it was meant to solve. Great care will have to be taken to ensure that headquarters are not bloated, lest the military be in the embarrassing position of having the command staffs in place but no forces in the field to command. The next major crisis be it an earthquake or a genocidal war will not be remedied by well-fed headquarters directing the activities of skeletal units.

    If one were to look upon the Canadian military as a spear, the new command structure would represent the shaft. It is now being refurbished, but where all this will leave the pointy end is anyone's guess. Looks like more tough days ahead for O'Connor.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    David Rudd is president of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Canadian defense minister used to be a (surprise!) defense industry lobbyist.

    These guys don't miss one predictable beat, do they? Asshats of evil, indeed.

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