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    Default Canadian Military Bankrupt

    'Bankrupt' Forces may shut 5 bases
    Internal reports say $500M shortfall may cause closures from Winnipeg to Labrador

    Chris Wattie
    National Post


    Tuesday, February 24, 2004




    Canada's army, navy and air force are facing a funding shortfall of up to half a billion dollars, defence sources told the National Post, and the military is recommending drastic measures to make up the difference, including closing some of the largest bases in the country.

    The federal government is stalling the release of internal documents that outline the looming financial crisis, but military sources said the reports indicate that in the fiscal year beginning on April 1, the air force expects to be $150-million short of funds needed to fulfill its commitments, the navy will be $150-million shy of its needs and the army will be as much as $200-million short.

    The figures were submitted to General Ray Henault, the Chief of Defence Staff, last month by the heads of the land staff, the maritime staff and the air staff in anticipation of this year's defence budget.

    The military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the reports foresee a situation so dire that they recommend curtailing operations, dry-docking ships and mothballing vehicles or aircraft and closing at least four Canadian Forces bases.

    Unless additional funding is awarded by the government, the air force is suggesting closing bases at Goose Bay, Nfld., Bagotville, Que., North Bay and Winnipeg, the sources said.

    Further, the air force report says that unless its fleet of ageing CC-130 Hercules transport planes is replaced or modernized, the main transport base at Trenton should be closed within 10 years. "There won't be enough Hercs flying by then to justify keeping that base open," one air force source said.

    The navy predicts it will not be able to live up to treaty obligations to NATO and other alliances and cannot carry out enough patrols of Canadian waters to comply with agreements with other government departments such as Immigration Canada or Fisheries and Oceans.

    "We will not be able to meet our domestic defence obligations," one naval officer said.

    The army is said to be in the worst financial state of all three branches of the Canadian Forces. "Everyone knows that the army's broke and has been for a couple of years," said one military source familiar with the reports.

    Colonel Howard Marsh, a former senior army staff officer now working as an analyst for the Conference of Defence Associations, said he was not surprised by the size of the shortfall.

    "This is a look forward ... at what they need in order to keep the army going," he said. "Nobody has ever seen a bankrupt military in a developed country.... This year I predict we will see that in Canada."

    Col. Marsh said the military is saddled with ageing bases and increasingly dilapidated buildings that are fast reaching the point of collapse. "What they've been doing, year in and year out ... is not replace or repair those buildings, or buy new equipment," he said.

    "The average age of the equipment in the Canadian Forces is over 20 years and it hasn't been well-maintained."

    The Liberal government reduced defence spending by 23% and cut the number of regular military personnel to approximately 60,000 from 80,000 between 1993 and 2000. There were 120,000 people in the Canadian military in 1958.

    In 2003, the defence budget was increased $800-million to $12.7-billion, the single largest increase since the Liberals came to power. But that still left the total below that of 1991, when the Mulroney Conservatives committed troops to the Gulf War and the defence budget stood at $12.8-billion.

    Jay Hill, the Conservative defence critic, said the reports outline the result of more than a decade of Liberal cuts to the Canadian Forces.

    "They shouldn't even be in this position," he said. "They shouldn't be having to look for nickel and dime savings when the government is blowing hundreds of millions on sponsorship programs."

    Mr. Hill called on the government to make the three reports available immediately. "This flies in the face of this Prime Minister's stated commitment to being open and transparent," he said.

    The Department of National Defence has refused to make public the annual reports, known as command impact assessments.

    Defence officials this week turned down a request by the National Post and the influential defence publication Jane's Defence Weekly to see the reports under access to information legislation.

    Judith Mooney, the director of access to information for the Department of National Defence, said the reports will not be made public for another three to five weeks because they are considered "draft" documents.

    "I exercised my discretion to withhold the documents until the [Defence] Department's business-planning process is complete, at which time they will be released," she said.

    Ms. Mooney could not say when exactly the reports would be released, but indicated they would be available by the end of March.

    Although that would delay them until after the release of the federal budget, which is expected on March 23, she said David Pratt, the Defence Minister, was not involved in the decision to withhold the reports until then. Mr. Pratt did not reply to repeated requests for comment on the reports.

    In previous years, the assessments have been made public.

    This year's reports paint a picture even more bleak than last year's, which said the military would be unable to sustain itself without additional resources or a reduced workload.

    They were the basis for a story last year in Jane's Defence Weekly, the prestigious London-based magazine, which caused a furor in Canadian and NATO defence circles. Under the headline "Running on Empty," the story said the army, navy and air force did not receive the money they needed.

    The article said the navy asked for an additional $50-million to bridge the funding gap, but received only $6.7-million. The air force expected a $104-million shortfall but received about $7-million. The army had a larger gap between what was expected of it and the funding available, and received $85-million in extra money.

    Major-General Terry Hearn, the chief of finance for the Canadian Forces, acknowledged the military has had "issues" with funding over the past four years.

    But he said the department is implementing a long-term plan to stabilize its finances. "We'll become sustainable over the next couple of years," he said. "We have long-term strategies to deal with these issues ... [but] we're not going to solve them next year."

    Peter Stoffer, a New Democrat MP whose Nova Scotia riding includes a large military base, called the government's refusal to release the reports "very suspicious."

    "If anyone out there honestly believes that access to information will be any easier under this government, they are fooling themselves," he said. "They say one thing and do another."

    National Post 2004


    This is no surprise. Although the men and women serving in Canada's military are every bit as brave, dedicated and noble as our US servicemen and women, the Canadian government apparently feels that they can leave their defense up to the US. Of course, to protect our own national interest, they would be right.

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    George, do you ever hit www.rightnation.us ?

    It is a Conservative Web community that provides members to contribute commentary, read news stories and post on a forum. It is a pretty good site. I saw the stoy you posted on there last night and was wondering if you got it from there.

    If not, check it out if you get some time. I think it is a site you would enjoy.

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    So the invasion of Montana is off?

    Seriously though.
    This sucks for the people of Canada.
    Dont know if its related but I have noticed recently a ton of canadian military fire equipment hitting ebay.
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    George, as the "guy with his ear to the ground", I can vouch for much of what was written and comment that it is essentially true. We have suffered an incredible number of cutbacks in defence budgeting since even before I joined up in 1987. At that time we had a strength of approx 85,000 all ranks, with some pretty decent, albeit older equipment. The CF18's had just come on line, the army had fairly new tanks... Leopard 1's and the TRIBAL and RESTIGOUCHE class ships had just completed a very intensive upgraded retrofit sequence.

    We also enjoyed some pretty nice pay increases - almost 20% over the span of 3yrs.... then a new goverment came to power.

    The budget took a huge dive, recruiting was essentially closed, bases were either cut back or closed all together, manning was allowed to decline by attrition to the point of our current strength of approx 55,000 all ranks. A new helicopter program was not only shelved, but it was cancelled for an amount that cost more than the original program (that one sounds recently familiar eh?) Also wages were completely frozen for 3yrs. No increases, no incentives - NOTHING.

    Now, more recently (within the past months) I have heard that CFB Trenton has gone to a compressed work week to allow for savings by shutting down heating plants at EOB Thursday until Monday morning and that all air crews are on restricted hours for flying - with some who have been indefinitely grounded due to unit funding. And that brings rise to something locally: we just finished moving our office from one building to another.. not only moved it, but we also completely built up from scratch the new office (located in the basement of the Admiral's building - talk about moving back in with Mom 'n Dad ) I don't know what the construction bill is worth yet, but we also bought new furniture for parts of the office, while recycling other bits. I do know what that is all worth, being the guy who pays the invoices.

    To cut this short (ya right ) I will say that "Yes" we are in a world of hurt here, and its only going to get worse again. Yesterday's news (24 Feb) suggested that additonal bases might be closed permanently, and much of the fleet to be tied up alongside and mothballed. OPTEMPO is going to take a huge crash.... might be time to be seriously considering new employment. Oh wait my "20" comes due in about 40 months... but who's counting? LOL
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    As a Canadian I am appalled that a country such as this could allow their National Defense system to fall apart so badly. Actually I find it to be an embarassment, I find it appalling that when it comes to spending the military seems to be low on the list. I find this sickening especially with the current events going on in our world at this moment. Now not only do we "not" have a proper defense system to speak of (maybe the canoe/beaver joke that circulated not too long ago wasnt' so far off ), but it's become National, if not International news; which to me just opens the door for some radical, fanatical group to make their move. Our relations with our neighbors to the South are already strained as it is with no thanks going to our "Liberal" government, how is this going to affect relations when we can't even protect ourselves, let alone monitor who/what is coming into our country, perhaps making it easier for certain folks to cross over???? Our government has DRASTICALLY cut into our Health Care System, the Education System and our Military to name a few, with all these cuts into important programs, where has all the money gone? Gouge a little deeper boys, we're not quite Third World status yet This is a government that sees no problem with supplying housing, education and gross amounts of money to immigrants when they first come to our country; this is a government that sees no problem with allotting government positions to immigrants who don't have a firm grasp on the English language, yet I'm supposed to be able to understand them when I have to call a government agency for something? I say enough already, our government is driving us into a hole in the ground, making us an easy target, leaving us defenseless........... we've already got the Red and White in our flag ...... let's just add some Blue and move on over to the other side.

    ** I apologize to those who may find my comments to be racially biased, it is not said with that intent, they are statments made based on what is done and seen within this country. They are made by a thoroughly disgusted citizen.
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    Malahat,

    The story paints a good portrait of why many of us conservative Americans get uptight when the Canadian government publicly bashes us. Your current government knows that if a Canadian embassy or citizens got in real trouble anywhere in the world, a US Marine amphibuous assault group parked offshore in a real big hurry and they take that fact for granted. I believe they think they don't need a military because they've got one they can borrow whenever they need it.

    If that's the way it is going to be, fine. We should always be there for Canada but don't insult our president, boo our flag and so on.

    I really feel very sorry for you guys. Is there any hope for a change in government direction?

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    But don't laugh too hard. Those little buggers go through a major reproduction cycle every seven years, and they are in huge abudance as it is! We would have no problem with recruiting, and they pretty much accept peanuts for pay.
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    Canada has a military?

    Are they the ones that wear those spiffy red uniforms?

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    What do you expect from a government that spends 2 billion(yes 2 billion)dollars on a gun registry that harasses farmers and hunters but does nothing to take guns from criminals.

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    Military expenditures, % GDP:
    Canada: 1.1%
    France: 2.57%
    Germany: 1.38%
    U.K.: 2.32%
    U.S.: 3.2% (Note: is was 6% when Reagan spent the Soviet Union into oblivion)
    Other nations? Look 'em up at http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/...rylisting.html

    Certain things are marginal, we have the biggest economy, we can best afford the extra on defense. But Canada & those Western Europeans aren't exactly 3rd world economies.

    Yes, priorities may be different, but ya know something, the U.S. is a hyper-power compared to all others, we can go in and accomplish missions.

    It doesn't give France & Germany much leverage when you ask the question "If you wouldn't have the U.S. invade Iraq, could you do the task?" and they have to say, well, no.

    I wouldn't mind and we'd have more money domestically if we didn't have 13 aircraft carriers, but we had 6 and Europe had 6.

    Europe has ONE -- France's Charles de Gaulle, and when it's in port for refitting, they have NONE. The "aircraft carriers" the other nations of Europe run essentially are helicopter-carriers we relegate to the Marines.

    Constraining U.S. military spending isn't the way to restore balance -- there's only one force that can credibly project itself with overwhelming quality & quantity to handle all but World-war level conflicts. Crippling that would just open the door to a series of regional wars, with no one able to step in to stop it if necessary. Balance is having the rest of the West step up to the plate so you could have at least 2 powerful forces capable of deployment -- U.S. and non-US NATO. That means the Western powers like France, Germany, Canada, and I'll even extend it slightly to include Japan need to step up to the plate.
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    With the exception of two major wars, and one relatively minor one (Boer War) Canada has historically NOT STEPPED up, not even in it's own defence, until AFTER someone else has come along and tried to "interfere" with things locally.

    I just finished a 3 month study on Canadian Military History, spanning from the first British and French landings, up to and including Kosovo and the Balkans. We have always taken the concept of national defence as "it's someone else's problem". The only two times we ever really got interested in "National Defence" is ONE: When the French decided to get nasty in the late 1700/early 1800's and TWO: When the US decided to try and take us on (1812ish).... I think at one time the "White House" used to be pink marble, but its funny how some things change colour when heated to extreme temperatures... I think (in my H.O.) that fight was over the sales of BEER or something but don't quote me on that part.

    But some days it really sucks to be a Canadian Soldier
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    As another serving Canadian military member I agree with what Malahat had to say. I have noticed a big change in my time in the military. We have gone so long doing more with less that people now expect it. The unfourtunate thing is that defense does not seem to be high on peoples priorities list, only if they know someone in the military or if they need help (forset fires, hurricanes, ice storms etc). Until that changes I can't see things improving any.

    Malahat, at least you only have 40 months to your 20, I have 8 years left (maybe).
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    Malahat and Clewis,

    God bless you guys and the rest of the servicemen and women for still doing even though there is less. I appreciate what you do.

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    Just do'n mah job Scoop. But thanks for the support - it is appreicated.
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    Scoop

    I just reread my post and I didn't mean to sound like no one supported us. I know lots of people do, it's just everyone has different things they think is important.

    Thanks for your support.
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    Dal-

    In regard to the numbers that you posted for the % of GDP that nations spend on defense -

    Note that Germany, Japan, and South Korea - spend considerably less than other nations due to the fact that huge numbers of US troops are based in these countries.

    If we are defending them - why spend the money??

    To our Canadian fellows - what is the total strength of the Canadian Defence Forces - and what is the split - between Army, Navy, and Air Force?

    thanks
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    To further Dal's post, here are a few nations very similar to Canada's in spending as a percentage of GDP.

    -Italy
    -Austria
    -Spain
    -Norway
    -Denmark
    -New Zealand
    -South Africa
    -Switzerland ( although the swiss guard might take us )

    While we are certainly near the bottom of the developed nations for our spending, several of these nations are significantly lower than us.

    I have said before that our problem is not as much basic military spending, but rather it is complicated by the fact that we are geographically massive. This means more bases and infrastructure are required to provide the same level of coverage as a similarly populated but geographically small nation. Remember, the US has 300 million people, while Canada has only 30 M in a much larger land mass.

    I would like to see us increase our spending to levels similar to other developed non-superpower nations (I declined a f/t career in the military in the early nineties for the very reasons Malahat mentioned), but I also must point out that even with another 0.8 - 1.0% increase to match the majority of the developed world, we will never provide the level of coverage that most Canadians (and Americans) want and expect until our population increases four or fivefold.

    Even if we increased our spending to 2.5 or 3 percent like France or Britian, we would still not be a major military force by any stretch of the imagination.

    I'm not trying to make excuses for our politicians, but rather show that the problem is not as simple as throwing more money into the system. We must continue to build our population (through immigration) and domestic infrastructure before we can expect to sustain operations abroad.
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    It is interesting that they are considering closing an air base at Goose Bay, Newfoundland. Don't we have an airbase up there, too?

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    George,

    Goose Bay is a Canadian Airforce base. They have British, Dutch, Italian and German planes there for training, although most of those are leaving in a couple of years. Goose Bay was set up during WWII by Canada and the US as an anti-submarine patrol base. After the war SAC maintained a strong presence there until the 70's. Now the Americans manly come up for training purposes.

    This is a link to the history of Goose Bay Goose bay
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    Maybe it isn't Goose Bay, but I am certain we have a USAF base in Newfoundland. I'll research it.

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    This is not meant as an insult, but when a country does not consider its own national defense a priority, yes even in modern "kinder and gentler" times, you set yourself up for eventual difficulties in the future. Just because a nation ro the world is at "peace" or relative peace does not mean you can shirk your responsibilites to defend youself and be prepared for flare ups around the world. I don't care who your next door neighbor is.

    I realize the Canada is a much smaller nation population wise, but 60,000 men and women in your military? Come one, teh NYPD alone is 45,000 to 50,000 officers for 8 million people.

    The United Staes military consists of about 2 million men adn women through active duty, guards, and reserves, a little under 2% of our population is serving our contry (a tip of the hat to you all thank you). In canada, you have 60,000 men and women out of a population of 30,000,000, that is (get this) 0.20% of the nation's population serving for the national defense of Canada.

    Even Britain, who is by not a projector a world power, augments their military by having some of the meanes, most effective, most highly trained men and women in the world. I'll take a Royal Marine next to me anyday. The Aussies are the same way. I do not know what their military force strength is, but they make up for it in technology, training, and the excellence of the men and women serving. (I am not slighting the Canadian servicemen here, but the nation needs to provide better for itself and owes it to the men and women serving that they are the most effective, highly trained, and motivated people that they can get).

    Somehow, I don't see a change coming for you all, but isn't there an election coming up for your president?
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    I don't have super hard numbers yet, but the last figures I remember from not too long ago were approx 50 - 55,000 all ranks regular force members. This includes air force, army and naval personnel from the highest general (of which we have something like 10 for every 1000 troops or some such - its outragous anyhow) to the first born, newest trooper/sailor/airman.

    The force reserve is somewhere around 60,000 and this number also includes all three services. In this case the air reserve will be the lowest of the numbers as other than the reserve officers, most a/f personnel are communications operators.

    As for the question of "...when a country does not consider its own national defense a priority, yes even in modern "kinder and gentler" times, you set yourself up for eventual difficulties in the future." I can't explain it very well in my own words, other than to reiterate what I said eariler: This has always been a "Canadian defence policy" since the inception of "Canadian soil". When I get home, I will post the titles of a couple of the books and maybe a few excerpts from some of the articles I read during my studies. That might "bring light" to some of the questions that our South'n Brothers are feeling.

    In a nutshell, what I found from my reading is that while the dates and the names of the policy makers have changed.... the policies and the concepts behind those policies have not changed a great deal in over 200 years. Seems that the more things move forward in time... the more they stay the same... only the faces and the names are different.

    ON a slightly different tack.... George's question of what US assets are in Canada: basically there are none. We do share some space in Gander, I think you guys us it mostly as an alternate fueling port, and I also just checked with one of our Air Navigators and he confirmed this, plus that Goose Bay is/was also used like that. He also said that on most of our Air Bases, we do have small contingents of USAF personnel, and in Cold Lake and Bagottville he is pretty sure that there is still the equivilant of one US fighter squadron on each.

    If I can find some hard numbers on whos left in the forces, I will post it.
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    Originally posted by DaSharkie
    Somehow, I don't see a change coming for you all, but isn't there an election coming up for your president?
    President?? Did they remove the borders already???
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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Maybe it isn't Goose Bay, but I am certain we have a USAF base in Newfoundland. I'll research it.
    That would be Harmon AFB in Stephenville. It closed in 1966.
    Last edited by SAFD46Truck; 02-26-2004 at 12:00 PM.

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