Montreal, October 13, 2001  /  No 90  
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Ralph Maddocks is a retired textile executive and former management consultant. He lives in Cowansville.
by Ralph Maddocks
          Every citizen of a country has a right to expect that its government has the armed forces in place to protect that country's territorial integrity and that they are actually in a position to do so. This is one of the main reasons why we pay taxes. During the First and Second World Wars, Canada's fighting forces were second to none. Well led and well equipped they fought splendidly in the various combat zones to which they were assigned. Sometime after the war, came left-wing politics which began by removing the distinguishing features of the three services, the RCAF, the RCN and the army. By forcing them to wear the same coloured uniforms they began the deterioration of the esprit de corps so necessary to any fighting force.
          Next came a series of peace keeping missions which do not require state of the art military equipment; controlling the indigenous often takes a big stick, at least much of the time. So it came to pass that Canada began to reduce its armed services budgets and thus began the transformation of a fighting force with a proud tradition into simply another department in an ever swelling government bureaucracy. During the Cold War period, Canada's NATO responsibilities meant that it had to keep a few airplanes in Germany, planes which occasionally made widows of their pilots, but slowly it became apparent that Canada would have a hard time meeting its responsibilities. In fact there was occasional criticism of this by Canada's NATO allies. 
Royal Canadian Air Farce 
          The tragi-comedy of the helicopters selected by the Mulroney government and turned down by the Liberals is still not resolved and is being played out at the cost of servicemen's lives and non-functioning equipment. Forty year old helicopters which have been described accurately as "flying coffins" and some of them have now been sent to assist the US effort in the Afghan affair. A plane sent to East Timor some time ago turned back a couple of times due to some malfunction or other. Hardly an edifying example of what we are told incessantly is the best country in the world, and even less comforting for the poor servicemen obliged to fly in it. A large number of the remaining aged CF-18s are grounded as a result of maintenance. Those remaining – a couple of dozen according to the National Post – do not have the equipment needed to operate in a hostile environment. 
          These planes are coming to the end of their useful lives and will need replacing within the next few years anyway. They will need replacing as a block, akin to having to replace all the electrical equipment in your home at one fell swoop, an act at once expensive and quite likely to result in a repeat of the ever present navy helicopter problem. In April this year, Defence Minister Art Eggleton announced an $ 872.3-million upgrade of the radar, weapons' management computers and other electronics systems on 80 of the 122 CF-18s, but those won't begin until 2002. None of this though has stopped our leaders from sending half a dozen of our planes to the new conflict in the Middle East. 
          A former Minister of Defence, who shall remain mercifully forever nameless, disbanded the Parachute Brigade, which contained the sharp end of any military response Canada was likely to make. We do have still one elite unit, the Joint Task Force, whose members are very well trained but poorly equipped. Apparently, they do not have the transportation resources sufficient to deploy them, or the surveillance equipment to locate and attack targets in the field. 
          The Canadian Navy, a proud service with an exemplary war record, has less than 20 small surface units; most old and unfit for active combat. To protect our coastline, which is much longer than that of our southern neighbour, we have very few submarines able to patrol Canada's three oceans. At one time we had just three in service which meant that we were fortunate to have only three oceans to patrol. When Canada sent ships to the Gulf War ten years ago deck guns had to be borrowed from the nation's military museum. Canada does not have the heavy sea-lifting capacity to transport its army and equipment, even if it so wished. Quite obviously, listening to our beloved leader, it does not wish to do so. As he said on September 24th, the events of September 11th will not divert Canada from its "overall agenda." A position which seems to have been reversed lately. 
Ill equipped 
          The Canadian budget for defence is around $ 11 billion, which seems like a lot of money to most of us, and yet we are ill equipped to defend this country. In fact, if Canada were to be threatened by anyone we would have to rely upon the US coming to our defence. We would be obliged to rely on the US National Missile Defense capability should the threat from missiles, now proliferating in more and more countries, ever become real. The recent announcement by President Bush of resurrecting the Missile Defence System was not greeted by the plaudits of our present government. 
          In 1996, when the US announced their intention to deploy a NMD system by the year 2005, Canada, according to a DND press release of the time, said that it has "limited its activities concerning Ballistic Missile Defence to research and consultation with the US and other like minded nations." The same release stated that "[t]he Government of Canada is closely following these developments (the proliferation of missiles worldwide) but has made no decision with regard to Canadian participation in BMD."  This is code for, we will continue to wait until it is much too late and then contend that it is too expensive to protect ourselves. The likely outcome of a US anti-ballistic missile shooting down a nuclear missile coming near Canadian airspace is nuclear devastation somewhere in our vast country. 
     « Canada is though well off for generals, I read somewhere that we have more generals per soldier than any other industrial nation, although they must be in command of more desks than they are of soldiers. »
          The same criticisms can be made about the under funding of other Canadian defence mechanisms such as CSIS. Even the RCMP has been reduced in size and yet the threats to the nation's security increase. 
          It may come as a surprise to some that Canada has fewer than 21 000 man ground forces, smaller than those of Bolivia, and that we have fewer than 120 tanks, all obsolete, a few old guns and inadequate amounts of ammunition for them anyway. Ammunition is in such short supply apparently, that our soldiers in training are unable to become expert in the use of their weapons. Our ground forces consist of three regiments of combat troops, some 10 000 soldiers, about half the number of the Transit Police employed by New York City. In total, we have some 60 000 weakly armed forces, and according to one commentator, the precise functions of over a quarter of them cannot even be identified. Canada is though well off for generals, I read somewhere that we have more generals per soldier than any other industrial nation, although they must be in command of more desks than they are of soldiers. 
          We need to ask why it is that a country like Holland, with half our population, spends a similar amount to us annually but yet has a highly-trained army of 27 000 soldiers, 330 state-of-the-art Leopard-II tanks; 16 modern surface combat vessels, 4 submarines; and an air force comprising 170 F-16s. Fifty percent more fire power for the same money. It should not be a surprise to any that the USA did not at first ask Canada to join in America's War against Terrorism. If Canadians are unaware of these deficiencies the USA certainly is not. 
          We need to ask just how much longer we can expect to rely upon the US taxpayers continuing to support the wasteful negligence practice by successive Canadian governments with respect to meeting their basic responsibilities of protecting their taxpayers. When the prospect of a government-run baby sitting scheme came up for discussion some time ago it did not seem to be a problem finding the $ 13 billion required; perhaps they really meant baby soldiers! 
In Socialist New Zealand 
          Sad though the situation may be in socialist Canada, it is perhaps even worse in socialist New Zealand. Many readers will recall the splendid example of the reforms introduced by the Lange government of New Zealand back in the 1980s when Roger Douglas began to reverse the deficits accumulated by successive socialist governments. New Zealand was held up as a model for others with growing deficits, like Canada, to emulate. As Minister of Finance in the NZ Labour Government in 1984, Douglas presided over the most far reaching structural reforms ever carried out in that country. 
          That same period, when David Lange was Prime Minister, was perhaps best known too for Lange's decision to ban US nuclear-powered or armed ships from entering NZ ports. This act ended the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, US) alliance and possibly ended New Zealand's participation in Western defence. 
          Like Canada, New Zealand contributed a larger number of servicemen than its size might indicate, to fight alongside the other Commonwealth countries during both world wars. It was a New Zealander, Captain Charles Upham, who won one of the only three Victoria Crosses(1) with bar ever awarded. The first sign that change was underway came in the Vietnam war when New Zealand's contribution was a single artillery battery to operate alongside the Australian infantry. Unlike a normal battery of six guns, the NZ contribution had only four guns and a spare and it was often nearly over-run due to its limited firepower, a condition which made its contribution quite minimal. 
          After Lange's perfidy, New Zealand lost its allies and thus began the deterioration of its already limited armed forces. Although New Zealand is in the middle of a large body of water and has responsibility for a number of small islands in the Pacific and the Southern Ocean, its navy consists of just three aged frigates. It is surprising that the navy's officers and men remain since there is no obvious career path for them. The present Labour Government is led by a lady who has been described as being "compulsively politically correct" and it is said that, for her, "Joan Baez has never stopped singing." 
          Prime Minister Helen Clarke has continued the process of dismembering New Zealand's armed forces, announcing in May this year that they would scrap the combat wing of their air force. An air force which consisted only of a handful of clapped out sub-sonic fighters anyway, and whose pilots and ground crews are now applying to join the Royal Australian Air Force. The NZ navy is to be reduced to just two frigates, a move making no sense at all since in effect one or both will be incapable of deployment much of the time due to maintenance or training requirements.  
Here and There 
          Like Canada, New Zealand seems to be relying almost entirely upon its own neighbour, Australia, for its defence needs. The cowardly renunciation by a government of its primary responsibility, the protection of its citizens, to say nothing of its national honour, pride or self-respect; may only be viewed as thoroughly reprehensible. Along with disarming, politically correct New Zealand seems to be on the verge of abandoning regional free trades discussions and agreements. 
          It might be interesting to compare New Zealand with another country, Singapore, which has a population some 300 000 less than that of the two main New Zealand islands. Embracing just 247 square miles it has very powerful and modern armed forces. Singapore has underground railway stations able to double as air-raid shelters and roads which can be converted easily into airstrips for its powerful air force. 
          The political correctness of New Zealand continues with the proposal recently made, presumably to preserve itself from future militarism, which will require children to have licences for toy guns. Even North America's virulent anti-gun lobby hasn't got around to proposing such a ludicrous measure; at least not yet. 
          The "Rogernomics" revolution is in now stopped if not moving into reverse, with high taxing and spending returning to the fore, along with the lavishing of public funds on politically correct causes. The potential now exists for vote buying on a scale that would put even Britain to shame. In a recent issue of QL, I mentioned the Chatham Islands (see POLITICALLY CORRECT BLACKMAIL, le QL, no 85), originally inhabited by a gentle race of people whose religion forbade them to resort to war or violence even for self defence. Perhaps New Zealand's Prime Minister is using them as a model for her new vision of life in New Zealand. Perhaps she has forgotten that it was a group of warlike Maoris from New Zealand who invaded those islands in 1870 and devoured the lot of them? 
1. The Victoria Cross, is a bronze Maltese cross awarded to members of the British armed services for acts of remarkable valour and is the highest military honour conferred by Britain.  >>
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