The CF after Afghanistan. What is the plan?
Mar 15, 2010

So much work had been accomplished by this government, some tough decisions were made, with mostly unwaivering dedication, to build Canada’s military prowess – knowing the international caché that brings. A voice on the global stage was deemed to be important, and the Prime Minister has realized some of those implications.

We collectively cringed in agreement as a long line-up of comedians (of all people!) poking endless fun at Canada’s dilapidated equipment and reducing numbers. And the government watched as people from all walks took great umbrage when the Fox Network had the audacity to criticize our efforts in Afghanistan. In recent years, this government ­witnessed an amazing groundswell of support for the troops. Canadians from across the country embraced the brave men and women who took to the land, sea and air in an attempt to make this a better place for all to live.
 
Canada’s Armed Forces began to reap the benefits. New and replacement kit started to become a reality. A deeper level of respect came from our neighbours to the south as they turned their own focus more squarely on Afghanistan.  
 
But the pressures of fielding a minority government took its toll. Opposition leaders, with little more to do than placate special interest groups in the hope of chipping away at the government’s support, were succeeding at turning the tide. Yielding to opposition demands, the Prime Minister agreed to pull troops from Afghanistan by 2011... and, by golly, the national media will hold him to that, whether it’s a good decision or not.
 
And now the funding cuts have begun. First on the chopping block were programs and training for the Reserves. Just about every large defence procurement program is in jeopardy, even as rust out continues to progress at rapid rates.
 
General Hillier famously described the extended period of continuous cutbacks endured by the military before he became the CDS as a “Decade of Darkness.” ­Rumblings are being heard from every corner of the defence and ­aerospace industry that history may be ready to repeat itself. Is the Government using last year’s economic downturn as an excuse to hit the military up for funding cutbacks that historically tend to appear after every lengthy mission?
 
Many projects, critical to both international missions and Canada’s national ­security, are still in the queue. Now is not the time to pull the plug.

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© FrontLine Defence 2010

 

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