Why am I frustrated, why am I seriously considering giving up on Defence Issues in Canada?
We are being sold a bill of goods on defence issues, and there is no push back from those with the voice to challenge the government’s position. The recent budget deferrals, the “re-profiling” of defence capital acquisition funds pushes the money back to around 2020, when the military will ‘need’ it.
It needs it now. Today. Hell! Counting past deferrals, it actually needs it yesterday, last week, last year.
The deferrals are also going to create their own, very serious, problems. We all know that the RCN will be seeing AOPS, Joint Support Ships and Destroyer/Frigate replacements all in rather short order. All three classes will be rather new, all at the same time. This will undoubtedly place pressure on the RCN as it strives to handle all three project offices being open, and doing critical work, at the same time.
Let’s look now at what RCAF will face due to deferrals. Snowbird Replacement, Griffon Replacement, Multi-Role Tanker Transport Replacement, Fighter Replacement, Trainer Replacement, Twin Otter Replacement, Aurora Replacement, UAV’s…
If RCN will struggle, RCAF will be in full-blown crisis. Projects, not funds, will have to be deferred, if not outright cancelled, in order to allow the critical projects to go forward. You simply can’t replace virtually everything the RCAF flies all at once and not expect a major problem. Let’s not forget that Cyclone will also be new(ish) as will whatever gets chosen as the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue aircraft. How many project offices can RCAF have open, doing acquisitions or implementations, at once? Where does it get the skill sets to handle all of this? The lack of skillset in acquisition is one identified factor in recent mishandled acquisitions. This costs money, and may result in poor choices. The budget plans, plans mind you, to actually make that situation worse.
One other thing to consider is capability attrition as training and conversion take place. There is a natural slippage as operators and maintainers convert to new systems. They have to be trained, which takes them out of operational units. They also occupy space, naturally, in the training system. Will the RCAF schools be able to handle so many projects at once? The current deferrals will force RCAF to have multiple cadres of operators and maintainers out of mine units to address training needs. Our smaller, more agile force is going to be a series of classrooms.
More tail, dull teeth.
There are projects that are ‘non-denominational’. Things that do not have to wait for the Defence White Paper to go forward. Those projects could be ‘pulled forward’ to get them out of conflict with deferred projects. They should be pulled forward. The government should have announced they would do that. This is how you re-profile defence acquisitions. You swap spots so that you are always, ALWAYS, buying something. You maintain skillsets, distribute costs and reduce workload on the specialists who run our project offices.
Some of these projects aren’t sexy. A Griffon Replacement certainly isn’t, neither is a Tanker Replacement. Telling RCAF that you are replacing Twin Otters with brand new Twin Otters isn’t sexy. It would support Canadian industry. It would also get the Twotter Replacement off the books and allow us to score a win. All three projects are available to be re-profiled.
The Government of Canada is screwing up, by the numbers. They are also getting a pass on creating a future crisis. All you hear is “Well, they have to study this, or formulate that”.
No, they don’t.
Core capabilities do NOT require study.
Does anyone really think that the Army will be left without Tactical Helicopters? The Air Force will have no Tankers or Northern Utility aircraft?
If you do, petition the Government to shut down the Canadian Armed Forces, turn off the lights and stop wasting $20 Billion per year on something that will be allowed to wither and die.
Otherwise, let’s all us rational folk call on the Government to restore the deferred funding and to get some of these non-denominational projects prioritised. let’s get them out of the way, now.
A Decade of Darkness turned into Twenty of Twilight, few bright spots. It will now stretch to Twenty Five of Futility. That is the very best outcome from the current plan. 25 years of defence acquisition futility in Canada. It isn’t acceptable, not on any level. Nor should it be. Yet we aren’t accepting, we are acquiescing. The silence is deafening.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.
When you try to scream in a nightmare, you can’t.