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Strategic Outlook and future CAF capability

In advance of its annual conference later this week, the Conference of Defence Associations released its annual The Vimy Paper titled The Strategic Outlook for Canada.

Authored once again by Ferry de Kerckhove and George Petrolekas, the paper sets Canadian interests and threats in a global context, and offers 17 recommendations to help the government develop a more “cohesive national vision for defence, security and foreign policy.”

Specific to defence, the paper urges the government to follow through on previous budget commitments to reform the procurement process. It was likely written before the government’s recent announcement of a Defence Procurement Strategy, but it raises issues that have been widely debated in recent years. “One of the most difficult issues to balance is the use of the defence budget as a tool of Canadian industrial development without affecting military requirements or affordability. The delay in acquiring equipment that the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces need to effectively do the jobs asked of them is evidence of profound dysfunction throughout the acquisition process. The articulation of a realistic, affordable CFDS/White Paper is the first step in a number of required reforms. A defence procurement strategy is long overdue.” It also recommends the creation of a “dedicated professional civil/military procurement organization.”

The paper also calls for the “general implementation” of the Leslie report on Transformation through Treasury Board “on the basis of a six month assessment by an advisory committee, and remain faithful to the report’s intent which was not to reduce the field force or its ability to operate and maintain itself.”

Related to Canadian Armed Forces operations, the paper argues that the “concept of jointness needs to form the basis for all decision-making processes across services, with an emphasis on policy, training, procurement and the operational employment of forces. In addition, the balance between services, the force structure, manning levels must be an element of the defence review as well as a realistic appraisal of the fiscal means available to support the CAF.”

And, following up on a recommendation from 2013, it preses for the government to “come out with a clear concept of employment of the reserves with stable and predictable terms of service and training and employment principles, with a focus on territorial defence tasks. This may include the reserves adopting new and expanded tasks. The US Air National Guard and the US National Guard should serve as a model with the emphasis being not on – why we cannot adopt the model, but on how we can adopt the model.”

The paper also lays out five scenarios for future force structure and capability for the government to weigh as it moves forward with the acquisition of new ships, aircraft and land vehicles.

The paper is available at http://www.cdainstitute.ca/images/so2014en.pdf

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