We are now in a new year and despite being just another entry on our calendars, hope is eternal that this annual marker will be the harbinger of a brighter future.
It is also always an important stage in which we stop to reflect on the recent past and draw up a new set of resolutions with the firm intention, this time, to keep them.
The Canadian Armed Forces kicks off 2022 with new Minister of National Defense Anita Anand, and I think it’s safe to say that as an organization they are collectively eager to throw the sexual misconduct scandals of 2021 through. the trash can of history.
Looking ahead, there is more and more saber rattling with Russia over Ukraine. As international tensions mount and the political spirit intensifies, Canadians must be reminded that we currently have a forward deployed battle group of approximately 650 troops based in Latvia. If hostilities broke out in eastern Ukraine with a Russian military incursion and NATO in turn promised intervention, the Latvian-based battle group would risk being engulfed in an escalation of conventional warfare.
However, since Russia has a large nuclear arsenal and has threatened to use it if cornered, it is to be believed that calmer spirits will soon prevail.
What this time of pandemic illustrated to Canadians is that there are various national threats to our citizens that have turned out to be much more real than the foreign military forces that were potentially reshaping the map of Europe. The CAF’s rapid response to assist civilian long-term care facilities during the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, the ARC’s international repatriation flights for stranded travelers, and military aid to the Following natural disasters related to climate change in western Canada have all been extremely popular with the Canadian public.
It was the face of the Canadian military that the average citizen could take note of and thus appreciate the selfless service provided by our men and women in uniform. Unfortunately, this crisis has also served to illustrate that the CAF has very limited resources dedicated to such national relief operations. The uniformed medical personnel are theoretically sufficient in number to provide care to other members of the service with a slight emergency back-up capacity.
When it comes to deploying combat troops in flood-prone areas or forest fires, the optics of circulating them in light armored vehicles can leave a very military imprint on the images released, but truth be told, there is much more efficient civilian logistics vehicles that are not armored.
As we (hopefully) begin to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us from a public health perspective, pressure will soon mount on the Trudeau minority government to start reigning over growing debt. that this two-year economic implosion created. With inflation skyrocketing and the threat of pushing bank interest rates up, those hundreds of billions of dollars the federal government has borrowed to cover the cost of fighting COVID will suddenly become very costly to manage. .
I think this inevitable future tightening of the budget belt by the federal government could lead to a healthy public debate about where Canadian citizens want to see their tax dollars spent when it comes to standing up for this nation.
For example, the Russian Air Force uses its massive Antonov strategic airlift planes to fight forest fires. In such a mission, planes are equipped to transport and drop fire retardants. The RCAF currently owns five C-17 strategic airlift aircraft, but none of them have been converted for such dual use.
I believe that in the future, future Canadian defense policies and acquisitions must be based on a broader range of threats than mere military threats. We cannot afford not to.