Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard June/July 2019

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 45 of 47

46 JUNE/JULY 2019 the last WoRD nouncement, just prior to an election, of additional Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) vessels and the intention to have a third large shipyard join Irving and Seaspan as a NSS shipyard. Sir Wilfred Laurier in 1910, as noted in The Seabound Coast – The Official Histo- ry of the Royal Canadian Navy 1867-1939, told Lord Dundonald: "You must not take the militia too seriously, for though it is useful for suppressing internal disturbanc- es, it will not be required for the defences of the country, as the Monroe Doctrine (U.S. Strategic Policy for the defence of the Americas promulgated in 1823) pro- tects us against enemy aggression." This guiding principal has given great flexibil- ity for Canadian governments to allocate resources to other more popular political initiatives. Canada's comprehensive sys- tem of social programs, developed in the 20th century, and their benefits, are felt directly by Canadians, whereas defence, in particular the navy, normally affects Canadians indirectly. Consequently, as the demand and the implementation of the social infrastruc- ture for Canada's welfare state expanded over time, resources for defence contract- ed with no public outcry. The Pearson and the first Trudeau governments, es- sentially relying on the Monroe Doctrine, were able to imprudently experiment with Canada's national security by implement- ing Unification and Integration whereby the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Canadian Army (CA) and the Royal Ca- nadian Air Force (RCAF) were disbanded and integrated into one, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), breaking out the former service operational forces into tac- tical functional commands while merging support, administration and procurement functions. This allowed the government to design and implement a "one size fits all" requirement and procurement pro- cess – one which favours "off the shelf" acquisition. This transformative change favoured equipping the CAF through a competitive process, with existing sys- tems, which in the case of a warship meant providing the RCN with ships and systems, designed for a different navy, for a different operational environment, that were technologically over a decade old and, in some cases, not even in produc- tion. Essentially, government processes evolved to favour the army and the air force and disadvantage the navy. Navies and naval operations are com- plex due to the fact that navies operate far and close to land, above the seas, be- low the seas, and on the seas in a natu- rally hostile and ever-changing complex environment and face complex multi- dimensional threats. The complexities of ships and navies mean that when war breaks out or an emergency occurs, un- like raising an army, it will be too late to build a navy. Thus, in peacetime, a mari- time nation's navy needs to be sufficient to deter any aggressor and to form a solid foundation to defeat the aggressor. This is the essence of Mahan's sixth principal. Putting the acquisition of a new naval warship – one of the most complex acqui- sitions undertaken by Canadian govern- ments – through the same process as the acquisition of a tank or an aircraft guar- antees at worst failure and at best delay in delivering less capability to the navy. The demise of the Afloat Logistic Con- cept (ALSC), the predecessor to Joint Support Ship (JSS), the failure of the first JSS project, the failure of the Command and Control Air Defence Replacement (CADRE) project (predecessor to the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC)), and the long gestation of the CSC and the current JSS project – all high naval priorities in 1999 – point to the fact that naval shipbuilding projects are complex and do not fit into the simplistic and rigid procurement processes developed post- Unification and Integration. Essentially, the RCN has been attempting to deliver capable combat capability for Canada in the form of new ships for over 20 years using the post-Unification/Integration processes, and yet there is no delivery contract on either the JSS or the CSC. Compare that to the United States Navy (USN), which conceived and delivered the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer within 11 years and are now delivering Flight III, and the Royal Australian Navy AN- ZAC Replacement project from concept to approval, in a similar period of time. It may well be that Canada's NSS pro- gram is the recognition by government that a vital naval shipbuilding industry is an important national strategic require- ment. It may also be that government will recognize that designing and build- ing some of Canada's most complex as- sets does not fit the simplistic mould of "off the shelf" acquisitions, and it may well lead one to believe that Canadian governments have taken up the difficult challenge to separate naval shipbuilding and it's strategic value to the country from other procurements. If so, then Canada has much to gain and may well be beginning to fulfill Mahan's sixth principal. But given our recent history, NSS may well become a short-funded political tool. Hopefully, as NSS moves towards success, governments will recog- nize that complex government shipbuild- ing is a national strategic necessity and establish a procurement process specific for government shipbuilding. Captain(N) Ian Parker (Retired) is Director Naval Affairs for the Naval Association of Canada. Hopefully, as NSS moves towards success, governments will recognize that complex government shipbuilding is a national strategic necessity and establish a procurement process specific for government shipbuilding.

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