Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Airborne - reborn or stillborn?

On the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Europe, it is fitting to have a quick look at the recently announced revitalization of Canada's airborne infantry capability. In WW II, Canadian paratroop forces played a major role and the Canadian Airborne Regiment continued to enjoy a proud history in peacetime, until Somalia.

The point here is not to replay the Somalia affair. Suffice to say that the Airborne fell prey to political correctness, as the many suffered for the sins of the few. It's time to redress that error of political expediency and cowardice in the face of orchestrated public opinion.

The recently announced "911 Force" to be drawn from three existing regiments is a good start, but it's only a start. Their role in support of JTF2 is also a good start, but it's only a start.

The mandate to be lightly equipped and adequately trained sounds fine, so long as it's not an excuse to define "light" and "adequate" as something less than what is really required. Call me cynical, but Canadian governments of all stripes have often set low standards in military affairs and failed to achieve them.

With promised funding not kicking in for several years, it might be easy for government to let this excellent initiative slide, if they get the chance. The defence community, in and out of uniform, can't allow that to happen.

The other thing that the defence community should do, in my humble view, is to make the size and capability of the new force as robust as possible. They can be light, but they also have to be damned strong, in terms of arms, equipment and training. They may not need to have the individual training standards of JTF2 in some areas, but they can't be just a cleanup crew, either. If they are not capable of taking on a combat task in their own right, they will not fulfill the mandate that they should.

General Hillier and his planners are on the right track in many areas, although I think they're perpetuating a serious flaw with the lack of attention to organic strategic airlift. We have to keep the pressure on the government, whatever it looks like after the 2005 election, to not play games with defence funding (such as clawing back over 40% of the $1.1 billion promised over the next two years). The rebirth of the airborne capability will take many years and it will be easy to let it slide.

Here's a radical idea. How about we make the longer term plan to simply re-establish the Canadian Airborne Regiment, once the capability has been built up within the three existing regiments? Then, keep building those regiments until they are up to an appropriate level of manning, equipment, training and capability. The whole process will probably take twenty years, but we can't rebuild in a day what government has torn down over decades.

Our condo neighbour is a wizened older fella whose normal attire includes a burgundy T-shirt with the blue Airborne logo on the front. He is still a proud member of his regiment and I think that we have an obligation, to him and to Canada, to make sure that it is reborn and not stillborn.


Blogger Dr_Funk said...

One way to accomplish this without the political issues inherent in using the name "the Canadian Airborne Regiment" would be to name the new battalion '1st Canadian Parachute Battalion". This name has the proud lineage of the unit that jumped at Normandy and over the Rhine during World War II. And without the odium of the supposed 'disgrace' of Somalia.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Justthinkin said...

I agree with Dr_Funk.This is a proud and appropriate name.
Congrats on your CPC nomination,Laurie.As an ex-canary myself,although in Kilgour's riding,I will assist if necessary in ridding Edmonton and Canada of Screechin Annie,without the chute!!

Per Ardua Ad Astra

8:02 PM  
Blogger TraviSmyth said...

Congrats on your nomination Laurie. You came so close last time to beating Anne, this time you will do it-- you've got Adscam (and all other Fiberal corruption), and you've got even more name recognition this time around.

This is highly trivial at this point, but in reference to what dr_funk said above; it would be inappropriate to call a new CAR-like unit a batallion, as a battalion is only 1/4(with HQ) of a Regiment. We should follow suit of the British Paras, calling the unit the CANADIAN PARA(chute) REGIMENT.

Take care Laurie, and good luck!

11:07 PM  
Blogger John the Mad said...

I agree the airborne name change is important to make it palatable for the politicos.

Glad to hear of your nomination. Give 'em hell. Power to the pidgeons.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Dr_Funk said...

travis, the CAR was never really a regiment per se: it was composed of three line 'Commandos' which were large companies, rather than battalions. Plus HQ Commando, which was roughly equivalent to a line battalion's HQ Company. So calling it a battalion wouldn't be out of line..and it would add the proud history of Normandy and the Rhine.... But calling it a Regiment wouldn't bother me all that much... Hell, calling the Canadian Airborne Regiment wouldn't bother me..but it would bother some people, so lets make it easy...

7:45 PM  
Blogger hockey hound said...

What's wrong with calling the Canadian Airborne the Canadian Airborne? They have nothing to be ashamed of. To hell with politics. They were shafted by the Canadian government. The Airborne did their job, and did it well-- against a bunch of freakin' jihadist animals. Oh, golly, did I just write that?

Go, Canadian Airborne! To hell with political correctness.

Hockey hound

5:59 PM  
Blogger hockey hound said...

"palatable for the politicos"?
BS! It's the politicos who've destroyed our military. Who gives a damn what is palatable for the politicos? Now is the time to make the Canadian Forces palatable for the Canadian soldier! the politicos be damned! May the rats eat their mail!

Hockey hound

6:13 PM  

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