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ARTILLERY - RESERVE OR REGULAR BASED

Gunner

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As a topic of conversation (stolen from the Canadian Artillery thread) I pose the question "Should the Army move the Artillery to be primarily Reserve Based or should the status quo be maintained".
 
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JO

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To relegate the artillery primarily to the reserve would completely end the utility of the Regular Force as a warfighting entity (a point we are very close to as it is). Artillery accounts for something like 60% of casualties on the modern battlefield - it is a necessity for warfare. Keep in mind - the Army, both Regular and Reserve, exists for one purpose - to fight wars. That‘s what we train for. Reducing the Reg Arty to a mere training regiment or battery would be an utter disaster - Canada could never send regular forces to war without four to six months of mobilization time to draw the artillery out of the reserves. In this age of intercontinental missiles and push-button CNN wars, we cannot seriously expect to have the time in a future conflict to pull what we need out of the reserves. If Canada hopes to be a significant international player on the world scene in the future, it must be willing to flex some military muscle - and to do so, it requires combat-capable regular units ready and fully trained to go to war if need be. By all means, the reserves should keep its artillery units - to provide a mobilization base and fill the inevitable need for reinforcements in the event of a future conflict. But to take the artillery out of the Regs would permanently change the army from a warfighting force into a mere peacekeeping force. I ask all the people in uniform here - is that really the direction our army should go? Are we peacekeepers, international cops -- or are we soldiers? Is it better for Canada in the long run that we become the UN army?

Where‘s our true tradition, our organizational purpose? Are we going to remain the army of Vimy Ridge, the army of the Scheldt, of Amiens, of Kapyong, of Juno Beach, Dieppe, and Paardeburg? Or will we follow Cyprus, Rwanda, the Congo, or Sierra Leone?
 

Gunner

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Jo,

You bring up some very good points.

However, the military is becoming more and more focused toward operations other then war. We do not have a viable air defence system or organization anymore. We will soon (next 10 years) no longer have a main battle tank. How far behind is Regular Force Artillery Regiments? Even now there are discussions toward reducing the Regular Regiments down to two batteries (1 x M109, 1 x LG1). There is also talk of adding to the capability of the Arty by purchasing HIMARS...is this a good use of funds for an argueably cash strapped army?

My second point is are we really an army anymore? When was the last time we did any training above Battle Group level? We have an entire generation of officers who have no experience running a brigade on operations, much less a BG. In 1997, on the cbt team commanders course, almost half of the students had never done a live fire combat team attack. When are we going to face facts that we can‘t do it all without more resources, or we admit defeat and structure according to what the government wants us for?

The days of large scale mobilization are over for Canada. I think we can now answer the question "What if there was a war and no one showed up?" .
 
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JO

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If we are reorienting towards OOTW, then does that necessarily mean that we should change our focus and narrow our capabilities to just light armour, engineers, and infantry? Looking at the past few years, there are numerous examples of peacekeeping missions that went all to hell because the forces involved were simply not robust enough. feof these examples:

Bosnia - There was a study written on the Medak Pocket firefight (it‘s on the CDA website - www.cda-cdai.ca ) that pointed out that since the Canadians brought their full complement of equipment along from Germany, they were one of the few contingents that had the firepower and mobility to go into dangerous situations. 2PPCLI was trained for high-intensity combat against Soviet forces - when attacked by a Croatian brigade, they not only held their ground, but they inflicted dozens of casualties - dead and wounded - with no combat losses. This despite being under heavy small-arms fire and mortar attack for hours on end. The Pats were trained for war - and they found it. The Bosnia mission was a harbinger of "peacekeeping" in the twentieth century - no "Green Lines" anymore, many factions, ethnic cleansing, and little respect for the international community. Future peacekeepers will find themselves in combat;

Somalia - The Americans lost something like 23 killed in a battle in Mogadishu. Two Medals of Honor - both posthumous - were awarded for that firefight. The units involved were light, with inadequate heavy weapons support (an article in the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin pointed out that Somalia was doctrinally a mission for a mechanized or even armoured battlegroup);

Sierra Leone - a perfect contrast of "Cyprus peacekeeping" and robust peacemaking. The UN mission was (and is) a shambles. The lighly armed, poorly trained and organized UN troops could do little to prevent themselves being taken hostage, let alone do any peacekeeping. The British stopped the rebel advance on Freetown with their very presence - an amphibious landing force and the Parachute Regiment. The situation stabilized. Now the British are gone, the mission is still disorganized, and the UN is going to sack their commander on the ground;

Nicosia - Even the Cyprus mission got hot. The Airborne lost three killed defending the Nicosia airport in a three-way battle with the Turkish and Greek cypriots - factions supported by our NATO allies!

Now, these examples don‘t specifically address the artillery question. However, they support the point that peacekeeping is best done by robust, combat-capable, combat-trained, and combat-equipped forces with political will backing them up. Look at Bosnia now - despite the ethnic tensions and factionalism, it hasn‘t blown up again; this is because NATO and its no-nonsense, hardline approach to peacekeeping (complete with armour and artillery in reaction units to back up the peacekeepers if things go bad) is recognized and respected by all parties.

So if OOTW is the future, we still should retain a balanced regular army encompassing all major capabilities - including air defence. I‘d be the first to agree with you - the army‘s structure as it is today is of limited utility, and it needs reorganization. But just because we don‘t often take such things as artillery and AD units on peacekeeping missions is not enough reason to lose that capability. What kind of an Army does Canada need - what army will best serve Canadian interests in the future? We‘re a G7 power - we have responsibilities. The Army is involved in too many operations for its budget - which is percentagewise half the NATO average. If we are to expect this level of funding for the forseeable future, the government and public has to accept that we can‘t be a "UN rent-a-cop" everywhere, and lower the number of commitments so we can recapitalize and begin some meaningful training.
 

Brad Sallows

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It strikes me that often the key to successful presence in OOTW is deterrence, in the form of combat capability serious enough to give others pause. If you aren‘t credible, then if you are lucky others may warn you to get out of the way - or they may not; a successful fight against a lesser foe has always been a favoured means of seasoning troops for subsequent battles.
 
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Boyd

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Hmmmm. I don‘t agree. While this idea seems like a good idea on the surface, it could be applied to almost any branch of the combat arms, or the Armed Forces in general.

Why do we need Armor? We have AT weapons.

Why do we need a Air Force? We have ADATs.

Why do we need a navy? We can catch a ride with the Yanks.

Why do we need NDHQ(Or any rank above Major...)? The simple soldier boys do what the elected leaders tell them to. Why have these highly paid guys sitting around making decisions that are best left to patronage appointees?

Why do we need enlisted persons? We‘ll just have a officer corp and if Canada needs to mobilize a army, the draftees will become the enlisted ranks.

The point is that the Armed Forces are more than simply the sum of it‘s parts. You can justify any cut into the combat arms, but it just doesn‘t make for a workable Armed Forces.

Placing the artillery into a reserve role would be one of the last steps before some politician asks during a budget meeting: "Do you think we can get away without a Army?
 

Gunner

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Boyd, welcome to the discussion.

You bring up some very valid points, however, I think the question really is that in this era of limited resources, what do you want to emphasize and what do you want to minimize. Take a look at Air Defence and they have been operating on life support for years. I agree with your arguement that the discussion can be asked of any combat arm and by slicing one off you are reducing your effectiveness.

We have never operated above a BG for the last five years (if you can call COP COBRA a brigade level exercise). We will be losing our MBTs in the next 10 years. An entire generation of officers have been raised on OOTW (which it can be argued is fairly low level tactics). We have way too many resources subsidizing infrastructure and administrative overhead for what is required to support the soldier on the ground. The 90s have not been kind to the military and especially the army. Someone said the other day that the best way to immobilize the Canadian military system is simply to start submitting harassment complaints and watch the system grind to a halt.

I‘ll pose the question to you - Does Canada still have an army in anything but name? If not, should we not look at how to change that?
 
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JO

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The army has indeed been heading in the wrong direction for years, and a large part is due to the fact that the army has developed a "peacekeeping culture". Probably the best way to start reversing that trend is for the government and the Armed Forces - all branches - to recognize PUBLICLY that our primary business is not peacekeeping but to prepare for war. Most of the Canadian people would probably agree with that statement. Right now, however, one has to wonder what it would take to bring about that recognition - history would seem to suggest that nothing short of a war that would threaten our national survival or that of our allies would be required. I certainly hope that observation is wrong - I don‘t fully believe it myself - and I hope even more that that would never happen... because I don‘t think there‘s one person in the Forces or who has any knowledge of our current condition who would believe that we could face such a situation.
Historically, Canadians have relied on two things for protection - our geographic isolation (two huge oceans) and a benevolent superpower (first Britain, and then the US). The general attitude among Canadians is that if a problem were to ever arise, the US would bail us out. It might - but that is beside the point. Although Canada is simply too small to ever protect itself on its own, and although the United States is bound by treaty and by its own national interest to protect us and to an extent our interests, one cannot automatically assume that they will every time. What if they can‘t - if they‘re tied up elsewhere? What if we tread on their toes and they decide to punish us by refusing to back our forces up on some peacekeeping mission that goes awry? The US has its own agenda, and it does not necessarily coincide with ours.
More importantly -- it‘s not their job. It is the responsibility of every sovereign nation to enforce and protect its own sovereignty and interests - that‘s what makes us an independent country. Our allies consistently criticize us for failing to do our part - and they‘re right. Canada is a freeloader on defence, and if we don‘t start paying our dues to our allies in that respect, we have no right to expect them to be there for us.

That‘s what the Canadian people, government, and the defence leadership have to recognize before our problems can begin to be dealt with effectively. The question is, what can be done to start that process?

That‘s my two cents. Any thoughts?
 

bossi

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I‘ve always been fond of the analogy:

You can water a lawn with a fire hose, but you can‘t always fight fires with a garden hose.

Thus, it is indeed important for EVERYBODY to realise the danger of the new "politically correct" tendency to refer to the "Canadian Forces" vice the "Canadian ARMED Forces" (after all, how could the Forces remain "forces" is they weren‘t armed???? Our unarmed Coast Guard is a case in point - whenever they need some muscle, they have to ask somebody else to supply armed personnel)

When I‘m in an antagonistic mood at cocktail parties, I love watching the reaction on faces of politically correct weasels, plugs and butt-kissers as they wet their pants when I bluntly explain what I did during 23 years of military service: Prepare for war (and that in the grand scheme of things, the advantage of being prepared for war is that anything short of war is a piece of cake, by comparison) Lamentably, very few comprehend this message, and their weak stomaches and sheep-like attention spans usually move on to other, gentler topics of discussion.

It‘s curious how many Canadians take it for granted - "The True North, Strong and Free", yet they seemingly forget the part about "Stand On Guard".

Dileas Gu Brath
Mark Bossi, Esquire
 
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Boyd

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A few follow up points:

1)Reliance on US/NATO support. While the support of the rest of NATO is comforting, the most important question is US defence support. This is not exactly certain, however. The US has it‘s own internal political and cultural structure that isn‘t always clear to Canadians. A good example of this would be Arctic sovreignty, the Yanks get right persnickity when we point out that the north belongs to us. Back in the late 80‘s, when Canada was considering buying some nuclear subs, primarily to be used to patrol all three of our coasts, the US refused to even consider selling us 688 class boats. Simply put, they felt Canada had no business being involved in nuclear propulsion or projecting military force into the Arctic. Another growing problem is the ongoing legal challenge in the US forces re: UN deployment. Apparently the oath that US soldiers take can be interpreted not to include UN missions. Coupled with large anti-UN factions in the US, this political hamstringing might prevent US intervention, at least openly. Before you dismiss this idea, remember this is the same country that has a law forbiding the Armed Forces from being used for civilian purposes.

2)I agree with you on the point of preparing for war Mark. One thing that bothers me about the much ballyhooed EH101 purchase is this. They are fine SAR helos, but have exactly zero combat purpose. They are painted in CG colours. The Canadian government needs to realize that while it‘s acceptable to use the Armed Forces in secondary roles(SAR, UN missions, disaster relief), the primary purpose of the Armed Forces is inflicting damage and destroying threats to Canadian security. This is isn‘t always killing, but sadly, until they invent a magic death ray that eliminates all non-organic tissue and forces the bad guys to surrender, killing is often the simplest way to achieve this objective. Part of the problem in Canada towards political correctness is a lack of direct experience with the levels of horror that mankind can inflict on itself.
 
A

Arty Sig

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Albeit slow, I feel the government is starting to turn around. For the first time since Korea, Canadian Artillery is abroad as peacekeepers, to deter agression and protect its own troops. We have seen some brutal cuts in the last decade, but lately have started improvements. The LG1 - GIAT, the Coyote (to be used by the arty, infantry and armoured), the Leopard C2 (i believe - with the Leopard 2 turret), the Griffon. The list goes on.....
I feel the politicians are slowly seeing the light, by deplying artillery pieces to Bosnia, we have shown our ability to use weapons of mass destruction, as a deterence. In the past (peacekeeping roles) Canada has always sent the least amount of war fighting hardware possible, to show that we are not aggressors. In Kosovo we had the Coyote, which by no means is a play toy, it is a deterence. We had the Leopards, again, a tank (although mostly outgunned by the other nations)is a weapon of war,and our CF-18‘s, we showed we were willing to commit our weapons of war as deterence. And now in Bosnia, the addition of a Canadian Artillery Battery (the final weapon of mass destruction), shows that we have the ability and the means to use these weapons as deterence or show of force. Although once again the LG1 is only a 105mm, and outgunned by other NATO forces, they are manned by the excellent troops from 1 RCHA, who have proven their worth not only as artillery, but as infantry also (C Bty, went to Bosnia as C Coy - 3 PPCLI). So with the latest trends of deployments, it may be that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger, and the days of the lone peacekeeper with his rifle is over. Canada‘s weapons of war, are now along side that lone peacekeeper, ready to flex its muscle.
These are just my thoughts.
 
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