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SF: Lower profile = easier funding cut target?

The Bread Guy

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Another piece from the Kingston Whig-Standard from a conference under way this week, shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act - highlights mine:
For all of the secrecy that surrounds what Canada's special forces do overseas, those operations seem open and transparent to what units such as Joint Task Force 2 do in Canada.

Domestic counterterrorism, from cells intent on making and planting bombs in Canada to the big threats of nuclear and biological weapons, were the main reason the Canadian special forces were created 17 years ago and that remains their primary job.

"We only come in when we're called," Brig.-Gen Michael Day, commander of the country's special operations forces, said Wednesday at Royal Military College at an unprecedented public forum to discuss the future of the special forces.

"We're like Ghostbusters without the cool stuff and we don't get to decide when we're needed."

Domestic terrorism is a law-enforcement issue and the military works with Canadian intelligence, the RCMP and other police forces as it has no jurisdiction in Criminal Code matters. It considers a successful operation one in which it works at the invitation of local authorities and no one knows it was ever there.

The special forces are trying to figure out what shape that function will take with military budget cuts looming as Canada's mission in Afghanistan winds down. An outfit whose work is secret can be an easy target for politicians who can rationalize that if no one sees it now, no one is going to notice if it is cut back.


The Canadian special forces have not fired a shot in anger on Canadian soil since they were created in 1993.

In an interview, Day said he expects his unit to absorb its share of the cutbacks that are expected when Afghanistan ends and governments start the military budget-cutting that they do at the end of every conflict. Part of the purpose of the conference is to raise visibility of the special forces' function, both within government and to the public.

A number of American special operatives were at the conference, and having had their budgets gutted in regular waves over the years, they cautioned the Canadians about the dangers of that. The prime example is the cobbled-together rescue effort of the American hostages in Iran under president Jimmy Carter, a time when the U.S. special forces were particularly neglected.

The mission failed horribly, with helicopters crashing in the desert and soldiers dying in an international embarrassment widely seen as costing Carter his presidency.

U.S. navy Capt. Mike Sass was in the Arabian desert when that ill-fated mission took off and said it was the starkest possible example of how special forces have to be kept ready for the worst, because they are needed for the most complicated and politically sensitive missions on almost no notice.

"You need to convince government that special forces are a core capability and not a luxury," agreed David Charters of the University of New Brunswick, who also said the public had to be convinced of the value of such a specialized force.

"It's one thing to brief the chief of defence staff and the deputy minister, but the minister at some point will have to sell this to the public."


Charters, like many at the conference, fears the special operations will become a sacrificial cow in future budgets.

"I have to say I'm not terribly optimistic about the future. I'm afraid that special operations forces may become a target for the bean counters and the politically concerned, shall we say."

Emily Spencer of RMC, one of the conference organizers and a leading academic expert on Canada's special forces, said the elite corps will have to step out of the opaque bubble in which they are quite comfortable operating, to demonstrate publicly the value of what they do.

She also noted that special forces need to be ready because of the amount of training and specialization they require. The maxim is the difference between special and conventional forces is that the latter operates the equipment while special forces equip the operator.

"You cannot just create these forces when you need them, it just doesn't work," Spencer said.


"You have to have them ready (at all times) because when you need them, they have to be there."
 

Illegio

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Why not do something along the lines of the NZ SAS: First Among Equals documentary?

I'm sure it's not the first time something like this has been suggested, but it could serve as a venue to showcase the abilities and applications of units like JTF2, CSOR and CJIRU. It also helps put a bit more of a human face on The Men in Black Pajamas and shows some of the misery that these people go through to get to where they are. Add to that the origins of these units, such as the FSSF in the case of CSOR, and there is a lot of rich material that could help people understand the background - and the necessity - of these kinds of special units.
 

mover1

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"The Canadian special forces have not fired a shot in anger on Canadian soil since they were created in 1993."

And the CP-140's have never sunk a submarine. But what else have they done thats viable. Maybe we should focus on that.

"Domestic counterterrorism, from cells intent on making and planting bombs in Canada to the big threats of nuclear and biological weapons, were the main reason the Canadian special forces were created 17 years ago and that remains their primary job."

Change their primary job to more reflect their current contribution to Canadian Society.

Honestly everything they do is "Secret" or "quazai Secret" and its hard enough to get them to even abide by the simplest of safety rules when moving them around. So getting them out of their "Opaque Bubble" is going to take a cultural shift on both their organizations part and the CF. Way too long we have been modest about our accomplishments.  Maybe its time to shed some light and come public with a couple of successful operations ( I am sure a story or two out of Afghan can be told) that these guys have had without compromising their integrity.





 

GAP

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The masses do not need to know about JTF2....they wouldn't understand even if they were told.

As for them not doing anything within Canada since 1993 inception, so what, you sharpen a knife so that it will be there when you need it.....
 

Good2Golf

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...and similarly, no police officer in Canada has fired a shot "in anger". 

Shots, or other kinetic actions, have been the result of measured and appropriate escalation of action within the authorized use of force spectrum.


For those present at the SOF Symposium, Dr. Charters' comments within the overall context of his presentation made greater sense on the whole, than they do when they are reduced in scope to a few lines of copy.  He did not make as nearly a stark "talk more about yourselves or face the budget axe" as some may have inferred.  He spoke about the danger of failing to ensure the balanced relevance of SOF within a greater CF provision of capability to Government, and his lack of optimism was linked to potential budgetary reductions to SOF (and other CF elements) if the balance was not managed appropriately.

As an observer from another CF organization, I think the symposium went well overall, less some time compression that happened unfortunately during the Q&A period with the media representatives, resulting in less group discourse with the media than many in the audience would have liked to have seen.

I found VAdm(Ret'd) Maddison's views, as the DCDS on 9/11 and for several years thereafter, as well as the first Honourary Commandant of CANSOFCOM, to be very enlightening.  He painted an interesting picture of the rather significant military and political oversight that existed over employment of SOF elements in the period immediately following 9/11.

Regards
G2G
 

Illegio

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Good2Golf said:
...and similarly, no police officer in Canada has fired a shot "in anger". 

Shots, or other kinetic actions, have been the result of measured and appropriate escalation of action within the authorized use of force spectrum.

That is a straw man. To fire a shot "in anger" is no different than firing a shot "in the line of duty." It just means that the shot is fired outside of training purposes and is intended to kill or cause harm.

GAP said:
The masses do not need to know about JTF2....they wouldn't understand even if they were told.

As for them not doing anything within Canada since 1993 inception, so what, you sharpen a knife so that it will be there when you need it.....

Clearly they do need to know, else why would part of the purpose of the symposium be "to raise visibility of the special forces' function, both within government and to the public?" Without being melodramatic about it, there will be budget cuts once the Afghanistan mission draws to a close. I think elements within CANSOFCOM see that coming, and seek to avoid absorbing a disproportionate share of those cuts. "The danger of failing to ensure the balanced relevance of SOF within a greater CF provision of capability to Government" is just a fancy way of saying, "don't chop SOF capabilities out of proportion to the rest of the CF."

There are plenty of ways to raise public and gov't awareness of SOF units without getting into operationally sensitive territory - by exploring unit origins (FSSF, SERT), landmark operations in SOF history (Entebbe, Iran hostage crisis), and the current roles and capabilities of SOF units (counterterrorism, CBRN response). Showing elements of training and selection, if done properly, would help put a human face on SOF personnel without, again, compromising elements of OPSEC. Love him or hate him, Rick Hillier helped sell the CF to the public during the current conflict, and the CF, including SOF, will need to continue to justify itself, especially in a post-conflict environment in which many people will question why we stepped outside of our "traditional" peacekeeping role.
 

George Wallace

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Illegio said:
There are plenty of ways to raise public and gov't awareness of SOF units without getting into operationally sensitive territory - by exploring unit origins (FSSF, SERT), landmark operations in SOF history (Entebbe, Iran hostage crisis), and the current roles and capabilities of SOF units (counterterrorism, CBRN response). Showing elements of training and selection, if done properly, would help put a human face on SOF personnel without, again, compromising elements of OPSEC. Love him or hate him, Rick Hillier helped sell the CF to the public during the current conflict, and the CF, including SOF, will need to continue to justify itself, especially in a post-conflict environment in which many people will question why we stepped outside of our "traditional" peacekeeping role.

This is already done.  It is the Public who are so apathetic and don't pay attention to this information that are the problem.  If the Public doesn't watch, read or listen to the news and information presented, it is not the fault of the CF, DND or any other agency that is delivering the info.  The Canadian Public is blissfully lethargic in their complacent little lives.  If it doesn't directly affect their space and pocketbook they are oblivious to everything.  If their pocketbooks are affected they pull off a "Jean Chrétien" and make a hasty knee jerk decision to "save a penny today and spend a dollar tomorrow".  It is the "Canadian Way" (Who says that we Canadians don't have any defining cultural traits?).
 

Old Sweat

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The flaw in the argument is that the people who know what the special operations community has done and is capable of doing are also those who have ultimate control of the purse strings. Special operations is relatively inexpensive in the overall envelope of the DND budget and overall government spending. While there may well be some cutbacks, in my opinion there is unlikely to be wholesale savaging of the special operations budget.
 

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George Wallace said:
This is already done.  It is the Public who are so apathetic and don't pay attention to this information that are the problem.  If the Public doesn't watch, read or listen to the news and information presented, it is not the fault of the CF, DND or any other agency that is delivering the info.  The Canadian Public is blissfully lethargic in their complacent little lives.  If it doesn't directly affect their space and pocketbook they are oblivious to everything.  If their pocketbooks are affected they pull off a "Jean Chrétien" and make a hasty knee jerk decision to "save a penny today and spend a dollar tomorrow".  It is the "Canadian Way" (Who says that we Canadians don't have any defining cultural traits?).

I don't agree with you at all. Your posts are usually good and informative, but this one reeks of a CF member "looking down his nose" at the public.

I think people would take an interest in it, if it was presented to them in such a way that they understood. People are, for the most part, not stupid. If they don't "get" something, it's often do to how it was presented.

Of course, another issue is the media that participates in very unbalanced reporting, but that is for another thread.
 

George Wallace

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Nauticus said:
I think people would take an interest in it, if it was presented to them in such a way that they understood. People are, for the most part, not stupid. If they don't "get" something, it's often do to how it was presented.

I didn't say they were stupid.  I said that they were apathetic.  They don't care about anything, unless it affects them personally.  Look at Voter Turnout as a prime example.  Even in Ontario with all the dicking of the public that the Liberals are doing, next election Dalton McGuinty will likely be reelected.  They JUST DON'T CARE.
 

Sf2

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I'm sure it's not the first time something like this has been suggested, but it could serve as a venue to showcase the abilities and applications of units like JTF2, CSOR and CJIRU.

Don't forget 427 ;)
 

Good2Golf

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Illegio said:
That is a straw man. To fire a shot "in anger" is no different than firing a shot "in the line of duty." It just means that the shot is fired outside of training purposes and is intended to kill or cause harm.

It is not a "straw man" if my aim was (and still is) to refute your original position, which I believe was to question the value of JTF 2's contribution domestically.  My saying that the civilian police as well have never fired "in anger" was not meant to draw attention away from your assertion that JTF 2 has never fired "a shot in anger" but to make it clear that actions taken, whether through escalation of force, to include or not, the use of deadly force, serves to achieve an end, in this case a more secure environment.  I would note from your quote above, that police officers' use of deadly force is first and foremost to "stop the threat to citizens or other law enforcement personnel", not to "kill or cause harm".  This is not a semantic argument; while the end result could very well be that the perpetrator is killed, mortally wounded, or critically injured, the key effect is that their continued threat to others was stopped by the law enforcement member.

If your point earlier was literally in regards to shots "fired" (as in rounds physically fired out of a JTF 2 member's weapon between 1 APR 1993 and the present) then you may be correct (not that any of us know for sure). 

I would make the case, however, that  "shots fired" are far less a meaningful measure of JTF 2's capability and readiness than the significance of their physical involvement to date, integrating into Canada's national security preparations and preventative measures.  No shots were fired "in anger" by SERT members either, even on 7 April 1989, when Charles Yacoub hijacked a Greyhound bus in Montreal and took the hostage driver and passengers ultimately up onto the front lawn of Parliament Hill, eventually surrendering to the RCMP several hours later after he, himself fired three rounds from his .45 pistol out the bus' front door into the front lawn.

Point is, your original point of no shots "fired in anger" appeared to imply that JTF 2 had no proven effect or benefit to Canada's national security.  Please let me know if my inference was incorrect, or whether this was in fact what you intended to imply.


That said, I fully agree with everything you have said below.

Illegio said:
Clearly they do need to know, else why would part of the purpose of the symposium be "to raise visibility of the special forces' function, both within government and to the public?" Without being melodramatic about it, there will be budget cuts once the Afghanistan mission draws to a close. I think elements within CANSOFCOM see that coming, and seek to avoid absorbing a disproportionate share of those cuts. "The danger of failing to ensure the balanced relevance of SOF within a greater CF provision of capability to Government" is just a fancy way of saying, "don't chop SOF capabilities out of proportion to the rest of the CF."

There are plenty of ways to raise public and gov't awareness of SOF units without getting into operationally sensitive territory - by exploring unit origins (FSSF, SERT), landmark operations in SOF history (Entebbe, Iran hostage crisis), and the current roles and capabilities of SOF units (counterterrorism, CBRN response). Showing elements of training and selection, if done properly, would help put a human face on SOF personnel without, again, compromising elements of OPSEC. Love him or hate him, Rick Hillier helped sell the CF to the public during the current conflict, and the CF, including SOF, will need to continue to justify itself, especially in a post-conflict environment in which many people will question why we stepped outside of our "traditional" peacekeeping role.

Regards,
G2G
 

The Bread Guy

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Agree and disagree here....

George Wallace said:
It is the Public who are so apathetic and don't pay attention to this information that are the problem.  If the Public doesn't watch, read or listen to the news and information presented, it is not the fault of the CF, DND or any other agency that is delivering the info.  The Canadian Public is blissfully lethargic in their complacent little lives. 
Bang on!  That said....

George Wallace said:
This is already done. 
I'm not so sure.  Yes, the CANSOFCOM site
http://www.cansofcom.forces.gc.ca/index-eng.asp
has good info.  But many people get a lot of their information (and impression formation) via MSM.  And I don't see loads of it out there.  Maybe not the best way to measure, but according to Google News, here's the number of hits seen since for each of these key phrases since 1 Jan 2007 (about 1440 days):

Britney Spears - 185,000
North Korea - 161,000

Stephen Harper - 74,000
Canada "global warming" - 22,300
Jack Layton - 11,700

Montreal Candiens - 35,900
Toronto Maple Leafs - 30,900
National Hockey League - 22,400

Delta Force - 2980
Navy SEALS - 2,890

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry - 1,350
Special Air Service - 1,100
Royal Canadian Regiment - 441
Royal 22nd Regiment - 247

JTF-2 - 64
Canadian Special Operations Forces Command - 14
Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit - 15
427 helicopter squadron - 13


Is the stuff out there?  Yes.  Is it easy to find/see?  Not THAT much.

edited to fix CANSOFCOM link
 

Illegio

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Good2Golf said:
Point is, your original point of no shots "fired in anger" appeared to imply that JTF 2 had no proven effect or benefit to Canada's national security.  Please let me know if my inference was incorrect, or whether this was in fact what you intended to imply.

Roger, I think there was a bit of a misunderstanding there.

I certainly don't believe the number of shots fired or unfired has anything to do with justifying JTF2's continued existence - I thought you were quibbling with the definition of the expression "fired in anger."

SF2 said:
Don't forget 427 ;)

I also didn't mention JTF X, but you get the idea...
 

Greymatters

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An outfit whose work is secret can be an easy target for politicians who can rationalize that if no one sees it now, no one is going to notice if it is cut back.

To future SF pers, welcome to the club - the intelligence trade has had this problem since it was created.
 

HItorMiss

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Journeyman said:
JTF X is not part of the SOF community.

Thank God!  ;D

I should expand on this really JTF X does serve a useful role but they are not controlled by CANSOF ( I wont say weather they should be or not....) And as such though they can an asset to SOF Operations, like SOF JTF X supports all operations for the CF.
 

George Wallace

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BulletMagnet said:
Thank God!  ;D

I should expand on this really JTF X does serve a useful role but they are not controlled by CANSOF ( I wont say weather they should be or not....) And as such though they can an asset to SOF Operations, like SOF JTF X supports all operations for the CF.

They are 'Collectors'/'Sources', just like any other CF member in the Field.  Their info adds to that being gathered from all the other 'Sources' to give the Comd the info to make informed decisions.
 
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