Friday, July 15, 2016

Welcome to the New World of Defensive Diligence

"Each battalion will receive its complement of systems with all systems being fielded and deployable by summer 2017."
"We are not purchasing new systems at this time, but rather re-introducing what we had placed into preservation."
"[The re-introduction of the weapons is] not in response to any external influence, [merely to deal with a gap in capability fundamental to army operations.]" 
Brig.-Gen. Derek Macaulay, chief of staff, army strategy Canada

"NATO has begun preparations for escalating from the Cold War into a hot one. All the rhetoric just yells of a desire almost to declare war on Russia."
Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet leader

"We do not want a new Cold War. We do not want a new arms race. And we do not seek confrontation."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
An American soldier uses a tripod-mounted TOW in  Afghanistan in 2009. Canada will be re-introducing the tripod-mounted missile system to all of its regular force infantry battalions.
Sgt. Amber Robinson/U.S. Army   An American soldier uses a tripod-mounted TOW in Afghanistan in 2009. Canada will be re-introducing the tripod-mounted missile system to all of its regular force infantry battalions

Increased tensions with the explosively incendiary behaviour in decision-making of Vladimir V. Putin. A response to the obvious uncertainty over the Kremlin's intentions. It's hard not to judge those intentions a calling out for attention in the spectacle of a Russia dedicating treasury it can now ill afford to modernization of its military; not, like Canada, struggling to put decommissioned weapons back into working order and training personnel for its potential use, but dedication to manufacturing new state-of-the-art missiles and armoured vehicles that Canada's restored TOW missiles may be unequal to.

It's not that Canada might feel that disagreements with Russia over fair allocation to access and territorial entitlements in the Arctic could conceivably lead to military action. But Canada is a NATO member in good, albeit possibly reluctant standing, and must therefore pull its modest weight, placing its assets where NATO commanders feel they may do the most good in alerting Russia that any potential aggression in the Baltics will have unfortunate consequences.

The TOW missiles of which Brig.-Gen. Macaulay speaks, designed to destroy armoured vehicles, had their day although they remain among the most effective systems for that purpose with a missile range of roughly 3,700 metres. Training courses are now underway. An issue that owes nothing, insists the Brigadier-General to the dispute with Russia which has led to increased tensions with a country that thinks nothing of overturning international norms in respect of nation' sovereignty.

Some might question their removal from active service at all, if they are now seen to be critical enough to be placed back in service with the Canadian military for no particular reason. If not suddenly viewed as a necessary component in facing off against a militarily resurgent Russia, then for what purpose? The extensive troop presence deployed by NATO on the borders with Russia with thousands of soldiers destined to arrive by the turn of the new year does represent a response to Mr. Putin's volatility.

And though the new government of Canada under the Liberals expressed an initial determination to keep lines of communication between Canada and Russia open, where the previous Conservative-led government had been grim-mouthed over Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its decision to arm Russian-speaking Ukrainians in rebellion against a Ukraine independent of Moscow's influence to the point of massive troop deployment at the border, somehow blundering into Ukraine, it seems now a difficult initiative to take, given Canada's first loyalties to NATO.

Needless to say Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry represent a quite impressive demographic in Canada and they are influential. Besides which, Canada has important cultural and diplomatic relations with Ukraine, apart from the newly-signed trade agreement. 

The increased regional military presence in Russia's near bailiwick, and the ongoing sanctions that have bitten into the country's economy both auger ill for a friendly meeting between Canadian and Russian representatives. And Canada, like the rest of the NATO membership, will now be viewed by Russian civilians as somehow, for some mysterious reason, having conceived a belligerent and nasty attitude toward Russia. Pity, that.

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