I know I’ve blogged already today and I know I have blogged a bit about this subject but two articles, one in the Ottawa Citizen and the other in the Globe and Mail have triggered this rant. Yet again Canadians being prepared for more defence spending disguised as stimulus or ‘regional benefits’ or strategic industry creation. If this is the only reason we are buying tonnes of new equipment than the word for it is corruption. The best equipment in the world in the hands of an untrained soldiers is going to result in destroyed equipment and dead soldiers. Purchasing equipment to buy votes in a region or develop export markets is unlikely to result in the best equipment. The phrase ‘it’s only a government job’ comes to mind.
It isn’t just the defence area that hardware is dominating discussions. We seem to be living in an era where technology has cone from a crutch to a dominating focus in life. Pointless debates on what kind of tablet or smart phone, the search for miracle technologies to solve climate change, which infrastructure project to invest in are a few examples of worrying about nothing. Our materialism is blinding us to the real world, we think nothing of layoffs, wage depression or a news sight body count in a far off place. Material can not replace our needed social interactions, social services or improve our psyches.
The U.S. gun debate is a prime example of the deification of inanimate objects. If, as the NRA believe guns don’t kill people, people kill people, than the reverse must be true guns don’t save lives, people save lives. Using a gun or a defibrillator requires training and practice, both of which are being cut in the Harper defence plans. The technocratic fantasy of hardware making training unneeded will only break budgets in peace time and kill our fellow citizens in uniform during war.
Some people will say that we have to keep up with allies in capability and others say it is not important because we can play Olive Oil and beg Popeye to come save us. Both views are not facing reality, we are keeping up with the United States in capability and there is no Popeye to come save us. As writing this blog I have been reading this article dispelling the myths of American military ability. It is from the Strauss Military Reform Project something I would like to find replicated here in Canada. The rest of our allies are little different in the focus on spending on hardware verse doing the important training and strategic review needed before hardware selection.
With all the procurement issues the Department of National Defence has right now perhaps it is time to step back and have a complete parliamentary review of the department. If Canada wants to use government investment for economic gain the arts have a much higher return than defence spending. If Canada wants the capability to defend itself than training those in uniform, a strategic review process, force transformation and only then purchase of equipment that has been proven is the only option we have. For example: we have a potential submarine threat that helicopters can be used to defend against. So why not buy what we have? Sea Kings have been proven repeatedly in the last fifty years, so buy new ones instead of expensively converting civilian helicopters. Of course that is the logic that will keep me from a career lobbying for arms dealers.