Eye On Defence

Lessons to learn
Defence Today, Eye On Defence

Lessons to learn

The fall of Afghanistan prompts a tough question: “Was it worth it?”   The Afghanistan government of Ashraf Ghani collapsed in mid-August and the Taliban, which harboured the 9/11 terrorists, now reigns supreme over the troubled country.  The 9/11 attacks led directly to the invocation of NATO’s Article 5—the collective security clause—which led Canada directly into the war in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. Now, after 20 years of fighting, the war has been lost. The extreme Islamist group rules again. It is easy to blame the collapse of the Ghani government on President Joe Biden’s hasty withdrawal of the remaining American troops from Afghanistan, but Canadians also have tough questions to answer about what we were doing there in the first place.   Canada sent more than ...
Weak point
Defence Today, Eye On Defence

Weak point

Norad needs stronger cyber defences This year marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001. The day will no doubt be marked by sombre reflection on what happened and grief for the victims.  But will anyone think of that day as marking the greatest failure of the North American Aerospace Defence Command?  Norad is responsible for protecting North American airspace against attack, but it responded only after the fact by closing U.S. airspace and ordering all operating aircraft to land at the nearest airport. Even today, Norad has no recourse against another 9/11-type attack except to shoot down a hijacked airliner. There is a lot of discussion in the United States and Canada these days ...
Out of touch
Defence Today, Eye On Defence

Out of touch

Gender discrimination is not acceptable, in any way, shape or form   I have been writing this column for Legion Magazine for more than 15 years and I have written columns for other magazines and newspapers for even longer. Until now, I have never written a personal column. Why now? Because I want to express my view about gender discrimination and sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.   In several ways, I was involved in the aftermath of the Somalia Affair of the early 1990s. That disgraceful series of events emerged after Somali civilians were killed by Canadian soldiers on a United Nations Chapter VII peace enforcement operation in Somalia. The killings were covered up and, as the scandal emerged, it was apparent that there were some deep problems in the Canadian A...
Bears, dragons and snakes
Eye On Defence

Bears, dragons and snakes

Canada must contribute more to deterring military adventurism The military world has changed rapidly over the past three decades.  Driven by the combined use of satellites, drones, computers, precision-guided munitions and other technologies, the change focused on the tactical side of war fighting. This was aptly described as a revolution in military affairs. The changes were seen on battlefields in numerous small and not-so-small wars around the globe—in Iraq and Afghanistan particularly. During that time, Canadian defence spending generally followed the pattern of other NATO members: as little as possible to keep Canada’s fighting forces fit for participation in these small wars.  General Rick Hillier, former chief of the defence staff, spoke of this period as switching from a foc...
A harder line against China is needed
Defence Today, Eye On Defence

A harder line against China is needed

Last October, thousands of American and Japanese troops and hundreds of naval vessels from both countries held a joint landing exercise not far from Okinawa. In recent years the annual operation, Keen Sword, has become more intense and more extensive. This time, an American Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with a strike group participated. Keen Sword is part of naval preparedness operations under “The Quad,” an informal—but growing into a stable—mini-alliance of the United States, India, Japan and Australia. It was formed to counter growing Chinese naval threats to countries on the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to expand its influence to island nations scattered from the Indian Ocean to the central Pacific. The United States and Australia have long had mutu...
Procuring pistols and airplanes
Eye On Defence

Procuring pistols and airplanes

With the pandemic dominating headlines for most of 2020, Canada’s never-ending military procurement problems have received little media attention. That doesn’t mean that finally, after decades of bumbles and stumbles, a Canadian government has finally straightened out the procurement mess. Far from it. But two recent acquisitions, or attempts at acquisition, are good signs. The Department of National Defence has relaunched a program to replace the basic sidearm of Canadian soldiers, as reported by the Ottawa Citizen in September. Canada’s infantry and other combat arms are still equipped with a Second World War-era pistol. The Browning Hi-Power 9-millimetre pistol they use was originally designed by American firearms inventor John Browning and introduced in 1935. His pistol derived ...

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