Eye On Defence

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 ...
Russia’s Arctic ambitions
Defence Today, Eye On Defence

Russia’s Arctic ambitions

In late April, the Russian military carried out a joint exercise on Franz Josef Land in the High Arctic that began with a parachute drop from an IL-76 transport aircraft at 30,000 feet. The weather at that time of year is still very cold. And yet the Russian paratroopers were able to land and occupy a small island in a three-day mock battle. The exercise was only another manifestation of Russia’s growing military power in the Far North. Old Soviet bases are being refurbished and new ones established. Cold-weather equipment is being developed and deployed. With the largest icebreaking fleet by far, Russia continues to build new icebreakers, including heavy nuclear-powered ships.  Russia’s ambitions are simple: it aims to dominate the High Arctic—including the Arctic Ocean—with a major m...
EYE ON DEFENCE: Dealing with racism
Eye On Defence

EYE ON DEFENCE: Dealing with racism

In late 2019, Patrik Mathews, an army reservist with 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Manitoba, disappeared from Canada after receiving a discharge from the Canadian Armed Forces. The combat engineer had been under investigation by the military for racist behaviour since the spring of 2019 and was suspected of having illegally entered the United States. Mathews had been trained in the use of explosives. Mathews was subsequently arrested by the FBI in Delaware. His case was considered before a federal grand jury in Maryland where he was indicted along with two other men on firearms and illegal entry-related charges. He is also facing charges in Delaware. If convicted on all these offences, he could serve a very long term in a U.S. prison. Mathews was a member of a secret white supremacist g...
New ships raise issue of missile defence
Eye On Defence

New ships raise issue of missile defence

When it comes to Canadian defence policy, there is something poison about the words “missile defence.” The United States attempted to get Ottawa to sign on to its missile-defence program as far back as 2005 when then-prime minister Paul Martin turned the U.S. away after several months of a rancorous debate in Canada. The government of Stephen Harper, which followed, never publicly attempted to join the U.S. missile-defence program. The current government of Justin Trudeau decided not to join the program when the U.S. again attempted to enlist Canada in 2017. Now the question of whether Canada will join the U.S.—and other NATO partners—in mounting a missile-defence program is becoming more pressing as Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax prepares for the construction of 15 new Canadian S...
Growing use of submarines
Eye On Defence

Growing use of submarines

Whether we like it or not, many maritime countries are currently engaged in a submarine arms race that has ramped up considerably since the return of Russia to an offensive military posture at least a decade ago, the expansion and modernization of the Chinese navy, and the acquisition of modern diesel-electric submarines by nations as diverse as Australia and Chile. Some 40 nations currently operate more than 500 submarines; 141 of these are nuclear powered, the rest are conventional diesel-electric. North Korea is believed to have 72 subs, all conventionally powered. China has 58, with 18 nuclear powered. The United States has 70, all of which are nuclear powered and many are of the large “boomer” class that can launch missiles with ranges of at least 3,000 kilometres. Russia is belie...
Military justice system remains intact
Eye On Defence

Military justice system remains intact

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a 5-2 judgment that Canada’s military justice system does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially with respect to trial by jury. The case arose out of a guilty verdict in the court martial of Master Corporal Raphael Beaudry, who was charged in December 2014 with sexual assault causing bodily harm. Beaudry appealed the verdict to the Court Martial Appeals Court, which found that serving members of the military should have the right under the Charter to elect trial by jury, as is the case with civilian prosecutions, instead of appearing in front of a court martial panel consisting of a military judge and five members of the armed forces. The case had the potential to throw the military justice system into...