Eye On Defence

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 ...
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...

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