We are parked on guard for thee

FTLComm - Winnipeg - Thursday, April 24, 2003

We live in Saskatchewan and in the past decade the Government of Canada has been disappearing from our midst at an alarming rate. Weather stations and military bases are all things of the past so that when the need for Canada to have military capability we in Saskatchewan show no surprise at all when it is discovered that there really is no Canadian military. Even the air base at Moose Jaw is privately operated with a small communication unit in Regina and a practice area for reservists and cadets at Dundurn South of Saskatoon. But other than that Canada's military is something we read about or see on television.

Winnipeg on the other hand is looking at the major army base in the midst of the city being phased out while other bases in the province are also either closed or about to be shut down. The air base in Winnipeg continues to function as aircraft are sent to the city for upgrades or repair but no operational squadron has flown from Winnipeg in decades, at least none that I know about.

When the Cold War ended we were serious about its conclusion as was the rest of the world only the United States continued to produce new weapons and continue to spend Cold War level amounts of money on military budgets. I suspect that many thought it was just an "American thing" for them to keep up the struggle to build ultimate weapons, little did anyone realise that the United States was headed toward what now appears to be world domination. The lesson of the Iraq conflict is now hitting everyone everywhere on earth, we either arm ourselves or risk becoming victims of American "regime change." Their warnings and pronouncements are absolutely crystal clear and on this web site you have seen many people denounce Canadian governmental policy toward defense spending.
As we were driving around on Monday afternoon we took a quick look around a parking facility for the Winnipeg Army base.

The equipment is indeed novel to me as mentioned there simply is no military presence in Saskatchewan and with the saturation of television by American networks and culture one would assume that Canadian soldiers drive Hummers and Bradley vehicles.

The basic unit of Canada's land force are this Bombardier manufactured four wheel drive four place machines called
"litis". With just over 70hp engines, five speed transmission and a speed of 130 kilometres per hour. Though very expensive vehicles they are very neatly designed and serviceable machines that can fit into the only air transport Canada has, the C-130 Hercules.

The Canadian forces in the past few decades have been spending most of their time with what few forces they have involved in peace keeping operations and the equipment of Canada's Army reflects this role. Such as the
Bison seen at the top of the page and used in Somali, Bosnia and where ever else Canadian Forces worked in the peace keeping and humanitarian role.

Below are the utility trucks, the pickups of the army designated as
LSVW and fitted out for a wide range of jobs. On the right hand side of the picture below is a MLVW, a six wheel drive truck.
But much of the equipment the few Canadian Force personnel who try to do what is asked of them is old. In 1965 Canada bought 1,045 of these little Vietnam War style armed personnel carriers M113A1. These also have worked all over the world for Canadian troops offering them little protection but we still have lots of them and many are parked in this yard. In 2000 an upgraded more modern version of this vehicle the MTVL was purchased.

Covered in a tarp in this picture and the one below is what may be some of Canada's $4,000,000 a piece
Coyote vehicles. Distinguished in Afghanistan as outstanding electronic sensing machines the Coyote is really a modern vehicle that added outstanding capability to our forces.
In this same yard were some of HLVW, overhead cab heavy transport trucks. There were also some of the six wheeled light armoured vehicles. Canada has three versions of these; the Cougar with a turret, the Grizzly used for transporting eleven people and the Husky used as a tow truck.

The whole set of vehicles now in use are shown on the Army's vehicle
web site but they do not list the Bison shown here. I suspect that these brutes are being retired and more modern vehicles will do the work these machines did in the past.

We did not see any of the heavy metal or at least if we did we didn't recognise the new pieces of equipment. The
LAV III made by General Motors with its Cat engine is an eight wheeled light armoured vehicle and the likely replacement for the Bison. Canada has 360 of these things that cost about $2.8 million a piece.

Even more scary when it comes to cost are the thirty-six
ADATS which are essential a modern tracked armed personnel carrier with ground to air missile and detection capabilities. These machines which came into service in 1989 made by Oerlikon Aerospatiale of Quebec set back the Canadian tax payer about $30 million a piece. That really needs to be considered because the 100 Bell Griffon Helicopters only cost $11 million each.

Just to show how Canada's military commitments and capabilities have had to be shifted from the cold war is best understood when you consider the main weapon of modern ground warfare, the heavy tank. Since the threat of the Cold War is history and a battle in Europe against the former Soviet Union just a former possibility the need for a country like our own to have tanks is just not there. So we have fitted out our small Canadian army with wheeled light armoured vehicles and the reconnaissance machine the Coyote.

Back in the days when Soviet forces might smash into the Rhineland we purchased 114 German
Leopard tanks in 1978. Since then they have been modernised and are still considered battle worth against all but American tanks of this Era.

Now it is imperative that Canadians first and then their politicians consider what kind of country we are and what we must do if we want to keep our own independence and command respect in the world. These are very hard questions and the cost to us could be staggering. If we are to bring ourselves up to a level were we can hold our own in whatever conflicts arise and it appears that the United States is bound and determined to produce a series of wars that it will be impossible to avoid, we have to decide what we need to do.

If we decide that we have to out of self respect and independence have a military we first of all do not need equipment but we need people who are well trained and of the highest order of honour and integrity as today's wars will require people who can distinguish right from wrong and think for themselves. The second requirement will be to fit out our people with the best equipment that can be obtained, not that we can afford but what can be produced we owe our people nothing less.

From the look of things we seem to be going in the right direction with high tech wheeled vehicles but without the ability to transport our equipment to where ever they are needed we are relegating our nation and our service people to being hitchhikers

The ugly part of all of this is that in a safe and stable world, where nation states respect one another and the rule of law is respected neither we nor any other country in the world needs the weapons but can turn its energy toward making life better for its people. We can see that the United States decided long ago to forgo providing medical care to its people and other social support and instead has spent its money on weapons of both mass destruction and of total destruction. It would appear that we now have little or no choice but to do the same.

The question for you is so hard, how can we preserve being Canadian while having to move our country from peace time to a war time footing?

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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