Monday, May 09, 2005

Proving the point

Babble on.

Until I read this article by LGen (R) Ray Crabbe, former DCDS, I had no idea who the man was. I don't know if he was a leader or a political climber when he wore the uniform. But if his piece in the Winnipeg Free Press is typical of him, I'm guessing he was one of the many senior officers who 'got along to get along'.

Why do I feel that way? Crabbe acts as a cheerleader instead of as an analyst, dutifully lining up behind the new Defence policy statement in Pavlovian fashion. This is stereotypical of NDHQ and its alumni. Crabbe applauds at all the right places, instead of probing the policy's obvious holes.

First off, we must correct Crabbe's one factual error: DND has been instructed to acquire 'medium- to heavy-lift helicopters' to support land and special operations missions. While he has chosen to read only the 'heavy-lift' portion of this instruction, I prefer to take the policy statement at its word, and admit the possibility that the CF may eventually wind up with only a medium-lift capability.

Reading the remainder of his paean to the new Defence policy, I'm struck by the lack of any sort of critical thought. Surely Crabbe isn't unaware of the questions surrounding the Mobile Gun System. Surely he has an opinion regarding the acquisition of Joint Support Ships versus other types of hybrid carriers. Surely he has some thoughts about Canada's airlift options for the future. Surely he has something to say about Canada's artic sovereignty plan - if only to ask what it is, let alone assess whether it's workable. While a piece for the local paper doesn't allow him to delve into issues such as these in any great detail, an attempt to touch upon them would have been useful.

Instead, it almost seems as though Crabbe has a political axe to grind. Why else would he make a ludicrous statement such as this: "These changes will not be easy. The political distractions and potential defeat of the current Liberal minority government could torpedo the entire policy."? Does he honestly believe a Conservative government would do less than a Liberal one for the CF? Could he possibly be that delusional?

I'm afraid he might be. How else could Crabbe second Gen Hillier's subtle rebuke ("Sometimes in the past, I felt consensus was actually a replacement for leadership in the Forces.") unless he didn't understand it was aimed squarely at yes-men like himself?

This is the sort of mentality Rick Hillier must overcome if he is to rejuvenate the CF. And it's the sort of mentality that leaves me worried about his chances to accomplish that goal.

Babble off.

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