Friday, August 12, 2005

We don't do cold

Babble on.

For our Liberal overlords, the Canadian North is a vast land that stirs the patriotic heart, a rugged expanse that taps into the core of each and every true Canadian's deep connection to our home and native land.

And that's it.

Actually being able to assert some sort of national sovereignty up there is obviously just plain silly. The North is just...scenery, a backdrop for urban Ontarians to stand in front of when they want to look outdoorsy. There's no need to do anything out there, is there?

I mean, why would anyone want to go way up North? It's cold! And not just walking-from-Parliament-Hill-to-The-Market-in-January cold, I mean no-Blackberry-service cold!

If the soldier-boys want to play with their awful guns in the snow, by all means, they're welcome to go as far away from civilized Canadians as possible. But don't expect any attention or money or support.

Overconfidence, inadequate training and out-dated equipment all contributed to difficulties experienced by the Canadian military during recent exercises in the High Arctic, according to an internal report.
But whiteout conditions delayed the arrival of troops for several days. Once the nine regular force members, dozen Canadian rangers and several Twin Otter pilots and crew members were on the ground, troops only had time to perform two of the four scheduled exercises, one patrol to Amund Ringnes Island and another to Meighan Island. The much-hyped air crash simulation never was performed.
Pilots and support staff from the 440 Squadron, which flies four Twin Otter aircraft based in Yellowknife, don't have the experience or training to be deployed in the field for any length of time, especially in the extreme conditions found in Isachsen, the report said.

"They're not used to operating in harsh conditions in the Arctic," said Col. Norman Couturier, who is commander for the Northern Area. "Typically we operate from airport to airport."
Communications trouble during the exercise also revealed the weakness of current technology used the by Canadian military in the High Arctic. This is partly because satellite phones become unreliable north of 70 degrees latitude, Couturier said. The military is currently looking into the feasibility of building a string of hi-frequency radio antennas across the North.

If the concept of national sovereignty meant anything at all in Canada, we'd be able to deploy a respectable land and/or naval force anywhere inside our borders, and support them indefinitely by air. We would at least be able to drop two dozen trained people into a relatively short northern exercise, and support their basic efforts for a reasonable period of time. We would at a bare minimum be able to maintain communications, and complete an unambitious training mission. As I've said previously, we should own Arctic ops.

But the truth of it is that our equipment, our training, and in particular, our national will is lacking. The only reason we hold title to so much of the North, quite frankly, is that nobody else has come to take it from us. Yet.

Babble off.


At 11:37 a.m., Blogger Paul W. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:47 a.m., Blogger Paul W. said...

To my knowledge, we haven't ever had much of a cold weather war fighting capability. I wonder why that is?

At 11:09 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I'm guessing it's because we never felt the need. Our cold areas have always protected themselves to some degree by being so inhospitable. But as technology enables us to brave increasingly extreme climates, as we develop the tools to extract resources from those areas, and if global warming mitigates the conditions up there, we'll need to actively defend our territory - with diplomacy backed up by a credible military. If we don't awaken from our national slumber and realize our complacency can't last, our sovereignty in the north won't either.

At 8:31 p.m., Blogger Paul W. said...

I still find it hard to believe that we just ignored the north... afterall, there was a Cold War going for 40 or so years. And, the Commies certainly knew how to fight in cold weather (read "Stalingrad" sometime if you're looking to know just how bad winter warfare can get). Seems like a pretty big gap in capability. I guess there was alot of faith in our Canadian Rangers with their 1945-era Lee Enfields -- .303's by the way, not even NATO standard!


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