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Please describe the scenario where you foresee NATO being driven off the continent and forced to repeat a Dunkirk-type extraction?
When NATO splits and leaves the Eastern states facing Russia on their own? I honestly can't see Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy fronting the Russians. On the other hand I can't see the Scandinavians, the Balts, the Poles, Hungarians, and Romanians doing anything other. And I suspect the Bulgarians are just as likely to side with the Russians. Given that level of uncertainty I think it is appropriate to keep a viable exit strategy on hand. And, for me, that means keeping a ready supply of shipping on hand to rapidly relocate heavy gear en masse. There is a reason for the sayings about burning your boats behind you.
With it highly unlikely that any Canadian government will be willing to pay the cost of forward stationing a CMBG in Europe (especially with the CF-18 replacements, the CSCs and our huge pandemic debt eating up so much of the budget) I think it's fair to assume that any major Canadian military combat force deployed to Europe will be after the fighting begins.
That being the case then probably the most logical and effective thing the Army could do (in terms of rapid response while our heavy forces muster) would be to figure out what air-deployable assets we could rapidly mobilize to protect and support our forward deployed fighters (likely our most effective rapid reaction force) - airfield defence troops, AD units, engineers, etc. - or a selection of ISR assets to identify targets and/or light fires units to slow the advance.
But how do we muster any forces "after the fighting begins" with no lift assets on hand, and no willingness to risk them?
Age old proverb of Naval Warfare that is still applicable today:
"A Ship's a fool to fight a fort"
Sailing a flotilla of CSCs anywhere in to what are basically littoral waters, is a recipe for disaster in a full fledged war. The Bear would sink us faster than you can snap your fingers.
As for developing an Amphibious Capability....
Waste of money IMO. What we could use though is an actual JSS like the Karel Doorman that could be used for Commando Actions, HADR, NEO, etc.
Something that is capable of carrying additional supplies, supporting a SOTF, acting as a C2 Platform, carrying a couple of Chinooks, etc. Give it some ice-breaking capability and we could even use it up North.
I can't get over this comment I'm afraid. How did Britain end up with the Falklands, most of the Caribbean, the free run of the Pacific and taking Louisbourg and Quebec? How about the Americans taking the Pacific Islands from the Japanese? D-Day? Retaking the Falklands? I suggest there have been an awful lot of successful fools out there.
Having said that, the secret, IMO has been to supply the ships with guns that outrange those of the fort. And adding Tomahawks, SM6s, and potentially PrSMs to the loadout of the CSCs would do that. Or is standing off 1700 km from shore in blue water still considered Littoral Warfare?
I would start by going:
Europe, Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Asian-Pacific, North America, South America.
What is the Army likely to be doing in these places, how would it go about doing them, and what is the priority?
The target set defined here is essentially everywhere. That suggests to me the NEED to deploy everywhere if the Army wants to present the Government with credible options for using it. Or what is the purpose of maintaining the Army?
Is the Army CAPABLE of deploying everywhere assuming a Medium Weight LAV/MBT based force?
I am going to stipulate that there are going to be places the Army might deploy that the Navy can't reach - even with 1700 km fire support. And that air movement is going to be necessary for places like Mali and Afghanistan. That is one of the reasons I would like the Army to be able to replicate the capabilities of a CSC ashore - and that puts a heavy emphasis on the RCA.
As noted above I believe that we have the ability to move a Light Force into an uncontested airfield and establish a conveyor from Canada to the objective country and that that can be done expeditiously. Complete with a useful GBAD-CRAM capability deliverable by C-17.
I further accept that moving a Medium CMBG into that environment by air is unrealistic. If we are talking about surging the entire Brigade in a week.
If we hold that airfield for a week or two we can start beefing up the Light force with, perhaps, a LAV Company? And an MBT troop? How much more reinforcement could flow in over a month? Three months? I'm fairly sure that is how you established the persistent presence in Afghanistan. And perhaps T2Bs eFP? Given time, and money, anything is possible. The problems start when neither is there but there remains that GAP between NEED and CAPABILITY. Underway noted that it is possible to buy ships to go into war zones on short notice, if you are willing to pay a fortune. And, I would add, you are willing to generate expedient plans on short notice.
The other problem, and I still maintain it is a legitimate one, is how do you extract your force when the enemy starts voting? What are we willing to sacrifice in the interests of Canada? Do we leave the Brigade to die in place? Do we reinforce it? Will our allies save us or will they be otherwise engaged? Do we withdraw the force with their gear? Or do we just withdraw the troops with whatever they can carry on their backs?
In Mali and Afghanistan the only option is by air. In the Baltic, and the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, and the China Seas there is the theoretical option of movement by sea. If it's not a practical option then perhaps that needs to made plain. Otherwise I fear we are back to the era of the CAST Brigade.
The Canadian Air Sea Transportable Brigade, for reference was a force tasked to the reinforcement of Norway in 1968 by the government of the day. It was predicated on moving a Mechanized Brigade from Valcartier, along with a couple of CF-5 Squadrons from Bagotville, to Norway on thirty days notice if Norway asked and if Norway sent the ships to Canada to pick up the Brigade. That force was seldom exercised and never used. Mulroney decided to cut the allocation and reallocate the troops to the German theater where they had been tasked prior to 1968. And then the wall fell and everybody came home.... or went to Yugoslavia.
My concern is that we may end up talking a good game, even as we continue to focus our efforts on the Russians and ignore the Chinese, and end up, once again, leaving Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Balts, Poles, etc disappointed and facing the Russians on their own.