An observation by a retired Royal Canadian Navy Commander who lives in Victoria.
Re: “Military should focus on protecting Canada,” commentary, Jan. 21.
“The Canadian Forces should focus on protecting Canada” is true — but the real question is: How should Canada go about defending itself in this globalized world?
Historically Canada has never stayed within its borders to fight oppression and aggression. Apart from our earliest years, Canadians went overseas for the world wars, the Korean War, the war in Bosnia, the genocidal Cambodia, the war in Afghanistan and numerous conflicts, and a staggering series of peacekeeping missions.
The Canadian Armed Forces, through no fault of their own, have not generally been prepared for these wars. These wars sprang from greed, aggression, and unilateral actions by other nations.
Time and again the free world has declared “never again.”
Yet these aggressor nations have only acted when they believed they had the upper hand — the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is a brazen example, and a ghost of conflicts past.
It cautions that if these belligerents had understood what the true international will and strength was arrayed against them, they should not have acted.
Before the Second World War the famous proclamation “peace in our time” was uttered, shortly before the bloodiest war the world has ever seen.
Capable and ready military forces are a recognized deterrence. In this interconnected world where the commercial, economic, and technological concerns cross national borders, it is impossible to hide within your country.
Today’s shock and awe warfare is sophisticated and stunningly fast, brutal and decisive. Modern-day weapons mean that there is no longer time to activate reserves nor spool up the national industrial capacity, readiness of forces is paramount, and any conflagration is a come-as-you-are affair — again the Ukraine war demonstrates there is little time to reload magazines.
For a non-militarized nation such as Canada, wars are fought as a coalition where interoperability is paramount. Keeping Canada technologically in step with powerful like-minded nations such as the U.S. and other senior NATO countries is essential.
The Canadian Army, RCAF, and RCN are constituted to carry out the objectives of Canada and are equipped and organized with fine soldiers, air personnel and sailors accordingly.
This work, however, is not cheap. Equipping for conflict never is. That said, emergency assistance to civilian authorities when practicable flows from the inherent abilities of the trained and equipped combat-ready resource, not the other way around.
I do not seek war — as a fourth-generation Canadian military officer, I loathe wars and deplore the costs in people and other national treasure — but it is a naïve nation that doesn’t forearm itself for these uncertain times.
Appeasement and isolationism do not protect a nation, but engagement and a commitment of national resources can go a long way in showing Canada’s resolve, and if need be, to fight.