Times Colonist

Keep military capability in budget cuts, changes

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Re: “DND looks to sell land, shut bases to cut costs,” Oct. 25.

The likely closing of some Canadian Forces facilities and selling of DND land across Canada may be warranted. But these actions and the concurrent purchase of warships and fighter jets are worrying. All this, combined with reducing civilian staff and reallocati­ng military personnel within the Department of National Defence, is concerning.

Lt.-gen. Andrew Leslie, in his operationa­lly oriented June review, justified personnel changes within DND and the Canadian Forces. He identified redundanci­es in non-deployable headquarte­rs staff and excessive growth in both senior military and civilian staff levels. But Leslie’s recommende­d reallocati­on of resources may result in a reduced DND capability due to government’s deficitred­uction goals. All the probable changes in force structure, personnel and major weapon systems within the federal department responsibl­e for Canada’s security have not been justified.

The last significan­t forces policy review was the 2008 Canada First Defence Strategy that praised such non- combat roles as aid to civil authoritie­s or search-and-rescue operations. It failed to identify, assess and priorize national security risks and publicly confirm the forces specific threat-driven combat tasks. Our allies are capable of advising their citizens of such critical considerat­ions, and Canada should too. We deserve to be provided the rationale upon which our armed forces are structured, equipped and trained.

An ongoing national security riskassess­ment and resource-allocation process is needed to refocus DND priorities, maintain combat capability and prevent a recurrence of non-operationa­l growth. Furthermor­e, within government’s deficit-reduction program, the primacy of national security dictates any defence budget reduction should be only made at a lower scale than that of other federal department­s. Ron Johnson Saanich

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