Editor’s Corner article

How Important is Military Sustainability?
CHRIS MacLEAN  |  Jan 15, 2011

This is a multifaceted question. Critics bemoan the fact that Defence requirements never seem to lessen even though we have made some very large purchases in recently years, such as the C-17s. They forget it’s our own fault that the major fleets have been decimated; we cut the funding. They also conveniently forget that the future safety of themselves and their grandchildren may one day depend on Canada’s ability to defend itself against those who most assuredly can do us harm.

The hottest debates, of course, swirl around the largest acquisitions. What sets Defence and Security apart from other government funding, is that each of these items cost millions and billions of dollars. But are they really necessary? That depends... how dependably safe do you want to be? If “hoping for the best” is good enough for your loved ones, then maybe we can reduce military spending; if not, then maybe we should consider upping that funding level somewhat.

Big ticket items include aviation/ aerospace, shipbuilding, and rugged vehicles; and the unmanned component is becoming more important every year. Employment potential and economic growth from these industries, plus the myriad of ­offshoot commerce, surely offsets a huge portion of any federal investments required to build capacity to defend ourselves, help others, and safeguard our way of life. Sustainment of these defence-sector job-­creating industries should also be a priority for ­government as it directly impacts our national well-being.

Our elected opposition needs to fight for more investment into this sector – not less. The security of our ­citizens should be a very basic, non-negotiable, prerequisite to any political and budget discussions. And make no mistake, global instability affects each and every one of us – most directly through the disruption of global trade routes, but also through the proliferation of illegal drugs and the intrusive security responses to terrorist activity.

We would not now be facing these huge expenditures of major fleet replacements if former governments had made long-term decisions based on clear ­sustainability strategies. It is very unfortunate that so many fleets are reaching their “expiration dates” at the same time, however, we have only ourselves to blame, and we must fix the problem so that future generations are not faced with the same predicament. And we must ensure all major acquisitions pump a mixture of both blue- and white-collar jobs back into the country.

Defence is not a government “department” – it’s a responsibility.
© Frontline Defence 2011