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"Australian Defence Spending Puts Canada to Shame"

dimsum

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http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/02/06/matthew-fisher-australian-defence-spending-puts-canada-to-shame/

Even though I agree with the sentiment, I believe there is one major relationship factor that Matthew Fisher has wrong (or at least backwards):  Australia and Canada aren't similar on their regional spheres of influence.  Australia is closer to the States, while New Zealand is closer to Canada; a smaller population in very close relationship with a larger population.  Australia would obviously feel the need to defend itself (and NZ) against regional threats while in the Canadian public's view, Canada will rely on the States for continental defence.

I'm not saying that the "relationship" perception is right, but if someone (PAO or otherwise) is trying to convince the avg Canadian that we should be spending in proportion to Australia, it will be tough unless the US decides to "cut us off" or become hostile.
 

quadrapiper

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Dimsum said:
I'm not saying that the "relationship" perception is right, but if someone (PAO or otherwise) is trying to convince the avg Canadian that we should be spending in proportion to Australia, it will be tough unless the US decides to "cut us off" or become hostile.
Also, our neighbours are all reasonably well governed, and don't generally favour us with swarms of refugees and smugglers.
 

john10

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You guys both make excellent points. There is no "shame" in spending less on defence than another country. Military spending is be a function of defence needs, not some sacred title that should be kept up regardless of reality. The fact is that Canada, by reason of its geography and neighbours, faces few important threats to its security. Accordingly, it spends less on its military.
 

VIChris

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The issue shouldn't be how much gets spent, but rather how it gets spent. Are we efficient in our spending? Does all the money go to work? How much gets swept under the red tape?
 

GAP

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Matt Gurney: No Canadian party, including the Tories, really cares about defence
Article Link
Matt Gurney  Feb 7, 2012

In a recent column, Postmedia foreign correspondent Matthew Fisher wrote of the enormous gap between the Australian and Canadian concepts of national defence. Canada has 40% again of Australia’s population, and nearly double the GDP, yet the Australians spend $7-billion more on defence each year, and have a military only slightly smaller than our own, with more and better equipment. If Canada were to match Australia’s spending on defence as a percentage of GDP, we would need to ramp up military spending to between $35-40-billion, up from the current figure of $22-billion. Instead, National Defence is being eyed for cuts as part of the federal government’s austerity program.

Australia and Canada make for an interesting comparison given the obvious historical and cultural similarities, but Fisher rightly points out that the nations exist in very different geopolitical environments. Canada has counted on the U.S. to do the heavy lifting for continental security for generations, knowing help is never further away than the North Dakota National Guard. Australia, on the other hand, is an underpopulated bastion of Western civilization in an increasingly tough neighbourhood, far from its friends and allies. If trouble erupts, even if help comes, it will take time to get there. Australia needs to be ready to look to its own defence, at least in the early days of any contingency.

But Fisher makes another point — Australia’s larger emphasis on defence may be a necessity, but it’s also possible thanks to the country’s mature political stance on defence. To the Australians, national security isn’t about politics, but securing the nation, which is something valued more than partisanship. In Canada, by contrast, each party uses the military as a political prop, to use and abuse as necessary for electoral gain, and then ignore and underfund until the next election.

This is again related to our proximity to the friendly American giant — Canada has been spared the need to have a serious, adult national conversation about our defensive needs and geopolitical reality because we can count on our neighbour to keep the peace for us. This has let the entire Canadian political consensus develop essentially without reference to national security issues, with the military more about party identity than defence.

Take the NDP, for example. In 2006, their party platform didn’t even have a dedicated section to defence. It declared that the military was needed to “support the priorities of peacekeeping, peacemaking, humanitarian and environmental support operations,” and that well-trained personnel and good “basic” equipment were necessary. Beyond that, it promised only to make sure Canadian troops are only ever deployed as part of an international peace and security efforts (no explanation as to why this is a good thing was offered), and to speed up compensation for service members exposed to Agent Orange and the clean up of chemical dumps at former military bases.

Compare that to their 2011 platform, which is essentially a repeat of their 2008 offering. The NDP promised to “give the men and women of the Canadian Forces, who put their lives on the line every day, the best equipment to do the job with, proper support and benefits.” The job of the military was to defend Canada, provide “support for peacemaking, peace-building and peacekeeping around the world,” and disaster recovery. Staffing and equipment would reflect these needs, and the NDP even committed to maintain “current planned levels” of defence spending.
More on link
 

jeffb

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Dimsum said:
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/02/06/matthew-fisher-australian-defence-spending-puts-canada-to-shame/

Even though I agree with the sentiment, I believe there is one major relationship factor that Matthew Fisher has wrong (or at least backwards):  Australia and Canada aren't similar on their regional spheres of influence.  Australia is closer to the States, while New Zealand is closer to Canada; a smaller population in very close relationship with a larger population.  Australia would obviously feel the need to defend itself (and NZ) against regional threats while in the Canadian public's view, Canada will rely on the States for continental defence.

Not necessarily so. I think that Australians can count on the US defending it as well. Obama recently announced that up to 2,500 US Marines would be stationed in Darwin.  http://www.smh.com.au/national/obama-to-send-marines-to-darwin-20111116-1njd7.html.

I would argue that Australia has earned this close relationship with the US through it's steadfast support of the US as a strong regional partner but even more importantly, for it's role in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan although this contribution was relatively small when one considers the overall forces deployed. Australia is a good case study in the cost of getting to sit at the big kids table in this regard.

I think the main reason that Australia has tolerated, and in fact demanded, much greater defence spending then Canada has to due with Australia's experiences in the Second World War. Australia was under very serious threat of invasion by the Japan and was even bombed in several air raids. Because of Australia's decisions to involve itself actively in most major US involved military conflict  in recent history (Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq 2003, Afghanistan, etc.) as well as it's own regional conflicts (East Timor), the Australian population has grown much more accustomed to seeing its military as a force that is frequently put in harms way. Yes, Canada was involved in some of these conflicts but the traditional narrative in Canadian society has been the myth of the peacekeeper and not the portrayal of the Canadian military as a conflict oriented organization.
 

blacktriangle

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If I can ever get over my fear of snakes, I will beg borrow and steal my way into joining the ADF!
 

exabedtech

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Other than our biggest trading partner and ally, there really is no one within a few thousand km of this country who poses any real threat unless of course you want to include our arctic vs russian arctic or greenland.
The same cannot be said for Australia.  They have credible threats to their security and their major allies in this world are quite a distance away.  Comparing these two really is apples and oranges. 
Other than the savings realized in the scaled back mission in Afghanistan and maybe (huge maybe) the odd empire at NDHQ, I can't imagine where they would cut our forces.
 

opp550

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Don't they also need to fund the ADF to properly deal with the fact that their country is absolutely loaded with all sorts of totally deadly little bugs and creatures? I don't think I saw that part.  ;D
 

GAP

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opp550 said:
Don't they also need to fund the ADF to properly deal with the fact that their country is absolutely loaded with all sorts of totally deadly little bugs and creatures? I don't think I saw that part.  ;D

It's only the armoured ones they get concerned about, the rest are civilians......
 

Sadukar09

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Having a reserve Special Forces regiments like the ADF wouldn't be too bad would it?  ;D
 

PuckChaser

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Sadukar09 said:
Having a reserve Special Forces regiments like the ADF wouldn't be too bad would it?  ;D

We already have some "Special" reserve units.  >:D
 

Teeps74

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PuckChaser said:
We already have some "Special" reserve units.  >:D

Hey now... I AM special because my mom told me so... It is why I never take off my tacvest and helmet (does get a little uncomfortable in the shower tho...).
 

Inverted

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I've had the opportunity to spend the last few years working within Australian Army Aviation and I have to say, I think Fisher's column is very much a "grass is always greener" kind of thing. VIChris made the comment above, and I agree, that efficiency is more important. From my exposure I would say that the CF is less inefficient (sorry, I couldn't say the CF is efficient with a straight face  ;D).

Just from the perspective of Army Aviation, the Army spends wastes a lot money to maintain a distinct tactical aviation, and I would argue with a worse outcome then what 1 Wg provides (and even more so once the -147F's come on line). While they have the Tiger ARH, the way that program has been handled, if I had to decide right now I would take the INGRESS Griffon over their Tigers.

The "grass is greener" mentality is just as prominent Down Under, a lot of the guys I've worked with and talked to are envious of what we have in the CF, I hear the Cbt Arm's guys talking about our Leo-2's, LAV-3's, M-777's (which the ADF is just starting to field now) and many of them have expressed interest in transferring to the CF. 

All this to say that the article that started this was a poorly applied comparison, for many of the geopolitical reasons already made above and because while the ADF spends more then we do but in the end they really don't get any more bang for their buck.

Cheers
 

dimsum

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After meeting my future co-workers in the RAAF on my HHT, I see a few things about the CF that are pretty good in comparison:

1.  Aircrew and non-aircrew postings are different lengths (aircrew are generally 2 years, non-aircrew 3-4) and it doesn't seem like they have the same tendency to try and post service couples together
2.  House-hunting trips are a foreign concept to them; they get plopped onto a new base, given 2 weeks in a hotel and told to find a place.
 

Rifleman62

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jeffb:
I think the main reason that Australia has tolerated, and in fact demanded, much greater defence spending then Canada has to due with Australia's experiences in the Second World War. Australia was under very serious threat of invasion by the Japan and was even bombed in several air raids.

Not as threatened as Australia, but still a threat was the Japanese invasion/occupancy of some of the Aleutian Islands, bombing of Dutch Harbor and other activities on the Cdn/US Pacific coast. Balloon bombs later in the war

Photo Caption

Kiska Alaska 1943

13 Canadian Infantry Bde. An official Canadian Army photo of two officers returning from Kiska in the Aleutian Islands. The 13 Canadian Infantry Brigade was part of the Canadian element in the operation to remove the Japanese threat from the northwest Pacific. These officers appear to be wearing the two different types of Kiska patches, the printed version on the officer on the left (Capt R.D. Chaneman) and the embroidered pattern on the officer on the right.
 

Old Sweat

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In early 1942 Australia found herself with her army and most of her navy in the Med, while the RAAF was split between the Med and the UK. There were no modern fighters in the country and no prospect of getting any. Not only that, but one of her four infantry divisions was lost at Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. This was despite repeated promises by the UK that it would come to her aid, and keep funding cruisers for the RN, thank you very much.
 

Rifleman62

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Add New Zealand's forces to Old Sweats post .

A bit of trivia to indicate how early in the war the ANZAC forces were deployed is this tidbit:

HMNZS Achilles (pennant number 70) was a Leander class light cruiser which served with the Royal New Zealand Navy in World War II. She became famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate, December 1939, alongside HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter.

Achilles was originally built for the Royal Navy, she was commissioned as HMS Achilles on 10 October 1933. She would serve with the Royal Navy's New Zealand Division from 31 March 1937 up to the creation of the Royal New Zealand Navy, into which she was transferred in September 1941 and renamed HMNZS Achilles. Her crew was approximately 60% from New Zealand.

Achilles played herself in the film The Battle of the River Plate (U.S. title: Pursuit of the Graf Spee) in 1956. One of the very few times,  that a ship "stared" as herself in a movie!

HMS Cumberland also played herself, but only in the same minor part as she actually did during the battle.

A fair number of New Zealander's were members of the LRDG.

Sorry for the highjack.
 

RDBZ

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Inverted said:
All this to say that the article that started this was a poorly applied comparison, for many of the geopolitical reasons already made above and because while the ADF spends more then we do but in the end they really don't get any more bang for their buck.

Maybe no more bang for each buck, but there are a lot more bucks to start with that finance capabilities like: Wedgetail AEW&C, JORN, Tiger ARH (yes, Eurocopter have taken their time, but that capability is maturing as evidenced by its use by the French army in Afganastan), the now-in-build Canberra class LHDs and Hobart class AWDs, and purchases like HMAS Choules.  And while the Collins class had their issues early on, they are a six boat fleet that (crew shortages aside) do provide a capability that the Upholder class seems yet to deliver.
 

ekpiper

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Rifleman62 said:
Add New Zealand's forces to Old Sweats post .

A bit of trivia to indicate how early in the war the ANZAC forces were deployed is this tidbit:

HMNZS Achilles (pennant number 70) was a Leander class light cruiser which served with the Royal New Zealand Navy in World War II. She became famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate, alongside HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter.

Achilles was originally built for the Royal Navy, she was commissioned as HMS Achilles on 10 October 1933. She would serve with the Royal Navy's New Zealand Division from 31 March 1937 up to the creation of the Royal New Zealand Navy, into which she was transferred in September 1941 and renamed HMNZS Achilles. Her crew was approximately 60% from New Zealand.

Achilles played herself in the film The Battle of the River Plate (U.S. title: Pursuit of the Graf Spee) in 1956. One of the very few times,  that a ship "stared" as herself in a movie!

HMS Cumberland also played herself, but only in the same minor part as she actually did during the battle.

A fair number of New Zealander's were members of the LRDG.

Sorry for the highjack.

The Battle of the River Plate is a fantastic film, and it does make mention of the Kiwis.  Add to the list of ships that have played themselves, HMS Amethyst in Yangtse Incident: The story of HMS Amethyst.
 
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