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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

markppcli

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What I found most interesting about this video was that Australia originally had a Heavy Mechanized Brigade, a Medium Weight Motorized Brigade, and a Light Brigade.

They then switched to Mixed Brigade Groups because they were unable to properly sustain a single brigade for long periods of time in Iraq.

Essentially they built the Canadian model which was the CMBG as stated by @Infanteer. All Mid weight+. One unit regenerating, the next working up, and the third on deployment. And here some of us are advocating doing what they had before the change with one Brigade focused as a Heavy Mechanized one Middle Weight and the last Mid-Light forces.
Yeah I question what we would do if and when we end up in another Afghan / Bosnia / what ever scenario where we need to rotate BG's in and out every six months if we aren't in a symmetrical structure. Is that more likely than 1 CMBG being required to fight as a Bde in Europe? I'd argue yes.
 

Infanteer

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2) They have a Sustainment brigade with three Force Support battalions and health services battalions over and above the service battalions in the three regular brigades;
Caution with direct comparisons as the Australian Army as some of their formations perform functions that the Canadian Army has seen migrated to other L1s.

In the case of the 17th Sustainment Brigade, I see it has three Force Support Battalions and three Medical Battalions. The Force Support Battalions appear to be 3rd line sustainment organizations, something in the CA that was moved from the CA to CJOC's CFJOSG. The Medical Bns in that sustainment brigade belong to MPC's Health Services Group.

My understanding, and certainly what the video states, is that that structure has changed.
You are correct. I asked my Australian Army colleagues and each Brigade has a mech bn with M113s (driven by Infantry), a motor bn with Bushmasters (driven by infantry), and an Armoured Regiment with 1x Tank and 2x Cav (recce) sqns.

Comments I got were that this set-up is terrible and is focused on battle groups but is over-generalized at the expense of effectiveness. If they actually need to fight a brigade, they have to build it from all three, which means in the Aussie structure the Brigade is essentially a force generator only. At least a CMBG is, nominally, organized on paper to fight as a whole (we'll ignore the awkward homeless light infantry battalion).

Apparently, my colleagues were saying there was a degree of dissatisfaction with their new set-up and there are already calls to revert back to the old asymmetric brigade principle as it provided the units with more focus. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence I guess?

Yeah I question what we would do if and when we end up in another Afghan / Bosnia / what ever scenario where we need to rotate BG's in and out every six months if we aren't in a symmetrical structure. Is that more likely than 1 CMBG being required to fight as a Bde in Europe? I'd argue yes.

My belief is that if you have three of something, you have this covered. Say the CAF becomes fixed for an enduring mission that requires force X. Your asymmetric army only has 3 of X, and 9 of Y and Z. With a 6-month rotation, you have 1.5 years to adapt. With an 8-month rotation, you have 2 years.

Armies are more than capable of rerolling units for specific missions within that time. For example, the British Army set up a jungle warfare school in Malaya in the 1950s. Conscript battalions organized to fight the Soviets in Germany would rotate in and through the school (I can't recall if it was a 6 or a 12 week program) at the school - first half individual skills, second half collective training. If the flavour of the day demands force type X for a mission, then temporarily reroll force type Y for that mission. Once a force returns from its mission, it returns to its primary role/mission.
 

Kirkhill

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I think that the Aussies, generally, do a better job of managing their expectations.

Australia is not going to change the world. Neither is Canada.
Australia does see the need to protect itself. Canada doesn't.
Australia sees the need for friends for the same reason it seeks to protect itself. Does Canada?

I don't think that Australia has had the chance to develop the same complacency as Canada. Regardless of who controls the international order, or even if there is one, Canadians have not felt the pinch at home. Why worry?

Back to the strategic framework for a Force 2025 and beyond.

The Aussies are prepared to sacrifice a bit of blood and treasure on a voluntary basis, at the time and place of their choosing, in an effort to maintain friendships that they hope will result in assistance when they need it. Hope is a Course of Action.

Canadians, IMO, don't perceive a future in which they will need help. They're still here despite wars, and revolutions, and changes of "masters" and atomic bombs elsewhere.

Given that neither Australia or Canada is going to change the world by military means (unless the strategy is to be so late to the fight that the bloody battlefield is empty and they are the last organized militaries on the planet) then both nations have the luxury of doing what they want. What they do, internationally, is explicitly about earning "brownie points" with potential friends in the hope that they will keep Canada in mind the next time things change.

In Canada's case the CEF and the ANZACs efforts in WWI bought 1931 Westminster independence. The WWII effort bought an organizing seat at the United Nations. NORAD bought the Autopact. North Warning Line bought the Canada US Free Trade Agreement. Those were the strategic effects of Canadian military involvements. I can't point to single Canadian military victory that changed the immediate outcome of any major international conflict. I can point to many instances where Canada's efforts were welcomed and appreciated and rewarded by allies.

The point then becomes for me, not how we organize, beyond acknowledging that any effort we undertake should be well organized to succeed at what we choose to do, but what should we do?

And in the context of the spectrum of operations I believe that we, again, have the luxury of splitting our responses into discrete, graduated, capabilities. That is why I can support Colin's notion of government supported logistical shipping that can be safely employed to mutual benefit in times of an enduring peace but can also be of use when war "breaks out". At the same time, internationally, I argue for a "high tech" military presence that emphasises treasure over blood, motors over muscles. That provides capabilities that we can afford to friendly governments that can't afford them. Most countries are not short of rifles. Quality sensors, Air Defence, Long Range Artillery, Aircraft and Satellites, Comms and Logistical support. All those are the things that we need, that we can afford and that we can supply to those in need.

Infantry is not something that we should be focusing on. Except in defence of our territory. And there, given the nature of the threats (few to non-existent currently) we don't need legs. Even wheels are of limited value in terms of timely response in our territory. Wings (fixed and rotary) are necessary to generate a timely response with strategic effect territorially. Light vehicles, with rubber tracks, and shallow draft boats can be used to great advantage to move spotter teams around that can direct the fires necessary to disrupt incursions in Canadian territory.

The international employment of infantry does offer two benefits to Canada. It demonstrates Canada's willingness to commit. It offers the opportunity for Canadians to learn how to fight on the modern battlefield. Both of those are worthy endeavours. But they are limited endeavours. They don't require an infantry-centric national defence strategy.
 

markppcli

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You are correct. I asked my Australian Army colleagues and each Brigade has a mech bn with M113s (driven by Infantry), a motor bn with Bushmasters (driven by infantry), and an Armoured Regiment with 1x Tank and 2x Cav (recce) sqns.

Comments I got were that this set-up is terrible and is focused on battle groups but is over-generalized at the expense of effectiveness. If they actually need to fight a brigade, they have to build it from all three, which means in the Aussie structure the Brigade is essentially a force generator only. At least a CMBG is, nominally, organized on paper to fight as a whole (we'll ignore the awkward homeless light infantry battalion).

Apparently, my colleagues were saying there was a degree of dissatisfaction with their new set-up and there are already calls to revert back to the old asymmetric brigade principle as it provided the units with more focus. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence I guess?
Was that in reference to the Bde structure or the Infantry manning their own vehicles? How do they feel this will change when the new IFVs come online? An order of 400 plus will surely equip all 6 infantry Bns?

My belief is that if you have three of something, you have this covered. Say the CAF becomes fixed for an enduring mission that requires force X. Your asymmetric army only has 3 of X, and 9 of Y and Z. With a 6-month rotation, you have 1.5 years to adapt. With an 8-month rotation, you have 2 years.

Armies are more than capable of rerolling units for specific missions within that time. For example, the British Army set up a jungle warfare school in Malaya in the 1950s. Conscript battalions organized to fight the Soviets in Germany would rotate in and through the school (I can't recall if it was a 6 or a 12 week program) at the school - first half individual skills, second half collective training. If the flavour of the day demands force type X for a mission, then temporarily reroll force type Y for that mission. Once a force returns from its mission, it returns to its primary role/ mission.

I guess I can only think back to the problems I saw, admittedly from a distance (outside of one lav on lav collision), with 3 PPCLI attempting to mechanize in 2010 (11?), where the specific skills and techniques were perhaps a bit harder to grasp than taking light infantry to a jungle school. That being said if we're still having 2 Brigades built around LAV infantry it's probably not such a big deal.

They only have two infantry battalions per brigade, and neither possesses vehicles (or one battalion may have Bushmasters - can't recall). .
7 Infantry Bns fully manned, or 9 anemic Bns... which is preferable?
 

GR66

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Do the symmetrical Brigades technically need to be geographically symmetrical?

The need for three maneuver units in a Brigade really only applies when you're actually fielding a complete Brigade Group, not when they are in barracks or when the infantry battalions are force generating individual Battle Groups.

For example, we could have three symmetrical Mechanized Brigade Groups each with:

1 x Armoured Recce Regiment (2 x LAV Recce Squadrons)
2 x LAV Infantry Battalions
1 x Artillery Regiment
1 x Engineer Regiment
1 x Support Battalion

The 3rd (Tank) Squadrons could be concentrated in a single geographic location to simplify logistics, maintenance and training. Admin support could be provided by whichever Armoured Recce Regiment they are geographically co-located with (Edmonton for training spaces? Gagetown to be with the Armour School?)

Need to generate a Battle Group? Two LAV Battalions in each Brigade available to cycle through readiness. Attach one or both Armoured Recce Squadrons and if required attach a Tank Troop from the 3rd Squadrons. That would cover likely 95% of the deployment requirements we would typically face.

The balloon goes up and you need to deploy a full Brigade Group for a major conflict? Deploy one Tank Squadron with each Armoured Recce Regiment and now you have three maneuver units (along the lines of the Australian structure ) per Brigade Group. Rotate between the Brigades for extended deployments.

Things get really heavy and you attach all three Tank Squadrons to the Armoured Recce Regiment to make it a tank-heavy unit. A one shot deal for Canada admittedly (unless we buy more tanks).

This set-up would free up the three Light Infantry Battalions to create a 4th, Light Brigade Group. These three units could rotate readiness and provide the basis for a rapid response capability for the Army.
 

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Or another thought - Three Deep Strike Brigades with a Cavalry Regiment and Infantry Battalion and a Divisional Artillery Regiment (8 Batteries - HQ & Svcs, STA, Obs, 3x 155, LRPRs, GBAD-CRAM) . Designed to form the core of an allied Division together with a Div HQ and an Air Force Wing.
 

Underway

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Was that in reference to the Bde structure or the Infantry manning their own vehicles? How do they feel this will change when the new IFVs come online? An order of 400 plus will surely equip all 6 infantry Bns?
~380 are IFV variants and the remainder are Mobility Support Vehicles for the Engineers.

Not all the IFV are going to the infantry, there are going to be 120mm mortars, other engineering vehicles, logistics carriers, ambulances, mortar ammunition carriers etc... Like the LAV's for us, they are going to various places to do other jobs.
 

FJAG

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...They also did this wild thing where they looked at their reserves and thought " are we really getting a capability out of reserve Armour / Artillery or would they be better off providing us XYZ?
When you apportion artillery and armour the overriding questions should be "do we need artillery and armour day-to-day, or could this be a capability met by having it in a reserve force for generating when required?" The short answer for me is that the Aussies, as structured, do not need 9 full-time artillery batteries. Three full-time and six to nine reserve would probably do the job quite well. Their current armour on the other hand is quite thin and probably needs all three existing squadrons (but where do they get their depth augmentation from if they no longer have any armoured reserves except as recce with the reserve infantry battalions?)

IMHO, a multi-purpose force needs a healthy number of full-time infantry, engineers and service support folks. Armour, artillery, air defence etc not so often but when you do need them then they better be there ... in reserve. It's up to the Army to structure the reserve force so that it is available and ready when eventually needed.

Caution with direct comparisons as the Australian Army as some of their formations perform functions that the Canadian Army has seen migrated to other L1s.

In the case of the 17th Sustainment Brigade, I see it has three Force Support Battalions and three Medical Battalions. The Force Support Battalions appear to be 3rd line sustainment organizations, something in the CA that was moved from the CA to CJOC's CFJOSG. The Medical Bns in that sustainment brigade belong to MPC's Health Services Group.
Understood. The hallmark for me with a resource being in the "Army" rather than with another "L1" is that in the Army it generally becomes a equipped, deployable entity with a doctrine that meshes with the remaining Army doctrine. Other L1 organizations frequently do not.

...Apparently, my colleagues were saying there was a degree of dissatisfaction with their new set-up and there are already calls to revert back to the old asymmetric brigade principle as it provided the units with more focus. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence I guess?

...My belief is that if you have three of something, you have this covered. Say the CAF becomes fixed for an enduring mission that requires force X. Your asymmetric army only has 3 of X, and 9 of Y and Z. With a 6-month rotation, you have 1.5 years to adapt. With an 8-month rotation, you have 2 years.
This effectively is the problem with symmetric organizations which are built to feed the three-cycle managed readiness system (and to maintain thin-skinned regimental parity). IMHO the system creates more issues than it cures not the least of which is losing the ability to train and fight properly as a brigade (be it light, medium or heavy) and having 2/3rds of the force "unready" at all times.

🍻
 

markppcli

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~380 are IFV variants and the remainder are Mobility Support Vehicles for the Engineers.

Not all the IFV are going to the infantry, there are going to be 120mm mortars, other engineering vehicles, logistics carriers, ambulances, mortar ammunition carriers etc... Like the LAV's for us, they are going to various places to do other jobs.
380 at roughly 50 odd per Bn is more than enough to equip all six, likely with a Bn still for war stock.
 

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Or another thought - Three Deep Strike Brigades with a Cavalry Regiment and Infantry Battalion and a Divisional Artillery Regiment (8 Batteries - HQ & Svcs, STA, Obs, 3x 155, LRPRs, GBAD-CRAM) . Designed to form the core of an allied Division together with a Div HQ and an Air Force Wing.

Dimsum posted this comment from an article about Russian and Chinese NCOs and their ways of war.


... US and Western ground tactics emphasize maneuver warfare, with small teams seizing opportunities to work their way forward and take apart the enemy’s defenses; firepower is important, but its primary role is to blast open gaps for maneuver units to advance through. Russia and China emphasize firepower, disrupting and destroying the enemy at the longest possible distance; maneuver is important, but primarily for setting up advantageous positions for long-range fires.


“They’re both very heavy on fires to prevent us from maneuvering,” an approach often called anti-access/area denial warfare, Sullivan said. “We win by maneuver, they win by fires, [and] the fires fight may not necessarily require… the kind of NCO corps that we have, the thinking, educated, dynamic NCO corps.”

The challenge of defending Canada, it seems to me is more like the challenges of defending Russia and China than Western Europe.

The biggest obvious differences are that Western Europe is one of the most densely populated places on the planet (and it is covered in asphalt). China has high density areas but also has areas of extreme low density (Tibet, Xinjiang and Mongolia come to mind). Russia has a large area with few roads and a declining population. Both Russia and China need exert the government's influence over long distances rapidly from a limited number of widely separated fixed bases.

An artillery-centric army might make more sense for the defense of Canada than an infantry-, or even cavalry-centric one. With a strong Air Force element.

It is not that I expect Canada to be invaded but rather that if an invasion/incursion happens I would like to be able to break it up and disrupt as soon as it starts happening. And, as I noted, it is a low manpower, high technology strategy that we can afford and that we can offer in useful support of friends and allies.
 

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And the USMC is buying the Israeli Hero-120 Loitering Munitions that were used to effect in Azerbaijan.


UVision Hero-120 Loitering Munition (12.5 kg with 4.5 kg warhead - length 1.5 m)


Hero-120 c UVision


Hero-120 and Launcher

Hero-120 OPFM Multi-Canister Launcher c UVision


To be added to the USMC LAV Battalions in the 81 Mortar Carriers. Range band increases from 2.4 - 3 nm to 5 - 54 nm.

1624471209491.png1624471318155.png

Also to be deployed on the JLTV (Oshkosh Hero-120 Concept)


message-editor%2F1612890714792-jltv-launcher.jpg


And the LRUSV (Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessel)

The first weapon system for the USMC's new LRUSV: Hero-120 - Naval Post




Loitering munitions are a type of explosive unmanned air vehicle that can also conduct limited amounts of reconnaissance.
The USMC wanted a weapon with the ability to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as attack targets between 5nm (7km) and 54nm, it said in its request for information posted in 2019. The loitering munition is intended to “enhance indirect fire capability within the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion”, said Jeff Nebel, team lead for Program Manager Fires, at the time.

“Hero-120 is a high precision smart loitering munition system with a unique aerodynamic structure that carries out pinpoint strikes against anti-armour, anti-material and anti-personnel targets including tanks, vehicles, concrete fortifications, and other soft targets in populated urban areas,” says UVision. “The Hero-120’s high precision capability ensures minimal collateral damage. Its wide range of multi-purpose warheads enable the operational user to effectively engage all targets.”
The use of loitering munitions – in place of mortars, air-launched missiles and tanks – is a new concept in warfare. The type saw limited use as anti-personnel weapons during the USA’s war on terror, in particular by special operations forces. In 2020, use by Azerbaijani troops against Armenian tanks in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Central Asia demonstrated that the weapons might upend conventional thinking about military operations.

Though loitering munitions, such as the Hero-120, are typically more expensive than mortars or tank rounds, they have greater range and greater precision, leading to fewer wasted shots. The ability to loiter above a target, in the case of the Hero-120, for up to 60min, also reduces the risk of friendly fire or civilian casualties, say manufacturers.

 

Kirkhill

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Apparently, my colleagues were saying there was a degree of dissatisfaction with their new set-up and there are already calls to revert back to the old asymmetric brigade principle as it provided the units with more focus. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence I guess?
Why do people with straight hair get it curled while people with curly hair get it straightened? Hairdressers make a fortune out of that one.

And, for the record, I too, in general, like the principle of threes (one on, one in the wash and one in the drawer).

On the other hand a "strategic reserve" item like, for example an air transportable battalion, that is outside of the regular rotation and kept for the occasional short, sharp shock - that can be limited to a single high readiness force, or perhaps a two battalion/battlegroup brigade.
 

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“As we've seen in lots of recent conflicts, the proliferation of long-range weapons and sensors and things like that make it very challenging to survive on the current battlefield if you are a large unit that's operating in—--with large groups of people very close to each other. So you need to be able to disperse and distribute your forces and still achieve effects,” Watson said in an interview.

The current battalion with three rifle companies, a weapons company with crew-served weapons such as machine guns, and a headquarters company is not organized and equipped for future distributed warfare, he said.

A proposed infantry battalion design would eliminate the weapons company and train Marines in rifle companies to use a range of weapons instead of specializing in just one. The idea is that a smaller unit with more weapons training will increase their survivability and mission capabilities as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, Marine Littoral Regiment, or Infantry Regiment.

 

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And a counter-point for those that think there will be sea-lift for the asking when we need it:


It seems likely to me that when we are looking for sea-lift others will be looking for it as well. Even if we are not heading in the same direction.
 

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There's a limit as to how many blades you can fit into the average Swiss Army infantryman/infantry company. Once you get to the point that the system is so easy to use that you can hand stuff out like Cracker Jack you might as well have autonomous or semi autonomous systems and leave a little room in the LAV for food and water.

If the infantry battalion is going to become crew-served weapons heavy, maybe we should be thinking of redesigning the infantry battalion into two or three weapons companies and one rifle company instead.

As an aside, the development of counter drone systems has me convinced that we need to keep a reasonable mix of high tech loitering munitions and big old guns firing dumb hunks of steel wrapped high explosives that can't be screwed with - perhaps even in the same regiment.

🍻
 

Kirkhill

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There's a limit as to how many blades you can fit into the average Swiss Army infantryman/infantry company. Once you get to the point that the system is so easy to use that you can hand stuff out like Cracker Jack you might as well have autonomous or semi autonomous systems and leave a little room in the LAV for food and water.

If the infantry battalion is going to become crew-served weapons heavy, maybe we should be thinking of redesigning the infantry battalion into two or three weapons companies and one rifle company instead.

As an aside, the development of counter drone systems has me convinced that we need to keep a reasonable mix of high tech loitering munitions and big old guns firing dumb hunks of steel wrapped high explosives that can't be screwed with - perhaps even in the same regiment.

🍻

Or, as has been argued upthread, is there a role for infantry at all?

If crew-served then transported. One small vehicle with two people or many strong backs?

As to the issue of preserving capabilities, and designing armies, you might be interested in this article.



It has been argued elsewhere, convincingly, that the Navy/Marine Corps team is best suited to safeguarding America’s interests and global stability in times of peace (reflected in the now-discarded “Global Force for Good” tagline). The Air Force has always sold itself—grotesquely, in some cases—as the post-WWII guarantors of strategic stability. The Space Force is now out there trying to figure out what to wear, trying to dominate high orbit, and competing for funding with its parent service, the past master of the budget wars up until this point.

What does that leave for the Army?
 

FJAG

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Or, as has been argued upthread, is there a role for infantry at all?

If crew-served then transported. One small vehicle with two people or many strong backs?

As to the issue of preserving capabilities, and designing armies, you might be interested in this article.

If there's one thing that Afghanistan taught us it's that there's always a need for a local security force whenever specialty teams go out beyond the wire. Having two-man teams carrying major weapons systems wandering around a dispersed battlefield is a tad risky. There will always be a role for infantrymen.

BTW. There's really nothing I disagree with in Maj Hendell's article.

🍻
 

Underway

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US and Western ground tactics emphasize maneuver warfare, with small teams seizing opportunities to work their way forward and take apart the enemy’s defenses; firepower is important, but its primary role is to blast open gaps for maneuver units to advance through. Russia and China emphasize firepower, disrupting and destroying the enemy at the longest possible distance; maneuver is important, but primarily for setting up advantageous positions for long-range fires.


“They’re both very heavy on fires to prevent us from maneuvering,” an approach often called anti-access/area denial warfare, Sullivan said. “We win by maneuver, they win by fires, [and] the fires fight may not necessarily require… the kind of NCO corps that we have, the thinking, educated, dynamic NCO corps.”

There is a reason for this. First and foremost is that they never expect to have air superiority. Their artillery is their airforce. NATO expects that its airpower will disrupt and destroy the enemy at the longest possible distance. Russia expects their airpower to get a few shots in and then be on the defensive the whole time. This is also why they develop amazing Air Defence Systems like the S400.

Given that paradigm, it makes sense that Russia would value its artillery more than its maneuver elements, as it does double duty. Traditional artillery jobs and airforce jobs as well.

The second is that they are inherently defensive militaries because their geopolitical outlook is defensive. Russian and China are always being invaded by others. China builds a big wall. Russia uses buffer states as their wall. Modern translation is anti-access/area denial.

The challenge of defending Canada, it seems to me is more like the challenges of defending Russia and China than Western Europe.

The biggest obvious differences are that Western Europe is one of the most densely populated places on the planet (and it is covered in asphalt). China has high density areas but also has areas of extreme low density (Tibet, Xinjiang and Mongolia come to mind). Russia has a large area with few roads and a declining population. Both Russia and China need exert the government's influence over long distances rapidly from a limited number of widely separated fixed bases.

An artillery-centric army might make more sense for the defense of Canada than an infantry-, or even cavalry-centric one. With a strong Air Force element.

It is not that I expect Canada to be invaded but rather that if an invasion/incursion happens I would like to be able to break it up and disrupt as soon as it starts happening. And, as I noted, it is a low manpower, high technology strategy that we can afford and that we can offer in useful support of friends and allies.

The challenge in defending Canada... is that there is no external threat. We've effectively neutralized the true external threat by being best buddies with it, the US. Any other threat would be sea-based. If you want to defend the homeland against conventional threats, invest in airpower and naval power.
 

daftandbarmy

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There is a reason for this. First and foremost is that they never expect to have air superiority. Their artillery is their airforce. NATO expects that its airpower will disrupt and destroy the enemy at the longest possible distance. Russia expects their airpower to get a few shots in and then be on the defensive the whole time. This is also why they develop amazing Air Defence Systems like the S400.

Given that paradigm, it makes sense that Russia would value its artillery more than its maneuver elements, as it does double duty. Traditional artillery jobs and airforce jobs as well.

The second is that they are inherently defensive militaries because their geopolitical outlook is defensive. Russian and China are always being invaded by others. China builds a big wall. Russia uses buffer states as their wall. Modern translation is anti-access/area denial.



The challenge in defending Canada... is that there is no external threat. We've effectively neutralized the true external threat by being best buddies with it, the US. Any other threat would be sea-based. If you want to defend the homeland against conventional threats, invest in airpower and naval power.

...and cyber and other information security
 
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