The Minute Book
Monday, 7 July 2014

Canada's Defence Needs
Topic: Cold War


The Heller Antitank Missile, the AVRO Arrow fighter, The Bra d'Or hydrofoil and the Bobcat armoured personnal carrier: all Canadian miltary programs that were cancelled.

Canada's Defence Needs

"All that this Dominion, therefore, needs is the minimum force and equipment required for essential training and for participation in the international police force yet to be organized to sustain world peace. Size, after all, in modern armies is less important than it ever was."

The Evening Citizen (editorial); 1 March 1946

Because Canada's permanent peacetime defence forces are modest in size, the criticism is heard that they are inadequate for a country that aspires to be a leader among the smaller nations. The criticism fails to take into account of the revolution which new weapons invented during the late war has effected in strategy and tactics as well as in industrial potential.

The Canadian army, as has been officially announced, is to consist of 25,000 permanent force and 180,000 reserve—partly trained reinforcements. The navy is to have a permanent force of 10,000 officers and men with 18,000 reserve and sixteen ships, including two light aircraft-carriers. The air force will be composed of approximately 20,500 men, active and auxiliary, with 10,000 reserve.

Admittedly, this is a small force. But the issue is not its size but its adequacy to present defence needs and to Canada's obligations under the United Nations charter.

Despite upheavals and violence in so many regions of the globe today, there is no threat of a major war in either hemisphere. The twin menaces of Germany and Japan have vanished and cannot reappear for another thirty or forty years in any circumstances. Russia, as Stalin has just emphasized, wants a long period of peace.

All that this Dominion, therefore, needs is the minimum force and equipment required for essential training and for participation in the international police force yet to be organized to sustain world peace. Size, after all, in modern armies is less important than it ever was. With only the one hundred thousand men permitted by the Versailles treaty, Hitler and the Nazi war-makers were able to discretely build up the mightiest army in the world. With only a few hundred fighter-pilots, the Royal Air Force was able to win the Battle of Britain against four times its numbers and so change the course of history.

It is not the size but highly developed technical skill and scientifically-designed equipment and armaments that will win future wars if the nations are insane enough to undertake them. In this age of mechanism, victory is likely to rest not with the big battalions but with the most powerful machines and the most deadly arms and those best trained to use them.

Consequently, rather than concentrating on numerically large defence forces, this Dominion ought to concentrate on research into modern weapons, how best to develop them and how best to counter them; on the scientific study of warfare as invention has changed it; and on the production of a small elite force of fighting specialists who keep the closest liaison with all parallel developments in Great Britain and the United States.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 14 June 2014 8:54 PM EDT

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