How sad is it that we only hear about the military in the news whenever there’s a new internal scandal?
The Canadian Military has a proud legacy.
In WW1, a stunning proportion of Canada’s population joined the fight.
In WW2, we made immense contributions, and ended the war with one the world’s largest navies and largest air forces.
For years afterward we punched above our weight, not in the meaningless way we claim now, but in real terms, taking our national defence and commitment to our allies seriously and maintaining a strong forces.
But, for decades now there has been a concerted effort to wipe away that history, and replace it with a ‘peacekeeping’ myth that isn’t really true.
The reality is that Canada was not a ‘peacekeeping’ nation for most of our history, we were a ‘warfighting’ nation that was able to muster up strong military capabilities to stand up for our values and fight alongside our allies.
Even with an underfunded military, our contributions in Afghanistan were lauded by our allies.
Yet, the peacekeeping myth has continued to contribute to a slow and steadily decline in the connection Canadians felt with our armed forces, and successive governments allowed military funding to drain away.
Now, Canada’s armed forces are a shell of its former self.
Rampant underfunding has combined with an absolutely appalling procurement program, leaving our still highly-trained personnel without proper equipment.
Our ground forces are tiny, our air forces lacks decent planes and can’t find enough pilots, and our navy is small and incapable of truly defending our vast coastline.
And though we have allies, our ability to contribute in a meaningful way has eroded as well.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the military is now being rocked by seemingly endless sex scandals, with former commander Jonathan Vance under investigation, and his replacement leaving the role after just a few weeks to face his own investigation.
Now, it seems the only time we hear about the Canadian Armed Forces is when there is an internal scandal.
Sadly, decades of politicians – and many Canadians – simply not caring about the armed forces has caught up to our country, leaving us with the inability to defend ourselves, and with an armed forces that is demoralized and internally broken.
Fixing this will require a true strategic focus for our national defence (which as I’ve written before should be focused on a strong air force and hypersonic missiles), with a large injection of funding, a complete housecleaning of top military officials and procurement managers, and a large-scale public recruitment campaign to rebuild the military.
We also need to reconnect Canadians with the proud history of our armed forces, move beyond the peacekeeping myth, and restore the proud legacy of Canada’s defenders.