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Defence policy review: will it confirm old assumptions and existing resourcing, and evaporate, or not?

Transport and Rescue Squadron pilots, Capt. Jeff McIsaac and Capt. Dan Desjardins, and flight engineer, Mast. Corporal Mike Buggie, work in the CC-130H Hercules flight deck during Tigerex 16 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on May 12, 2016. The Defence Policy Review (DPR) provides a unique opportunity to question some of the existing assumptions underlying the thinking about what Canada needs in terms of capabilities. Photo: Master Corporal Jonathan Barrette, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

The Defence Policy Review (DPR) provides a unique opportunity to question some of the existing assumptions underlying the thinking about what Canada needs in terms of capabilities. The problem, right from the start, is that, beyond the very general mandate letters, the review is not underpinned by clear indications of what the government intends to do in the world and what these intentions—if any already well-grounded and thought through—will require in terms of defence capabilities. How can one say what Canada needs in terms of force structure without a broader national security perspective? What capabilities are needed for a G-7 power or are the ambitions of the government different—which is its legitimate right but it needs to define them before we embark on a strategic risk matrix. Otherwise, despite the government’s specific rejection of the concept, DPR could simply become an update of CFDS (the 2008 Canada First Defence Strategy) which was basically a procurement strategy. Alternatively, it could risk turning into an exercise in a void, financially hampered, with little innovative thinking despite what seems to be a remarkable preparatory process.

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