So the Prime Minister is deciding to re-announce his 1-2yr old running defense plans today. Good for him. I guess when conservatives run out of ideas they either a) steal them from the opposition, or b) re-issue old plans.
While a concerted plan of replacement and augmentation of the forces is a good idea, there are serious concerns as to the dubious nature of the (current) government's intentions for the military. The long-term plan has to be looked at seriously. Militaries tend to like "capital" equipment (ships, tanks, airplanes - the jet-fighter variety). They like "sexy" toys that make them feel military-like.
What the Forces actually need today are tools to help fight insurgents, quell uprisings, and maintain urban combat for protracted periods. They need tools for mountain combat, gear for infantry to be operational in hazardous conditions (gas, toxins, etc.). The military also needs tools to keep the peace - including better education (in particular, in how to deal with local populations), better psy-ops, better training in counseling victims of war and disasters.
While maintenance of our forces, is a good thing, as the Opposition, we have to question attempts by Harper to "marry our forces" to the US equipment. As it stands right now, a LOT of the new hardware the Conservatives are buying is inextricably linked to American weapons platforms and systems. While Harper claims: "Harper said having a long-term plan for stable funding will create jobs and opportunities for tens of thousands of Canadians who work in the defence industry and communities with military bases", we have to be concerned that these contracts are going to mainly end up with American firms and American workers.
It is quite apparent that the Cons want a "macho" army, with all the "cool toys" they can get their hands on. We need to make sure they invest in what the army needs - not what looks cool and lets them play with the big boy they want to play with (the US Army). Careful investment - especially in this time of economic uncertainty - is very important. It is also perhaps not quite the time to add even more funding to the military - besides what is required for the job they are doing right now, and to maintain for yearly turnover. It appears the conservatives are trying to sneak some spending by - using the excuse of "our troops need it" - even though the stuff they are buying is "long term". Not sure if this falls in the domain of "fiscal prudence". I think many of us would prefer to see money saved for the "rainy day fund", or spent on shoring up infrastructure and economic assistance measures... at this point. Once we're clear of the US recession, then by all means, move forward.