This Saturday, and for the two weeks prior, we take the time to honour those who have fallen in war time on our behalf by wearing a poppy and attending ceremonies at cenotaphs. And rightly so.
However, it is also long overdue that we celebrate those currently serving.
Our armed forces are in sad shape, which not only affects our ability to defend ourselves but also our place on the world stage.
This is not a reflection of those serving but on government policies – or lack thereof.
The authorized strength of our military is now 100,000 personnel. This includes all ranks in all three services, in both reserve and regular forces.
We also have about 2,000 mainly Indigenous personnel who operate in the north. The military is now 10,000 to 15,000 personnel short.
Equipment is also a problem. Among other things, the army has only recently replaced its Second World War pistols.
The army’s equipment also has been depleted due to service in Afghanistan and supplying Ukraine.
The airforce has ordered a total of 88 F-35 jets, which were first proposed when Stephen Harper was prime minister and were to be delivered by 2010.
The latest order is for 16 of these aircraft to start being delivered in 2026 (three years from now) with a further 72 to be ordered in future years.
We will not have our full complement until 2032, nine years from now. Even then those initial aircraft will be stationed in the U.S. until we can make ready here in Canada.
Our navy is having to scavenge other ships in order to bring another ship’s strength up before it can go to sea.
Our troop deployment to Poland should be being fed by military cooks, but we have not been able to. We were originally fed by Poland but now troops have to go restaurants and then put in a claim to be reimbursed.
We are supposed to have 2,200 troops in Poland. The army’s strength is 44,000 which includes both regular soldiers and reservists.
At the end of the Second World War, Canada had the fourth-largest airforce and the fifth largest navy. Our army had its own beach at D-Day beside the two each for the U.S. and Britain, and made more inland progress than the other two countries.
Think back to the last few elections. Do you remember the word military coming up in any of them by any party?
This also affects our standing in the world. More and more, Canada is being ignored when new defence alliances and joint procurement plans are planned by our allies.
We have promised to bring our military spending up to the NATO minimum of two per cent of GDP but meanwhile we sit at or near the bottom of countries that should be meeting this target.
I believe the political parties should be challenged both now and in the next election as to their specific plans to deal with these issues. What is the plan to deal with the shortage of personnel and equipment? I don’t want to hear how they love the military.
Another way to show our military we appreciate their service, if you operate a business, is to offer a military discount and make it known that you do.
In the U.S., military personnel have a lounge in airports. And people can thank them for their service when they see them.
So, honour our fallen by wearing a poppy and attending a Remembrance Day ceremony this Saturday.
But also honour our current military personnel by ensuring our governments, now and in the future know that Canadians need and support an effective military.
Write your MP and challenge all the political parties during the next election on their vision and action plans for the military.