Canadian Military Equipment Spending – some comments – and some Dumb Questions

We’ve seen some rather interesting purchase decisions made by our military, when it comes to vehicles, from LAVs to frigates.

I won’t beat to death the Brian Mulroney allegations about airbus, Schreiber, and LAV’s.

I will point out that we just decided to spend an additional $151 million to upgrade more of our current LAV’s, adding this to a $1.06 billion contract already in place.

Our ships are a more interesting set of problems. Not only is the cost high, but if you read this article closely, I think you’ll notice that the frigates are being built on the same length (as an afterthought) as the destroyer, and some choices now have to be made because it will be top-heavy with the planned radar installation etc. The navy doesn’t seem to think they’ll actually get these boats for quite some time.

Now for our submarines. If you look at this article in CBC, you’ll see that a British MP thinks we were insane to purchase them. One of them caught fire. One has the torpedo tubes welded shut (they leak). And, the torpedoes we can get don’t fit in those tubes. (Research this one yourself, eh?) One of these subs on its own cost us $47 million in fix-ups – so far.

Once we become airborne, the problems seem to have even more trouble getting our military off the ground, so to speak. First, the helicopters. In this article in CBC news, our helicopters may not be ready for five more years. They are already four years late and $300 million over budget.

Now for the pinnacle of air power, our fighter jets. The contract was sole-sourced. In this article in CTV news, you’ll read that the price per plane has doubled.So far.

I have blogged on these planes before. The F-35 project is pretty much in official jeopardy in the USA due to cost overruns, delays, and all-up testing which means planes exist that don’t meet specifications and after testing, have to be retrofitted.

I recall that at one point the fire extinguishers were removed to save weight. At another point, the navy short-takeoff / vertical landing version was put on hold, as the ‘nozzle’ for redirecting the jet blase for vertical landing was a new challenge to design.

Now for the dumb questions:

Are we (Canadian citizens and voters) stupid? Is this history of military spending indicative of competence? Are our dollars being spent on weapons that may not work, when we refuse to pass more federal money back to the cities? Are we being screwed?

And, are you going to do anything about it? Write or eMail your MP and your Prime Minister?

My turn to brag, slightly

My first poetry collection has been reviewed by one of Amazon’s own review team, Shell Tidings. The review is mostly favourable. Here is is, verbatim:

A modern day Wasteland.

Cold Comes Through’  offers up a highly personal collection of a son’s memories of his father’s disappearance into Alzheimer’s and his father’s eventual death. The initial Author’s note resonates, stating that poetry belongs to us all (regardless of the monetary siftings of publishers say I). Throughout this work, objects take on the imprint of Jim Bennett’s father, not only as all he has left of his loved one, but also as an extension of the human being himself. In ‘Made to Last’ the malleability of cedar wood becomes a metaphor for life’s twists and turns, losses and loves. Loss is personified in the season of Fall, the edges of a life browning like leaves and migrating birds winging like a soul, leaving the mourners behind to face cold December. In one of my favourites ‘White with Aluminium’, even peonies in Spring are hidden underground in an image of sub-terrestrial hope. In other favourites ‘One Second’ describes a captured moment between loved ones and ‘The Gatekeeper’ beautifully evokes in countdown the expectation of an unamed thing in a relationship. If had one tiny quibble, the poems could occasionally have ended sooner. There is no need for a poet to explain meaning. For example, I would have liked the brilliantly realised metaphor ‘Picture of Wolves’ to finish with the tail of a sock, as death relentlessly chases down its prey.  Yes, I have many favourites in this evocative collection that speaks to all of us who have experienced loss. The indents of the lines themselves hint at the washes of the tides of grief and meet the literal tides of a lake, whose ‘algal clouds’ and ‘tall sky mirages’ in ‘On The Bridge’ allegorise the depths of relationships. Pain is etched out in grit and vivid imagery of a grief-stricken landscape, thrown into relief by ‘ragged lids from tin cans and brown glass shards of beer bottles’, the ravages of which remind me of T.S. Eliot’s ‘Wasteland’.  And yes indeed, I am aware of the comparison I make.