treetopflyer Posted February 15, 2005 Report Share Posted February 15, 2005 Canada needs heavy-lift choppers for work in war zones, says new Defence chief Sun Feb 13, 3:39 PM ET STEPHEN THORNE TORONTO (CP) - Canada will need to buy heavy-lift helicopters to transport troops and equipment around war zones and other theatres of operation as part of a comprehensive plan to revamp the Canadian Forces, says the new chief of defence staff. The man engineering an overhaul of the Canadian military says the new policy review will not favour one service over another. In fact, despite reports to the contrary, the air force will be more important than ever. "You have to assure yourself that you've to all the necessary bits and pieces in place to be able to respond," General Rick Hillier said in an interview with The Canadian Press. The military needs to replace the Chinook helicopters it sold to the Dutch years ago. Canada's experience during the 2002 war on terror, when it relied on U.S. transport choppers during combat operations in Afghanistan (news - web sites), proved that, Hillier said. The military must also replace the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft it uses on short haul flights in Canada and overseas. But the general said National Defence will have to assess what works best for longer haul flights, like the ones that transported Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team to Sri Lanka in early January. "We've got to sort out the helicopter piece because we've got to be able to move around these environments," Hillier said. "We've got to fix the C-130 piece because a lot of them are very old. And we've got to assure ourselves of strategic lift." Hillier said long range flights may be still be handled by aircraft rented from other countries, shared with NATO (news - web sites), or purchased. But Hillier suggested Canada would not likely buy larger aircraft, like the Russian Antonov or the American C-17. Whatever the outcome, Hillier said the military is in for a major rethinking but the aim is to expand, modernize and integrate the services - not trade one off for another. Sources say Hillier, an armoured officer from Newfoundland, was the only candidate for the chief's job to come up with the kind of innovative thinking Defence Minister Bill Graham was looking for in the year-old defence review process. It is Hillier who reinforced Graham's decision to throw out the first drafts of the government's defence policy review. Now Hillier is driving the thrust of the new document at Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. But the general said he won't do it alone. The document will be very much a product of thinking that has been circulating in military circles for some time, said Hillier. Many of his own ideas came out of a meeting of senior officers a year ago. On Tuesday, he will kick off a 2½-day conference of general and flag officers by assuring them the navy and air force won't take a back seat to the army in the overhaul, as some have feared. "People have to be assured that there's a role for the maritime, air and land forces in the future of Canada that is powerful and valuable and relevant and exactly what the country needs," Hillier said. "We find our balances based on the jobs that we have to do." Hillier will then brief his senior officers on the status of the policy review, ask them for their input and warn off any who aren't on board. He doesn't think there will be too many of those. "We've got an entire generation of young men and women who have cut their teeth on operations," said Hillier. "We are in a position now that we have not been in since the end of World War II. "Every one of those folks knows what has to be done." And what needs to be done? Hillier, who has commanded more overseas operations than many of his predecessors, said there will be some added expense involved but acknowledged he has to be realistic: -No more independent deployment of services, with ad hoc planning of large-scale operations by hastily assembled command elements drawn from the army, navy and air force. The new force will be jointly commanded and able to deploy battle groups or task forces quickly and efficiently. -Overseas operations will be less spread out, with larger forces focused on and deployed to fewer places, he said. -Canada's fleet of CF-18 fighter-bombers must be equipped with precision munitions for overseas operations but they will also likely take on a greater role in domestic security and defence. "It doesn't have to be either-or," said the general. -The air force is already taking on a bigger role in surveillance, which may require upgrades or replacement of the Aurora aircraft fleet and the purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles. -The navy's controversial submarine fleet, still reeling from October's fatal fire, must be brought up to scratch and employed in coastal security and defence, either off Canada's coasts or elsewhere, said Hillier. "We need to set priorities," he said of the Forces in general. "We need to walk through the various options that are available." Fundamental to the process will be recruitment of 5,000 new members and 3,000 reservists, and some much-needed attention to the foundation - training, weapons, ammunition and infrastructure such as runways and jetties. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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