OTTAWA — Two different reports are urging the Harper government not to forget the hard-earned lessons and experience of the last decade in Afghanistan when it comes to shaping the future Canadian military.
The Commons defence committee has issued a long-awaited study on the readiness of the Forces and among the recommendations is a call for more large-scale training and exercises and investment in reserve forces.
The report, 14 months in the making, comes just days after the commander of the army told a Senate committee that budget restraints are forcing him to limit training to a lower standard than during the Afghan war.
And it also comes as National Defence cuts the number of full-time reservists, converting them back to part-time status.
A separate report from the Conference of Defence Associations urges the government to preserve the interdepartmental co-operation and structure that was forged during the Kandahar mission.
The think-tank argues that 21st century conflicts will necessitate co-operation among the military, diplomats and development workers.
The association argues that the most effective organizations on today’s battlefields are those with integrated capabilities.
Both reports appear against an unfolding backdrop of defence cuts that one independent analysis earlier this fall suggested would take $2.5 billion out of the overall $20 billion budget by 2014.
The all-party Commons committee ducked some of the most contentious defence issues, including the proposed F-35 stealth fighter acquisition and made only passing reference to the nearly decade-long struggle to replace the country’s fixed-wing search-and-rescue planes.
MPs endorsed retaining the navy’s submarine capability, even though they were divided on the question of whether the country needs them.
The NDP and Liberals issued dissenting committee reports, both taking aim at the government’s readiness to defend against cyberattacks.