7 mai 2021 | Local, Naval

WILLIAMS: Here's why Canada's shipbuilding debacle matters

Canadians are quite rightly preoccupied with coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. It affects our safety and security. Nevertheless, there is another crisis…


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  • Auditors target Defence Department for poor oversight of military-spending plan

    15 juin 2020 | Local, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Auditors target Defence Department for poor oversight of military-spending plan

    Saskatoon / 650 CKOM The Canadian Press June 14, 2020 10:28 am OTTAWA — The Department of National Defence has been called out for assigning less than three people to monitor the rollout of the Liberal government's plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in new military equipment, troops and training. The criticism is contained in an internal Defence Department audit and follows previous concerns that delays and other problems are slowing implementation of the plan, which was unveiled in 2017 and promised to spend $553 billion in the military over 20 years. The plan known as Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) is seen as critical for replacing much of the military's aging equipment and adding new capabilities such as armed drones and defences in cyber and space that are needed for 21st-century warfare. Yet the Defence Department earlier this year revealed that more than 100 of the roughly 300 capital projects associated with the plan were facing delays, with the delivery dates for some urgently needed equipment pushed several years into the future. The audit report dated last November but only recently published online underscores the importance of monitoring and oversight to ensure the plan is properly implemented over the next two decades. Auditors instead found "limited dedicated resources to co-ordinate and monitor implementation" of the plan, according to the report, with fewer than three full-time staff members specifically tasked with the job. By comparison, there were 32 staff members assigned to oversee a cost-cutting exercise launched by the previous Conservative government in 2013 that aimed to eliminate $1.2 billion in annual waste within the department. That effort met with limited success. "The capacity of the SSE implementation team is limited and as such, certain monitoring functions and independent validation of information are not being performed," according to the audit report. The auditors also flagged concerns that the lack of monitoring meant senior defence officials were not receiving clear and accurate information about the state of the plan, raising fears about bad decisions being made. Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said some of the issues identified by the auditors have been addressed while work on others is underway, though she did not say how many staff are now responsible for monitoring the plan. "We welcome reviews of this nature, which help us find where adjustments and improvements can be made to ensure the continued efficient progress and oversight of the policy," Lamirande said in an email. "All of these audit recommendations are being addressed, with several already completed and the others well underway. In fact, some recommendations validated work that was already in progress." Defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute expressed surprise at the auditors' findings given senior officials had emphasized the importance of properly implementing the plan when it was released three years ago. That emphasis included monitoring progress, which Perry described as fundamental for identifying problems and areas that need attention — such as delayed procurement projects — to ensure the military gets what it has been promised and needs. The need to properly implement the plan and eliminate delays is even more important now, he added, given fears the federal government could start cutting defence spending as it seeks to find ways to pay for its COVID-19 emergency programs. "You've got a government whose wholesale attention is focused on the response to COVID," Perry said. "Any kind of delay in a program and the department basically not seizing the moment that it's got opens up potential vulnerability given the huge degree of economic and fiscal uncertainty that the department and government are facing right now." This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2020. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press https://www.ckom.com/2020/06/14/auditors-target-defence-department-for-poor-oversight-of-military-spending-plan/

  • Canadian Armed Forces continues 10-year long effort in Counter-Explosive capability building

    2 novembre 2023 | Local, Terrestre

    Canadian Armed Forces continues 10-year long effort in Counter-Explosive capability building

    Approximately 180 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members hosted nearly 150 members from partner nations for Exercise ARDENT DEFENDER, an international counter explosive exercise held at 5 Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, New Brunswick, from October 20 to November 2, 2023.

  • Why can't Ottawa get military procurement right?

    30 novembre 2018 | Local, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Why can't Ottawa get military procurement right?

    Murray Brewster · CBC News The last couple of weeks may go down in the Trudeau government's public record as the point when the desires of deliverology met the drawbacks of defence procurement. Remember 'deliverology'? That lofty concept — measuring a government's progress in delivering on its promises — was the vogue in policy circles at the beginning of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration. While it's sometimes derided as an empty concept, deliverology must have seemed tailor-made for a new government inheriting a troubled defence procurement system. The Canadian International Trade Tribunal's decision Tuesday to step into the brawl over which multinational consortium will design and support the construction of the navy's new frigates is another lesson in how (apologies to Robert Burns) the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. The tribunal's decision to order Ottawa to put the frigate project on hold pending the completion of their probe into a complaint by a failed bidder comes at a politically awkward time for the Liberals. One week ago, Auditor General Michael Ferguson delivered an ugly report on the Liberals' handling of fighter jet procurement — specifically, the plan to buy interim warplanes to cover the gap until the current CF-18 fleet can be replaced with new aircraft. Self-inflicted wounds A cynic's reflex (given the checkered history of defence purchasing over the last decade) might be to consider these two events as just another day at the office for the troubled government procurement system. That might not be entirely fair. Still, experts were saying Wednesday that the government is suffering from numerous self-inflicted political and administrative wounds on this file. With a federal election on the horizon, and in a climate of growing geopolitical instability, the question of what the government has actually managed to deliver on military procurement is an important one to ask, said Rob Huebert, an analyst in strategic studies at the University of Calgary. While the system, as the Trudeau Liberals and previous governments have constructed it, seems to be the perfect model of the "evidence based" policy making promised by the champions of deliverology, it's also not built for speed. Some would suggest the deliverology model was followed to the letter in the design competition now tied up before the trade tribunal and in Federal Court. What seemed like endless consultations with the bidders took two years. The government made up to 88 amendments to the tender. And in the end, the preferred bid was challenged by a competitor that claims not all of the navy's criteria were met. Alion Science and Technology Corp. and its subsidiary, Alion Canada, argue the warship Lockheed Martin Canada and BAE System Inc. want to sell to Ottawa cannot meet the speed requirements set by the tender without a substantial overhaul. It does not, the company claims, meet the government's demand for a proven, largely off-the-shelf design. Michael Armstrong, who teaches at Brock University and holds a doctorate in management science, said the government could have avoided the challenges and accompanying slowdowns had it been more precise in its language. "They could have been more clear and firm when they use the words 'proven design'," he said. "Did they literally mean we won't buy ships unless they're floating in the water? Or did they mean that British one that doesn't quite exist yet is close enough? "If they would have been more firm and said, 'We want a ship that actually exists,' that might have simplified things at this stage." Huebert described the auditor general's report on the purchase of interim fighters as an all-out assault on evidence-based policy making. "It is just so damning," he said. A break with reality The Conservatives have accused the Liberals of avoiding the purchase of the F-35 stealth jet through manufacturing a crisis by claiming the air force doesn't have enough fighters to meet its international commitments. The auditor found that the military could not meet the government's new policy commitment and even ignored advice that one of its proposed solutions — buying brand-new Super Hornets to fill the capability gap —would actually make their problems worse, not better. That statement, said Huebert, suggested a jaw-dropping break with reality on the government's part. "They [the Liberals] were just making things up," he said. It might have been too optimistic to expect the Liberals to fix the system, said Armstrong, given the short four years between elections. But Huebert said Ottawa can't carry on with business as usual — that the government now must deliver on procurement, instead of doubling down on rhetoric. The problem, he said, is that governments haven't really paid a price in the past for botched military procurement projects. There was "no political pain for the agony of the Sea King replacement, as an example," he said, referring to the two-decade long process to retire the air force's maritime helicopters. "The thing that makes me so concerned, even outraged, is that we are heading into a so much more dangerous international environment," said Huebert, citing last weekend's clash between Russia and Ukraine over the Kerch Strait and ongoing tension with Beijing in the South China Sea. "When things get nasty, we have to be ready." https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/why-can-t-ottawa-get-military-procurement-right-1.4924800

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