Canada needs to join the West

Received this from Paul, a retired Army Officer and old friend. I found it interesting and maybe the first of many articles emphasizing just how serious the war against terror is and how a lot of us need to lift our game. No longer can we plan for the enemy landing on our coastline in numbers or even small nuisance patrols inserted in the Kimberly. Now we have to plan for a style of attack that never existed when I went to Military colleges. Being attacked by a bomber fleet is easy to handle with modern weapons but a passenger taking over a 747 and using it as a weapon is another matter. Smart and dedicated professionals are working on the problem but don�t expect quick and easy answers. We in the west will get caught again and again before we surmount the problem but one day we will. In the meantime we need to up our defence expenditure to GDP ratio or the simply face a long and costly war. It is always good to see yourself from the point of view of others. It is good to know that some think we are trying. The debate we are having in Australia and the letter below offer hope. Thursday, August 07, 2003 CREDIT: Om Hanson,The Canadian Press LONDON – The Canadian army will be stretched to the limit and perhaps beyond for the next year and a half, rotating 1,900 soldiers at a time through two six-month tours in Afghanistan where it takes over from Germany next week. Meanwhile, Australia, which landed nearly 5,000 fighting troops at one time on Timor in 2000 and still has troops there, also made a modest contribution to the Anglo-American fighting force in Iraq. The country also dispatched 1,500 soldiers to the Solomon Islands, east of New Guinea, last month to lead a peacekeeping force that was put together so quickly it does not have a mandate from the UN or any other international organization. There was a time when Canada and Australia both punched above their weight. Each country made immense contributions, at great cost in lives and money, in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War. The reality today, as can be seen in Afghanistan, Timor and the Solomons, is entirely different. Canada spends an inordinate amount of time fretting about its shrinking role in the world, and its woefully under-funded Armed Forces, but does nothing about it. Australia acts with confidence on the global stage, using military capabilities that Canada no longer possesses to take leadership roles in peacemaking and peacekeeping. There are many examples of the growing disparity between Canadian and Australian military capabilities. A company of infantrymen from the Royal 22nd Regiment landed on a palm-fringed beach in Timor three years ago. But those Van Doos did not reach the beach in Suai on a Canadian landing craft launched from a Canadian assault ship. Because Canada has no landing craft and no assault ships, the Van Doos used the Australian assault ship, HMAS Tobruk, and its landing craft to go ashore. In the early going, Canada also had difficulty supplying the Van Doos in Timor. Canada’s C-130 Hercules aircraft, which are almost all more than 30 years old, were late getting to Timor because they broke down along the way. To be fair, Canada exists in the quietest corner in the world (and has never had any qualms about accepting American protection for free), while Australia lies in the southern oceans with lots of trouble brewing nearby. But the world has taken a very sour turn lately and it is Australia, not Canada, that has been quietly gearing up to combat the new dangers. Australia obviously regards itself as the neighbourhood policeman while Canada is still figuring what is to be its place in the ugly new order. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. and the Bali bombing in 2002, Australia has made defence spending its top priority in planning fiscal decisions, mentioning defence spending in its 2003 budget far more than any other spending, while Canada’s budget speech stressed health care, child care, welfare and education. And it has committed money, in addition to tough talk, pledging to increase its defence budget by three per cent annually to 2011. Australia intends to spend $14.37 billion Cdn this year, compared to Canada’s $13 billion. More telling, Australia spends 1.9 per cent of gross domestic product on defence compared to 1.1 per cent for Canada. The other difference is that Australia spends a greater percentage of its money on combat capability. It literally seeks bang for its buck. Canada has 32 million people and Australia has 19.5 million, but each country has just more than 50,000 men and women in uniform. Where Canada does move ahead is with its Land Forces, with the re-establishment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, Canada will own 10 infantry Battalions compared to Australia’s five. There are also very distinct rumours from Canberra that Australian Army intends to down size its Infantry Force to four Battalions, which includes its Regular Commando Battalion. How Australia intends to conduct operations outside of its own country will probably become non-existent. Australia not only has assault ships and landing craft. It has about the same number of active F18 fighter jets as Canada. And, unlike Canada, Australia also has long-range F111 bombers. Like Canada, Australia has transport and search-and-rescue helicopters, but none so old as Canada’s venerable Sea Kings. Unlike Canada, Australia also has attack helicopters, with more on order. Australia built its own diesel submarines. To stay in the same business, Canada took what amounted to a gift of used British diesel submarines. More embarrassing still, Australian taxpayers saved huge sums of money when its air force and navy recently began recruiting Canadian pilots and naval officers whose expensive training had already been paid for by the Canadian government. Furthermore, since the Canadian government chose not to join the war against Iraq, Canada has been excluded for the first time from the tight intelligence circle that it developed with Washington, London and Canberra nearly 90 years ago — it is another damning indicator of where Canada finds itself in this turbulent new world. Despite decades of neglect by successive Canadian governments, the Royal Canadian Regiment, which is leading Canada’s dangerous Afghan mission, and the Van Doos who will follow them to Kabul next February, will do its duty and do it well. But they deserve far better. Australia shows Canada that a plucky country with limited financial resources can have a military that has teeth, confidence and purpose. © Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen

Departed at 4.00 in the

Departed at 4.00 in the morning heading south on the Pacific Highway to Sydney. Nearly a thousand kilometers of prime real estate. The traffic in Sydney is horrendous, reminding me of why I headed north to live when I retired from the Army. I book into a motel and have a view of Sydney Harbour from my balcony. As more than three million people settle in for the night its a kaleidoscope of colour, lights and movement. The country boy in me wants home. I make a quick call and a couple of friends and I have dinner at Mosman on the north shore. The friends are both ladies, attractive, well groomed and pleasant company. We had become friends as we shared a terrible task of helping a mutual friend meet his maker. Strengths found in diversity are always more apparent and the friendships gained, longer lasting. Life goes on though, and the talk turns to kids and their lives and that is as it should be. When troubled and in mourning for old friends then look to the children. Ive always said listen for the sounds of a baby crying at a funeral it helps to understand the cycle of life and death. On to Wagga Wagga next morning for the gathering of the Pigs. Wagga Wagga is some four hundred km west of Sydney and on the way the land looks great, green with plenty of water on the ground. The drought is over in this part of Australia. Some troops have arrived early and we gather at the bar reminiscing. The reunion actually kicks off tomorrow night with a happy hour meet and greet. There will be some guys from my patrol in Vietnam and I look forward to that. As I said above friendships gained in diversity..

Spoke to my wife on

Spoke to my wife on the phone last night and she was just coping with the heatwave. Back in Brisbane where we know it gets hot, the car, office and house are airconditioned and if you can’t afford some of these luxuries then a trip to the local shopping centre can cool you down. In Europe, I’m led to believe from surfing the net, there is little escape from such extremes. Normally I give little thought to the suffering of Poms but in this case people I know are involved and that makes it different. Ironic isn’t it? Brisbane pushing 20 celcius and raining while London heads for 40. The girls and one boyfriend (G’day Goldie!) went to the local pub for dinner but declined a beer. Remember they serve their beer at room temperature and lager at 35 celcius plus is not a pleasant thought. Ladies, fancy being in London and it’s too hot to shop. I’m happy

I’m off on a trip

I’m off on a trip soon and I’m worried about driving in Melbourne where I could end up on an e-toll expressway without knowing it and without having purchased a ticket from I don’t know where. Little did I know that it’s a lot worse than that. The Melbourne Traffic Nazis have booked a guy for parking in a clearway even though he had the perfect excuse – he was dead at the time! The Traffic Nazi, From Sonnington Council, reportedly approached the car, looked inside and then went around the other side of the vehicle, peered inside again and then started writing out the ticket. Didn’t it occur to the ticket writer that something was amiss. I mean how many times do these people book cars with comatose bodies inside? How about a rap on the window and “Excuse me, are you OK? No. I’m paid to write tickets! I’ve seen some dead bodies in my time and they never look like their just having a nap. There is something different in the way they repose that generally poses the thought – there is something wrong here. And I’m worried about my wife and daughters in London. From the Courier Mail – more>> Update The devastated parents of the man have been hit with a $165.00 towing fee to remove his car from the clearway. Towing company spokesman Mark Adams said charging the fee was a commercial decision and no one was exempt. He continues in the same compassionate vein; ” I don’t know if that makes me callous but I’ve got trucks to run and I’ve got to make a quid,” he said. “It’s a user-pays state these days unfortunately – unfortunately somebody has to pay me.” If I’m in need in Melbourne I must make a note not to call South Suburban Towing Group

This morning Senator Bartlet is

This morning Senator Bartlet is reported as achieving total irrelevancy for the Democratics by insisting Howard should make it unequivocally clear that Australia opposes the death penalty. I’m often heard ranting on about the death penalty myself – how it can lead to mistakes, but in Amrozis’s case I can’t see any room for a mistake. Yep! He did it, now top the bastard and wipe that smile of his face. I don’t hold to this ‘don’t make a martyr of them’ rubbish. I don’t care if the whole ratbag bunch of them naik haji (go on a pilgrimage) every year to the Martyr Cemetries so long as they all know that if they follow them along the same path, it ends on the road to the 72 virgins. What is unequivocally clear, Andrew, my dear chap, is that the ‘Animal’ Amroz is largely responsible for the death of 202 civilians and he should be put in the circumstances where he can’t do it again. In the ground. Organize a ‘Save Amrozi’ party at the bottom of your garden Andrew, and when a few guests turn up, at least we can identify them and put the mark of ‘Idiot’ on their foreheads.

With three of the four

With three of the four Gillett women overseas I fret about their safety and wonder where it’s all heading. Come October they will all be home but the cause of my concern, Muslim terrorism, will still be rampant across the world. From the Australian perspective we need to look long and hard at our near northern neighbour. Long a thorn in our side and the basis of our defence posture, Indonesia appear incapable of handling the Jemaah Islamiah problem and I think that Australia’s intervention, requested or not, needs to be considered. I notice this morning that the Australian Federal Police have been invited to help with the latest atrocity but we will need to do more for self-preservation reasons. The Indonesian Army, well known for winning battles against unarmed civilians and poorly trained militia (the ones they didn’t support) are not helping. While Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahatir Mohommed attacks the West and the Phillipines President Gloria Arroyo dabbles in anti-corruption progammes and fights a rear guard action with young turks in her Army, I can’t really see a coordinated assault against the dark forces of terrorism. It’s going to get worse and what are we going to do? Produce more White Papers based on pre 911 thinking or issue some warning that starts with; If you don’t start sorting out the problem then we will!

Sick of lost archives I

Sick of lost archives I am making the move to Moveable Type. Wish me well as I struggle with the cyber world. Not trained to attack something I can’t see, I should have an interesting time as I learn to cope with a near vertical learning curve.

Wired, has a fascinating article

Wired, has a fascinating article on anti-gravity machines. I picked up this site from Yobbo but find it of sufficient interest to do a post myself on the subject. Reading it, it makes one wonder just how much is there, out in the big world, that is about to change our lives. Maths crunching, the base of most of society’s inventions, becomes easier as computers increase their capabilities. Considering computers are the only man-made invention that are used to create their own next generation, the possibilty of exponential development is huge.

The Prime Minister rules out

The Prime Minister rules out supporting ‘Gay Marriages’ Way to go John. Stick with it. Same sex relationships are just that – relationships. Marriage is between a couple, male and female, for the purpose of procreation and providing a secure base for the next generation. Relationships, including ones legaly defined, certainly don’t need to borrow ‘Marriage’ as a base. Why do a small proportion of society feel a need to change that? Maybe they fight to get ‘alternative’ lifestyles accepted as the norm. Well it isn’t, they aren’t and never will be. This is not an anti-gay post as I’m happy to accept ‘different stroke for different folks’ but hey, us hetro’s thought up marriage – you think up something else.

I took my wife to

I took my wife to Brisbane International Airport this morning to send her on her way to London. Time allocated for check-in and then coffee and last minute instructions on how to live, put out garbage etc. Not to be. A large family in the check-in queue refuse to pay baggage excess. The airline refuse to accept the excess baggage. Impass! For twenty minutes the whole queue is held to ransome and static as these arrogant, tight arse, unable to cope with world standards, bastards, sit tight. The queue fumes and the men of swarthy middle east complexions and women all with scarves over their heads do untold damage to the reputation of their kind. We are left with 12 minutes to say goodbye. By the time I buy coffee I end up finishing the cup by myself as my Bride is summonsed for boarding.
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