News   May 30, 2024
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News   May 30, 2024
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News   May 30, 2024
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Canada and the World

There are a number of ways to assess income, including leveling it in USD, adjusting it for cost-of-living, etc, but by pretty much any measure, CAF personnel are not underpaid in comparison to their peers around the world. There are a number of reasons they have a recruiting and retention problem.

Correct. We are not underpaid. Most of our recruiting and retention issues stem from quality of life considerations. Those can be economic problems that could possibly count as underpayment. Hard to say. I am paid well as a military officer. But every time I move, my wife has to look for a new job and she loses seniority. But the military only looks at how much I should get paid for my skills and competencies. So eventually, when I decide that my wife needs stability and its her turn to get ahead, the military will lose out on the million bucks they've spent on my training and education.

A year into COVID, I got a call from a young fighter pilot I mentored in Toronto, when he was on a break waiting for training. He was just reaching the highest combat readiness and was putting in his release. It costs about $10M and 8-10 years to get him where he was. Why was he getting out? He was bored of living in Cold Lake and saw no prospects for a decent family life. And working on an aging and decrepit airframe was simply adding rubbing salt in the wound. I am sure Air Canada was grateful for the subsidy we provided with training that young man.

You could easily gobble up several billion, but employ a lot of local trades, simply but replacing on-base housing and a lot of local armouries. Most of the housing dates from the 1950s and many of the armouries, while perhaps fine historic buildings, are no longer suitable for their tenants.

Forget just replacing on-base housing. There's a year (or more) long waiting list at some bases for housing. And given the housing crisis, this is a major problem. This is arguably where more pay might help. But it's getting to the point that it might be an actual security threat:

 
On the broader subject of funding, I think the Federal government needs to pair an increase in military spending with some expenditures that both desirable and sell-able to those less enthused about such spending.

I am not going to answer to how I think this should be sold to the public. That's a much broader question. But I think your sentiment I here is useful to explain how Americans feel and why they are becoming isolationist.

Imagine, living in the US and watching your military constantly called on for help. Everything from natural disasters to military aid. Now imagine it's all those European countries (and Canada) that are always bragging about their social services and healthcare and vacations, that now want you to donate hundreds of billions in military aid to Ukraine, do deter and save them from the Russians who are on their doorstep. And worse, these supposed allies also want access to the large American market. They get to sell cars and airplanes and tools in the US competing with American workers.

Americans are very likely to be ignorant of the the benefits that pax Americana brings them. But from their perspective, this isn't likely to look fair, when they have worse social benefits at home:

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Given that our Western way of life is substantially dependent on the American security umbrella, aside from asking how we are going to sell higher defence spending to our own public, we may well have to start asking ourselves how we convince the average American voter to keep this arrangement going.
 
Correct. We are not underpaid. Most of our recruiting and retention issues stem from quality of life considerations. Those can be economic problems that could possibly count as underpayment. Hard to say. I am paid well as a military officer. But every time I move, my wife has to look for a new job and she loses seniority. But the military only looks at how much I should get paid for my skills and competencies. So eventually, when I decide that my wife needs stability and its her turn to get ahead, the military will lose out on the million bucks they've spent on my training and education.

A year into COVID, I got a call from a young fighter pilot I mentored in Toronto, when he was on a break waiting for training. He was just reaching the highest combat readiness and was putting in his release. It costs about $10M and 8-10 years to get him where he was. Why was he getting out? He was bored of living in Cold Lake and saw no prospects for a decent family life. And working on an aging and decrepit airframe was simply adding rubbing salt in the wound. I am sure Air Canada was grateful for the subsidy we provided with training that young man.
But how do our allies deal with their versions of similar situations? I realize Cold Lake is Cold Lake, but USAF has their Fairbanks and Minots and the RAF their Lossiemouths.

To hear some, all of our military should be concentrated in large cities because that's where the potential recruiting age generation wants to live, and to a subset of that, "large city" is defined as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver; everything else is too small, too remote and too provincial.
 
Are the trades not booked and blessed right now? Would imagine they'd need to do something about the number of new tradespeople in conjunction to make it work. Maybe make part of military training one of the trades?
A lot would depend on the local building situation. Some areas might not be as over-committed as around the GTA. It would also depend on how contracts are awarded. For a large enough contract, a large winning bidder could bring in crews from all over.

Construction Engineering and the allied building trades exist in the CAF but not in large numbers, and those that do exist still have to be part of CAF operations and training to be prepared to support deployments, etc. (think overseas disaster recovery missions). The CAF shouldn't be a domestic construction company.

In many areas, the CAF over the years have driven a lot of their 'tail' support capabilities out to the general economy, which I think was a mistake, but budgets will do that (and my opinion mean nada).
 
But how do our allies deal with their versions of similar situations? I realize Cold Lake is Cold Lake, but USAF has their Fairbanks and Minots and the RAF their Lossiemouths.

By rotating personnel. We don't have that option in Canada. We have one primarily English and one primarily French fighter base. Each of them 2-3 hrs from a major city. So there are very limited posting options. In the examples you gave, you know going in that it's only going to be 2-4 years that you have to put with, and you'll get a much better posting after.

To hear some, all of our military should be concentrated in large cities because that's where the potential recruiting age generation wants to live, and to a subset of that, "large city" is defined as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver; everything else is too small, too remote and too provincial.

A lot of capability is being moved to Ottawa or places not far, like Trenton, Kingston, Mirabel, Petawawa.

It doesn't have to be TMV. But it's hard to have good services, family support and spousal employment in towns of 20k. It was fine to use military spending to boost rural economies in the past, when urbanization was lower. We're reaching the limits of this strategy.
 
By rotating personnel. We don't have that option in Canada. We have one primarily English and one primarily French fighter base. Each of them 2-3 hrs from a major city. So there are very limited posting options. In the examples you gave, you know going in that it's only going to be 2-4 years that you have to put with, and you'll get a much better posting after.



A lot of capability is being moved to Ottawa or places not far, like Trenton, Kingston, Mirabel, Petawawa.

It doesn't have to be TMV. But it's hard to have good services, family support and spousal employment in towns of 20k. It was fine to use military spending to boost rural economies in the past, when urbanization was lower. We're reaching the limits of this strategy.
Not only urbanization, but spousal employment wasn't as big a factor in years past and, even when it was was, it was more in terms of a job for added income than it was another career. If the spouse wanted/had to work, the local grocery store or bank was often sufficient.

Concentrating into larger centres has a cost-of-living impact. The RCN is particularly limited, but at least the two coastal ports are large centres. The big problem is the army. It has been argued that personnel can be based near cities and transported to training areas for exercises. Depending on the distances, that could require airfields and more airlift. Vehicles, particularly armour are not easily transported back and forth, so if you leave them in the training area, maintainers, etc. have to be posted there. If you contract that out, you loose that deployable skill.

The OPP, RCMP and I assume the SQ face the same issues, but it is harder to centralize front line services.

Another difference, if I understand the US system correctly, is their military medical service will look after the whole family, whereas here, CAF medical is only for the member so the family is always on the hunt for a new doctor, and we know how productive that is, particularly in smaller communities.
 
Another difference, if I understand the US system correctly, is their military medical service will look after the whole family, whereas here, CAF medical is only for the member so the family is always on the hunt for a new doctor, and we know how productive that is, particularly in smaller communities.

Yep. My family was better taken care of, as a foreign military member on exchange in the US, than here in Canada. On-base daycare was high quality and waitlist was only 2-3 months with fees geared to income (that was half of what we pay in Canada). My wife got help looking for work. And we had access to both on-base medical care or private care using CAF insurance (we opted for this).

In Canada, our daycare charged more and fed the kid less. We got a list of doctors that might accept new patients and were told to go looking. And my wife got nothing substantial to help look for work. If we move we get to do all of that again (minus the daycare).

Daycare, housing costs and spousal employment are the three biggest quality of life problems for families. And most of that is usually worse in a smaller community. Remoteness is a major problem for singles for their social well-being.
 
We need Pillar 2 for our economy. We won't be able to maintain our advantages in domains like AI, if we're not part of the premier research sharing deal on such topics.
 
The crazy part is that meeting the 20% target at least wouldn't actually take that much. It's about $2-2.5B in a federal budget pushing $450B. And spending some of that on R&D counts too. Would basically boost spending to about 1.41% of GDP. That wouldn't result in a growth of the CAF. But it would end rust out and at least make the military that is there far more relevant and useful.
 
I think we really should start talking about how we would deal with an isolationist US. Or even possibly an aggressive US. For example, what if they decided they are going to simply sail icebreakers through the Northwest passage.
One good bit of news from my friend at Davie Shipbuilding, we're getting new ice breakers.

 
Already underway.
Supposedly a second one has been delivered.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_CC-330_Husky#Development
The different names can get a little confusing. It's an Airbus A330. Then MRTT when converted for military use. Then Canada has its own designation, CC-330 Husky.
 

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