Friday, June 20, 2014

US Invasion of Canada: Arrogance or Irrelevant

Fun news this week: the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said that the US had no war plans for invading Canada. The context was that the military has plans for pretty much any possibility... except that one.

This raises a question:

Is the plan-lessness due to good relations with Canada with no foreseeable desire to invade it despite its plentiful oil (tar sands), fresh water, and moose? Or there is no need for a plan since the Americans are cocky about how easy it would be to invade?

I am not sure Canadians who fear the behemoth to the south are assured by the lack of a plan.  The US has invaded other countries without a decent plan (Iraq), so that is not so much of a deterrent.  On the other hand, I doubt that the US has enough cold weather gear to supply an entire occupation force (for some reason, the white camouflage uniforms also seem pretty neat).  

My neighbor cited the location of Fort Drum as an indicator of American readiness to launch an attack.  Fort Lewis is kind of north, too.  So, the US could move towards Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal pretty easily.  To be clear, Montreal's broken bridges may keep any invasion force on the other side of the river--I would not chance it sending over armored vehicles--which may explain why Quebec and Canada under-invest in maintenance of these bridges.

The lack of major army bases across the middle of the US suggests that the US would have a harder time with a surprise attack taking the middle of Canada.  There can be no lightning strike to seize the tar sands.  This would have to be done by airborne forces.   Given how thinly populated northern Alberta is, one airborne division (which is all the US has now, apparently) is probably sufficient.

So, the US military does not really need a plan.  We can just spitball it.  On the other hand, as we learned elsewhere, the plan for the occupation would have to be worked out since sticking around is far harder than invading.  Quelling a restive Canadian population might be difficult unless we can find some way to lose the next few USA-Canada hockey matches (men's and women's) as well as soccer (women's) and perhaps relocate a few NHL franchises back to where the belong. 

Does a blog post count as a plan?

21 comments:

Vladimir said...

A simple question for someone who studies civil-military relations and Nato: If the circumstance arose (whatever you think they are) that would make the U.S. contemplate invading Canada, isn't the more likely policy outcome a coup by the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force - (Soon to be) brought to you by Lockheed Martin?

Alex Usher said...

Man years ago I had the good fortune to read Canada's plan to invade the United States - Defence Plan # 1, which was in force (IIRC) from 1920 to 1929. Basically, the thinking was that there were no enemies in either Asia or Europe capable of attacking us, so what we needed to prepare for was a possible US vs. British Empire war. And, following the lesson learned in WWI, if you were going to fight trench warfare, better to attack first and do it on the other guys' territory. Originals are in National Archives. Good precis here: http://www.taoyue.com/stacks/articles/defence-scheme-one.html

Steve Saideman said...

Vladimir,
I would not worry about a coup. Yes, the Canadian Forces are close to the US, but they are also fiercely patriotic/nationalist. So, they would not side with outsiders to overthrow the civilian government. The only thing more unimaginable than a US invasion is a Canadian coup.

Alex,
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

we would so kick your asses and make no as it is impossible to make changes with a bipartisan
government

blogger1 said...

changes dammit

sciophobiaranger said...

The US has more than one Airborne divisions. Have you forgotten the 101st and 82nd? And many parts of the Army are airborne such as the Rangers.

sciophobiaranger said...

And no we wouldn't invade Canada :P Unless Kim Jong Un magically took over Canada or some other despot.

Anonymous said...

Canada was founded specifically to keep Americans out (literally this was the main reason for Confederation), thanks to a little plan called Manifest Destiny. Although, we like and appreciate our American neighboursthsat attitude has changed little. Our cultural and political values are completely different, and most of us aren't inclined to adopt an American system. For that reason, I don't think we have to worry about the Mounties jumping ship and supporting an American coup.

Plus, have you ever heard the expression 'never invade Russia in winter?' The principle is the same here...

Steve Saideman said...

Sciopho:
As I understand it, the 82nd is no longer going to be qualifying as airborne. I have read multiple pieces indicating that, but I could be wrong.

I have never believed the US would invade. I was just making fun of the Dempsey news.

Anonymous said...

They could pass the illegals from central America
through the US and over the northern border. With
our lax immigration policies thet wouldn't be sent
back. Most of them would replace Temporary Foreign
Workers and be given jobs in Tim Hortons.

Anonymous said...

I had always thought President Obama wanted to invade Canada, capture your greatest national treasure (universal health insurance) , and bring it to the USA.
_Peter

Dave Huntingford said...

http://books.google.ca/books/about/Exxoneration.html?id=3VAjPwAACAAJ&redir_esc=y

Very good read authored by a Cdn General.

RkBall said...

US Canadian Invasion Body Snatchers-style: American infiltrators learn how to say oot and aboot and eh; hang out at Tim Hortons and order vinegar with their French fries.

Anonymous said...

Canadian here. I'm very curious as to where Americans have gotten the wild idea that we Canadians pronounce "about" as "aboot", or that we say "eh" practically after every sentence. As far as I know, no Canadian whatsoever does that :S

And @RkBall, vinegar on french fries sounds absolutely disgusting. Pretty rare for a Canadian to do that I'd say. Ever heard of poutine? That's what we do :D

Anonymous said...

Vinegar on french fries is pretty rare? Really? I don't think so. I also think it might be an English (as is from England - not necessarily Anglo) thing.

Anonymous said...

How about an amicable swap? You give us Alberta, Manitoba, and that S one I can't spell, and you guys can have all of New England PLUS New Jersey. That's right, New Jersey! You just cannot pass that up...

Anonymous said...

As one, of many Canadians, imbedded legally for years in America, I have assimilated flawlessly.One day,(as we have bred many Canadian/American dual citizens) we will simply admit to being Canadian and inform America that it is now Canada South. Brits put malt vinegar on chips (French fries) all the time, by the way. Some Canadians do too. And I have never said "eh" in my life. I removed the "aboot" pronunciation from my accent years ago - to better blend in with the unsuspecting Americans :) Oh, and every hear of the War of 1812? Canadians (ok we were still Brits then) burned the White House - which is why it's painted white, btw, to cover up the smoke damage. America had annexation of Canada ideas then, didn't work so well. LEARN from history people!

Anonymous said...

New England would be nice, thanks, but we would only really want Florida. In fact, it would be just fine to have an exclusive lease to it for 6 months of the year... and we really ought to offer Quebec, so that the long-lost Cajuns coule reconnetc...

Jeremy Williams said...

Interesting question.

Answer depends on how the Canadian population responds. New immigrants would not fight as generally they are here for economic reasons and would not care if they were in the US. Still leaves about 29 million Canadians able to support a resistance.

US could take the major centers easily, of course. But whether they could hold it would depend entirely on the motivations of civilians population and partisan resistance. A determined resistance would be difficult to destroy, and, the training and quality equal if not superior to US. Tactical nukes and satellites, however, would work well. But international reactions would be key, too. A crazy bolt from the blue in 2014 would leave a very isolated United States, a fearful world, and massive economic costs to them. In the end, doubt they could hold much of the cold land mass for long.

Anonymous said...

You could roll tanks down Yonge street in an hour or so of crossing the border., but you'd find that trying to quell areas north of the Canadian shiield a bit harder... Natives (who may have been screwed by Canada a few times but nowhere near what the US did to them) and Don Cherry worshipping rednecks would make Vietnam et al seem like teddy bear picnics.... There's over ten million guns in Canada....

Anonymous said...

I get the humor in the article but wonder about a few of the commenters here. Pardon the somewhat childish anthropomorphism but for most here in the States, Canada is considered our brother: absolutely independent and capable on his own, the quiet professional of the bunch really, but in every respect a member of the family (and if you're searching for a matriarch/patriarch in this metaphor, i guess it would be independence/freedom). My guess is that this question caught Dempsey a little off-guard as no one in the US military I served in ever thought of Canada and Canadians as anything less than our closest ally. Personally, I envision a future of increasing interaction that spreads north and south and eventually ties North and South America into a safe and productive bloc formed of sovereign allies who may not agree 100% but do agree on the fundamentals that result in a good international society...but I am mindful of and respect the fact that Canada will always choose it's own path.