Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Poland-Centric and the Deja Vu of Stephen Harper's Deployments

I have no inside information about how decisions get made in Ottawa.  All I know is that when Canada announces NATO-related military deployments, NATO often goes: huh?

In 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper reversed his stance that the only Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan after July 2011 would be embassy guards to committing nine hundred or so soldiers to a three year training mission in Kabul.  The problem was that NATO did not ask for 900 trainers nor have space for 900 trainers in Kabul.  So, the mission became "Kabul-centric," which in practice meant anywhere but Kandahar.

In 2014, Harper announces that 6 CF-18s (Canadian F-18s) will be going to Eastern Europe, with the informal word that they would be headed to Poland.  Well, we just learned that these planes are going to Romania.

In the grand scheme of things, the change of basing does not matter much.  But this pattern does say something--that even when Harper does NATO stuff, he does not coordinate well or does not work the policy.  I do know that the 2010 decision was not so well worked through a normal process as the military was barely consulted.  I do wonder if the more recent announcement had been staffed through the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence so that the basing part was worked out at all.

Again, not so consequential but it is suggestive of a broken decision-making process.  Which might matter when the decisions are bigger.

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