I was relieved when Obama sent early a Brigade Combat Team, which meant not only that the US commitment to Poland was covered, but here would be spare troops to wander around the rest of the Baltics. The Germans have arrived. I have not seen any reporting about the British, so Canada has been either the slowest "Framework Nation" or the second slowest. Because this Liberal government tends to be slow in everything it does (the joy of cabinet government), I assumed it was mostly that.
But when I had the opportunity to ask CDS General Jon Vance at the big CDAI conference on Defence and Security, I grabbed (see here at 40:50). I was less obnoxious or provocative than I was yesterday (I got many kudos for pushing back at panelists who suggested that Trump was not abnormal), but Vance called my question pejorative anyway--"why so slow?"
His answer was many reasons:
- We are not slow--we are moving at a rate that we told NATO and they didn't complain.
- We need to get the area prepared
- We need to get ready for Russian cyber/signals challenges
- We have the most multinational unit, which means things take longer
- Germans are closer so it was easier for them to get there.
The one I really buy, thanks to my biases, is number 4. Canada has the smallest deployment of the framework nations (420 or so), which means it needs more partners. Canada (either because it was slow--my previous belief--or because countries didn't want to operate in Latvia--see below) got the least reliable partners. The Danes and Norwegians, for instance, went elsewhere. Canada has as partners Albania, Italy, Poland, and Slovenia. Poland proved willing to serve in dangerous parts of Afghanistan (although their troops lacked the kind of benefits that would encourage going outside the wire--don't know if that has changed). Italy did lead in RC West in Afghanistan and has much multilateral experience elsewhere, but always with pretty tight restrictions. Albania and Slovenia? Hmmm.
Vance cannot say critical things of allies, but I can (tenure has been very, very good to me). It turns out that it might not be the allies that are going, but the ally that is receiving. I heard at the conference during coffee break that Latvia is a challenging ally to help out. That they were thinking Canada would be in the Latvian chain of command. No. NO. So, working that relationship out AND building the infrastructure (Latvia is apparently less ready to receive troops than others) takes time. So, I will stop being a good South Parkian--blame Canada, and focus elsewhere.
Overall, Vance did give an interesting talk, answered the Q's quite well. I didn't mean to jerk his chain, but was glad to get an answer to something I have been puzzling about for a while.