July 5, 2006:
Canada, which has cut corners on military procurement for over a decade, is now spending over $15 billion to improve its transportation and logistical capabilities. Most of the new money will go to replacing aging transport helicopters, and buying two logistical support ships, 21 transport aircraft and 2,300 trucks. Canada's defense spending, like everyone else's, shrunk after the Cold War ended in 1991. For Canada, their lowest annual defense budget was $8.4 billion in 1998. Per capita, that was less than a third of what the United States was spending. At that point, spending began to increase in the face of a growing number of media stories on how Canadian troops were struggling with worn out, inoperable or unavailable weapons and equipment. The new government, elected last January, got into office partially on its pledge to finally address all the material shortcomings in the military. Canada's current defense budget is $18.4 billion. This is still less than half of what the United States spends, per capita. But during the Cold War, Canada deferred to the United States in most defense matters, including dealing with nuclear weapons threats, and protecting North America from foreign attack. While Canada outspent the United States, per capita, during both World Wars, this was reversed after World War II, when America became the main participant in containing the Soviet Union.
While Canada has no military threats at home, it is an active contributor to peacekeeping missions. This sort of thing requires a lot of logistics. You've got to move the peacekeeping troops to distant locations, and then supply them. To date, Canada has been relying a lot on leased civilian transport. But this has caused some problems (of control and reliability). Giving the military more transport resources solves this problem.