OTTAWA—The military is hunting for seven strategically placed nations willing to host a network of Canadian bases aimed at cutting costs and boosting response times to future wars, disasters and humanitarian crises.
Two of those bases — in Germany and Kuwait — have already materialized, but the full extent of the plan to create overseas beachheads for military planes, ships and equipment has not been previously acknowledged.
Defence officials and diplomats, armed with a $500,000 budget, are now working to finalize agreements with governments in some of the most volatile parts of the world.
When the collection of operational support hubs is complete, Canada’s military will also have a permanent footprint in the Latin America and Caribbean region, on both sides of the African continent, in the swath of countries marked by the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as in Southeast Asia.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said last week that Canada is actively seeking a deal to set up one of those hubs in Singapore.
The bases will form dots along the line of what military planners refer to as the Arc of Instability — the parts of the world where future conflicts are deemed most likely to occur.
“It is expected that hubs will be capable of supporting a wide variety of operations including combat missions, peace support operations, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and non-combat evacuation,” says a briefing note prepared last year for the Canadian Forces’ senior commanders.
Operations like the Afghan war or the seven-month bombing campaign in Libya would mean an even greater expansion of the base to hold and process hundreds or even thousands of military personnel and their equipment. The agreement with Kuwait allows for up to 3,000 Canadian troops to enter the country.
The German hub at the Cologne-Bonn International Airport was established earlier this year following the military’s expulsion from Camp Mirage in the United Arab Emirates. Before that, about 100 Canadian military personnel were based in Spangdahlem, 150 kilometres south of Cologne, since April 2009.
But the request to help Canada launch low-cost, quick-reaction military missions has not won over everyone. After the deal to operate out of the Cologne airport was announced in February, the local mayor complained that he was never consulted and said the added noise of military aircraft in the skies above his city would be unwelcome.
“The team also stressed that no plans exist for Canadian actions in East Africa that would require the activation of a hub.”
An unnamed West African government that was approached about hosting a hub had the opposite reaction, seeing the potential to tap into Canadian military expertise with joint exercises, training and operations. Kerr recommended warships and aircraft visit the country to “demonstrate our interest and resolve.”
This just isn't cool. Canada has bases in Kuwait and Germany now?
I have mixed feeling about this. On the other hand, it's kind of nice to be more of a superpower, but I'd rather we didn't.
How likely are these extra bases likely to be realized?
This is really getting on my nerves.
Kuwait has only two neighbors: Iraq and Saudi Arabia. I do not trust any politician when they say a military base is for humanitarian reasons, especially when that base is in the middle east, and especially when the politicians are 'conservatives' who seem keen on wars. We're leaving Afghanistan, no? Surely we can find other ways to get where we need to be without a base in the middle east, which is highly likely to lead to resentment of Canadians in that area...and let's be honest, is most likely so we can participate in whatever US-led wars are going on in the area. Not that I don't trust 'conservative' politicians or anything.
I don't want bases in Africa, either.
I don't want Canada to be isolationist.
I am mourning my youth.