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24 avril 2012 2 24 /04 /avril /2012 12:30



April 23, 2012. By BGen (retired) R.P.(Pep) Fraser Defence Watch Guest Writer


The Canadian decision to pullout of NATO AWACS makes no sense from an operational or from a political perspective. Even from an economic perspective, the decision is questionable, because there will be very high withdrawal costs, which are yet to be negotiated in accordance with the terms of the NATO AWACS Program’s Operations & Support Memorandum of Understanding. (O&S MOU).


These cost will likely be in the millions of dollars and put into question the cost savings claimed by the government.


The NATO AWACS fleet recently played a major role in the NATO Libyan Operations and provided essential surveillance and control capability needed and used by Canada’s CF18s. The NATO AWACS capability will continue to be required by Canada, but after withdrawal from the Program, Canada will essentially become a freeloader to satisfy this requirement. From an operational perspective, withdrawal from the AWACS Program makes no sense.


The NATO AWACS Program has been touted by successive NATO Secretary Generals as one of the best examples of NATO’s Solidarity and Cooperation.


Canada’s withdrawal from the Program defies political logic, because it clearly demonstrates Canada’s lack of solidarity and commitment to pay a fair share of common defence costs. Canadian credibility as a reliable, responsible NATO Alliance partner has surely been damaged by the AWACS decision.


Although the NATO partners are too polite to openly criticize the Canadian decision, there will undoubtedly be a future economic and political price to pay. The Americans and Germans are really irritated by the Canadian decision. From a political perspective, withdrawal from the AWACS Program makes no sense.


The above being said, it is not too late for Canada to reverse its decision to withdraw from the NATO AWACS Program and I most highly recommend that Prime Minister Harper and Defence Minister MacKay reconsider the Canadian decision.


BGen (retired) R.P.(Pep) Fraser, OMM, CD is the Former Chief of the Implementation Division NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Program Management Agency (NAPMA)

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