Evidence of meeting #14 for National Defence in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was army.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Thank you very much, General.

I am looking at the engineering side of the army, and I will ask you a question regarding how the army, and specifically the Canadian Forces IED disposal units, has implemented the lessons learned from Afghanistan in their training regime so they will be able to mitigate the threat that IEDs will pose in future missions. It seems to me that these are the next dangerous threats for operations in the Canadian Forces.

Perhaps you can elaborate on how they learned to conduct convoy operations and so on, and on the lessons learned from the experiences we have today in the armed forces.

9:40 a.m.

LGen Peter J. Devlin

Thank you, sir.

The counter improvised explosive device threat is a threat that lives today and I'm sure will live tomorrow. We pay huge attention to that because it kills Canadians and it kills our allies. It kills those whom we work with, like the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police.

We, inside the army, have the lead for the Canadian Forces, and indeed for Canada. We have established a counter-IED task force. We liaise with our whole-of-government partners. A tremendous amount of learning has taken place on the counter-IED front, part of that, to go back to your last question, because of the amount of international cooperation that takes place in dealing with that threat.

We have established a counter-IED squadron as part of our engineering unit in Gagetown, and we insert counter-IED as part of every training event.

I would say, sir, as much as it is to have a capability to counter and to fight improvised explosive devices, it needs to be a vibrant part of our training to keep it alive in the heads of commanders that this threat exists, and that they need to plan and counter that threat in every operation they undertake.

I'd also say that this is a CF challenge, because it's not just something that takes place on the ground. If you look at improvised explosive devices, they can threaten airfields, they can threaten harbours, they can threaten maritime, air, and land operations. It's important that Canada invests in the understanding, the awareness, as well as the capability to be able to counter that threat.

9:40 a.m.

Sgt Maj Gino Moretti

In terms of counter-IED, sir, in Afghanistan the Canadian engineers on the task force were able to find more IEDs within Kandahar than any other nation. At the same time, we had the honour this summer to visit a Colombian army. They are also faced with counter-IED situations in a jungle environment. We were able to share some of the lessons learned together to grow our relationship with these two nations.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you very much.

Mr. Brahmi, please.

November 22nd, 2011 / 9:40 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have a question for the General.

In early September, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of a company by the name of Rheinmetall Canada, which you are well acquainted with, I attended a demonstration of a persistent surveillance system using towers and balloons. I was very impressed by the effectiveness of this system. I would like to know whether you think this is a technology that the army could use in future.

9:40 a.m.

LGen Peter J. Devlin

Thank you for your question.

You are talking about—

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

I'm talking about the persistent surveillance system.

9:40 a.m.

LGen Peter J. Devlin

Yes, right. We are now using that technology with towers and balloons in Afghanistan. It has incredible capabilities.

--day/night, dawn/dusk--to be able to identify the threat and to be able to synchronize a response. Balloons are a very valuable, precious enabler, one of those enablers that has been institutionalized inside the army because of the benefit that it brings to force protection, to looking after our camps, our airfields, our harbours of tomorrow.

There is no doubt in my mind that on our next deployment, we will have towers and balloons with the capability of responding to a threat.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you.

As regards the current generation of LAVs, you stated that this vehicle is at the heart of what the land forces do.

You said that you think we have the best in the world fighting that vehicle.

Given your extensive experience on the ground, I would like you to tell me what objective information you rely on to assert that the Canadian army is the best in the world when it comes to using that piece of tactical equipment. What other armies are you comparing yourself to?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Peter J. Devlin

Thank you.

As I'm sure you know, I am incredibly proud of Canadian soldiers. The LAV III is a fantastic vehicle.

It provides a rare level of protection. It provides good firepower and good mobility. The upgraded LAV III will have more protection, a stronger drivetrain, and a standardized turret that provides soldiers with a level of awareness as well as firepower.

When I talked about the Canadian soldier being the best in the world at fighting the LAV, there are other variants of the LAV. The Americans have what they call a Stryker, which does not have a turret on it. I think the flexibility that comes with a turret is marvellous in terms of the optics that are part of that turret, as well as the firepower that comes from that cannon.

I think it provides protection. I think that how we manoeuvre it, how we exploit the goodness that comes from that LAV, is what sets Canadians and Canadian soldiers apart from others.

It is a combination of the Canadian variant of the LAV III and the skill of the Canadian soldier in being able to exploit the vehicle that, in my view, makes us the best in the world at fighting a very good piece of equipment.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Mr. Moretti.

9:45 a.m.

Sgt Maj Gino Moretti

If I may, sir,

I would like to add one comment. The LAV, or light armoured vehicle, gives our soldiers confidence when they find themselves in a situation where they are unfamiliar with the environment, or when they don't know what is on the other side of the road or behind a building. When they have that confidence, they can carry out their task.

and overcome his fear, because it takes courage to overcome the fear at that moment in time, and when you hear the LAV shooting or the platform being used, that gives you the reassurance and the capability you need to accomplish the mission.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you.

My last question relates to your philosophy. You stated at the outset that there is a difference between Lieutenant-General Leslie's philosophy and your own when it comes to separating the reserve force and the regular force. How do you explain that? Is it a question of generation? Has the doctrine changed recently?

9:45 a.m.

LGen Peter J. Devlin

I am not sure I understood your question.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

You say that you don't share Lieutenant-General Leslie's opinion regarding the need to separate the reserve force and the regular force. On the contrary, you think the reserve force should remain fully integrated with the regular force.

Is that the result of a change in doctrine?