I find Rudmin's article, "Bordering on Aggression" (PEACE, March/April 1993) hard to take seriously. That is not to say that it merits only ridicule; rather, it exemplifies the entirely different experience, and thus perspectives, I have had of the U.S. Government and of its armed forces than has the author. Mine is one of working closely as allies, his has clearly led him to be suspicious of U.S. motives. I have certainly experienced the frustrations of a smaller nation enjoying less understanding and less attention from its larger neighbor than it would wish. I have also encountered, in the vast majority of senior U.S. military personnel, a respect for Canadian identity and for unique Canadian sovereignty concerns that identifies a close friend, not a potential enemy. To me, therefore, the article is a contrived piece, taking selected factual snippets and juxtaposing them in such away as to produce fiction. In some cases the "facts" are simply wrong.
I find it paradoxical that the author should place such emphasis on capabilities rather than intentions. This, of course, is what we in uniform were so often criticized for in the recent past, in our assessments of the threat from the Warsaw Treaty bloc. There is, however, a world of difference between our ability to discern the intentions of those closed societies and those of the United States, which could hardly be more open. According to his logic, including his emphasis on history, the British fleet at Portsmouth and Devonport still threatens France and the French army at Strasbourg is defending against the successors of the princes of Bavaria. The EEC, like NATO, NORAD, and the rest, becomes a mere aberration in the inexorable continuance of hostility among neighbors.
Let me pick just one glaring example of the distortions in this article. The author states, of the 50th Armored Division, "Though a reserve unit, which would require a day or more to activate, the heavy equipment and the integrated command are ready and in place at Fort Drum."
He would do well to research the U.S. Army's National Guard. One would be fortunate to assemble the personnel in less than a week, to train to employ them at anything above the battalion level would require at least six months (the Gulf War provides ample evidence) and the so-called "integrated command" is unlikely to have worked together or have had any practical experience of commanding such forces in other than paper exercises.
It is not enough simply to use military terms; one must know what they actually mean. Centres for urban warfare training, for example, are essential for infantry training and do not imply a threat against the nearest urban centre. Likewise, the foul winter weather of Fort Drum makes it an excellent area to train for operations in foul winter weather, which exists in many parts of the world. It is not surprising that the best area for the U.S. Army to do such training is close to the Canadian border.
Our own public would consider us negligent if we did not prepare for a wide variety of contingencies. How about Bosnia in the middle of winter, for example? I can recall flying over Fort Drum in a joint exercise 15 years ago. A U.S. Army Division from North Carolina was exercising there in the middle of February, in exactly the conditions described by the author. They were totally unprepared, with dark brown tents and equipment which one could see for miles from the air, with helicopters that could not fly because they had no skis, with insufficient snowshoes for the infantry, etc. The U.S. Army does not have to be on one's doorstep to invade, as has been amply demonstrated on many occasions. To suggest that they endure the foul winter weather of Fort Drum so they can drive into Canada is, to a military mind, naive.
Lieutenant-General David Huddleston, CMM, MSC, CD, Westwin, Manitoba
Lt. Gen. Huddleston's comments on Bordering on Aggression well illustrate military thinking and its naïveté. He correctly identifies his career of cooperation and camaraderie with U.S military officers as the source of his own judgment. But the friendship of individual U.S. military officers is not a reliable basis upon which to judge U.S. strategic interests and intentions.
Military preparations should be judged in the first instance by capabilities since intentions are unknown, can be misrepresented or mis-interpreted, and can be rapidly changed. If intentions are to be judged, then the historical record is most important since there we can find inside statements of intentions, declassified and stripped of secrecy. The documented record from 1880 to 1940 of U.S. preparations to attack Canada is not something to be dismissed as factual snippets. It proves that U.S. military intentions towards Canada are not publicly discernible. It proves the U.S. is capable of hostile planning during periods of good relations, military alliance, and trust. And this is not ancient history.
Lt. Gen. Huddleston's analogy that some British bases are to France what Fort Drum is to Canada, is another among many false analogies that have come from military supporters for Fort Drum. England is not 10 times the size of France. English journalists and political advisors have not been calling for the annexation of France. Portsmouth was not first built or later expanded during periods of peace and alliance with France for the purpose of attacking France. Portsmouth has not been expanded as the largest project since World War II while other bases are being closed. Portsmouth naval base is not analogous to Fort Drum, and if it were, France would have justified concern.
Another false analogy is to equate the Gulf War reserve call-up to internal U.S. reserve call-ups. For the Gulf War, six months were needed because armored vehicles were shipped thousands of miles, elaborate logistics were arranged, equipment and training were modified for a new climate and terrain, and command was integrated with half a million other troops, many of them foreign. None of that would apply to the 50th Armored Division getting to Fort Drum.
The fully referenced book Bordering on Aggression would answer other of Lt. Gen. Huddleston's comments. General Howard Stone, U.S. commander in Europe, testified to the U.S. Senate that be doubts the suitability of Fort Drum's light infantry for European war. They are not alpine troops and lack the sustained firepower and logistics for war in Bosnia. It is not my naïveté but the Armed Forces Journal International that concludes: "Training Army soldiers in the cold weather clime of upstate New York only to have them sent off to much warmer combat areas is a waste of time money, and perhaps even lives."
Floyd Rudmin, Kingston, Ontario