20 July 2007

De Trenton a Bagotville?

During the last federal election future defence minister Gordo promised battalions for everyone.

In Bagotville Quebec on Friday, he delivered a new air force wing. Not exactly a rapid reaction army battalion, as originally promised but something new.

The official National Defence news release makes it sound like a bit of an odd creature comprising air force personnel that would deploy in a humanitarian crisis. Even the defence minister's speaking notes are vague on the nature of the new organization, which he termed an air expeditionary wing. It will apparently consist of aircraft of an unspecified type along with army personnel, mostly medical and logistics from the sound of it. O'Connor said that Canada's allies are creating this type of organization.

Well, sort of, Gordo.

The American air force uses air expeditionary wings but primarily as collections of air force squadrons to support joint military operations. They aren't self-contained entities with attached soldiers and sailors. They also aren't necessarily permanent organizations. They are pulled together for the mission.

What this Canadian air wing sounds like is a headquarters apparatus that will have aircraft attached to it for mission purposes, while the aircraft will be located somewhere else. The Canadian Forces have been down that road before.

But what about the "battalion" promised to Trenton? Check this story from the Belleville Intelligencer, dated in late June:
"We're trying to acquire land at this moment," he said. "We have to wait and see whether we're successful in acquiring the land.

"I want to resolve the land issue first. If and when we acquire that land, then we can announce what we're proposing to do."

One rumour circulating locally reports the government may move the airborne project to CFB Bagotville, Que., should the Trenton deal fail. When asked for comment on the rumour, O'Connor expressed confidence in the land talks.
Did the Trenton land deal fail that quickly?

Meanwhile, the people in Goose Bay are wondering when Gordo will be heading to their town to deliver on his election pork promises.