MAKICHUK: Would you die for your country?

A US Army Ranger prepares for manoeuvres.
A US Army Ranger prepares for manoeuvres.US Army photo

My buddy Santino did two tours in Vietnam. He was a tunnel rat, one of those guys with a pistol in his hand and not much else, squeezing his small frame through even smaller tunnels, going after Viet Cong.

Santino volunteered, both times. He was never drafted. Unlike most soldiers of the day, he said he liked Vietnam and its people. He said it was a beautiful country. He even showed me the pictures of the people he met and liked.

I once asked him why? Why did you volunteer? He just said, "It was the right thing to do."

And his reward for being loyal to his country? Medical issues down the road from Agent Orange and the horrors of the VA.

So here we are, decades later. An evil dictator named Vladimir Putin, is attacking Ukraine and may next go after the weaker Baltic nations and perhaps the Scandinavian countries.

Why? Because he knows the West is weak, that's why. We have grown soft. We are paper tigers. Too comfortable in our beds, too unappreciative of those who died to give us freedom.

Not only that, but the number of men and women lining up to serve, has grown thinner and thinner. It's no surprise that some countries are reconsidering an old solution: mandatory military service for young people (or young men), often for school-leavers.

The defence of the North is growing in importance.
The defence of the North is growing in importance.US Army photo

It already exists in some countries. South Korea, for example. Every South Korean male is required to complete military service once he turns 18 years old — even if you're rich and famous, like K-Pop singers belonging to BTS, J-Hope, SUGA and Lee Do Hyun.

Other countries are thinking of bringing back conscription.

Recently, General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of the British Army, claimed the UK needed a citizen army to fight a future war against Russia, stirring up a major controversy. Speaking at a military conference, Sanders starkly described the British people as part of a “prewar generation” who may have to prepare themselves to fight.

The chief of general staff highlighted the example of Sweden, which has just reintroduced a form of national service as it closes in on joining NATO.

During the speech in London, the army chief said the UK needed to broadly follow Stockholm’s example and take “preparatory steps to enable placing our societies on a war footing.”

Such action was “not merely desirable, but essential,” he added.

The foundations for “national mobilization” could not be confined to countries neighbouring or close to Russia and as a result ordinary people in the UK would be forced to join the UK’s 74,110 full-time regular army to see off an active threat to mainland Europe.

He said: “We will not be immune and as the prewar generation we must similarly prepare — and that is a whole-of-nation undertaking. Ukraine brutally illustrates that regular armies start wars; citizen armies win them.”

The comments were immediately dismissed by 10 Downing St.

Other nations are using different inducements, such as The Netherlands.

The Dienjaar (service-year) is a new programme that lets young Dutch sign up for a year-long trial in the armed forces rather than the regular four-year enlistment term, The Economist reported.

Canada's pilot shortage and lack of retention could affect the F-35 transition.
Canada's pilot shortage and lack of retention could affect the F-35 transition.Skies Magazine

The programme is a success, drawing three applicants for each spot and the government plans to scale it up from 625 to 1,000 trainees next year.

Meanwhile, America's two largest armed forces are struggling to woo prospective troops.

The Army brought in almost 6,100 new soldiers between October 1 and December 31 2023, falling short at 74% of its first-quarter goal, according to the Department of Defence.

The Navy fared worse at about 5,400 new sailors, or 65% of its own target.

Canada is much worse, of course. Way worse.

At the end of last year, according to sources, the military was short 15,780 members, a figure encompassing both regular and reserve elements. 

Worse yet, we will soon get fourth-generation jet fighters, the Lockheed Martin F-35. The problem is, we may not have enough pilots to fly them.

According to Global News, like the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Air Force is struggling to recruit and retain enough people to fill its ranks.

The Air Force is short nearly 2,000 full-time members and 500 reservists, at a time when it is supposed to be expanding.

Those personnel shortages are expected to put pressure on the Air Force as it tries to co-ordinate the training of personnel for the F-35 while having enough pilots, mechanics and other members to continue flying the CF-18 until the transition to the new fighter jets is completed, the report said.

The successful arrival of the first F-35 on Canadian soil by 2029 will also require significant upgrades to the Air Force’s aging hangars and maintenance facilities at its main fighter bases in Bagotville, QC and Cold Lake, AB, as well as the military’s computer networks.

Are we willing to serve and protect our country?
Are we willing to serve and protect our country?Armed Forces photo

According to a federal briefing note entitled “Recruitment And Retention,” the CAF is struggling to fill its ranks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges related to encouraging people to apply for service. 

But here we delve into the dreadful Canadian world of woke, yet again.

Instead of Top Gun, the Trudeau government is pushing 'Mediocre Gun'.

The document, which was obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter, reveals the government’s plan to boost recruitment by lowering standards and promoting diversity over merit.

Remember that catchphrase, "Be all you can be?" Well, that has been surreptitiously tossed out the window for a veritable F Troop.

Instead of focusing on attracting qualified Canadians who are willing to serve and defend the country, the government is resorting to identity-based quotas to fill the gaps. 

The briefing note says the CAF will “streamline and redesign” the recruitment process to speed up applications, recognize past experience, and allow permanent residents to apply.

It also pushes for more representation of women, indigenous and (sexual minority) people in the CAF, claiming a need to “see the Canadian Armed Forces as a first-rate career choice where they will feel welcome, valued and safe.” 

In stark contrast and in much more rational terms, it has also been suggested that Canada's Air Force Reserve include commercial airline pilots, who might want to take a spin in the newest fighter jet on the planet.

Billie Flynn, who spent nearly 40 years as a fighter pilot in the RCAF and then as a test pilot, said reservists could be the key.

Keep in mind, Canada only has 50 fighter pilots left to fly the remaining CF-18s, which, at the end of their service, will have flown for 50 years.

Asked how to save the RCAF by The Merge, Flynn said: “I would open the doors to reservists. Reserves in Canada are not like the reserves for the National Guard or any of the National Guard capabilities in the United States. None at all like that.”

“And I would open up to reservists and I would bring in the Air Canada, the WestJet pilots, the guys who are working in the local areas. Cold Lake and Bagotville are not garden spots, but men and women are going to come back to fly fighters.”

“Why would you want to go be a bus driver when you can go fly a $100 million freaking spaceship and be King Kong in an F-35?”

And so, the question remains. Would you die for your country? Would you line up, go through training and serve, to the best of your ability?

Leave your video games in your parents' basement and do something far more important? Be part of something that actually makes a difference in the world?

Spill your blood on foreign soil and watch everything go dark, as your life slowly drained away? The ultimate sacrifice, for King and country?

With Mad Vlad on the warpath in Ukraine, it may be time to revisit things.

Canadian troop shortages are looming large.
Canadian troop shortages are looming large.Armed Forces photo

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