Newsletters - Volume 55
Chief Editor's Response to Capt Horwill's Letter
Written by Col G.W. Dufour
In the last C&E Newsletter edition, LCol Jim Bates' feature article spoke about how the C&E Branch might support the Air Force in 2035. Being members of the C&E Branch, you can no doubt attest and appreciate that looking ahead close to 25 years in our Branch is tremendously difficult with the speed at which information technology is changing and how we as a Branch can prepare our military members for these changes. LCol Bates "pushed the envelope" and many of his thoughts struck a chord amongst our readers.
Capt Dale Horwill enjoyed the aforementioned article but has addressed some of his concerns in the article above. Capt Horwill brings many valid arguments about looking at the life-cycle approach to equipment, "core" and "non-core" function that we must fulfill as a C&E Branch, the "ship-to-shore" ratio of deployed folks to folks at Bases/Wings/Garrisons etc.
Where does reality lie or what does the future hold for the C&E members? I would say likely somewhere in between the two views as the changes will be iterative. Twenty-five years is a tremendously long time in the C&E Branch. Who could have predicted that when we took over the Cadin-Pinetree radar sites from the USAF in the early sixties that we would close them down in the mid-eighties resulting in a tremendous surplus number of radar technicians, who were either remustered or retired? How we employ our C&E Branch members has constantly evolved to adapt the ever-changing technology and nature of warfare. This includes changes to the Operator and Technician trades in the 1990s and early 2000s as well as the recent creation of the ACCIS trade with its three sub-occupations creating much needed flexibility to deal with Army challenges.
Even in the early 1900s, Maj Bruce Carruthers (see article in this edition) believed in the technology in use at that time but also looked to the advent of the telegraph as a potential means of addressing the shortfalls of the previous technology. Our Branch has constantly evolved and faced adversity due to many changes in the past but as you can see in CWO (now Maj) Beaudoin's article "It will never work" (this edition), we continually adapt and make it work. What is key is ensuring that the solutions that we find can be institutionalized across the organization rather than many solutions that cannot be sustained. In our assessment of potential options, we must use some of the criteria, amongst many, brought forth in Capt Horwill's article.
What is certain is that we will need to live within our means, both financially and in terms of numbers of personnel, but it does not mean that we must not continually questions ourselves and find better ways of doing things. We have many challenges facing the Branch such as C4ISR and Cyber that will require a re-alignment of resources and skills from "non-core" areas to "core" areas and the key will be in finding the right balance. There will be a need for technicians and operators but not necessarily working in the manner that we have them employed now.
I would like to thank LCol Bates for exploring new possibilities and challenging the status quo and Capt Horwill for addressing critical elements that must be considered in our analysis. This type of discussion is healthy and productive and I very much welcome it as our Branch has continually adapted and overcome adversity for the past 108 years through these types of discussions.