Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Shot in the Dark

Being a dual citizen can provide all kinds of strange experiences.  Today, news came out that a Canadian sniper set the long distance record for a kill--3540 meters--in Iraq.  My Canadian nationalism was not so much activated by pride in this, but when American folks raised doubts.

I have no expertise on sniping, although I did point out that Canadian snipers already near the top of the list of longest shot records.  So, this is not some junior varsity squad claiming that they beat the Golden State Warriors (if I were really Canadian, I would have used a hockey reference).  Still, boasting happens all the time, so having some doubt makes sense (there is apparently video).

I would suggest three political dynamics here that suggest this claim has some credibility:
  1. CANSOF (Canadian Special Operations Forces Command) is not exaggerating in order to maximize its budget.  It has no need as it is one of the big winners of the Defence Policy Review.  CANSOF is going to get significantly more personnel and budget, so there is no need to boast here to try to get more resources.
  2. I am pretty sure that the Liberal government is less than thrilled about this news.  While this government is not as pacifist as many would suggest (the aforementioned DPR is far more favorable towards "kinetic" stuff than one might have expected), they would still like the Iraq mission not to be described as a combat mission.  This is a trap that many leaders of democracies have fallen into, so Trudeau is not alone.  The news that a Canadian sniper was doing his job (pretty sure we don't have female snipers yet) undercuts the effort to make this effort seem less like war.  
  3. This news is also inconvenient in another way. Once the Mosul operation finishes, the question becomes: what happens to the Canadian mission in Iraq?  Training the Kurds will not make much sense, and Canada does not seem to have a role in training the Iraq army.  So, the SOF guys and others could come home after their mission is completed, but then the government might be accused of being too weak on the counter-ISIS fight.  So, the government might be happy to get this sniping news out so that they can look strong on the counter-ISIS fight or not.  Hmmm.  
My guess is that CANSOF was proud of its accomplishment (which Mrs. Spew reminds me involves killing people, which is not something to be too thrilled about), and shared the news because that is what militaries do--they like to recognize the achievements of their troops/sailors/pilots/etc.  One enduring lesson I had from my time in the Pentagon was how seriously the armed forces took recognition of contributions.  That is a very essential part of this whole profession at arms thing.