Project managers learn early never to read too much into policy pronouncements. But when your unfunded project is the first among many listed in the government’s new defence policy, you have reason to be optimistic money may soon be coming.
“There are lots of priorities, but we are definitely a key one,” Captain Glenn Imperial said in an interview shortly after the defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, was released in June.
Imperial is the project director for Ground-Based Air and Munitions Defence (GBAMD), a program to acquire the systems and associated munitions to protect land forces against airborne threats.
The project, singled out by the government several times in the policy as one of 10 investment priorities for the Canadian Army, is a critical need – it was among four capability gaps briefed to industry during the Army Outlook in April – but while a project office has been working the problem since 2008, it has yet to receive the funding approval to see it to fruition.
That might be about to change.
The Army acquired a range of ground-based air defence systems in the mid 1980s and, for much of the two decades that followed, fielded a layered system of man-portable missiles, radar-controlled guns, and vehicle-mounted surface-to-air capabilities to protect events such as G8/G20 meetings, the Winter Olympics, and deployed headquarters and airfields. But all have since reached the end of their respective service lives – the last was phased out between 2012 and 2016 – and today the Army has no ground-based air defence capability.