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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 7, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta 16 THE IETHBRIDG6 HERAID Tuesday, July 7, 1970 Troops Policy Still Vague SCEST, West Germany (CP) a year after Canada announced the halving of its NATO military contribution, the role of that reduced force re mains far from settled. Senior officers stationed al this north G.erman old marke town say they are confuset about the future. They indicate some important decisions still have to be taken in Ottawa on the use of major weapons. But one thing is ending of Canada's nuclear role in NATO. Another statement on genera defence policy, which will also touch on the NATO role in Ger- many, is planned by the Cana- dian government foi' the falJ and this is a factor in the uncer- tainty. There is widespread specula- tion among the troops that the Canadian commitment to NATO may not last more than a few years longer, and even that NATO itself may not be fussy about maintaining any relation- ship that critics say seems mired in perpetual uncertainty. Meanwhile, the troops of the mechanized brigade group that has been stationed here are dispersing, half back to Canada and "the rest 400 miles south- ward toward the Black Forest area and the centres of Lahr and Baden-Soellingen. They will provide in Germany the land portion of a combined land and air unit of about men. Defence Minister Leo Cadieux announced last September' this force organization would be a temporary arrangement. For (he post-1972 period, he said, the government intended to create a portable mobile force and con- vert the sk squadrons of CF-104 Starfighters to reconnaissance planes or weapons able to sup- port the ground troops with con- ventional bombs and rockets. The Canadians gave up their Honest John rockets, which could fire a nuclear warhead, last month. Some Starfighters have been armed with nuclear bombs as part of the NATO de- terrent but that is ending too. Now, it appears less than cer- tain that the force which takes shape two years or so from now will in fact be fully air portable. One senior officer last week twice used the expression, "ii we go to.a mobile in dis- cussing the future role of the formation. He and others left no doubt that in their view the magnifi- cent, new equipment of the old brigade group should be re- tained. Major items in the new inven- tory include amphibious, ar- mored personnel carriers and self-propelled 155-millimetre howitzers. Some commanders even ap- pear to retain some faint hope of acquiring Britain's highly-re- puted Chieftain tank to replace their elderly Centurions. But most of the Centurions have recently had or soon will have rebuilds that will keep them going until 1974, it is un- derstood. The idea of retaining heavy equipment contradicts that of a lightly-equipped, air mobile force, although the unit which eventually evolves could con- ceivably be a mix of the two. No firm public estimate has been made of what it will cost to re-equip the NATO force for a mobile role. However, one authoritative military source said it would cost far more than the approxi- mately needed to buy 60 Chieftain tanks. In addition to various types of aircraft, the mobile role would require the purchase of a light artillery piece to take the place of the big howitzers. The defence department Is known already to be looking at the possibility of buying some helicopter gunships to provide firepower for Canada's NATO forces. Another area of uncertainty concerns the close sup- port plane now being supplied to training squadrons in Canada. The defence department has left open the possibility of send- ing to Europe some of the CF-5s ordered from Canadair Ltd. in Montreal. If the CF-5 is given a ground support role in Europe, it could well mean that the Canadian forces there will have two sepa- rate air weapons systems. The CF-104 is to relinquish its nuclear strike role at the end of next year. Mr. Cadicux, in Lahr last week for ceremonies marking the end of the air division and il.s replacement by No. 1 Cana- dian Air Group, said both the Centurion tank and the CF-104 will be kept in service "at least in 1972." After January, 1572, there would os a "reconfiguration" of Canadian forces assigned to NATO. N< All Summer Long IX iimt mm mmm MM mm Help Us Celebrate i Your biggest bonus comes with all the human touches... the important "extras" to PROVE that we give the best service of any bank around. (That's what bank- ing is all about Royal Bank Bonus No. 1 Bonus No. 2 Bonus No. 3 Bonus No. 4 We're approachable Bonus Savings with Bonus Interest We like to look after you Spending Accounts too! (P.C.A.) 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