Canadian Senate Defense Committee on Thursday called for building a stronger military to secure the country and its sovereignty, rather than relying on the United States for protection.
The defense budget should be doubled to about 30 billion Canadian dollars (about 25 billion US dollars), and the military should enlist thousands more personnel while equipment also needs to be updated, said a new report issued by the committee.
The report -- "Wounded: Canada's Military and State of Neglect" -- is the first of three reports that will be released by the committee this fall.
The current defense budget earmarked for 2005-2006 is 14.3 billion Canadian dollars (about 12 billion US dollars). The report suggested upping that to between 25 billion to 35 billion Canadian dollars (about 20 billion to 29 billion US dollars). The number of people in uniform should be bumped up to 90,000, from its current strength of 62,000.
Another challenge facing the Canadian Forces is the length of time it takes to replace aging equipment. Currently, it takes about 15 years. The report suggested reducing that time by buying used gear or purchasing equipment already in production.
Having a stronger military will allow Canada to exercise its sovereignty, rather than relying on the United States for protection, the report said, adding it will also give Canada a greater presence in the world.
The second report, to be released in about six weeks time, will make recommendations on how to 'plug the holes' in the Canadian Forces.