Harper announces 20-year, $30B plan to beef up military

The Tory government has announced more details of plans to purchase new aircraft, armoured vehicles, ships and helicopters, as it aims to expand the Forces to 100,000.

The Tory government announced a 20-year, multibillion-dollar plan to strengthen Canada's military, which includes the purchase of new aircraft, armoured vehicles, ships and helicopters, and a goal to expand the Forces to 100,000.

Referring to it as the "Canada First Defence Strategy," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the long-term investments in the military could reach costs of up to $30 billion.

"If a country wants to be taken seriously in the world, it must have the capacity to act. It's that simple," Harper said Monday at the Halifax Armoury, joined by Defence Minister Peter MacKay.  "Otherwise, you forfeit your right to be a player. You're the one chattering on the sideline that everyone smiles at, but no one listens to."

Much of what was announced on Monday has been revealed before by the government.

"The newest thing about this announcement is that it is a long-term plan," Harper said when asked by a reporter.

Harper said this strategy will focus on replacing some of the military's core equipment fleets, including destroyers, frigates and different types of aircraft that will end their operational life over the next 20 years.

The plan will also seek to boost the strength of the regular Forces from 65,000 to 70,000 and the reserves from 24,000 to 30,000.

"Renewal of the Canadian Forces is the most pressing priority," Harper said, adding the average age in the military is rising.

Harper said the plan will also improve surveillance of land and coastal borders, bolster support for civilian authority in the event of natural disasters, and provide security to major national events like the 2010 Olympics.

Harper said having a long-term plan for stable funding will create jobs and opportunities for tens of thousands of Canadians who work in the defence industry and communities with military bases.