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New Tory defence shopping list for military will be a work in progress

OTTAWA - The Harper government's shopping list of ships, planes and armoured vehicles for the Canadian military over the next 20 years is to be released soon.

The so-called defence acquisition guide will have up to 2,000 items as the Conservative government attempts to overhaul the moribund military procurement system, beset with delays and cost overruns.

Lt.-Gen. Guy Thibault, vice chief of defence staff, told a defence industry gathering today the guide is not a commitment but an indication to contractors about what the military needs so industry can propose solutions.

The government has based purchasing decisions on the 2008 Canada First Defence Strategy, but many aspects have been deemed unaffordable as military spending was cut in the aftermath of the Afghan war.

Thibault says the new guide was compiled with an eye to affordability.

The government has been examining a revised defence strategy to lay out the missions and expectations of the military.

Thibault was asked whether it was wise to release a list of equipment before the government had settled on its vision for the Forces.

He said there are core functions and expectations that won't change, regardless of the policy, and those will be reflected in the list, expected to be updated annually.

Missions such as protecting Canadians at home, continental defence with the United States and contributing to international missions are basic, he said.

"The enduring requirements won't change," he said. "The government, I think, was very clear in the speech from the throne in that context."

As for the details, he said: "I think we should really wait until the government decides what they really want to bring forward for this reset of the Canada First Defence Strategy."

The Canadian Press

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