These actions may be designed to offset the negative attitudes in Quebec associated with the Afghan mission. However, it is also part of a more general policy of building up the military that also includes the re-opening of a mililtary school also in Quebec. The US wants Canada to spend more on defence. Canada can help take some of the pressure off the US and some of the cost as well. No doubt the rapid deployment force can at times be used to aid US policy wherever the US, NATO, or the UN determines there is a hot spot or situation where action is needed. Of course it could be also used for natural disasters etc. and for peacekeeping situations but Canada has virtually abandoned peacekeeping for an active role as in Afghanistan.
Bagotville airbase gets $300M rapid deployment force
Last Updated: Friday, July 20, 2007 | 4:45 PM ET
The federal government will spend $300 million to create a rapid deployment unit at the air force base at Bagotville in Quebec's Saguenay region, the defence minister said Friday.
Ottawa will spend the money on the new self-contained unit between 2008 and 2015, said Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor at a news conference at CFB Bagotville.
Some 550 soldiers will be sent to the airbase to join the new force, which will be on call to assist in any trouble spots in Canada or abroad.
"What we are establishing now is an expeditionary wing, that is, a wing that is mobile," O'Connor said. "It will leave this base to set up an equivalent of this base in a smaller scale, either in remote areas in Canada or offshore somewhere in the world."
The force will be deployed to military operations and natural disaster sites. It will provide infrastructure, communication and logistical support, and will work with ground and naval troops, but there are no plans to send new planes to Bagotville.
The unit will increase the base's population by 50 per cent and inject new blood into the local economy, said Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the Conservative MP for the Saguenay/Lac-Saint-Jean riding, who was also at the news conference.
It is also seen as a strategic move on the Conservatives' part to soothe local concerns about the base's future.
In the runup to the January 2006 election, Blackburn campaigned on a promise to build up Bagotville's capacities.
Stephen Harper also promised his Conservatives would increase the size of the airbase, add 650 personnel and continue to upgrade the CF-18 fighter jets.
Bagotville is currently home to about 1,200 military personnel.
It was the second military announcement affecting Quebec this week, following Ottawa's decision to relaunch a francophone royal military college at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
Harper and his Conservatives have lost some support in Quebec in recent months over their military strategy, especially the commitments in Afghanistan.