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But the institute suggested that the good fiscal times had come to an end, not just for defence but for all government departments and recommended that the military be asked to hold the line on future spending. Howe study said the military budget should only be increased at "a rate not exceeding inflation plus population growth for the next six years."

Air Max 2016 Size

Air Max 2016 Size

to hold the line on operational spending but argues that is a mistake.

He said it takes much longer to rebuild an army, navy and air force than it does to cut them and the Canadian Forces still has not fully recovered from the spending cuts of the 1990s.

John Thompson, of the Mackenzie Institute, believes that the Canadian Forces' will likely have 2016 Nike Air Max Sale

"It's the same mistake we made during the '90s and it's going to get a bunch of our soldiers killed," he said. "They'll be freezing the operating budgets at a time when the operational tempo will probably increase the world's an increasingly dangerous place, not just in Afghanistan or Haiti."

"These rapid increases were necessary to arrest the decline in Canada's military capability, and to better equip our armed forces for their role in an unstable world," said the study, entitled "Back to Balance."

The Canadian Forces may be spared the necessity of cutting budgets by savings from ending the mission to Afghanistan in 2011, pegged at between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Air Max 2016 Size

Air Max 2016 Size

He says the military has already been asked quietly to find "cost savings" of nearly $180 million in the current fiscal year.

Defence spending freeze 'big mistake'

Air Max 2016 Size

Air Max 2016 Size

"The easiest cuts Nike Air Max Sequent Boys

Those cuts hit the Canadian Forces just as it was beginning to recover and Brooks says it's unfair to say that some cuts are justified after the large spending increases since Sept. 11, 2001.

"We've done most of the catch up. . We should be able to at least maintain our (defence) capacity, but we don't need to increase it further," he said. "We need to find some areas for spending reductions, and that would be one of them."

Retired colonel Brian MacDonald, in a paper for the Conference of Defence Associations, argued that at least some of that Afghan spending is needed to replace outdated equipment, like the navy's supply ships and the air force's maritime patrol planes, or vehicles that have been driven almost literally into the ground during the eight year Afghan mission.

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"And the only reason that those numbers came out was because (army commander Lt. Gen.) Andy Leslie stood up and publicly complained about it," he said. "Otherwise, we would never have heard of them."

The years of big spending hikes are likely over for Canada's long suffering military, but analysts believe Thursday's federal budget probably will not slash the defence budget.

The economic think tank noted that over the past decade the Department of National Defence has seen budget increases of 8 per cent a year on average.

He fears that the defence budget will be cut where it is least visible, in the Canadian Forces special forces command, including the secretive JTF 2 commando unit, the Canadian Special Operations Regiment and other specialized units.

The Canadian Forces will instead be asked to make do with what it has already gotten as the Harper government struggles to trim a growing deficit and keep its promise not to raise taxes.

for the Canadian Forces to make are the ones that no one can see," he said, "and special operations are invisible because they don't tell the public what they do. They can't: it's all top secret."

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Yet special forces have been one of Canada's most valuable contributions to missions abroad and at home, Brooks said.

Damian Brooks, the founder and main contributor to the widely read military blog The Torch, worries about "stealth cuts" budget cuts hidden under hundreds of pages of documents and graphs in the federal budget documents.

The government has been coy about its plans for the military's base budget, but public projections for 2011 12 so far have not included the 2.7 per cent annual increase that the Harper government promised in its 2008 defence strategy. Howe Institute, in its pre budget study of the government's spending and cutting options, recommended that Ottawa maintain defence spending at current levels.

"The increases to date have been the least that we could do to rebuild the Forces," he said. "They're not rolling in dough the Canadian defence budget is still only a miniscule percentage of our GDP."

to rebuild its capacity, but that growth cannot be maintained when cost cuts are needed to combat the deficit, Air Max 2016 Size said institute analyst Alexandre Laurin.

But MacDonald notes that the government has already signalled it expects to lop $765 million in 2011 12 from the $943 million in special funds allocated this year to the military for the Afghan mission.

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