Tactical Experiment – US vs. Canada


Me and Dougem are both historical/tactical junkies (at least, I think he is) Anyway, I thought we should have a debate, on the subject of a theoretical war.

This war would have the USA attempting an invasion of my native Canada, where the commonwealth, France, and Germany all jump in on Canada’s side. Leaving out the improbability of such a war, who do you think would win? The circumstances are current, with current leaders. Due to the politics of the situation, no chemical or nuclear weapons are involved. Remember, America is trying to invade Canada, not annhiliate it.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments. If you have any disagreements with the posters, post a rebuttal. we’ll see where this goes.

Consider this a loose thought experiment for now. The most interesting tacticians among you will get guest posted in this series. I’ll share my take on a day or so — Ed

UPDATE: Also apparently editing from the phone makes funny things happen. Oopsie.

3 Responses to “Tactical Experiment – US vs. Canada”

  1. I believe that the war, as it stands, would be extremely close. Let’s start with basic troop numbers. I count in both regular army, reserve, and paramilitary forces.
    United States of America
    Approximately 3 million

    Western Alliance
    France
    Approx. 470 000

    Germany
    Approx. 450 000

    United Kingdom
    Approx. 410 000

    Canada
    Approx. 100 000

    South Africa
    Approx. 90 000

    Australia
    Approx. 80 000

    Total Western Alliance
    Approx. 1.6 million

    Now, this does not sound, at first, like very good odds as far as the Alliance is concerned, but you hvae to take into account people coming into the war on behalf of their country.
    300 000 000 – U.S.

    80 000 000 – Germany
    65 000 000 – France
    65 000 000 – U.K
    50 000 000 – South Africa
    35 000 000 – Canada
    20 000 000 – Australia
    315 000 000 – Total

    Now, you have even population. However, more people would be willing to fight in the defence of Canada than to invade it. Add to that the sympathies of many Americans to the Canadian cause, and you have a very even armed forces.
    You may be saying, “you didn’t take into account the military equipment, and that is one of the major cornerstones of an army.” Yes, I did. america would probably win hands down here, except they could never afford to supply and maintain the armed forces they currently have. Add to this the added stresses on the economy of industrial sabotage, and things start evening out here, too. Also, Canada and that part of Europe are very strong, well entrenched economies, many which are doing much better than the United States.

    So, if the Allience could get their act together, they could stand a fighting chance.
    Of course, America would try to get the war in Canada over with quickly, and that would mostly succeed. They would take most of the industrial and population centers within days. However, most of the resources the Americans will need are in the North, where infrastructure is bad at the best of times. Thus, a slow, hard campaign with limited supplies, also taking into account that the supply lines would run through prime sabotage territory on the way to the front. Don’t underestimate the Canadians. we may look peaceful, but we did what we had to do during both World Wars and we did it damn well. Who says we can’t do so again? I think of the Winter War here, where Finland fought the Soviet army to a standstill. It has been done before.
    Even if the Americans take most of the country, there is almost certainly going to be a geurilla war, which the American army has proved time and again incapable of effectively fighting against, as well as revolutionaries from they’re own country (think California, as well as the Occupy movement)
    That is added to the fact that America will now have to defend this new territory, with a lot more coastline, that even the might of the American Navy can’t defend forever. They’ve been trying for years, to shore up (har dee har har) coastal defences during the Cold War and post Cold War periods. I’m not even sure it can be done. So, Europe has many weak points to choose from when choosing a point to invade from.
    America could win, but it would bankrupt them several times over, and destroy the country. America is just too ill-prepared at present to go to war. If you had said, however, the early 1990’s, things may have gone much differently. Then again, you never know.

  2. I’ll do a very thorough breakdown of this issue, potentially over several posts! Because I’m well versed in tactics and increasingly in international policy, so I may as well introduce a few more layers to the whole thing that makes it delightfully sticky 🙂

    Right off the bat – Context is king. Within the scenario poised it seems that we are looking at a partially fractured NATO – or the primary NATO powers teaming up against the United States. Depending upon how quickly the war flows, a number of things could have extreme effects on the conflict:

    1) How NATO handles the US exit

    2) NATO having to rearm and restructure it’s command, logistics, and forces after said withdrawal.

    3) US Bases scattered through Europe and the greater world, whether or not they would be abandoned or fortified, and/or used to attack mainland Europe from the air and sea (not invasion but mucking up command and control, munitions, supplies, ports…)

    4) Russia and China and how they react to a withdrawal of the US missile shield and cold war defenses in Europe

    5) Mobilization (how long it takes, under what guise, who realizes what’s happening, and when)

    6) How the war actually starts, for what reasons, and the state of civilian and military communications in the initial round of hostilities (Would impact civilian willingness and capability to resist, and how quickly the alliance would learn of and react to the US invasion)

    7) The economy, how it crashes, and to what state individual countries enact or enforce martial law

    8) Internal unrest in individual countries

    The troop numbers cited above are very valid and an absolute consideration, but a US invasion of Canada would be the first time in modern history the United States war machine would be able to operate with a purely land based supply line, and on its own continent. Instead of only the US facing severe supply problems, I would argue that Europe would face an extremely daunting task with the sheer effort involved with moving those large numbers of troops, equipment, and munitions, not to mention the mere ability to do so en masse at this point in time is very much in question. I think the transportation dilemma would be the most critical challenge for Europe.

    Mexico exists. It also is on the same ‘island’, and if Europe attempted to mobilize mass armies through Central America or below – they still have to get through a big ocean and a big navy, and they have to make sure the locals are fine with it too.

    France, Germany, and the UK have scary – but small – navies. I think it is a fair bet to say that the US navy alone could foul up European reinforcements at sea for a significant amount of time, making an overall ‘confuse, capture, and hold’ strategy on the part of the US highly viable. Europe’s armies, particularly their ground forces, are not push overs – they just have to find a way to get to Canada in large numbers, quickly, without getting blown up, and without crashing their economies in the process of building up the transport capability. They could attempt to move through the north pole but Russia may have some things to say about that, and again, logistics.

    The United States does have things to overcome – namely, shifting a service based economy into a war-time footing, dealing with the consequences of a lone wolf status, playing defense (but in a very ideal situation), and delicately handling Canada (I do think it’s possible if done right) I think the US is sorely underestimated in it’s counter insurgency ability – to put it briefly, the largest challenges in the middle east – a different culture, a different language, no historical connection, an already warlike populace with weapons, and a lack of long term presence are largely negated in terms of Canada. It wouldn’t be a walk in the park but Canada simply does not have the large scale munitions and weapons necessary to conduct a -long term- insurgency. Context comes back here – a smart US would not give Canadians in major population centers time to realize what happened, and would treat their conquest humanely.

    (A quick note on culture — in the middle east, a large challenge among fundamentalist tribal societies is that western compassion and concern for human life is taken for weakness and worthy of contempt and exploitation – it’s why medevac choppers are such prime targets. I really do not think US troops would abuse Canadian civilians and surrendering forces in a significant way and would have a much easier time making inroads with them if not just for the simple fact that most Canadians speak English.)

    All sides would have to weather:

    * Global economic collapse
    * The internet shutting down
    * Free societies forced to become closed societies during war-time
    * Disruptive societal shifts
    * The Middle East erupting into war
    * Potentially belligerent Eastern Bloc (Russia, China, North Korea)

    Russia is significant. They retain a very large military, and central tactical doctrines today (particularly the missile shield issue!) still account for the potential of a Russian invasion of Europe with their giant tank armies. Europe has to worry about Russia throughout any major military moves, and makes it harder for them to act independently beyond the European sphere.

    Yes folks, this is just the overall summary version of what I COULD write on this subject! World War is hard! There’s a reason why it doesn’t happen often, thank heaven! 😀

    THINGS TO CONSIDER!
    * What would happen under different contexts?
    * Would there be potential for European or United States unity to fracture?

    Have fun, you armchair generals you. And remember to celebrate the holidays.

    • admission time: I got those numbers from Wikipedia. However, I did check the source, and it checked out okay.
      Europe would have supply problems, I agree. However, they have the advange of time. Europe cannot get troops in quickly enough to fight America on Canadian soil, and I doubt they will try. However, if they do, Canada has a huge supply of metals and food, and could help out.
      Europe is well industrialized, and can pump out ships just as fast as anyone else could. Meanwhile, America must deal with problems in its own borders, and its new conquest.
      Mexico may be willing to aid Europe in exchnge for American land, including places such as Texas and border cities such as San Diego (That’s right, I’m going there) They get heavily industrialized ceters that help their economy, so maybe they won`t try to immigrate as much.
      As for the weapons, the black market is powerfull. Canada is fairly rich, and can get weapons secretly shipped from mexico, or possibly Europe. The first few weeks will be very hard, but there is enough to put up a resistance.
      By the way, the mere fact that you are on Canadian soil may provoke some people, and no matter what, you will have sme rebellion. Also, the culture sword points both ways.There are plenty of people who would try to help the Canadian cause, and this isn`t a place where you are propping up a just government. You are trying for outright annexation, which has more harsh feelings.
      Both of us should do much more detailed arguments and discussions on the subject. It would be quite interesting.

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