Wednesday, 25 May 2016

DEFENCE POLICY REVIEW, QUESTION FIVE: Should the size, structure, and composition for the Canadian Armed Forces change from what they are today?

The Department of National Defence has launched public consultations for the development of a new defence policy for Canada. This includes a Defence Policy Review public consultation papera website and even an e-workbook to be filled in.
Canadian Defence Matters is attempting to come up with some answers to the ten questions contained in the public consultation paper. 

Under the general heading “Questions relating to Defence capabilities and the future force, question number five is “should the size, structure, and composition for the Canadian Armed Forces change from what they are today”.

It would be relatively easy to come up with a laundry list of options the government could consider on the issue of how the size, structure, and composition for the Canadian Armed Forces could be changed from what they are today.

Evenly dividing RCN fleet units between the east and west coasts, having six military regions- to reflect geographic and political reality- instead of four, purchasing enough aircraft to allow the RCAF the depth and balance it currently lack, come to mind with no difficulty.

However the consultation paper attempts to put this in context with a section entitled:

” The Royal Canadian Navy consists of approximately 8,600 personnel. The Canadian fleet, divided between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, is composed of 29 warships, submarines, and coastal defence vessels – plus many more auxiliary and support vessels.

The Canadian Army, at approximately 22,600 strong, is based in four regions across Canada. Canada’s land forces operate a range of land combat vehicles, including the Light Armoured Vehicle and Leopard II tanks. They also leverage a range of integrated communications tools to support networked operations.

 The Royal Canadian Air Force, with approximately 13,200 personnel, is located in 13 locations across Canada and operates fighter aircraft, transport aircraft, and search and rescue aircraft – in addition to operating a fleet of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

The balance of 23,600 makes up the forces allocated to Canadian Special Operations Force Command (CANSOFCOM), Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (CFINTCOM), Chief of Military Personnel (CMP), Canadian Forces Health Services Group (CFHSG), and various other organizations that provide operational support.

It would appear that, in general, this is the size, structure, and composition of the Canadian Armed Forces that the government is asking if we need change from what they are today. Or at least it would be if the personnel numbers were accurate.

The figures as quoted above show regular force strength of 68,000. However according to press reports a Defence Department report tabled in the House of Commons shows a shortage of nearly 1,900 regular force members.

Nor do those figures include reservists, who currently have a mandated strength of 27,000 as against an actual strength of 21,707, a shortage of 5.300

 It should be remembered that that the Canadian Armed Forces are made up of both the Regular Force – full-time members who have made military service their career – and the Reserve Force, or part-time members. While Regular Force members are enrolled for a specified term of service, members of the Reserve Force are enrolled for an indefinite period and as such volunteer to keep themselves ready for duty if and when necessary.

It cannot be stressed often enough that a robust and well-trained reserve force is critical to the success of CAF operations. Almost as important is a regular force that is kept at authorized strength.

One way  to insure that our Forces are at authorized strength is to see that monetary compensation, i.e. pay, is disbursed appropriately and with a minimum of the bureaucratic delay so beloved of government service in general and the Armed Forces in particular. Another way is to insure that modern equipment is available in the numbers necessary for realistic training.

So, the way the “size, structure, and composition for the Canadian Armed Forces should be changed from what they are today” is by insuring that those Armed Forces, both regulars and reserves, are maintained at the personnel levels necessary to achieve the goals set for them.

Defence Policy Review Public Consultation Paper

Defence Policy Review

Have your say: Defence Policy Review 2016

Defence Policy Review

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