Canadian Forces Revitalization

At long last there is some talk in Canada about the Government laying out a blue-print for the Canadian Forces. A few folks are actually interested and all sorts of ideas are being put forth about the route to take and the steps needed to get to whichever end-state. Most Canadians don't bother to think about their army much and when they do, it usually involves fuzzy pictures of blue-bereted peacekeepers waving UN flags and giving appreciative kids food packets. Somewhat different than the reality of things, but that is still the most common perception.

Ideas being punted around range from complete disbandment and giving up the pretence of having an Armed Forces, to "specializing" in niche requirements. This could be things like covert surveillance and recce specialists (a la the Coyote recce vehicle), or developing into highly trained and self-sufficient logistic specialists. This last isn't quite as crazy as it may sound, a good deal of the attacks on Allied forces in Iraq are or at least were on the logistic support chain.

Anyway, there are all sorts of ideas, some good, some not. Some plausible, some rather wacky. What are the ideas of the folks here? Bin the lot? Bring in the Brits or some other country to help reconstitute the CF? Decide that everything is just hunky-dory and soldier on?
Well, well...rumours abound about the latest musings from the party in power on how they are going to fix all that ails the Canadian forces...

seems that the army gets precedence over the air force and the navy [ who will be ' reduced' to supporting roles for land based initiatives ] - bet that makes the blue boys and the hip waders really chafe...

Immediate steps to be taken to ensure that present enrollments get rapid and full training and equipment and push to increase recruiting to meet present shortfall and future needs to suppress bad guys in other parts of the world..

hoo haw..

sounds like fun on paper..almost makes me want to sign up again [ if only I were 20 years younger - okay maybe a wee bit more ]

Of course, this will all - AHEM - cost money...and no where has anyone said that they'll actually be digging deeper into anyone's pocket for the extra loose change to make this all happen...and, rest assured, the bleating will start in full force if - oh, my-oh, dear - taxes should be fiddled with...

all a crock.. looks nice, sounds fun.. but.. like everything else... it'll never happen - especially with a minority government [ and they know it.. promise away.. lets hear another tall tale ]
will this be another 5 or 10 year plan with options of 5 year extensions for refinement?
Capt. Staurt. RCAOC. Mad as a bloody hatter. Air Rescue (elastics between two trees stuff) expert, bomb desposal, things that go BANG. Great bloke, joined us as on secondment. If Canada closes down the armed forces we as an affiliate recipient country lose out big time.

unlike their american counterparts these people are well worth having fun with.

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
RCAOC? That's going back a bit!
Old salt, great bloke though. this man was the type of officilier that you would follow into war just to see what happened next
Ah just though (suprise, suprise) where will the RTR and REME go to learn how to fix tanks inthe cold. Lose the CF and we lose yet another traing country

Snow, we were trained to kill in this environment not the bloody sand.

Well, as for perceived problems in the CF, it depends who's opinion you are getting. There is a small but occassionally vocal lot that think Canada should lead the world in disarmament and get rid of anything military. Very Utopian, but not realistic and not going to happen.

Most Canadians want a force capable of conducting peacekeeping ops, and, only if necessary, defending Canada. BUT, they insist that we don't lose troops, harm no one and expend no money doing it and further ensure that they aren't inconvenienced and their standard of living isn't affected. Basically, a ball of contradictions.

Some Canadians want us armed to the teeth and capable of going anywhere the US/UK go. Again, very nice, but not going to happen.

The CF has taken a lot of bashing since 1994 with the Somalia scandal and the average civvy on the street, and most soldiers, see the brass at NDHQ as fawning sycophants that will adapt to whatever political breeze floats through the streets of Ottawa. The Government doesn't have a clear idea of what they want the CF to do, so they have no clear idea of what we need in terms of equipment and personnel. For example, we have been trying since 1992 to replace the Sea King helicopter that were originally purchased before the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. An order has now been placed, but we won't see the first airframe until 2008 at the earliest. This is considered a "speedy process, unaffected by political interference". Um, yeah, right.

On the personnel side, we have just over 50,000 troops (all ranks) in the regular forces. This includes all navy, airforce, army and support troops as we are a unified force and do not have distinct elements. We have a grand total of perhaps 30,000 (ok, I'm being generous here) reserves with widely varying levels of training and ability. Currently, I am aware of 1,000 troops sitting and waiting for basic trades training. There are no instructors to train them (all deployed on ops and other higher priority taskings) and even if there were, no facilities to train them with. Basically, we are eating our young, because very few trained recruits are coming through the pipeline because we can't sacrifice instructors from ops. But, 30% of ALL other ranks are eligible to retire with a 20 year pension between 2004 and end 2006. And a good many are taking the packet and running. So who will be left?

Lots of problems, little money, few recruits and we can't train the ones we have. Equipment is rusted out (all trucks at 2t and above carriage are a minimum of 15 years old). The CF 18s are nearing 25 years service and are in severe need of upgrades to the extent that they haven't been able to serve alongside US forces for years.

The sad part is none of this is a state secret. It is printed and reprinted regularly in our newspapers for popular consumption.
To get back to the original post "What are the ideas of the folks here?"

Some things that should be done.

Reconsider "unification" and admit that it was a failure. No nations followed as predicted, The General command structure that was cited as being a big reason for unification (too large and unwieldy) is now a bigger ugly head than it ever was, with fewer troops to command.
Certain items of consolidation, which mostly pre-date unification, are not bad, such as the combined communiction system (not as relevent today, but still three different systems into the same base was unnecessary) basic levels of training, such as drivers, cooks, etc, certainly can be done on a combined level, but in many cases each sevice requires specialty training beyond that basic level, which does not overlap.

Take a look back at the Army of the '50s post Korea (when it was realised it wasn't working to just cut the Army to the bone after every conflict) and the pre 1965 Army. (Same applies to the Navy and Airforce.)

Realise that the military is a unique culture, not a platform for social experimentation. The same laws and rules that apply to the general public don't all work within the military, the military requires it's own Rules, Orders, and discipline.

The Canadian Forces has always had to deal with two languages. (thanks to the British gov'ts actions after taking Quebec) It usually dealt quite well. Bilingualism as forced on the Forces isn't the best solution.

While strides have been made, realise that the Reserve Forces must be taken seriously. Training, equipment and standards must be at a high level. Traditionally it has been the Militia that has fought wars for Canada, not the Regular Force. Between wars the militia is usually treated like a red-headed step child.
Re-create a viable Naval Reserve and Air Reserve.
One of the proposals prior to the new Frigates was that some of the Destroyer Escorts would be turned over to the Naval Reserve. Instead they were "cleaned" at great expense and sunk in various places to become reefs and places for diving adventures.

Reevaluate the most recent base closures. Re-open CFB Chilliwack and make it the home of the Engineers once again.

There are just a few. None of it will happen I'm sure.

There goes my exit strategry, will do my job cos i love it, for any country that will take me. Not convinced that I will have career in UK much past 2007; with the redundacies and 'natural wastage'. Was looking at CF as good escape plan. Easier to swear allegance to ERII that GWB; but if needs must may have to go due south.

Any good POC to investigate joining CF?

currently in the british army (joined cause of the state of the canadian army at the time i.e. deplorable) but going back in a few years time is looking more and more an attractive option. of course, I'm being optimistic here, in thinking that ole paulie will actually be able to fund this 'transformation' of the CF.

my ideas

bin the CF bit, have a joint national command, but 3 seperate entities, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and RCAF, ie return to prior '67 or whenever it was that unification was thrust upon the forces.
let each have their own ethos and culture, but still bound by the national defence act. not really much need for 'unified' forces, asides from say pay and administration.

carry out more sovereignty patrols like the last one that took place way up in the arctic with the canadian rangers. this are high publicity events and reminds everyday canadians that the forces are there for more than clearing snow in toronto when the mayor panics or getting shot at for wearing a blue beret and handing out rice in warm climates.

pursue a more pro-active role in foreign affairs, particularly nation-building, peace-enforcement and PSO's. leaving all the overseas jobs to the dipsh*ts at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Int'l Development is not always the best idea. trust me, I've worked with them. a good example would be iraq, and yes although the majority of canadians didn't support the war, nor did the government, the fact is the invasion happened, iraq is technically being 'occupied' under UN mandate (if I'm not correct that is) and will only get better with more concerted development and democratisation efforts. the canadian army, suitably funded, equipped and supported back in canada could make a great contribution to the problem (or so I believe, don't think so, fire away).

however, more importantly, with many friends in the canadian army, things at 'shop floor' level seem to be getting better. the pay seems pretty decent, comparable to my pay in the british army (with cheaper cost of living), and some of the equipment my mate got issued to go overseas with (he's a reservist too) makes me only just slightly envious. yes the new combats do look kinda goofy but apparently they do work in the field, and hey, better than korea/vietnam era olive drab
Jailorinummqasr said:

Easier to swear allegance to ERII that GWB; but if needs must may have to go due south.
no one swears an allegiance to GWB or any President
cdn_spr said:
and some of the equipment my mate got issued to go overseas with (he's a reservist too) makes me only just slightly envious. yes the new combats do look kinda goofy but apparently they do work in the field, and hey, better than korea/vietnam era olive drab
Well, they better equip deployed reservists with the same kit as RF. Besides, the CF cannot operate without deploying reservists.

I'm still not sold on the lite-brite cbt clo. Sure people like it now, because it's new and different, but prior to it, the reason Canada did not use Camoflauge Cbt, was because their OD#7 always tested on top.

I suspect once it is worn, and dirty, the new stuff might work OK. I can see it being too bright even for the "jungles" of BC though.
The current CADPAT is actually great stuff. Trials with troops in the field have shown it is significantly harder to detect a soldier in CADPAT than any other camouflage out there. There are issues with it's durability, etc, however these will get worked out in time.

The pay is not bad at all. There was a time in the 90's when things were quite rough, especially for the Privates, but that has basically been rectified. Right now we are staring a 1.5-2.5% pay raise in the face and that isn't bad at all (inflation rate is about 3%, but you take what they give and run like Hell). As a Sergeant with 19 years in, I make the equivalent of 22,000-25,000 GBP a year. "Quality Of Life" issues have certainly improved.

As for anyone interested in joining up, we currently accept applicants up to and including age 52 and you can serve to age 55, and with special permission age 60. More can be found at And yes, we most definitely accept retirees from the British forces. I have personally made sure that these gents have been allowed to wear their Northern Ireland Campaign medals with their Canadian decorations. As well, upon retirement, pensions are payable immediately at the completion of 20 years service or reaching Compulsory Retirement Age (55), whichever comes first. Pensions are 2% per year of complete service multiplied by the average wage of your best five years of service.
Think the new kit is pretty spiffy, considering what I had to work with [ leopard skins and ditty bags made out of small furry animals ]..
Been rifling the wifey's foot locker as she gears up for her trip to - um - Points East -..the new load bearing vest is a big improvement over the old webbing.. good balance, plenty of pockets.. she can get her vampire hunter kit into the pouches for ammo clips and grenades with room to spare.

Kevlar helmet is a nice fit, much better than the Tip Pots, lots less weight on the neck.. Still, wouldn't want to boil a IMP in it..

as for the CadPat.. I'm sure it does its job well in the field. just think it looks damn silly on a Clerk, Mark II sitting at a computer workstation at NDHQ..

the Missus looks fine in all her stuff and says it doesn't weigh her down near as much as the old sh*t she hoofed into the wilds...
So, slamming the Clerks are we, Rocketeer? Hmm....I've my eye on you, so just you mind. That said, you are right. Staff at desks should be wearing Work Dress except for the fact that got binned 5 years or so ago. Combat kit is for the field, but with only that or DEU to wear, we go with what is functional.

The new kevlar helmet is a vast improvement, although functionality (wash basin, cook pot, etc) has been lost.

Some of the other kit like the LBV, small pack, camel packs, etc is top notch and very much appreciated by the boys in the boots. The LAV III and Coyote are second to none in their class to such an extent that the USMC has ordered a sh*tload of LAV III complete with Canadian instructors. I've heard hyperbole that it could replace the M2 Bradley, personally I don't think that will happen, but it is (remotely) possible.

The Forces are doing a vastly better job of taking care of our people and I would stand our programs up against any other army's in the world, with full confidence we would come out on top. The problem lies in major equipment. Planes, trains and automobiles are clapped out. I have 19 years in the regular force and my truck has 5 more years service than I do. Not too many civvies are still driving the same vehicle 20 years later, especially after the banging they get in Suffield, Wainwright, Shilo and Dundurnistan.

Not everything is bleak and horrid on the horizon. But without a serious commitment by the government to allocate resources and to field an ARMY vice a "Peacekeeping Force", for how long will we attract and retain the folks that make it all work? At what point do the scales tip and we end up with social workers in uniform trying to make the world a better place through "consensus" and "discussion groups" vice having soldiers in battle groups?
CutLunchCommando said:
How big were the CF predecessors or indeed the CF in the past?

Do you think you have reached a level of (inverted) critical mass which has sparked the "eating the young" scenario?
I think the young were eaten long ago
When I first signed up in 1986, the Regular Force was 86,000. In the 60/70s it was over 110,000 with a Brigade Group in Germany.

If we haven't already hit that "tipping point" where our incoming recruits can no longer replace our losses through attrition, then we are mighty close. Yes, we can always promote a Corporal or Master Corporal to fill a Sergeant's position and so onwards. But, who are we promoting and what qualifications do they have? We will simply end up promoting people to fill vacancies on paper establishments, we will not be promoting on the basis of qualifications, experience and merit. Once we hit that point, then in my opinion, we are doomed and overall collapse is inevitable. It might be staved off for a time, but it will come nonetheless. And it won't be confined to just the Army. More technical areas in the Navy and Air Force may well be hit with catastrophe. Losing skilled leaders and technicians in those elements could have a devastating impact.

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