Coaltion Canada

In 1964 the Canadian government decided to merge the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army to form the unified Canadian Forces, but failed. Will the uk try this or learn from Canada?

Your views on this?


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
OK being a bit of pedant I don't think they failed to merge the separate services into a unified Canadian Forces, that happened.

You can argue that it was not a very happy merger and continues to be less than happy 43 years on. You could also argue that it did not deliver any of the hoped for efficiencies both financial and doctrinal and that therefore it failed to do what it set out to do.

As a casual observation perhaps part of the reason that it was not a happy merger was that it seemed to be done in such a petty and spiteful way. The ditching of RCAF officer's ranks. The buggering about with WO and NCO rank structures for no discernible gain. The ditching of officer's rank badges in favour of a watered down version of Naval badges. The ditching of the open handed salute.

These things may be thought to be quite superficial but the fact that the Maritime Branch reintroduced the 'executive curl' to its rank badges last year (effectively reintroducing British style rank badges) and that most Regiments retain British style rank badges on their mess dress (because they can) suggests that they were not happy with the changes and remained unhappy.
You can bring a horse to water ......... you may even beat him...... but you cannot make him drink. If the participants are not happy, then altough a major sea change on this scale may not fail in a true sense, it would be a poorer entity. No one can stop progress but ditching traditions and the building blocks nurtured over hundreds of years [and much copied by the rest of the world] that have made our armed forces what they are is a recipe for and even greater decline than present day politicans have overseen.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
With regard to the British Armed Forces I'm not sure whether a merging of the services over all would achieve anything but I could certainly see a deeper merging of the CS and CSS elements. Is there any reason for the services provided by the RLC, REME, the AMS to be duplicated by the Navy and RAF? Is there an argument that these Corps should be tri-service?

There is fairly clear blue water between the Navy and the Army. if you will pardon the pun and given that its hard to see how or why they could be usefully merged but the RAF is different. It has the strategic roles of defending our airspace from unfriendly air forces and of dropping bombs on the strategic targets of the Queen's enemies which is role it uses to justify itself as a separate service. It also has the more tactical role in support of military and naval operations which I would suggest is more it's bread and butter business.

There is an argument that the strategic part would be better as part of the Navy and the tactical part should be part of the army. As we move into the world of UAV's is there really any reason for these to be flown by bloke in growbags rather than by soldiers.

There is, of course, another argument that all flying ops should be be undertaken by the RAF and Fleet Air Arm and the AAC should be part of it.
Ref: Buggerall's post, unification did work in some ways in that it reduced or eliminated duplication of services in the CSS world. There is a logisitics branch, which provides logistics personnell to all 3 services. They are trained together, and are career managed as one, be they navy, army or air force. Likewise with the medics.

However, the modern CF certainly still bears some anomalies. Such as Maritime Helicopters, which are crewed by Air Force personnel. In a UK context, apart from JFH (which I understand is no longer), when did you see pale blue jobs on warships? Our UAV's are piloted/controlled by gunners, not AF types, and Tac Hel (the CF version of the AAC) is again crewed solely (apart from the door gunners) by the Air Force. There is a growing argument that Tac Hel should become organic to the Army, whether this would ever happen remains to be seen! You also, in an army unit such as mine (a combat engineer regiment), have airforce carpenters, navy clerks, army cooks, army combat engineers, and navy storemen. Certainly makes parades colourful.

Having said that, there remain hard Army, Navy and Air Force jobs, which if you join, will likely never see you serving outside of your element. I, as a combat engineer, will never set foot on a Ship, and only in all-arms E2 posts, could potentially be posted to a unit outside the 'Army'.

The idea behind unification was to have one uniform, one service, and one chain of command, so in the beginning you had pilots wearing the new, post-unification Rifle Green uniform, likewise the navy bods. This was quickly realised as idiocy, and slowly but surely the services have reverted back to the 'Canadian Air Force', 'Canadian Army' and 'Canadian Navy'. In fact, and I standby to be corrected, I believe an announcement was made recently which re-named 'Maritime Command' the 'Canadian Navy', to be used on all official correspondence etc. I don't really know because I honestly could give a rats ass what the Navy calls itself!!


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Thanks Cdn-spr. That is roughly what I understood to be the case. Probably unfair to ask but I don't suppose you would care to comment on what I described as the rather spiteful way that merging was done. I don't think they were essential to the merger but part of a different agenda. If one is being charitable one could say that it was done to create a seperate new Canadian identity out of the shadow of the Empire and of the neighbours to the south. Uncharitably you could say it was done out of spite and malice to destroy the links to Empire and the past. Perspective?

Being paranoid I detected the spiteful and malevolent hand of the oaf Brown in then way that the last government set out to destroy the last vestiges of the Regimental system. I think they saw the Army and it's regimental system as part of the class system and wanted to destroy it as a bastion of privilege. What they failed to understand is that regiments are also the homes and families of the rest of us who did not go to Eton or Harrow. I digress but it was a bit like hunting. They hated it because they associated it with privilage and toffs but failed to understand that that it affected the whole countryside.
It may not have worked out well for the Canadians but something similar seems to work quite nicely for the USMC.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
It may not have worked out well for the Canadians but something similar seems to work quite nicely for the USMC.
I know what you mean in that the USMC has organic air assets but it still relies on non-organic USN air support and on USAF strategic air support and it doesn't have its own boats they belong to the Navy. It doesn't have its own medical services either, they also belong to the navy.
I don't know if it was done spitefully, myself being about -33 years old at the time! From what I have read and come to understand is that it was done in the spirit of modernity, but also with a dash of misplaced national pride, ie 'Let's re-invent the wheel and call it the canadian wheel'. The Royal pre-fix cut (ie RCAF, RCN) was also probably done to give the new Canadian Armed Forces its own identity.

I was still around in the British Army when the roll-out of JPA began (with all it's troubles), and couldn't help but think that despite the monstrosity everyone makes unification out to be, we might have just have gotten a few things right. Joint Pay, Joint Logistics Support, Joint administration. In fact, one could say it was an idea well before it's time and quite revolutionary, but executed in a sloppy, disrespectful manner, especially when viewing it in light of the time period it took place in, shortly after the end of the Korean War and not long after the end of WWII, when all 3 services fought their fight under their previous names.

I am personnally in favour of doing away with some things that unification brought us, such as the 'branch' mentality. As a former RE, I find it quite objectionable that I am now a member of the Canadian Military Engineers (who are army, navy and airforce) as opposed to the Royal Canadian Engineers. But I am a lowly Sgt and that issue is probably not very pressing in light of operational concerns.
There is some scope, I think, for merging and / or contractorising some CSS assets (dentists and RLC service contract management, for example). The problem comes when those assets have specific skillsets that are only required in one scenario. Think about CLPs for a minute. Would RN medics really be the right choice to take on these? What about civvy contractor vehicle mechs? How about an RAF Logistician in charge of the patrol? Chaos, death and destruction are likely to result.

Each service has its' own specific environment, in which the CSS (and CS and indeed teeth arms) have adapted, while the CSS capabilities of the others have not. In order to maintain these capabilities at at least rule-of-5 strength, they need to be at a certain minimum strength, and they're not far off that now.

That said, (and possibly to re-hash a very old argument), I think there is considerable scope for carving up the RAF and handing out constituent parts to the Army and Navy.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Think about CLPs for a minute. Would RN medics really be the right choice to take on these? What about civvy contractor vehicle mechs? How about an RAF Logistician in charge of the patrol? Chaos, death and destruction are likely to result.
They wouldn't be RN medics or RAF Logisticians. They would be DMS medics and RLC Loggies. The DMS and the RLC being Joint Service Organisations tasked to provide services to the single services.

With regard to specific environments I'd agree that service at sea is a bit odd and would probably only be suitable for those volunteering and maybe mainstreaming in that career path. Other than that I'm not sure what RN and RAF environment would cause a challenge to anyone. Soldiers would probably find it a pleasant change. With regard to the specific environment of soldiering matelots and crabs are already being sent to HERRICK.

In fact instead of a pissing contest where the RAF insists on retaining posts in TPMH in Akrotiri regardless of who is best for the job and the RN is insisting on sending medics to AFG regardless of whether they are the best ones to be doing it and incidentally the Army are backfilling medical posts at sea to release the RN medics.

I forgot to add that the AGC would also be included in my list of Joint Corps.

Think about CLPs for a minute. Would RN medics really be the right choice to take on these?
They already are and they are supporting ground combat units. 3 Cdo Bde did Apr to Oct 08 and are going again in Apr. Their medics are from the Navy. You may recall AB Kate Nesbitt who got an MC.

And she is blond which is always a bonus!
That is basically what has come to pass with the Canucks. If you join as a logistics trade, you are technically part of a purple organisation. That being said, when you sign on you state an environmental preference, ie Army/Navy/Air Force, and from there, you do spend most of your time with that element, and wear it's uniform. The joint-ness results from the same training, same forms across the services to order beans/bullets/etc, and same financial training. You will be posted at times outside that element, but it is based on the needs of the service or the needs of your career. And as for Navy/Air Force conducting ops in the land realm, before they even get close to an op theatre, they spend about a year on work-up training being taught basically 'ok, you're not on a ship/air base, people will shoot at you and blow you up, this is how to shoot back/avoid being blown up'. And anyways, CLP's are always commanded by an Inf/Armd c/s, at least in AFG.
All fair points, but on the CLP thing it is surely better to send someone that has at least been handling small arms and had a passing familiarity with Fire / Manoeuver since the beginning of their career, rather than someone who started learning it at MST? The last crab I spoke to on my last tour had been in for longer than 20 years, and only fired 5 x rounds of 5.56 in that period! He had somehow deployed without doing an APWT.

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