<%ParlWebsiteContext.IncludeResources()%> <%ParlWebsiteContext.RenderHeader()%>

REPORT OF FACT-FINDING VISIT: VANCOUVER

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

January 30, 2003


PREPARED FOR THE SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENCE

EVIDENCE

VANCOUVER, Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 2:30 p.m. to examine and report on the need for a national security policy for Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Thank you for allowing us to come here today to meet with you in this historic building.

We are the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence. My name is Colin Kenny. I am a senator from Ontario and I chair the committee.

On my immediate left is Senator Michael Forrestall, who served the constituents of Dartmouth in the House of Commons for 25 years and for the past 12 years as senator. Throughout his parliamentary career he has followed defence matters, serving on various parliamentary committees, including the 1993 Special Joint Committee on the Future of the Canadian Forces, as well as representing Canada at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Beside him is Senator Norm Atkins, who came to the Senate in 1986 with a strong background in the field of communications. He also served as an adviser to former Premier Davis of Ontario. During his time as a senator he has championed the cause of the merchant navy veterans and is a member of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. He currently serves as Chair of the Senate Conservative caucus. He is also the Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.

Beside him is Senator Cordy from Nova Scotia, an accomplished educator. She also has an extensive record of community involvement. She has served as Vice-chair of the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission. In addition to serving on our committee, she is also a member of the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, which recently released a landmark report on health care. She is an active participant in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Beside her is Senator David Smith from Ontario. Senator Smith, a lawyer by training, is a distinguished practitioner in municipal, administrative and regulatory law. In the 1970s he was elected as a councillor and Deputy Mayor of Toronto and was a Member of the House of Commons from 1980 to 1984. In the Senate he also serves on the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and on the Senate Committee on Rules, Procedure and the Rights of Parliament.

Beside him is Senator Gerry St. Germain from British Columbia, a commercial pilot, contractor and former police officer. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1983, where he served until 1993. He is a former Minister of State for Transport and Minister of Forestry. He was appointed to the Senate in 1993 and is a member of the Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee.

On my immediate right is Senator Michael Meighen. He is from Ontario. He is a highly successful lawyer and a patron of the arts. He is also Chancellor of the University of King's College in Halifax. Senator Meighen has a strong background in defence matters, having served on the 1993 Special Joint Committee on the Future of the Canadian Forces. He is the Chair of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and is also a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.

Beside me is Senator Jack Wiebe, one of Saskatchewan's leading citizens. He has been a highly successful farmer, a member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly and Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan. In the Senate he is Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, which currently is looking at the impact of climate change on farming and forestry practices across the country.

Beside him is Senator Joe Day from New Brunswick. Senator Day holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the Royal Military College in Kingston, an LLB from Queen's University and a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall. Prior to his appointment to the Senate in 2001, he had a successful career in private practice as an attorney. Senator Day is Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee on National Finance and a member of the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. In addition, he serves as Deputy Chair of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

Beside him is Senator Tommy Banks from Alberta. Senator Banks is well known to Canadians as one of our most accomplished and versatile entertainers. He has been a national standard bearer for Canadian culture, is a Juno award winner and was the host of The Tommy Banks Show from 1968 to 1983. He is Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. That committee is currently studying Bill C-5, the species at risk act.

Our committee is the first permanent standing Senate committee with a mandate to examine subjects of security and defence. Over the past 18 months we have completed a number of studies. These included: “The Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility,” which was published in September 2002; “For an Extra $130 Bucks...Update on Canada's Military Crisis, A Review from the Bottom Up,” which was published in November 2002; and in January 2003 we issued a report entitled, “The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports.”

Today we are continuing our study of national security by focusing on the need for a strong military that can respond in times of national emergencies or disasters. We know how important the reserves are to the Canadian Forces, and I want you to know that you have many supporters on this committee.

Before asking you to introduce yourselves and turning the floor over to Colonel Travis, I want you to know that the committee takes great pride in the work you are doing. On behalf of the Senate of Canada and the Parliament of Canada, we want you to know that we value very highly what you do for Canada, day in and day out. We think that is a message that we cannot communicate to you often enough.

Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Travis, Deputy Chief of Staff, 39 Canadian Brigade Group: Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am the Chief of Staff for 39 Canadian Brigade Group, which is the reserve brigade here in British Columbia.

On behalf of Tom Burns, who is my commander, I welcome you here today. He could not be here today due to an illness in his family, but he wishes you well and welcomes you to British Columbia.

Let me introduce the head table.

On my right is Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Lowe, Commanding Officer of 12 Vancouver Medical Company.

Next to him is Lieutenant-Colonel Beth Brown, who is the Commanding Officer of 12 Service Battalion, which is based in Richmond.

Lieutenant-Colonel Glen Richmond is Commanding Officer of Royal Westminster Regiment, based in New Westminster.

Lieutenant-Colonel Blair McGregor is the Commanding Officer of The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, which is based out of this armoury.

On my left is Major Jim Bartlett, who is the Deputy Commanding Officer of The British Columbia Regiment, based out of Beatty Street in Vancouver.

Major John Maxon is the Commanding Officer of 6 Field Engineer Squadron, which is based out of North Vancouver.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dean Drysdale is the Commanding Officer of 15 Field Artillery Regiment, which is based in the Bessborough Armouries in Vancouver.

In the audience today we also have Captain Richard Van Slyke, who is the Director of Music for the 15 Field Regimental Band.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Lowe, Commanding Officer, 12 Vancouver Medical Company: The main goal of the reserves is to augment the regular force. However, when we are deployed with the regular force, some of our people are treated like second-class citizens. When they are deployed, they do not necessarily stay at the same rank, nor do they receive the same rate of pay as when they are working with the reserves. In order to keep our people, we have to treat them in the same way when they are deployed with the regular force as when they are with the reserves.

Recruitment is always a problem. It takes too long to get a reservist into the organization. I know of one case where it took eight months to get an individual into my unit, not because of a medical company problem but because the recruiting centre does not seem to have the desire to get the reservists into the units as quickly as possible.

We need to bring our members in early in the training year, in October or November, so that we can forecast training in the summer courses. If we leave it to the recruiting centre to bring them in after the new year, in January through to May, we cannot forecast how many courses we will require to train our people. Within the block systems that we have for our courses, when they finish one, they should be able to go right into another course.

When I was a junior officer, it was possible to employ members of my unit from May through to the end of August. In that way, we could keep our reservists in the army. We need to get back to that. The big problem is the lack of dollars to do it that way.

On retention, we need to do more localized training. In past years we used Nanaimo as a base to run our courses. That way, we could bring in part-time instructors. We have a lot of people who cannot get away for a long period in the summer to teach; therefore, we need to have them available for shorter periods of time.

We try to do adventure training, but there is a lack of dollars. There is a lot of red tape involved in adventure training and it costs a lot of money.

We need more incentives for the reservists to remain in the reserves, such as tax incentives.

Lieutenant-Colonel Beth Brown, Commanding Officer, 12 Vancouver Service Battalion: Our two key roles are force generation for the regular force and the training of reserves. More and more we are finding that our communities have expectations that have not necessarily been well expressed but are becoming more of an issue. We will be hearing more from the mayors of the communities in our areas. They are looking for support in the event of national disasters or security issues that may affect their communities. They do not necessarily understand the method of doing business in order to get reserve support for such disasters or events. They see homeland security as being one of our roles, and currently that is not in our roles, missions and tasks. With that would come security of vital points in cases of emergency.

As far as recruiting and retention is concerned, my battalion is one of the most ethnically diverse units in the Lower Mainland, in addition to having a significantly higher proportion of women, approximately 13 per cent. The battalion currently numbers 100, of which almost 25 per cent are visible minorities, and we have 4 members who have First Nation status. The battalion draws from all areas of the Lower Mainland, from Chilliwack through to Vancouver and Richmond, and from the North Shore all the way down to White Rock. Diversity in my unit is not an issue.

Most of our recruits are attending university or college in the local area. The battalion employs a large number of technically qualified individuals.

A service battalion is a combat service support unit. We provide vehicle techs, weapons techs, cooks, drivers and supply technicians. We have a technical base within our unit. A service battalion requires tradesmen and highly skilled and qualified individuals. Many hold professional qualifications in designations and trades such as mechanic and electrician. We have professional drivers and cooks.

Once working in the community, they become stable reservists who parade regularly. One of the current drawbacks with the recruiting system is its inability to quickly match a civilian qualification to a military qualification. If we could do that, it would shorten the time that an individual is away on a training course. Combat service support courses range anywhere from 60 to 90-plus days just to get a basic qualification, and it goes on from there. For instance, to get a mechanic qualified to the corporal level and capable of working with minimal supervision takes approximately a year and a half. Unless you are out of school, you do not have that kind of time. You have to be either out of school or out of employment. That is the only way that you can get those kinds of qualifications quickly.

We have to look more closely at civilian qualifications, perhaps restricting trades qualifications to those who enter with a qualification from “civilian street.” If you are gainfully employed in the civilian world, you cannot get that kind of time off to do your military training. It is as simple as that.

Once they are on the armouries floor, it becomes a retention issue. The funding model does not cover the basic cost of maintaining those trade skills that they have just obtained. The funding model covers the cost of maintaining basic soldiering skills. Soldiers do not have the resources available to maintain their qualifications. We put a lot of money and time into getting them qualified, but we do not look at maintaining that. We have people who actually leave the battalion because they do not get the time to turn the wrench that they were trained to turn, to work on the vehicles and to drive the equipment that they are trained to drive. In some cases it is because we do not hold the equipment in the unit, and in other cases it is because we do not have the funding for the training they need to keep up their skills.

In the end, it is not cost-effective, given our resources, to get them their qualifications and then lose them because the time and money are not there.

When I get a QL 5-qualified vehicle tech, the fellow who has just taken a year and a half to get his qualification if he is not employed in his community, I can end up losing him to the regular force. I have just invested a year and a half of time and resources to get him qualified, but there is nothing to compensate us in any way — and I am not sure how we would do that.

We are keeping our end of the bargain. We are doing force generation. They are getting trained, qualified people, and it certainly reduces the amount of training required when they go into the regular force.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to a retention initiative that might be considered to have value, and that is to model the reserve pay system on the Australian system. In Australia, the first 100 days of a reservist's pay for parades is tax-free. After that it becomes taxable income. It is an excellent retention tool. If I can tell people who have qualifications I need that I can give them 100 days of tax-free reserve time, that it is not going to put them into a higher tax bracket, it keeps them coming back for more. It does not mean that you have to maintain the pay levels. For instance, if I am making $200 a day as a reserve colonel, I am taxed at 40 to 50 per cent, just so I can break even at the end of the year. If you pay me at the $160 to $170 level, I am a happy camper because I am not losing money and I am being paid reasonably well to do the job. That follows through the whole line. You have to have tools like that to draw people in. Think of the value in a recruiting campaign if you can tell people that they have 100 days with no taxes being taken off their salary. That is a big incentive.

It also becomes an incentive to draw retiring regular force members into the reserve world. Right now we do not see a lot of them. That initiative would certainly increase our retention capabilities within the unit.

It is something to look at. It is used in Australia. It must work because they have an excellent reserve system there. Recently we had a reserve electrical-mechanical engineering officer serving with us for nine months as he was working his way around the world, and he certainly gave us a lot of interesting things to think about, as we did him.

In summary, the Armed Forces have to be more proactive about equivalencies between civilian and military qualifications. We require more man-days on the armouries floor to maintain our trade skills and qualifications, and we need a new approach to the reserve pay system as a tool to retain people.

Lieutenant-Colonel Glen Richmond, Commanding Officer, Royal Westminster Regiment: I will preface my remarks by saying that the reserves are the recognizable face of the army. We are the ones who are in the communities on a day-to-day basis, and we are the first line that the general public sees. The impression that we make is extremely important. I have to emphasize that.

Although we are one army, we perform different roles to a certain degree. Our role involves more diplomacy than the regular force component, which is somewhat insulated from the general public.

Currently, the Royal Westminster Regiment is about 200 strong. We are performing a light infantry role. It is interesting that, when we talked about Land Forces Reserve Restructure, we talked about other capabilities possibly being handed down to the reserves, one of which was mountain and amphibious operations. I thought that was quite clever, considering that we are on the West Coast, surrounded by mountains and with this rather large body of water to the west. In fact, that is something that we could probably play on. If you want to talk about recruiting and retention, we have an opportunity there to do some very interesting and unique training.

In Afghanistan, where the Canadian forces were deployed, we had members of PPCLI in fact doing mountain operations. It showed the world that the Canadian Forces produce a first-class product and the training and expertise displayed by our members was outstanding. There were many positive comments from allied commanders about the efforts of the soldiers in the Canadian Forces.

I point that out to you because there is an opportunity here in British Columbia for our reserves to get involved in either mountain or amphibious operations. Our unit has participated in some joint amphibious operations with a unit from the United States.

As to domestic operations, I will support what Colonel Brown said. Because we are the face of the army, there is a belief that in times of trouble, mayors and councils can come knocking on our doors to supply support, whatever kind that may be. That is typical. In that case, we need to be ready to supply a certain amount of that support. Since they pulled the PPCLI out of British Columbia, there is no standing regular force army here, other than some small support elements. That being the case, I think it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the reserves, who are here, are capable of fulfilling that role, at least in the short term.

There was a snow storm in Victoria, and the Canadian Scottish were able to roll out their trucks and supply help to move people and equipment around, because they were the first line. They were there and ready to go. That drew incredible accolades for the army. It was at the insistence of the commanding officer, who took the bull by the horns and came to save the day, so to speak.

These kinds of equipment and resources need to be made available to the reserves.

Recruitment is a particularly sore point with me, because I saw that last year, the Canadian Forces spent $15 million on an ad campaign to be displayed on movie screens across the nation. It was really impressive, because I have never seen most of what was on that film in real life. My concern is that money was spent and we were asked to recruit as a brigade, and we did so, only to be told, “You now need to slow down because you are going past the projected ceiling and we have to stop recruiting.”

We attracted all these people — and I can tell you that it is no small effort to attract reserve soldiers — and then we were told, “You have to stop and/or slow down.” In fact, the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre is “trickling,” as they put it, some files forward so that we do not recruit too many soldiers. My unit currently is 15 per cent over strength, which is not a bad position to be in, but we are told that we have to be careful because the money may not be there.

When the Commander of the Army is saying that the reserves need to grow, that is a bad message. That is a message that we must not send out. We always have to recruit. We must. It is like an oil tanker. You cannot stop it on a dime and then expect it to pick up and get going again. Recruiting is no different.

There are a finite number of potential recruits out there. If we bring them in the front door, only to say, “No, no, we are going to process your file and it is going to take nine months to do so,” we will lose these people. We have wasted money and resources to get their attention in the first place, and once we have effectively upset them, we will not get them back. We have to be very cognizant of the way in which we recruit. I think the government is missing a golden opportunity.

Once upon a time there was a program called SYEP, Summer Youth Employment Program, whereby the reserves were able to crank out 30 or more soldiers every summer. We could produce a brand-new platoon on the armouries floor every year. The Canadian government could be seen as a supporter and employer of youth. Of course, all it takes is money, which does not grow on trees. Here is an opportunity not only to bolster the reserves, but also to have the government be seen to be helping the youth of our nation.

I would implore you to look into that SYEP program and consider resurrecting it, because it was wildly successful.

Speaking of recruiting money, I would like to see that money pushed down to the units. It is all well and good to have a glitzy ad campaign Canada-wide, but quite frankly, that campaign does not affect my unit a great deal. When I receive money to go to the local newspapers and take out ads saying, “We are hiring,” then the phones start ringing. It is an amazing thing, but it happens time and time again.

I would question the effectiveness of a large, glitzy national campaign, for the reserves in particular, when in fact those dollars should be pushed down to the units at the local level so that we can contact our own local media sources and find our recruits that way.

With regard to retention, training must be made interesting. As I pointed out in talking about amphibious and mountain operations, these are, for the lack of a better term, “Gucci training.” This is an opportunity to do something really unique and interesting. I would suggest to you that that could be an excellent recruiting and/or retention tool. My particular unit was tasked with airborne operations, and I can tell you that people were beating down our doors to join up because they wanted to have those wings on their chests. We produced a first-class soldier, and it was an excellent retention tool.

I tell you that because the opportunity for some unique and interesting training will bolster our ability to retain and recruit individuals.

I was in Calgary a few weeks ago at a senior leaders symposium. I was a bit dismayed when we began to talk about Roto 15, sending reservists off to Bosnia, and they wanted to mount what they called a “LAV-3 company.” The light armoured vehicle is a new piece of technology, and I think there is a great concern that if we let the reservists get their hands on it, they might break it. I am being a bit facetious, but that was one of the messages that I walked away with. I said, “Why can you not get the reservists to train up on LAV-3s?” “It will just take too much time.” Then I asked, “How long?” “It is about 30 days for a commander's course.” “How much for a driver?” “About 30 days.” “How much for a gunner?” “About 30 days.” “If I am doing the math right, in about 30 days, if we put three reservists in there, we could have a trained crew. Is that right?”

They looked at me like I had three heads, but that is in fact correct.

I raise this issue because we do not want to have two armies. We need one army. Although we have new technology on the horizon, we have to be very careful to make sure that the reservists are trained up to the same standard as the regular force components. They cannot be the poor cousins. They should not be told, “You do not do this full-time, folks, so we do not know if you can handle it.” The truth of the matter is that in reserve units all over this nation, we have people who have Master's and other degrees, and they are very smart, bright people.

We need one army with one training standard, and to be able to deploy to the same standards as the regular force. Granted, we will not have the same experience. We cannot make up time served. However, we can get the same training, and given the opportunity, we can stand shoulder to shoulder with our regular force counterparts and do a very credible job.

Lieutenant-Colonel Blair McGregor, Commanding Officer, The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada: Senator Kenny and members of the committee, I am the CO of The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, and we welcome you to our armoury today.

The Seaforths have been on the order of battle with the Canadian Forces since 1910. We are a proud, longstanding martial regiment in the Vancouver area.

I want to touch on rules and taskings, and then on recruiting and retention.

The Canadian Forces Reserve Infantry is going through a review of our tasks with the LFRR, Land Force Reserve Restructure, and a number of tasks have been touched on by Colonel Richmond with regard to amphibious or, as Gen. Fitch mentioned, wolverine tasks. These are specific tasks for sub-units within the infantry. Hopefully, the process will devolve some useful tasks to us.

I would like to speak specifically on the topic of emergency and disaster response. I echo Colonel Richmond's comments that we are the face of the army on the ground. People in the local area, be they informed or not, look to these establishments as a source of immediate disaster relief. Currently we have contingency plans, but little else. We do not train for that and are not funded for it. Most of the response in the event of a major disaster would come from outside the Vancouver area.

There is a bit of a disconnect between what the public expects and what we can provide. This is a significant problem. Should there be a major calamity in this area, we would be looked upon as not being up to the task.

The role of The Seaforths now is to provide a light infantry company. We do not have enough equipment or training opportunities to get beyond platoon-level training. That is a serious impediment to progression within the ranks.

On the topic of recruiting, we are finding that the length of time to put a recruit through the system is upward of 60 days. That presents problems, especially since our files have to go from here to the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre, where they will be processed, and then we lose touch. We try to remain in touch with the recruits who have come through the door here, but quite often that presents problems, in that we lose contact with the folks who are trying to get into the unit. If they lose interest, of course they are not going to follow through on the process.

On the issue of re-enrolment, we get quite a few members coming back to the reserves who have been out for a number of years on supplemental lists, or they are civilians. To re-enrol those members we have to do what is called a “verification of former service,” and that has presented us with significant problems. It takes a minimum of three to six months to get a verification of former service. In some cases, depending upon the status of the members, once we do get that verification, it can take six months to a year to get a status on those members in order to enrol them.

Re-enrolling previous members, whether they be reservists or regular force people, is a significant problem.

With regard to attraction, again I would echo the comments of Colonel Richmond. There is no unit-specific message going out to the local area. Very little about who The Seaforths are or who Royal Westminster Regiment are is explained. It is a fairly centralized recruiting process. When recruits come in off the street or talk to a recruiter at CFRC or see an ad in the paper, they do not really know whom they are going to join or where they are going or what it is all about. It may be that we should be more specific in our recruiting ad campaigns and tell the folks what is available in the local area.

We have run into a bit of a problem with re-enrolment medicals. It can take a month or two to establish a re-enrolment medical, whereas the enrolment medicals at CFRC are being done in a timely manner.

With regard to our footprint work, the reserve units are spread out over the Lower Mainland. Of course, we are in Vancouver. The recruiting centre is located in downtown Vancouver, and the amount of outreach that they are doing in the population base of the Lower Mainland is questionable. I do not know if they are out there recruiting or what their ad campaigns are like, but the footprint on the ground is the reserve unit. As Colonel Richmond said, there is not a lot of money coming into the reserve units to fund recruiting, yet we are the people on the ground.

Bearing in mind that the CFRC is hidden away in downtown Vancouver, unless somebody is walking by on Georgia Street, they are not going to know where it is.

With regard to retention, it is my belief that the single most important issue is the level of training that is available within the reserves. We are able to provide basic training up to and including platoon level in the unit. Beyond that, there is no progression. Our unit is basically creating an infantry company with one company commander, a company sergeant major, a 2IC, two platoon commanders and various other section commanders. That is really the progression pyramid. Once a soldier has done basic training and is a trained private or corporal, he or she then has to look forward to progression to the rank of master corporal/sergeant in the capacity of section 2IC or section commander, and then one more step up as a platoon warrant officer or a platoon officer. At the company level there is only one job in this unit. Then they are basically done.

The reality is that we rehash training so much at the basic level and never get beyond platoon level. Therefore, the privates and corporals tend to drift away after a year or two because they are bored, and we never get beyond platoon and company level. That is the single most significant factor in retention as far as I am concerned.

Training opportunities, quality of training and progression are the significant factors that we have to look to in order to maintain a strong, healthy reserve unit and the reserves as a whole. Included in that, of course, are realistic tasks and roles for the reserve units and funding to match.

Major Jim Bartlett, Deputy Commanding Officer, The British Columbia Regiment: Our regiment is comfortable with the role of reserves being one of mobilization, augmentation of the regular force, and being the footprint of the army in our community.

We recognize that the Land Forces Reserve Restructure process is still defining the mobilization element. Augmentation of the regular force is therefore becoming more and more difficult as the regular force modernizes and the reserve force awaits new roles from this process.

Reserves are currently unable to train on systems such as the Leopard and Coyote tanks, LAV-3, et cetera, which makes augmentation difficult and more costly.

The reserve force, through its dispersion throughout Canada, maintains an excellent footprint and is well represented in all centres.

Retention is directly linked to sufficient funding to provide adequate training that is both challenging and worthwhile for our soldiers. It is our opinion that reserve funding should be pushed as far down the chain as possible. A national, army-wide initiative calling for yearly concentrations throughout the land force areas should be considered.

The current method of running area and national courses is inconsistent. Too many courses are being cancelled, primarily due to a shortage of staff. Consideration should be given to fully supporting reserve force individual training cycles through enhanced planning and task assignments.

We have moved forward in providing benefits to reservists, including educational, medical and dental benefits, a retirement gratuity and the reserve pension scheme, which I believe comes into force next year.

With regard to recruitment, the British Columbia Regiment is satisfied that our regiment is adequately diversified and reflects our community well. We have completed the first phase of a Sikh recruitment initiative, a regimental initiative, which has seen six Sikh recruits join the regiment. Phase 2 is now commencing with a further recruitment of six more. This initiative has received national praise as a grassroots program.

We agree with the assessment of CFRC processing times. The priority for the processing shifts in the spring to the regular force intake, and the reserve force files are then delayed. Units can possibly take on some of the processing to reduce the delays.

Finally, our regiment is at the maximum authorized recruiting establishment at the current 114. We would like to see an increase in our regiment to 150, with the appropriate funding support.

Major John Maxon, Deputy Commanding Officer, 6 Field Engineer Squadron, North Vancouver: I empathize. You must have a very difficult job. I am sure you have gone through countless speakers hearing nothing but negativity. All I can say is that we make sure that that does not transfer to the armouries floor and to the soldiers who serve our country so well.

In this privileged format we are here to tell you whether we think we are giving the taxpayer good value for the money. Unfortunately, it is my sad responsibility to tell you that I do not think we are. We are spending the money very well, but it is not enough to do all the things you have asked for.

You have a decision to make. Cut down and spend the money in the right areas, or spend more money if you want the numbers that we are talking about.

It is like an insurance premium. Right now we are using numbers that say that the insurance premium you are getting from the army reserve is 13.5 or 15.5. What does that really mean? I do not think we are able to deliver that with the funding you are giving us.

We are running a factory in which we are not spending money on maintenance, overhaul and upkeep. We are just making it look like we are going to show a profit this year, and hopefully, nobody is going to make an insurance claim.

It is a troublesome business. I am not able to even think about how to approach your job. My job, though, is to tell you what I see at my level, in my small corner of the world, with the 100 soldiers that I have to train.

I am an engineer. I love being an engineer. I think it is a great job, but you are not giving me the training days to produce soldiers who will be able to do the job that we are claiming they will do. Cut it in half and tell me to train 50 soldiers instead of 100. Alternatively, change me into the national first-aid response corps or earthquake relief, or give me a reasonable job and fund it properly. I know we are not supposed to be dealing too much with the funding level, but I will talk about that in a moment.

Recruiting is a CF problem. We have an engineer taking 10 months to switch from the reserve to the regular force when there is a $40,000 bonus to try to attract engineers. He has done a tour in Bosnia. It should have been a fairly easy job to move him over.

He waited the 10 months, with very little information. He was given two weeks notice to report to Quebec and five days to make up his mind. He was a highly dedicated reservist until months eight and nine, when he started saying, “Maybe I should start applying for some real jobs somewhere else.”

That is how we are treating some of our human capital. I cannot take pride in an organization that is doing that.

The recruiting at the CF level needs to be addressed. I do not think we in the reserves should be in the recruiting business. We are here to train soldiers. If you want to put recruiting assets in our units, that is great. Why does CFRC need to be in a building in downtown Vancouver when there are armouries scattered all over the country, particularly here? I know there is an issue in the air force and the navy with how to get a balanced recruitment, but that is a problem for them to sort out. There is no end of solutions available within the organization.

The money is so scarce that we are all competing against each other. It is hard to take a holistic view when you are not getting enough money to do what you think you are supposed to do. The reason we are saying, “Give us the money” is that we think we can spend it more efficiently, and then use the rest of it on training.

Training and retention are linked. We live in Vancouver, and you see what the temperatures are like outside. On a weekend, our soldiers have to decide whether they are going sailing or skiing. There is a plethora of activities, and it is the same all across Canada. We are trying to get guys off the couch.

Our soldiers are not the people we worry about being on the couch. They are giving up their free time to do army training activity. They are not coming down to the armouries to sit in a classroom and get a review of some lecture. That is money poorly spent. Our job is to put them into a training environment where they will get some experience to complement that formal training they received during the summers.

We are not getting the money to do that. I am being given 20 days, depending upon how you play with the numbers, under this funding model. It is the same 20 days a year that Edmonton is getting. Edmonton is an hour and a half or two hours from Wainwright, where there is a large training support centre. It is easy for them to get to. They have been to Wainwright so often that they are tired of going there.

There are no similar training areas in British Columbia where I can take my troop of engineers and blow things up and build bridges with the same amount of flexibility. I have to go to Wainwright, but I am not funded to travel there. I am funded to be training on the armouries floor. I am not giving the taxpayer great value with that because that is not where you train field engineers. You train them out in the field.

We are using the wrong performance measurements. We are saying, “How many guys are showing up at least once per month?” That is how we are getting these 15,000 reservists. We have guys with uniforms in their closets, and maybe that is what the taxpayer wants, but we are not getting those soldiers out into the field for several weekends or a week at a time so that they are capable of being scaled up to an augmentation or force generation model.

I have some real difficulties with how the funding model and the measurements are being used. I think we are spending the money we get well, but we are not getting enough to produce the product that you think you are getting.

I will look forward to some questions from you.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dean Drysdale, Commanding Officer, 15th Field Artillery Regiment: Thank you, senators, for coming. We spend a lot of time complaining to each other about these things, and it is a pleasure to have people here to whom we can complain and who might actually be able to do something about it.

I am going to talk about a lot of things. As with my colleagues, it will eventually all come back to money.

In the discussion of the roles, one of the things that we in the military have been asked to do is to rethink our operational role. Should we have an amphibious capability? Should we have a search and rescue capability? I think we have never really thought through what a reserve is for and what a regular force is for and what the two are best at.

Years ago I did a business PhD, but the subject was the army reserves. One of the models that I used was readiness, which was defined as ability and willingness. Readiness consists of ability multiplied by willingness. My feeling at that point was that typically, the regular forces are higher in ability because they do it all year long, and their skill levels are higher than ours, but the reservists often are at least as willing, often more so, because they really do this for fun. It is a hobby for them.

We need to think through more clearly what are the regular force tasks. Going to Afghanistan is a good example.

What are the reserve tasks? What should we be? What do we do as well or better than the regular force?

In my mind, we are better at being ready for a larger task than the regular force can accomplish. None of us expects World War II, but we are best prepared for that kind of mobilization. I do not think we have learned many of the lessons we need to learn in this regard. The task we all accept, because it is the one we have had for so long, is individual augmentation of the regular force. We train soldiers and get them to a certain level. A regular force unit is going off to Bosnia. We take six or eight guys and we put them on a plane and hope that they come back safely.

We have done that for expediency and for reasons of economy, but it breaks every rule in the book. The Americans learned this in Vietnam, where they did something similar. They had units over there, and NCOs basically would have a year-long tour. They would send them over and they would join a unit of people they did not know. Officers only went for six months because they were trying to cycle them through faster. Essentially, nobody cared about the new guy, and as a result they died in bigger numbers than was necessary. There was no unit morale. Everybody was just looking at “How many days do I have left? Who cares about the other guy?” That generated many of the problems and many of the psychological casualties they had.

The Americans learned that lesson. They do not do that any more. We in Canada never learned that lesson, and we still take these 17-year-old and 18-year-old kids and send them off to a unit where they do not know anybody. They go into difficult situations. The regulars go back as a unit to unwind and work through what they saw over there, but the young kids we send over from reserve units get sent back to us, often in “onesies” and “twosies,” and they have nobody to talk to about what they went through. It is a terrible way of doing it.

What should we do? I think we should become truly a base for mobilization.

What is wrong with our organization? We typically are at about one-fourth or one-fifth of the strength that we should be, given the names we carry around. In a regular force regiment I would have 600 soldiers; I have about 100. A sub-unit of a regiment is a battery. What I really have is a battery.

I have a regiment's infrastructure. The building I am in, which is about the same size as this one, contained 500 or 600 guys when they built it in 1930. They used to run three or four batteries out of there. They just whittled us down and whittled us down to where we are just playing make-believe to a great extent. We are pretending that we are something four or five times bigger than we are.

The Americans, on the other hand, do not do that. I was visiting last weekend with an American National Guard unit. They call their artillery regiments battalions, but they have 600 soldiers in them. They have three batteries full of soldiers. As a result, they do not follow this individual augmentation routine. They simply have different tasks. That battalion's main task is to go to Korea if something happens there. With regard to what is going on in Iraq, they are expecting to be mobilized and will go to Germany to take over a job that a unit in Germany was doing, but which will go to Iraq to fight.

There is a lower level of ability required for that. Willingness is fine; they can take on that task. They all go together and they all come back together. The unit builds together. It is a far more productive model, I think.

This is blue-sky stuff. I will talk about some more doable things in a minute.

What is wrong with our reserve? We are too small. We have 15,000 people. In my opinion, we should have 45,000 people. A battalion should have three companies and a regiment should have three batteries. That would also stop one of the recurring wasteful arguments we have. We have spent a lot of time on which building we should close. The argument is that you have this building here that is big enough for a battalion, but you do not have a battalion; you only have a company, so you need a smaller building. Why do we not close your building so that you have a building big enough for a company?

The building is here. Why do we not just put three companies in it and be the right size for the infrastructure we have? Running around and tearing the infrastructure down so that we can have smaller infrastructure for the units that are already too small seems to me to be heading in exactly the wrong direction.

I like the factory analogy. We have the infrastructure for the factory, but we are only given about a third of the raw materials, and then people ask us why our costs are out of whack. Our costs are out of whack because you are not giving us the raw materials to build the things we could build within our infrastructure.

With regard to recruitment, CFRCs are often in the wrong place. We have talked about that. The recruiting process has four or five steps that have to be gone through: medicals; an IQ test; education verification; enhanced reliability check, making sure they are not criminals; and an interview. This could be done in a day. It has been done in a day. Every once in a while, we prove to ourselves that we can do it in a day, but as you have heard, it usually takes about six months. The example was given a minute ago about the fellow who wants to transfer to the regular force. It might not matter there because what you are offering that fellow is a 20-year career with good pay, good benefits and a pension. People will wait six months for that kind of opportunity if they think that is what they want to do.

We in the reserves are not offering that. We are not generally offering a career; we are offering a job. We can recruit people from the ages of 16 to 54, but the truth is that there are a lot more 16-year-olds than 54-year-olds. The average 16-year-old who walks through the doors of our buildings does not really know whether he wants to be a soldier or a rock star. He does not really know what he wants to do with his life. He just heard about this and thought he would come and see if it looks okay. His options are 7-11, Esso and Subway. He is just looking for a job because he wants to make a couple of thousand dollars to buy a car so that he can drive to the gravel pit with his girlfriend. He is not really thinking about his life.

If you say to that guy, “Fill out these forms. Turn them in, and maybe you will get a phone call in three months, and then maybe in nine months you can join” — he does not have a nine-month time horizon.

We are spending all this money to attract these kids, but then we are doing it in such a way as to almost ensure that we turn them off. It makes no sense.

How does CFRC fix itself? Part of it is staffing. Most of the people who work there are at the end of their career. They are not really that interested. They are thinking about what they are going to do when they retire. They work days. They work from 9:00 to 4:00 or 9:00 to 5:00, and I do not think there is any particular incentive for cranking through more files rather than fewer.

Our soldiers tend to be available to take the phone call from CFRC in the evenings or on Saturdays, but CFRCs do not work then. CFRC is phoning kids to set up appointments at two o'clock in the afternoon when they are all in school, and it does not work. It never has and probably never will.

I have been dwelling a bit on the American model. Why? It just seems to work better in some ways. Their recruiting centres are located in malls. They are staffed by retired service people who are paid a commission on how many people they recruit, and it seems to work a lot better than what we do.

With regard to retention, the biggest reason we lose people is that we treat them badly. Our soldiers initially are paid $66 a day, which is not a lot. It might work if we could guarantee them X amount of training, but we cannot because we have no money. We give them a course syllabus in January or February. They nominate themselves for a course. We tell them that we have put their names in, but we cannot tell them if they are on the course. Months go by. It is June, and a message comes down that such and such a course is cancelled because there was no money, there were no instructors, there was no this, there was no that. This kid, who has based his plans on being able to go away for the summer, cannot.

The opposite sometimes happens as well. The course is running, but it is June 23 and we let him know that he is supposed to leave two days later for the course.

We treat them badly, and we wonder why they quit.

We have this foolish notion of train-to-need, again generated by money. Rather than giving our soldiers the training that they want when they can take it, we give them the training that they need at the last possible minute, and it does not fit into the lives of the people with whom we are working. We recruit a 16-year-old. He is a high school student and he wants to go away for the summer and do army stuff.

Let us say we have a good summer the first year, and he returns and wants to go away in the second summer and do army stuff. We say, “You know, you are not really quite ready for this course. We will give it to you in a couple of years when we need you to have it.” What happens? Now he is 19 years old and he has a job, and he cannot take two months off in the summer.

Now we are breaking courses down into two-week modules so that you can take it over four years. We should break them down into four-week modules so that people can take them when they are working on their career, but denying that to the young kid when he is ready to take it is really stupid.

Again, the Americans do not do that. When you join the National Guard, you go away for five months. They train you to a point of several ranks above the one you have because they know that in a few years you are going to be in a career and you will not be able to go away for those long periods. They invest in their soldiers in that way.

We have also taken another thing that was not broken, and we broke it. That is our officer training. We used to send our young officers to Gagetown, where they took the same training as the regular force officers. When they came back they were very switched-on and well trained. Everybody thought that was great. Not everybody went that route. There was also a reserve route where you took a little less training. I think all COs tried to push their people into that regular force program.

The army decided that that was expensive, so we could not do that any more. In the reserves you can only be trained in the reserve officer program, which is nowhere near as long and nowhere near as good. As a result, we are not going to get the quality of officers that we used to. This was purely financially driven, and it was a bad idea. We should not have done it, but that is the way it is.

We hear about the army-reserve funding model. We received a copy of it today, and it says that we get 44.5 days on the armouries floor. That is not true. It is a lie. We never get anywhere near that much money. We get something like 22 days. I do not know where the rest of it goes. If we got 44 days, a lot of our problems would be solved. This army-reserve funding model is a fiction.

Those are my points. Thank you.

Senator Meighen: I do not intend to be negative or insulting, but we have heard most of this quite frequently elsewhere. We seem to be able to identify the problems fairly clearly. I must say that you have articulated them in a very dramatic and understandable fashion, and I thank you for that.

There is not too much that is new, so I think we are zeroing in on the issues. The question is: How do we deal with all of them?

On the other side of the coin, what is there that is any better? I may be fooling myself because I want to believe it is so, but it seems to me that there is, at least with the regulars, a slightly different and more favourable attitude vis-à-vis reservists. I hope I am not wrong, but I think I detect an understanding on the part of the regulars that the reservists are important and that they are not just under-trained nuisances who come along to take up their time and really cannot operate in this high-tech world.

Mention was made of the LAV-3s. They have the same problems in terms of training. We heard in Edmonton yesterday time and time again that they do not have the trainers to train. If they do not have the trainers to train themselves, it is very difficult for them to provide the trainers to train the reserves. They talked about being able, at best, to provide two rather than four, if memory serves me correctly.

Someone was talking about medicals. Whoever said that medicals are arranged by the recruiting centre in a timely fashion was the first person to tell us that. Everybody else says that the big bottleneck is the medicals. The medicals have to be done by a CF medical person; they cannot be done by Dr. Jones down the street. The CF medical person, of course, is very busy. Consequently, it takes months and months, and there is a great deal of hesitation about legal liability questions if you do not get the medical stuff right.

Everybody says that transferring from one occupation to another is incredibly complicated. Everybody tells us that to get records is impossible, that you wait months and months, and that that causes all the problems to which you have alluded.

The regulars seem to recognize that and seem to have a better understanding of the importance of the reserves. As the chairman said at the outset, you have a lot of friends here in terms of that importance.

One question I have concerns what Col. Richmond was saying about amphibious and mountain tasks. Who makes that determination, Colonel, as to what your regiment will be doing in terms of tasking?

LCol. Richmond: I am not sure, but I cannot wait to find out.

LCol. Travis: The Army Commander, in conjunction with MajGen. Fitch, has recently initiated a program. We are now into Land Force Reserve Restructure phase 2. That is looking at all the missions, roles and tasks for all the brigade reserve units across Canada. Based on that, we as a brigade are now submitting our responses to suggested missions and roles that they have given us and, in conjunction with that, we are stating what the units' desires are. Hopefully, the army staff will pick them and get back to us.

Senator Meighen: Col. Drysdale mentioned defined roles for the reservists, rather than just being augmentation specific. The navy does this fairly well. It is my understanding that coastal patrol vessels are all manned by reservists.

The army seems to have had great difficulty in coming to terms with all this. Can anyone tell me whether in the discussions going on now there is a greater understanding of the importance of cohesiveness and reservists deploying and coming back as a group?

LCol. Travis: My understanding with regard to the navy specialist trades is that you can take a square peg and put it in a square hole. In other words, you can train specialists in the navy and they are going to work on a frigate. There is a very specific task orientation, right down to the individual job.

In combat arms, more so in the infantry, the generality of the training makes it very difficult to produce an individual who is all things to all people.

Senator Meighen: I reiterate that in the navy, those coastal patrol vessels are manned 100 per cent by reservists.

LCol. McGregor: On the issue of training for specific missions, Land Force Reserve Restructure tasks have been suggested at sub-unit and sub-sub-unit levels — in other words, at company and platoon levels. If we are given tasks of that nature, we will be able to train to those. These are things like light infantry companies. Interestingly enough, there was a suggestion in the LFRR process about LAV-3 troops as well, which I found refreshing, and other things such as urban search and rescue, which is a platoon and company task, and things such as reconnaissance platoons and anti-armour platoons. These are specific sub-unit and sub-sub-unit tasks within the infantry and combat arms across the board. Artilleries, batteries and so on have likewise been given suggested tasks.

Senator Meighen: If we said we were going to close those fancy recruiting offices in downtown Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, move them out to the armouries and ask the Seaforths to lease us some space, do X amount of the paperwork involved and send the recruits down the street to Dr. Smith or Dr. Jones, who can probably see them and do the medical within a short time, could you take that on?

LCol. Richmond: Just to bolster what you are suggesting, in the Royal Westminster Regiment we made office space available for the MFRC, which used to be co-located at brigade headquarters. That is the Military Family Resource Centre. They came to us saying, “You have a location that is more desirable and more central. Can you give us space?” We saw that as a huge plus, not only for our unit but also for the support of the brigade, so we agreed.

I should point out something that is unique to the Lower Mainland. There are a lot of COs sitting at this table who said that, if the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre were to move, it should be to a more central location like Metrotown, where there are about 10,000 people walking through those doors every day. It is on a major transportation hub. That makes a lot more sense than having them downtown, with all the two- and three-piece suit people who just do not seem to want to sign up recruits or get lean and green, for some reason.

By the way, I want to address the issue of LAV-3 training. I actually gave Gen. Fenton the answer when I was in Calgary, so I will give it to you folks. One of the advantages of being in the militia is that we get to think outside the box from time to time.

If they in fact do not have enough people to train the trainers so that they can train others, there is a western area training centre in Wainwright. “They do not have the LAVs.” I said, “Why not? Why do you not create a LAV-3 training school? Then you can train your gunners, your commanders and your drivers. It would be one-stop shopping. Put them all in one place. When we were teaching parachute dropping, we had to send people to schools for that. You can do the same thing with the LAV-3s.”

There is a question about maintaining currency on the LAVs. There is a win-win scenario there, too. You can have a LAV-3 here in the brigade that can be hooked up to a simulator so that people can remain current. You can then use that same LAV-3 for your recruiting displays, and there is the solution to your retention and recruitment all in one. It is a great fit, and it makes so much sense that it will never fly.

LCol. Travis: To expand on your question about the roles and tasks for units, I believe that the current LFRR phase 2 process, studying missions, roles and tasks, will solve a large part of that problem. About 90 per cent of those individuals whom we would be required to provide during various stages of mobilization would actually deploy as companies and as squadrons to another military organization, and another 10 per cent would probably be the individual “augmentee” requirements.

LCol. Brown: On your first point, sir, about sending formed sections, et cetera, on rotations, this was recently discussed amongst the service battalion COs for Western Area. The regular force units had not thought about that, so they had never put out a tasking geared to sending out a team or a section of vehicles.

The regular force has been more concerned with getting an infanteer out into the field for a rotation through Bosnia.

That is being considered now, down to the point where we could probably send an MRT team, which is a two-man team. They go with their vehicle and work together as a team. They can be employed within a service battalion that is on tasking to Bosnia or any other location. We can take that as far as sending a section or a platoon of trucks to perform the roles within the service battalions in the locations where those are required.

It is being looked at. It has not been much thought about to this point, until the COs from reserve units talked to them.

We are becoming a bit more vocal, and they are starting to listen. It is working well.

On your second point, about recruitment facilities within the armouries, every one of us has a recruiting section within our armouries. We have an area allocated to recruiting. In most cases, it would not be difficult to make space available to a recruiter to do business. I know it would not in our armouries. That would be ideal, and we would welcome it.

On the LAV-3, I will point out that when General Motors deployed their LAV-3s into Fort Lewis, Washington, the two maintainers who went down with those vehicles were reservists from 22 Service Battalion in London. They are trained mechanics and are qualified on civilian street. They work for General Motors and they are reservists. They are qualified on that equipment and are heavy-duty mechanics.

That is just to put it in perspective. The capability rests within, so make use of it.

Senator Meighen: I know you will be watching the budget with great interest to see what money is provided, as will we.

I want to congratulate the two of you who mentioned the success you are having in recruiting people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. That is particularly important here and for the face of the Canadian Forces.

Senator Day: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your succinct and very helpful remarks.

With respect to the reserve restructuring, unless one of you can tell me otherwise, I am taking it from this meeting that you are fairly satisfied with the development of the reserve restructuring process thus far. You are into phase 2 and defining the special tasks. As I understand it, a base for mobilization, augmentation of the regular force and then the footprint in the community aspect, in particular, will be dealt with in this phase. You do not want to abandon the augmentation of the regular force aspect. You still want to be one army, and you still want to be soldiers, but you also see another community role that could be defined.

Presumably, with Colonel Fraser working in this area, you feel you have fairly good input into defining what those special tasks for the militia might be. I would like you to tell me if I am wrong in making that assumption. Do you feel you have a meaningful role to play in defining the special roles?

Maj. Maxon: Sir, the concern with LFRR is that we are constantly being told that it is a planning exercise or a process, but that no funding has been addressed or considered or carved out of any budget. It is almost akin to handing us the shiny Christmas catalogue and letting us flip through, but telling us there might not be a Christmas Day and that in fact there is no Santa Claus. I do not want to be too facetious, but until we resource these things, it is a huge issue.

The point about the navy was a good one. The navy bought boats specifically for those reserve units, and presumably have resourced them so that they have enough days to qualify those people.

In the army reserve we are not even close to that these days, and nobody is telling me that that is going to happen next year or the year after that or the year after that. There is no concrete “This is where we are going” on the horizon. We are being told, “If Christmas comes, what roles and tasks would you like? Here is a rough suggestion. Is this something that we could accommodate in B.C., based on our population,” and so on. We look at that and say, “Yes, that seems reasonable. Those are the kinds of thing we would like to do.”

Nobody is even talking about how much that is going to cost.

Senator Day: Col. Brown, would you be happy if one of the special roles for the reserves was to be involved with homeland security issues, helping out in your local region and participating in that in a meaningful way?

LCol. Brown: Yes, sir. Our communities want to see us with a role in homeland security. However that role is defined, it has to be made very clear to them. They all have their own expectations. For instance, if there were an earthquake here in Vancouver, they would expect us to be able to mobilize our units immediately to come to their aid, not realizing the process that you have to go through to request that assistance.

Many of our members sit on local community emergency preparedness committees, and we try to make that clear. Nonetheless the expectation is there that we are the “army of the west.” We are here. We are the only people wearing green here, as there are no regular force units. We will be the ones who will be picking up the pieces.

Our members would not be in the reserves if they were not community-minded. In the past, when we have had events such as the snow that hit Victoria, and also Richmond, we deployed vehicles to assist the community. We did not wait for the community to go through the process. They needed help right then because they had to get emergency service vehicles out. They could not move through the snow; we could, so we came to their aid.

They may remember that, but we have to work on improving the process for communities to obtain that kind of assistance and cover ourselves liability-wise with our commanders. We really need to rethink how we do business with our communities.

Senator Day: You would be happy with a homeland security type of role as long as it is well defined?

LCol. Brown: Yes, sir.

Senator Day: Obviously, that would include training — nuclear, biological, et cetera?

LCol. Brown: It would have to include the training, and not only funding, but also the resources, the actual equipment on the ground that we would need to do that.

Senator Day: Someone mentioned that the militia should not be in recruiting, and I could not agree more. I am almost convinced that the armed forces should not be involved in recruiting. If you were trying to operate a business in the way the armed forces do recruiting, you would not be in business very long.

I believe Col. Richmond indicated that he was over-strength. How does that happen? Do you not get a budget for an authorized number of people? How do you get 15 per cent more than was authorized? Are you paying for the additional 15 through the Richmond Armouries?

LCol. Richmond: I wish that were true.

In our case, we were at a commanders' conference where we were told to go out and recruit, so we did. We put a lot of horsepower into that in my particular unit, and in fact we created a recruiting cell that would certainly rival CFRCs. Those were the kinds of numbers that we attracted because we were so aggressive.

Our unit is growing at a rate of 15 per cent per year. If funded, I could grow to 300 in three years, but I am told, “No, no, slow down, stop.”

Do I have a ceiling? Absolutely. Has extra money been devolved to my unit? Yes, because we are successful. One of the basic tenets of the military is to reinforce success. We are turning out a first-class product.

Our unit sends 10 per cent of its total strength on every rotation. I have 30 soldiers ready to go for this next rotation, which is a lot. We probably have one of the highest percentages per capita ready to augment the regular force.

To build on our discussion about special roles, I will put out a caveat to the panel: Let's be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Perhaps we should be sticking to our primary roles. Well-trained soldiers can do just about anything you ask them to do. They can play these other roles, but I think we should stick to the primary role, which is to augment the regular force with the training that we have, and with a view to being prepared to provide domestic support when required. I think that is the angle we should be taking, not just saying, “We are going to move you away from your traditional roles into the laundry, bath and decontamination unit because we happen to need one of those.”

Again, well-trained soldiers can do just about anything you ask them to do.

Senator Day: Col. Brown, you talked about tax incentives in recruiting. That is not always easy to do within a national program. In effect, you are giving somebody a financial benefit in saying “You do not have to pay tax on your earnings for the initial six months.” Could you not accomplish the same thing by giving a bonus as opposed to a tax incentive?

You talked about training people up, and then they go to the regular force. Since you trained the people well and they are getting jobs in the regular force, instead of those individuals receiving a signing bonus from the regular force, could the bonus not come to your reserve unit for the good job you have done?

LCol. Brown: To an extent it could, sir. My first question is: Where do you see the bonus being applied — at the time of recruiting? That is a one-off. That is not going to keep the guy who is a professional in his community and already earning $80,000 a year.

Senator Day: There is a fairly well established, graduated program in the armed forces. When you sign up with the regular force, you get a small amount, a bit more if you stay, and a bit more when you complete full training.

LCol. Brown: It is the regular force that does that, not the reserves. They are getting the bonus because they are coming in trained. You have a qualified mechanic coming in who has his provincial licence. He is getting a bonus for coming on board with that training, and it ends, I believe, at year 3 or 4.

What do you do with the long-term reservist? Ideally, you want to keep them in for 20-plus years. It is probably the case with most people at the table here that there is no incentive at that level. I mentioned the number 100 because that is what the Australians use. That is not to say that that is what we should use, but it is something that should be considered. Look at something outside the box. Quite honestly, we do not look outside the box as often as we should.

If you want to keep people, you have to give them incentives to stay. Students have all sorts of packages now for education as long as they stay in the reserves. After their education is completed, they get a portion of their tuition back. For the regular force, you receive bonuses if you come in with a professional qualification. There is nothing now for the long-term reservist. Quite honestly, professionals, whom I pretty much require in a service battalion because they are tradesmen, make a pretty decent buck on civvy street. If it comes down to where they are going to make more money, they will go with their job. If they can make double time or time-and-a half working on a weekend as a plumber on civvy street, that is where they are going to be.

If I can say, “Come out with me. We will let you go out into the field and train you to be a soldier and still use some of your professional skills. For a portion of your time, the tax rate will be reduced,” that is another way to look at it.

Senator Forrestall: A lot of our problems arise because we try to do things on the cheap, and we create the frustrations that you and others have met.

If you had an additional eight days for training and the funds to accommodate that, would it significantly improve the capabilities of your units?

LCol. Lowe: We are in a bit of a transition phase, splitting from the army in 2001. The medical sector is going into its own little world. We are also tasked with upgrading our members' medical skills, which is actually another 10 days added onto our training. If you could offer me another eight days, it would be great, but it would not help with what I need to do.

The funding model that we have right now is 44. With another 10, that brings me up to 54. I only had 20 days last year, so I do not know if 8 would really help me keep the numbers in my unit.

Senator Forrestall: The answer is yes and no.

LCol. Lowe: No, it would not help. I do not think I can put out a good product with an extra eight days.

Maj. Maxon: The concern is: How many training days do we actually have in a year and are we asking for an infinite number? We are not the regular force, and we are not looking to train soldiers full-time. In fact it is a self-regulating process. When we start to plan too many events, the soldiers will stop coming out. Thirty or so days of training per soldier, plus their courses, is not a bad number.

Now we are working with 30 or so days per soldier, and it does not give us the money to go into the field and do the type of training that we need to do.

I am leery about getting into the numbers. Is that 8 days with 100 per cent of my soldiers or is that 8 days with 30 per cent going to the leadership and 70 per cent going to the soldier? This funding model is driving us crazy.

Bottom line, we need more money. Fifty per cent more is probably a realistic amount at my unit level. I am funded at $240,000 for training and some O&M. If you gave me $300,000 to $400,000, I could spend that money well. Do I want a million dollars? Probably not. I could not spend all that money on training.

Maj. Bartlett: Twenty years ago when there was much lower funding, as a soldier I got $25 a day. We were able to do 10 field exercises a year, a week-long gun camp at Wainwright, Alberta, and a two-week militia concentration at Fort Lewis every year.

Senator Forrestall: How often would you parade?

Major Barrett: Twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday nights, one night volunteer and one night for about $8. Tuesday night was paid. As an officer earning $35 a day, I believe I got $11.60 for a Tuesday night. On Thursday we signed volunteer pay sheets. We paraded one exercise every month during our training cycle, from September through to June. That included co-op models.

I was also the recruiting officer for a regiment from 1983 until 1987. I can tell you that we performed all our own recruiting functions, with the exception of officer applicants, who had to go down to brigade headquarters for interviews.

On average, we recruited approximately 45 to 60 recruits every year whom we enrolled into the regiment and sent away on training. Internally, we ran two basic recruit courses, one during the cycle of the year and one over the summer months through the SYEP program, which has been mentioned. I am a product of that program from 1982.

We also did a lot of our own training in our trades courses, but our strengths on paper were 150 to 200 soldiers, which gives you a far greater capability for doing training and other activities.

Referring to Senator Meighen's comment about going over as units to do taskings, from 1978 until 1984, my regiment was tasked annually overseas to act as the umpires for the reconnaissance of 4 Brigade. I can say that we sent an average of 32 to 40 soldiers every year on that tasking until it ended in 1984.

As for community involvement, the regiments have always been involved in helping out the communities. During the 1986 Vancouver Centennial, which held a party in Stanley Park, my regiment augmented the police force and provided security elements to observe activities in the park and report them back to civilian headquarters.

At times, we have been asked to co-operate with the emergency services. For example, civilians in North Vancouver District held an earthquake preparedness exercise, and my regiment participated, providing information through the military to pass on to the civilians so that they would know where to send their two ambulances and their fire trucks.

These things are quite capable of being done, but I agree with what Col. Richmond said. We cannot forget what we are here for, which is to be the sharp end of the stick. We keep learning the wrong lessons at times. When push comes to shove and there are casualties, you have to have soldiers trained to fight. The last thing you want is repeat the lessons of 1944 and 1945, when cooks were handed rifles and sent up to the front lines.

We can take any intelligent soldier in the reserves and train him or her to handle those other pieces of equipment.

LCol. McGregor: On the point of person-days, I think it is important to remember that we are dealing here with reservists, part-time soldiers.

A good model to work with is 4.5 days per month. If we have 9 months out of a given year when we can use those 4.5 days per month, then we are looking at something like 40.5 days, or more, per year at the armoury floor level; 4.5 days give me, as the CO of my unit, one weekend exercise per month — that is 2.5 days — and 4 weeknight training periods. That is 4.5 days per person per month times 9 — and I say that because June, July and August are normally unit stand-down periods when there is no local armoury floor training. The members go for trades training at the national level, et cetera. The June-July-August period is normally a slow time for a militia unit, at least in 39 Brigade.

You have 9 months times 4.5 days per month, 40.5 days. If we get that on the armoury floor, that will be sufficient to do more than we are able to do now. Currently we are training at a very basic level. We never get beyond platoon level at the unit.

Senator Forrestall: Would you be kind enough to convey my greetings to your colonel. I am sorry that he is not here with you today.

Senator Wiebe: I want to focus for a moment on the 44 days and 22 days. This is a bit of a puzzle to me.

It is my understanding that you submit your budget in August for the next year. You know what your strength is. You know how many days you have. You are then funded accordingly.

Why, when you are told that you have 44 days and you budget for 44 days, do you only receive money for 22 days? Are you talking about strictly on-the-floor parades, or are you talking about the days that your unit would be involved in community service — for example, Remembrance Day ceremonies, where they are on parade and paid for that? Is it all used for on-the-floor training?

Does that mean that you have full strength on parade every night? If the reservist does not show up for parade, he does not get paid.

It seems rather strange. If you are guaranteed 44 days and you only receive money for 22, you are being screwed — and pardon my English.

Maj. Maxon: My understanding is that the 44 days is what we are to schedule, but then various attendance factors are placed on different rank levels. Although, hypothetically, I am supposed to schedule 44 days of training, it is really not expected that all my soldiers can attend on all those days. In fact, I am being told that should I have soldiers who actually wanted to go on all those days, I would have to tell them no. Once they have reached a certain number of days, whether that is 22 or 30, they will have used up their allocation.

The other problem with the funding model is that it is based on how many soldiers parade at least once per month. There is no accountability after that for whether they paraded 4.5 days a month or merely showed up once per month. The current model and its performance measures are not meeting our needs on the armouries floor, sir.

LCol. Travis: If I may expand on that, the funding is not always for Class A, which includes the days we are talking about, Class A being a part-time reservist. Class B would be a full-time reservist.

For example, if the unit has a regular force support staff position within it, and the regular force does not fill that position, the reserves end up hiring a full-time reservist Class B to fill it. Therefore, the money comes out of Class A and goes into Class B.

The money is now coming out of the brigade's training funds to cover off a regular force position that has not been filled. The regular force does not give us additional money because of that.

The recruiting centres in Vancouver and Victoria are not capable of keeping up with the peak periods, when they are primarily interested in recruiting regular force soldiers to fill the Royal Military College, and the reserves tend to fall by the wayside. We supplement them during peak periods with Class B reservists, so again we have to take funding out of the Class A pot to put into a full-time soldier clerk to work in these recruiting centres so that we can keep our recruits coming through the system.

Certain positions have recently been converted into regular force positions from our army reserve establishment that cannot be filled because the regular force individuals just do not exist. We cannot afford to let them go unfilled. They are the quartermaster positions in each of the units. It is costing the brigade $550,000 a year to fill those positions with full-time reservists. That comes out of the Class A pot of funding and goes into Class B.

On the public affairs side, rather than put Class A funding into a large centre like Vancouver, the brigade centralizes it. Otherwise, we end up with seven units in the Lower Mainland all wanting to participate in the same public affairs, community footprint type events. We control it. For example, the dragon boat race is one of the primary community footprint activities that take place on the Lower Mainland. We take that money from the units and put it under our public affairs officer, and in that way, the taskings that are done within the Lower Mainland, Vancouver and Victoria areas are co-ordinated so that we can focus certain numbers of units on those activities.

It does not always show up in the Class A, but it is in the system. To a large degree, that is due to the fact that the regular force is not filling the positions it should be.

Senator Wiebe: The army reserve is now into phase 2 of restructuring. We hear a lot from the regulars in the Department of National Defence about the total force concept. All we have heard is the term “total force.”

What have you heard in each of your units about the role that you will play in that concept?

LCol. Lowe: In the medical world there is no total force organization. We are not trained to the level of the regular force. I have people who are sent overseas with the field ambulances or other medical resources who do not necessarily work in that field, but in the kitchen. Currently I am trying to get some bodies over there who can drive an ambulance, and I have been told that they do not have the qualifications to do that.

On the medical side there is no total force yet. I think we are working toward that, but it is going to take a long time to get there.

LCol. Richmond: On the infantry side we are routinely augmenting the regular force to the point where some of the regular force units are deploying with 20 to 25 per cent front-line reservists. They are at a point where they need the reserves. They absolutely have to have us if they are to be able to deploy.

In some ways that has been a blessing for the reservists because they are ensuring that the training levels are raised for those troops who are deployed. From that perspective there is a total force.

Senator Wiebe: Col. Richmond, does everybody want to go into the infantry? In listening to you, your reserve unit seems to be a success story. You are at 115 per cent enrolment. You exceeded your allotment and you got paid for it. On top of that, you have a certain percentage of your members now serving with the regular force.

Could you fill us in on how you accomplished that?

LCol. Richmond: Let me reiterate what Col. Drysdale said, and in fact, Gen. Fenton said the same thing. The reserves in Canada should probably be at about 40,000. We could grow it to that, but we need the money to do it.

The success story of our unit is that we put the horsepower into recruiting at the front line. Nobody handed us $15 million to do Hollywood ad campaigns. We did our local recruiting in the schools the old-fashioned way, face-to-face, with handshakes and kissing babies. That is how we did it. We brought the soldiers in.

We provide first-class training. There are people who want to do their peacekeeping bit if they are given the opportunity, and we frequently augment the regular force.

We have a formula for success, and we would be willing to transplant that, or to sell it for a small fee. I think we need to reinforce that type of success, and we can do it. It will be to the benefit of not only the local communities, but of the nation as a whole.

LCol. Drysdale: One of our frustrations, or maybe fears, is that we do not have a reserve budget per se. We in the reserves feel that we give great value for money, but the CF budget is a single budget that is then parcelled out by a series of generals, most of whom believe that the regular force is the more vital component. What is it that the Romans used to do? They took the coins and sliced them until they were very small.

We think our budget of 44.5 days exists at some point. A little gets carved out for WATC. WATC is really a regular force thing that is supposed to do something for us, but we think we pay far too much for it. We hear stories about buildings being built at WATC that come out of the reserve budget. We think some of the money in the reserve budget is going to pay for equipment that we will never get to use.

Talking about how we grow to the 40,000, we get presented at the unit level with a very finite amount of money. We are not allowed to overspend. We think that some of the money that should be coming to us is actually going to other things — not that we think those things should not be done, but we think they are being done with funds that really should be destined for us.

There are other areas of government where overspending happens. Employment Insurance has a budget, but if we have an economic downturn, they do not tell people that they have to stop collecting because the budget is used up.

We would like to have a little more flexibility, in the sense that if a unit is successful and can bring 30 extra people in, we should be able to do that. I do not think it is going to break the budget, but it could surely give us a better reserve.

Senator Smith: We have already talked about the advertising. Presumably, recruiting is done by word of mouth, by contacting the schools and friends of people who already belong, and using local advertising versus national campaigns.

Are there national campaigns for the reserve, or have there been?

LCol. Richmond: I have seen some on television. Again, I question their effectiveness. We mentioned earlier the SYEP program, the Summer Youth Employment Program. That basically was run out of the armouries floor and recruits were sought from within the community. This was funded federally, and the opportunity was given to youth to find summer employment.

Senator Smith: Was this offer made in a TV ad or in national newspapers, or did each unit get a budget to spend on local advertising? One of the points you made that registered with me was that you thought that whatever dollars exist for recruitment advertising could be much more effectively spent at the local level rather than as part of some big campaign, be it in Maclean's or The Globe and Mail or on CTV.

Do you get a budget each year or just on special occasions?

LCol. Richmond: We have no budget for recruiting. In other words, I have to pay my soldiers to go out and do that face to face or to get on the phone.

You mentioned the SYEP program. That was done locally, whether through newspaper campaigns or the old-fashioned posters on the wall. It was very effective. Every summer there are students out there looking for employment. You slap up some posters, and guess what, they are knocking at your door looking for a job.

Senator Smith: To the extent that they have these national recruiting campaigns through various media, it is virtually all directed to full-time recruits, with maybe an exception such as the SYEP in one instance. Is that correct?

LCol. McGregor: The SYEP program has been dead for 10 or more years. I believe Col. Richmond was using it as an example.

I have seen some of the materials for the current recruiting program. They have prepared a national program, and there is mention of reserves. There is really no explanation of what that is about. They refer to a Web site. When you go to the Web site and check the material, the career profile that they refer to for an infantry officer, for instance, is for a regular force officer. At least it was when they first launched the program.

There is a disconnect between what the national program is putting out and the reality in the reserves.

LCol. Brown: We cannot use unit funds to advertise locally. There is no fund for it. Our unit associations will fund an ad in a local newspaper. That is the best recruiting tool that we have.

Senator Smith: Col. Richmond, you were saying that you have exceeded your targets in the last several years.

Maybe you are a natural-born advertising executive, like Senator Atkins, and maybe you should be tapped to write a national manual on how to exceed your target. Where you have raw talent like this, it should be duly noted, Mr. Chairman. This skill set should be drawn to the attention of the powers-that-be. I am actually serious about this. You or your group should be a role model for how to exceed those targets.

LCol. Richmond: I appreciate your comments. The caveat there is, after we get them in the doors, we need the money to train them.

We had 150 city vacancies, meaning 150 available seats, but 250 recruits. There are 100 recruits who do not have any training because we do not have the spots for them.

Senator Smith: These are two different things. We have certainly heard from other people that they are not able to get them in the door, and I am sure you have heard that.

I think you are telling us that, if you go about it in the right way, you can get them in the door.

LCol. Richmond: Absolutely. Most units typically put a junior officer and an NCO in the recruiting cell. I put a senior captain, a junior officer, two sergeants and a corporal, so we had a bona fide recruiting cell. We were located not only in Westminster but also in Aldergrove, so we were recruiting from two places.

Again, if you build it, they will come. If you put the horsepower into the campaign, it will happen for you.

LCol. McGregor: The Royal Westminster Regiment is located in a suburb of the Greater Vancouver Area. They also have an out company in Abbotsford. They benefit from the geographical location of their unit. Most of the suburban area is available to them; that is where the families with young people are.

This armoury is located in a metropolitan area, in Vancouver. We do not have an out company in one of the lower areas. Yet we too have benefited from using our own recruiting cell. We have maintained our strength and also grown.

The key point I want to make is the area where the footprint is. The Westies are up the valley in an area where there is population growth.

Senator Smith: I have one question, out of curiosity, for Col. Drysdale.

I commend you on your graduate work. Did you do this at a military college?

LCol. Drysdale: No, City University of London.

Senator Smith: I can see the faces of the faculty advisers when you told them, “I am going to do a PhD on reserve readiness.” I think it is fantastic, and I applaud you for that.

Senator Cordy: I want to thank you all for your openness today. These are messages that we have heard before, but you have certainly articulated them very clearly.

A number of you have said that, while recruits can be from age 16 to 65, the majority are young teenagers. How many of these young people who come into the reserves at 16, 17 and 18 are staying in the military, either as a reservist or in deciding to make the Canadian Forces their full-time career?

LCol. Brown: I do not have actual numbers for you, but I can tell you that we go through a period where, if we bring them in when they are in high school, they stay. They are looking for employment that will take them through high school and college so that they can pay for tuition and books.

Then we tend to lose them because they are getting started in a job. They may have to move out of the city. Then they are starting families and paying attention to that side of life. Quite often, if they have had a good experience in the reserves, we get them back.

I have had several officers come in at the age of 40 and 40-plus, and they have very successful careers. It is because they have hit that time in life when they want to do something different. Their kids are at that age where they do not need Mom or Dad at home all the time.

We do not have any firm statistics on that, but there are a lot of reasons why people come and go in the reserves. All units go through peaks and ebbs in their recruiting and retention cycles.

The Chairman: I have to leave, as I have to be in Calgary this evening. Senator Forrestall is the deputy chairman of the committee and he will chair this portion of the meeting. I apologize for interrupting.

Senator Michael Forrestall (Deputy Chairman) in the Chair.

Senator Cordy: You did mention re-enrolments, and somebody commented earlier about people going back into the reserves after having been out for a while. I can certainly understand the scenario you have presented. My understanding is re-enrolling takes an incredibly long time. How can that possibly be? If you have already been in the reserve and you were qualified, unless something unusual has happened in your life to keep you from going back, why does it take so long?

LCol. McGregor: There are two specific issues. One is records-keeping, finding the person's history. We cannot re-enrol people unless we know who they are and what their training really was. We go on a big hunt for their personnel files and their records, and that is often an onerous task at various levels.

There are records-keeping rules. At brigade level and at area level, a personnel file is only kept so long before it is sent off to Ottawa, where I believe it is microfiched, and the hard copy may well be destroyed after a number of years.  All that is left is a microfiche record.

This record search that has to occur is known as the “verification of former service.” That can take a number of months. I think the quickest I have seen was 60 days, but there have been others that have taken months.

Depending on how long the individual has been out, there is an equivalency concern. Training can become outdated and our weapons, equipment and doctrine change. Depending on the seniority of the individuals and how recently they left the military or went on a supplementary list, there can be an equivalency problem. The local area or brigade has to determine what equivalency that individual will come back in with, so there is a bit of a negotiation period, if you will.

Senator Cordy: Some of the time it takes is indeed legitimate.

LCol. McGregor: I really do not know what the process is with regard to equivalency. I cannot comment on that.

Senator Cordy: I have your message.

Col. Drysdale, you talked about combat stress, the fact that the reserves are used to supplement a brigade that may be going to Bosnia or Kosovo and that this causes problems because there is not the camaraderie that a group that has been training together for a long time would have. When they come back, they do not have the buddy system or peers who have been through the same experience.

If they are feeling combat stress, who watches out for them?

LCol. Drysdale: We do it badly, and I think the army recognizes that. There is a lot of work going on in how you deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. We have been receiving briefings on that in recent years, and I think we are all becoming more attuned to what to look for and to some of the resources that are there to take care of it. We are doing a much better job than we were.

My point is that some of it is unnecessarily induced by this individual augmentation method. Most armies that have been successful over the years have put a real emphasis on unit cohesion, keeping units together and the regimental family system. We seem to have forgotten that lesson in recent years.

Senator Cordy: I would certainly agree with you. From what we have heard and seen, the military is becoming much more aware of post-traumatic stress disorder. It is much more difficult for the reservists, particularly if just one or two or three are coming back.

LCol. Travis: The Military Family Resource Centre was instituted essentially for the regular force. It is not really designed to support the reserves. Over the last couple of years, I have noticed a lot more PTSD problems among reserve soldiers. It is supporting them, but it is taking some arm-twisting on our part to get them to do it.

Another thing that has been very effective for the reserves is the emergency number that members can call if they have any family issues or problems.

Senator Cordy: Reservists are eligible to use that emergency number as well?

LCol. Travis: Yes, they are.

Senator Meighen: The reservists who are coming back from deployment have the right to use the family resource centre, or are using it in spite of not really being authorized to do so?

LCol. Travis: I do not believe they have authorization, as such, to use it. Until recently, our MFRC here has been located in the centre of a large reserve community. Therefore, they are supporting the reserves in spite of the regulations.

Senator Meighen: It might be helpful if this committee were to suggest that they be mandated and authorized to do that.

LCol. Travis: I think they should support at least deployed soldiers and their families.

Captain Dave Gilmour, 39 Brigade Headquarters, Vancouver: In answer to one of your questions on equivalency, I can point out that the army system has failed through the years to continue to keep records when they change course material. As the colonel mentioned, when people come back in and their courses were taken more than 10 years ago, someone has to do a line-by-line check of that 10-year-old course report against today's courses to see if they will be granted an equivalency. That is one of the reasons for the delay.

Senator Banks: If I understand what you just said, reservists who are returning from deployment are not as a matter of course entitled to family service centre assistance. I had understood that they were. If they are not, would you please give the clerk that information.

LCol. Richmond, earlier you talked about the militia being the front-line face in the community, and it certainly is. You talked about diplomacy and the things that the army needs to be seen to be doing in a community, and about letting you do your own recruiting. Then you said that your members needed to have equal training. Everybody agrees with you, not only in the militia but also in the air force reserves and the naval reserves. Everybody agrees with that. Everybody understands that money and better equipment and more parts and access are needed to do that.

As an example, if I want you to turn me into a deployable rifleman who can join a company in Bosnia, a rifleman on whom my colleagues can absolutely rely — if I were to join the regular forces on the other hand, I would spend 90 days in basic training to become a deployable rifleman — how long does it take? Can it happen, given that there is not the same critical time mass?

LCol. Richmond: The equality concept is highly debatable, and I am sure that debate will go on forever and a day. The short answer is that it depends on the soldier.

You talk about raising competence levels to those of the regular force counterparts. Often, I believe the regular forces look at the unit from which the soldier is coming. Certain units gain a certain reputation for perhaps turning out a slightly better soldier than others. That may or may not be the case. The reality is that they will all undergo the same pre-deployment workup training to get to an acceptable level. They must achieve specific standards before they are deployed.

From a technical standpoint, they are deployable. They have ticked off the boxes, as it were, in their training, and they are fully deployable.

Senator Banks: You have now drawn a second line where you are able to say that this person is an infanteer, and we are now going to put that person into the pre-deployment process to get ready for that particular theatre of operation. I am talking about the time between walking through the door and the point where you can send them to the pre-deployment program.

LCol. McGregor: It is my belief that, given the number of training days that we have in a year, we cannot bring a private or corporal to the level where he is deployable. When the regular force takes in drafts of reservists for deployment training, in our experience, the checking of their basic training goes on for a considerable time. In the most recent rotation, when a composite reserve infantry company went to Bosnia, I believe there was a period of some 30 days where that company went through a number of basic deployment drills that confirmed training, and in some cases, probably taught some new things.

Senator Banks: How long, from the day that they walked through the door, did it take you to get those soldiers to the point that they could begin that 30-day program?

LCol. Travis: In the way the training system is set up now, if you do not know that the individuals are going to go on the next rotation, it takes two full summers to get them qualified to the stage where they can be considered. You are talking about significant blocks of time throughout the summer period in which they would have to go to Wainwright and do actual career courses.

Senator Banks: Together with their two days a week.

LCol. Travis: Yes.

Senator Banks: In an American reserve unit or a National Guard unit, the proportion of full-time, professional, permanent force soldiers helping to run it is about 10 per cent, on average. If you have a 120-man company, you have 12 permanent guys helping to run it.

In Canada, we would like to say that we could do it with four. We are told that the money is there to put four permanent force members into every militia unit to help run it — four full-time soldiers — but that they are not there. When somebody phones you and says, “I need you to give me 12 guys to fill out a rifle company to go to Bosnia,” or “I need you to send me an electronics technician or a radio operator guy,” you have to send your best, and your best is your trainer.

Do you actually expect to see the day, since the money is there, when the people will become available so that in each of your militia units you will have four full-time, permanent force soldiers helping to run those units, or am I completely out to lunch and that is already the case in this military district?

LCol. Travis: If you are the CO of a regular force unit, you know you have rotations coming up and you have somebody in your unit who is “broken” — with a bad back, foot problems, PTSD, you name it — you send him away so that he can have a break, and a lot of times, a reserve unit ends up getting that individual. Although it looks like you have five or six full-time, regular force people in your unit, the chances are that two of those are “broken” and you are only getting partial efforts toward what they have to do.

That is my impression. They become administrative burdens for us because we are stuck in Vancouver with no military medical support for them and trying to get them services in Esquimalt or Edmonton.

I would say that the majority of our units here are probably sitting at somewhere between six to eight per cent in terms of the regular support staff, with the eight per cent probably in units that are closer to 100 to 200.

LCol. Brown: At this time I have five full-time staff, two regular force staff and two Class B staff. Of my five regular force staff, two are broken and we are without those resources. Seven years ago a regular force vehicle tech sergeant was removed from our establishment. That took away force supervision of reservists doing real-time work on the armouries floor. They cannot do it without an individual at that level working with them.

I have another trade called “cooks.” You cannot train cooks or order food unless you have a 6A-qualified cook in the unit. If you are trying to build up your cooks, you need that resource in-unit, and it is not there.

Could we use more? From my perspective, yes, I would like to see more. I can employ them. I can put them to good use as trainers. They also become an asset to the brigade headquarters as augmentation staff, when required, for preparation for exercises, et cetera.

The positions are there. They are not necessarily filled, or they are not necessarily filled with capable individuals.

There is space for them. I should have 12 regular force staff or Class B staff.

Senator Banks: And you do not have to pay for them out of your budget.

LCol. Brown: I pay for those two Class B persons out of my budget.

Senator Banks: What about the others?

LCol. Brown: The other five are paid by the system. They are regular force.

Senator St. Germain: Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud of the fact that you have chosen to devote a lot of your valuable time to this very worthwhile cause of leadership in our community.

There was a statement made that we cannot keep up with the Americans. I am a former air force pilot, and I still fly. I know we are better than any American, and I am convinced that our army personnel are better than any in the world.

My question relates to the expectation of the community in the event of a disaster. How many reservists do we have on the ground in British Columbia?

LCol. Travis: The brigade strength for those soldiers who parade at least once a month — and we know through the pay system that they have paraded — is 1,350. To maintain that level we probably have about 1,600 reservists who have signed up at various times. Some of them may have either not been showing up, or they are on excused drill and training, EDT, which means that they have been given a period of two or three months to do a course.

Senator St. Germain: How many regulars are available in the event of a possible emergency, besides the 1,350?

LCol. Travis: Full-time soldiers, including regular force and full-time reservists, would be about 140. The majority of those people are Class A reservists.

Senator St. Germain: Does the expectation far exceed reality in the event of, say, a major flood or an earthquake, which is the most imminent natural disaster that faces us? Can you tell us what you face in the case of a disaster of that nature?

LCol. Travis: Recently we have been to a number of town hall meetings in Victoria, Vancouver and in three locations in interior B.C., where we had representatives from the communities — MPs, MLAs, mayors, chiefs of police — coming out to talk to us. I think their expectations do exceed what we are capable of doing. One of their top priorities is domestic operations. They expect us to be there in case of emergency.

I feel that the average reserve soldier, if called out for an emergency, would be there, but I do not think we have sufficient numbers to handle a lot of the possibilities that could arise.

Senator St. Germain: Are you in charge of all the reserve responsibilities for British Columbia?

LCol. Travis: I am the chief of staff, and I co-ordinate the day-to-day activities on behalf of my commander, who is a part-time reservist. He works for the Bank of Montreal in Victoria. I see him maybe once every three weeks at conferences, but I do a lot of work with him either by computer or by telephone.

Senator St. Germain: Is there any other region of the country that has as few military personnel as British Columbia?

LCol. Travis: There are other regions, but if you were to compare them on a population basis, the reserves are under-represented in B.C.

Senator St. Germain: How do we help you lobby Ottawa to improve the situation? How can we help you present the case for the region in which I live and in which most of you live?

LCol. Travis: One gentleman stood up during a town hall meeting and said that everybody should write to their Member of Parliament.

If you were lobbying for more reserves in B.C., you would have to base it on representation by population so that we could get our numbers up. We can get our numbers up. We like to look at recruiting as a tap. When we turned the tap on, civilians were knocking at our door, and then we had to shut the tap off because we did not have the funds to train them all. They are there.

Senator St. Germain: Mr. Chairman, this is the finest of British Columbia.

The Deputy Chairman: There are 1,350 army reservists. There are reservists in B.C. for navy and air as well. Is that correct?

LCol. Travis: Yes, that is correct. The 1,350 represent just 39 Canadian Brigade Group.

LCol. Richmond: Since we have a huge lack of regular force personnel in British Columbia, perhaps the ceiling for the reserves needs to be raised. The same yardstick is being used in this brigade as in 38 Brigade and 41 Brigade. Those brigades have regular force units on their doorstep or they are co-located. We do not have that luxury here. We are the army of the far west, and we are the only ones who are standing on this side of the Rockies. Therefore, we need a higher ceiling.  We need more reservists. In the event of a disaster of some sort, we are the front-line responders.

Senator Wiebe: You mentioned 38 Brigade, which is my brigade. That includes Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario. You talk about being stretched. We do not have any air force or navy in Saskatchewan, as they do in Victoria.

Being a former rifleman, I like to think we are 90 per cent of the armed forces in this country, but there are other factors in the equation.

LCol. Travis: From a community footprint point of view, our band has been exceptional. Here in B.C. we have the top reserve band in the country. They are second only to the national regular force band. It is largely filled with professional musicians. They undertake a lot of activities through the funding of other agencies. In fact, I would say that over 50 per cent of their functions are funded through other association bands.

They have participated in concerts in Hong Kong, Hawaii and throughout the United States, all paid for by the sponsor of those events. They have represented us tremendously well.

A lot of people do not like to fund a military band because they do not see it as being a “hard” army sort of thing; they do not appreciate the community footprint aspect of it.

The Deputy Chairman: Gentlemen, let me bring our meeting to a close. I thank each of you individually for your contributions, but more importantly, for your contributions to Canada. We all know that you labour under difficult circumstances. We admire you and pay respect to you.

LCol. Travis: Senator Forrestall, on behalf of my commander, Tom Burns, I want to thank the committee for coming to Vancouver to listen to us. I would also like to thank Col. McGregor and the Seaforth Highlanders for hosting us this afternoon.

The committee adjourned.


Top of document

<%ParlWebsiteContext.RenderFooter()%>