For an Extra $130 Bucks….
On Canada’s Military Financial Crisis
A VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM UP
– Part I
Cash Injection as a Starting Point
|The Committee reiterates that the four billion dollar increase in defence spending recommended in our earlier report is the MINIMUM required, and that the full increase is required immediately.|
This would amount to an increase in
spending of approximately $130 per Canadian, bringing our per-capita defence
spending to about $525 a person. That is only one quarter of what the average
American spends on defence, and just over a third of what Britons spend – and
the latter, like Canadians, fund a national health care system.
But the Committee is not asking
Canadians to spend what Americans or Britons spend.
Nor is it asking that Canadians move
up among the top ranks of defence spenders in the world. That extra $130 would
only bump us one notch up the NATO ladder, ahead of Portugal, to 12th place out
of 18 countries.
If the Committee were asking for a
$200-per capita increase in defence spending, that would move us up another
notch, ahead of Italy as well as Portugal, into 11th place on the NATO list. The
Committee is not asking that Canada rise to this heady level.
If the Committee were asking for a
$400-per capita increase in defence spending, that would move us up to 7th
place on the list.
But the Committee is not asking for any of these things. Rather:
|The Committee is asking that the Government of Canada apportion an extra $130 per Canadian to military spending to bring our main international insurance policy – our armed forces – to a level at which personnel would not be constantly stretched to the breaking point, often without the proper training or equipment to assure either their safety or success.|
– Part II
The word “retreat” has a negative
ring to it in just about any context, including the military. However, the
phrase “strategic retreat” has a positive military connotation when it is
applied to situations in which forces pull back tactically to obtain an
advantage that eventually leads to strategic success.
Think of the famous boxer Muhammed
Ali, and his historic success in the ring. He had an expression for one of his
most successful techniques – “Rope-a Dope”
– which involved backing deftly into the ropes in order to dodge
punches and restore his energy so he could swirl back to win. It is not unlike
what the Committee is recommending for the Canadian armed forces.
The Committee’s continued
investigation into the manifest shortfall of personnel, training and equipment
which pervades the Canadian armed forces has convinced us that time has run out
on Canada in terms of solving its military problems with cash alone.
The Committee believes that it is now
impossible to simply inject fresh funding and resources in a way that will
quickly create a defence force capable of performing the tasks that the Canadian
armed forces can be expected to be assigned over the next few years –
certainly under the operational burden that has prevailed in recent years.
In a nutshell, even if the Government
of Canada does the right thing and comes through immediately with $4 billion in
extra funding, the gesture will almost certainly prove inadequate to the
multiple undertakings at hand. The military now needs time almost as much as it
needs money to revitalize itself for its obligations early in the 21st century.
It needs a respite from its manifold overseas responsibilities, giving it time
to recruit, time to train, time to re-equip itself, time to rethink its optimal
role in the modern theatre of warfare. The following recommendation may
sound Draconian to some, but the Committee believes that unless the Canadian
Forces pull back from their current overseas assignments, the restructuring,
rearming and revitalizing that is so desperately needed can not and will not
New Commitment to the World
Tours of duty normally last for six
months, so within six months of the Government of Canada initiating this
recommendation, all Canadian troops would be back on North American soil and
engaged in restoring capacity to an effective level.
The Committee is fully aware that
critics of such a move are bound to charge that Canada would be abrogating its
obligations to its allies, but the opposite it true. We must turn Canadian
gestures toward working in concert with our allies into genuine Canadian
Canada’s international image is
already in disrepair. Our recommended pullback is unlikely to worsen that
situation – in fact, it will likely gain us credence for realistically
addressing a serious problem. In
the end, the capacity of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International
Trade to advance Canada’s interests will be enhanced, not weakened.
The pullback will affect our short
term working relationships with NATO, UN and allies. However, the Committee is convinced that Canada’s
contribution to these relationships has become so marginal that it is time to
take drastic action to replenish our capacity to play a useful role. Canada will
be able to regain its rightful position as a significant contributor to world
fact that Canada’s depleted forces have managed some stellar international
performances over the past decade is more a tribute to their spirit and
resilience than to the support they have been given. Spirit cannot fuel
Canada’s military on its own. Both our troops and our allies deserve renewed
capacity, and the sooner Canada gets on with reinvigorating its military, the
Canada currently contributes one
coalition mission to the fight on terrorism, two NATO missions, and eight U.N.
missions. Operation Apollo, Canada’s commitment to the war on terrorism has
1068 assigned personnel. Canada has 1579 troops assigned to Operation Palladin
to help stabilize Bosnia Herzegovina. Canada has one officer assigned to the
NATO operation to collect weapons from rebel factions in Macedonia. Of the eight
U.N. missions, the largest is a commitment of 193 personnel in the Golan
Heights. For a full description of Canadian overseas missions, see Appendix 5.
Money and Time
The Committee has heard hundreds of
hours of testimony from senior defence personnel in Ottawa and from enlisted
personnel from all levels at 15 Canadian Forces bases and installations across
the country. The testimony that we have heard, in conjunction with the analysis
of the international military situation that we have done, compels the Committee
to state flatly that Canadian Forces
are understrength, overworked, underfunded, and in precarious health.
The zeal of the Canadian armed forces
is not in question. Both our military leaders and their troops continue to
demonstrate a “can do” attitude and continue to come up with “innovative
methods” of executing their missions. But a jerry-rigged armed forces cannot
keep rising to dangerous occasions. Too much is being asked of too few personnel
with too few resources.
Built-in safety mechanisms – proper
leave time, reasonable rotations, regular training – have fallen by the
wayside. These are safeguards designed to preserve the marriages, health,
sanity, and the professional performance of Canadian troops.
The erosion of these mechanisms has
led to unusual losses of trained personnel in recent years. For instance, the
Air Force 2001 business plan stated that:
Air Force is at a crossroads in that it is quickly becoming people resource
limited and no amount of equipment or funding resources will alleviate the
situation in the short term. Personnel shortages critical to delivery of Air
Force capabilities continue unabated. Lack of experience – notably in the
tactical helicopter, tactical fighter, maritime helicopter and maritime patrol
communities – is becoming acute.”
Of the 567 pilots with “contract
obligations,” based on informal polling, about 50 per cent said they expected
to leave the Canadian Forces once their period of restricted release came to an
end in 2003. Other Air Force trades
are also below Preferred Manning Levels , some critically so. The most
threatened of the support technician trades is Military Occupation 640 –
Refrigeration & Mechanical Technicians, Electrical Distribution Technicians,
Electrical Generating Systems Technicians, Plumbing and Heating Technicians,
Water, Fuel and Environmental Technicians, Construction Technician and
Construction Engineering Superintendents – where six of the seven trades are
coded RED (in critical condition) because their occupational strength was
substantially below preferred manning levels. The 2001 report assessed the
understrength of the Military Occupation 226 – Aerospace Telecommunications & Information Systems
Technicians – at more than 25 per cent and continuing to worsen. Shortages are
similar in the navy, and even more pronounced in the army.
Our military leaders, including
senior DND bureaucrats, must be frank with parliamentary committees about what
kind of performance Canada’s armed forces can be expected to deliver on the
assortment of tasks they are asked to perform with the resources available to
them. The government, on its part, should encourage – not
discourage – the offering of genuine professional opinions by Canada’s
military leaders when they appear before parliamentary committees.
The Committee is not suggesting that
Canada’s military leaders roam the country drumming up support for military
spending on talk shows, editorial board meetings and through other media
outlets. But parliamentary committees ask questions on behalf of the people of
Canada, and play an advisory role in government decision-making. Governments can
not make intelligent decisions without candid advice, nor can citizens properly
weigh the merits and demerits of investing in competent military protection.
Parliamentary committees such as ours
can deliver blunt messages to politicians and the public, but unless Canada’s
military leaders are more open about the state of the institution that is one of
the primary instruments in maintaining Canadian security and prosperity, bad
situations are unlikely to get better.
We were told repeatedly how
depressing it is for Canada’s enlisted personnel to have to listen when
politicians drag out some “spin doctor in uniform” to defend the
indefensible. There is a perception among the rank-and-file of Canada’s armed
forces that some military leaders pull their punches with the public in
deference to the wishes of politicians. Military power must clearly submit to
political power in a democracy. No member of our Committee wants senior officers
acting as public lobbyists for increased military spending.
Having said that, timidity with the truth is not the kind of virtue our
politicians should be encouraging among its senior military personnel when they
are appearing before Parliamentary Committees.
The Committee was not always
convinced that senior officers and bureaucrats appearing before it were being
perfectly frank. Senior officers are telling the truth, for instance, when they
say Canada can send a battalion somewhere if called upon, but they are not
telling the whole truth if sending that battalion would continue the downward
spiral in Canada’s military capabilities.
The United States government is not reticent about telling its military leaders that they must obey their political leaders, yet U.S. military leaders are also expected to offer their most candid professional analysis to congressional committees. The Government of Canada should expect and encourage the same professional candor in this country. And if the government encourages senior officers to undermine the recommendations of committees such as ours simply because the government finds those recommendations unpalatable, democracy will not be served.
|Canadians need brave military leaders on the legislative front as much as they need brave soldiers on the battlefield. Canadians also need politicians with enough objectivity to welcome thoughtful public analysis on key issues from senior military personnel.|
It should be acknowledged that some
senior officers have publicly voiced general concerns. Lieutenant-General Jeffrey,
head of Canada’s army, has complained about a lack of resources to sustain the
army’s wide array of tasking. Vice-Admiral Buck, head of Canada’s navy, has
attempted to muster support for the “urgency” of revitalizing the Canadian
military. General Henault, Chief of Defence Staff, has stated that "the
status quo is unsustainable." But these amount to small squeaks in the loud
arena of public policy-making; what we could use from Canada’s military
leaders now is a thundering roar. Misguided loyalty appears to be muting the
military’s strongest voices.
Every soldier knows that training for
enhanced future performance is suffering because too many resources are being
thrown into too many “missions du jour.” Every soldier knows that Canada’s
armed forces – because of insufficient training, insufficient maintenance of
equipment, and insufficient home time to build quality performance on good
health and good personal lives – are not performing the way they could. But
these people are not in a position to alert the Canadian public about these
shortfalls. Their bosses are – or should be.
Let Them Do Their Jobs
The incidence of sick leave within
the Canadian military has increased substantially in recent years because
personnel are being overworked on tasks that are too big and too numerous to fit
within the capacity of Canada’s military forces. CBC News reported on Aug. 19,
2002, that the incidence of sick leave in Canada’s armed forces had increased
by 25 per cent between 1999 and 2001. Yet for all the complaints we heard from
enlisted people about insufficient time to regroup and retrain, this was not the
major frustration they voiced.
main complaint we heard was simply that soldiers are not being allowed
to soldier, sailors are not being allowed to sail and airmen are not
being allowed to fly because of constraints in personnel, and
technicians are not being allowed to complete their jobs because of lack
of funding for maintenance and equipment.
Imagine training troops in
rocket-launching with a rocket shortage that requires that only two of twenty
trainees are given live rounds to fire, leaving the others to face the prospect
of firing in combat with no hands-on experience. Virtual training is the wave of
the future, but there will never be a substitute for hands-on experience.
It is the Committee’s belief that a
30 month moratorium in overseas tasks only represents a starting point in
putting the Canadian armed forces on the road to recovery. It is likely to take
the better part of a decade to bring the military back to the shape it was in
when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Atrophied capacity cannot be restored over a
A pause would allow key personnel
– many of whom would otherwise be serving overseas – to play a role
in refocussing and rejuvenating Canadian Forces training programs. Current
training capacity is far too depleted to make training a priority without
repatriating overseas regulars for a predictable period.
Two years will not be enough to
rehabilitate the navy and air force. However, over two years, a significant
turnaround could be achieved in the army. Though the army’s current
deficiencies are even more pressing than those of the navy and air force, it
takes less time to train army personnel than it does navy and air force
personnel. With adequate planning and funding, the Committee feels that a
two-year turnaround is at least within the realm of possibility for the army.
The current recruiting drive should be sustained – the current level of trained, effective personnel in the Canadian Forces is 52,000 – 8,000 short of current authorized levels. But recruiting without adequate training is worthless. The Committee encountered recruits forced to sit twiddling their thumbs because of the military’s depleted capacity for training. And training certainly isn’t the only commodity in short supply.
New career training courses for troops returning from overseas military operations – many of whom have been deprived of normal upgrading due to the pace of overseas assignments in recent years – must be introduced;
Troops whose family life has been endangered because of the stressful tempo of repetitive overseas duty should be given a greater opportunity to “reintegrate” into their family;
DND planning units must be bolstered to allow them to develop the kinds of innovative programs that are needed and to put these programs forward;
More project managers must be hired to permit the proper purchasing and absorption of new capital equipment;
An opportunity should finally be provided to conduct much- needed “regular scheduled maintenance” on all equipment;
In non-emergency situations troops must be allowed to take their annual allotment of leave at times that are of use to their families and their personal lives rather than the rigid scheduling often imposed on them under current circumstances;
Military planners must be given the opportunity to review existing commitments, operational plans, etc., and assess Canada’s legitimate capacity to meet current and potential obligations;
Senior military personnel must be taken out of their current “crisis management mode” and provided the time to assess capabilities and provide the government with candid and objective strategic advice on the future of the military.
|None of the foregoing recommendations has the slightest chance of being implemented unless the central agencies of the Government of Canada – the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, Treasury Board and the Department of Finance – join forces to expedite the rejuvenation of Canada’s armed forces, instead of dragging their heels to resist it.|
Canada’s navy is stretched to its
limit, largely due to its recent operations related to the invasion of
Afghanistan. Increasing the number of operative naval personnel will take much
longer than two years. The 2-year hiatus will merely free up current personnel
to assist in training recruits and sailors who have been denied training because
of their onerous operational schedules.
Naval personnel often require more
training than army personnel. For instance, it can take more than six years to
train a naval engineer. Canada’s air force is in a similar situation. The air
force needs more technicians and more pilots. It takes two and half years to
train a pilot to basic qualifications on her/his aircraft. Technicians take
about 18 months to train, and even then they are only qualified to work under
The Bottom Line
Canadians are not interested in
spending $130 apiece just to restore the self-esteem of the Canadian military.
But the Committee believes that they would be willing to see that kind of money
spent to create an institution capable of building a more secure country in a
more secure world. The following is a list of improvements that citizens can
expect if we invest an additional $4 billion in Canada’s military budget and
effect a two-year pause in overseas activities:
injection of $1 billion into Operations and Maintenance, Canadians would get:
PROPERLY-TRAINED TROOPS: increased individual and collective training for troops, so recruits don’t sit idly waiting to become useful soldiers, so reserves improve their capabilities to the level of regulars, and so regulars retrain often enough to retain skills and add new skills required for modern warfare;
IMPROVED AIR SURVEILLANCE: increased flying hours on all aircraft fleets to improve surveillance of Canada’s lands and waters, maintain flying skills and increase training opportunities;
SHIPS THAT CAN GO TO SEA: increased ship streaming days, and an end to ships tied up because of lack of funding and personnel;
MILITARY EQUIPMENT THAT FUNCTIONS: refilling of “spare parts” bins to assure that equipment doesn’t sit idle because of lack of replacement parts to keep it operative and an end to cannibalizing some capital equipment to make other equipment function;
AN END TO MILITARY SLUMS: improved and more regular maintenance of all capital equipment, offices and living quarters to reverse the amount of deterioration that has taken place during the past decade;
A ROLE IN PROTECTING THEIR CONTINENT: a return to battalion-level training between Canadian forces and Canada’s allies (particularly U.S. forces) so that all command and operational facilities are capable of responding cooperatively to emergency threats, especially in the defence of North America.
injection of $675 – $800 million into acquiring and upgrading military
personnel, Canadians would get:
ENOUGH TROOPS TO PLAY A PROPER INTERNATIONAL ROLE: expansion of the number of personnel in the Canadian armed forces from the current 52,000 trained effective strength, to 75,000 trained effective strength to help put an end to the burnout and low re-enlistment rate that has been caused by assigning too few people to do too many things at too crushing a pace;
SAVINGS IN MILITARY TURNOVER: increased enlistment, retention and specialist bonuses to encourage attraction and retention of first-rate personnel;
FEWER SOLDIERS JUST SCRAPING BY: selective pay raises for lower ranks to reduce unfairness, improve morale and upgrade family life;
FEWER BROKEN MILITARY FAMILIES: a range of improvements in accommodation to mitigate the pressures placed on marriages by one of the most stressful occupations in existence;
injection of $2-2.325 billion into capital programs, Canadians would get:
HELICOPTERS THAT OFFER OUR FRIGATES ADEQUATE PROTECTION: an immediate startup to the Maritime Helicopter Project to ensure that the ancient Sea Kings, which spend much more time in maintenance than in the air, are replaced by 2005;
AN END TO INTERNATIONAL HITCH-HIKING: immediate procurement of a strategic lift capability, both in the air and on the sea, to ensure that Canadian troops can get where they need to go in emergency situations, without having to rent, borrow or beg lift capacity from non-Canadian sources;
AN IMPROVED NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE-GATHERING CAPACITY: acceleration of the Canadian Forces intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance project to improve ability to gather and analyze intelligence – perhaps the most crucial military mission to countering asymmetrical threats in modern warfare;
SHARED SURVEILLANCE OF WHAT THREATENS NORTH AMERICA: acceleration of the Joint Space Project as one way of assuring that Canada makes a meaningful contribution in the defence of North America;
PROPER COASTAL DEFENCE: improved coordination of Canadian and U.S. forces in defence of North America’s long and vulnerable coastlines;
UNIFORMS THAT FIT THE BATTLEFIELD: improvements in military clothing for all personnel so that troops are appropriately outfitted for all situations, particularly difficult combat situations, and particularly with regard to female combat clothing;
PROTECTION AGAINST FRIENDLY FIRE – Effective recognition equipment to reduce the likelihood of casualties from friendly fire.
The Committee systematically visited most of Canada’s military bases and installations for two reasons:
The visits educate Committee members about the issues facing the Canadian Forces; and
The visits allow us to compare testimony from senior officers and officials in Ottawa with the views and opinions of officers, non-commissioned members and all others in the field who must actually deliver the goods.
Ottawa the Committee has listened to a wide range of regular and reserve
commanders as well as other senior officers. The Committee also makes a
point of conducting informal sessions with junior officers,
non-commissioned members and enlisted men and women. The Committee also
included both a recently retired general grade officer and a recently
retired senior non-commissioned officer on its staff, going to great
length to ensure that it was hearing the perspectives of both senior
officers and enlisted personnel. The Committee is indebted to the units
visited for their hospitality and to their personnel for their insights.
listened to some very committed people. And we listened to some very
disillusioned people. We have attempted to pass on their messages in the
following summaries of what took place at the bases and installations we
themes related to inadequate funding emerged from the fact-finding visits:
Few People, Too Little Training
Insufficient Funding for Operations, Maintenance, and Infrastructure
III. The Capital Equipment Crisis:
Canada’s Antique Road Show
Too Few People, Too Little Training
Asked what his
first priority would be if the Canadian armed forces were adequately funded, one
young soldier gave us an extremely succinct reply:
A decade of
staff shrinkage has seen the Canadian Forces diminish from more than 80,000
personnel to approximately 52,400 effective.
understaffing has resulted in problems such as the following:
Delayed repairs to essential equipment because there are not enough
Ships tied up because they have no crews;
Understrength infantry battalions;
An excessively high tempo of operations leaving inadequate time between
deployments, putting increased stress on individuals and their families, often
leading to sick leave;
Absence of any kind of training above the battalion level since 1993;
Delays in getting potential recruits processed and into the Canadian
Recruits left with very little to do while they wait for training
opportunities to open up;
Personnel waiting 7 to 12 months for basic qualification courses;
The augmentation of training units from operational formations;
Shortage of spare parts has reached such a situation where it affects
technicians attitudes towards job satisfaction and their subsequent retention in
The cannibalization of operational units in order to staff training units
during peak training periods.
of Training Capacity
Big Part of Personnel Problem
financial evisceration of the Canadian Forces in the 1990s had a
disproportionate impact on our military’s cadre of full-time
instructors. With few recruits coming through the system, it was easy to
argue that training personnel and material could be drastically reduced.
So it was reduced, with predictable detrimental effects.
Committee was told that reduced opportunities to practice and develop
professional skills was the key to why some of the most skilled and
useful members of the Canadian Forces have not been re-enlisting.
We Heard About
The Personnel Crisis at the Bases
The Navy, like the rest of the
Canadian Forces, has implemented the Total Force concept, ostensibly demanding
the same standards of leadership and professionalism from regulars and
reservists alike. Reservists at
Esquimalt told members of the Committee that lack of training prevented them from approaching regular force standards.
Rear Admiral Fraser’s main role as Commander Maritime Forces Pacific
(MARPAC) is to prepare ships and crew for war. When the Committee visited the
Esquimalt base, ships had been operating under extremely high security in
preparation for the next deployment. That involved screening about 700 officers
and other ranks to ensure that their training, mental and physical condition –
as well as family circumstances – met requirements for overseas deployment.
We probed the fact that not all ships
had the proper complement of personnel.
In response to questions we learned that the ranks of junior officers were
particularly thin, with some technical trades noticeably short-staffed. To bring
some ships to full strength, crew had to be removed from other ships in the
fleet. As a result, two ships – a destroyer and a coastal defence vessel –
were left tied up, too understaffed to put to sea. Since the Navy is short about
1,000 officers and other ranks, its personnel must spend more time at sea –
60% at sea and 40% on land – than
other NATO navies, where the usual time split is 50-50.
Because most at-sea training capacity
is now allocated to training regular force officers, reservists are being forced
to scramble for the at-sea training time they need to upgrade performance
Captain (N) Pile briefed the Committee on the role of the Reserves in
manning the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, six on the west coast and six on the east coast.
With the exception of two regular force technical experts, these vessels
are staffed (including the Captain) with 38 reservists from across Canada, on
contracts ranging from three months to three years.
We learned that the Naval Reserve on
the west coast faces the same staff shortage as the Navy, which meant that only
five of six vessels could be crewed. The tempo of operations had become the
major source of complaint at Esquimalt, eclipsing pay and allowances. The
frantic pace, we were told, was having an impact on morale, stress (individual
and family), physical health and group cohesiveness.
The Committee was told by both troops
and officers that the tempo of operations and a shortage of critical personnel
were the major challenges facing 1 Canadian Air Division.
Operations and staff shortages had
set up a vicious circle. The use of line personnel to augment training capacity
had diminished operational capacity, in turn creating a need for more trained
The Committee learned that cutbacks
in funding have reduced every kind of training – individual, group, national
and international. As a result, the general level of readiness has declined,
with only a small number of pilots at the highest level of readiness.
The retention of existing specialists
was deemed to be a more critical problem than recruiting. It is clearly
cheaper to retain expertise than to train new expertise. Many
specialists have been leaving because of poor working conditions as well as
inadequate training and equipment. We were told that retention bonuses, if
approved, should help to retain more technicians.
Chief Warrant Officer Dietrich
briefed the Committee on initiatives to enhance the quality of life of Air
Division personnel. He said that lack of training time had been pinpointed as a
major source of stress within the Division. The airman had been forced to become
“a jack of all trades, master of none”
– an unprofessional situation that undermined pride, confidence and
Captain (N) Burke, Acting Commanding Officer, Maritime Forces Atlantic,
briefed the Committee on the challenges facing the command:
Budgets 26% smaller than five years ago;
Reduced equipment and fewer personnel, leading to tension over tempo of
operations and quality of life;
Maintenance of fleet negatively impacted by shortage of technicians –
at the moment a shortage of technicians is considered even more critical than
the overall money shortage;
We were told that the command was
only capable of staffing two of the three ships being prepared for deployment at
the time of our briefing. Finding staff for the third ship, the Iroquois, to
meet the rotation planned for January 2003 would require asking many crew
members to deploy again just eight months after their previous deployment.
It was normal for a regular sailor to
be at sea an average of 100 days a year, but the coastal patrol boat crews were
staffed by reservists on contract, who were spending 120-150 days a year at sea,
with inevitable effects on family life. Unlike the west coast Reservists’
problem with lack of at-sea training, east coast Reservists complained of
onerous tours of duty at sea.
Captain (N) Payne, Commanding Officer Fleet Maintenance Facility, Cape
Scott, briefed the Committee on the importance of the facility, which was facing
a labour shortage because the training program had been eliminated as part of
the 1990s cutbacks. The work force was aging and an apprentice program was
needed to train and give experience to the next generation of personnel.
Without the reintroduction of an
apprentice program, the facility will soon reach the point where it will be
unable to meet the needs of the Atlantic fleet.
The most difficult issue facing
Shearwater, the Committee was told repeatedly, was the tempo of operations –
especially overseas deployments, which were squeezing the time available for
personal training and family tremendously. In support of the Apollo war against
terrorism, 12 Wing Shearwater had deployed 120 personnel abroad for 6 months to
crew and maintain helicopter air detachments on board the deployed ships. This
constituted a tempo that could only be sustained by reducing training and family
The Wing is already short Sea King pilots. Of the 37 available pilots ,
24 were deployed outside the country. When they returned they were supposed to
get time to renew their family ties and time to renew tactical skills they had
not used on deployment. But, at this base, like so many others, personnel were
being subjected to
stresses beyond those normally associated with their tough and dangerous
Some pilots and maintenance personnel were forced to “jetty hop” –
move immediately to another assignment
– upon their return.
Colonel Hincke, Commanding Officer of
12 Wing Shearwater, told us that deferred recruiting had led to a severe
shortage of specialized personnel, a shortage that would persist until new
recruits could be trained and had acquired experience. The venerable Sea King
helicopters require high maintenance and a shortage of maintenance crew leads to
fewer hours in the air for the helicopters – the serviceability rate of the
Sea King has averaged about 55 per cent on any given day. Even given the fact
that new helicopters require some maintenance time, it is not a huge
exaggeration to say that it takes the better part of two Sea Kings to perform
the duties that one helicopter should.
The enlisted personnel who we talked
to at lunch were clearly demoralized by the dearth of suitable facilities for
families – including substandard barracks, a lack of medical specialists,
little assistance for school children with special needs, etc. The lack of
French-speaking medical support in the city was so serious that many personnel
refused postings to the base. Space is a real problem, with personnel doubled
and tripled up in inadequate barracks during summer training periods as just one
Brigadier General Mitchell,
Commander Land Forces Atlantic, and Colonel MacLeod, Commander 3 Area Support
Group, briefed the Committee. They acknowledged that they face a number of
“challenges” that sounded more like crises.
Since their training capacity has
been cut, they must augment training staff with instructors taken from
operational units across Canada, robbing these units of key staff and denying
training staff family time plus time to pursue their own professional upgrading.
The Committee heard evidence that the
Army lacks the personnel to both sustain the high tempo of operations and
modernize itself. It was briefed by Colonel Ward, Commander of the Combat
Training Centre, and by the Commandants of the infantry, artillery and armoured
schools. The round table discussion that ensued was particularly candid. The
blunt collective opinion expressed by officers and instructors is that they face
an unsustainable, and therefore untenable, situation.
The schools are short at least 300
permanent instructors, forcing augmentation from operational units. The demand
for courses was increasing relentlessly. While permanent staff had been reduced
by 25 per cent, the number of students taking courses at the schools had
increased from 1,429 to 2,342 at the time of our visit, increasing the number of
training days from 50,000 to100,000. Dealing with this increase in demand had
forced the training schools to increase their requested augmentation from
operational units of the Regular and Reserve forces from 350 to 2,000.
In the opinion of our briefers, the
situation can only get worse before it gets better – newly recruited officers
will require immediate training, and once the other ranks recruited finish their
basic training, they will need occupational and specialized training.
403 Wolf Squadron trains pilots to
fly CH 146 Griffon helicopters used to support the Army. Lieutenant Colonel
Black, its Commanding Officer, outlined a list of personnel “challenges”
– the main one being personnel shortages forcing the unit to rely on
the Reserves for staff and a shortage of computer technicians that forced
aircraft technicians to do their work.
What is it like to be a PAT
(Personnel Awaiting Training)?
Committee members lunched with a
group of students and PATs. Most
of them told us that they had joined the military to begin exciting and
worthwhile careers. Instead they had been forced to languish between seven and
twelve months before trade qualification training courses became available,
which they pointed out was not only a waste of resources but also a dampener on
morale. While some training had
been extemporized for them, most of their time was wasted. When the Committee
visited, about 30 PATs were watching TV; others were working in the tuck shop,
etc. At Kingston, as elsewhere, the numbers of PATs were increasing rapidly –
from about a platoon (30) to a company (174). While some PATs had no objections
to being paid to watch TV, others were disgusted and demoralized, telling us
that they saw no point in re-enlisting at the end of their
current three year contract.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tarrant, Deputy
Director of Army Training, briefed the Committee on the resources devoted to
training, the costs of training non-commissioned ranks and officers, and some of
the challenges that the training establishment faced. After the briefing he and
Brigadier-General Nordick, Deputy Commander Land Forces Doctrine and Training
System, answered questions.
To maintain their skills and
operational experience, instructors are only posted for three years before they
return to their units. Most instructors are full-time, but their numbers must
be supplemented from regular units in the summer due to staff shortages.
BGen. Nordick said the shortage of
training staff for both officers and enlisted personnel is the most serious
problem the training units face, and that, in turn, has serious implications for
the field forces. He pointed out that the additional 177 officers and
non-commissioned members needed for training is the equivalent of the staff of
three battalions. It would take almost five years for the success of the current
recruiting drive to produce enough trained and experienced soldiers to meet the
training needs of the army.
Since the Canadian forces can only
pay Reserve soldiers for the equivalent of 35 days a year, their training
opportunities are much more limited than those available to regulars who work a
250-day year. The shortage of training time for reservists is being exacerbated
by the technological revolution. There is so much to learn that reservists are
only given the most essential parts of courses. If they later join the Regulars,
they have to be retrained with full courses. The planned increase in the
strength of the Reserves from 15,000 to 18,000 had not been funded at the time
of the Committee’s visit.
At the Canadian Forces Recruiting
Group Headquarters, the Committee was told that the success of the current
recruiting drive has stretched limited resources beyond their capacity to
The Committee noted the irony here.
The Forces need more personnel, and have been successful at recruiting more
people, but the lack of training capacity has become a bottleneck. Both the
capacity to train new recruits and the capacity to give introductory courses in
the hundred different trades the Forces need has been truncated by years of
At an informal lunch with junior
non-commissioned members, we were told that the maintenance of the tempo of
operations at the current level would undoubtedly dissuade many of them from
re-enlisting. Not only were instructors being disillusioned by this situation,
they deplored the message it was sending to new recruits.
Major Orr told the Committee that the Recruiting Group Structure had
950 personnel, 31 per cent of whom are reservists.
553 work in 33 recruiting centres and detachments across the country,
There are 307 involved in training about 5,000 recruits each year at St-Jean,
Quebec, and about 90 are attached to headquarters, CFB Borden. The 10,000
planned recruitment intake had already been exceeded by 1,000 at the end of
March. Recruiting of Reservists had
reached 150% of planned intake. As a result, the paid strength of the Canadian
Forces was already more than 61,000 and was expected to rise to 63,000 by 31
March 2003. The trained effective strength, however, is around 52,000.
Lt.Col. Lilienthal briefed the Committee on the work of the Canadian
Forces Support Training Group that is responsible for delivering a wide range of
specialized courses both at CFB Borden and at other locations. On base there are
schools of Administration and Logistics, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering,
Dental Services, Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Warfare as well as the Fire
Academy and the Military Police Academy, a Training Development Centre and a
Chaplain School. Schools of Military Engineering, Military Intelligence,
Communications and Electronics, and Languages are located elsewhere.
At 8 Wing, we were briefed by Major
Henderson, who told the Committee that 8 Wing provides flexible airlift forces,
search and rescue and deployable support for Canadian Forces. She said that the
training of pilots is at high risk of being cancelled – even though they
require a minimum number of hours to maintain their qualifications, and more to
develop them – because of the heavy tempo of operations has created a shortage of aircraft. Because of this shortage
of aircraft, only one aircraft can be allocated to training instead of the two
that are required.
In a round table discussion, it was
pointed out that about 54% of the aircraft technicians would become eligible for
retirement within the next five years. It is essential to hold onto as many technicians as possible so
shortages do not become even more acute. Even after courses are finished, it
still takes about 2-3 years of on-job training to fully train a technician.
There was some consensus that the amalgamation of the air force trades had been
poorly planned – it was proving very difficult to master the full contents of
the new trades.
We were told by technicians that a
lack of spare parts and equipment required to do their jobs is a major
disincentive to re-enlisting.
The Canadian Forces Parachute Centre
is at risk of being eliminated as a cost cutting measure. The officers and
enlisted personnel we talked to, both at the school and at operational army
units, emphasized that parachute capability is an essential element of any
modern army, both for operational and morale purposes.
At 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade
Group, a round table discussion with a group of senior officers exposed the
Brigade as woefully understaffed to meet its day-to-day operational tasks. For
example, with about 575 personnel, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian
Regiment is ostensibly at 80% strength; in reality, most days it could only
parade 300-400, about half its established strength. The others have been lost
to postings and sick leave. The sick can account for up to 10% of Battalion
personnel, in part because there is a reluctance to remove them from active
roster when there is any hope of a return to duty.
The manpower shortage leads to double
tasking – assigning the same forces to cover more than one operation. Or –
in the case of the operational plan to provide assistance in the event of a
major earthquake in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (COP AGILE) – it
has wasted resources on planning that doesn’t lead to deployment because of
lack of personnel. Since the Brigade must prepare one Battalion of infantry for
deployment, that battalion must be given priority on personnel, equipment and
training funds. This has a serious impact on both Battalions because one
operates short-handed, while the other operates with unfamiliar personnel.
If the officers had more money at
their disposal, they told us that one of the first things they would do would be
to build up the Brigade units to their full establishment, factoring in a margin
of overstrength to allow for those on extended sick leave. The additional
manpower would reduce the stress of the tempo of operations. Too frequently
soldiers were forced from a course to a posting and then to summer training
without any significant breaks.
They would also spend much more on
field exercises and on ammunition for live fire training, both of which had been
severely restricted as an economy measure.
Base Petawawa itself is too small to allow infantry, tanks and artillery
to manoeuvre together in realistic exercises.
The officers argued that re-enlistments will increase if more is done to challenge soldiers who have the most initiative. Their ideas for new training included development of a school of reconnaissance skills and creation of special units that – like the disbanded Airborne Regiment – would offer more challenge than the ordinary infantry unit while being less demanding than the JTF2. To encourage interoperability among the western allies, platoons could be exchanged with countries like the United States, and the U.K.
At Patricia Bay Detachment, we were
briefed by 407 Squadron personnel who operate Aurora Maritime Patrol Aircraft
from 19 Wing Comox, B.C. During the question period following the outline of the
Squadron’s duties, the Committee was told that because of budgetary
restrictions, the pilots of the Auroras fly only 400 hours a year, only
marginally above the minimum number of hours necessary to maintain skills. On
443 Squadron in Pat Bay, the shortage of airworthy helicopters had limited their
pilots to 300 hours flying at sea and 150 hours on shore.
While there was no formal briefing
session with the officers and-non commissioned officers of the Black Watch
(Militia), members of the Committee discussed a number of issues in informal
Problems recruiting new officers and
men were the most common personnel complaints raised by both officers and senior
non-commissioned officers. Recruiting is organized and controlled on the Brigade
The Black Watch Regiment itself has a
great deal of historical and military appeal, but red tape strangles its ability
to recruit on its own – to place ads in local newspapers, to visit local high
schools, colleges and universities and to participate in student job fairs. Its
individual recruiting is pretty much limited to personal contact – recruiting
the friends of current members – and to “curb appeal” – putting sandwich
board advertisements on the street outside the armoury.
Potential recruits frequently lose
their interest in joining the Regiment because of the long time it takes to
complete the recruitment process and to start training. The delay in taking on
potential officers is particularly long and irksome. Almost all officer
candidates are college or university students who need a quick decision about
their employment and an early pay check.
Pre-service in a militia unit should
be a normal route, perhaps even the preferred route, into the Regular force.
Instead, it takes so long to arrange a transfer from a militia unit to
the Regular force that some personnel either quit the militia or fail to mention
their militia service when applying to join the Regular Force. This is a waste
of time and of training resources.
The Black Watch and the other local
militia units are increasingly short of instructors, and consequently cannot
quickly increase their numbers. The
capacity to offer training at the local level is also adversely affected when
large numbers of the best trained and most experienced master corporals – the
core of the militia training system – are deployed overseas or posted to
9The Committee recommends that recurring commitments such as the
following be treated as exceptions to the pause in overseas tasking:
military attaches, military staff at NATO and SACLANT Headquarters,
NORAD-assigned Military Staff (including recently announced Land and Sea
planning staffs) and the NATO AWACS units at Geilenkirchen, Germany.
 Air Force Business Plan for 2001