Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 8 - Evidence - Meeting of October 25, 2010

OTTAWA, Monday, October 25, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 4:04 p.m. to examine and report on the national security and defence policies of Canada (topics: the role of our forces in Afghanistan currently and post 2011, and the state and future of the Canadian Forces Reserves); and to consider a motion to change the official structural name of the Canadian Navy.

Senator Pamela Wallin (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Ladies, gentlemen and senators, thank you very much. We have a very busy day today. As has been the case over the last few weeks, we will be dealing with the question of reserves and the role of reserves in the forces, both currently and in the future. We have several witnesses on that.

Today, we will also begin our look at the question of the official name of the Maritime Command. A motion has been put forward in the Senate to change that name and to revert to Canadian Navy. We will begin to take testimony on that later in our session today.

Our first witness today is Brigadier-General Vance, Chief of Staff Land Strategy with the Canadian Forces. He is here today to talk about that and a couple of other issues, as well as the whole question of reserves and their roles in missions such as Afghanistan. He has been there twice as Commander of the Joint Task Force Afghanistan. His most recent tour there ended last month.

He has also appeared before this committee before, so he is familiar with our approach. We will be talking about reserves, but we will have an update from him on his current understanding of the situation in Afghanistan; we have had much more positive news of late, and it would be nice to hear that from someone who has been on the ground.

General Vance's biography is a long one. He started with the Canadian Forces in 1982, graduating from Royal Roads Military College, RMC. He went on to serve almost everywhere in the world: Winnipeg, Germany, Petawawa and Croatia. He ran the strategic planning staff. He returned to the Royal Canadian Regiment as Commander of 2nd Battalion in 2001. In 2005, he served as Chief of Staff Land Force Central Area. In 2006, he assumed command of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. He then stood up task force in Afghanistan, the Canadian headquarters that commanded and coordinated the Canadian and coalition civil-military operations in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan. We will find language that makes that sound more normal than this, but we cannot work on that today.

Welcome, Brigadier-General Vance. Do you have any opening comments that you would like to make?

Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, Chief of Staff Land Strategy (Former Commander Joint Task Force Afghanistan), National Defence: Madam Chair, senators, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say a few brief comments.

First, I would like to congratulate you on the production and publishing of the June interim report. It made for some good reading in Afghanistan.

I last appeared before this committee in 2009, and I attempted to place 2009-10 in context of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, and in Kandahar in particular. At that point in time, I said things to the effect that more troops were coming and that they were becoming effective. There was a more focused effort by a larger military and civilian component. Therefore, it was starting to take effect, but we would not see that until 2010. Also, I noted that Afghan capacity and motivation was improving but still had some way to go.

With that as a look back, I would like to bring you quickly up to date in that the troops are now operating. One of the key things on this mission, especially when we talk about force level, is to understand that once numbers are declared, they are not effective until the surge actually happens. The surge we have all been waiting for and speaking of really started to hit the high-water mark in terms of effectiveness about two weeks or maybe a month ago. There was still one more company yet to go as I was leaving.

Despite lots of forecasting about this growth in U.S. forces, their arrival took some time, and they are now effective. I saw the mission really operating on all eight cylinders.

More important, General McChrystal started and General Petraeus continued to make the South the main effort. That essentially means that all the forces there have the benefit of more forces coming, as well as more focus and resources from the international community.

The net effect was that Canada's military footprint was concentrated, quite rightly, in Panjwa'i and Dand, having gone from owning the province down to a manageable footprint. Some would see that as a loss of influence; nothing could be further from the truth. This is a logical progression as we try to put forces on the ground and try to concentrate them such that we are more effective against an insurgent enemy that needs many boots on the ground to deal with it.

Therefore, our current military footprint is concentrated in two districts, principally Dand and Panjwa'i. As a net result, the population there, as it is in the Arghandab, Zhari and in the city, is more protected than the last time I spoke here. The population is therefore more engaged and encouraged to start to deal with issues of managing their own destiny.

We are truly seeing now in Dand, for example, which has a fairly mature counterinsurgency approach in it, its population and the political leaders at the village level now dealing with the finer appointments of political assembly. They are wrestling with that. It is painful for a district leader to answer questions to the public, but, nonetheless, that is politics. It is good to see that they are wrestling with those more normal issues rather than protracted warfare.

The insurgency is finding it increasingly difficult to do anything that would really challenge the seat of government, anyone in government or their security forces. Yes, they can still perpetrate acts; just as we can have crime in a country such as Canada, an insurgent attack can still occur in Afghanistan. However, it is at a level that is virtually inconsequential in actually changing things on the ground. It is painful; no one likes it. It is awful that someone can put together a bomb and plant it. However, it is becoming less prevalent and far more difficult for the insurgency to do that. As a result, our casualty rates are falling, if you have noticed. I am sure you have.

2010-11 will see a consolidation of our operations in Panjwa'i and Dand, with great emphasis on continuing the military and civilian efforts to re-establish the social and political fabric of those communities so that they are resilient should the insurgency attempt a return in the spring. The ideal result that we are aiming for is that the insurgency is incapable of mounting any credible efforts while we are in that transition period to leave Afghanistan.

I would say that the military joint civilian and coalition integration continues to be essential. It is an International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, war. We are a part player in that and a good one. We bring to the table the capacity to conduct joint operations, which means all manner of military forces work with civilian agencies, including our own cohort of civilians, and work with any and all of our allies up and down the chain of command inside and, laterally, to our flanking formations.

We have matured a great deal in this environment that consists of far more actors. I believe we are in a strong position to deliver on Panjwa'i and Dand through to 2011.

The Chair: Thank you. I think General Petraeus said the other day that progress is moving faster than he expected. Do you have the same sense that the numbers involved in the surge have declined? You said that in the last two weeks, you have even sensed that change. We have had access to some information, too, that says that the taking out of the Taliban has come at quite a rate.

Brig.-Gen. Vance: The insurgency is definitely being dealt with militarily in Kandahar. They are being removed from positions of command in their own structure, and as they challenge us, they are being dealt with handily. That has been pretty much the case always.

I would agree with pretty much anything General Petraeus says. However, I would emphasize that as a population starts to become encouraged — dare I say, have some hope — it has a galvanizing effect on them. As the population has seen, the determination of NATO and the coalition partners to deliver on a broad range — running through from security to delivery of basic services — has this galvanizing effect.

Similar to any movement, be it political or anything that catches the public's imagination, this has. They remain skeptical, and it will take some time. I believe it takes a year to 18 months, almost a full-year agricultural cycle, for them to feel quite comfortable with their conditions.

We are seeing them engage more. Of course, the insurgency hates that. It runs counter to everything they want to do. I would agree that once the population gets the bit in their teeth, they are hard to stop.

The Chair: That is very encouraging news. Thank you for sharing that with us. We will take questions on this issue, and also on the whole question of reserves and what you plan to do in your new job. We will start with Senator Dallaire.

Senator Dallaire: We closed down our exchange position in Quetta, Pakistan, in 1994, and you did the Toronto staff college. I would be very keen on knowing the nature of the strategies that are being perceived with respect to using force with the Pakistanis within Pakistan. We do not have security classifications, which is one of the most ridiculous things in our country — that we, as a committee, do not even have a few who have a decent level of classification to be able to ask significant questions.

However, I want a feel for the Pakistan exercise because we have been hitting pretty significant targets there, in the Quetta area in particular. Can you give us anything on that side?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: First, I am pleased to say that we have a student at the Quetta staff college.

Senator Dallaire: The student is not under duress?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: No, the student is not under duress at all. The irony ought not to escape us that there is a staff college there cheek by jowl with the Quetta Shura, but nonetheless we do have a student there.

I am not really in a position to describe Canadian strategies because there are no Canadian operations in Pakistan. As commander of Task Force Kandahar, TFK, I had no role whatsoever. I only had the Border Flag meetings, where I spoke with my counterpart across the border in the Frontier Corps.

I agree with you that there needs to be a regional approach, one that takes into account the challenges in Pakistan, the challenges between Pakistan and India and the challenges that can stem from Iran. There is no question about it that a stable Afghanistan in the region is a good thing, However, a stable Afghanistan surrounded by neighbours who are equally stabilizing is critical.

Attention on the borders, preventing the easy flow of the insurgency in and out of the tribal areas in Pakistan is essential. General Petraeus has been following that strategy, and that works. We have to make it very hard for the insurgency to move in and out. We cannot make it impossible, but it has to be difficult. Otherwise, the Afghan people are left open to attack.

I will close by saying that there is no question about it that the common Afghan does see the threat coming into Afghanistan from the tribal areas. They know it. That needs to be dealt with. General Petraeus is dealing with it, but I do not know the details.

Senator Dallaire: From your level of tactical command, I will acknowledge that, certainly.

With respect to land strategy, you have the intelligentsia of the army in Kingston and that structure down there. In your role, are you involved with the force restructure and future concepts? In so doing, after the five years that the reserves have been going through a very high operational tempo, which is something we would never have imagined 30 years ago, do you see a new conceptual base to the use of reserves coming forward from the army?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: Yes, that is my role. In fact, I head up that part of the army that goes from conceived, through design, through setting conditions for the army to be built in the horizons from now until 2013, 2013 to 2016 and then 2016 and beyond to 2021. These are the horizons we have selected, the first horizon taking into account the recovery of our soldiers and equipment from Afghanistan and setting conditions for us to do whatever needs to be done into the future. The Director of Land Concept Development in Kingston right through to the Director of Land Requirements — an old post of yours — are under my command on the staff.

We are going through a very wide-ranging look at the army right now in the post-Afghan, pre-next-war environment. We must. It is part and parcel of a broader review to look at all factors in the forces under the aegis of transformation.

We are looking at the structures and the reserve and regular components that are in those structures. It is day six for me, so I do not have all the answers yet, but I am working on it.

The Chair: We will give you two weeks.

Senator Dallaire: You would not have said that if you were in Afghanistan; you would be in charge there. This is different; Ottawa is another battle, is it not?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: It is, quite. We have learned a great deal about ourselves as a result of the experience in Afghanistan. We have learned, really in many cases justified, the amount of effort and the tender loving care that we need to continue to give to the reserves.

There is no question now of seeing the reserves somehow as a residual for other things to happen. The reserves are vitally important, whether you are at high-end combat operations such as in Afghanistan, or mid-intensity operations, or right through to being able to do things such as Haiti or anything in between.

The reserves now have capabilities that do not not exist in the regular force, so they are automatically implicated in operations. The reserves, as the very nature of what they are, give us depth, breadth and expertise. As we become more and more savvy about how to conduct the comprehensive approach in operations where we take a broad range of military and civil effects, many reservists have those skill sets because of the dual nature of their professional lives to enrich further our capability set.

I can tell you as the guy steering the structure, any reviews and any work that all components, all aspects of regular and reserve forces are considered valuable. Now it is a matter of how we package them best so they are most efficient, properly equipped and that we do not enter another operation like Afghanistan on our back foot. We want to definitely have the reserves in good condition, as we do with the regular force.

Senator Lang: Thank you, welcome and welcome home. We all appreciate the time, effort and obviously the commitment you and the Armed Forces are putting in in Afghanistan.

I would like to go back to your opening remarks and what is happening in Afghanistan as a result of Canadian and other forces there with respect to the day-to-day lives of Afghans. The reason I want to bring that up is because in the media, we hear so often only the negative aspects of what occurs on any given day. It is important that we, and the public, hear from someone such as yourself what you saw out there as far as the young people and the education, perhaps some comments on the Afghan forces, both militarily and the police. We cannot leave that particular theatre without knowing that the local people are capable of doing the job themselves.

If you could comment on that and perhaps comment on some of the work being done to upgrade the infrastructure to make the day-to-day lives of Afghans that much easier than they have been in the past.

Brig.-Gen. Vance: I can talk for hours on this, but I will not. The youth component of Afghanistan is very critical. Clearly, the challenges to Afghanistan are generational in nature. It took many generations to produce, and it will take many generations to get over. We are there, therefore, for a relatively short period of time to set conditions for future generations to be able to gain some traction. The youth are critical.

In Dand District, although we tend to only advertise school openings to ourselves and to whoever will listen, the fact is, in this district, 26 schools have opened up. They continue to operate because we are there in sufficient capacity to protect them.

More important, once the schools are operating and villagers start to feel more confident, they take an active participation in their own security, going from an armed defence posture to something more akin to what you and I would consider normal in terms of our own security. You report the abnormal. That is a case in point in one district.

Panjwa'i has a long way to go, but we want Panjwa'i to go the way Dand has. We know the formula. If the formula is appropriately applied, we will see all sectors, be it health care, education or public works infrastructure, take advantage — rightly so — of the international community's commitment to improving their lot.

Specifically on infrastructure, obviously Canada has put a great deal of effort, successfully so, into the Dahla Dam project, the Arghandab irrigation rehabilitation project. That project has already started to produce some limited downstream effects. That will likely become reinforced by a U.S. project that would improve the dam infrastructure itself and offer more downstream productivity.

Electricity and roads are very important. The incredible focus of the U.S. through the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, and others, along with Canada, is now giving the in-theatre commanders the ability to turn the lights on in Kandahar City. This is being done in cooperation with the Afghan ministries. It is not easy to start putting electricity into Kandahar City. The infrastructure has been damaged, but, as more kilowatts are available to businesses, they start to flourish. Businesses are flourishing in Kandahar as it is. Add electricity, perhaps more educated people into the workforce, and it will be a boom town, I am sure, because there is a huge demand that is latent.

Roads are essential, not only the security of those roads but the very infrastructure themselves, so people can get their produce to market. It is an agrarian society, in the main. All of that is being done. It is very much appreciated by the Afghan people, and it is amazing to see them take full advantage of this.

Finally, on the Afghan military and the police, I said last time before this committee and many other fora, that the reestablishment of a professional army will be one of the lasting legacy success stories of the international commitment in Afghanistan. This is very important. It is a professional force becoming ever more professional. It has many challenges. It is an army in a very poor country that is riven with many political challenges as to how it will move forward in the future. Nonetheless, one thing that is certain is the army is definitely committed to keeping Afghanistan whole and safe. It is gratifying for me to see those we have worked with, primarily in the 1st Brigade, 205th Corps, progress so well.

The metrics that have been used in the past perhaps do not tell the story because their army is not necessarily being employed on a district-to-district basis. However, where they are operating now and concentrated, they are producing tremendous results along with us. More and more, we are seeing them take the lead in operations, and inspired to do something. We use a fairly technical process to get to a decision to do something. They have a very similar process, and we are seeing them use that to make decisions to act without us prompting them to act, which is, again, extremely gratifying. This falls under the realm of if there is a problem in your country, do something about it, and they are. They are becoming ever more capable of doing so.

As the structure of Afghanistan, from the national level down to locally, becomes reinforced by continued international engagement, the professionalization of staffs, the bureaucracy and the capacity to turn idea into action grows ever stronger; then the fine troops at bottom in the rifle companies and in the battalions will be able to do their nation's will, and do it very well.

The police continue on a slower trajectory, and it is just the nature of policing. You cannot produce professional police forces in the same time frame that you can produce armies that will be credible in the face of an enemy. Nonetheless, we are seeing a definite commitment. They had a change in minister. There is a definite commitment to getting it right, to make certain that the police go from being an armed agent in the midst of its people to being something that has "to serve and protect" uppermost in their minds.

Let us not forget that the police were the front-line defenders of their communities for a long time. As the army was being built, the police were out there. Although we tend to look at some of the local police actions as being fraught with activity that we would frown upon, at the same time, they were the front line in those communities. Unfortunately, they did not have enough time to train them appropriately, so they were similar to bad infantry. We have to go beyond that, and we are.

There has been some great success. I will point to one example. In Dand District, police who had formerly been part of a warlords' militia, wearing the uniform but who had never been trained, went to the academy and graduated and are now responsible to the chief of police of Dand District. That is a big deal because it attacks the problem of the police on so many levels, including cultural and tribal bias. We are proud to say that they continue to serve even today.

The Chair: That is great. Thank you for that. We appreciate hearing this.

Senator Greene: It is a pleasure to have you here.

We, of course, are leaving Afghanistan at the end of 2011, next year. A number of other countries are leaving as well during the course of 2011. The American surge means that the war is becoming more Americanized in general. However, the surge itself will be over by July, at which time I understand the Americans will be drawing down their troops.

I was thinking that if I were a Taliban commander in the caves of Pakistan, I would be spending the next 12 months collecting my money, supplies, recruits, making sure my supply lines are secure, waiting until a few of us leave and then launching a major offensive. Is that a reasonable scenario?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: It is a scenario built in urban legend, I would say. If you are a Taliban commander, you cannot afford to take that much time off because while you are reconstituting yourself in your cave, NATO and the international community, along with the Afghan government and its population, are being very productive. You will show up to an environment that is increasingly hostile toward you and capable. It is not a matter of taking time off.

I understand the nature of your question, though. Does it give encouragement to an enemy to know that you will leave the pitch at some point? Of course it does. It would to us. If we were fighting someone for something we believed in, and we knew they were going to leave, that would be good. One could not imagine that in their minds this is not somehow victory that the people leave the field.

With that said, we are investing in Afghans and Afghan ability. That investment by the international community will go on beyond July 2011. I understand that from Kabul, Canada will continue to invest in whole-of-government efforts there.

Afghanistan will not suffer from a withdrawal shock. The reduction of forces, if you listen to General Petraeus talk about this, is conditions-based. They may not leave first in the South. They may leave from somewhere else, or they may not leave at all until they are ready to leave. There is definitely a requirement for all of us to leave and turn Afghanistan's destiny over to them, but it will not happen with the same momentum that the surge occurred. It will be very considered and conditions-based.

No one wants to lose this. We do not want to lose. We ought not to, and it is entirely winnable. It just takes time, focus and patience. If you think about the nature of counter-insurgency operations, where you need sufficient security to allow other things to happen, we were only in that position starting in late 2009. Therefore, this method of warfare is relatively new in Afghanistan. For the longest time, we have been doing enough not to lose, and doing that very well, maintaining Afghanistan's capacity to recover. Now it is becoming a very productive environment, where we are seeing the recovery occur, but it takes time. None of this will take root unless the population feels sufficiently secure to start acting upon their own desires.

Senator Greene: You say that it is winnable. I am not sure what you mean by "win," and I will ask you to define that. To me, when you say that a war is winnable, at the end of the Second World War, we beat the other guys, and we won the war. In this particular war, though, the bad guys have a safe haven in Pakistan. While our own attacks might be successful to an extent, at least the way I look at it, we will never be able to make Pakistan a safe place for Afghanistan until we are allowed to put boots on the ground in Pakistan and rout out all the bad guys there, and that is not likely to happen any time soon.

Therefore, when you say that it is winnable under those conditions, what do you mean?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: I think that, broadly speaking, the international community, including Canada, would agree — and Canada's objectives are quite clearly stated — that winning, for us, means the Afghans being able to manage the emergency without there being a clear and present danger every day to their capacity to continue to govern.

I do not think that we would ever consider "winning" to mean the insurgency is over and Afghanistan has turned into a different country. An element of insurgency will exist there, as it exists in other modern European nations. Whether it has the capacity to act with violence, or whether it has the need to act with violence to get its message across, this is where we start to see what "winning" means.

I think there will be violence. There will be those who raise arms against others in Afghanistan, probably well into the future. Is it the most politically relevant thing happening in the country at any given point in time? If it is, then they are in crisis, but is it a manageable emergency? That is the reason for the tremendous investment into the training missions and into government architecture so that they can turn executive ideas into action because their bureaucracy is absent; it is dead, or it is in a diaspora. A great deal of effort is being put into developing or rekindling a white-collar capacity to develop the country. That is what I mean when I say "winnable."

The contrary is that many who are not accountable for the words they utter say that it can never be done, that everyone has lost there, that it is a graveyard of empires, and that everything we do there is bad and that nothing is good. That is self-defeating. Those people, generally speaking, have not been on the ground.

You talk about the Second World War. Linear warfare is much easier to find successes in: We landed on a beach; we crossed the river; and we smashed an army. We find success in an increased live birthrate, increased attendance at schools and increased political engagement at the municipal level. It is pretty hard to turn that into something that people would go to the streets and cheer about. It is the nature of warfare today. I suppose we could wish for a different war, structure ourselves to fight that war that will never come and be accused of being the Colonel Blimps of the past who wished for the war that would never come. We will not be that kind of force. We are not those kinds of people anymore. We are as progressive as we possibly can be. This is a complicated conflict that is more closely related to repairing the damage of isolated communities at risk in Canada than it is to warfare as we had known it. That is what we manage there on the ground every day — military forces to set conditions for good things to happen, but it is much harder.

The Chair: That was a powerful answer. Thank you very much.

Senator Pépin: Good afternoon and welcome.

You spoke about reservists. Are there lessons learned from our use of reservists in support of the Afghanistan mission?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: We have learned many lessons. I experienced some of these, both as a force generator and as an employer of forces.

An essential element was the timeliness of integrating the reserve augmentation to the task force as it was preparing to train. That is not an easy equation. When you ask a reservist to spend more than a year on task or an odd time of, for example, 17 months, they have another life to which they must return. Their employers are required to let them go for that period of time, and, thankfully, most employers have been cooperative. We are grateful for that.

Nonetheless, a lesson that I took away is that we want to ensure that we are at a baseline level of training and capability, including both regular forces and reserve, so that extra special training — that is, the road to high readiness — is efficient, short and a necessary time. We learned much about how to reduce the amount of time away from home and how to concentrate training so that the task force came together and arrived in Afghanistan together completely well trained. That was a key lesson.

The other lesson is, on the back end of the mission, to ensure that the reservists who come home and go into potentially different environments than we would on a regular force base have access to the post-mission care and follow-up that regular force soldiers can assume because they are closer to medical facilities, chain of command, and so on. The growth in our capacity to look after reserve families and the reservists themselves post-mission is another area that we learned about and grew quickly. There is always room for improvement, but we certainly have come a long way.

Senator Pépin: That means their participation is welcome.

Brig.-Gen. Vance: Absolutely. It has been said many times that there is no way we could have done this, not only in terms of our quality of forces but also in terms of our endurance there, had we not had credible reserves. It would not have been done.

We have prevailed upon the Canadian Forces as a whole — army, navy, air force, special forces, and in both components — to be able to do this mission. Had any one of those components failed, we would have failed.

Senator Mitchell: I speak probably for every member of this committee when I say that we appreciate your presentation. It is both interesting and powerful.

It is certain that the U.S. will be taking over where we were. Is that the case? Could you confirm that?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: That is a good working assumption. I do not know for sure. My understanding is that in-place forces will adjust their positions.

Senator Mitchell: I am interested in the status of the Afghan National Army and the police force. When we talk about Canada pulling out, there have been suggestions that someone might stay to do something. Will we be there in any kind of advisory or training capacity of the Afghan National Army or the police force at all?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: Do you mean post 2011?

Senator Mitchell: Yes, post 2011.

Brig.-Gen. Vance: No.

Senator Mitchell: You were very positive about the army, in particular. The committee was there a couple of years ago, and we were there, too, and would share your assessment of the difference between the army and the police.

Could you be more specific about the nature of the upper echelons of the Afghan army, the quality of their leadership, general staff, other staff, and so on? At what place is that? How close would we be to them being able to perform without mentors or without backup from some other army?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: I am glad that you asked that question because it speaks to an element that would cause friction to future success, namely, the political makeup and the challenges inherent within that political makeup of Afghanistan.

It is too easy to point a finger and say that it is all the fault of one political leader or person. That is not realistic. Afghanistan is a nation of families, subtribes, tribes and supertribes. Similar to us, they develop constituencies. The country has been in survival mode for 33 years. In that mode, you become somewhat selfish and inward-looking. You look after number one first and you are not used to going along to get along, or to giving a little to get a lot. It is not that easy to do when you have always been looking out for number one. The life expectancy in Kandahar Province is 46 years of age. Everyone alive in Kandahar has been doing nothing but fighting since they were a teenager or their entire lives.

You can place that in the context that what the upper echelon of the security forces in Afghanistan is doing is similar to what the upper echelon at the political level is doing. They are trying to put their country back together and make decisions about dealing with the emergency of the insurgency and also ensuring that they are postured appropriately in the region, as they are viewed by their population. We have issues with opening and closing bases in Canada, and they are wrapped around all sorts of agendas. Imagine what it is like when your country wants to stay together, but you have a hard time living together.

Our ambassador there is a wonderful diplomat. He has said on a number of occasions that reconciliation needs happen inside Afghanistan. It is not just Karzai and the Taliban. They are learning to live together in an environment that is prosperous, peaceful and coming out of the ashes. There is a lot of poetic allegory there, but it is true.

In that environment, the elite or the senior ranks of their military and police are both serving the requirement to fight and defeat this existential threat and being appropriate participants in the nature of their country. That is hard. I have the greatest respect for General Karimi, who was trained in the West and understands what needs to happen. He is the current four-star. They are very motivated to do the right thing and to try to win. For them, there is no equivocation or semantics: A loss is a loss.

Senator Mitchell: It would be a real loss.

We were told that one of the problems with the army and the police was lack of literacy — I believe the literacy rate was 25 per cent. It is difficult to explain to some of these soldiers and police how to do things because if they are not literate, they will have difficulty thinking things through. That remains a problem.

Let us say that it is post-2011. We have pulled out, and you have not brought back as much equipment as you took because much has been destroyed; some of what is brought back needs to be fixed. The ideal situation would be to replenish up to where you were, but now we are not in a war.

Is the army budgeting and beginning to see resources it might need to replenish up to a particular level? Would you want to go back to where you were, with the same number of tanks, other vehicles, guns, et cetera?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: Yes, senator. In fact, it is even better than that. From an army perspective, we will go through a reconstitution, which is to deal with the immediacy of the kit and get it back into service, into working condition in the army.

Billions of dollars worth of new vehicle acquisitions was also announced — armoured vehicle fleets, trucks and so on, plus a medium-lift helicopter fleet that will materialize in Canada over time. It is a great time to be in the army.

It will be hard work to bring it all back, get it in condition and bring in new fleets of vehicles. I would not put us above or below a line. However there will be a qualitative improvement in the army. I know that for a fact. When we left, we were not able to do aviation operations with Chinooks, and now we will be able to do those. It adds a capability to the army's portfolio, though it will not be without its challenges.

To answer your question directly, we are budgeting and are budgeted to do that.

Senator Lang: My questions have to do with the reserves in your opening remarks. You mentioned that you were back here for six days and doing an overview. We are looking at certain questions as they pertain to the reserves. When do you expect to have your overview done, and when would we be able to see it?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: Could I take that on advisement? I do not know when the process will mature. It is not just an internal army process; there is a Canadian Forces transformation process, as well.

We will certainly answer your question. However, I would like to be exact. I know what is happening in my little world. However, from a departmental perspective, which I think is what you need, I will need to verify the information.

Senator Dallaire: The option of the reserves being the footprint of a mobilization base for the future does not necessarily seem to have any traction at this time because they are all at such a high operational capability. Still, force generation needs to happen.

At what level do you think we should be keeping those reservists to keep the operational training time minimal for their integration into the regular force?

Brig.-Gen. Vance: Their individual qualification levels must be maintained throughout the year, which we do and are funded to do.

It will vary depending on the level of readiness or preparation at which any given sector or area headquarters in the army must be. For example, if Land Force Quebec Area is the next one in the window, they will probably have a higher level of readiness. However, generally speaking, it coalesces in the reserves around effective platoon-level training. This is a great question for Major-General Tabbernor when he comes up.

The Chair: He will conveniently be joining us shortly.

I would like to thank Brigadier-General Vance for being with us. You have been so frank, direct and honest. You have twice been the Commander of the Joint Task Force in Afghanistan. We thank you so much for your service and for the insights you have shared with us today.

We continue to receive testimony on the role of the reserves in the Canadian Forces in places such as Afghanistan. We have with us two witnesses. One is Major-General Dennis C. Tabbernor, CMM, CD, Chief of Reserves and Cadets. He has served a long time with the Canadian Forces, both reserve and the regular force. He started in 1967 as a reservist with The Royal Winnipeg Rifles and then transferred to regular force in 1972. He returned to the reserve force in 1993 and assumed command of his original regiment, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

Several promotions and tasks followed, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and after promotion to brigadier- general, he became Deputy Commander of Land Force Western Area, then Commander of Canadian Joint Task Force Southwest Asia, and then Director of General Land Reserve. He was assigned as Deputy Commanding General of Afghan National Army Development in 2007, then promoted to major-general and appointed to his current position as Chief of Reserves and Cadets. We are thankful and glad that you are here today.

Also joining Major-General Tabbernor is Colonel Josée Robidoux, Director of Reserves. She joined the Canadian Forces' Reserve Force in 1985 and served with the Communication Squadron and the Directorate Information Services Operations and Training. Promoted to the rank of major, she took over responsibility for all Communication Reserve personnel administration and benefits and became Commanding Officer of Information Management Group Primary Reserve List.

In 2005, she was made Commander of 71 Communication Group. This summer she was promoted to colonel and was appointed Director of Reserves. We appreciate your changing your schedule to be here and accommodate us today.

Major-General Tabbernor, I understand you have an opening statement.

Major-General Dennis C. Tabbernor, CMM, CD, Chief, Reserves and Cadets, National Defence: Thank you very much. I am pleased to be here today and as the Chair has indicated, I have with me Colonel Robidoux, the individual who, on a day-to-day basis, looks after reserve issues for me. She is my principal staff officer on pan-reserve issues, and she and her staff also gather and analyze information, as well as monitor and advise on policy development within the Canadian Forces. She is here to get me out of trouble if I get in trouble with you.

We, in National Defence, DND, and the Canadian Forces, CF, are committed to maintaining a balance of military and civilian personnel, while also maintaining the flexibility required to meet future DND and CF missions. We will continue to ensure that we have the right people in the right jobs in the right places.

To create this flexibility, measures are being put in place to stabilize the DND-CF workforce, including the Primary Reserve, while the necessary post-Afghanistan adjustments are determined. A working group has been stood up under the leadership of the chief of program, Chief of Force Development, Chief of Military Personnel and myself to determine the requirement post-Afghanistan for the Primary Reserve within DND and CF, with a focus on balancing the requirements for primary reserves between force generation and the needs for augmentation support to DND-CF operations, and to establish the baseline required for full-time positions over the long term.

We are also committed to ensuring that the Primary Reserve maintains and further develops effective and efficient career paths for development and career progression to foster a rewarding career based primarily on part-time service, as well as opportunity for full-time service in support of operations and reserve force generation.

Currently, our force generation tempo remains consistently heavy. For domestic operations in Canada this year, the reserves provided personnel to support the police agencies with the security for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games, the Huntsville G8 and Toronto G20 summit meetings and the northern sovereignty operations, Operation Nanook, up North.

As you have seen most recently on television, more than 200 reservists applied their skills and local knowledge toward assisting the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in recovering from Hurricane Igor on very short notice. Our reservists also provide full-time crews for the Kingston class maritime coastal defence vessels, and full-time staff at all levels of the Canadian Forces, including units, bases, headquarters and training establishments.

Concurrently, Canada's international operations include a total of nearly 1,900 reservists who have deployed, redeployed or are about to deploy to Afghanistan this year. In addition, reservists are assigned to UN commitments in Haiti, the Balkans, the Middle East and across Africa.

You need to know that as Chief of Reserves and Cadets, I command nothing other than my staff. On the reserve side, I am the principal adviser to the Chief of the Defence Staff, CDS, and the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, VCDS, on reserve issues. I am responsible for the Canadian Forces Liaison Council. In that way, we provide support to the civilian council. You will be talking to Mr. John Eaton and my executive director who supports him next week.

My last job is to oversee for the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, the delivery of the youth programs for which the Canadian Forces are responsible.

We are honoured to be here today to represent this dedicated group of Canadians, our reservists, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

The Chair: Thank you for those remarks. We are beginning to put the picture together here. As commander of nothing and in charge of everything, if you had one wish that you could deliver tomorrow for how the world would change for reservists, what would you do? This has been studied to death for years and decades. If there was one area we could fix to make a huge difference, what would it be?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: From a Canadian Forces point of view, the area I would like to see changed is the administrative systems that we use to deal with the reserves. We have two systems right now, one for the regular forces and one for the reserve forces.

We are working hard to rationalize and harmonize the system so that we have one system. If we had one system, life would be easier for all of us. Right now, you take an individual, a reservist, and that individual goes off and does something. That reservist works with the regular force, and the regular force does not necessarily understand the reserve policies and procedures, and that causes issues. Ideally, we would have one set of policies and procedures that dealt with the Canadian Forces writ large, and differences for the regular and reserve forces only if necessary.

The Chair: That is a great starting point. Thank you very much.

Senator Dallaire: I would like to pursue, at another time, the whole effort that you were engaged in — the security transition efforts with which you were involved, I suppose under NATO, to continue to build up the Afghan forces and possibly police.

On the reserve side, for which you now hold a responsibility, you say that you have this working group that is now being cranked up to look at the balance between force generation and augmentation and support. Are you in a position — and I hope you will be able to tell us some milestones of your working group — to tell us what sort of strategic policy framework you are doing that in? That is to say, will you still hold a mobilization-based concept out there? Will you go to a high-level, American style, full-time and part-time reserve, or has your guidance been nonexistent in trying to figure this one out?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: We are dealing with a couple of aspects to the working group.

First, we are looking at the number of full-time reservists that we have presently supporting the Canadian Forces today and what that number should look like in about two years. Colonel Robidoux is the co-chair of the working group with Ms. Valerie Keyes, and this working group is just in the process of being set up. Their first task is to look at the number of full-time reservists employed in the Canadian Forces today; and in dealing with the army, navy, air force and others who employ reservists, the numbers that we should have post-Afghanistan.

To deal with the operational tempo that started in the early 1990s and is still continuing today, we, in effect, partially mobilized the reserves to deal with those operational stresses and pressures to the point that, at one point in time, about one third of the effective reserve strength was on full-time service. As we draw down out of Afghanistan, we have to return to a normal level of full-time service within the reserves. That is one element they will look at.

For the milestones on that, I will turn to Colonel Robidoux.

Colonel Josée Robidoux, Director of Reserves, National Defence: The initial report or the interim report is due to the VCDS by February 1, and the final report on the baseline number of full-time reservists is due on April 1. After that, upon endorsement from the VCDS, I will carry on with the implementation plan, which will start in 2012 and continue until 2014; those are the timelines we have right now.

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: For the other aspect you mentioned, the strategic context, we are just in the process of addressing that. We do not have anything concrete that I could hang my hat on and tell you. Both the Chief of the Defence Staff and the VCDS are seized of the strategic role of the reserves within the Canadian Forces as we move ahead, post-Afghanistan.

Senator Dallaire: To the very pointed question by the chair about your primary target in resolving some of the problems with the reserves, you mentioned a separate administration. I thought you would mention pay, but that is within that, so you are well within the target area.

I still wish to query you on the footprint of the reserves. I am not only talking about militia, with all of the armouries and units, I am including here the 20-odd navy ships or establishments across the country. I must say that I am totally unfamiliar with the structure of the air force now.

Are you being limited to or is the transformation exercise limiting anything with respect to looking at that structure, which was a continuum of the old mobilization base with maybe some operational capability?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: To the best of my knowledge right now, no, we are not looking at that at all.

Senator Dallaire: You are looking now at how many stay within full-time employment. Do you perceive that full-time employment would remain within operational units at all, or would that full-time employment be fully pulled out of that and essentially put into the units, maybe some training establishments?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: I think it will be a combination of all of that. At the end of the day, we will go forward to the chief and the vice chief with recommendations from the army, navy and air force, and others who employ reservists, as to where they think reservists need to be employed in the Canadian Forces of the future. Therefore, we will ask where we think we need to employ reservists, from the armoury level or the naval reserve division level, right up to National Defence Headquarters, NDHQ.

As an example, Colonel Robidoux, my director of reserves, is a full-time reservist. I think it is critical that her position remains a full-time position so she can do the day-to-day work that needs to be done here within the National Capital Region. I do not think what she needs to do would be doable on a part-time basis. Her position needs to remain full time.

We will get input from those who employ reservists, and then we will present those deliberations to the chain of command for their approval.

Senator Lang: I would like to pursue the questioning a little further on the philosophy of the reservists and looking ahead post-Afghanistan and the redeployment and obviously the readjustments that will be made within the financial commitments.

Where do you stand with respect to the philosophy of reservists? We hear two different stories. One, because we are redeploying, the size of the reserves does not have to stay at the same numbers that they are at present because we are post-Afghanistan. Then you hear the other side that says that there is a requirement to have this in place for further commitments to be made by the military into the future. Perhaps you could give us your take on that.

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: Right now, the government policy, as laid out in the Canada First Defence Strategy, sees the reserves growing over the next number of years, with a final target of 30,000 reservists in the Canadian Forces. That is the policy on which we are working. Unless the government changes its policy, we are working toward that 30,000, which is an increase from where we are today. That is really all I can say on that.

Senator Lang: I would like to switch to the question of cadets. I want to commend you and your organization for the work that is done with the cadets. I am from the Yukon, and we have a cadet camp there of which you are very proud, as are we. It provides a place for cadets in the summer months. Approximately 300 cadets come up at any one time, not only from Canada but internationally. We are pleased to have them there.

On the question of cadets and their recruitment, if I had to make an observation, I would say that there are not a lot of public relations to encourage young people to come out, partake and eventually join the cadets. There does not seem to be a consistent recruiting program for these young people. To me, it is an ideal type of after-school commitment that one could make at no cost. You do not even have to buy the shoes. No one can say that he or she cannot afford it.

Have you considered a public-relations campaign in these small and larger centres so that young people and parents are made aware of what is available, as opposed to what is being done now?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: I refer to cadets as the best-kept secret in Canada. Since taking over this job, like you, I have thought that we need to publicize the cadet program more. Therefore, I have engaged the Assistant Deputy Minister of Public Affairs and her staff to help develop a strategic plan to advertise the cadet program, delivered regionally and locally. Each region would have slightly different messages. One of my officers sitting in the back row there, hiding, Major Thomas, is my public affairs officer who is working with the public affairs staff to do exactly what you have just suggested.

Senator Lang: I am pleased to hear it. If we can be of any help, let us know.

Senator Manning: To return to the opening question from the chair about administration and what would be a priority for you, I have known, since my short time here in Ottawa, that a lot of administration exists here, everywhere. Could you elaborate on the two streams of administration you talked about and suggestions to address those so that you could fine tune what you are doing?

Col. Robidoux: There are a number of issues. One is the actual computer systems that are completely separate and not talking to each other. We want to be able to provide easy movement of reservists and regular forces between the two components. This includes when a reservists goes from Class A or Class B, part-time or full-time domestic service to an operational deployment and requires an electronic file to transit from the reserve force system to the regular force system, which creates all of those pay problems that we keep hearing about on a regular basis. That is one of the issues.

The other problem is that the policies themselves — and the procedures because the policies lead to procedures and regulation leads to policy — have not really been reviewed in close to 30 years, a time when the reserve was very different from what it is today, and also a time when we were employing and using the reserves in a very different way than we are today. Those need to be reviewed to be better integrated and, as the general mentioned, changed where it does not make sense to work in the same way. That takes time. This is being done right now, slowly. We have identified those policies that are most critical for the free movement and more efficient administration of reservists, and regular forces as well, into one integrated system of policies, procedures and processes supported by an integrated human resources and pay system. This project is ongoing and progressing according to their timelines so far.

Senator Manning: Do you find that many of the people who end up eventually becoming reserves come from the cadet program? I have talked to some reservists who, in some cases, are hesitant about the next step, but I think a fair number of them come from the cadets. I am wondering where the training begins.

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: We do not keep track of cadets who join the Canadian Forces. The aim of the cadet program is not to be a recruiting tool for the Canadian Forces, but rather to teach citizenship, self-reliance, fitness, et cetera. We do not track that. I am not interested. It is a youth program. The fact that they wear a quasi-uniform, to me, is irrelevant. It is the best youth program in Canada. As we have discussed, it is the best-kept secret. We are not out there to recruit young men and women from the cadets into the Canadian Forces, and therefore we do not keep track of it.

However, within a large group of regular forces and reserves, you will find that some members started in the cadets. The Chief of the Defence Staff started off in cadets, and so did Rick Mercer, but that is beside the point.

Senator Manning: In my former life as a political member in the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, I travelled to many of the annual reviews for cadets, and I quickly realized that I had lost out in my youth by not being involved; no doubt. It is a wonderful program.

How many of the reservists that we have now served in Afghanistan over the duration of time we have been there?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: If you will give me a moment, I can tell you how many reservists we have deployed overseas in the last number of years.

The Chair: Some of them were deployed more than once.

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: Yes. This year alone, as I said, we deployed 1,900 reservists. With respect to primary reserves who have participated in overseas operations since the year 2000, we have sent 14,000-plus reservists overseas from the year 2000 to today.

The Chair: Might that account for Haiti?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: That is all missions overseas.

The Chair: Colonel Robidoux, when Major-General Tabbernor described you as a lifelong member of the reserve, why do you choose to be in the reserve and not in the regular force?

Col. Robidoux: That is a very good question. It is more by accident than anything else. I was in the cadets, and when I reached the age of 19, I decided to join the reserve unit that was in the same armoury as the cadet corps. I had to pay for my university, and it gave me something interesting to do over the summer and on weekends. Then I got caught up in it and really enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, my military occupation is in signals, and I am not an engineer, so that prevented me from transferring into that technical area of expertise. That is probably the main reason I did not transferred to the regular forces.

The Chair: That is an interesting insight. Thank you.

Senator Mitchell: You have both alluded to the inconvenience of inconsistent regulations between the regular forces and the reserve forces. Colonel, you spoke about how the reserve forces regulations have not changed for 30 years, yet the whole configuration has changed.

We had the same input from a witness last week. His analysis was that this has occurred because people were busy with deployments and urgent things that needed to be done, so something such as redoing regulations always fell to a lower priority. Would you share that assessment?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: Partially, perhaps, but where rules and regulations have needed to be changed, we have changed them, especially when it comes to support to operations.

One quick example is that we had a dichotomy in one of our regulations with respect to reservists serving overseas, which allowed that reservist to basically quit with 60 days' notice. The reservist's regular force counterpart does not have that luxury, so we eliminated that. An individual who is on overseas mission is there for the same duration as the regular force counterpart and the reservist cannot quit, basically. Where it is necessary, we have done that.

A team has also been stood up with the Chief of Military Personnel to look at this issue. I will not go into detail about this. We are hopeful that we will be able to address some of the issues, as Colonel Robidoux mentioned, and harmonize the systems within the Canadian Forces.

At the end of the day, if we only have one system, it makes life much easier for us to deploy men and women on operations. To me, that is the bottom line, to smoothly, quickly and efficiently deploy reservists alongside the regular force counterparts to deal with operations, whether here in Canada or overseas.

Senator Mitchell: You are suggesting that this will be done for all the forces, not just the army?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: This is a Canadian Forces issue.

Senator Mitchell: You have the resources to do that. Maybe the person who suggested that they did not was the navy. You would need people from all the services. Have you considered a special task force of retired senior military staff who could look at that issue and get it done without the problem of being distracted by the urgent and more important issues?

Col. Robidoux: A permanent staff exists within the National Defence Headquarters dedicated to the review and rewriting of CF policy and regulations. Certain priorities need to be addressed. The commitment of Canada to Afghanistan created a big change in the priority of efforts. Many regulations, directives and orders have been rewritten or created to address issues such as care of ill and injured, care of the families and new benefits to look after both the families and the soldiers. Many new regulations have been presented to Treasury Board, and that involves a lot of work. It is more a priority of effort that was shifted from the mundane administrative process and policies to put more effort on a higher priority for the CF.

Senator Mitchell: What percentage of reserves are women, and do you have a target for increasing that percentage?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: We do not really have any targets for young women or visible minorities within the reserves. However, the statistics that were given to me today show that 17.2 per cent of our young reservists are female, 1.9 per cent are Aboriginal and 5.9 per cent are visible minorities.

Senator Mitchell: The reservists have been integrated into the main stream and are doing absolutely main stream things, as we know from Afghanistan and elsewhere. There may be a suggestion that they are not being managed by their own reserve officers. Although I know your existence here is denying my question, there might be a concern that the reserve is not being used in ways that it might be used because non-reserve officers do not completely understand the nuance of running a reserve.

Is there any sense of truth to that?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: Let me talk to you about my experience.

When I was a deputy commander of Land Force Western Area, first and foremost I was deputy commander of the area. I was the number two guy. When we were discussing the use of the reserve, the commander turned to me, as his senior reservist, to ask what I thought.

You will find that throughout the Canadian Forces, each organization is different. The reservists are there at senior levels. I sit on the Armed Forces Council, so I am the principal adviser to the chief and the vice on the reserve issues. I am not shy about saying, "What we are talking about here is detrimental to the reserves, so maybe we should look at it in another way with respect to how we will employ the reserves."

Fifteen years ago, I might have agreed with you. Today, with all that we have learned over the last decade — and Brigadier-General Vance alluded to it as a force employer and a force generator — we are in good stead when we talk about the Canadian Forces. The commander of the army does not talk about his reserves and his regulars in two different voices. He talks about his army, which is inclusive of the regular and reserve soldiers in his army; the commander of the navy talks about his navy, including his naval reservists. When the chief talks about his Canadian Forces, he is talking about everyone in uniform in the Canadian Forces, plus the civilians that support us.

I think we have changed dramatically over the last decade. That has been a result of the operational tempo that we have had and the huge role that our reservists have played in supporting us in being able to deal with that operational tempo. Brigadier-General Vance also alluded to the fact that without the reservists, we would not have been able to do it. I am confident that when we are we are dealing with issues, the reserves' aspects of it are generally taken into consideration.

Senator Patterson: Major-General Tabbernor, I understand you have had this post since 2008. We are looking at issues such as pay scale and employer compensation. Did the economic crisis that we experienced have an impact on the reserve force in recruitment and the like?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: I am not sure I understand the question. Over the last couple of years recruiting on the reserve side has been good, and recruiting in the Canadian Forces has been good across the board.

The Chair: Is that because there is a war on and soldiers want to go to war?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: Some of the young men and women joined the Canadian Forces because we are at war. The Canadian public in general is more aware of the Canadian Forces and what we do and that it is an honourable thing that we do. We are seeing more young men and women appearing at recruiting centres because they want to serve Canada. Nothing bad can be said about that.

Senator Patterson: Does that mean that the current pay scale for reservists is adequate?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: In my travels, when talking to reservists, I am not beaten up on the amount of money they are paid. Reservists are not beating down my door saying, "We are not paid enough money, and our benefits are not good enough."

Having said that, we continue to look at benefits across the Canadian Forces. That is done on a regular base. As Colonel Robidoux said, we have put things in place over the last couple of years to deal with the reality that we are in today, to support both our regular and reserve personnel, and their families. These benefits are out there for everyone in uniform.

Senator Patterson: Consideration is being given to a compensation regime for employers of reservists especially for extended periods of time.

Do you have any comments on whether a scheme such as that would affect the way reservists could figure in operational planning?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: To date we have not had many issues with employers allowing the reservists time off to serve. As you know, we have no scheme to compensate our employers, other than to publicly recognize them for the good that they do here in Canada.

Our counterparts in Australia introduced a scheme, and the first year it cost them $30 million, which the government paid for in the first year. After that, the Australian military had to eat it out of their baseline. They became $30 million short of what they had before.

Discussions are taking place about that. When Mr. Eaton sees you next week, perhaps he can provide you more information on that. Dealing with the Canadian Forces Liaison Council, they have not come out en masse and told me that without compensation, we are dead. We still have employers giving their reservists time off to do what is necessary here in Canada. The most recent example was Hurricane Igor in Newfoundland and Labrador, when 200 reservists showed up at the drop of a hat to do what needed to be done.

When I was a brigade commander in Winnipeg during the floods of 1997, we had reservists on full-time service fighting the floods. I received one phone call from an employer and his only concern was whether I knew approximately when his two employees would be released from service because he was in the process of sorting out the schedule for the following month.

It is a two-edged sword. We need to be careful if we head down that road. We would have to be sure of what we are asking for.

The Chair: Thank you. We did hear from the C.D. Howe Institute on that last week and went through variations on different proposals.


Senator Pépin: We were told women account for 17 per cent of women of the reserves. In your opinion, if it were possible to make some changes or adjustments, would more women be interested in getting involved?

Col Robidoux: Personally, I do not believe that any changes are required in the operations of the Canadian Forces in order to accommodate women. A career in the Canadian Forces involves some prerequisites based on the realities of the job and the task that we have to be able to carry out.

I received my training in 1985 when there were few women in the Canadian Forces. I took my infantry training in 1985 at the Combat Arms School in Gagetown. That summer, the school had some 4,000 students and we were three women. Obviously, women need to show interest and have a passion for that type of responsibility.

Senator Pépin: Thank you.


Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: Amongst those of us in uniform, I do not think gender is a big issue. When I first joined, it was an issue. When I look at Colonel Robidoux, I first see a colonel in the Canadian Forces. I actually wanted her for this job, not because she was a female but because of what she had between her ears. I went out and beat her up about three or four years ago, saying that I wanted her to come to do this job at the national level, not knowing that I would be here. However, I wanted her here because I thought she would be able to do a good job.

From our point of view, generally speaking, gender is no longer an issue.

As you are probably aware, we have no trades that are closed to females. All our trades are open to young women who want to do whatever they want in the Canadian Forces, which I think is great. We are one of the few nations that do that. Whether the young lady is a platoon commander in the fields in Panjwa'i leading a rifle platoon or a recruiter at a recruiting centre, she is there because she wants to be and because she can do the job.

Senator Dallaire: You have the chain of command with the army, navy and air force, which are force generators, but you also have the Commander of Canada Command and Commander of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, who are users. Are those commands establishing criteria that will be used in the rationalization of Class Bs, the exercise that you mentioned?

In that same light, the unit I am involved with had 231 people, and last year we lost 20 people, 12 of whom went to the regular force. Is that very effective retention level now a constant throughout the militia, particularly, or is retention worse or possibly a problem within the militia?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: As far as I know, Canada Command or Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, CEFCOM, do not have plans to reduce the number of reservists used on operations.

I do not want to speak for the Commander of Canada Command, but on that side, in some cases, depending on where we are in Canada, the first individuals who respond to a domestic operation may be reservists who are then back-filled by regular force people as we bring them from elsewhere from across the country.

To me, retention is a chain-of-command issue. Some units are better at it than others, but, generally speaking, we have found that retention over the last number of years has increased and our attrition has decreased. There are still some problem areas, but our retention has increased across the Canadian Forces and across the reserves, in particular.

I will give an example that I know well. In Winnipeg, there are two infantry units. A couple of years ago, their strength was down dramatically. I was talking to the commanding officer of the tactically grouped organization right now, and they are probably 150 soldiers higher than they have been in a long time, with 256 soldiers in this organization. Historically, in the last 10 years, they have never had those numbers.

Senator Dallaire: Is your concern about pay levels — that is to say, the availability of pay for training days to sustain this high tempo that seems to be a positive asset to the reserves? Is that a concern with budget cuts and so on, or will you be recommending that there should continue to be a high level or a higher level of pay availability to maintain this retention and operational capability?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: That is slightly outside of my lane, senator, because the amount of training days and the amount of money allocated to the training days belong to the environment — the commander of the army, navy and air force. However, my understanding is that there is no intent to reduce the number of training days that we have historically had in the reserves.

Senator Dallaire: That is historically, but I am talking about the Afghan years.

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: The training days have stayed consistent throughout the Afghan years. The difference was that when individuals were tagged to go the Afghanistan, additional monies and training days were allocated to those individuals to get them to the level necessary to join the task forces, which Brigadier-General Vance mentioned, and then do the work-up training to go to Afghanistan.

Senator Lang: I want to follow up on Senator Patterson's question about possible compensation to employers of reservists who are to be deployed offshore or in disasters, et cetera.

If we had an extra $10 million and the choice was to put it to compensation for employers for the obvious adjustments they have to make or to put it in somewhere else in the military, are you saying that we should put it in the military because we are receiving the cooperation, and the employers, overall, are satisfied that they can take care of themselves in view of the events? Do you want to comment on that?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: It is a lose-lose question. I do not think I want to comment on it, but I will.

I do not think it is an either-or. I think if we make the decision that we will compensate employers, then it is not a military decision. I think it is a government decision. It would be based on the advice of the chain of command, no doubt. However, at the end of the day, the government would have to take that decision to compensate employers in whatever form. There are many examples out there. As you say, the C.D. Howe Institute spoke to you about that last week. Mr. Busby, who was before you, has a number of recommendations.

At the end of the day, it is not a decision that I or anyone in uniform would take; it is a decision that the government would have to take. It has to be done in discussions with the employers. However, if you wanted to give me $10 million for the reserve, I would take it tomorrow.

The Chair: I am sure you would.

There was a final point you made, and I was glad to hear you say that when you travel around, most reservists are not talking to you about their pay or income. Obviously, they are volunteers; they have signed up and they are a special kind of person to do it. However, the area of concern is if they are injured on active duty, are the rules the same for them?

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: Absolutely. There is no discrimination between a member of the regular forces or a reservist when they are injured. The systems are there, both within the Canadian Forces and within Veterans Affairs, to look after our soldiers. Again, I do not discriminate. If our soldiers are injured, we look after our soldiers.

The Chair: Thank you for that clarification.

Senator Dallaire: I need a clarification because of the point you just raised. The answer originally related to pay level; that is to say, they are paid at a level that is required and that did not seem to be a problem. I think you were alluding to whether they have enough paid days in the year that is satisfying both the individual and the units to do their jobs.

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: I think the chair's question related to an individual injured in Afghanistan and whether we would look after them.

Senator Dallaire: No, the question previous to that one.

The Chair: That was my first question. Major-General Tabbernor said earlier that when he goes out and talks with people, the issue of pay does not come up.

Maj.-Gen. Tabbernor: No. There is a young soldier in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles who was shot in Afghanistan two years ago. We are still looking after him.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

We have had with us for this session Major-General Dennis C. Tabbernor, CMM, CD, Chief, Reserves and Cadets, National Defence. Our thanks as well to Colonel Robidoux, who changed her plans to be with us. Thank you both for your service in the reserves and the regular force, and thank you for making us understand that those distinctions should be disappearing.

Now we will switch topics. As I said at the beginning of the meeting, one of the other matters this committee will deal with over the next few months is a motion by Senator Rompkey that the Senate of Canada encourage the Minister of National Defence to change the official structural name of Maritime Command to Canadian Navy, and that would start this year, the one-hundredth anniversary year of the Canadian Navy.

Our first witness — and we went to a man who knows all on this subject matter, we hope — is distinguished military and naval historian Dr. Alexander Douglas. He served in the Canadian Navy from 1950 to 1973. He went on to become a professor of military studies at the Royal Military College, and from 1973 to 1994, he was the official historian of the Canadian Forces. He retired as director general, history.

Dr. Douglas has been affiliated with numerous foundations, societies, commissions and museums as a military historian. He has been a visiting fellow at Cambridge, an adjunct research professor at Carleton, and of course has written many articles on military history, which is why, in part, we have invited him here today.

Welcome, and I understand that you have some opening comments.


Alexander Douglas, Adjunct Research Professor, Naval Historian, Carleton University: Madam Chair, I am very grateful for your invitation to appear before you today. Since my French is somewhat rusty, if you will allow, I shall speak English.


Mr. Douglas: I will speak briefly to the notes that you have received concerning the change to the formal structure of naval "Maritime Command" to "Canadian Navy."

The term "Maritime Command" comes from one of the six functional commands set up with unification in 1968. They were commands that were less operationally effective than they hoped, and it is now acknowledged that, like our allies, the combat arms have to be generated and maintained by professionals who are expert in army, naval and air operations respectively.

When the Honourable Paul Hellyer brought in unification, he found himself pitted against some equally strong- minded sailors who doubted the merit of his reforms. Mr. Hellyer's views on the navy recall laws of several of his predecessors, in one way or another. Prime Minister Borden tried to repeal the Naval Service Act of 1910 and bring in a Naval Aid Bill to compensate the Royal Navy for its expansion before the First World War. The Senate defeated the naval aid bill and the navy survived to serve throughout the First World War, after a fashion.

After the war, retrenchment brought severe cutbacks. Prime Minister Mackenzie King carried out severe slashes in defence expenses in 1922, the navy suffering the worst of those cuts. In 1933, General Andrew McNaughton, chief of the general staff, said that the navy, as was constituted, was no answer to any Canadian defence problems.

Commodore Walter Hose, the director of the naval service, successfully countered those arguments and was recognized as an autonomous chief of naval staff, and of course the navy went on to do great things in the Second World War.

After the Second World War, retrenchment again brought morale problems. Brooke Claxton, who was then the defence minister, said of the senior officers that they had all joined about the year 1914, had been trained largely in the RN, had served together through every rank and course, had English accents and fixed ideas. The navy somehow survived that criticism. It had become a significant national institution by that time and went on to perform meaningful roles in the Korean War and the Cold War.

Borden, McNaughton and Claxton were all out of sympathy with the senior officers of the navy. Mr. Hellyer simply sacrificed senior officers to his reforms. In all these instances, the navy responded to the challenge with some remarkable achievements, although it took two decades for Maritime Command to really recover from unification.

That being said, sailors listened to Rear Admiral W.M. Landymore, who was one of the principal figures in the so-called revolt of the admirals. He persuaded people to stay on in the navy to preserve the naval ethos and tradition. Of course, many people in the navy had already invested so much in their careers that they were unable to pull out.

That being said, the naval ethos and tradition has survived over the past 40 years. I would like to quote Vice- Admiral Dean McFadden when he spoke to this committee earlier this year, when envisioning a fleet "deployed and sustained globally, centred in combat and capable of asserting our sovereignty in three oceans against a broad range of defence and increasing security threats.

As a historian, I have benefited from many of Mr. Hellyer's reforms because the historical organization in the air force and the navy improved greatly when they amalgamated with the army historical section in 1964. I am very grateful for that. As a historian, considering the past vicissitudes and triumphs of the navy and a truly promising future that we can anticipate, it is my belief that the navy should be recognized not simply as one of several commands, but as a navy in its own right.

As I say in my notes, there is some controversy about whether we should turn the clock back to become the "Royal Canadian Navy" or simply "Canadian Navy." To me, it does not matter. I feel it should be recognized as a navy in its own right.

The Chair: Thank you for your comments and for making that clear because we really are just sorting out the very beginning of what would be involved.

Perhaps I can start right there with the word "Royal" because we are getting conflicting information about whether, as Canadians, we could even decide to do that. Is it not the purview of the Queen to decide what should be designated "Royal"?

Mr. Douglas: It is in the purview of the Queen. We, of course, have Her Majesty's Canadian ships, and I do not think there would be any problem in getting Royal approval to return to the term "Royal Canadian Navy."

In talking to my colleagues and friends in the service, I understand that there is a bit of a split in opinion, perhaps 50/50, as to whether we should go back to the Royal Canadian Navy or just Canadian Navy. I think there is a strong feeling that we should be recognized as a navy.

The Chair: To be clear for the purposes of this discussion and those watching, the motion put forward by Senator Rompkey is really to change the name from "Maritime Command" to "Canadian Navy." He has not proposed "Royal" in his mission at all, so we are looking at the narrower of the options here.

Senator Dallaire: We are into more than just semantics. We are coming back to attempting to articulate the souls of the three services that were destroyed by Mr. Hellyer when he made it one service. If we had gone to the "Marine Corps" like they were thinking, that might not have been the case.

We have now no National Defence Act articulating three services, but we have force generators that are taking on that job. You have Land Force Command, Maritime Command and so on.

In calling it the "Canadian Navy," do you think we are opening up a requirement to amend the National Defence Act in a nuanced way to bring back the service, which those commands are doing but which is not necessarily recognized as such?

Mr. Douglas: It is my feeling that if you changed the name to the navy, then the army and the air force should be recognized too, but that is a personal feeling. Constitutionally, I am sure that this would be possible, and you would have to go on to the National Defence Act in order to bring that change back.

Senator Dallaire: We not only change the name to "Canadian Navy," but we would actually reintroduce the three services. Is that correct?

Mr. Douglas: That would be correct, in my opinion, yes.

Senator Dallaire: It is not that I am against it. On the contrary, I think it is of great significance that this gesture, since 1965, be taken in a deliberate fashion and not just as we attempted. I come to this point: We have been fiddling with Maritime Command being the "Canadian Navy," and what we are trying to do is make it above board and act accordingly. Is that correct?

Mr. Douglas: That is correct, in my opinion.

Senator Greene: I would like to ask a question about a point that might be very semantic, but I think it is an important one. First, I agree that "Maritime Command" is not adequate to describe what our navy is all about. I also believe that we cannot go back to "Royal." To me, that speaks to another time.

What worries me about the name "Canadian Navy" is that Canada becomes an adjective in that name. In the United States it is the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Have you done a survey of other countries' navies, what they call them and whether they have turned the name of their country into an adjective? If we were not to do that, we would have to call the "Canadian Navy" the "Navy of Canada," or something like that.

Mr. Douglas: I had an uncle who served in the Royal Indian Marine, and Australia and New Zealand keep the "Royal."

Senator Greene: It is different when you have the word "Royal" in front, I think.

Mr. Douglas: That is correct. Of course, before King George V approved the title Royal Canadian Navy, we were known as the Naval Service of Canada, and, before that, the Canadian Government Marine. I do not think it is semantics. I think that "Canadian Navy" describes the beast perfectly well. I would not want to see us going back to "Naval Service of Canada," which is a big mouthful.

Senator Greene: Or even "Navy of Canada"?

Mr. Douglas: Personally, I do not like it. I prefer "Canadian." I do not think it is just an adjective. I think that is what it says, the navy of Canada. Admittedly, if you had "Royal" before, it would still be an adjective.

Senator Manning: We are delighted to have you with us today. I am somewhat rusty in French myself, being from Newfoundland and Labrador, and in English sometimes, too. I have to admit that. I have to say that this particular topic is of great interest to me. I have an opinion that might be slightly different from some of my colleagues here.

The Chair: Yes, I forgot the warning: The views expressed here are those of the senator.

Senator Manning: At the end of the day, to me, it is not about the monarchy; it is about having a proper brand for the men and women who serve us. That is the most important thing. In my view, "Maritime Command" is inconsistent with that and does not do justice to our men and women.

As you touched on a few moments ago, in Australia and New Zealand, when they unified the branches of their armed forces, they still referred to the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

The cadets in Canada graduate from the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Program. Our veterans are part of the Royal Canadian Legion. We have the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Believe me, I am not promoting going back to the British Isles things. My ancestors on all sides of the family are from Ireland. I just want to make sure I get that out.

In my own personal view, creating a brand name is very important, and getting back to that is important, certainly during the one-hundred anniversary of the navy. "Royal Canadian Navy," to me, sounds consistent with much of what we have in our country.

From your point of view, how do we address this issue given the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and all the other names I touched on? There are various opinions on whether we should use the word "Royal." I do not think that just "Canadian Navy" does it. Maybe you can convince me otherwise. I am sure that from your studies you will forget more than I will ever remember.

You mentioned Her Majesty's ships that the navy sails. It is inconsistent to me, and I have a problem with that. No one seems to have reached the point where they can change my mind. I would like to hear from you.

Mr. Douglas: Spoken like a true Newfoundlander.

I know there is a strong feeling similar to yours in a large proportion of serving officers, and particularly among veterans, who, more than anyone, resent having lost their identity as RCN. Frankly, if it were decided that Maritime Command should again be called the Royal Canadian Navy, I do not think we would really be putting back the clock. After all, it used to be the North West Mounted Police and they changed it to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We have the Royal Military College. Whatever one thinks of today's royalty, it is an expression of a relationship that has existed and that continues to exist.

I would not violently object to it being "Royal Canadian Navy," but I have spoken to many people who say, "For 40 years we have not had the Royal Canadian Navy. Why should we go back to it now?" They would be quite happy seeing "Canadian Navy." The South Africans do not use "Royal "and the Indians do not use "Royal," but then they are republics and we are not. There is a case for returning to the "Royal." It is not what I came here to talk about today, but I sympathize with your point of view.

Senator Manning: In Newfoundland and Labrador, as I am sure you are aware, we had the Blue Puttees, who were designated the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, one of the proudest organizations that we have in our province and in our country. Many aspects are related to that.

I understand what you are saying with regard to the concern raised by some in terms of turning back the clock. When I look at "Royal," I do not look at it as tied to the monarchy, as do some others. I look at it as a step above. "Royal," to me, carries a different connotation than just the monarchy line. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment is a step above. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are recognized around the world as a step above. It is not just the word "Royal" associated with the monarchy. I am sure I will repeat myself over the next few weeks.

From the navy's point of view, the men and women who are in uniform with us, I think what happened with regard to the Maritime Command was a step back. That is my own personal opinion. We had admirals wearing green uniforms, which was a step back.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion. My colleague and I have different opinions. You mentioned 50 per cent going one way and 50 per cent going the other. In your view, is there a way to find a happy medium?

Mr. Douglas: I think you find the happy medium in Parliament making a decision.

Senator Manning: That is a great answer. We are supposed to be trying to assist those parliamentarians in doing that, so our inconsistency should help them.

The Chair: I am sure it will. There will be a lot of sober second thought passed on.

Mr. Douglas: No doubt, there was a Newfoundland spirit in the Senate in 1913 when they rejected the Naval Aid Bill.

Senator Manning: Yes. That was before Canada joined Newfoundland.

Senator Mitchell: Have you given any thought to the implications of one name or another in English versus French? Senator Dallaire pointed out to me that while we have had the Royal Canadian Navy, it was never translated officially into French because prior to 1968, when we had that, there was no official bilingualism.

Does either "Canadian Navy" or "Royal Canadian Navy" have a different kind of intonation, nuance or subtlety in French over the other? Is there some kind of historic consideration in the Quebec view that might make one or the other more acceptable?

Mr. Douglas: I cannot speak for that latter point, but "Marine royale canadienne" was used before 1968. We used to use it. I always thought that was the official term for the navy.

There was a certain amount of bilingualism during that time, though not nearly enough. Whether you say la Marine Canadienne or la Marine royale Canadienne, it is six of one and half one dozen of the other.

Senator Mitchell: You mentioned the importance — I do not know if you used the word "brand"; one of my colleagues did — of this for the men and women in the navy. Something you said suggested it would be interesting to know what the actual members of the navy thought of this suggestion because they are serving under that banner. Are there polls within the navy of what they want to be called, for example, a poll done by the senior admiral?

The Chair: You might want to ask Senator Rompkey about that.

Mr. Douglas: I am sure that the admiral would be quite happy to see it called the Royal Canadian Navy.

Talking to the command naval historian, he tells me that he finds equally divided opinions about whether it should be "Royal" or "Canadian" navy. Among veterans, I feel a strong preference for going back to "Royal" because they are still very angry.

Senator Mitchell: They are angry about it?

Mr. Douglas: They were very angry about it.

Senator Patterson: I have very much appreciated the historical view of this question. As a younger person, I remember the fierce controversy over unification.

Dr. Douglas, could you elaborate a bit on how this change of name for the Canadian Navy or the Royal Canadian Navy that we seem to be moving toward would implicate the other two services?

Mr. Douglas: I cannot speak for them. However, knowing a number of them, I do not think there is as much difficulty with the army calling itself Mobile Command as the navy calling itself Maritime Command. I do not know that they would mind going back to the term "army." I have not asked them, although I know a good many army officers. I have sometimes teased them of Jackie Fisher's notion that the army is "a projectile to be fired by the navy."

Senator Dallaire: There is no more naval gunfire, so forget it.

Mr. Douglas: One would rather be fired by the navy than by the air force.

My gut feeling is there would not be serious argument about being called "army." We call it the "army" all the time. We do not call it the "air force" all the time. If this is formalized, that is quite a logical development. That is as far as I can say because I have no idea how the argument will develop.

My friends in the air force very much resented being split up into air training commands, air transport commands and so forth. They were pleased to be called Air Command again in 1975. I do not think they would be angry at being called Canadian Air Force again.

Does that answer your question? It is a personal opinion.

Senator Patterson: I appreciate that. You are better informed than many of us, so your opinions are appreciated.

You are suggesting that it could be a morale booster, perhaps?

Mr. Douglas: Yes. I have no doubt that it would be a morale booster in the navy. I know more about that than the other two services.

Senator Dallaire: The "Royal Canadian Army" never existed. The "Canadian Army" was essentially used. There were royal regiments and different things. In World War II, we called it "Canadian Army," but there was never an official title as such, while the RCAF and the navy were recognized by the Queen and had official sanctions. If you are going to use "Royal" with one, I am sure there will be fiddling with respect to the others. I think it is a massive step forward in morale and ethos to bring back the terms "navy" and "army" and "air force." There is no doubt about that.

The Chair: Going back to your closing statement today, Mr. Douglas, you said that you believe a fleet deployed and sustained globally, centred in combat and capable of asserting our sovereignty in three oceans, with the increasing security threat, deserves to be recognized not just as a command but as a navy. That goes to Senator Manning's point that there is something lesser in the military mind about a command.

Mr. Douglas: Yes; precisely.

The Chair: Can you speak for a couple of moments on that point? You are not testifying today.

Mr. Douglas: The term "command" in military parlance usually means a subdivision of an armed force. We had Pacific Command, Atlantic Command, Western Air Command and Eastern Air Command, and during the war we had Maritime Air Command, all within the services, the air force and the navy. Certainly in the military mind, the word "command" is a lesser thing.

If we regard the Canadian Forces as the "force," then perhaps "command" is a logical step. There is too much difference between the land, sea and air elements, as they call them, to consider themselves as commands within a force. They are elements themselves.

The Chair: I think we should debate the use of the word "elements," too, because I am not sure that a lot of the language we use and our phraseology right now captures what our men and women do.

Thank you for putting all of this on the record today and helping us kick off our discussion and debate. It helps our understanding of this issue.

This brings to a close our public hearings. We will carry on with discussions concerning technological issues. We will adjourn this portion of the meeting and continue our discussions privately.

(The committee continued in camera.)