Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 2 - Evidence - Meeting of January 27, 2014


OTTAWA, Monday, January 27, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day, at 4:01 p.m., to examine and report on Canada's national security and defence policies, practices, circumstances and capabilities (topic: follow-up to the committees report on the reserves).

Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: I know that a number of our colleagues are en route, and because of the roads, they are going to be late. I think we should proceed with the committee since our witnesses are here and we have a set period of time.

I want to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for Monday, January 27, 2014. Before we welcome our witnesses, I would like to begin by introducing the people around the table. My name is Dan Lang, senator for Yukon. On my immediate left, is the Clerk of the Committee, Josée Thérien; and on my right, is our Library of Parliament analyst assigned to the committee, Wolfgang Koerner.

I would like to go around the table and invite each senator to introduce themselves and state the region they represent. I would like to start with Senator Wells and then proceed from there.

Senator Wells: Senator David Wells from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Senator White: Vern White, Ontario.

Senator Day: Senator Joseph Day from New Brunswick.

Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell from Alberta.

The Chair: Thank you. Before we begin with our witnesses, I would like to inform all members that today and at our next meeting on February 3 the committee will continue to review our previous reports. We will be hearing shortly from two divisional commanders of the Canadian Forces on an update on reserves in light of the committee's December 2011 report, Answering the Call: The Future role of Canada's Primary Reserve, and our recommendations.

Next Monday we are scheduled to hear from Ms. Jill Sinclair, Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy) Department of National Defence, on the Arctic. Additionally on that day, we will be hearing from the Director of CSIS, Mr. Michel Coulombe, and the Chief of the Communications Security Establishment Canada, Mr. John Forster.

On February 10, we will commence our two new studies: one on the Canada Border Services Agency and a second on ballistic missile defence.

Today, we are pleased to have with us Brigadier-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Commander 2nd Canadian Division (Montreal); and Brigadier-General Omer Lavoie, Commander 4th Canadian Division (Toronto), to discuss our report on reserves and to take our questions. Commanders, welcome. We are proud of you and the work that you and those under your command do on our behalf for all Canadians.

I would like to welcome Senator Nolin who just arrived.

I understand that you have an opening statement, if you would like to proceed Brigadier-General Lavoie.

Brigadier-General Omer Lavoie, Commander 4th Canadian Division (Toronto), Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: I'd like to begin by thanking the committee for its interest in support of Canada's reserve force and, in particular, its interest in operations at the division level.

I have to say for the record that I started my year as a reservist 31 years ago and have worked with the reserves at every level of command from platoon to division. I note with pride that reserve personnel were absolutely critical to our mission's success in Afghanistan commanding the 1 RCR Battle Group on Task Force 3-06. During that mission, 15 per cent of my troops regularly engaged in combat with the enemy were reservists.

As you have heard previously, in this post-Afghanistan era Canadian Armed Forces is returning to a more traditional model of a predominantly part-time reserve force, focusing on force generation and sustainment and the institutionalization of hard-won battlefield skills, experience and knowledge into reserve units.

Canadians should also be proud of our reserve soldiers. I know that our Afghan allies are extremely grateful for their sacrifices. However, this full-time employment of primary reserve personnel came at a cost to the part-time reserve establishment. In moving forward, we have decreased the number of full-time primary reserve personnel significantly across the institution. From a divisional perspective, this is a reasonable, appropriate and manageable approach.

Regardless of where we sit in the Canadian Armed Forces, we subscribe to and work to execute the Chief of Defence Staff's stated vision, which, as you know from previous testimony, states clearly that the primary reserve force:

. . . consists predominantly of part-time professional CF members, located throughout Canada, ready with reasonable notice to conduct or contribute to domestic and international operations to safeguard the defence and security of Canada.

From a 4th Canadian Division perspective, this vision confirms what we see and do on the ground every day: that our reserve force contributes to operations; connects with Canadians in the communities in which they serve; and is a critically important resource for the army, the Canadian Armed Forces and all Canadians.

How does this strategic vision translate into the business of the 4th Canadian Division? In the 4th Canadian Division, 98 per cent of my reserve forces are concentrated in three reserve Canadian brigade groups or CGBs, with 31 Canadian Brigade Group headquartered in London, 32 Canadian Brigade Group headquartered in Toronto, and 33 Canadian Brigade Group headquartered in Ottawa. In total, I command over 6,000 reservists in the Division, which accounts for over 50 per cent of my strength, both regular and reserve, and the largest concentration of reservists in the country.

While the vast majority of these personnel are engaged in training for general purpose combat and response to domestic emergencies, also critical to my mission's success are the efforts of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group headquartered in Borden with over 1,000 Canadian Rangers working in patrols working throughout northern Ontario in isolated communities. Command and control for this organization is provided by full-time reservists.

While the 37.5 days of unit level training are crucial to the continued generation of reserve forces, my vital ground as a commander is the planning and execution of collective training events. This is where I focus not only the additional seven training days of funding allocated to me by the army commander but also some additional resources provided to me by the Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command. With those resources, 4th Canadian Division is able to conduct exercises, TRILLIUM RESPONSE and STALWART GUARDIAN, annually.

Senator Nolin: Is it 7 or 37?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: It is 37.5 and 7 collective training that I refer to here.

Exercise Trillium Response, conducted during the winter months, focuses on response to threats domestically and is funded with both army and Canadian Joint Operation Command funds. Scenarios range from defence of Canada to protection of critical infrastructure and assistance to major air disaster tasks. Exercise TRILLIUM RESPONSE links is also how 4th Canadian Division exercises its links with our civilian first responder partners to include Public Safety Canada, and the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. Success not only in these exercises but also in real domestic emergencies in Ontario with the use of Canadian Armed Forces elements has been approved would be dependent, in my view, on the existing geographic dispersion and local contacts and knowledge resident in the units of each of my reserve Canadian brigade groups.

Exercise STALWART GUARDIAN is conducted late in the summer as a culminating training event following our reserve summer training program. This exercise focuses on general purpose warfighting skills in an expeditionary operations scenario and is funded by army resources only.

While primarily reserve exercises, it is these important collective training events that allow me to validate the capabilities of the three Territorial Battalion Groups and the Arctic Response Company Group and integrate elements of the Regular Force, largely in a supporting role.

Aside from annual unit training to include the collective training events I just mentioned, current efforts in the 4th Canadian Division are also focused on recruiting, recruit training and infrastructure management of armouries. Recruiting is clearly the lifeblood of the Reserve Force. At the moment we are working hard to increase our intake of reserve recruits with a view to filling as much of our new Army Reserve Establishments as possible. This is not without its challenges.

Attraction of recruits, timely processing of recruit files and the ability to train recruits are all areas toward which we are dedicating much energy as we speak. And as ADM(IE) takes on overall management of infrastructure across the Canadian Armed Forces, many of the pressing challenges associated with the upkeep of aging armouries for our reserve units in the 4th Canadian Division will continue to be addressed.

At this point I would like to thank the committee again for the opportunity to appear and I look forward to answering your questions.

The Chair: Thank you. Then I understand that Brigadier-General Lanthier has a statement to make as well.

[Translation]

Brigadier-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Commander 2 Canadian Division (Montreal) Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: The mandate of 2nd Canadian Division is to generate military forces capable of helping to achieve Canada's defence and security objectives.

To fulfill that mandate, 2 Canadian Division depends on three brigades, two of which consist of reservists. Five divisional units report directly to the Division. The Division Support Group is responsible for supporting all elements of the Canadian Armed Forces in the province of Quebec. My team comprises some 14,000 members, including 6,000 in the Reserve.

I should begin by stressing the outstanding role played by reservists in fulfilling the Division's mandate. Two weeks ago, I was with 35 Canadian Brigade Group, which had deployed to the Rivière-du-Loup area as part of an exercise designed as the culmination of the collective training carried out in recent months. A total of 750 reservists from 35 Brigade, supported by 100 or so members from the Regular Force, the Naval Reserve and the Air Force, deployed to the area for 7 days. The results were conclusive: the brigade clearly demonstrated that it was capable of planning an exercise of this scale, conducting a deployment under harsh winter conditions, carrying out offensive operations at the sub-unit level, exercising effective command and control over its troops while deploying elaborate communications systems in an area spanning approximately 6,000 square kilometres, and supporting all this. The media coverage was exceptional, as was the support from the communities where we did our work.

I am using this example because it embodies every aspect of the Reserve's role in the Division. The operational mandate of the Reserve includes generating two territorial battalion groups. Each brigade generates a territorial battalion group at 72 hours' notice in order to carry out national operations. It was this element that deployed during the flooding in Montérégie in 2011. An Arctic Response Company Group has 15 days' notice for operations in the north. The Reserve benefits from an annual individual training regime that culminates in the summer with the Individual Training Summer Term. And collective training begins at that time. The two brigades are supported by divisional units, notably, the Operations Support Element, which generates influence activities capabilities. This specialty is unique to the Reserve.

The augmentation role of the Reserve is critical. Of the 630 members who returned from Afghanistan last July, 130 were reservists. The Division's ability to conduct expeditionary operations undoubtedly depended on the availability and commitment of the reservists, who deployed overseas but also performed key support roles here in Quebec. While we were conducting operations in Afghanistan, almost 1,000 reservists held full-time garrison positions. With the end of the mission, we reverted to the Reserve's initial mandate, based on part-time service. We now have 249 full-time reservists, whose main role is offering direct support to Reserve units and headquarters.

The Commander of the Canadian Army was explicit in assigning his objectives to the Reserve, and resource allocations have been commensurate with this mandate. Funding for Reserve pay, which totals nearly $28.5 million, provides for 37.5 days of training in the unit and 7 days of collective training. Individual instruction accounts for an additional $12 million.

Funding to cover operational and maintenance costs is not a problem, so all these training activities are possible. Major efforts are now being made to streamline individual training, with emphasis on reducing training time. For example, too much time is needed to earn trade qualifications, up to four years in some cases. Overly long career courses make career advancement difficult for our officers and non-commissioned officers, in particular, who are unable to take time off from their civilian jobs to attend these courses.

There are some major problems within the Reserve. Reserve numbers in Quebec have been falling in recent years; we have seen decreases of about 2 per cent annually and we are meeting only about 80 per cent of our recruiting target, or about 750 new recruits per year. To deal with this attraction problem, we have placed 19 full-time recruiting sergeants within the Reserve units. On average, close to 850 reservists leave the Division each year. Students account for 60 per cent of reservists in Quebec. The average length of service for reservists is seven years.

We could be concerned about this seemingly high attrition level, but allow me to give you my perspective on this situation. These reservists who leave after only a few years in uniform are precious commodities. The values of integrity, courage, loyalty and a sense of duty are universal within Canadian society. The abilities to lead, to work on a team and to manage are also assets. So our investment in reservists who leave after only a few years does not represent a loss.

Like the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces, infrastructure maintenance is also an issue of concern. Although we are able to achieve all of our instruction and training objectives, maintaining our infrastructure constitutes a major challenge, especially when it comes to our armouries in the province of Quebec.

There are some positive developments, however, including the construction of the 35 Combat Engineering Regiment armoury and the renovation of the Voltigeurs de Quebec armoury. Although I have focused on the traditional elements of the Reserve, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have on the Rangers and cadets.

[English]

The Chair: Thank you very much. Both your presentations have brought a fair amount of clarity to the issues that you face today in view of transformation.

Senator Nolin, would you like to start?

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: General Lanthier, it is a pleasure to meet you. You are no doubt aware that we hear all kinds of rumours about the Reserve funding allocated to you.

Far from timid, the political leadership makes no bones about its view that the Reserve is an important part of Canada's military presence at home, for a variety of reasons that I will not go into. The budget issue is what concerns me most today.

You mentioned some numbers. My first question has to do with budget flexibility. Up until 2010, to ensure greater spending efficiency and effectiveness, a unit could move money between its operations and maintenance budget and its pay budget, whether in terms of personnel training or operations.

Are those kinds of transfers still possible? Does that flexibility still exist?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Yes, it still exists. It is possible to transfer funds from one account to the other. It requires headquarters approval at various levels, but the flexibility is still there.

Senator Nolin: Are you satisfied that headquarters is allowing the transfers?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I have not had any problems at the division level. The good news is I never had to dip into Reserve pay funding or operational and maintenance, or ONM, funding. I never had to dip into those budgets to make up shortfalls elsewhere. That was not necessary, although I was authorized to do so.

Senator Nolin: You talked about your budget for 2014-15. Is it less than it was in 2013-14 and 2012-13? Has your budget dropped, stayed the same or kept pace with the rate of inflation?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: The allocation has not been finalized. We are still working on a notional basis, but we are going to keep implementing the reduction components flowing from the strategic review and the reduction plan. The impact of both of those measures, in particular, will continue to be felt and likely lead to a budgetary decline.

Senator Nolin: That is where we have a problem; the much talked-about proportion of 24 per cent is troubling us. All the politicians have told us that there will be no budget cuts, that cuts will be made elsewhere, not to the Reserve because it is too important. And they engage in fine rhetoric. What I am hearing when I listen to you, however, is that there will be budget cuts.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Solely from the Reserve perspective, I can tell you that the 37.5 —

Senator Nolin: I should tell you that my question pertains to the Regular Force as well. In other words, as far as those 14,000 people go, if we consider the attrition rate you mentioned, is the budget to your satisfaction? Have your funding needs increased or remained the same?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: In terms of the centre of gravity, the element I would say is vital, the one I strive to protect, is training, and I am reasonably comfortable saying that the resources we have are commensurate with our mandate. We were asked to train combined arms groups and companies for the Regular Force and to train the Reserve Force using those 37.5 days and 7 additional days. That aspect is well in hand, and I am able to fulfill that mandate.

Where risks will be somewhat greater will be at the institutional level, in terms of procurement, for example, infrastructure maintenance. We will have to assume risk in that area in order to protect vital ground, in other words, personnel and training capacity.

Senator Nolin: I will continue my questioning in the second round.

[English]

Senator Mitchell: Thank you, generals, for being with us. I'm interested in pursuing an issue that has arisen in discussions and that is the problem — at least, the alleged problem — that often reservists commit to a two-week period in the summer, to a course, to a program elsewhere, in the summer or at another time, and then it's cancelled at the last minute. So they make the commitment with their employers. How widespread is that? Is that a problem, and why is that occurring, if it is?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: I'll address that question, senator. The first thing is that I don't see it as a problem. Training is our centre of gravity. We both mentioned in our remarks that part of our force-generation role is to train soldiers, so the absolute last thing we ever want to do is to cancel any type of training, whether it's an individual course or a collective exercise. We go to great pains to avoid that. In the cases where a course has to be cancelled, the next step to try to put those soldiers onto another type of course during that same time period.

As far as protecting the soldier, if he has taken two weeks off his civilian job to attend a course or training, our policy in the 4th Division is that we will pay that soldier regardless of whether he misses any days of training that he's committed to because it's the fair and right thing to do.

Senator Mitchell: Is that the same in the 2nd division?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: It is mostly the same approach. The one thing we're getting better at is forecasting. We are trying to give the maximum leave time, up to a year, so that reservists can actually plan. Some employers, especially the small businesses, don't have the flexibility of a large workforce pool to be able to move around employees, so we can literally make money by forecasting better.

Senator Wells: Brigadier-General Lavoie, thank you for your presentation. One of the recommendations in our report was not to diminish the size and strength of the primary reserves and to continue to grow in line with the Canada First Defence Strategy target. You said in your presentation that recruitment is the lifeblood of the Reserve Force. Yet, we are at 80 per cent of our recruitment target for reserves?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: In the case of the 4th Canadian Division, we have met the recruiting targets that we need for the coming fiscal year. That's the initial part. The challenge is in the processing of those files so that those files actually make it through the other end and the soldier is enrolled and then goes on training.

Senator Wells: So it's an administrative issue that is slowing it down?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: It's largely an issue of processing those files. Of course, it's based on demographics and geography. In some of the more isolated, remote regions where I have Reserve forces, in some case, it is an attraction issue based on pure demographics, but, in most cases, it is processing. We are putting in a great effort to fix this. This time last week, I had a conversation with the commander of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group, specifically looking at the Reserve issue in terms of how we can actually help to assist in this processing. We are already doing certain things like taking full-time Reserve personnel and putting them in Canadian Forces recruiting centres to assist in the processing from a cradle to grave type of approach so that, when the file comes in, it continues to push through the system to be processed out the other end.

Senator Wells: I have a related question for Brigadier-General Lanthier, if I may. It's related to the recruitment question. Thank you for your presentation. You say the investment in reservists who leave after only a few years does not represent a loss. I question that because, if we recruit them, train them and then lose them, we still have them within Canada but not within the Reserve Force or the Canadian Armed Forces in general. To me, it does represent a loss because we have to commit further money to recruitment and training.

If the average is seven years — I don't know if that's a lot or not much — if we lose people prior to seven years, do you still not see that as a loss to the forces? Budgets are not what we would all like them to be. Maximizing not for training but for further recruitment of people we lose doesn't make sense to me.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Let me amplify that. What I meant is not a total loss or a net loss. There is a loss because I've got to recruit and to retrain. That attrition is not dissimilar to the one in the Regular Force. A Regular Force initial contract will be 3 to 4 years, and a lot of soldiers will join for that initial term and then leave. We have to be careful to not only recruit students. That's probably where the challenge lies because, right now, since our training program focuses on the summertime, that attracts a lot of students. The reality is that their commitment to life and to work will prevent them from being actively employed in the Reserve, so there is a net loss. From a program-architecture-activity point of view, there is a net loss because the output is not there. You are absolutely right from that perspective, but, in the larger context, from a taxpayer-dollar perspective, if you want to put it that way, you are bringing a lot from a general mobilization perspective because you have a larger pool of people who are familiar with military issues and military life. Should you ever, God forbid, have to mobilize the population, you have a larger pool, at a relatively minor cost, within the general population.

Senator Wells: Thank you, Brigadier-General.

Senator Day: General, thank you very much for being here.

[Translation]

Thank you kindly for meeting with the committee.

[English]

You are probably aware that this committee has been very interested in reservists and cadets over a good number of years. We do have our report from a while back, but there have also been several other reports that we have generated along the way. In virtually all of those reports, there has been some discussion of specialization. The U.K., in the last year or so, looked into the reserves, and they talked about specialization, a role for the reservists. Yet, I notice that, General Lavoie, in your presentation, you indicate in the second paragraph that, in the post-Afghanistan era, the Canadian Armed Forces is returning to a more traditional model of a predominantly part-time reserve force, focusing on force generation and sustainment and the institutionalization of hard-won battlefield skills.

I agree that using the experiences gained through our participation in Afghanistan is important, but what about this other possible role for reservists of specialization? You make no mention of it here. Has it been decided by the Canadian Armed Forces that what you have described — institutionalization, part-time, just being ready to supplement the Regular Force by up to 15 per cent, as you indicated — is the role? Is that the vision that we have for our reservists over the coming years?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: To answer your question, the first principle is that the Canadian Army is a general-purpose combat army. It follows that our reservists, at this time, would also be trained as general-purpose combat troops.

At the national level, and I think it may have been discussed when Admiral Bennett and Brigadier-General Woiden were here, there is a review looking at more of these specialized roles, senator, that you referred to.

I should mention, and it's not in my text, one role that the reserves in the Canadian Army do specialize in called an IA Task Force, Influence Activity Task Force. That is a role solely apportioned to the Reserve Force to carry out. As we speak, I have about 60 soldiers who are part of the management readiness plan and who are conducting high- readiness training about to augment a Regular Force Canadian mechanized brigade group on an exercise that will happen next month and then again for confirmation in May. That is one example of a specialized role that the reserves actually participate in now and have also conducted throughout our time in Afghanistan.

[Translation]

Senator Day: Brig.-Gen. Lanthier also referred to influence activities capability. Could you please explain what that is? You said it was unique to the Reserve. I would like to know what that is.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Senator, influence activities are twofold: civil-military relations and psychological operations. The Reserve has been tasked with this role. Reservists have been performing this function for quite some time; it is not the responsibility of members of the Regular Force. This leverages the unique expertise of the reservists, particularly in the arena of civil-military relations. They are citizen soldiers, so this function is inherent to who they are and what they do; they have an inherent understanding of the relationship between the military and the population, as well as the issues involved. That is why reservists were given that role to play, and they are exceptional at it.

Senator Day: Thank you for that explanation.

[English]

Senator White: Thank you both for being here today and for your presentations as well.

I have two short questions. First, I understand that there have been some challenges in recruiting and I appreciate your candor. Am I also to understand there is a challenge, because I know there is in the Regular Force, around recruiting the diversity that you are looking for? Are you seeing that same issue within the reservists? I know post-9/11 there were discussions around diverse communities. Are you having that same challenge?

[Translation]

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I would say that is probably not as much of a challenge for the Reserve. Within the Division, for instance, the proportion of female soldiers is 14 per cent. It is likely easier to meet the challenges of diversity because of the size of the area, the geographic distribution, while staying within our communities. There is no need to uproot people, unlike in the Regular Force, where members are assigned to centralized garrisons. So, on our end, it has not been difficult to bring in a good measure of diversity to the Reserve.

[English]

Senator White: Beyond women and into the other diverse groups?

[Translation]

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: In all the various categories.

Senator White: Is the situation the same for you, Mr. Lavoie?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: I would agree with that.

[English]

It's the same thing. It goes back to demographics partially. Certainly with my units that I have in Toronto, there is little problem to meet the challenges of diversity. As you go to more isolated communities, further North for instance, there is more of a challenge in those locations.

Senator White: If I may, the second question I have — and I don't see it as a negative that you get seven years from a reservist who then moves on to do whatever else they want to do in life. I do think they bring that experience with them. Some of them, like Brigadier-General Lavoie, come back to the Regular Force at some point.

How does that compare to other countries like Australia and New Zealand — a little less so the U.S. I think the U.S. look at four years in the Marines as a long-serving marine in some cases. How does that compare with other countries when looking at their reserve programs that have similar numbers to what we have?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: Unless Brigadier-General Lanthier has the answer, this would be one of the questions that we would have to take on notice and come back. I would only be guessing whether it's the same sort of degree of transiency and throughput that we have in Canada compared to our allies.

Senator White: Would you mind checking to see over the 10 years post seven how many return either as a reservist or Regular Forces, if you have those numbers?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Yes, sir.

The Chair: I would like to have a question and to follow up on Senator Nolin's questions at the beginning. It has to do with the reservists and how it equates in respect to transformation as we proceed, going forward into 2014, with respect to your financial capabilities to be able to meet the objectives that we have asked you to meet in respect to the dollars that are going to be voted.

I want to go back to the 2012 budget that states, for the record, that ``as the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces transition to a lower pace of operations following the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, Canadian Forces Regular Reserve Force strength will be maintained at 68,000 and 27,000 respectively. This will preserve a balance across the four Canada First Defence Strategy pillars upon which military capabilities are built, personnel, equipment, readiness and infrastructure.''

Basically, that agreed with what our report of a year and a half ago recommended in respect to looking forward back at that time. I want to go back with respect to your ability to meet those objectives financially and whether or not there has been a significant reduction in finance, for the financial commitment to your various divisions, in order to be able to do the work we're asking you to do. We are hearing some stories from the front lines that there has been a cut back in some areas. We want to know whether or not that is occurring and, if it is, what are we able to do to be able to change what we do, or do we have to go back to see whether there are more financial commitments available?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: As already discussed, we can't comment on 2014-15 budget allocations because they have not been allocated to us yet.

Having said that, it is no surprise that we wouldn't be doing our job as commanders if we weren't already planning for the next fiscal year. As commander for the Canadian division, from a planning perspective I am confident that all the tasks and roles and missions that have been assigned to me, which in some case I assign to our Reserve Forces, I have sufficient resources to meet those tasks. Specifically what I'm looking at are those fourth generation responsibilities such as the Territorial Battalion Groups and Arctic Response Company Group.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: General Lanthier, one of the challenges for the francophone units, not just in the Reserve, but also in your regular brigade, is recruiting enough officers. I believe it has been an ongoing problem. Frankly, I have not been able to come up with a solution other than reopening the military college in Saint-Jean. I would like to hear your thoughts on that.

This is a major challenge. Even the Royal 22nd Régiment has trouble finding French-Canadian officers. I do not have a problem with anglophones, but when a French-speaking unit has to go and recruit — or poach — anglophone officers to lead francophones, I see that as a problem. I hope some thought is being given to solutions.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: That is indeed a problem that concerns me. Frankly, though, the issue has not been as acute as it has in the regular brigade. I say that because it has to do with the community; I have regiments in Quebec that, for all intents and purposes, basically consist of unilingual anglophones.

Senator Nolin: Yes, but I am talking primarily about francophones.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Yes, so for the Reserve, that issue has been less of a concern. As for the regular brigade, however, because recruits are pulled from a national pool, attracting and recruiting French-speaking officers is a bit of a bigger problem. It is a problem we are concerned about, and we are trying to figure out what the current dynamic at play is. We are trying to understand why, during the course of a normal cycle, up to 20 per cent or so of the officers who join the forces and who will be transferred to a francophone unit are anglophones. That is more or less what our data shows right now.

We have not been able to figure that out yet. I have to sit down with General Mariage and General Bélanger, among others, to examine the problem and possible solutions. In the meantime, what we are doing is making sure we immediately give non-French-speaking officer recruits every training tool necessary to ensure they can lead those men and women in their first language.

Senator Nolin: General Lanthier, you talked a bit about the profile of your Reserve troops; many are students, and having met a number of them, I can say they are quick to invest time and resources. They are genuinely dedicated to the forces. However, we cannot encourage them to study at a military college when the classes are not available in the language they speak. Perhaps that is the problem with the Reserve. Perhaps you do not have that problem with the Regular Force because the whole idea of transfer is more recognized and accepted. Conversely, when a student in police science decides to enlist in the Reserve — and there are many such students, whether firefighters or police officers — because it is the Reserve, you are not there to uproot them and take them away from their civilian activities, so to speak. That is where the challenge lies, I think, for a number of francophone units. The issue is trying to identify candidates and convincing them to rise through the ranks to become officers. It is a problem you have yet to understand.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: We have not gotten a grip on the problem; we have not been able to pinpoint the reason why military service is not appealing to people. We could look to history for an explanation, the world wars, for example, and the situation in Quebec, but since the problem did not exist in the 1990s or early 2000s, that probably is not the best avenue to explore. In order to ensure the future of the French fact, it is absolutely critical to really examine the issue. Formed in 1968, 5th Brigade was established to support the French fact, and its viability and continuity are paramount.

Senator Nolin: Precisely. That was my point. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[English]

Senator Mitchell: At least in the middle of last year, and maybe before that and maybe since, there's been some controversy over waiting times for severance pay to reservists, and that was highlighted by the ombudsman. Can you give us an update on that, whether that's being processed better now? The waits were as much as a year or 17 months, I think the ombudsman actually estimated.

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: That's something I'm not familiar with so, unless Jean Lanthier is, I'll also take that on notice, if that's the right term to use.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Same here, I'm not familiar with that issue, sir.

Senator Mitchell: Could you get back to us on that?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Yes, sir.

Senator Mitchell: The other question that hasn't really been discussed too much, Brigadier-General Lanthier you mentioned in your presentation your responsibility for cadets, and I expect you have as well, General Lavoie, a responsibility for cadets. I'm interested in numbers, what's the relationship between a cadet becoming a reservist, becoming a full-time Regular Force member perhaps, what are the objectives of the cadets?

As an aside, because I spent summers with my grandparents in Vernon, how is that camp doing?

[Translation]

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: In Quebec, 12 000 air, sea and army cadets are supported by an instructors cadre and full-time personnel, and that is quite significant. The first thing I would like to point out is that the cadet program is not meant to train people for the military; the program is run by the Department of National Defence, but it is a program for youth. The cadet program is the largest youth program in the country precisely because the Canadian Armed Forces has enough personnel to coach the cadets. The concepts we try to instill in them are leadership, service, the pursuit of excellence and citizenship. Ultimately, that is the goal of the cadet program. The reality is that, after being exposed to what I would call a regimental style of coaching, many cadets enjoy it and decide to join the Reserve or the Regular Force. First and foremost, however, it is a program for Canadian youth.

[English]

Senator Mitchell: I should say that my father was training at that base during the war when he met my mother. It was regular force in those days.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I'm not aware of the status of the Vernon camp.

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: I have the same answer as General Lanthier. I'm responsible for about 15,000 cadets from all: army, air and sea cadets across the province. I have a regional cadet support unit that is responsible to me in administering the program.

As General Lanthier said, it's not a military program. It's administered by the Canadian Forces in conjunction with our cadet league partners who oversee the program. But, as has been stated many times before, the Canadian Forces simply see this as being a strategic investment in the youth of Canada. I think it's probably the best youth program that's out there.

The Chair: I have to agree. I think it is one of the best youth programs out there. Looking at the numbers you have today and looking into the future, do you see that program expanding not only in your areas but across the country as well, as far as numbers are concerned?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: Again, sir, it's not really our purview to comment on it. Right now, as Admiral Bennett mentioned, there is a review on the program that's in the works, but it's very much at the national level.

Senator Day: Just as an adjunct to your last question, there was an article, December 27, I think it was in The Globe and Mail, ``Cadet program has become bloated and bureaucratic, DND report warns.''

I just thought we should go on record as letting you know that there is a Department of National Defence report that suggests the cadet program needs some attention.

We're certainly very interested in that attention being paid to that program, and since it falls under your purview, each of you, I hope you will be able to reassure us the next time you're here that things are moving along well in the cadet program.

My question is in relation to infrastructure, and each of you mentioned infrastructure. I understand maintenance, and I do not know if you've included in infrastructure maintenance of the equipment that you use for training. I think of infrastructure in terms of the buildings, the armouries, and you've made absolutely the right point that the footprint by the reservists in cities and towns is critically important in that contact between the civilian and the military side, much more so than large bases like Valcartier and Saint-Jean that are outside the downtown core.

General Lavoie, could you comment on the ADM, assistant deputy minister IE infrastructure? What's the E for?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: It's infrastructure and environment, sir.

Senator Day: ADMIE taking over overall management of infrastructure across the Canadian Armed Forces. What impact will that have on your responsibilities, each of you? You've each made a point of talking about the infrastructure aspect of your responsibilities.

When we see a budget, when we see the Main Estimates, we don't get a breakdown between reservists and the regular force. We just see vote 5 that has all the infrastructure and capital requirements. So unless there's another separate article, like there was about the armoury in Quebec City, we don't know who is looking after that and just what responsibilities you, as a tenant in those armouries, have. What change will ADMIE have in regard to your responsibilities? Could you each comment on that?

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: I will make the point that that transition to the Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure & Environment), is planned to happen in the future. I think it's still a few years off, so I can't get into a lot of details. I'll say that certainly the intent of that transition is to make the oversight of infrastructure more efficient and effective.

I can't speak on behalf of General Lanthier. Certainly, when I referred in my opening remarks to the challenges with infrastructure, as Commander of 4th Canadian Division I have over 50 armouries in my area of responsibility. Over a dozen of those — I think 16 of them — are more than 100 years old. The challenges associated with maintaining and looking after those buildings are probably self-evident.

I will say I look at it from two perspectives. There is a lot of history and interest assigned to those buildings, and they have important footprints in the community. At the same time, as a commander, I look at it as the buildings serve us, not the other way around. Those buildings are there to provide training and force generation for soldiers.

When I apportion funds in my budget, I am looking at what I need to put into that building in order to maintain it and to continue to support training and force generation roles.

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: One of the concerns as you centralize, with any centralization attempt, there is always the fear that you lose your ability to influence a process and see the parties answered to. We are addressing that wherein we have a solid engagement with the MIE to ensure they understand the challenges we are facing with infrastructure and they understand our priorities. We have them physically come over and look at our infrastructure.

I am living the exact same situation where I have about 17 armories that are 100 years old. One of them is celebrating its two hundredth anniversary this year. It represents a significant investment that is required to be able to maintain those armories to function.

Senator Day: I have a supplementary question to that.

The Chair: Right to the point.

Senator Day: We're talking about operation maintenance and capital, and the infrastructure comes out of the capital. There are two separate items within your budget that we approve as parliamentarians.

Do you have any sense that the operation and maintenance is getting less than it should because of this heavy burden that you have on infrastructure, especially in all of those armories?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Actually, sir, there is Vote 1 and Vote 5. Vote 1 is dedicated to the maintenance of buildings, so this is the portion that is probably the most critical for me to retain the ability to upkeep my armories. But those funds are not linked to the operations and maintenance, which directly supports training. Even though they are not for building, they are for maintaining infrastructure. Up to a point, those are communicating phases, but one hasn't been adversely impacted. If we had a choice to make, we always preserve salaries and the training portion. The approach we've had for a number of years is we take an institutional risk with the infrastructure.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: I would like to get a better sense of how the dynamic will work. My colleague just mentioned a new unit. All infrastructure, including the armouries, will be overseen by a unit at headquarters. Will the money for that maintenance still come out of your budget, though?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Anything having to do with management, stewardship and funding will be centralized. I do not think a portion of that budget will be given to me, but I am not sure. I think the administrative component will stay centralized.

Senator Nolin: It is actually the opposite. Is that the case even for the maintenance budgets?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I will get back to you on 718 and 719, senator. I would not want to give you the wrong information.

[English]

Senator Nolin: It could be a major portion of your budget. If you look at the cost to maintain those 50 armories, it's huge. If it's not decided by you but it's paid by you, someone will have a problem and we have a problem with that, big-time, because you know what you need, not this guy or lady in Ottawa. That's why your concern is our concern.

Senator White: I have one brief question regarding recruiting. You got my attention earlier about trying to meet certain numbers.

Has the military given consideration to looking at different status versus citizenship to allow for reservists? Right now you have to be a Canadian citizen. Have they looked at a lesser level, five years in the country or permanent residency? Some police agencies back in 2002, 2003 and 2004 looked at it in Canada because the exact same challenge was being faced, and they went from requiring Canadian citizenship to being either landed or a permanent resident. Has any consideration been given federally?

Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I'm not aware of any national initiative in that direction.

Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: Likewise. We have to take that on notice and talk with the commander of the Canadian Forces recruiting group and see if it is one of his initiatives.

Senator White: Thanks.

The Chair: I would like to thank our witnesses for coming forward today. I think it has added some clarity in respect to the report we had almost two years ago. It's an area of concern for the committee, and it is one way for your organizations to account to the public for what you're doing and how things are proceeding for the reserves.

I would like to thank you for your attendance. We appreciate the commitment and the work you do on our behalf, and I look forward to maybe having you as witnesses in the future. I would like to thank you again, and we are now adjourned.

(The committee adjourned.)