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Thursday, January 28, 2016

CAF Reservist Shortfall

In the Ottawa Citizen this week, the CAF is experiencing a short fall, both in regular forces, and an even larger Reservist shortfall.

Here is the article written by David Pugliese, Defence Watch

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Reserve Members from Montreal Territorial Battalion Group participate in winter warfare training in Laval, Quebec during Exercise QUORUM NORDIQUE on January 23, 2016. Photo: CAF Combat Camera SJ03-2016-0015-07
The Department of National Defence’s Plans and Priorities report highlighted major issues with the Canadian Forces Reserves. The latest figures indicate a shortfall of 5,293 reservists. The total reserve strength is now 21,707.

Why has this happened?

Here is what the report states:

“The Reserve Force is a unique and valued component of the CAF. The Primary Reserve is currently below the Government of Canada-directed average paid strength due to a higher than forecasted attrition and challenges in meeting recruiting quotas. Mitigating actions are underway to improve recruiting success and to reduce voluntary attrition in order to re-establish and expand the Primary Reserve’s strength by 1,500 to a Government-authorized 28,500 personnel.”

“In addition, the CAF Regular Force recruiting plan includes the annual component transfer of 800 personnel from the Primary Reserve. Institutionally, a major review of Primary Reserve requirements will continue so as to ensure the allocation and employment of personnel is consistent with Defence priorities, is sustainable and remains within Government of Canada direction.”

The report also points to the percentage of reserve personnel occupations considered “manageable or healthy.” The target that the Canadian Forces was striving for in this regard was between 91 to 100 per cent. The actual number reached was 59 per cent, according to the report.

How is the DND/CF going to deal with this issue? Here is DND’s view from the report:

“For the Canadian Army Reserve, there is currently some geographic disparity in the number of soldiers unavailable to fulfill the requirements of the service. As a result, the Canadian Army will initiate a Regeneration Plan to determine the cause of personnel pressures linked to attrition and retention, with a view to producing actionable recommendations.

Overall the RCAF Air Reserve manning is at about 84 percent of its desired strength, which depicts a fairly healthy Air Reserve Force at this time, however the challenges to growth include higher than anticipated attrition rates, an aging population, and current recruiting processes. Mitigation strategies in place to help meet desired strength levels include dedicating an Air Reserve Chief Warrant Officer to address recruiting issues at the higher levels, as well as the development of alternative attraction and retention strategies, tailored by region where necessary.

By the close of year, 33 percent of RCN Naval Reserve classifications were considered healthy and meeting the established Reserve Manning Requirement (RMR). In light of the ongoing DND and CAF initiative to redefine the role of a strategic reserve coupled with the RCN review of the Naval Reserve occupational structure, a conscientious decision was made to target the sustainment of its current manning level as opposed to trying to achieve full RMR. For the 2014-15 recruiting period, the RCN achieved 75 percent of the initial established recruitment goal.”

Those who have been keeping an eye on the situation have raised a number of concerns that they believe led to the shortfall.

Retired colonel John Selkirk of the group Reserves 2000, which lobbies on behalf of reservists, told the Canadian Press that the problem has been building for years. He blamed the Conservative government’s cutting of reserve training budgets and an ineffective recruiting system that is geared towards bringing former full-time military personnel into the reserves. In addition, a change in how reservist trades are selected contributed to the problem, he added.

“Is it any wonder the militia is under strength? Not at all,” Selkirk told Canadian Press.