Canada’s special forces aren’t being used enough because federal government officials don’t understand such units or have the structure to make the best use of them, according to a recently released report.
The eight-page report written by Queen’s University defence researcher Christian Leuprecht and H. Christian Breede, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, looked at the capabilities and future of Canada’s special forces.
“Canada currently lacks the policies, national security culture, mechanisms, processes, and methods to optimize the use of SOF,” Leuprecht said in a statement. “As a result, Canada’s SOF is undersubscribed and under-utilized.”
The authors recommend that defence decision-makers develop a more thorough understanding of the capabilities of Canadian special forces. They suggest, in particular, more knowledge is needed by decision-makers in how special forces differ in training and skills from conventional forces.
To maintain the capabilities of Canadian special forces, the authors also argue against the rapid or large-scale expansion of these units. That could water down capabilities, they add. “Given the CAF’s authorized troop strength and the qualities of an operator being as unique as they are, a rapid expansion would necessitate recasting the combination of desirable characteristics,” the report added.
In addition, the authors recommend only select and targeted collaboration with conventional force units.
The government also needs to decrease the amount of time it takes to make decisions on the use of special forces, which, in turn, would allow for the greatest number of options for the use of such units, the report suggests.
The publication of the document comes as the Liberal government conducts a defence review, expected to be completed in early 2017.
“With large-scale deployments of conventional combat forces improbable in the foreseeable future, SOF has emerged as the force of choice,” the report noted.
The Department of National Defence did not comment on the report.