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Divining the right role, capabilities, structure, and Regimental System for Canada's Army Reserves

MilEME09

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Return-on-investment of full-time training cadres assigned to units mustering handfuls of effectives seems low. The first problem is to increase the size of the units. Britain has more high-population hubs than Canada. How many Canadian metropolitan areas do we have capable of drawing enough recruits?
smaller units could have a single person, or a training element for multiple units sharing.
 

daftandbarmy

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Return-on-investment of full-time training cadres assigned to units mustering handfuls of effectives seems low. The first problem is to increase the size of the units. Britain has more high-population hubs than Canada. How many Canadian metropolitan areas do we have capable of drawing enough recruits?

Well, there is the argument that retention will increase if training/ career pathing is better managed. Right now it seems we're pouring well trained new recruits directly through the colander....

I'm not sure if the UK's approach is the right answer, it's just that we haven't really tried it before.

In any case the UK has alot more units than we do, so it likely balances out in some way. For example, if you look at a city like York, which supports several TA units, as well as some regular regiments like the chaps who just buried 'Captain Tom', the numbers are comparable with Greater Victoria, BC (about 200,000).
 

CBH99

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Well, there is the argument that retention will increase if training/ career pathing is better managed. Right now it seems we're pouring well trained new recruits directly through the colander....

I'm not sure if the UK's approach is the right answer, it's just that we haven't really tried it before.

In any case the UK has alot more units than we do, so it likely balances out in some way. For example, if you look at a city like York, which supports several TA units, as well as some regular regiments like the chaps who just buried 'Captain Tom', the numbers are comparable with Greater Victoria, BC (about 200,000).
Geographically it’s easier to do in a place like the UK also.

Not that it couldn’t be done here. Edmonton to Lethbridge isn’t that bad at all. But geography, in cases such as this, is a bit of a hinderance at times. 0.02
 

FJAG

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Return-on-investment of full-time training cadres assigned to units mustering handfuls of effectives seems low. The first problem is to increase the size of the units. Britain has more high-population hubs than Canada. How many Canadian metropolitan areas do we have capable of drawing enough recruits?
Here's a quick recap of some statistics from when I put together when writing "Unsustainable at Any Price".

A full-sized brigade can vary in size from a 3,000 person support brigade to a 5,000 person manoeuvre brigade. Based on current army reserve numbers:
  1. all of the Prairies and BC combined can support one manoeuvre brigade and one depot battalion.
  2. Ontario can support one manoeuvre brigade AND one support brigade and one depot battalion.
  3. Quebec can support one support OR one manoeuvre brigade and one depot battalion; and
  4. the Maritimes can support one support brigade and one depot battalion.
Note: This presupposes that all MPs, health services and intelligence personnel within these regions are added to fill the requisite MP, health Services and Int positions on the establishment of those brigades.

Combining all existing RSS resources from the current 10 brigades into these 5 brigades (which concurrently reduces some 120 battalions plus to 35-40) would provide approximately 14 full-time staff per full battalion-sized unit. Reducing the brigades from 10 to 5 and reducing the divisional headquarters from 4 non operational ones to two would provide sufficient full-time staff for approximately 50 full-time staff at each of the five brigade headquarters and a cadre of approximately 50 full-time positions at each depot battalion. (Depot battalions are responsible for all planning and programming and leading of all individual training within their respective brigades, conduct most of their training during the summer at which time they receive significant augmentation from both regular force and reserve force units.)

Reducing the over 120 reserve force units greatly reduces the need for the training system to generate the numbers of senior MWO/CWO and Maj/LCol currently in use and will therefore allow for greater ability on creating fully trained soldiers and junior leaders.

The current reserve facilities geographic location footprint can and should be maintained including smaller locations albeit that a platoon strength location would now be called and organized as a platoon rather than be called a company or worse, a battalion.

This is just a rough meatball estimate although I've run actual numbers. More is involved including making various units (both regular and reserve) as hybrid units that have varying ratios of regular and reserve force personnel and whose numbers also need to be taken into account.

There is no great issue in having a large geographic stretch for some brigades with numerous small units and subunits in small locations. As an example the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, an armoured, heavy combined arms brigade out of Idaho is made up of battalions in Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada and belongs to the Army's 34th Infantry Division in Minnesota which also has armoured, infantry and aviation brigades out of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Modern communications makes geographic dispersion less of a challenge for a division or a brigade then it was several decades ago. Battalions components should be a bit more collocated but even then only to the point where they can aggregated for annual collective training.

I fully agree with you that in order to get a better RoI we need larger units with less administrative overhead. We can't simply ask for more money to bulk up existing units under our present system. That has proven itself a failure. I'm not sure if the population could or would generate a sufficient increase to make a difference under our current system. What we do need to do is to consolidate existing units and headquarters. That too has seen its failures (especially in the last big contraction in the 1960s). For success, there needs to be an accompanying fundamental change in the nature of reserve service and its interrelationship with the regular force. Once we find ourselves capable of sustaining 5 full-sized reserve brigades we could look at growing the reserve force but not until we find ourselves stable and capable of upsizing.

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Weinie

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Return-on-investment of full-time training cadres assigned to units mustering handfuls of effectives seems low. The first problem is to increase the size of the units. Britain has more high-population hubs than Canada. How many Canadian metropolitan areas do we have capable of drawing enough recruits?
It's a complicated/tricky space.

GTA has roughly 6.5 M folks in it, or about 17% of the population. So the potential recruit base is fairly large.

It also has the most diverse population of any major centre in Canada. When I was at LFCA in the 90's/2K's, The Royal Regiment of Canada could claim the most diverse membership of any military unit in the world, with pers representing more than 80 different ethnic groups. But no one ethnic group comprised a large part of the unit, or a large part of 32 Bde, it was simply economics/aspirational.

We offer a unique experience. When I say unique, it has appeal to some, but not many. Couple that with perceived crap wages and the constant cacophony of stupid stories that resonate through media, it is no wonder that many opt out.

Having said that, word of mouth is the best advertisement. If we added some FT trg cadres that really gave young men and women in units something to be excited about, we would likely benefit.
 
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Ostrozac

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Britain has more high-population hubs than Canada.
But they don’t, not really, depending on how you measure it. The UK has 4 metro areas larger than 1 million, while Canada has 5. Both countries have both mega-cities (Greater London and the GTA) and sparsely populated regions (Highlands and western Newfoundland, for example). We don’t have to get hung up on the logistics of Canada’s vast distances. If we come up with a solution for the reserves that works for the GTA, Montreal, the Lower Mainland, Calgary and Edmonton then that’s a third of the country by population — maybe more when you consider only the youth population. Start with the big cities — that’s where the potential recruits are.
 

FJAG

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But they don’t, not really, depending on how you measure it. The UK has 4 metro areas larger than 1 million, while Canada has 5. Both countries have both mega-cities (Greater London and the GTA) and sparsely populated regions (Highlands and western Newfoundland, for example). We don’t have to get hung up on the logistics of Canada’s vast distances. If we come up with a solution for the reserves that works for the GTA, Montreal, the Lower Mainland, Calgary and Edmonton then that’s a third of the country by population — maybe more when you consider only the youth population. Start with the big cities — that’s where the potential recruits are.
You'll certainly fill a vast majority of your ranks from those regions. I'm a fan of also having widely disbursed smaller sub-units and sub-sub-units in smaller locations. Not so much because we need the extra numbers but because every citizen who wants to should have the opportunity to serve if they so choose without having to travel hundreds of miles to do so. It keeps us connected to the country as a whole.

🙂
 

dapaterson

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There must be balance for command teams, though - command presence is needed, and adding significant travel time on top of other command responsibilities deselects some potential commanders, and severely burns out others.
 

childs56

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I was part of a Recruiting team where we went from 16 Reserve Soldiers to over 120 on paper, regularly parading 90 or so. Our failure was not recruiting, nor was it geographical area. It was a lack of equipment and money for training and full time positions. IF we had the equipment, if we had the positions, and if we had the money to sustain training we would have maintained that 90 or so parading. Our goal was to raise 150 person Battery, But we did not have the equipment to do so. We were on our way to providing staff for 6 guns, two or three recce parties, Three Foo parties, three command posts and have extras for echelon duties such as ammo transport, one or two mechanics. Etc.

What stopped us from moving forward was a lack of training at the schools, a large lack of equipment to man, lack of full time spots to make things go, a lack of money to pay for it all. Our numbers started to dwindle as we could not put enough people through the training system, nor could we provide adequate training on parade nights and exercises due to lack of equipment.
Our numbers dwindled until we were around 30-40. For a Reserve Artillery Bty was pretty decent. Especially considering the lack of equipment we had.

You want to fix the problem, get rid of the Reserve HQs. send those positions to units. Get equipment for the troops, get the money to pay them, get the money and spots for training, Make the training more flexible with the modern work force. Stop cancelling courses after demanding absolute commitment from the troops only to cancel a day or two before. Then tell them to bad so sad that's how she goes.

The idea of forming BG in each area is a awesome idea, I bet in Alberta if you could get some money you could man two to three BG consisting of arty Battery, Engineer sqns, Armored/recce, Infantry battalions, Svc Support, even aviation assets. Again you need the money, the commitment and the willingness to do the hard work that goes in with getting there and staying there.
Unfortunate when the Reserves start to threaten the budget they cut it back, and there never is enough equipment to go around. It would take a hard drive to get there, but once there I think you could maintain it.
 

daftandbarmy

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Reducing the brigades from 10 to 5 and reducing the divisional headquarters from 4 non operational ones to two would provide sufficient full-time staff for approximately 5Combining all existing RSS resources from the current 10 brigades into these 5 brigades (which concurrently reduces some 120 battalions plus to 35-40) would provide approximately 14 full-time staff per full battalion-sized unit.0 full-time staff at each of the five brigade headquarters and a cadre of approximately 50 full-time positions at each depot battalion. (Depot battalions are responsible for all planning and programming and leading of all individual training within their respective brigades, conduct most of their training during the summer at which time they receive significant augmentation from both regular force and reserve force units.)

And that, Herr Colonel, would be a real game changer IMHO.
 

FJAG

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And that, Herr Colonel, would be a real game changer IMHO.
That was one of my underlying premises in "Unsustainable ...".

The Depot battalion structure would be responsible for all recruits and officer candidates who would stay on a BTL until they achieve DP1 status and are then handed over to the battalion trained in their specific trade. Subsequently the Depots would manage and conduct all individual advancement training. Units would be free from all individual training responsibilities and would instead concentrate on annual refresher training and collective training.

There's a lot of additional terms of service, job protection etc stuff too, but IMHO we can never expect to achieve a decent standard of individual training or any standard of collective training under the system the way that it functions now. That's totally self evident for over sixty years now. It is utterly beyond me why this hasn't changed long ago. Yup. I've read "Relentless Struggle" and I know exactly why it hasn't changed but it is still beyond me why over sixty years not one Minister or CDS has undertaken a major change rather than the pathetic initiatives that pop up every now and then - Oh wait. Here it is albeit on the topic of reducing the size of our bloated NDHQ/CFHQ:

Militaries are inherently conservative bureaucracies and they don't like change,...
Bercuson said such cuts will need a strong minister, who isn't afraid to
stand on the necks of officials and force staffing cuts through.
...
Historically speaking, this kind of significant change I think this report is calling for, if that's not driven by the civilian sector, it’s just not going to happen, Bercuson said. To introduce a sweeping program of reform, as opposed to one or two changes, you need a very, very, very highly placed political figure to take ownership of it.[1]

[1] Davis, Jeff “Ottawa mandarins, general skirmish over bureaucratic cuts", Postmedia News, Ottawa 19 August, 2011
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daftandbarmy

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That was one of my underlying premises in "Unsustainable ...".

The Depot battalion structure would be responsible for all recruits and officer candidates who would stay on a BTL until they achieve DP1 status and are then handed over to the battalion trained in their specific trade. Subsequently the Depots would manage and conduct all individual advancement training. Units would be free from all individual training responsibilities and would instead concentrate on annual refresher training and collective training.

There's a lot of additional terms of service, job protection etc stuff too, but IMHO we can never expect to achieve a decent standard of individual training or any standard of collective training under the system the way that it functions now. That's totally self evident for over sixty years now. It is utterly beyond me why this hasn't changed long ago. Yup. I've read "Relentless Struggle" and I know exactly why it hasn't changed but it is still beyond me why over sixty years not one Minister or CDS has undertaken a major change rather than the pathetic initiatives that pop up every now and then - Oh wait. Here it is albeit on the topic of reducing the size of our bloated NDHQ/CFHQ:


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Right now the only people who are getting trained regularly, and I'm not talking about nationally run career courses or annual training concentrations for NCMs and Officers that might take place years apart, are below the rank of MCpl.

As a result, the least well trained people in the Reserves are frequently the most senior. This is a tragedy, and not only because the Colonels and Generals who are deciding our fate are Reservists too, but becasue poor senior leaders can drive out the more junior through bad practises.
 

Brad Sallows

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I remember thinking that the Res F was not very cost effective when a unit with a Cl A budget of maybe $500K to $1M also consumed the equivalent of 5 or 6 full-time positions. For that, a unit produced one or two platoons of "effective" people. Most of the available or potential output (time and energy) of the middle and senior ranks was consumed as administration just perpetuating things in place.

I see no point in dreaming much further until someone first proves that we can consolidate soldiers in rural and small urban locations into single (administrative, if not role) units of 500+ that can be properly administered by half-a-dozen full-timers, with the part-timers spending no more than 10% of their time (none unpaid) on administration. The surplus full-time positions should go back to the schools for two or three years to keep the IT pipeline flowing while the changes in practice and organization are proven and established.
 

daftandbarmy

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I remember thinking that the Res F was not very cost effective when a unit with a Cl A budget of maybe $500K to $1M also consumed the equivalent of 5 or 6 full-time positions.

If your main effort is 'political', then the Reserves are doing an excellent job in their current format.
 

FJAG

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I remember thinking that the Res F was not very cost effective when a unit with a Cl A budget of maybe $500K to $1M also consumed the equivalent of 5 or 6 full-time positions. For that, a unit produced one or two platoons of "effective" people. Most of the available or potential output (time and energy) of the middle and senior ranks was consumed as administration just perpetuating things in place.

I see no point in dreaming much further until someone first proves that we can consolidate soldiers in rural and small urban locations into single (administrative, if not role) units of 500+ that can be properly administered by half-a-dozen full-timers, with the part-timers spending no more than 10% of their time (none unpaid) on administration. The surplus full-time positions should go back to the schools for two or three years to keep the IT pipeline flowing while the changes in practice and organization are proven and established.
If we take $80,000 per year as the average salary for a member of a Reg F battalion of 500 members then the pay package alone for that battalion is $40,000,000 before any benefits etc. On average, a Class A reservist serving a total of 60 Class A/B days per year should cost 1/6th of a Reg f salary. Therefore a full Res F battalion would cost $6.6 million per year which is a substantial saving for a unit whose task is to be on standby for emergencies. For the cost of one Reg F battalion one could have six Res F battalions.

Like anything, the key difference is in clearly recognizing which units we need to have serving full-time because their skills are so complex that they need to train full-time or who are required for immediate quick reaction force duties and those units which can be held "in reserve" until they are needed.. Since we tend to put Reg F units through lengthy pre-deployment training cycles, there is really no need to to have as many Reg F battalions as we do. We tend to use very few on what would be a quick reaction basis.

I agree with you that we need to consolidate Res units and headquarters in order to minimize administrative overhead but quite frankly the administrative overhead that they use now pales in comparison to the 17,000 folks providing administrative overhead in Ottawa plus the additional 100 to 200 in each of the divisional headquarters (of which 2 would be more than enough - I'd leave their training centres untouched but turn those into the before mentioned Depot battalions) I quite frankly think that if one was to amalgamate three or more Res F battalions into one then all their RSS staff should be part of that amalgamation not only to provide the administration but also to plan, organize and conduct their training and fill key leadership roles.

These days there are numerous jobs which are difficult for reservists to fill even at the lower levels. For example an artillery forward observer these days needs to know not only the conduct of a simple fire mission but how to operate the turret of a LAV, numerous complex technical instruments therein and to be able to be a FAC/JTAC. The same for an artillery FOO technician. Managing an FSCC in a deployed battle group is completely outside the skill set of a properly qualified Res F artillery major. All of them would require significant additional specialist training before being able to do the job. On the gun line most jobs are learnable but the reserve units do not train on the same equipment as the Reg F units they are to support and therefore there is again a need for substantial conversion training (some Reg F units provide such training here and there but at significantly differing levels). I expect the same issues apply to the infantry and armoured corps.

Quite frankly, the issue isn't the piddling little budget or even the administrative load (which I agree should be reduced in any event) which makes the reserves not as cost effective as they should be. It's the failure of the overall system (which is totally owned by the Reg F) to provide the reserves with the proper training and equipment to make them truly plug and play capable or to allow them to function at a collective training level. As long as they are managed a second class soldiers by their Reg F leaders they will never reach the cost effective force multipliers that they could and should be.

We truly need to figure out which Reg F capabilities we need which can safely be kept in reserve and organize, train and equip the reserves to fill those roles and to be maintained in a state that allows them to be quickly mobilized (there I've used that dirty word) as and when needed. That IMHO includes many of the heavy lifting capabilities such as gun batteries, tank squadrons, air defence batteries, anti-armour platoons/companies, mortar platoons, reconnaissance companies, MP companies, transport companies, supply companies, maintenance companies, intelligence companies, UAV reconnaissance and strike companies, I could go on but you get the idea. For each of these skill sets there need to be sufficient Reg F specialists who will develop doctrine, conduct training and maintenance and provide key leadership roles. If these organizations can be aggregated into functional and deployable battalions then so much the better.

The current practice to simply cut capabilities every time the Reg F faces a budget crisis is just plain stupid and has left us as an Army that cannot even deploy one fully equipped mechanized brigade with all the combat and service support enablers that it needs. Quite frankly if you want to look at an organization that is failing miserably on its RoI then look at the Reg F Army. We spend billions on it every year and its combat capability outputs are measured by the minimally equipped battle group.

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MilEME09

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Here's a statistic to support hq cuts, especially in the PRes, 3 division has almost 900 pers in CSS, just over 100 are officers. That's a ridiculously high ratio.
 

Haggis

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There must be balance for command teams, though - command presence is needed, and adding significant travel time on top of other command responsibilities deselects some potential commanders, and severely burns out others.
There are so many variables connected to this, particularly since the bulk of our training is when the weather is less than ideal for travelling. When I was RSM of our Bde Battle School, our training was highly decentralized due to geography. There were several occasions when my CO and I were stranded due to aircraft issues, weather or both, which sometimes meant a missed half day or day of work on Monday. Not a lot of employers will tolerate this on a recurring basis.
 

MJP

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Here's a statistic to support hq cuts, especially in the PRes, 3 division has almost 900 pers in CSS, just over 100 are officers. That's a ridiculously high ratio.
So how many are in HQs? Generally when one uses a fact to back up their argument, the underlying fact is linked in some way to support that argument.

I don't even I think even the 100 or 900 number is correct unless you are trying to say just those are the numbers in the PRes alone? 1 CMBG my opinion ( see difference from fact) would easily fill the 900 numbers and a large portion of the officers but i am not sure what org you are saying has the bloat.

You like to make assertive posts that you can't or don't ever back up when challenged. I don't disagree we have too much HQ bloat in certain areas but please show us the money or at least the right numbers. If it is just the PRes folks what are you including just PRes? RegF posns? Where are they? Even general ballpark would be better than spewing number with no context.

Next would be to highlight where there is redundancy in those officer numbers so we can see if there truly is an imbalance.

*edited to clarify
 
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dapaterson

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Well, we don't really need things such as clothing stores, maintenance, transport, food services or other enablers to be ready. We need thousands of nude infanteers without vehicles, ability to move or food.

The CAF should be about readiness, and ability to take action when called upon. That suggests a full time force weighted towards maintaining readiness and in hard to train and maintain skillsets, with sufficient force to project roto 0 on little to no notice, to be replaced by progressively larger elements drawn from a primarily part-time force.

If we want an Army Reserve of 20K part-time (all-in) that's about 16K trained. Which to equip, sustain and train calls for probably 1600 full-time personnel - weighted towards sustainers like Materiel Management Techs and Vehicle Techs and HRAs and FSAs and Log Os, and trainers from the occupations we wish to generate.
 

FJAG

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Well, we don't really need things such as clothing stores, maintenance, transport, food services or other enablers to be ready. We need thousands of nude infanteers without vehicles, ability to move or food.

The CAF should be about readiness, and ability to take action when called upon. That suggests a full time force weighted towards maintaining readiness and in hard to train and maintain skillsets, with sufficient force to project roto 0 on little to no notice, to be replaced by progressively larger elements drawn from a primarily part-time force.

If we want an Army Reserve of 20K part-time (all-in) that's about 16K trained. Which to equip, sustain and train calls for probably 1600 full-time personnel - weighted towards sustainers like Materiel Management Techs and Vehicle Techs and HRAs and FSAs and Log Os, and trainers from the occupations we wish to generate.
You and I frequently diverge a bit (not far, but a bit) on some issues but on this one I'm in violent agreement with you particularly because I'm of the view that the reserves should own significant stocks and varieties of deployable equipment so that it can grow the force beyond what the equipment of the Reg F currently allows.

There is no way on God's green earth that the reserves can manage any level of equipment holdings unless there is an existing chain of maintainers and supply (don't like the term material management- why does the CAF replace a perfectly useable two syllable word with a seven syllable compound) folks who can, firstly ensure that equipment is kept serviceable under ordinary peacetime conditions; secondly train the force in those skills; and third, make the force fully sustainable in an emergency by the addition of many more of the same and also the transport, food services, finances, etc etc services).

This is why in my model Res F I have two manoeuvre brigades, one combat support brigade and two combat service support brigades (rather than ten dinky undermanned infantry brigades) and, quite frankly if we could expand the reserves beyond its current numbers, the first thing that I would add is yet another combat service support element (to facilitate theatre level sustainment) before any others.

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