The Post-pandemic Canadian Armed Forces

FJAG

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As we seem to be winding down from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, the thought crosses my mind that there will be consequences effecting the DND/CAF. Simply put we have several factors:

a. first and probably foremost in the eyes of the current and future government is going to be money. The Liberals are more likely not to be too concerned about any immediate debt accumulation over the next few years notwithstanding that they have committed over $80 billion in programs and tax deferrals in order to keep the economy and workers going. Any future Conservative government may see things differently. Regardless it seems quite logical that any cost cutting that the Feds will do will undoubtedly involve the DND/CAF;

b. regardless of the financial relief offered, unemployment will be up which might influence CAF recruiting in a positive way;

c. international threats will not lessen and in all probability tension will be heightened as major players struggle over their internal problems leaving others to fill vacuums by expanding their spheres of influence over countries hit hard;

d. generally the internal response to this pandemic amongst the western world has been poor, showing an overall weakness of our ability to deal with major disasters. While this one was biological in nature, we are equally vulnerable to cyber disruption of our economy and have shown ourselves to be especially divided in how we respond to curtailment of civil liberties;

There are numerous other factors at play which will (or at least, might) impact the shape and role of the DND/CAF in the foreseeable future. I've started this thread to foster discussion on where we're heading in both the near and long term. While I want to focus the discussion on the DND/CAF, examples and articles as to what other countries are, or might be, doing are also relevant.

To start it off, here's a an article from War on the Rocks:  Five Ways the US Military Will Change After the Pandemic

Alright. Let's open this  :worms:
 

Jarnhamar

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[quote author=FJAG]

Alright. Let's open this  :worms:

b. regardless of the financial relief offered, unemployment will be up which might influence CAF recruiting in a positive way;

[/quote]

I think it will see increased numbers but may have a negative effect in terms of the quality and mentality of applicants.

Do we want applicants who are only joining the CAF now because they're desperate/don't have other options?



Also, after sitting at home getting paid to chill for 2 months (or maybe until August?)  I wonder if we'll have issues with members deciding they don't want to go back to work and either releasing, mass OTs or looking for MELs.
 

Blackadder1916

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Jarnhamar said:
I think it will see increased numbers but may have a negative effect in terms of the quality and mentality of applicants.

Do we want applicants who are only joining the CAF now because they're desperate/don't have other options?

Why should the CAF change now?  Okay, I'm being flippant . . .  but periods of high unemployment has always provided a target rich environment for recruiting.  The more who are looking for a well paying, stable job means more from whom to select the best candidates.  As the dust starts to settle from the economic fallout of Covid-19 (and the concurrent oil price drop) the demographic that is most affected by job loss fits right into the demographic that the military looks for; young, looking for work, looking for training that leads to a stable career.  And as the CF struggled to meet recruiting targets for women, this on-going crisis is like manna from heaven - women have accounted for 60% of the lay-offs.  Now if only the CF can rise to this recruiting challenge.
 

dimsum

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Blackadder1916 said:
And as the CF struggled to meet recruiting targets for women, this on-going crisis is like manna from heaven - women have accounted for 60% of the lay-offs.  Now if only the CF can rise to this recruiting challenge.

Were those women going to look at the CAF anyways?  :dunno:
 

Jarnhamar

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[quote author=Blackadder1916]but periods of high unemployment has always provided a target rich environment for recruiting.[/quote]
Are we just in a period of high unemployment or is this an all together different scale?

The more who are looking for a well paying, stable job means more from whom to select the best candidates.
But we're not looking for the best candidates. We're looking for candidates to make the demographic of the CAF mirror Canada. We tell males a trade is closed while allowing females to join it and we (may) allow aboriginals from up north to join the CAF even if they fail the aptitude test.

And as the CF struggled to meet recruiting targets for women, this on-going crisis is like manna from heaven - women have accounted for 60% of the lay-offs.
So now we can attract women to join the CAF out of desperation whom otherwise weren't interested in joining the CAF. I can imagine some problems that might create.



 

Blackadder1916

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Dimsum said:
Were those women going to look at the CAF anyways?  :dunno:

Why does that matter?  Or would you make the same comment if the discussion was about tapping into a new pool of male talent?  If the CF only looked at those who were born with an interest in military service then the ranks would have been pretty thin for all of its history.  Recruitment is a process of finding and attracting the potential resources for filling up the vacant positions in an organization.  It's not just doing the enrolment paperwork of only those who show up at the door.  That "attracting" part is pretty important.
 

brihard

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Jarnhamar said:
Do we want applicants who are only joining the CAF now because they're desperate/don't have other options?

When has this ever *not* been a noticeable portion of our applicant pool for some of the occupations with lower educational requirements?
 

FJAG

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While not a military issue, here's another example of an institution which looks to be undergoing a paradigm change operations as a result of issues brought about by the pandemic:

Coronavirus: Pandemic forces Ontario justice system ‘stuck in the 1970s’ to modernize
BY PAOLA LORIGGIO AND LIAM CASEY THE CANADIAN PRESS
Posted April 29, 2020 7:38 pm

...
While switching to virtual hearings and electronic filing has brought its own set of growing pains and raised concerns over privacy and transparency, participants at all levels of the justice system say there is no returning to an antiquated, paper-based model once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

And they stress technology will play a crucial role in tackling the massive backlog of cases the province’s already overburdened courts will face when normal operations resume.

I don’t think anyone should want to return to what was normal, because what was normal was really outdated, inefficient and costly,” said Ottawa defence lawyer Michael Spratt.
...

https://globalnews.ca/news/6885464/coronavirus-ontario-justice-system-modernize/

It strikes me, from discussions in other threads, that DND was/is not as successful in modifying it's pandemic work processes. I'm not so sure if anyone on this site has found any benefits in how the system has handled this crisis. Are there any?

???
 

CBH99

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From a recruiting perspective, this can be both a blessing and perhaps a cultural challenge at the same time.

Yes, the pandemic may cause some people in desired demographics to explore options in the military that they hadn't previously thought of.  That could be great & also possibly come with challenges down the road...that's possibly a separate issue.

A larger pool of interested applicants is always good to have, and yes we may attract a lot of people who hadn't previously thought of the military as an option. 

That being said, it is our responsibility to streamline recruiting into a fast, easy, 'checkmark list' process to get applicants processed, sworn in, and ready for training.  As discussed extensively in other threads, one of our biggest challenges in filling the ranks is a wound of our own making.

A streamlined process of attracting people to various in-demand trades, educating the public not only about the opportunity but also about the quality of life, salary, and opportunities goes a long way to attracting those people. 

But once they walk into a recruiting center, we have to do a better job of getting applications processed and moving forwards at a decent pace...having good people walk away because their applications took a year (or more) to get processed is pathetic.  Streamline the PLAR system, get qualified people at least started and in the door, and get going.



This could be great for us as an organization, if we the organization don't screw it up for ourselves.  :2c: 




**Disclosure - perhaps recruiting is in better shape now than when I was in.  I'm not up to date on everything recruiting these days.

When I was doing recruiting/community relations a decade ago or so, CFRC Calgary had thankfully set up a pretty streamlined system.  Applicants would come in to do their CFAT in the morning, initial interview & medical in the afternoon, and applications were fired off.  Credit checks & criminal record checks were already done before.  Obviously some applicants, and some cases/trades, would slow things down - but for the most part, a bulk of applicants at least got the first few steps of their application process done pretty quickly.
 

MilEME09

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CBH99 said:
From a recruiting perspective, this can be both a blessing and perhaps a cultural challenge at the same time.

Yes, the pandemic may cause some people in desired demographics to explore options in the military that they hadn't previously thought of.  That could be great & also possibly come with challenges down the road...that's possibly a separate issue.

A larger pool of interested applicants is always good to have, and yes we may attract a lot of people who hadn't previously thought of the military as an option. 

That being said, it is our responsibility to streamline recruiting into a fast, easy, 'checkmark list' process to get applicants processed, sworn in, and ready for training.  As discussed extensively in other threads, one of our biggest challenges in filling the ranks is a wound of our own making.

A streamlined process of attracting people to various in-demand trades, educating the public not only about the opportunity but also about the quality of life, salary, and opportunities goes a long way to attracting those people. 

But once they walk into a recruiting center, we have to do a better job of getting applications processed and moving forwards at a decent pace...having good people walk away because their applications took a year (or more) to get processed is pathetic.  Streamline the PLAR system, get qualified people at least started and in the door, and get going.



This could be great for us as an organization, if we the organization don't screw it up for ourselves.  :2c: 




**Disclosure - perhaps recruiting is in better shape now than when I was in.  I'm not up to date on everything recruiting these days.

When I was doing recruiting/community relations a decade ago or so, CFRC Calgary had thankfully set up a pretty streamlined system.  Applicants would come in to do their CFAT in the morning, initial interview & medical in the afternoon, and applications were fired off.  Credit checks & criminal record checks were already done before.  Obviously some applicants, and some cases/trades, would slow things down - but for the most part, a bulk of applicants at least got the first few steps of their application process done pretty quickly.

Wish it was that stream lined when I got in, in 09, took two months to get everything done. Then 6 months to find out i couldn't join my selected trade due to being a VC 4. picked a different trade as was sworn in a month later.
 

CBH99

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Wish it was that stream lined when I got in, in 09, tooled two months to get every done. Then 6 months to find out i couldn't join my selected trade due to being a VC 4. picked a different trade as was sworn in a month later.


CFRC Calgary, at that time anyway, really had a good system in place and a good relationship with recruiters from various reserve units in Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, etc.

Applicants would apply online, and bring us a few documents.  Credit checks & criminal records checks were completed pretty expediently.  Applicants would then do their CFAT in the morning, then they would do their medical/initial interview in the afternoon.  (Half would do medical first, half interview first...then switch.)

By the end of the day, CFAT was done, medical done, initial interview was done.  The credit & crim checks were already completed prior to them even attending the interview.  Package was sent off to Ottawa, which seemed to process them pretty quick since everything was already done, members were sworn in maybe a month or two later.  Boom, done.


Some applications did take longer, but that was usually because of a specialized trade, PLAR requirements for that trade, or 'unconventional applications' for unique postings.  (I remember a very specialized marine engineer type guy, who was PLAR'ing his way into a very specialized engineering position on the frigates, as an example.) 

But I'd say about 80% of the applications we processed were done according to the 'checkmark list' we had been given, and things were pretty quick.
 

MilEME09

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Fair enough, hopefully the system is just as streamlined, but if we see a massive amount of recruiting, and I mean in the thousands, would we need to rob field units for instructors in order to get more courses going? What is the max load on a BMQ these days? Mine was 58 pers in 2010.
 

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You're noting an important principle - that "recruiting" in and of itself is part of a larger personnel production system.  That requires balancing training demands with operational demands; sometimes prioritizing specific recruiting to align recruit gradation with follow-on training; and, if you have finite capacity for recruit training, deciding where to take risk, that is, which trades will you recruit less (in the short term) and risk not having enough?
 

Remius

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MilEME09 said:
Fair enough, hopefully the system is just as streamlined, but if we see a massive amount of recruiting, and I mean in the thousands, would we need to rob field units for instructors in order to get more courses going? What is the max load on a BMQ these days? Mine was 58 pers in 2010.

Post 911 we ramped up recruiting.  The training system was not ready for it.  Pat platoons, delayed training etc.  Some people had completed their VIE before even getting their Full qualification in trade.
 

reveng

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Exactly. Places like PRETC, CFSCE PAT etc were overflowing a decade or so ago. Lots of people sitting around for months or years, staff overwhelmed, and in some cases even members AWOL that basically went unnoticed or unpunished.
 

FJAG

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When we downsized the CAF in 1969/70 we found ourselves with a surplus of personnel in the artillery which needed some time to remuster to other trades or let go through various force reduction processes. The end result is for a few years we did no recruiting at all and had very very few promotions amongst the ORs

When things opened up again around 1973 when we resurrected air defence and locating, we went into recruiting in a big way. Bigger than the combat arms school could handle and accordingly we ended up running numerous serials of TL3 (ie basic gun number) courses within the regiments. IMHO that turned out very well, as the troops became integrated into the regiment from step one and we had excellent resources available. Personally I think we could easily have taken on what the US Army calls "one station training", ie BMQ, BMQ(L) and DP1. The resource bill for a platoon/troop is not high and most units had/have the appropriate equipment and facilities readily available.

:cheers:
 

Navy_Pete

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The biggest expense on CAF/DND in the next five years are great big capital expenses. Aside from the contractual aspects locking them in to a certain logical extent, programs like the NSS have been sold as job creators (which they do). I think improving the messaging on that aspect would be helpful (as they always bury the annual reports, and the reams and reams of job creation data is simplified to a misleading pie chart or something).

Maybe trimming down the procurement on new stuff coming down the pipe might be more feasible, but usually by the time they get through to TBS they've been trimmed down to the bone and other programs put on hold to do that, so expect it would be pretty painful.  With the kind of expenses they are running up, the entire DND budget would barely make a dent.  Also, think a lot of the programs are massively inflated budgets as a cap, so the actuals may be lower.

 

LoboCanada

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a. first and probably foremost in the eyes of the current and future government is going to be money. The Liberals are more likely not to be too concerned about any immediate debt accumulation over the next few years notwithstanding that they have committed over $80 billion in programs and tax deferrals in order to keep the economy and workers going. Any future Conservative government may see things differently. Regardless it seems quite logical that any cost cutting that the Feds will do will undoubtedly involve the DND/CAF;
Unlikely, but i'd like to see a big promotion of what the CAF has been doing for local retirement communities here in Ontario. Hopefully a capability expansion throughout the entire CAF. Responding to natural disasters and events like these supports any call to be more mobile, and for more investment in capabilities. CAF should be leveraging this good-will to better secure its future capability-building.


b. regardless of the financial relief offered, unemployment will be up which might influence CAF recruiting in a positive way;
Might help if we started to at least air TV ads again...


Looking at this in a different way, we now know how vulnerable we are.

I'd like to see a large growth in HADR capability:

A. Build a LPD/LSD here, foreign off-the-shelf design, to use as a hospital ship in these situations to treat coast communities.
B. Make local gov't assistance / disaster response a reserve job#1. Invest in Reserve support and capabilities, pers retention/recruiting.
C. Investment in mobility, vague on purpose.
D. What else?
 

Jarnhamar

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Brihard said:
When has this ever *not* been a noticeable portion of our applicant pool for some of the occupations with lower educational requirements?
I'm not sure. I think this level of unemployment and financial insecurity is unique compared to any high levels we may have seen in the past. Last week someone was asking me questions about joining the CAF as an NCM. She was 52 or 53. Not unheard of but she was also a hard core left wing "anti-imperialist" anti-conservative but she needs a job. It was an equally weird and sad conversation to have with someone.

I think Blackadder1916 is really on to something about recruiting though. The CAF has failed for years to reach their gender goal. This is a perfect situation to bump those numbers up. Under the current direction we're pushing I could even see us recruiting women only or women first until we hit 20% women or even 51%. 
 

ueo

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I agree the recruiting base might widen somewhat , but does the system have the capability to access this, process a large intake and then train these folks. Seems to me that the system is strapped for manpower, both instructional and logistical, at present with our overseas commitments so finding competent recruit/basic level instructors may be an insurmountable task. A few may be available through a massive reserve call up. Not sure what facilities still exist to sp the influx, physical administrative or logistical system appear to have been civilianized or severely degraded in the past while. Also don't think a mass rush to arms will occur, this is not 1914 or 1939 contrary to the political speak making the rounds so Canadian spirit probably will not be a factor. Did we have a great increase after 9/11?
 
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