29 October 2010

Canadian Military Cuts to Focus on Defence Bureacracy and Reservists

Canada's military is the latest to look at cost cutting measures in response to a large federal government deficit.
The soldier in charge of coming up with a leaner Canadian Forces is signalling that the axe will fall on the defence bureaucracy and the ranks of reservists to spare a fighting force that will be deployed to war zones and natural disasters.

In his first major speech since he took the role as “Chief of Transformation” in June, Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie outlined a vision of a post-Afghanistan Canadian military that has fewer paper-pushers and that won’t skimp on mission might.

“Let’s not think about tinkering with outputs, the folks who actually go outside their bases,” the three-star general said during a speech to Toronto’s Empire Club on Wednesday. “... Let’s focus on the overheads, and not on the field force.”

The military appreciates the taxpayers’ top-ups of the past decade, he said, but “we know that every penny is important.”

In a new era of deficit constraints in Ottawa, the military’s choices are stark: It must cut soldiers and military hardware or redundant bases and staff. Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs – and untold lives in future hot spots – hang in the balance.


The Canadian Forces has about 11,200 full-time reservists and another 23,700 part-timers. These “unprecedented” numbers, Lt.-Gen. Leslie said, have to come down. He expressed hopes the full-timers will join the conventional forces or settle into part-time work.

He said he is consulting widely – even probing “all sorts of information databases” – to figure out the military of the future. The world is unpredictable, he said, and Canada’s soldiers will have to respond to volatile foreign conflicts, natural disasters, increased cyber-attacks, and continued terrorist threats.

The military’s current budget projections amount to $44-billion less than the $490-billion earmarked in the 20-year-plan that the Conservatives came up with a couple of years ago.

The 2008 plan had called for expanding the numbers of both regular forces and reserves.

Now Lt.-Gen. Leslie is looking at cutting personnel at headquarters – which now has about 12,000 uniformed soldiers and 28,000 civilians – to shrink the military’s overall ranks, which now number about 69,000.

How much of this can be done in Ottawa rather than on bases in rural communities will have to be determined. “The fact of the matter is, we have so many redundant bases, it’s a drag on the system,” said Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, formerly head of the Senate’s national-security committee. “... You could easily find a billion in overhead [there], but I don’t think there is the stomach to do so.”
By: Shelldrake

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so frustrating - whenever crap happens, it falls on the reservists. A quarter to a third of the troops on the deployments to former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan were/are reservists, people who took a year or more unpaid leave from their civilian jobs or school (in cases where they didn't lose their jobs outright) to go and serve, as triple volunteers.

Canada has always been unusual among First World countries for having more regular soldiers than reservists - there are about 67,000 regular CF personnel and about 26,000 primary reserve (that is, people attached to units who train regularly). They cost very little compared to the shiny F-35s our government has set its heart on, but that's the way things will go - you can fly a plane around and whow it off, but who cares about a crumbling old armoury.