Earlier I read a post about the Canadian Army and restructuring over the decades. The Once and Always Canadian Army got me thinking of my own views of restructuring the Army. I once felt the Napoleonic corp, division, brigade model of organizing army formations was the way for Canada to go but reading rethink army structure changed my mindset. The joint warfare approach lead to transformation ideas for the entire Canadian Forces which will wait for another post.
The changes made by the current government of renaming bureaucracies divisions is purely cosmetic. Only the First Canadian Division is a real formation headquarters capable of serving combat needs. The author of the blog has another post pointing out the bloated nature of Canada’s army at the noncombat levels. Formation headquarters need to be lean and mean not bloated institutions vulnerable to careerism and stagnation. There also needs to be a lot less of them.
I suggest eliminating all current Army headquarters and staffs to be replaced by three formation headquarters. Each headquarters would be free from the administration of fixed facilities and anything else not directly needed by the formation in the field. A brigadier general would command the formation but a higher ranking officer could be assigned as needed. Each formation would have two deputies, one for heavy forces and one for light forces, so if mission requirements call for a division structure there will automatically be one light and one heavy brigade group able to be formed up. The formation headquarters would have a company each of services, heavy engineers, intelligence and signals to deploy independently of supporting elements.
Canada does not have the resources for the larger self contained brigade groups that Colonel MacGregor is advocating for the US Army. Instead Canada’s Army should be built around independant, self contained, battle groups that can slide seamlessly into one of the three Army Formations, deploy on its own, work with allies, or act as part of a Peacekeeping mission. The battle groups would be evenly divided or “shelved” to give the Army Formation flexibility and allow for all types of battle groups to work together.
A formation’s heavy forces would involve one light armoured battle group, one armoured infantry battle group, and two tank battle groups. The light forces would consist of a motor reconnaissance battle group, along with air assault, mountain and amphibious infantry battle groups. Combining all three formations together with all the battle groups would essentially give Canada an armoured division, air assault brigade, mountain brigade, marine brigade, and lots of useful reconnaissance assets.
For the last century armies have needed friends in high places, and I envision each Army Formation would have their own air wing. Each air wing would answer to the formation it serves and not be diverted by senior RCAF officers for other tasks. The wings will have surveillance, helicopter, armed reconnaissance, and ground attack squadrons. Each formation would also a Navy flotilla available as mission requirements dictate.
The fact this restructuring has many more sharp end units means the Canadian Army will be more expensive. The reduction in headquarters, staffs and redundant supporting elements will provide resources for the expansion. A similar restructuring of the reserves into four to six formations with independant battle groups that meet local needs and recruiting levels would provide more savings.