Traditionally when institutions like the Canadian Forces make cuts to achieve budget savings the wrong elements are cut. Combat units are disbanded without the command structures shrinking to reflect less units to command. This distortion is not unique to the military world but can be more costly in the long term, most other institutions do not need to conduct deadly operations which require redundant numbers of highly skilled people to achieve their aims. Such cuts put people at risk and limits what Canada can ask of its defenders.
As yesterday’s post reorganized the Regular Canadian Army this post extends that model to the entire Canadian Forces. The era of services being able to retain silos, to fight in their own element without cooperation is long behind us. Joint operations will be the norm in the future as it has been since World War II, the Canadian Forces unification was an attempt to react to that experience. The failures of unification were it lost the services’ Esprit de Corp but kept the services’ silos with different names. I propose the opposite, keep the services but lose their bureaucracies and their little empires.
National Defence Headquarters(NDHQ) would become the only central headquarters for the Canadian Forces, the army, navy, and airforce staff’s would be folded together for a central staff. The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) would have four deputies reporting directly, one each for the four commands; Canadian Expeditionary Command, Canadian Defence Command, Canadian Education and Development Command, and Canadian Services, Supports and Logistics Command. The Special Operations Command would be reduced to a Group attached to NDHQ, Canada’s NORAD commitments would also report directly to the CDS. NDHQ and all Command HQs would be operationally deployable as needed.
Canadian Expeditionary Command would be the regular forces’ combat units and forward support elements. There would be no responsibility to run bases just focus on readiness, effectiveness and deployment. This command would have three grand tactical formations, each with; an air combat formation, naval combat formation, army combat formation, services and supports formation. Regardless of service, if it is for eliminating threats in the air it belongs to the air combat formation, eliminating threats at sea the naval formation, and eliminating threats on land the army formation. Units and subunits would shift between formations as required by the mission. Each service would have command of a force at any given time as part of a rotational system.
Canadian Defence Command would be structured similarly to the expeditionary command, with reserve combat units in four to six regional defence forces. The defence forces would be organized according to the regional needs with air combat, naval combat, army combat, and support service formations in each. Each defence force would have ranger patrols with specializations according to local conditions.
Canadian Forces Education and Development Command will be the organization for developing people, ideas, doctrine, and equipment for all of the forces. The focus will be joint operations, initiative, flexibility, and innovation. From recruitment to readying for retirement this command would be responsible for keeping people ready to meet challenges and to maximize talents. Like the ancient Roman army or the United States Marine Corp every Canadian Forces member, regardless of service, should be fully qualified infantry as well as pilots, naval mechanics, pay clerks, et cetera. With such a small military Canada can’t afford to have non-combatants in uniform. To this end I would eliminate the number two dress uniform from every service. If the job requires a suit than give it to a suit, leave the uniforms free to train to win.
Canadian Services, Supports, and Logistics Command will serve two main functions. The first function will be to have all the needs, as the name suggest, the combat units required to keep functioning. It would have a logistics group of air, sea, and land assets to move large volumes of supplies forward and a construction battalion to build/fix railroads, ports, airports and anything else required. The second function is to host maintain and provide host facilities for the expeditionary, defence forces, and training units. Any units, such as search and rescue units, that are for aiding civilians or assigned to aiding civilians fall under this command.
The key to coming up with this force design is evolution, which should be the focus of any organization to achieve its goals. A Parliamentary strategic review, followed by force transformation is long over due. Until the review and transformation are complete equipment purchases should be frozen as buying equipment that doesn’t fit the needs will cost us the equipment that does. Facilities should be rationalized to be more efficient and to keep forces together for more efficient training, cooperation and deployment.
Transformation will be an exercise in resource allocation, there will be savings in areas and more resources required in others. The goal of the Canadian Forces should not be what is best for those careerist who are within, the industrial benefits for votes, nor a job creation strategy for areas with no strategic or tactical relevance. The continued misuse of scarce defence resources that way should become political/career suicide.