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

FJAG

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Happy to answer any questions anyone may have about the article.

It's a very stripped down version of my book: "Unsustainable at Any Price: The Canadian Armed Forces in Crisis" https://www.amazon.ca/Unsustainable-At-Any-Price-Canadian-ebook/dp/B086HXC66Q as I was limited to 7,000 words which was already a very generous increase in size afforded me by the CMJ's editors.

Unfortunately, it's a big subject and not one solvable by simple solutions.

:cheers:
 

Colin Parkinson

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FJAG said:
Happy to answer any questions anyone may have about the article.

It's a very stripped down version of my book: "Unsustainable at Any Price: The Canadian Armed Forces in Crisis" https://www.amazon.ca/Unsustainable-At-Any-Price-Canadian-ebook/dp/B086HXC66Q as I was limited to 7,000 words which was already a very generous increase in size afforded me by the CMJ's editors.

Unfortunately, it's a big subject and not one solvable by simple solutions.

:cheers:

Well if the solution can`t be formatted to fit the Briefing Note format, then we can`t use that solution and certainly not in that font.....
 

MilEME09

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Colin P said:
Well if the solution can`t be formatted to fit the Briefing Note format, then we can`t use that solution and certainly not in that font.....

Sure you can, it's just multiple briefing notes, one each day till the point gets across
 

Jarnhamar

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FJAG said:
Happy to answer any questions anyone may have about the article.

It's a very stripped down version of my book: "Unsustainable at Any Price: The Canadian Armed Forces in Crisis" https://www.amazon.ca/Unsustainable-At-Any-Price-Canadian-ebook/dp/B086HXC66Q as I was limited to 7,000 words which was already a very generous increase in size afforded me by the CMJ's editors.

Unfortunately, it's a big subject and not one solvable by simple solutions.

:cheers:

I'm going to pick that bad boy up the next time I put an amazon order in.
 

FJAG

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MilEME09 said:
Sure you can, it's just multiple briefing notes, one each day till the point gets across

This is why books have chapters.  ;D
 

MilEME09

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https://www.forces.net/news/virtual-battlefield-how-reservists-have-kept-training-during-lockdown

I was reading this today about how the British reserves are utilizing VBS right now to train remotely. It got me thinking, right now the CAF uses VBS, but it is usually for large scale events in centralized locations to utilize a lag free local network. Should we perhaps expand the use of VBS  in armories? Have VBS labs in each one, train people to operate it just like a SAT. Potentially create a network for multiple units/armouries to connect together and do combined operations on evenings and weekends.
 

daftandbarmy

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MilEME09 said:
https://www.forces.net/news/virtual-battlefield-how-reservists-have-kept-training-during-lockdown

I was reading this today about how the British reserves are utilizing VBS right now to train remotely. It got me thinking, right now the CAF uses VBS, but it is usually for large scale events in centralized locations to utilize a lag free local network. Should we perhaps expand the use of VBS  in armories? Have VBS labs in each one, train people to operate it just like a SAT. Potentially create a network for multiple units/armouries to connect together and do combined operations on evenings and weekends.

If the SAT system was supposed to prepare us to operate even more sophisticated systems like this, I’m guessing we should stick to chalk boards :)
 

FSTO

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daftandbarmy said:
If the SAT system was supposed to prepare us to operate even more sophisticated systems like this, I’m guessing we should stick to chalk boards :)
The problem with the CAF is that we fall for the "oooo....SHINY! Lets buy it!" 9 times out 10 the shiny arrives at the unit and the folks who are required to use it say, "Umm....did anyone set up the support system, the training system and the updating of the software schedule?" "
The usual answer is "No...................BUT SHINY!!!! :temptation:"
 

MilEME09

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FSTO said:
The problem with the CAF is that we fall for the "oooo....SHINY! Lets buy it!" 9 times out 10 the shiny arrives at the unit and the folks who are required to use it say, "Umm....did anyone set up the support system, the training system and the updating of the software schedule?" "
The usual answer is "No...................BUT SHINY!!!! :temptation:"

One of the main issues with VBS is DND won't purchase dedicated stand alone computers for it. As a result, software conflicts with out security programs etc cause crashes, slow downs and other technical issues.
 

GR66

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Going to throw this in here as a starting point for discussion. First image is the current structure of the CF (from the internet...I know it might not be 100% accurate currently with the CSSB, etc., but pretty close I believe) and the 2nd is a possible alternate structure.

The general idea is to make the Reserves more of a cohesive force that is better integrated into the Reg Force structure and to provide a framework for mobilization if ever required. It also hopefully provides a more structured organization of support units for the combat elements.

No new units were created in the process and minimal units were re-roled to different tasks. This is basically related to the aspirational equipment goals roughly outlined in the "Advancing With Purpose" document on Army modernization (http://www.army-armee.forces.gc.ca/en/news-publications/canadian-army-modernization-strategy.page)

Reserve units would/could keep their regimental names and traditions but would be grouped together as Companies/Squadrons/Batteries (their actual sizes) to form infantry battalions/armoured & artillery regiments.

The key points are:

  • Three symmetrical Reg Force Mechanized Brigade Groups are grouped together in 2 Canadian Division
  • These three units would be the primary "Ready" force for the CA and would rotate readiness based on the new MR plan allowing for the deployment of a single Brigade Group at any one time.
  • 2nd Division would be supported by a Combat Support Brigade containing the combat enablers which would allow a Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group to be effective in a near-peer environment (tanks, AD, rocket artillery, additional engineering support).
  • The division would also have a Combat Service Support Brigade containing additional supporting units (EW, Signals, MP, Intelligence and Medical)
  • The 3rd (Light) Battalions of each Infantry Regiment would be a core Reg Force Battalion for three Brigade Groups within 3 Canadian Division
  • Reserve units would be grouped together to fill out the rest of the battalions of the Brigade Groups as would the armoured, artillery, engineer and support units.
  • Reserve units beyond those required to fill out the Brigade Groups build around the Reg Force 3rd Battalions would be grouped together under a single all Reserve Brigade Group.
  • 3 Canadian Division would not have its own Combat Support Brigade, but it would have its own Combat Service Support Brigade.
  • 3 Division would cycle readiness between the Brigade Groups which would allow for the ability to deploy an infantry Battle Group from the Reg Force light battalions in addition to the Brigade Group available from the 2nd Division.
  • The 4th-6th Battalions of each 3 Division Brigade Group would follow the MR cycle of their Reg Force 3rd Battalion which would provide some predictability to their Class-C posting availability/sub-unit deployment requirements.
  • The all Reserve Brigade would also cycle readiness and since it has 5 Battalions it could maintain a Battalion at readiness for expected annual domestic deployments.
  • The handful of Reserve units that are beyond the requirements to fill out the Brigade Groups could be assigned as dedicated Arctic Response Companies and teamed with the Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups to provide an improved arctic presence.
  • The reduced overall number of Brigade Groups would allow a greater concentration of Engineer and Support units to be assigned to each Brigade Group.
As far as equipment on my "wish list" for the new structure my goal would be the following:

  • The three Reg Force Brigade Groups would all be LAV based. Goal would be to acquire the LAV-based 105mm howitzer system (under the Indirect Fire Improvement program) for their Artillery Regiments, freeing up the M777s for the 3rd Division Reserve Artillery Regiments.
  • The tanks from the Reg Force Armoured Regiments would be shifted to a Reserve Regiment in the Combat Support Brigade
  • An additional Reserve Armoured Regiment in the Combat Support Brigade would be equipped as an Anti-Tank Regiment under the proposed ATGM purchase (preferably LAV based)
  • One Reserve Artillery Regiment in the CSB would be equipped as an Air Defence Artillery Regiment (again preferrably LAV-based) under the proposed GBAD purchase
  • A second Reserve Artillery Regiment in the CSB would be equipped with HIMARS under the Indirect Fire Improvement program.
  • The Reserve Armoured Regiments would be equipped with the TAPV-Recce vehicles
  • Two of the batteries of each of the Reserve Artillery Regiments would take over the Reg Force M777s (4 per battery for a total of 32 guns with the remaining 5 guns for training/spares). The 3rd battery of each Reserve Regiment would be equipped with a wheeled 155mm platform (Archer or similar as part of the Indirect Fire Improvement program) giving commonality of ammo across all the Reserve Artillery Batteries/Regiments.
  • The Arctic Response Companies (and ideally at least the 3rd Infantry Battalions) would be equipped with the BV-206 replacement under the Domestic and Arctic Mobility program.
The only true re-roling of units would be that three of the existing Reserve Signals Regiments would be re-roled as a Reserve EW Regiment in the 3rd Division's Combat Service Support Brigade to match the capability provided by 21 EW Regiment for the 2nd Division CSSB.

Looking forward to your comments/criticisms.

Canada_Land_Forces.pngCanada_Land_Forces - Proposed.png
 

daftandbarmy

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Going to throw this in here as a starting point for discussion. First image is the current structure of the CF (from the internet...I know it might not be 100% accurate currently with the CSSB, etc., but pretty close I believe) and the 2nd is a possible alternate structure.

The general idea is to make the Reserves more of a cohesive force that is better integrated into the Reg Force structure and to provide a framework for mobilization if ever required. It also hopefully provides a more structured organization of support units for the combat elements.

No new units were created in the process and minimal units were re-roled to different tasks. This is basically related to the aspirational equipment goals roughly outlined in the "Advancing With Purpose" document on Army modernization (http://www.army-armee.forces.gc.ca/en/news-publications/canadian-army-modernization-strategy.page)

Reserve units would/could keep their regimental names and traditions but would be grouped together as Companies/Squadrons/Batteries (their actual sizes) to form infantry battalions/armoured & artillery regiments.

The key points are:

  • Three symmetrical Reg Force Mechanized Brigade Groups are grouped together in 2 Canadian Division
  • These three units would be the primary "Ready" force for the CA and would rotate readiness based on the new MR plan allowing for the deployment of a single Brigade Group at any one time.
  • 2nd Division would be supported by a Combat Support Brigade containing the combat enablers which would allow a Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group to be effective in a near-peer environment (tanks, AD, rocket artillery, additional engineering support).
  • The division would also have a Combat Service Support Brigade containing additional supporting units (EW, Signals, MP, Intelligence and Medical)
  • The 3rd (Light) Battalions of each Infantry Regiment would be a core Reg Force Battalion for three Brigade Groups within 3 Canadian Division
  • Reserve units would be grouped together to fill out the rest of the battalions of the Brigade Groups as would the armoured, artillery, engineer and support units.
  • Reserve units beyond those required to fill out the Brigade Groups build around the Reg Force 3rd Battalions would be grouped together under a single all Reserve Brigade Group.
  • 3 Canadian Division would not have its own Combat Support Brigade, but it would have its own Combat Service Support Brigade.
  • 3 Division would cycle readiness between the Brigade Groups which would allow for the ability to deploy an infantry Battle Group from the Reg Force light battalions in addition to the Brigade Group available from the 2nd Division.
  • The 4th-6th Battalions of each 3 Division Brigade Group would follow the MR cycle of their Reg Force 3rd Battalion which would provide some predictability to their Class-C posting availability/sub-unit deployment requirements.
  • The all Reserve Brigade would also cycle readiness and since it has 5 Battalions it could maintain a Battalion at readiness for expected annual domestic deployments.
  • The handful of Reserve units that are beyond the requirements to fill out the Brigade Groups could be assigned as dedicated Arctic Response Companies and teamed with the Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups to provide an improved arctic presence.
  • The reduced overall number of Brigade Groups would allow a greater concentration of Engineer and Support units to be assigned to each Brigade Group.
As far as equipment on my "wish list" for the new structure my goal would be the following:

  • The three Reg Force Brigade Groups would all be LAV based. Goal would be to acquire the LAV-based 105mm howitzer system (under the Indirect Fire Improvement program) for their Artillery Regiments, freeing up the M777s for the 3rd Division Reserve Artillery Regiments.
  • The tanks from the Reg Force Armoured Regiments would be shifted to a Reserve Regiment in the Combat Support Brigade
  • An additional Reserve Armoured Regiment in the Combat Support Brigade would be equipped as an Anti-Tank Regiment under the proposed ATGM purchase (preferably LAV based)
  • One Reserve Artillery Regiment in the CSB would be equipped as an Air Defence Artillery Regiment (again preferrably LAV-based) under the proposed GBAD purchase
  • A second Reserve Artillery Regiment in the CSB would be equipped with HIMARS under the Indirect Fire Improvement program.
  • The Reserve Armoured Regiments would be equipped with the TAPV-Recce vehicles
  • Two of the batteries of each of the Reserve Artillery Regiments would take over the Reg Force M777s (4 per battery for a total of 32 guns with the remaining 5 guns for training/spares). The 3rd battery of each Reserve Regiment would be equipped with a wheeled 155mm platform (Archer or similar as part of the Indirect Fire Improvement program) giving commonality of ammo across all the Reserve Artillery Batteries/Regiments.
  • The Arctic Response Companies (and ideally at least the 3rd Infantry Battalions) would be equipped with the BV-206 replacement under the Domestic and Arctic Mobility program.
The only true re-roling of units would be that three of the existing Reserve Signals Regiments would be re-roled as a Reserve EW Regiment in the 3rd Division's Combat Service Support Brigade to match the capability provided by 21 EW Regiment for the 2nd Division CSSB.

Looking forward to your comments/criticisms.

View attachment 64575View attachment 64576

There are hundreds of full time (Class B) staff contained in the CBG HQs. Quite a few Reg F and Class A staff too IIRC.

How would you redeploy those to support this project, you know, after you blow them up in order to add greater value to the whole?
 

GR66

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There are hundreds of full time (Class B) staff contained in the CBG HQs. Quite a few Reg F and Class A staff too IIRC.

How would you redeploy those to support this project, you know, after you blow them up in order to add greater value to the whole?
if one of the concerns with the current structure is HQ and staff bloat, then wouldn't this be one area where we could improve the "tooth to tail" ratio? Work toward fully manning the infantry Battalions with infantry. Instructor positions at the schools? Brigade Group centralized recruit and individual training courses to free up Reserve units to focus on collective training?
 

daftandbarmy

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if one of the concerns with the current structure is HQ and staff bloat, then wouldn't this be one area where we could improve the "tooth to tail" ratio? Work toward fully manning the infantry Battalions with infantry. Instructor positions at the schools? Brigade Group centralized recruit and individual training courses to free up Reserve units to focus on collective training?
larry wilmore yes GIF by The Nightly Show
 

McG

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I don't see how wedding light battalions to PRes brigades will improve the readiness of what should be the most quickly deployable battalions in the army.
 

MilEME09

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I don't see how wedding light battalions to PRes brigades will improve the readiness of what should be the most quickly deployable battalions in the army

We need to get our institution in order before any reorg. It doesn't matter how you reorg us, if nothing is set up to support us or create the conditions for a better trained, equipped and responsible fighting force any reorg is just semantics.
 

Ostrozac

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I don't see how wedding light battalions to PRes brigades will improve the readiness of what should be the most quickly deployable battalions in the army.
You can add “What’s the purpose of our light forces?” to the long list of the great, existential questions of the Canadian Army. And it’s been an open question since at least the 1960’s. Sometimes the answer is they are high readiness forces supposedly optimized for counterinsurgency warfare. Sometimes the answer is that they are the guys left over when we ran out of expensive armoured fighting vehicles.
 

FJAG

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I think McG and MilEME09 have hit the two major issues bang on.

First and foremost, any attempt to provide for a meaningful role for the reserves at a collectively trained battalion or even company level requires a complete transformation to eliminate the underlying problems with the reserves caused by the existing "come when you feel like it" conditions of service, the lack of meaningful employment protection legislation and lower training standards. Without correcting all that and a few other things, all you'll ever be able to manage is individual or very small team augmentations.

Second, Canada can form only two types of quick reaction forces: one based on special forces and the other based on light battalions. This is because we have no capability to rapidly project a medium or heavy force. Both special and light forces are necessary for the type of operations mostly likely adopted by the government during peacetime. Canada uses the symmetrical brigade system within the Managed Readiness System to always have one light battalion at the ready state. IMHO I would prefer to see an asymmetrical force of a light, medium and heavy brigades where the light brigade would always have two battalions available for rapid deployment (one deployed, one on stand by for anywhere in the world including the arctic). The medium brigade would form the follow up force while the heavy brigade would form our centre of excellence for all things Europe.

I can't see tanks in a combat support brigade. Tanks are a maneuver unit and as such I would suggest grouping the tank regiment in the heavy brigade with two mechanized battalions (and as such having a total of three maneuver units)

By my count you have three reg maneuver brigades; three hybrid maneuver brigades; one res maneuver brigade; two combat support brigades and one combat service support brigade plus some unaffiliated res units. That's a total of ten brigades. When I did the math of the existing personnel structure of the CA I came up with the conclusion that we could only man six maneuver and three support brigades (one artillery, one sustainment and one maneuver enhancement) and I cut one of the maneuver brigades and redistributed it's people/units to other brigades because I concluded we couldn't sustain the ninth brigade headquarters so I left it with five maneuver brigades, one combat support brigade and two service support brigades. Quite frankly if I could have managed another brigade headquarters I would probably have made it another sustainment brigade because a ratio of five maneuver brigades to four support brigades makes more sense than six and three. I know that flies in the face of common Canadian reserve force thinking but we're already stressing out trying to support and sustain battlegroups and if we want to ever hope to deploy a brigade (or heaven forbid, a division) then more service support units are critical. Also, for peacetime operations, having some depth in engineering, logistics, transport and similar capabilities would broaden the scope of the type of operations we could do.

Those are my thoughts for the time being.

🍻
 

daftandbarmy

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I think McG and MilEME09 have hit the two major issues bang on.

First and foremost, any attempt to provide for a meaningful role for the reserves at a collectively trained battalion or even company level requires a complete transformation to eliminate the underlying problems with the reserves caused by the existing "come when you feel like it" conditions of service, the lack of meaningful employment protection legislation and lower training standards. Without correcting all that and a few other things, all you'll ever be able to manage is individual or very small team augmentations.

Second, Canada can form only two types of quick reaction forces: one based on special forces and the other based on light battalions. This is because we have no capability to rapidly project a medium or heavy force. Both special and light forces are necessary for the type of operations mostly likely adopted by the government during peacetime. Canada uses the symmetrical brigade system within the Managed Readiness System to always have one light battalion at the ready state. IMHO I would prefer to see an asymmetrical force of a light, medium and heavy brigades where the light brigade would always have two battalions available for rapid deployment (one deployed, one on stand by for anywhere in the world including the arctic). The medium brigade would form the follow up force while the heavy brigade would form our centre of excellence for all things Europe.

I can't see tanks in a combat support brigade. Tanks are a maneuver unit and as such I would suggest grouping the tank regiment in the heavy brigade with two mechanized battalions (and as such having a total of three maneuver units)

By my count you have three reg maneuver brigades; three hybrid maneuver brigades; one res maneuver brigade; two combat support brigades and one combat service support brigade plus some unaffiliated res units. That's a total of ten brigades. When I did the math of the existing personnel structure of the CA I came up with the conclusion that we could only man six maneuver and three support brigades (one artillery, one sustainment and one maneuver enhancement) and I cut one of the maneuver brigades and redistributed it's people/units to other brigades because I concluded we couldn't sustain the ninth brigade headquarters so I left it with five maneuver brigades, one combat support brigade and two service support brigades. Quite frankly if I could have managed another brigade headquarters I would probably have made it another sustainment brigade because a ratio of five maneuver brigades to four support brigades makes more sense than six and three. I know that flies in the face of common Canadian reserve force thinking but we're already stressing out trying to support and sustain battlegroups and if we want to ever hope to deploy a brigade (or heaven forbid, a division) then more service support units are critical. Also, for peacetime operations, having some depth in engineering, logistics, transport and similar capabilities would broaden the scope of the type of operations we could do.

Those are my thoughts for the time being.

🍻

Reserve Manoeuvre Brigade? That's impossible, of course.

CAF Reserve Reinforcement Unit? Maybe....
 

MilEME09

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Reserve Manoeuvre Brigade? That's impossible, of course.

CAF Reserve Reinforcement Unit? Maybe....
Under the current system yes, but if I have learned anything, it's that any plan will fail if those executing it believe it will fail and want it to. Significant reform of the army as a whole would be required for the ARes to do such a thing.
 
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