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

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Yard Ape

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Art Johnson said:
Some years ago there was talk of amalgamating two of Toronto's Regiments the Honarary Colonel of one of the Regiments said the before that happened he would petition to have his Regiment removed from the Roll of Battle. He would rather see his Regiment die in honour than acceed to amalgamation.
Would co-existence within one battalion have been a suitable alternative in your eyes?
 

Coyote43D

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clasper said:
Kirkpatrick said:
would we be forced to amalgamate with a larger regiment from say, Winnipeg, becoming another coy in the Cam Highlanders or Winnipeg Rifles?   What would happen to the traditions of our unit then, would they be overridden?

Or would we remain distinct, because we are the only such regiment in Thunder Bay?

The Brockville Rifles, while maintaining their distinct cap badge and battle honours, are administratively a company of the PWOR in Kingston.   Amalgamation of this nature preserves regimental history without too much of a problem.

When did that happen clasper?. The reason I ask is I used to be a member of the Brockville Rifles, and when I left to join the Regs in '97 we were still our own entity and not a company of the PWOR.
 

clasper

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That's what I was told by a member of the PWOR I knew in the mid 90's.  (I left Kingston in early 98).  You seem to be a little closer to the situation, so perhaps he was full of crap.  Sorry to mislead anyone.

Cheers
 

Rfn

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"The Winnipeg Light Infantry were absorbed in 1955 by the lLittle Black Devils - they were one of only three regiments to wear the oak leaf shoulder title.  None of their distinctions or honours were carried on."

Mike Dorosh is right: Nothing was carried on. Very hard to find any info about the WLI.

Fitzpatrick: I dont think you have anything to worry about; when disbanding or amalgamating is discussed, the Regiments "community footprint" is considered...and in TBay the LSSR is the only (infantry) game  going.

...Unless maybe you guys want to change to "B Coy, R Wpg Rif"... :)

Danjanou: not sure I agree with grouping several regiments under a single Bn HQ. I've seen pictures of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, the Winnipeg Light Infantry and the Winnipeg Grenadiers, from a time when Winnipeg was much smaller, and all of these regiments were at Bn strength. I think the current Militia strength crisis is just an unfortunate phase in it's long history.

 

Scott

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Amalgamation of Regiments is never easy to discuss, but it would solve alot of problems when it comes to effective strength. I think that sometimes we forget that a Reserve Unit is meant to complement the Regular Force, not just uphold the history and traditions of that unit. That's how I feel anyway.

Having said that, do not touch the NSH!!! That's my pride standing out, as it does for any former member when we talk of scary subjects such as this.

Cheers!
 

Danjanou

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Rfn;
While I would love to see all present Militia units parading at something close to full strength (that would give us what 12-15 Brigades) I seriously don't think we are ever going to see those days again.

To do so would entail a major change in our society. First of all the cost would be prohibitive and the political will just ain't there. More than that though is, where are we going to get those warm bodies to fill the newly purchased CadPat?

Today's Nintendo generation of slackers and squeegee kids would have to be convinced to give up a couple of hours a week of their precious time and shift their cheesy and Dorito munching fat posteriors off of the couch in Mom and Dad's basement and away from their PS2 and out into the real world for a trip to the local armouries. That ain't gonna happen unless you shift them with C4 , which come to think of it isn't a bad idea.

It would take a full generation to of re-education to get that kind of commitment to public service and Country reinstated in the Canadian psyche, at the minimum. Bearing in mind even if we tried to do so the resentment from the educators and other social engineering leftist PC elites who were in charge of it would not agree with it and result in delays if not outright sabatoge. Remember the Teacher revolts against Harris for trying to introduce such concepts as community service into the secondary school curriculum.

What I was suggesting while not totally palatable to me (I was in the â Å“other regimentâ ? Art is talking about in his post re amalgamation and I know I was vocally opposed to it too), it is the lesser of two evils.

Our present system is unworkable and top heavy in costly bureaucrats ( Just how many Militia Lt Col's does it take to "oversee" a weekend training exercise of two rifle platoons anyway?). Either we fix it or someone else will for us and given the track record of our benevolent political masters in regards to tinkering with the military, I don't want to even think about what they would do.

Scott1nsh, unless the numbers are way down with the Highlanders since I worked with them in the 1980's then I doubt there would be any amalgamation there. Perhaps a combination of the 2 Bns into one.
 

Rfn

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Danjanou: Enjoyed your anti-youth rant ! But I think your selling the young-uns short. The high school Co-op program is very popular here, with lots of students trying to join, but CFRC is too slow, and of course there is the funding problem and lack of political will overall like you mentioned. But Many want to be free of the Nintendo culture.

Realistically though, the Rifles and Camerons usually do go on ex's together, and sometimes it isnt even  a disaster.
And we agree this is not something we want the politicians to fix.

Scott1nsh: Isnt the NSH itself the product of an amalgamation? The Cape Breton Highlanders and some other Reg?
 

Scott

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Danjanou, you are right, the NSH is probably safe except maybe they will combine 1 and 2 Bn under one.

RFN, like alot of Regiments in Canada the NSH today IS a product of amalgamation. The North Nova Scotia Highlanders (Today 1st Battalion) was formed from: The Colchester and Hants Regiment, The Cumberland Highlanders and C Coy, 6th Machine Gun Battalion, they were then (1936) known as the North Nova Scotia Highlanders (MG) In 1941 they became known as the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, in 1954 they amalgamated with the Pictou Highlanders and and the 189 LAA  Battery, RCA to form the 1st Battalion, The Nova Scotia Highlanders.

As for the Capers (2nd Battalion, NSH) They were born as the Victoria Highland Provision of Infantry (Imagine the unit abbrev on the epaulets!!) in 1879, in 1880 they became the Victoria Provisional Battalion of Infantry (Argyle Highlanders), in 1890 they became the 94th Victoria Battalion of Infantry (Argyle Highlanders), 1900, 94th Victoria Regiment "Argyll Highlanders", 1914, 94th Victoria Regiment (Argyll Highlanders), 1920, The Cape Breton Highlanders, 1954 United with The North Nova Scotia Highlanders and The Pictou Highlanders to form 2nd Battalion, The Nova Scotia Highlanders.

Most of this info can be found at the link left by a previous post (Sorry member I do not remember who put it up)
http://www.regiments.org
 
Y

Yard Ape

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Rfn said:
Danjanou: not sure I agree with grouping several regiments under a single Bn HQ. I've seen pictures of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, the Winnipeg Light Infantry and the Winnipeg Grenadiers, from a time when Winnipeg was much smaller, and all of these regiments were at Bn strength. I think the current Militia strength crisis is just an unfortunate phase in it's long history.
It would be more effecient to group multiple Coy sized regiments under one battalion, and it would preserve regimental identities.  Would people prefer to see regiments disband, or amalgamations (which may or may not preserve the identity of any of the Regiments involved?)

If the official army forms were still up, I would link to the thread where someone proposed this.  I think arguments for both sides were brilliant (usaually).
 

MJP

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It would be more efficient to group multiple Coy sized regiments under one battalion, and it would preserve regimental identities.  Would people prefer to see regiments disband, or amalgamations (which may or may not preserve the identity of any of the Regiments involved?)

I like this idea, and I think it would work great even for reserve units that are positioned outside of the large urban centers(IE the LSSR).  I have always wonder why reserves was organized in separate battalion organizations, when the man power was usually well below Coy strength for most exercises or parade nights.  The idea of one Bn HQ for several units is ideal, as it would save money in the long term, reduce duplication of effort and allow for more money to be spend on the troops(IMHO).  I know there would be some serious grumblings at every level for this type of model, but clearly the way reserves is organized now is cumbersome at best. 

 
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MJP said:
The idea of one Bn HQ for several units is ideal, as it would save money in the long term, reduce duplication of effort and allow for more money to be spend on the troops(IMHO).
Pardon my stupidity, but how would it save money in the long run? You would sitll need the armouries (the biggest cost) but you might save some minimal dollars by dropping off 37.5 days worth of LCol and CWO; however, the cost of running a standard Reserve unit is about the same cost of five Regular Force MCpls!

How much savings do you really imagine would be gained?
 

combat_medic

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While it may be a cost-saving alternative, I don't see it being a logistically sound idea. While our unit's BOR operates quite well, and things get processed in a reasonable amount of time, I know it's not the same for all units. Particularly in Winnipeg where you have multiple units parading out of the same armoury and sharing the same orderly room. I've heard horror stories from some of the Camerons and Winnipeg Rifles I know about the time it takes for anything to get through. They're administrating units of differnt trades, under different commands (WRT the local Med Coy), and with completely different priorities. Is it any wonder things get mixed up?

Besides, don't you think it's about time Ottawa STOPPED looking for cost cutting ventures anywhere outside of NDHQ? Don't we have more generals now than we did at the peak of WWII? Don't you think there's FAR more fat to be trimmed in that one little building than in the CF in its entirety?
 

MJP

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might save some minimal dollars by dropping off 37.5 days worth of LCol and CWO

I'm not talking about one Col/CWO, I'm talking the entire BN organization(CO,DCO etc etc) of 2-4 regiments, fall under on Bn organization.  Will it work?  Who knows, but several units have success running two or more Coys from different locations within a province, so it's an idea that has some merit.



Obviously capital costs like armouries, and equipment would remain constant and would be a major part of any budget. 

Combat Medic brings up a good point RE: Adminstration:

Having come from Winnipeg I all to well know the frustration of having to deal with a central support orderly room.  When I was there I hated their "I work a Tuesday night so I get Friday off attitude".  My wife work at an ASC for 41 brigade and the same attitude prevailed there too.  It's a sad day when the support staff forget that they are there for SUPPORT.

So I think every Reserve Coy would keep, a sort of Coy office(old BOR) and the first POC for administrative needs of the members would go through their coy clerk.  It can even be expanded to include a administrative officer(AO) that would assist the 2IC of the Coy with his end of the Paperwork.  But having a BOR/ASC/central OR that deals with the big administrative issues and assists the Coy clerks would be ideal. 

CQMS could be reworked for units that parade at the same location but because of the distance some units are apart from each other, I think most field stores should be held at unit/coy level.

Recruiting would fall under the BN HQ structure with a representative from each Coy within the cell.  Of course this probably won't effect far-flung units as they usually deal with recruiting as they do now.  This has the potential to become a thorny issue.

Training- Having a larger base of troops under one umbrella allows for leaders to actually lead full sized Pl/Coy operations.  I think most reservists can recall being on many a EX with 3 sections of 4-6 guys and a thinned out PL HQ.  It doesn't make for a fun EX, and doesn't allow leaders to exercise to themselves completely.  Having the flexibility to combine forces at certain junctures allows for more room for improvement at all levels.

There is much more here than just saving money, I think for the most part it allows for the elimination of "duplication of effort" and allows training to be more collective.  I think having 150+ soldiers working together, on exercise is allot better than having 3 or 4 groups of soldiers working independently.  It allows the leadership to truly lead full sized Pl/and Coy Operations and lessons learned by one group isn't contained within that small group but rather through the AAR process becomes corporate knowledge.

I'll admit this is a very crude working of how it would all gel together, LOTS of things would have to be ironed out before anything of this nature took place. 
 

Michael Dorosh

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The salient point about battalion headquarters is that the Militia is supposed to provide a framework in time of war on which a fully operational field army can be raised.  While the need for battalion headquarters personnel is not apparent now, if we were ever to moblize more than a single division, the need for a framework of battalion and brigade staffs would be made more obvious.  I don't see why the conversation would go beyond that very basic point.
 

Infanteer

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The salient point about battalion headquarters is that the Militia is supposed to provide a framework in time of war on which a fully operational field army can be raised.  While the need for battalion headquarters personnel is not apparent now, if we were ever to moblize more than a single division, the need for a framework of battalion and brigade staffs would be made more obvious.  I don't see why the conversation would go beyond that very basic point.

If military planners think this is how we need to prepare for future conflicts, then we're already fucked.  That kind of thinking is 50 years out of date.
 

Michael Dorosh

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Infanteer said:
The salient point about battalion headquarters is that the Militia is supposed to provide a framework in time of war on which a fully operational field army can be raised.  While the need for battalion headquarters personnel is not apparent now, if we were ever to moblize more than a single division, the need for a framework of battalion and brigade staffs would be made more obvious.  I don't see why the conversation would go beyond that very basic point.

If military planners think this is how we need to prepare for future conflicts, then we're already fucked.  That kind of thinking is 50 years out of date.

How do you think they are doing it in the United States?  We have close relations with the 161st Infantry Regiment, National Guard.  They were recently deployed as a unit to Iraq.    Even in peacetime, though, they tend to keep their reserve units up to strength and have the will and ability to mobilize when necessary.

I don't see that keeping battalion headquarters operating is 50 years out of date; it is going on in the US as we speak.  How would YOU mobilize a 2 division field force, if the need arose?
 

Danjanou

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You beat me to it Infanteer.

What is that old adage that staff weinies alsways prepare to fight the last war. We are highly unlikely to see a mobilization like 1939 again, or an army of 5-8 Divisions bulit up over a six year period.

Even if we did need such a force, then amalgamating units will not prevent that. We can always split standing units into 1st and 2nd Bns (and eventually 3rd and 4th if needed reverting back to the original Regiments if need be under a total mobilization) with a small slice being pulled from the initial Bn to be the core cadre of the forming second one.

What we probably will need (do need) is 1-2 Divisions of trained and equipped Reservists able to be quickly utilised now to support our 1 Regular Division.

As pointed out we would be eliminating a whole series of redundant Bn and higher HQ's (and thinking of some Co's DCOs and RSMs I've had to deal with in the past that's an incentive right there). That would in addition to providing a more realistic indian to chiefs ratio in the units slow the promotions rates to Snr officer and NCOs positions in the Militia as a by product (1 RSm vs 3-4, 4-6 CSMs vs 12-16 etc etc). Result a better quality (as opposed to quantity) senior leadership in militia units. Something most can agree has been perceived as a shortcoming at times. Mind there would have to be some incentive for staying if promotions slowed down across the board, like say training, pay and benefits on a par with the regulars.

This is not proposed as a cost saving measure per say, although as noted there would be some. Its more an efficency exercise that would give us viable usable units, which last time I checked was the whole point of the exercise. Were I still in, that would be enough for me to put on another cap badge if I had to.


 

Infanteer

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I don't see that keeping battalion headquarters operating is 50 years out of date; it is going on in the US as we speak.   How would YOU mobilize a 2 division field force, if the need arose?

"There is no going back, in other words, to the assumption on which the traditional American nation-state was founded: that a small army, augmented by large numbers of reservists, is all that is needed to hold the enemy at bay while the civilian economic facilities are converted to wartime production.

Rather than relying on the cumbersome mobilization and massed firepower arrangements of the Cold War, this work suggests reorganizing the Army into mobile combat groups positioned on the Frontiers of American security, ready to act quickly and decisively, primed to move with a minimum of preparation."

Col. Douglas MacGregor, Breaking the Phalanx


I feel this statement is very relevant to our situation as well, although in a much smaller scale.   I am a firm believer in the fact that we are best served by fielding a fully trained and equipped professional force that is rapidly deployable worldwide.   In today's fluid international environment, all contingencies along the Spectrum of Conflict require quick and decisive action; our opponents will not let us sit on the shores of Britain and build sufficient forces to re-cross the Channel (The outdated idea I was referring to).   If there are situations which require more then we can commit, then Generals and Politicians are not doing their job by ignoring the demands required of a modern and effective fighting force of a post-industrial world leader.

We shouldn't have to mobilize a two division force.   If our leaders were on top of things and figured two divisions were required of the Canadian Army to credibly serve our interests, then we should have two divisions of regular professionals standing on the wall.   Obviously, coalitions and alliances help to apportion out the responsibilities of meeting force requirements, but we can't ignore our end of the bargin and let our allies shoulder our burden of security; what I'm saying is that we probably do require two divisions.   However, I would not look to mobilizing them out of reservists when the need comes, rather we need those troops on call; forming a force that size requires considerable effort towards recruiting and retention, training, incentives and attractiveness of a military career, equipment, and a whole other myriad of issues above my pay grade.   Seems like a tall order, but isn't that what the leadership is there for?

Besides, if for some odd reason we decided to mobilize reserve units, I sure wouldn't want to be following some Reserve Colonel into battle, who at best has commanded a Platoon in dry fire training.   If Militia is to remain relevent today, we need to do what Danjanou says and tailor the reserves as a "reaction force" for supplementing the Regulars (the ROTO 11 CRIC on a more permanent level).   Face it, all the Militia does now is to act as a minor league feeder pool for the Regular Forces at best and a social club at worst.   The day of the citzen-soldier or the volunteer coming to pull Canada out of the fire is over; infact I would venture that this notion is mythical in itself as we've had to build professional forces in all our wars around the bloody lessons of unpreparedness.   A friend of mine was quite astute in pointing out that Afghanistan was the first case in which Canada sent a its Regular Forces to war.   This is a professional's game more now then it ever was.
 

MJP

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Micheal is right in stating that the reserve is to provide a frame work for mobilization.....I just happen to think they still can do it with a reduction in some upper echelon.  The primary role of the entire(air, land, sea) reserve force in general is to augment, sustain and support deployed forces. 
The roles of the militia in priority are;
        -To provide the framework for mobilization
        -To augment and sustain the regular force
        -To serve as a link between military and civilian communities

In the Land Forces there are 132 reserve units situated throughout Canada.  You can not tell me honestly they all parade at their full strength or rather train at full strength all the time(or part of the time for that matter).  The truth is the both the reserves and the Regs have way to many upper echelon for the amount of people contain within.  We can start a new subject on where the Regs could be improved but for now we are looking at reserves. 

If we ever went to full mobilization we should/would have enough warning to significantly ramp up reserve units or form new units.  Besides the numbers contains within each unit are so low right now that if full formed units were needed right away, they would probably algamate several reserve units together to meet any emergency.

I think by allowing reserve training to become more consistent, and allowing the leadership the ability and the opportunity to actually lead they can become a much better force overall and maybe we won't see such a huge training difference between reserve and reg force soldiers at all levels. 
 
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