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Mobilization is Dead....

Infanteer

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Ok, there is on ongoing and lengthy discussion of what we should we should restructure the Army Reserve system to look like here:

http://forums.army.ca/forums/threads/25713.0.html

...but I am posting this in a new thread because I wish to explore the why (as opposed to the what) of Reserve reform.   Basically, I argue that a Reserve system that is built around national mobilization is antiquated and inappropriate for the requirements of the military of a modern, Information age society that basically undertakes expeditionary warfare (a constant) but within this expeditionary context is dealing more and more with 4th Generation Warfare and the oft-touted 3 Block War.

A structure that centers, organizes and functions around the concept of national mobilization is one that is inefficient and oriented towards the wrong task - as well, it's woefully ill-equipped to handle the nature and scope of today's "Come as you Are Conflicts".   Modern 4th Generation conflicts that we will engage in are not pressing enough to warrant the absolute disruption of our information age economy for the purpose of General Mobilization.

First off, mobilization is dead due to the nature of today's weapons systems.   There is simply no conceivable way that we will be able mobilize and equip our Reserve units and formations in time to make it to the fray.   "Come as You Are" means exactly that - come as you are.   If we don't organize the Reserves that are on hand, serving today, in a manner which makes them relevent to realistic planning and strategy, then we are just pissing away resources on a "legacy" structure that is a pipedream.

Consider equipping the current structure of 10 Army Reserve Brigades if they were indeed mobilized:

"Assuming that the Government decided to react to a particular emergency by mobilizing, there is no doubt that there would be sufficient young men and women to fill the ranks of the Army's units.   But where would their weapons be?   They may be able to get uniforms and small arms, but the answer is that mobilization would be, at very best, a four-year process.   Consider the following example.   There are no tank plants in Canada.   The General Dynamics Land System (GDLS) Tank Plant estimates that a plant could be constructed based on Canadian industrial capabilities in 30 months.   Adding a further 18 months for the production cycle, as envisioned by GDLS, brings the total to 48 months from initialization until the first tank rolls off the assembly line.   GDLS is presently producing approximately 100 Abrams M! tanks a year, and they can surge to a production rate of 300 a year by tripling their shifts.   The point is that tank production rates remain fixed; the high tech nature of major warfighting systems has extended production time lines to years from the months or even weeks required to produce equivalent systems during the Second World War."

Major (now LCol) Dan Drew, Combat Readiness and Canada's Army, The Canadian Doctrine and Training Bulletin; Vol2, No4 (Winter 99): pg 43

LCol Drew's article makes many more valid statements, I recommend finding it on the Internet and reading the entire piece.

Just as manufacturing times of modern military equipment make national mobilization a farce, so does the cost of modern warfare.   Enfield made this clear to me via PM with a point on a discussion we were having:

"Enfield said:
Something related to what we were talking about last night, thought it was interesting from Gwynne Dyer's 'War' (pg 385 in my copy)

"In the 1980s, under Reagan, at the height of US Cold War military buildup, the US devoted as much factory space to the construction of military aircraft as Germany did in 1944. In one month in 1944 Germany produced 3,000 aircraft. In the 1980's, the US produced 50 per month." (rough quote)

On a side note, the US defence budget under Reagan was almost double what it is today, so I assume aircraft production today is about half that, or less.

Mobilization is dead. Even if we mobilized everyone, there'd be nothing for them to do since we could never arm or equip them, since boots, a hat, or a C7 cost 117 times what their equivalents did in 1940.

The prohibitive costs of modern weapons systems ensure that dedicating the Reserve force to the concept of national mobilization is a waste of manpower and a misuse of resources, as the deeper implications of systems cost is that conventional warfare (that would require the mobilization of the state) is itself outdated.   No nation (not even the United States) can afford to mass mobilize with the costs of kitting all these levies out and sustaining them abroad.

So what is the course we should take?   Obviously, the Reserve needs to exist to back up the Regular Force.   Both Reg and Reserve need to be interlocked into a national strategy of how to prepare and use military force.   Obviously, the realities on the ground, both at home and abroad, do a good job of telling us what we need:

"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: pg 2

Although MacGregor's quote is centered on the American context, it is very relevent to our context in that we share:

- small, professional military forces
- expeditionary requirement of operating out of North America
- general goal of maintaining the primacy of the international liberal democratic order
- low public tolerance to mass casualties and expensive and long drawn out conflicts

I feel we need to reorient our entire structure towards the realities that we need both the Regulars and the Reserves to deal with the bushfires as the costs and requirements of conflagration in this day in age are too much to consider.

First of all, Readiness Cycles should consist of a variety of different "Echelons" of military forces.   All army force structures fit into a specific echelon and National Strategy will dictate to the CF what echelons are required (I discussed this on the other Reserve thread):

[quote author=Infanteer"]
Echelon I) Special Operations Units and Rapid Reaction Forces (either Air Mobile or afloat in a Amphibious Role) - Required to be able to project globally within days and to remain in place to establish conditions for heavier follow-on-forces.

Echelon II) Regular Force Units and Formations - These are the full-time professional soldiers who must be capable being sustained on operations overseas - usually heavier then Echelon I forces (in our case, I see the "Cavalry" format as ideal for now).   Current doctrine mandates two Battlegroups with surge capability for a Brigade.   Echelon II forces are ROTO O and next few rotations.

Echelon III) Voluntary Augmention - This is where we sit now.   This is limited use of Reservists in a strictly voluntary arrangement to help cover off on missions in mature theaters.   This can involve individual augmentees to Regular Force Units or the formation of Reserve sub-sub units or sub-units within Regular Units (as with the Composite Reserve units and D&S Platoons).   Reserve Battalions are required to be able to form a Platoon at all times as an Echelon III force (even if it is only a staff check).

Echelon IV) Reserve Activation - This is where the Americans sit now.   Entire Reserve Units and Formations are called up, given workup training, and deployed.   Obviously, quite disruptive, but it is something the Reserves should be able to do in a wartime scenario that does not call for complete national mobilization.

Echelon V) These are forces created from scratch in a National Mobilization scheme.   They can exist on paper at zero strength until the balloon goes up and the floodgates are opened for recruits.   These scratch units are filled out by soldiers from the other 4 echelons who have returned from operational duty.[/quote]

Note: Echelon V is a paper-only force; the possibility is beyond remote and I'm unsure of how we will do it, but we must prepare for it.

Reorientation of Readiness Rotations that includes Echelon's that consist of Reserve Forces will demand that:

1) The Reserves be given appropriate roles that coincides with and complements the Regular Forces - we need the Reserves to be seen as more then just a mobilization pool.

2) The Reserves must be manned, equipped, and trained to fit into the above.   There can be no "paper armies" in a real operational readiness structure.

3) The Force Structure will demand a different approach to how we treat our reservists.   Being Echelon III and IV units, they will have a real mission - the business sector and the government will have to recognize this.   In return for obligation of service (part time contract) the Reserves must be supported with job protection (both coercive legislation and cooperative incentives for employers), guaranteed training, and real operational focus.

It is time to look at the Reserves as a tool in our belt - there is no purpose to keeping a fire extinguisher on the wall if it is empty and missing the hose.

Anyways, just some thoughts coming out of discussions in the last week.   Flame away.

Infanteer
 

tomahawk6

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The purpose of a reserve force is as you have stated, to augment the regular army. To effect that the reserves need to have 90-100% of its equipment with any shortages to be remedied at mobilization. With a come as you are force there is no time to begin a draft and train draftee's - the conflict might be over by the time the new soldiers finished training. In this environment you cannot afford to have understrength and under equiped reserve forces. The US gives reservists on mobilization 90 days of intensive training before they deploy to the theater. Equipment/personnel shortages are made up during this period. One common problem we have foundis reservists that are not medically/physically able to deploy. Then replacements have to be taken to fill out the unit. This problem is being fixed - reservists are being allowed to use the same health care insurance the active forces have.

To make the Canadian reserves more effective reservists need job protection if they are mobilized. The law needs to be changed to allow for limited mobilizations of entire reserve units. If this were available the active force might not be as taxed as they have been.
 

Infanteer

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Agree 100% Tomahawk.  The problem is that our Reserve Units and Brigades are paper armies that sit at about 25 - 30% of the actual strength.  The realities of modern equipment and costs and the nature of current conflicts makes our current paradigm completely inadequate.
 

Matt_Fisher

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Infanteer,

As per our discussions, kudos again to a well thought out and reasoned train of thought.

Reserve restructure may seem painful to those involved as units would lose familar identities and roles.  However ever since the first Australopithecus Africanus picked up a stone to bash in the head of a member of a rival tribe, the art and science of warfare has evolved and continues to evolve.  Those that do not 'transform' themselves into a more effective force will be defeated when their time comes.

Given the complexity of gearing up a military-industrial complex and the rapidity that conflicts develop, the current Canadian national mobilization model using the reserves as a framework is not an efficient use of limited resources.
 

a_majoor

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Matt_Fisher said:
Given the complexity of gearing up a military-industrial complex and the rapidity that conflicts develop, the current Canadian national mobilization model using the reserves as a framework is not an efficient use of limited resources.

I agree with most of the points raised here, but I wonder if we are being a tad pessimistic regarding the transformation of the industrial complex to create military equipment for modern conflicts. Much of the reason for high costs is the tiny production runs of equipment in the current environment, resulting in war machines being essentially hand crafted. No one can seriously tell me that a TCCCS radio is far more complex than an "X-box", yet game consols are made in the millions and therefore cost only a fraction of what conceptually similar "milspec" items cost. Companies desire profits and to stay in business, and defense workers like to stay employed, so have built in incentives to drag out production and pad the costs as much as possible, while waiting decades for the next "new" order. The sudden influx of bilions of dollars would transform industry almost overnight, and if the "tried and true" meathods of design and manufacture were insufficient (i.e. competators were producing the goods and getting contracts faster), then innovative designs which overcame these limitations would certainly make an appearance. Please consider that the various campaigns of WWIV have been under way for four years now, sufficient time to build new tank factories even if the conventional paradigms were used.

It is true that a certain sub set of military equipment has no real civilian equivalence (ie tank armour or large calibre artillery pieces), but a lot of that might not even be appropriate in a 4GW environment where the enemy is looking for leverage against your economy and social structure rather than your expeditionary force. The bottleneck will always be raising and training soldiers, so the proper place to start transformation is right at the foundation, with our training methodologies.

After that, we can wonder about equipping the soldiers.



 

Infanteer

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a_majoor said:
The bottleneck will always be raising and training soldiers, so the proper place to start transformation is right at the foundation, with our training methodologies.

After that, we can wonder about equipping the soldiers.

True, John Boyd emphasised that Military Force Effectiveness was "People - Ideas - Hardware" - in that order.

I think the "Time/Cost/Investment" argument that I lobbied at the "Hardware" factor should also be considered for "People".  Think of the training that goes into making a modern soldier.  Gone are the days when you took a guy, gave him a rifle, and instilled discipline through fear.  A modern soldier is the "Strategic Corporal" - he must be versed in various small arms and tactic, be capable of operating complicated signals and navigation equipment, be responsible for weapons systems of unprecedented lethality, be aware of local cultural practices and norms (since culture dictates how we will fight), and be cognisant of the fact that his actions may be broadcast to the world and may have implications at the Strategic Level.

The "Come as You Are" wars demand a professional soldier with a level of expertise that cannot be simply mobilized.  Mobilizing and trying to build this from scratch, along with GDLS Tank Factories, is simply too time consuming and intensive a process to waste focusing a trained and fairly capable Reserve Force on.
 

tomahawk6

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Few countries can afford a huge standing army. That's where reserves come in, they are cheaper and very cost effective. The trade off is a soldier that is trained but requires intensive training for 60-90 days to bring him up to the level of an active duty soldier. One bonus of reserve units is that they may be more cohesive than an active duty unit
as the soldiers have been together in the same unit for many years [this is the case of US reservists].

One problem is not the mobilization of reserve components but the ability of the active force deploy to the theater in time to fight. I have not been happy with the US requiring 6 months to deploy and buildup a force before initiating combat operations. One day we will encounter an enemy that will not permit that to happen.

 

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Fallen Comrade
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tomahawk6 said:
To make the Canadian reserves more effective reservists need job protection if they are mobilized. The law needs to be changed to allow for limited mobilizations of entire reserve units. If this were available the active force might not be as taxed as they have been.

Given that the ability to show up for exercises and training when not otherwise employed/occupied is a major attraction of the reserves, and that the training year is demonstrably based on the school year, would not the unit-size mobilisation of reserve units turn into a detractor in terms of the willingness of potential reservists once they realised that service could be mandatory, and not voluntary?

The US has run into this problem in a big way with Guard units not being able to recruit once the populations that they once drew from realised that there was a good chance that they would be mobilised.
 

Matt_Fisher

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Infanteer said:
Gone are the days when you took a guy, gave him a rifle, and instilled discipline through fear.

You've obviously never been on the receiving end of Forming Day 1 at Parris Island.   ;D

Seriously though, A_Majoor, I agree alot in principle.  However, in alot of ways similar to the current CF Reserves model being broke and in need of serious revision, the entire military procurement system (and this is most definitely not limited to Canada) is in need of serious review as well.  Applying your model of tank factories for WW IV is not entirely accurate.  WW IV is manpower intensive rather than armor intensive.  National Public Radio here in the US quoted a figure that less than 5% of the US economy is devoted to the war effort as compared to much higher (40-60%) during the Second Wold War in which Canada and her allies experienced total mobilization.  Even when you consider Canada's musings at conducting "Op. Broadsword" during the Gulf War of 1990-91, the CFs were having to consider leasing/borrowing equipment from allied stocks in order to field a suitable force.

However, I digress.  The foundation is definitely in training the troops who will eventually take to the field.  However when reviewing the current training and manpower crisis that the CFs are experiencing, how is the current model with a force structure based on full-scale mobilization helping sustain a fieldable force in the here and now?
 

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tomahawk6 said:
To make the Canadian reserves more effective reservists need job protection if they are mobilized. The law needs to be changed to allow for limited mobilizations of entire reserve units. If this were available the active force might not be as taxed as they have been.

I see a pyramid - with everyone having a slot to fill - the present day routine of parade wash trucks - shuffle paper - plan trg - do trg - with no inkling of where you fit in other than - train because we train - is old think

It also suggests to me that the higher HQ aka the regular army doesn`t yet have a national plan - although it gets a bit clearer every year.

In short - when you join up and serve with a reserve unti - it makes no sense to never have an obligation to go some where and augment - trained students can fill out rear area jobs - really trained students can fill out forward area duties - I suspect much could be done but the old almighty dollar ain`t there - its off doing its duty as advertising for da government of da peeple who eat at Ristorante Frank in Montreal

As for our tour based focus? Isn`t it time we told the 3rd world to get off and sort out their own problems?
 

old medic

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Everyone seems quick to say Mobilization is dead, but what mobilization plan and what level are we talking about?

Everyone seems to want to complain about the level 1 and 2 mobilization plans for the "come as you are" wars,
but everyone seems to be confusing that with the level 4 National Mobilization plan. Even the white papers and
mobilization studies call that the unlikely and the last ditch "catastrophic scenario" and only for LARGE-SCALE CONVENTIONAL THREATS.

"Of the eleven scenarios, only the final two - #10, Defence of Canada/US Territory, and #11, Collective Defence (in a NATO context) - envision Canadian involvement in broad-spectrum, large-scale warfighting operations.  It is therefore only in the context of these two scenarios that current defence policy contemplates a Canadian military commitment that might necessitate Stage Four mobilization.  Outside of a massive and direct military threat to the territory of Canada, the United States, or another NATO member, there is no scope within defence policy for national mobilization."

Stage 2 is a deployment of 10,000 troops in theater, so perhaps it would be better to discuss stage 1 and 2
mobilization plans.






 

TCBF

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"when you took a guy, gave him a rifle, and instilled discipline through fear."

Actually, I recall 'took a guy, instilled discipline through fear, THEN gave him a rifle.'

"Isn`t it time we told the 3rd world to get off and sort out their own problems?"

Been to Toronto or Vancouver lately?  We have inherited their problems, and funded them locally.
 

Infanteer

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old medic said:
Everyone seems quick to say Mobilization is dead, but what mobilization plan and what level are we talking about?

Everyone seems to want to complain about the level 1 and 2 mobilization plans for the "come as you are" wars,
but everyone seems to be confusing that with the level 4 National Mobilization plan. Even the white papers and
mobilization studies call that the unlikely and the last ditch "catastrophic scenario" and only for LARGE-SCALE CONVENTIONAL THREATS.

"Of the eleven scenarios, only the final two - #10, Defence of Canada/US Territory, and #11, Collective Defence (in a NATO context) - envision Canadian involvement in broad-spectrum, large-scale warfighting operations.   It is therefore only in the context of these two scenarios that current defence policy contemplates a Canadian military commitment that might necessitate Stage Four mobilization.   Outside of a massive and direct military threat to the territory of Canada, the United States, or another NATO member, there is no scope within defence policy for national mobilization."

Stage 2 is a deployment of 10,000 troops in theater, so perhaps it would be better to discuss stage 1 and 2
mobilization plans.

I'm not sure on the numbering and different levels of mobilization in Doctrine and Strategy - my point with this was to show that a Reserve force that is structured and dedicated to National Mobilization is a waste.  We should dedicate paper units and strategic planning for this level (hence the Echelon V units), but the active reserves should be dedicated to undertaking part of the defence burdens short of National Mobilization (Echelon III and IV).  We are trying to do the latter now with a structure built for the former.
 

old medic

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Here's some good background on the issue.

http://www.vcds.forces.gc.ca/vcds-exec/pubs/reserve-issues/intro_e.asp
 

Brad Sallows

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Is anyone going to tackle the philosophical/policy question of whether the "echelon IV" role should be expected of anyone other than regular soldiers?  What is envisioned that warrants pulling citizen-soldiers away from their homes and jobs, but does not warrant full mobilization?  Absent something compelling, have a larger Regular Force and use the provisions of the Special Force if necessary.
 

Infanteer

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Brad Sallows said:
Is anyone going to tackle the philosophical/policy question of whether the "echelon IV" role should be expected of anyone other than regular soldiers?  What is envisioned that warrants pulling citizen-soldiers away from their homes and jobs, but does not warrant full mobilization?  Absent something compelling, have a larger Regular Force and use the provisions of the Special Force if necessary.

This is a good point Brad, and it is what I'm attempting to address with my point (3) above in that Military and Government have to be approach the Reserves differently and that Reservists themselves have to approach Reserve service differently.  I think it is time to for the institution to move beyond the concept of Reservists joining up to serve in the express case of National Mobilization (in units I have classified as "Echelon V").

This is something I'm drawing from my arguments against planning for National Mobilization - if this is the structure in which the Reserves are going to be maintained for, then I say get rid of the Reserve system entirely and give the PY's/Resources to the Reg Force.  If National Mobilization were to occur and we were to sort out a 3 year mobilization schedule, the structure would be drawn up from scratch - 15,000 part-time soldiers (who'd probably already be called in to the conflict) wouldn't make much of a difference.

The concern for "Echelon IV" role is valid - we see both the British and the Americans doing it today.  My philosophical approach to the matter is that if you are a trained soldier and the military has invested in you, then you can expect to serve when required.  This is why I argue for a change in philosophy - the Forces should make it clear to Reservists signing a contract (which we should do) what the conditions of their service is - soldiers should not expect the level of training our Reservists receive only to be used on the parade-square floor while waiting for WW III to break out.

Special Service Force does have precedent and a place in a Readiness cycle - we were able to fight the Korean conflict with it, were we not.  Perhaps "Special Force" should be added as an "Echelon III" organization, which is voluntary callup - my guess is that SSF today would be Reservists (like the CRIC) and guys who were once in the Reg Force (and could get back in anyways).
 

a_majoor

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A few observations to make here:

"Crisis" situations do not just happen in the political/security environment, there are often long lead up times (and they are visible to the informed). Something like the Tsunami disaster is a bolt from the blue, but then again, how many tsunami's like that have happened in your lifetime?

Since crisis situations can develop over many years but the exact timing is unpredictable, it makes sense to have a reserve force which can be stood up when the crisis breaks. A standing army is too expensive, as has been pointed out, but trying to "jump start" an entire force from scratch will lead to situations similar to the early days of WWI and II in Canada. This is not to say that today's reserve force structure is ideal, but some form of reserve is necessary.

Thinking a bit farther out of the box, since what is needed is "strategic corporals", maybe what we really want to do is subsidize the education of reserve soldiers so we have a pool of expertise in cultures, languages, cooking, computer programming, etc. Reservists who sign on to the program will get the education subsidy, train on short "call ups" (perhaps like the Nordic nations, where people are called up once a year for a two week training cycle), and get the 60-90 day "work up" training prior to deploying with a CRC or SSF Bn. Enough resources have to be budgeted so an effective pool of reservists are available, we need at least 2X the number of regular force for it to make sense.

Looking in the other direction, crisis situations also take a while to resolve (WW IV has been going on long enough to build a GD tank factory AND produce 100 new M-1s). Forward planning is and should be required to create enough of everything for the Regular Force and to mobilize "x" number of SSF battalions, air squadrons and ships according to the strategic plan (i.e. have a ready reserve and a war stock always on hand), while during the crisis, the industrial base is mobilized to the extent of refilling the war stocks and studying the "lessons learned" to modify existing equipment or design new generations.

I don't think these observations overturn Infanteer's initial observations, but maybe put things in a broader context.
 

Brad Sallows

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I would rather have trained soldiers simply be Regular soldiers.  If we are to have an expeditionary capability and pursue nation-building and peace enforcement, we should have an appropriate Regular Force.  If we intend to get mixed up in something short of global clash of arms, we should use the provisions of the Special Force to generate what we need and stand it down when we are finished.  What that leaves is reserves for home defence and domestic ("assistance", as legal defined) operations - a standing militia.

Note that the Special Force as provided for in law has nothing to do with the SSF, other than a formation called the SSF might be part of the Special Force.
 

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Modern military equipment has a range of operation in regards to heat/cold, dust, dry/wet, shocks and general, durability that is an order of magnitude better than an XBox in every category. A lot of support equipment is fairly off the shelf but war fighting equipment isn't. Ammunitions, integrated fire control systems, battlefield information systems, vision systems and the training and tactics to employ them effectively takes a lot of time to develop and manufacture.

One role the reserves should concentrate more on is similar to what the Rangers do up north. That is provide support and local knowledge to other formations operating in the area. If modern fighting is mostly in cities specific knowldge of them in layout and populace is just as important as knowledge of arctic regions. Currently we seem to be in a 'nobody would really ever attack us' complacency. Probably true now but in 20 years will it still be?
 

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Fallen Comrade
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a_majoor said:
Thinking a bit farther out of the box, since what is needed is "strategic corporals", maybe what we really want to do is subsidize the education of reserve soldiers so we have a pool of expertise in cultures, languages, cooking, computer programming, etc. Reservists who sign on to the program will get the education subsidy, train on short "call ups" (perhaps like the Nordic nations, where people are called up once a year for a two week training cycle), and get the 60-90 day "work up" training prior to deploying with a CRC or SSF Bn. Enough resources have to be budgeted so an effective pool of reservists are available, we need at least 2X the number of regular force for it to make sense.

We already fund reservists to the tune of 2,000$ a year max for post secondary education. The problems are; they are only around for an average of 4 years, and most of them are working towards degree programs which qualify them to be officers - and we have more than enough of those. Most militia units are understrength in terms of enlisted pers and overstrength in the Officer dept.

In addition to this, would the 2 week trg cycle be truly mandatory? Would the call - out system be enforced? If you change all of the rules then maintain the status quo, things are not really fixed.

And before you ask, yes I do know what a university education costs (been there, done that)
 
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