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What’s in a Soldier? How to Rebrand the Canadian Armed Forces

dimsum

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From CGAI in Oct 2020:

Abstract

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) needs to increase its recruitment numbers in order to sustain its capabilities. For this to occur, the CAF must somehow entice Canadians, who would not normally consider the CAF as a job opportunity, to apply. There could be a number of reasons why they would not consider the Forces, including the CAF’s demographics, its poor organizational culture or a lack of knowledge about the CAF’s policies, strategy and operations. To change these perceptions, the CAF must rebrand what it is to be a soldier, thus rebranding itself.

[More on link]

https://www.cgai.ca/whats_in_a_soldier_how_to_rebrand_the_canadian_armed_forces
 

MilEME09

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What the CAF needs is a strategy to keep it self in the forefront of Canadian society. Post on social media and else where positive stories of the CAF making a difference. No rebranding will work if people don't even know you are rebranding. This will require and active and aggressive public relations campaign.
 

daftandbarmy

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MilEME09 said:
What the CAF needs is a strategy to keep it self in the forefront of Canadian society. Post on social media and else where positive stories of the CAF making a difference. No rebranding will work if people don't even know you are rebranding. This will require and active and aggressive public relations campaign.

Like many other big businesses, the CAF is well set up to market to Baby Boomers (b. 1943-1965-ish). Millennials require pretty much the opposite approach, and we will continue to struggle mightily until we figure that out:

https://appliedpsychologydegree.usc.edu/blog/psychology-of-successfully-marketing-to-millennials/

 

stoker dave

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I think this an important and worthwhile topic. 

However, I thought the paper cited seemed a bit 'light'.  I don't know the author but there is a LinkedIn profile for a Paxton Mayer who is a PhD candidate, works at Global Affairs and has zero experience with CAF / DND.  I think it reasonable to assume that person is the author. 

The paper has lots of sweeping generalizations and a few stereotypes.  It lacks the necessary heft and depth required to support the necessary changes. 

Certainly a contribution to the discussion but not much more. 
 

Quirky

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daftandbarmy said:
Like many other big businesses, the CAF is well set up to market to Baby Boomers (b. 1943-1965-ish). Millennials require pretty much the opposite approach, and we will continue to struggle mightily until we figure that out:

https://appliedpsychologydegree.usc.edu/blog/psychology-of-successfully-marketing-to-millennials/

Offer up a PS5/Xbox and a 24-pack of Monsters as a signing bonus. The current generation will flock to the recruiting centres. Stable salary, benefits and a pension isn't going to entice anyone these days.
 

Remius

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Quirky said:
Offer up a PS5/Xbox and a 24-pack of Monsters as a signing bonus. The current generation will flock to the recruiting centres. Stable salary, benefits and a pension isn't going to entice anyone these days.

Agreed.  Unless you allow for postings of choice, flexible work schedules and jobs they can pick you won’t get too many takers from that part of that generation. 

 

Eye In The Sky

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First off;  the article says "What's in a soldier" and posts a picture of a sailor.

First step;  stop referring to everyone in the CAF as a 'soldier' (ya, ya I know the wording used in the UoS DAOD...).  I was a soldier at one point...and I am not anymore.  I wear an RCAF DEU, an Air Ops capbadge and Wings. 

The author is talking about public perception yet doesn't bother to take 2-3 lines to acknowledge and differentiate between a soldier, sailor or airman/woman.  Is it laziness or lack of knowledge, or both?  Doesn't matter...the article is part of the problem it is trying to solve.  Not everyone wants to 'be a soldier'.

Conclusion
The CAF has increasing issues in recruitment due to a variety of internal and external pressures, including changing Canadian demographics, changing characteristics of war and conflict, and a lack of budget resources with which to attract top talent.


Ya, thanks.  All of us serving are the 'undesirables' that Tim Hortons and McDonalds turned down.  ::)
 

tomahawk6

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I think military service like the church is a calling. I think the CAF has a built in recruitment service called Cadets. In the US we get our recruits from the High School ROTC program [all services] if a high school has an ROTC program. Recruits from this program used to start as a Private 2 and if they had some college they might be a PFC. The CAF could accelerate promotions as well.

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2019/11/07/how-increased-footprint-in-high-schools-may-help-army-fix-recruiting-shortfall/
 

FJAG

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Okay. It's me again with my hobby horse but I was particularly drawn to this part of the article.

Why are there not more people interested in working for the CAF?  First, people understand that by joining the CAF, they are agreeing to potentially being moved across the country, placed in international locations, or deployed to a conflict or conflict-prone zone.10 Moreover, Canadian CAF bases are located in small communities in more socially remote places, with very few of them in or near Canada’s largest urban centres.11 This can be especially challenging if an individual has a family or a spouse, as schooling and spousal employment often become issues.

Admittedly, I'm not sure how much this author actually knows about the CAF or its components, but I note that the word "reserves" does not appear anywhere in the article.

I believe that the above quote accurately describes the problem we face.  There is nothing we can do about the "deploying into hostile places" issue -- that's what we are all about and we need to emphasize "service to country" to counter that but the basic lifestyle choices we can easily deal with. We could deal with that problem by emphasising the "Reserve Alternative" as a career choice and especially by restructuring the reserves to utilize every minute of school and university summer holidays for training and offering guaranteed summer employment and wages during this critical "cash poor" time of the individual's life cycle.  Add to that a more family/employer friendly post education service model with appropriate legislative protection and seamless inter mobility between the Reg F and Res F and you should be able to bulk up the numbers of serving members that you need if and when a real emergency happens.

As a precondition, the CAF needs to desperately change its attitude with respect to putting all of its eggs into the Reg F, forces-in-being basket and furthermore putting all those baskets in rural super-bases. Other armies are quite adept at having battalion and even company sized facilities spread throughout their communities. We should live and train more within the local communities concentrating on bases only when we do more complex field exercises etc. Many of the more modern skills that we need can easily be taught and reinforced on simulators or exercises that do not need large range facilities (although we will need those for a portion of the force for a portion of their time)

Slyly he points to a new article about creating a more effective Army through its reserves here.

:2c:
 

OblivionKnight

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Based on my personal experience, the process just took too long and there was discontinuity. I first applied in 2012 when I was 21 years old and remained in the process until 2019 when I was 28 years old, when I received a job offer. Unfortunately by that point, I was making a salary equivalent to the rank of Captain in the military. In addition, I purchased a house and worked close to home (about a five minute drive) near a major city. The military was essentially all I wanted to do, but over time, perhaps as a result of maturity and life experience, priorities shifted. I'm now enrolled in a master's program and in two years, my anticipated salary will be equivalent to a lieutenant colonel's; attaining this rank would probably take many, many years of hard-work, dedication, and making connections. I am still interested in the reserves (unfortunately they are not hiring for my specialty), but the regular force does not seem appealing at this point, unless salary was to match the civilian sector's. I think the younger generation is more drawn to money and individuality/expression, as opposed to the rigors of military training and the loss of the aforementioned as some would argue.
 

dimsum

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FJAG said:
As a precondition, the CAF needs to desperately change its attitude with respect to putting all of its eggs into the Reg F, forces-in-being basket and furthermore putting all those baskets in rural super-bases. Other armies are quite adept at having battalion and even company sized facilities spread throughout their communities.

Bingo.  A great example is the Australian Defence Force - their major bases are all near population centres (except RAAF Tindal, but that was for operational reasons).
 

garb811

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Like I've said before and will keep saying, for the vast majority of trades, getting people in the door is not the problem.  The SIP this year was a bit under 6k pers, even with COVID over 3x that number of files were opened at CFRG. The first problem to fix, and has been for years, is closing the deal at the recruiting center before people just give up.  OblivionKnight's experience is obviously more extreme than most but even after having acknowledge the problem years ago, I don't think any real progress has been made on getting people recruited while we are still within their attention span.

 

Ostrozac

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Eye In The Sky said:
First off;  the article says "What's in a soldier" and posts a picture of a sailor.

First step;  stop referring to everyone in the CAF as a 'soldier' (ya, ya I know the wording used in the UoS DAOD...).  I was a soldier at one point...and I am not anymore.  I wear an RCAF DEU, an Air Ops capbadge and Wings. 

The author is talking about public perception yet doesn't bother to take 2-3 lines to acknowledge and differentiate between a soldier, sailor or airman/woman.  Is it laziness or lack of knowledge, or both?  Doesn't matter...the article is part of the problem it is trying to solve.  Not everyone wants to 'be a soldier'.

As you did note, we ourselves say that any member of the CAF is a “soldier first” in DAOD 5023-0. That this term, used in our own directives, is offensive to some members, who instead self-identify as sailors, airmen/women or special operators, is a matter that is internal to CAF culture, a culture that many outsiders find at a minimum difficult to understand, if not completely impenetrable. Why would a civilian academic be expected to know that not everyone is actually a “soldier first”?

We need to be more open to civilian society if we want to expand our recruiting pool. And we probably also need to be more transparent to our civilian leadership if we want to maintain and even grow our budget share in the coming fiscal environment. But neither of those are helped by our often rather inward facing, stovepiped culture.
 

daftandbarmy

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garb811 said:
Like I've said before and will keep saying, for the vast majority of trades, getting people in the door is not the problem.  The SIP this year was a bit under 6k pers, even with COVID over 3x that number of files were opened at CFRG. The first problem to fix, and has been for years, is closing the deal at the recruiting center before people just give up.  OblivionKnight's experience is obviously more extreme than most but even after having acknowledge the problem years ago, I don't think any real progress has been made on getting people recruited while we are still within their attention span.

You mean, trying to change this experience? ;)
 

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Eye In The Sky

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Ostrozac said:
As you did note, we ourselves say that any member of the CAF is a “soldier first” in DAOD 5023-0. That this term, used in our own directives, is offensive to some members, who instead self-identify as sailors, airmen/women or special operators, is a matter that is internal to CAF culture, a culture that many outsiders find at a minimum difficult to understand, if not completely impenetrable. Why would a civilian academic be expected to know that not everyone is actually a “soldier first”?

Because most people outside the CAF don't even know what a DAOD is, or that they exist, I don't think the author was influenced by Para 2.4 of the UoS DAOD. 

The fact the article uses a picture of a female RCN Junior rank would suggest that the author is aware we have a Navy.  How many "soldiers" are in hard-sea trades of the RCN?  Likely the same number as there are in the hard-air trades in the RCAF;  zero. 

https://www.facebook.com/HMCSToronto/photos/3768439919846943 

HMCS TORONTO is proud to announce that a member of our ship has been chosen as Canadian Fleet Atlantic’s Sailor of the Quarter. Sailor 2nd Class Aman Sharma was selected as the Sailor of the Quarter from among many deserving candidates across the fleet. This is a momentous achievement for any sailor, as the Sailor of the Quarter is someone who embodies and excels at all qualities of being a warrior and professional mariner.

Not everyone wants to be a "soldier"...
 

MARS

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Eye In The Sky said:
First off;  the article says "What's in a soldier" and posts a picture of a sailor.

First step;  stop referring to everyone in the CAF as a 'soldier' (ya, ya I know the wording used in the UoS DAOD...).  I was a soldier at one point...and I am not anymore.  I wear an RCAF DEU, an Air Ops capbadge and Wings. 

The author is talking about public perception yet doesn't bother to take 2-3 lines to acknowledge and differentiate between a soldier, sailor or airman/woman.  Is it laziness or lack of knowledge, or both?  Doesn't matter...the article is part of the problem it is trying to solve.  Not everyone wants to 'be a soldier'.

Conclusion
The CAF has increasing issues in recruitment due to a variety of internal and external pressures, including changing Canadian demographics, changing characteristics of war and conflict, and a lack of budget resources with which to attract top talent.


Ya, thanks.  All of us serving are the 'undesirables' that Tim Hortons and McDonalds turned down.  ::)

Huh...to me the pic is completely in line with the point the author is trying to make: the public sees the CAF as a monolith and thinks we are ALL white, male soldiers, which is likely why he advocates to 'rebrand'. That one pic shows anyone reading (and ideally potential recruits) that there are actually women in the CAF and they do things other than soldering. I can't imagine a better pic to use for an article such as this.

 

stoker dave

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Upon reflection, the academic paper (really, more like a term assignment) referenced in the initial post was written by an academic who I don't think even spoke with anyone in DND / CAF in writing the paper.

What if recruiters were asked "what is the biggest obstacle to enrolment?".  Anyone want to share their experience in that regard? 
 

dimsum

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Eye In The Sky said:
The fact the article uses a picture of a female RCN Junior rank would suggest that the author is aware we have a Navy. 

It's possible that CGAI put the picture on there - the author might have no input into the pictures in the article.
 

lenaitch

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Having an employer (gov't of Canada) that actually acknowledges your existence would be a decent start.

With 80% of the population living in urban areas and 90% living within 160km of the US border, I'm not sure how you square that with the need for operational, strategic and political deployment.  CFB Mirabel?  Garrison Toronto?


Quirky said:
Offer up a PS5/Xbox and a 24-pack of Monsters as a signing bonus. The current generation will flock to the recruiting centres. Stable salary, benefits and a pension isn't going to entice anyone these days.

Plus instant, ongoing and positive-only gratification.

Maybe ditch the uniforms so everyone can express their true inner self?
 
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