The Canadian Army recently released a statement responding to and accepting recommendations made by the 2016 Spring Auditor General’s Report regarding the Canadian Army Reserve.
The report notes that the Army Reserve does not have the numbers it needs, lacks information, received lower levels of fitness training and is not always trained properly.
The Auditor General, Michael Ferguson, also noted that the Army Reserve facing a steady decline in numbers within the Army Reserve because it “is unable to recruit and retain the soldiers it needs.”
“The Canadian Army Reserve is an integrated part of the Canadian Army that contributes to the success of operations at home and abroad. This has been proven across the world most notably in Afghanistan over the last decade and here in Canada as recently as last summer with the forest fires in Saskatchewan. Equally important, the Army Reserve provides a footprint in over one hundred Canadian communities across Canada. Over the next year, the Canadian Armed Forces will consider the personnel pressures that are affecting attrition and retention and develop a plan to keep the Army Reserve strong and healthy. We are now in the process of implementing strategies to reduce a number of challenges identified in the recruiting process to make sure we have the right people for the future,” said LGen. Marquis Hainse, Commander of the Canadian Army, in response to the report.
Ferguson goes on to state that the Reserves sometimes lack proper funding and equipment. Hainse also responded to this stating the Army will work towards allocating appropriate funding.
“The Canadian Army takes the stewardship of public resources seriously and continuously works to improve its funding model. The Canadian Army is currently revising the Army Reserve funding model as part of its planned cyclical review process. The recommendations of the Auditor General will serve to inform this review and ensure the funding model is more transparent and accountable to the Government of Canada. The Canadian Army will work to ensure that funding is allocated in an efficient, responsive and timely fashion,” stated Hainse.
The report also heavily emphasized the under training and lack of information of the Reserve. The report states, “Overall, we found that Army Reserve units lacked clear guidance on preparing for major international missions. We also found that although the Army Reserve had clear guidance on preparing for domestic missions, formal confirmation that they were prepared was not required.”
In regards to the Reserves training the report goes on to say, “…we found that the Canadian Army had designed its training so that Army Reserve soldiers received lower levels of physical fitness training and were not trained for the same number of skills as Regular Army soldiers. We found that some Army Reserve soldiers had not acquired the remainder of these skills before they were deployed.
The LGen also responded to this portion of the report noting the importance of training for the military.
“Training is fundamental to operational excellence, and I appreciate that the Auditor General has recommended areas where we can further improve. We are putting measures in place to continue to ensure that each reservist is prepared for any mission, domestic or international. Any gaps in training will be assessed and resolved before deployment, and the completion of Army Reserve training objectives will be confirmed annually. We are also currently developing a plan to address the accessibility of equipment available for Reserve training as identified in the report,” mentioned Hainse.
Several recommendations were made in the Auditor’s report including designing a retention plan, providing access to equipment, review the terms of service and improving training, all recommendations the Army Commander is taking into consideration.
“Finally, I would like to emphasize that the Canadian Army always strives for excellence and we will continue to work at finding solutions to ensure that our soldiers are well trained, well lead and well equipped,” said Hainse.
Featured image: Left- Members of 33 Canadian Brigade Group (33 CBG) take a trek with their snowshoes and kit as part of the annual winter warfare training held in Gogama, Ontario. Right- Auditor General