Reconstitution, Culture, Operations and Modernization are the four areas of focus for the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) moving forward in 2023 and beyond.
In a new message released by Gen. Wayne Eyre on Feb. 8, the CDS outlined his major areas of focus for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), which is now facing an ever-changing and dangerous world stage.
“We are on the cusp of tremendous change, in each of these four focus areas and beyond, and that change will only be possible with you, and those with the dedication like you, serving our country. Military service is not easy, but it does provide a transcendent purpose – to be part of something bigger than one’s own self and truly focused on the greater good,” said Gen. Eyre, CDS, in a message to the CAF.
The CDS warned military members that with the rapidly changing environment on the world stage, with “multidimensional threats,” it is now more important than ever for everyone to understand their roles while exemplifying a professional armed forces.
“First, we must remember that the role of the military in a democracy, the hallmark of military professionalism, is to serve the will of the people represented by their duly elected officials. It means that even though we are a reflection of the culture norms/values of Canadian society, the added trust and responsibilities we have necessitates a higher level of conduct that is beyond reproach,” said Gen. Eyre.
Building on the CDS’s announcement last fall, reconstitution remains a top priority in the CAF. In October, the CDS announced that the CAF would be undertaking “one of the largest and most significant reconstitution effort in recent memory.”
The intent of this Reconstitution is to concentrate on recruiting, retention, and modernizing the personnel system.
“There is no silver bullet for Reconstitution, no one activity that we can stop doing to redirect capacity. Rather, every activity we undertake, every new task that is offered to us, every new policy, must be viewed through the lens of reconstitution. What does it cost us if we do it? What relative value does it add? What are the risks and impacts if we delay or stop doing it? How does it serve the institution as a whole? I ask you all, especially those of you in command positions, to take a critical eye on our activities,” said the CDS.
The CDS touched on a number of initiatives the CAF has been taking for Reconstitution, including increased advertising and attractions activities to improve recruiting and streamline the training process, to name a few.
Efforts to shift the culture within the CAF have been evident in recent years, from addressing sexual harassment complaints to creating a more inclusive environment.
Last year, the CAF also published Canadian Armed Forces Ethos: Trusted to Serve.
“Our culture, rightly in my view, has come under much scrutiny in recent years. Having an inclusive, respectful, and safe workplace where all feel they belong and can contribute to our larger mission of defending the country is essential. Likewise, we need to inculcate more of a culture of innovation, calculated risk tolerance, continuous learning, security awareness, and reframing our situational understanding. At the same time, our culture must continue to promote selfless service, the willingness to go into harm’s way to get the job done, and the protection of others,” said the CDS.
Gen. Eyre touched on how efforts are underway on unit and CAF-wide levels, including implementing recommendations from the Independent External Comprehensive Review.
While the CAF continues to focus on culture and Reconstitution, it must also continue to keep operations in focus. However, according to the CDS, every ongoing operation is being looked at through the reconstitution lens.
“The situation in Ukraine is a case in point. This is, literally, the front line for defending the rules-based international order (or truly the front line of freedom) and we must maintain our resolve to do our part, without widening the war, to see Russian aggression defeated. To do this we must continue to evolve our training, equipment, and other supports as the war progresses. This will not be a short-term commitment,” said the CDS.
The CAF will also still continue to make the Indo-Pacific, Arctic and European operations a high priority.
Looking towards the future, the CAF hopes to build on NORAD Modernization, continue creating a digital force and incorporate learned lessons in evolving policies.
The CDS also hinted at a Defence Policy Update that will be released sometime in the near future.
“We face difficult times, times that require resilience and commitment. I am committed to doing everything I can, with the time I have left to serve, to constantly improve our armed forces, your conditions of service, and ultimately our ability to succeed in operations and in war,” reads the message.
The CDS called upon CAF members to remember their country needs their service increasingly.
“At the end of the day, we will continue to be called upon to do many things, but we must not forget that the ultimate manifestation of a military’s role is to fight and win. If we truly keep ourselves focused on this objective, we will succeed while continuing the sacred legacy of service of those who came before us,” said Gen. Eyre.