Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 16 - Evidence, March 7, 2005 - Morning meeting
EDMONTON, Monday, March 7, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 8:10 a.m. to examine and report on the national security policy for Canada.
Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the chair.
The Chairman: Ladies and gentlemen, before we commence the day, on behalf of the committee I would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to the families of the victims of the recent shooting here in Alberta and also to the larger RCMP community and indicate that our thoughts are with them at this time.
I would like to welcome you gentlemen to the meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. My name is Colin Kenny. I chair the committee, and I will introduce the members of the committee to you.
On my right is the distinguished senator from Nova Scotia, Senator Michael Forrestall. He served the constituents of Dartmouth for 37 years, first in the House of Commons where he served from 1966 to 1976 as the official opposition defence critic. He is also a member of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.
Beside him is Senator Norman Atkins from Ontario. He came to the Senate with 27 years of experience in the field of communications. He has served as a senior adviser to former federal Conservative leader Robert Stanfield, to William Davis of Ontario and to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. He is also a member of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.
At the far end of the table is Senator Jim Munson from Ontario. Before he was called to the Senate in 2003, he was a trusted journalist and former director of communications for Prime Minister Chrétien. Senator Munson has been twice nominated for Gemini Awards in recognition of excellence in journalism.
And on my far left is Senator Jane Cordy from Nova Scotia. She is an accomplished educator with an extensive record of community involvement including serving as vice-chair of the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission. She is chair of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association and a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
Our committee was the first Senate committee mandated to examine security and defence. The Senate has since asked our committee to examine the need for a national security policy.
We began our review in 2002 with three reports: Canadian Security and Military Preparedness, which was tabled in February; the Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility, which was tabled in September; and an Update on Canada's Military Financial Crisis, A View from the Bottom Up, which was tabled in November.
In 2003 the committee published two reports: The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports in January, and Canada's Coastlines: The Longest Under-Defended Borders in the World was tabled in October.
The following year, 2004, we tabled two more reports: National Emergencies: Canada's Fragile Front Lines in March and recently the Canadian Security Guidebook, the 2005 edition, which was published in December.
This committee is reviewing Canadian defence policy. During the next few months the committee will hold hearings in every province and engage with Canadians to determine their national interest, what they see as Canada's principal threats, and how they would like the government to respond to those threats.
The committee will attempt to generate debate on national security in Canada and forge a consensus on the need and type of military Canadians want.
We have before us today Brigadier-General Stuart Beare. He is commander of Land Force Western Area, which consists of three reserve brigade groups: 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, 1 Area Support Group, and the Western Area Training Centre, CFB Suffield, Alberta.
He joined the Canadian Forces in 1978 and began his career as an artillery officer. He has extensive command and overseas experience, and over the past six years he has commanded the brigade in Edmonton, the land element providing support to the G8 conference at Kananaskis, the Canadian, British, Dutch multinational brigade based in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the multinational brigade in Bosnia.
He is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Science in England, the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College in Toronto, and the Canadian Forces College. He assumed command of Land Force Western Area in May 2004.
We also have Colonel Timothy Grant who joined the Canadian Forces in 1977 as a troop leader and an administrative officer. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College in Toronto and has completed advanced military studies at the national securities studies course.
He is an experienced officer who has commanded the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), the Strathcona Battle Group in Bosnia, and Task Force Bosnia-Herzegovina. He has also served a number of staff positions in National Defence Headquarters. He assumed command of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in July of 2003.
We also have Colonel Paul Wynnyk. He began his career in 1981 with the 20th Field Regiment militia. He is a graduate of Royal Roads Military College, the Royal Military College of Canada, the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff College, and the Canadian Forces College in advanced military studies.
He is an engineer by trade and has served overseas in Lahr, Cambodia, and the Congo. Colonel Wynnyk assumed command of 1 Area Support Group in June 2004.
And we also have before us Colonel Markewicz. He has been base commander of Canadian Forces Base/Area Support Unit Edmonton since September 2004, but I believe he is not making a presentation this morning.
General, I understand that you have a short presentation that you are about to make, and the floor is yours.
Brigadier-General Stuart A. Beare, Commander, Land Force Western Area, National Defence: Good morning, senators. I am very pleased to be invited to testify to your committee, both as Commander Land Force Western Area as well as a long-serving member of a proud profession, a great team of Canadian men and women in uniform.
Your areas of interest have been communicated to me. I will provide you as much relevant and tangible information as time permits and at the same time try to indicate where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed — morally as well as an organization.
Land Force Western Area is the western arm of Canada's army. We are a team of military members: land, sea, and air, regular and reserve, and civilian employees whose mission is to generate and sustain general purpose, combat- ready combined armed forces for operations at home and abroad, in time of peace and war, today and tomorrow.
This mission is driven by that of the Canadian Forces, which is to defend Canada, the Canadian interest, and promote peace and security abroad, as well as that of the army, which is to generate the multipurpose land forces in support of Canada's defence commitments.
We generate the team: a team that is competent, skilled and confident in its core military skills and has practiced as a team. Our team is able to integrate into the operational framework wherever it goes. The team is scalable from platoons of, say, 30, and troops to brigade or bigger — in the thousands.
We sustain the team: We provide the home base from which our teams deploy. We recruit, we train and we develop individuals. We provide the support and foundation that enables our force generation, and we sustain the home front — the family. Finally, we provide the home to which our troops return.
Our teams conduct operations at home in Canada and away, be it in combat operations in Kandahar or in peace and stability operations in Bosnia. We go wherever our national interest, as determined by government, dictates.
Since 1996, Land Force Western Area soldiers have generated nine major missions abroad and have responded to five major domestic operations and emergencies across our country.
Our record, given our numbers and time, is impressive, but our teams do not operate alone. They integrate into the domestic Canadian Forces and the domestic civil sector such as municipalities, provinces and law enforcement agencies for operations at home. For away missions we integrate into the Canadian Forces multi-agency, such as other government departments, including law enforcement, Foreign Affairs, Canadian International Development Agency, and the multinational team like our coalition with U.S. forces in Kandahar in 2002 and with NATO forces in Bosnia, as well as with other international actors such as the United Nations.
We rely on the larger CF team to get to the away fight and a combination of methods to get to our areas of operations across Canada.
Our team's raison d'être is to deliver security effects in peace and combat operations. We do this through the disciplined use of force or the threat of or capacity to use force.
Our core skills are combat-based but less in the context of the Cold War and more in the context of threats originating from failed and failing states.
Further, our ability and skill in command and control and logistics is key to responding to natural disasters and the need to protect the lives of Canadians at home.
We must also deliver this mission today and tomorrow. Our capacity in people, equipment, and material must be sustained and, in certain areas, expanded. Our methods, our tools, and our structures must continue to evolve if they are to remain strategically relevant to Canada and tactically decisive in the three-block war in the future. We are setting the conditions for tomorrow every day.
Every day Land Force Western Area is engaged in operations. We generate the force. We are sustaining our force- generation base, most importantly our human capacity, to construct and create the team and to sustain our people. We are regenerating our operational capacity and will produce the teams for missions abroad this summer and next year, all the while remaining responsive and relevant to domestic emergencies.
Finally, we are transforming how we will continue to operate in the land, sea, air and Special Forces environment within a range of multinational and multi-agency frameworks. We are transforming how we prepare our people to fight the three-block war at home and away, and how we are equipping and structuring our units, the foundation of our army, to contribute to all of these.
All this is work. It is our daily mission. Ultimately, our capacity, our abilities, and our credibility to create security in the face of very real threats to peace and stability are based on our unique mission: to do combat, to fight for Canada. That is our raison d'être. That is what we bring to the table. And in the post-9/11 world, our purpose is as necessary as ever before.
All our successes to date have been based on this focus. Success in the future will require the same. But if we do not sustain the force, regenerate the force, and transform, there will be no operations.
LFWA is a team of teams: 10,000 soldiers — regular and reserve — and 1,200 civilian members and our families. We are part of one army that goes to work prepared to defend Canada and Canadians and to promote peace and security abroad. We are all soldiers first, and it is our credibility, competence, and confidence as warriors that enable us to achieve all of this.
The Chairman: Thank you, General Beare.
Colonel Timothy J. Grant, Commander, 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, National Defence: Senators, good morning. I have been intimately involved in 1 CMBG issues since I took command of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) in June 1995. I moved the Strathcona's as the vanguard of the brigade from Calgary to Edmonton in 1996 and deployed with them and a large portion of 1 Brigade to Bosnia in 1997.
For two years as the Land Force Western Area chief of staff, I watched the brigade train and deploy in operations. As a task force commander in Bosnia from July 2000 until April 2001, I had the honour of commanding battle groups generated by the 2nd and 3rd Battalions Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, PPLCI.
Subsequently, as the director of international operations in NDHQ, I was involved in deployment of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry to Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Operation Apollo.
For the past two years I have commanded the brigade which, in my opinion, is the finest combat formation in the Canadian Forces. As a result, I believe that I am well placed to comment on the status of the brigade and the challenges we face.
1 CMBG has been extremely busy since 1996. 1 Brigade soldiers have been involved in numerous international operations and have often been in the vanguard of Canadian commitments, including multiple rotations to Bosnia and Afghanistan as well as domestic operations battling floods, ice storms and forest fires.
Approximately 500 soldiers from my brigade recently returned from Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of Operation Athena, Rotation 2.
The brigade is now generating three unit-level task forces as well as a brigade headquarters and signal squadron for international operations in the near future, a 6- to 18-month period.
The current mechanism that is driving the generation of operational forces is the army's Managed Readiness System. Managed readiness provides the majority of soldiers with a clear idea of where they will be and what they will be doing over the course of the next several years.
In addition, the importance of having common, sustainable establishments for deploying task forces cannot be overstated. Managed readiness is an important step for the army.
In addition to the generation of forces for operations, 1 Brigade is heavily involved in army transformation initiatives. While all army transformation initiatives impact upon 1 Brigade, the three that are having the most impact are whole fleet Management, army support review, and the stand-up of the Medium Direct Fire Unit. These activities are important as they will ensure that the army is sustainable and combat capable.
The magnitude of ongoing change and the need for operationally ready, deployable forces is demanding a great deal of all members of 1 CMBG. The 1 Brigade command team, which includes among others the unit commanding officers and regimental sergeants major, works to balance the day-to-day challenges of the job with the needs of our families in order to ensure that all objectives are met while keeping personnel tempo at an acceptable level. This is a difficult task that takes constant attention.
The brigade is unique in Canada's army in that we have units geographically separated in both Edmonton and Shilo, so we have to work to overcome the effects of geography. We are fortunate, however, in receiving unparalleled support from the communities in which we live, both in Edmonton and Brandon.
For the most part we are successful in addressing personnel tempo. The area in which we experience the greatest challenge is in the master corporal and sergeant rank levels. Shortages of trained personnel and a large number of individual taskings toward training institutions impact upon these ranks in a significant manner. As a result, units are experiencing critical shortages of their most important leaders just as we are receiving large numbers of new soldiers.
While the optimist will say that this provides unique opportunities for junior leaders who remain in the units to assume more responsibility, the fact is that units are missing a large percentage of their experienced leaders who are needed to train the younger soldiers.
In short, the brigade has prospered since the move of most units to Edmonton in the late 1990s. We have survived the high operational demands imposed upon us up until the last year, and we are now moving toward a more managed method of producing combat capability.
Army transformation initiatives will continue to cause us to refine the way we do business but are seen as necessary if we are to be relevant, successful and sustainable in the long term.
Personnel shortages and high tasking levels at critical ranks will continue to create difficulties, particularly within infantry battalions and key combat service support trades.
In spite of all the demands on 1 CMBG, the soldiers in this formation are true professionals and continue to provide an outstanding level of combat capability for the Government of Canada. All Canadians can be proud of the work they do at home and abroad.
The Chairman: Thank you, Colonel.
Colonel P.F. Wynnyk, Area Support Unit Commander, National Defence: Good morning, senators. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
As Commander of 1 Area Support Group, I would like to give you a brief overview of the formation and its roles, tasks and responsibilities then focus on the issues of infrastructure, family support and transformation.
The four area support groups within the army differ substantially in structure and responsibilities. 1 Area Support Group is the largest of the four in terms of size, number of units and geographic coverage and incorporates the bulk of support assets assigned to Land Force Western Area. It provides support from the Lakehead to the West Coast as well as to Canadian Forces Northern Region.
Headquartered here in Edmonton, 1 Area Support Group is made up of 11 units including two major bases, Edmonton and Shilo, as well as two smaller area support units located in Chilliwack and Calgary.
The commanding officer of one of 1 Area Support Group's largest units, Canadian Forces Base Area Support Unit Edmonton, is present today. Lieutenant-Colonel Alan Markewicz is available to address any Edmonton base-specific questions you might have.
The role of 1 Area Support Group is one of force generation, projection and sustainment. It generates general combat service support field troops for deployment locally, nationally and overseas. It also projects forces through the provision of deployable service elements, signals capabilities and static bases that provide a place to live and train. Finally, the formation sustains Land Force Western Area through the provision of a myriad of static services ranging from supply and finance to chaplain support and dispute resolution. In terms of size, 1 Area Support Group currently numbers around 2,100 of which almost 600 are civilians.
Army infrastructure in Western Canada ranges, as in the rest of Canada, from pre-1900 armouries that are now national historic sites to modern state-of-the-art facilities.
With regard to the former, considerable time, effort and funding is being expended to meet federal legislation as well as the current and future needs of army reserve units in Land Force Western Area. This activity includes diverse projects such as the seismic refitting of armouries in mainland British Columbia and the relatively recent securing of new facilities for the reserves here in Edmonton.
With the mid-1990s consolidation of most of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group's units here in Edmonton as well as the more recent consolidation of Regular Land Forces in Manitoba in Shilo, the infrastructure on these bases has improved significantly with major capital construction and the upgrading of existing facilities.
The greatest infrastructure challenge facing Land Force Western Area in the next few years is Wainwright, home of the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre. In the space of only a few years this base will more than double in terms of people and equipment, necessitating major capital construction and the upgrading of existing infrastructure, the majority of which was built during and shortly after World War 11.
As the army transforms, timings are tight, and in some cases temporary infrastructure solutions will have to be found. My engineering staff is working hard to keep on top of this change, but staffing shortages, both military and civilian, create challenges.
As the institutional component of Land Force Western Area, 1 Area Support Group places great importance on family support and services. In each location where there is a base or area support unit, there is a Military Family Resource Centre that caters to a wide range of needs. These centres receive national funding to provide mandated activities such as employment and education services, personnel development workshops, parenting support and crisis counselling.
During overseas deployments, they also work closely with unit rear parties by providing another venue where family and friends can come for information, assistance and advice.
Depending on the location and demand, Military Family Resource Centres also offer user-pay services such as daycare, teen centres and playschool. To keep costs down for these services, MFRCs must undertake local fundraising as well as actively cultivating sponsors and donors.
As both Brigadier-General Beare and Colonel Grant have said, army transformation issues are impacting considerably on Land Force Western Area, and 1 Area Support Group is no exception. In addition to the changes in Wainwright that involve inter alia the stand-up of a new area support unit, 1 Area Support Group is heavily involved in the army support review, whole fleet management, infrastructure support to 1 CMBG's Medium Direct Fire Unit and the creation of a new Garrison Military Police Company.
For the most part these challenges are being met, but personnel tempo and taskings must be monitored closely, particularly for key trades and staff officers. It is the most significant period of change since 1 Area Support Group was formed almost a decade ago.
In closing I would like to say that the men and women of 1 Area Support Group, both military and civilian, continue to provide first-rate support to Land Force Western Area and the army in spite of the additional challenges and workload brought about by army transformation. Their initiative, dedication, and genuine desire to move into the future are things that all Canadians can be proud of.
The Chairman: Thank you, colonel. You commented on the Military Family Resource Centre. We actually visited that on our last trip out here. It is of great interest to us, and we will be talking about it at lunchtime when we are meeting with personnel, so I am glad you raised it.
Senator Atkins: I think to begin with I should say that this committee is very proud of our members of the Armed Forces.
Does the Land Force Western Area have the resources to effectively execute your assigned missions? What have you not been able to accomplish due to funding shortages?
BGen. Beare: In terms of resources we have turned a corner. In the 1990s, we would look at resources in purely fiscal terms. Now we look at resources in human, time, material and fiscal terms.
The amount of work we are undertaking in the army in the West as part of our daily operations — managing our people, training troops, creating new leaders, dealing with infrastructure, recapitalizing or creating new, taking on new equipment and training to use that equipment — is just sustainment.
On top of that, add our transformation agenda, which includes creating a world-class training centre in Wainwright, the future Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre, restructuring our unit force generation base to rationalize equipment capabilities between indirect fire and the guns, engineers and the sappers, direct fire regiment base on the Strathcona's and regenerating new forces for operations abroad — we run out of people in the first instance. We do not always achieve everything we want to achieve in terms of managing our sustainment base, transforming and regenerating operational forces.
In terms of dollars we have effectively gone from a baseline in 1995 of approximately $160 million for the army in Western Canada to a baseline today of $180 million. If you add inflation over that 10-year period, you should be up over $200 million to effectively get the same buying power after all those years. So we have not necessarily had all the dollars we would have liked to have had all the time.
I have to qualify my answer with this qualifier: When we have needed the resources to meet the pointy end of our business, which is to generate the operational forces capable of doing the work, we have never come short. I can say without any reservation that — at the end of the day, in the past and in the future — before we have committed troops operationally, they have been equipped with the best we have had. They have had the best training that we could generate for them at the time, and they have, without fail, been well led.
We are not achieving everything we want to achieve, but we have not been maintaining the status quo. We have been moving on every front but not necessarily as quickly as we would like to.
Senator Atkins: You are responsible for all the bases in Western Canada from Manitoba west, and it was not that long ago that one of the bases moved from Calgary to Edmonton. Do we have too many bases in Western Canada?
BGen. Beare: Senator, I am only responsible for the army bases in Western Canada. We understand the distinction.
Senator Atkins: That is what I am asking.
BGen. Beare: If efficiency were the object, we would only have one.
With our geography, having one army base serving four time zones spanning 4.5 provinces would not be effective. We do need to have a regional footprint that allows us to provide support services to our dislocated units and our regional units like the reserves, as well as the base in Shilo, which has almost doubled in size from last year to this year.
I cannot say I have too many in the army in Western Canada. Frankly, I have Wainwright. I have Suffield, which is providing the British army training centre plus our own support address; Shilo; a support centre in Calgary; a support centre in Chilliwack, as well as garrison Edmonton. That is not too much.
The reality is, though, if we own all that, we have to sustain it, and recapitalizing the infrastructure across that much diversity costs money.
Senator Atkins: What overseas missions have Land Force Western Area been tasked to support over the past three years? What impact have these deployments had on your units and personnel?
BGen. Beare: I will comment, and then I will ask Colonel Grant to add to that, because these troops that have been deployed are his as well as Colonel Wynnyk's.
I was Colonel Grant's predecessor as Commander 1 Brigade before I went to Bosnia for a year and then returned to Western Area. In the summer of 2001, I joined the 1 Brigade team after they had just finished Kosovo in 1999 — Roto 6 and 6+ in Bosnia, which was a growth mission, going from about a thousand to 1,400 troops — and Roto 7. About 3,200 of the 4,000 troops of 1 Brigade had deployed in that two-year period, 1999 to 2001, and I was just taking over.
If you recall the summer of 2001, there was nothing on the radar screen as far as we were concerned in terms of new missions in the world. Then 9/11 happened. Post-9/11 we put together, with almost no notice, the 3 PPCLI Battle Group for Kandahar. We conducted the G8. Then after that we did Roto 11 in Bosnia. We then did Roto 12. We brought that home only a year and a half ago, and then this past year we deployed 600 troops in Operation Athena.
We were in a period of not being able to predict where we would be committing our troops because of G8 and Apollo and the like and this last round in Kabul, so we had to work very hard to reconstitute cohesive mission elements that could recreate the teams that we were going to deploy. Bosnia was not an issue, because it was predictable, but the others were just piled on top of that.
The impact is, as Colonel Grant suggested, on our personnel tempo, not on our operational tempo, but our personnel tempo accelerated. You need to be trained before you deploy. You train; you deploy; you come home; you are back to the army; you are being retrained or you are training others. Our personnel tempo was acute, and we were not acting our size.
In simple terms, senator, we were not acting our size. We were acting bigger than we were.
Senator Atkins: So it would be fair to say that you were spread pretty thin.
BGen. Beare: We were spread hugely thin, and we would not be able to sustain that tempo and transform. So now that we are transforming, we cannot allow ourselves to be consumed beyond our size if we are indeed to transform.
And if I may, I will pass it to Colonel Grant.
Col. Grant: Senator, I will just expand a little bit on the issue of what happens to a soldier when they come back from an overseas mission, and it was the senior NCOs, the master corporals, the sergeants to whom I had alluded in my opening statement.
Senator Atkins: Yes.
Col. Grant: When they first come back, they are protected for about a 90-day period. As the 90 days go on, we make them more and more available to additional taskings and deployments away from their home station. Because there are demands in the training system, once they are out of that 90-day window, a lot of these individuals who have spent two months in preparation for a deployment away from their families and six months during the deployment, are then sent off to tasks in Wainwright, Shilo or perhaps as far away as Gagetown.
The challenge these soldiers have when they go to a place like Gagetown and are away from home to teach on a two- or three-month course is that there are no benefits. They do not get the benefits they would get overseas, but they are away from their families. The challenge there is dealing with the stresses on the families while they are away on tasks inside Canada.
That is something we have to focus on and manage very carefully to make sure that we are not sending the same folks away, that we are balancing time at home with time away from their families, and it is a challenge. There is no doubt.
The Chairman: We have had described to us a template that would suggest that during a 36-month period, it would be reasonable to expect a soldier to be put in harm's way for six months, then have four months of either training or being trained, and the rest of the time they would be at home.
Is this workable, reasonable, doable? And before you answer, I should tell you that it was General Caron who gave us this template when he appeared before this committee three weeks ago.
BGen. Beare: Senator, you are referring to ``managed readiness,'' which is a model we did not have in the 1990s. We would arrive at a mission, and we would do two things in the preamble to a mission.
We would not manage our size. We would commit to a mission as much as we could in a time period. Bosnia at one point topped out at 1,200 or 1,400 troops, which is not a sustainable number for an army of our size. Managed readiness constrains how much we put into the window in any six-month period.
The other characteristic of managed readiness is predicting where in that three-year period each of our 12 manoeuvre units with their groupings can be committed to operations as opposed to the practice in the past, which was relatively Bosnia-based and predicted only Bosnia missions but no others.
Sticking to the managed readiness plan achieves a couple things: one is anticipating when and where one will be in the operational window. We do not know the mission, but we know when we need to be ready. That constrains the size of our force contribution to something that is sustainable so we do not grow beyond the 1,000 and break our sustainment base again. Then the answer is yes, we can have more rigour and more disciplined life at home.
But managed readiness does not address all the things we are doing. It tells us where they will be, but the size and the magnitude of the other activities in our life are not obvious in managed readiness.
As Colonel Grant says, we are continually recruiting and training new soldiers. We need to train them. We are developing our own leaders. That requires time. We are transforming. That requires time and energy, and we are restructuring and re-equipping as we go. All that requires time and activity, most of it which we are trying to do home- based, but not all of it will be.
The Chairman: What am I missing? General Caron said to us that he could sustain two groups of 1,000 indefinitely and surge to 3,000 once every two years with six months in harm's way and four months of training.
Are you telling us that there is something in addition to the four months that we do not understand or that the committee has not picked up on?
BGen. Beare: No, what I am just trying to expose is the fact that that four months of activity plus a deployment is focused on an operation. If you are not in that window, you are still busy doing all those other things that our army does day to day.
The Chairman: At home or away from home?
BGen. Beare: At home and part of it away from home.
The Chairman: But that was the deal — only four months away from home in addition to the six months in harm's way.
What you are suggesting is that there are other things that would take people away from their families in addition to those four months.
BGen. Beare: If we use history has our gauge, it has been our requirement to take leaders from our units and put them into our schools to train our soldiers or to train us. If we do not augment our schools and their capacity to train, they will continue to see absenteeism from our units — I am not talking about the units as a whole, but individuals to support our schools. So that, senator, will be a characteristic of our life.
If we want to create a warrant officer, a sergeant will have to go to Gagetown to do his two months of resident course, and he will do distance learning here in the garrison. There will still be absenteeism for professional development, education and training, but being absent should be moderated by fitting into that managed readiness cycle so that you will not go to school, to training, to operations and come back and go to school again.
The Chairman: Well, we will have to come back to General Caron on that, because the four months was all in.
There is a third option, General Beare, that you did not mention, and that is a lower level, a slower tempo of operations. If you drop that back, and if you are only sustaining 1,000 people on a continuing basis, you get a lot of training done, and you get a whole lot of other things done that you might not have.
BGen. Beare: Yes, and you are quite right. In the 12-month period between the summer of 2003 and the summer of 2004, there were about 6,000 soldiers from our army deployed between Afghanistan and Bosnia. From the summer of 2004 to summer of 2005, that is down to 2,000 to allow us to regenerate and recuperate at home.
Starting in February 2006, we expect that, given our strengths and all the other activities we are doing, we can sustain two 1,000-man task forces every six months.
I have to tell you, senator, our soldiers want that, and they want to be there.
The Chairman: Every time we talk to them and I talk about a lower tempo, they grit their teeth and say, ``Another politician came to town.'' I understand that absolutely. If you join the Armed Forces, you want to go to the sound of the guns.
Having said that, if there are not enough soldiers, you have to figure out a way to solve the problem.
Senator Atkins: Colonel Grant, could you just expand a little bit on the experience in Afghanistan beginning with the preparation of the brigade before it went over and what you found there and what the results have been since your return?
Col. Grant: You are talking, senator, about when the 3rd Battalion went over in 2002.
I can speak to it from the standpoint of preparation from NDHQ, because that is where I was at the time, and then I would ask General Beare to deal with the actual training of the unit on the ground.
As the officer who was responsible for the planning of that deployment in NDHQ, Afghanistan could not be in a worse location. As we looked at how to mount that organization and deploy it overseas into a fairly austere location, it was the worst Staff College exercise that could have been generated.
It was and is a difficult place to get to. There are only two ways in. One is to fly in over Pakistan, and the other is to come in through the ``stan'' countries to the north. Neither one of them is easy.
What we looked at, though, was what kind of contribution Canada could make to the campaign against terrorism at that particular time. Because the Americans were going into southern Afghanistan with light forces, we looked for a unit that would be able to operate in conjunction with the likes of 82nd Airborne and the 101st air assault division.
Clearly the 3rd Battalion was not only the unit that was closest to being ready, but it was also the unit that was most suitable for that type of operation.
The deployment into theatre went exceedingly well in all respects, but it was based in large part on the good graces of the Americans to provide the strategic airlift to get us there. There is no doubt at all about that.
They deployed not only the 3rd Battalion but all of its attachments, including Coyotes from Lord Strathcona's Horse, which proved exceptionally valuable for the securing of the Kandahar airfield.
If I compare Afghanistan in 2001 when we first started planning for the deployment to what it looked like when I was there last November, it has changed dramatically. It is a country that is improving on a day-to-day basis, and I was absolutely amazed at the transformation in that country based on the work done by the Americans and our NATO allies over the course of the last couple of years.
Senator Atkins: I just want to shift a little now.
We have heard that the Canadian Forces does not have the resources to train the 5,000 regular and 3,000 reserve increase of personnel announced by the government and that the army is considering setting up an enhanced battle training school in each area. If that occurs, what impact will this additional training have on your ability to prepare for overseas operations?
BGen. Beare: As I mentioned earlier, we are really focusing right now on three major events: sustaining, transforming and regenerating new operational forces. The army commander is now planning, within the CF framework, growth and expansion of the force, so there is a fourth line of activity there that we in the area have not started to do much more than think about.
Certainly there has been no formal planning locally regarding what it would require to expand, because we do not know at what rate and what locations and what types of soldiers we are talking about expanding formally.
This goes back to Senator Kenny's point that it all goes back to troops and tasks over time. Growth is work, and growth requires leadership. Growth requires sustainment. Growth requires infrastructure. Growth requires equipment and material. All those things need to be answered if we are to grow at whatever rate we are told we will grow.
So our options are not limitless; that is, we will have to look at the army we have inside the managed readiness framework and say how much of that operational capability actually needs to be diverted to support the growth agenda.
We do not have any real hard figures on that yet, senator. We are waiting to hear at what rate we will grow, where we will grow, and then which human resources, which people from our field army we will use to help accelerate that growth.
Senator Atkins: We hear that the majority of the recruits over the next five years will go to the army.
I have two questions. One is about the infrastructure in terms of getting your fair share of those recruits, and how is recruitment going? You have a normal recruitment program, but now you will presumably have to accelerate that. Are you optimistic about that?
BGen. Beare: Senator, have you or will you be speaking to the CF Recruiting Group?
Senator Atkins: Yes.
BGen. Beare: For the last three years, they have met all their recruiting targets, as I understand it, so their capacity to deliver today's demand has been demonstrated. Whether or not they can do more than that, I do not know, but I would like to think there are more Canadians out there who can become soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen.
We know that the object of growth is to reinforce our field units to allow us to grow to the point where it takes two companies to produce two rifle companies to deploy as opposed to today which takes three rifle companies to produce two to deploy. That is the first bang for the buck we hope to get out of growth.
The next one, of course, is to man our training system and all the institutions that support the sustainment of our people so that we do not have to take Sergeant Jones from a battalion to go to Gagetown to become an instructor to augment the training capacity. Give our schools what they require to be able to do it by themselves.
I think we can grow. I believe we can attract more. I believe that we have a capacity internally to actually do that growth, but it will come out of other activities. We will have to take some capacity from other activities like operational forces or our reserves and use them in our growth agenda to train — essentially to convert new civilian members to soldiers of whatever stripe.
They are not all riflemen. Our most stressed trades are Combat Service Support. The location to train them is Borden. How much goes in there part time and how much goes in there full time, I could not say.
In terms of infrastructure here in the West, if I were given 1,000 civilians tomorrow to turn into private soldiers, we would find the way. We would find the way.
Senator Atkins: That is good to hear.
The last time we were out here when we talked to the infantry, they were absolutely adamant that they needed tanks as a support. Has that whole philosophy now had to be adjusted, and is the infantry accepting the new kind of role that is being taken on by the Lord Strathcona's and other units?
BGen. Beare: I will let Colonel Grant come to that, since he wore a black beret before they made him a general officer.
Col. Grant: I have a picture in my office of the very first Leopard tank delivered to Canada. I was crew commander when I was a second lieutenant in Gagetown, so I have a long history with Leopard tanks.
I have to say that Leopard tanks were never deployed overseas. They were a legacy of the Cold War. They are part of the army that was designed to fight in Europe against the Soviet Union of the day.
When you look at what has changed in the world and the global security situation, the tank is not a tool that we would use on a regular basis on the kinds of missions that we do overseas.
Lord Strathcona's Horse — and you will visit them later this morning — are on a great experiment to bring together weapons systems, the mobile gun system when it is delivered, an updated anti-armour system manned by the infantry and a multi-mission effects vehicle based currently on the air defence weapon system we have in Canada.
Is everyone supportive of this change? Absolutely not. Will this unit provide a unique and valuable combat capability in the years to come? I believe it will. I think, though, that we have a challenge to convince everyone that this transformational initiative is sound.
Last November, I saw these weapon systems work together in a trial setting. We will continue to develop the tactics and doctrines for them over the years to come. I believe in the end that we will have a system of systems able to deploy overseas on a regular basis and provide the infantry better support than we can give them today.
I am optimistic. I think some of the soldiers — not all of them — see this as a great way to go, but we have a challenge to sell it. We have to prove to the soldiers in the army that this system will serve them well. We are not there yet.
Senator Atkins: You must have had some interesting discussions in the mess with your infantry officers.
Col. Grant: Sir, there is no doubt that having a 45-tonne tank parked beside you on the battlefield gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.
Quite frankly, when you compare the Leopard tank to the tanks that are in operation in theatres around the world today, the Leopard tank is not a main battle tank anymore. It does not have the armour. It does not have the resiliency to operate in theatres like Iraq where the Americans have M1s and the British have Challengers. Those tanks are twice the size of the Leopard. The bottom line is that it really is not an effective combat system today. We needed to replace it, and I think we are going in the right direction.
The Chairman: I am just trying to understand this. The Leopards have not been shipped anywhere, period.
The issue that puzzles the committee is when we are going out and working with our allies, and they do have heavy armour, how do our folks know how to operate with it, and how do you fix that?
BGen. Beare: That is a great point. Currently, senator, we are still conditioning ourselves and training and preparing ourselves to operate multinationally.
We have been resource-limited in combat systems ever since I have been a junior officer or soldier. We do not have attack helicopters, but we train to work with attack helicopters. We do not have all the natures of their power, but we train to operate with all forms of air power. We do not have a marine amphibious capability, but we train to be able to cross a beach alongside our U.S. Marine Corps counterparts.
Just in the same fashion, should we get to that hard edge of our combat skill, we need to have been trained and have worked alongside our allies to be able to do that.
If you look at the U.S. Army transformation initiative, they had a heavyweight force, they had a lightweight force, but they had nothing in the middle. So they have created that interim — that lightweight force, that medium-weight force, which is really what the Canadian Army has been doing for decades now, to be the gap filler. That is what is working in Iraq today based on our light armour vehicle.
We are building a system of systems around the wheeled chassis that is strategically deployable, sustainable, that will allow us to bring firepower to support our infantrymen in the three-block war scenarios that we are encountering today and will encounter in the future. We will employ that system as opposed to the Leopard, which we have not employed, with the exception of Kosovo, in three decades of its service.
If we had all the money and all the resources that anyone could imagine, we would have heavyweight, lightweight and mediumweight, but we do not. We are going mediumweight, and this is part of that family of fighting systems that will allow us to fight mediumweight with firepower.
Senator Forrestall: These two gentlemen covered an awful lot of territory. Perhaps I can carry on with this last thought.
Are we doing any joint training with the Americans, particularly with respect to this middle-cap level? Are we training here in North America?
Col. Grant: Senator, this Friday I guess it is, I will send troops down to a U.S. Marine Corps base in California to do some mountain warfare training with a U.S. Marine battalion. Next month I will send another company down to do urban operations training with a U.S. Marine battalion that is getting ready to go to Iraq.
I send troops on a regular basis to Fort Lewis, Washington, where they train with a U.S. Stryker Brigade Combat Team — the U.S. equivalent to what 1 Mechanized Brigade Group is today — so we do train with Americans on a regular basis.
Over the course of the last year I tried to generate a small unit exchange between my brigade and the Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Fort Lewis. The problem is that it has just arrived back from Iraq, and they are in the process of training the next brigade to go over.
I have spoken to the American brigade commander, and he is very enthusiastic about training with 1 Brigade, so I would envision over the course of the next couple of years that we will become more and more engaged in training opportunities with our equivalent mediumweight forces in the United States.
Senator Forrestall: That is very good; an excellent idea, but how does the system, from our side of the fence, help you achieve that?
BGen. Beare: Senator, we have embedded this in, so this approach has not been institutionalized. It very much is a question of initiatives and opportunities being exploited by commanders and their teams at all levels.
As professionals, we would seek to have a more formal relationship with the U.S. Stryker Brigade Combat Teams for professional development purposes both in knowledge and in skills. Regrettably, that relationship has not trickled down to our level yet to be demonstrated as one that is institutionalized, and that is clearly a Canada-United States relationship.
Senator Forrestall: But that is a direction you would like to see us evolve toward, institutionalize?
BGen. Beare: Yes, senator. Actually, the army has stated it more than once in quite a public way that we would seek to do that with our U.S. counterparts.
There is an annual Canada-U.S. Army working group, which is chaired at the two-star level, and it seeks to try to integrate that. At this time, the Canadian co-chair of that should be Commander of Land Force Doctrine and Training System, newly appointed General Natynczyk.
Senator Forrestall: I noticed the three of you have your wings up. What about parachute training in the force generally?
Frankly, I was not very impressed with anything other than the enthusiasm of those undergoing the training, or the facilities, if you will, at Trenton, I guess.
Do you see any need in your overall makeup — a balanced force — for paratroopers?
BGen. Beare: I will give you a very brief answer, and then I will ask Colonel Grant to tell you how that is pursued in terms of a light forces working group.
The answer is in terms of parachute delivery capability. In terms of capabilities, do we need it? Yes. And do we need it also for the quality that it engenders in soldiers, stepping into free space and putting your faith in the hands of God and the guy who packed your parachute? Yes. So I believe we need it.
Now, the question of what it will do, where it will do it, and how it will do it, that is being worked on, and I will ask Colonel Grant to tell you where we are at on that.
Senator Forrestall: Do you continue to rotate troops through JTF, through the Joint Task Force?
BGen. Beare: Yes, the JTF 2 is a separate issue.
Senator Forrestall: Yes, I know. Entirely. But I am just wondering where they concentrate to get their troops, or are they looking at a broad picture?
BGen. Beare: They are looking Canadian Forces-wide, senator. Clearly, the roughest and the toughest like to be the first in the window to join, but it is not always those who think they are who actually make it all the way. I will let Colonel Grant tell you where we are headed.
Senator Forrestall: I am one of those who shed a little tear when we lost the units a few years ago.
BGen. Beare: I was there, senator.
The Chairman: Senator, Colonel Grant will give you an answer to the airborne training.
Col. Grant: Senator, you had asked about the issue of light forces in parachuting. The army is now forming the community of what is called light forces — those do not use armoured vehicles on a regular basis. Parachuting is an important element of that, but the group is working to determine the needs of the light forces.
There are three battalions in the Canadian Army now who are considered light. They do not have armoured vehicles, and parachuting is one of the ways that we would look at inserting them into a combat zone. Other ways would be for them to walk, to be in light patrol vehicles, or to be moved in by helicopter.
Clearly this group is trying to structure a direction for the army that will determine where we want to put our focus. There is no doubt that in my brigade, both for the infantry and the supporting elements — the artillery who provide indirect fire support, the engineers who provide the mine awareness and mine clearance capability — I allow training in parachuting skills on a regular basis, because it provides a combat package that I could use if required.
While parachuting is important as a method of entry, it is, as General Beare said, also extremely important for the morale and welfare of the soldiers who see it as a challenge. That is why they join the military; they want those additional challenges.
However, parachuting cannot be the only entry skill that we have. We still have to look at those other methods of entry: helicopters, light patrol vehicles and, as required, marching on their feet.
Senator Forrestall: I appreciate that.
Can I skip to sovereignty and the North? Do you do any northern training? Is it useful? Could you do more? What type of resource would you need at your disposal to upgrade or to increase? I am not thinking so much about how well trained the troops are now; I am thinking about a national presence in the High North. That will be a major issue for us in the next few years.
Could you respond for a moment about that?
BGen. Beare: I will, and I will turn it to Colonel Grant to speak to what we are doing with troops.
The North is huge, as we know, and as soon as you put something on the ground, it automatically becomes tactically constrained.
Senator Forrestall: It becomes what?
BGen. Beare: Tactically constrained. As soon as you put a rifle company into a remote location in the North, it is now fixed there. Its area of influence is about as far as it can walk.
When you look at the North, it is huge, so clearly as the Canadian Forces, we need a capacity that can see the North and that can decide and determine when you actually put troops on the ground there in terms of having a presence.
We as soldiers do not have the capacity to influence the North strategically other than to have troops ready and available to go to the North wherever and whenever we are required to do so, but as soon as we hit the ground, our area to influence things in the North is constrained to effectively as far as we can walk while we are there.
We do have a recurring requirement to visit the North or to train in the North both for presence and for maintaining our skills to operate in an arctic environment, and I will let Colonel Grant talk to that.
Col. Grant: Senator, about two weeks ago, about 120 soldiers returned from the North. They were up in the High Arctic where they spent about three weeks training to live on the land, working with the Canadian Rangers in the North.
This is, as General Beare said, a regular occurrence. We do this once a year. We send a company's worth of soldiers up there. In this case it was soldiers from the Combat Engineer Regiment and augmented by soldiers from Lord Strathcona's Horse, so it is not just the infantry that goes. We rotate it around so that all our soldiers have the experience of operating in that environment.
We do maintain the skill sets in the army to operate in the High North, and we do exercise it on a yearly basis.
Senator Forrestall: Is this a job for the Halifax Rifles in the High North? Maybe the Alberta Horse would be a great group to reconstitute and send north?
BGen. Beare: The bottom line is if you are skilled and trained to go to the North, you can go, but clearly you need to be trained to be able to operate in that environment.
Arctic presence is a mission for the army, and in our army it could be whoever is available, trained and ready to go, but that clearly requires training and time to be prepared to do so.
Senator Forrestall: I mentioned the Halifax Rifles simply because I believe that in some of these reserve units that were stood down — given the communities that they were stood down in — there are sufficient and able men and women who could take on enormous tasks relieving you gentlemen of some very serious responsibilities. One of them, of course, is homeland defence. I think we should actively talk about it.
The more I mention it, the more people think about it after they have discarded the notion of it being utterly nonsensical. If you stop and think about it, it may be a very inexpensive way to provide enormous help.
I notice in the press that somehow or another some of our equipment — night vision goggles and that type of thing — have been sneaking into the hands of used-equipment entrepreneurs. I gather they come across a good thing somewhere.
Have you been able to get a handle on that? Has it come to an end? Are there any other major toys that are absolutely necessary that are somehow suspected of disappearing?
Colonel Wynnyk: Senators, thank you for the opportunity to speak. The disposal of assets that are surplus to Land Force Western Area falls under my domain.
I believe the article that you read was referring to an individual in particular. This individual contracts out to a number of agencies through a Crown assets disposal, so it is not just from Land Force Western Area that he is getting his goods. It is probably other areas of the Canadian Forces as well, including Cold Lake, so I can only speak for what we do in Land Force Western Area.
When the problem was identified almost a year ago, I can assure you that very stringent regulations were put in place. Anything that is being disposed of now is inspected two or three times to make sure there is not a recurrence of that.
The only particular issue that has come to light here in the Western Area was with surplus Canadian disruptive pattern, or CADPAT, camouflage uniforms. They were supposed to be shredded, but some of them were not. Since then the individual has raised allegations that there are, as you said, perhaps other pieces of equipment, night vision goggles, that sort of thing. We are not aware of it, but any time there is an allegation, we investigate.
So in summary, yes, there are measures in place now, and that is being watched very closely.
Senator Forrestall: Are you satisfied with the level of our equipment? How do you make decisions about flexibility and freedom to move equipment that might be life-saving in the defence of your comrades?
BGen. Beare: Our soldier systems are the best in the world in terms of what we wear and what we carry.
An anecdotal story in Kabul: The troops called themselves ``eight double A soldiers,'' because when they went on patrol at night in Kabul, they had their fourth generation night vision goggle — two double As. They had their personal radio, which, push to talk — two double As. They had their infrared strobe on their chest — two double As. On their personal weapon, they had a laser pointer. For night vision, they had a white light SureFire — two double As and two double As.
At the end of the day you had a soldier equipped with the latest technology across the board including his protection, his environmental clothing, Kevlar and helmet. If you stand them side to side with another soldier of another country, in many cases, they envy us.
We do not have enough though, senator. We make sure there is enough for troops deployed. We make sure there is enough to become familiar with it before you deploy, but there is not enough to equip and scale everyone so we have it all the time, and its use can become second nature.
Senator Forrestall: I was thinking more of quality than quantity.
BGen. Beare: We have got some great kits, senator, and we have also got some old trucks.
Senator Forrestall: I asked the question, because the last time I was in Bosnia — I think you as well, chair — we were hustled into the machines that drove us around, and the sergeant was very careful to give us two or three extra flack jackets to sit on. I do not think he was thinking of the comfort from the bumps either.
BGen. Beare: No.
The Chairman: On that visit I recall having a size 7 1/2 head and a size 7 1/4 helmet, but it did not make for a terrific visit.
Senator Cordy: General Beare, I would like to echo the comment that you made about the great team of Canadian men and women we have in our military, and certainly the committee's experience in travelling across the country has been exactly that. We are very lucky as Canadians to have people like that taking care of us.
Colonel Grant, I would like to go back to the army's managed readiness system that you spoke about in your comments earlier, and I am just wondering, how is this set up? Does it start in NDHQ and then filter down?
Col. Grant: The initial plan started in NDHQ. The operations staff of the army looked at how we could come up with a program that would allow combat capable units to be ready to deploy and still manage — in keeping with the White Paper, which was two battle groups to be deployable at any one time, and how we could manage that given the troops we actually had available at the time.
They came up with a plan that would see four units a year ready to deploy, but in order to do that, they had to limit the numbers, so there is a cap on the number of folks in each one of those organizations. General Beare referred to 1,000 earlier, which involves both the combat troops and the support side.
So given that number as equal, the general concept that was produced by the army staff and the headquarters beneath that — both General Beare's and mine and others like ours across the country — was to war-game this to ensure that the concept, the plan that had been drafted in NDHQ, was sustainable and would work.
So there was a huge amount of time and effort put in by a number of very bright young staff officers to ensure that this managed readiness system would produce what we needed in the way that we expected it.
As it stands right now, we are at the front end. I am producing some of the first battle group task forces that will deploy under this system. I will tell you, the biggest challenge now is convincing the folks that we have to keep to those personnel caps. If we go beyond it, we will put ourselves in jeopardy of not being able to sustain it in the future.
Senator Cordy: Is the plan on a best case scenario? Because we certainly have heard about personnel shortages when we have travelled across the country. We have also heard that you may have 150 people, but maybe only 85 or 90 of them are deployable.
Is that taken into account in the plan, or is the plan made up as saying if there are 150 people, then 150 people will go?
Col. Grant: It really is based on providing what we can afford to send today.
When we get the additional 5,000 troops into the Canadian Forces, the expectation is that the size of the task forces we can deploy will go up somewhat. Basically what we call the table of organization and establishment — the ``TO & E'' — is fixed based on what we can afford to send today.
BGen. Beare: Senator, if I may, you are referring to some assumptions that will allow this to work or not, and the assumptions are that the army is one army, and we employ our reserve component in the generation of those numbers up to and including 20 per cent.
We are not talking about just the regular component alone — sustaining the numbers. Our reserve component is a big part of that sustainment base, in particular in specialist functions like CIMIC, and others.
The other one is what we call ``left-out-of-battle rate.'' It refers to the number of our people who are non-deployable for physical or other reasons. Right now in the army plan, that rate is at 10 per cent. In the field we can have 15 to 20 per cent.
The Chairman: CIMIC and LOB. I think we still have a fine system for acronyms, but just for clarity and for the record, rather than use the acronyms if you could say it all out, that would be very helpful.
BGen. Beare: The civil-military cooperation staff, CIMIC, are those who coordinate our work with civilian organizations, but that is now a uniquely reserve-generated capability, and we are talking about 200 some odd civil- military cooperation staff being generated by reserve forces for all those task forces and sustaining them.
The left-out-of-battle rate, or LOB, is the number of our people who are non-deployable — short or long term — and is assessed in the army plan as being about 10 per cent of our strength. Where we are bigger than that — and we are bigger than that in some places — we have to adjust the plan.
We do have to monitor our assumptions, because if our assumptions prove to be false, then managed readiness may not work, but we are mindful of that.
Senator Cordy: Where can the adjustments be made? Can they be made at the local level?
BGen. Beare: They would have to be made locally and/or at the national level saying that we will have to give this task force a bye — that is, we will not be able to commit in that six-month window — or our Canadian Forces reserve, based on the army, the search task force as it is called in managed readiness, may not be as big as people would otherwise expect. We have been doing this for a decade now. We have to manage those risks over time.
The great thing about managed readiness is that it is predicting where we want to have what capability and when, and we have not had that discipline for the past decade.
Senator Cordy: I would like to move on to your Military Family Resource Centres, which we visited on our last trip to Edmonton. The programming they have certainly is excellent, and their staff certainly seemed to be just exceptional.
Recently there was a study on health issues in the military, and one of the things that it showed was that mental health problems are higher in the military than they are in the general public. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the report, so I do not know all the details of it.
I am just wondering what brought this on. Is it morale? Is it stresses on the family? Is it post-traumatic stress disorder, or all of the above?
BGen. Beare: I will let Alan talk about the MFRC, the Military Family Resource Centre.
Lieutenant-Colonel Alan F. Markewicz, Commanding Officer, Canadian Forces Base/Area Support Unit Edmonton, National Defence: The mental health issues for the soldiers are not actually an MFRC, a Military Family Resource Centre, responsibility. That would be the health care system's responsibility; although, there obviously is assistance provided to help direct people if they show up at the Military Family Resource Centre.
I recall this study, and I know when I read the percentage differences, I had no explanation of why there was a statistically significant difference or increase in the military side. I cannot answer you from that perspective.
I know there are continuing initiatives, if you are talking about the family resource side, as an example. We are just in the process of establishing an operational stress peer support counsellor for families on the base, which is all part of our continuing support. That is one of the initiatives being generated from Ottawa.
They have hired a counsellor. We are establishing an office for a family peer support counsellor for anyone who has operational stress injuries on the family side. Of course we have some systems already in place to help support the serving soldiers.
Senator Cordy: Because of the stigma attached to metal illness in the general population, people are very reluctant to come forward and suggest they are having problems.
We have the most physically fit group of our population who are in the military. How much more difficult is it for a member of the military to come forward and suggest that they are having problems?
BGen. Beare: Traditionally it has been very hard by virtue of perception — yours or others — but we have turned a corner in the last decade in terms of embedding in ourselves the understanding of the environment we are putting ourselves in and what the potential non-physical results of that could be.
We have gone from a period in time when we thought it was the chain of command's responsibility to ``sort it out'' — when they were not trained, equipped or educated to do so — to a period in time now when we have a network of agencies, institutional and outside the military, which provide the framework for either detecting or engaging those who may or may not have stress injuries.
OSISS, the Operational Stress Injury Support System, is a DND-sponsored civil sector outside the chain of command that coordinates and delivers a peer support program for those with stress injuries. We still have our mental health organization within our health care community that provides the institutional network. Neither of these is constrained or influenced by the chain of command that would have dissuaded or encouraged the member to seek counselling or not.
Soldier to soldier, we train peer counsellors. One of our great success stories is that, before the 3rd Battalion went to Afghanistan in 2002, one-third of the soldiers had received peer counselling training, so they understood the symptoms of stress injuries. They understood the indicators, the conditions that could create it. Of course the best place to treat a stress injury is on the scene, immediately — forward, not rearward.
There is now a whole network of opportunity to identify potential stress casualties and to interject early, to do it within the institution, and to do it outside the institution.
What Colonel Markewicz talked about in terms of providing the same to our families just recognizes that the stress injury does not just affect the member; it also affects the home front.
Clearly, there is always work to do, but it is being dealt with much more appropriately now than before.
Senator Cordy: It is really good to hear about the peer counselling. I think initially all the higher echelons were in the right frame of mind in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, but it had not necessarily filtered down to the people on the field, so that is certainly a good step.
I am just wondering whether or not you actually have the resources, because on city streets there is a shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists. What about the military?
Col. Grant: Last December, I think it was, I was briefed by the health community here in Edmonton on the number of soldiers who had gone to the mental health clinic looking for assistance, and the number was quite staggering. There were literally hundreds of soldiers in Edmonton who, for one reason or another, had gone to get help.
Most of them, if I remember the statistics correctly, had gone for one or two sessions. A lot of it was just about learning to cope with issues that they had at home or at work, and it took very little for them to be put back on the right track. It is reassuring that they actually go in those numbers looking for help.
The questions I asked at the time were very much like yours, senator. Are large numbers of folks going? Do we have the capability? And the short answer was that there are enough resources in Edmonton to deal with those activities.
I could tell you that this summer when 2 PPCLI went from Winnipeg to Shilo, there were some stresses based on the move of the unit. There was some issue that there was not enough support in Shilo at the time, but that was temporarily addressed in January, and it will be addressed permanently this summer.
So when shortages are identified, the Canadian Forces Medical Group is very quick to make sure that they find the resources to help the soldiers.
Senator Munson: I am just curious to know how many reserves were in the last rotation in Afghanistan.
Col. Grant: The short answer is probably fewer than 10, but I will put that in context.
The soldiers who went from the reserves were, for the most part, in the civil military cooperation sphere. As General Beare said, that capability now resides entirely in the reserves, so we went looking for them.
The reason we did not have a lot of reserves on the last rotation is that it came upon us with very short notice. As a result, we did not have the time to recruit the reservists, put them through the training required to bring them up to a deployable standard and send them overseas.
As we are getting these other three unit-sized task forces I referred to earlier ready to go in the next 12 months, we are actively recruiting reservists to go on that mission. When there is time available, we go looking for them and encourage them to come. The last mission to Afghanistan just did not allow the time to recruit and retrain.
Senator Munson: When they come back, do they have access to the same kind of counselling, if they need it, that Senator Cordy was talking about?
Col. Grant: Yes, sir, absolutely. We put everyone through the same reintegration process when they come back from a deployed mission — mental health and reintegration from a standard medical, physical fitness standpoint. Whether they are reservists or regular force is irrelevant; they are all treated exactly the same way.
Senator Munson: Just another line of questioning. Your commander discussed the three-block war in his testimony recently. Could you explain how you have adjusted your training to prepare for the three-block war — in future operations obviously?
BGen. Beare: We have been doing it more by default than by design to this point in time where we have reoriented our pre-deployment training to fit the environment within which we would deploy — a Bosnia, an Afghanistan or elsewhere.
The army is already down the road to institutionalizing it. The army commander has directed the army doctrine and training system to re-spool all our individual training so that, from entry level training through to senior level command and staff training, we have embedded our training education in the operating environment that we see now and for the next 20 years.
We still train in combat skills. It is where you apply them, and how you apply them that are evolving. In our individual training system, that is now proceeding, and we will start seeing it in courses as early as this spring when they do a combat team commander's course in Gagetown, which is a rifle company with armoured direct-fire support, indirect-fire support and engineers.
They will be training to command that combat package but in a three-block war environment. That is combat operations within which you will see non-combatants, international organizations, combatants conventional, combatants non-conventional, extremist, terrorist-type threats. So that will happen this spring in Gagetown.
The journey we are on now will take us to task forces deploying in February of 2006. Those task forces will train in Wainwright this fall. For a period of about six weeks, we will train in combat skills, but the training environment within which our soldiers will be exposed will include combatants, non-combatants, international organizations, multinational forces — all the things we see in the contemporary operating environment of today.
It does not mean we abandon our combat skill. On the contrary, it means we apply it more surgically, with more focus in the friction or the reality of today's operating environment. So we are moving on it now, senator.
Senator Munson: Just along that line on future overseas missions, will the traditional aspect change? Overseas missions will likely be made up of fewer formed units and more by multi-task operations you were talking about.
What impact will this have on the structure of the traditional units?
BGen. Beare: I know exactly what you are getting at.
If I could go from a deployment and work our way backward, a deployment will be, for our strength today, a 1,000- person package, men and women, based on combat building blocks, rifle companies, recon surveillance squadrons, indirect-fire subunits, engineers, combat service support, headquarters and the like. And those building blocks will come from our force generation base, from our battalions and from our regiments.
Before they deploy, that task force will spend 28 days in Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright where they will be presented over that 28-day period with a robust collective training regime that will take them through their combat skills and then the application of those combat skills in the contemporary operating environment, fully instrumented.
We are putting $600 million of infrastructure and services and material into Wainwright over the course of three years to create that culminating training package.
Before that, the task force building blocks will have trained to be cohesive subunits under their unit command, and leadership will have trained, computer and field, with each other in the 12 months preceding that manoeuvre training event.
So really you are talking about a 12- to 18-month journey of the building blocks from their basics to team training across the team boundary with a company and with a squadron, or the mortars with the infantry, to the CNTC event, and then they deploy.
At the end of the game you have a combined arms task force that has all the skills and tools it needs to do the job — combat, non-combat, support, health, you name it — which does not exist in any one unit today. It has always been a composition of units to create a capacity to do operations, but they will have gone through a journey that at the end of the day guarantees they have the latest equipment, they have the latest in our training, and they are good to go.
The unit is no longer the employer overseas all the time; although, the rifle battalion commander may take two of his companies with his other attachments. The unit is where you come from, the unit at home, and the unit is where you come back to when you are done, and the task force is the fighting brick that does operations at home or away.
Senator Munson: You mentioned in your opening statement about the shortage of master corporals and sergeants ranks. How does that affect morale? How do people feel about themselves when you have that kind of shortage? Obviously, I would think that in any organization I would not be feeling too good about that.
Col. Grant: Having been the one who made the comment, I will address that, sir.
You are quite right. In a normal unit, in a normal infantry battalion, there are about 150 sergeants and master corporals. On average, given tasks and operational deployments, there are usually about 50 of them who are available on a day-to-day basis, so 100 of them are doing other things.
When I look at the forecast that the infantry battalions will be short this summer — my three infantry battalions will be short about 50 master corporals and sergeants — it does not leave a whole bunch left over.
The fundamental we work on is that every sergeant and master corporal in an infantry battalion has a job, and it is not necessarily taking care of his own soldiers. And for the most part, it is not.
We have to manage very carefully to make sure they are available when we need them for those dedicated field training activities and that they are there to train the young soldiers and make sure they are ready for future operations.
But does it affect morale? Absolutely. There is nothing worse for the morale of a senior NCO or a soldier or a master corporal who wants to be with his soldiers but gets sent away to a training institution for a two- or three-month stint. It is hard on the leader, it is hard on the soldier and it is hard on the family.
This is probably the biggest challenge commanding officers have right now: managing expectations and dealing with the high tasking load.
The Chairman: General, what I think we have heard today is that the folks we are sending over to Kabul or places like that are fully equipped, well trained and well led, but we are hearing that stuff back here is a mess. That is backward, but you are short personnel; you are short of parts and equipment; you are short of operating funds, and your day-to-day life back here is a struggle just trying to keep the show on the road. Have I misheard?
BGen. Beare: What you have heard described, senator, is that the work we do to create those trained and readily deployable forces is hard work. It is not made easier by the fact that we are lacking people in key positions. It is not made easier by the fact we would like to have more material with which to train.
But we know also at the same time that people cannot be manufactured overnight, that the material cannot be procured and delivered in a day, so we are in the business of making choices and rationalizing. I would hate to think that we are whining, because we are not.
The Chairman: I put the question, not you, so you are not whining. It was my question, and I have not heard anybody whine here at all. I have not heard anybody pitch for more resources. I have not heard anybody pitch for more funds. All you have been doing is describing the situation as you see it.
BGen. Beare: What I can tell you is this: our soldiers work, for the main, Monday to Friday. When we start working weekends to compensate for missing kit or material, then I start to worry. But we are working hard Monday to Friday, by and large, because we do not want to consume the free time still needed so one can recover and come back and keep working.
No, the journey to create the operational forces is a tough journey, and of course we are doing that while we are trying to grow and bring on new people, while we are trying to transform, while we are trying to restructure. So all that is activity.
I would say the plea I would have is that we need to act our size, and our size is not just people; it is also time — the time it takes to get certain jobs done.
And if I could go back to the example of 6,000 away two years ago and 2,000 away in this year, that is part of the acting-our-size equation. We have had a CF which has been able to make the case that it needed to reduce in order to manage its tempo at home so that we could recreate the capacity to sustain forces in the medium term. And I believe we will achieve that.
There is a huge desire among our serving men and women to continue to be relevant, and they see themselves as relevant when they deploy, when they are here to respond to emergencies at home, or when they deploy to serve Canada and Canadian interests overseas.
We are not trying to rein that back to serve ourselves. We want to rein it back to the point that we can achieve our sustainment, regeneration and transformation and still produce those operational forces that make us relevant to Canada and Canadians.
Do we need more money? I do not necessarily need it, but the institution may, because the institution is buying our kit. It is the institution that is running our training system.
Do I need more people? Yes, because we are not manned to our strength today.
Can I use more time? We are working at breakneck speed in transformation. CNTC is on a critical path in terms of creating a new collective training centre in the army, so I could definitely use more time, but we do not have it all — ergo, we manage it.
And the qualifier I have with my leadership is just to confirm for me that our soldiers are not working weekends unnecessarily, that we manage our size and we act our size. I think the act-our-size message, as I understand it, seems to be heard, and now we have just got to make sure we keep acting our size in the future.
The Chairman: Just to clarify a couple of points: First, you said that we would find a way to train the 1,000 troops out here. You are talking about new troops, an incremental 1,000, or are you talking about just your regular intake?
BGen. Beare: Incremental, senator.
The Chairman: Second, you did not comment on equipment coming back. Is the equipment that is coming back in terrific shape and not in need of any maintenance?
BGen. Beare: Senator, it is not coming back.
The Chairman: It is not coming back.
BGen. Beare: Not to us. It is coming back into the machinery of the Canadian Army. As you may have heard from General Caron, there are two deployment suites of kit that will always be maintained. If it is not deployed, it will be in Montreal ready to go.
We are putting 350 armour fighting vehicles and 300 wheeled vehicles into Wainwright so that that is the training fleet, and it will be sustained and maintained.
That will then be adequate, but it is yet to be proven — we should have adequate. We are meant to have adequate in our garrison, so we can train to be ready to go to Wainwright for a manoeuvre training before we deploy. In other words, we will stop moving our kit around, I guess, which is part of the management readiness plan.
The Chairman: On behalf of the committee I would like to thank you and your colleagues very much for appearing before us.
Senator Atkins started the hearing on the note that I think underlines the sense of the committee generally. We are very proud of the men and women of the Canadian Forces. We do not get an opportunity to get up and say it loud enough and often enough. We would be very grateful if you conveyed to them that message you heard from a parliamentary committee meeting here in Edmonton.
We are looking forward very much to getting out to the base and talking to people individually, but we will not have an opportunity there to tell everyone that their members of the Senate, their members of Parliament are proud of the work they do. We appreciate what they do and how well they do it, and we would be very grateful to you if you would pass that message along to them.
BGen. Beare: Proudly, senator, I will.
The Chairman: On behalf of the committee, thank you very much. We are looking forward to getting out to the base very shortly.
The committee adjourned.