• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

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

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Myth
Reaction score
429
Points
880
Colin P said:
For the Reserves, the on again, off again about making it a Civil Defense force is utter poison. People join the Reserves to do stuff different than their day job or average life. Marketing, equipment and purpose all play a much more significant role in recruiting and retention. Particularly as there is no contract holding them into place.

The Gunners have that 'Op Tasking' these days.

AFAIK they don't spend all their time on it, and have enough training space in the calendar to get on with their real task: firing salutes for the opening of parliament ;)
 

CBH99

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
75
Points
480
CBH99 said:
I stayed in for a little while during that period, and I believe most of the members who left was because the army went back to 'garrison life'.

There was no longer a focus on specific training for a specific task, with the expectation that the member would be deployed to a theatre & conducting those tasks for real in the near future.  There was no exciting 'end goal', sort of speak.

It went back to being parade square focused, patch focused, with no need to produce a productive or lethal product at the end of a training cycle.  And that, is where most members left, and why we have a hard time retaining members now.  (In my opinion anyway)


:2c:


I posted this a few days ago, and it kicked off a bit of a discussion about whether the CAF as a whole has a 'crisis of purpose' and some commentary about SSE.

My only intent in making this original statement was my own experience in the Army.


The RCAF and RCN seem pretty busy, and if I often try to steer younger folks into joining one of those elements rather than the Army.  Not that my experience in the Army was bad - but having grown up a lot, and seen what the other elements do & a small bit of exposure to their work environments, I do try to steer younger folks to either the RCN or RCAF.



What I was alluding to in my statement was that when Afghanistan ended, a lot of good members left the military.  And they took a ton of extremely useful and recent combat experience with them.

The reason a vast majority of them left is because it was extremely clear that the Army was going back to 'garrison life'.  Aka "Army Dumb". 

And while that may be okay for younger folks when they first get in, to get some valuable courses & experience -- during peacetime -- telling an Army full of recent combat vets that they're going to spend a lot of time marching in circles on a parade square & taking courses on everything they've been doing for real, was a huge spark of folks leaving.  Leaving en-masse. 


Recruiting for the Army was amazing during the Afghan War years.  The CAF was in the news almost daily, and we were 'protecting civilians and killing bad guys' - which is something that attracted people.  (We're talking about branding - there is an element of that which does help recruiting.)

Not only was recruiting great, but I found life in the Army was a LOT better.  We didn't spend a lot of time on stupid useless things, or learning the same skills we were already qualified.  There wasn't a ton of random 'make work' projects to keep the troops from being bored.

There was a war, and there was a good chance you were going to fight in it.  And soon.

There was a sense of purpose in that regards.  Training, real world applicable skills, lessons learned, listening to experience from members who had just returned, etc etc.  There was a real motivation to be smarter, faster, stronger, improve marksmanship, and really familiarize yourself with kit & skills you may not usually focus on -- because sooner vs later, you were going to be hunting Taliban.  And the Taliban were going to be hunting you.


That is the 'sense of purpose' I think has been lost in the Army.  There is no real focus on fighting and excelling at a specific conflict, because there isn't any urgency, nor does the Army know what the next conflict will look like.

Folks in the Army know Russia isn't about to invade us via the Arctic, nor are they going to invade Europe.  Exercise Maple Resolve - Latvia edition, is just that.  And members know it.

Same with the Iraq training mission.  Or Ukraine training mission.  Yes, we do it -- but there isn't that 'excitement' or 'urgent focus' the way there was in Afghanistan.

A lot of Army folks that  I chat with decently often are also well aware that any real contribution we make to operations in the SCS will be the RCN & RCAF.  It's really hard to find a C7 accurately while doing a flutter kick.



Sorry to pop this in here today.  I was catching up on the thread and noticed some commentary after my quote, so I just wanted to clarify what I meant. 
 

FJAG

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
162
Points
680
CBH99 said:
...
That is the 'sense of purpose' I think has been lost in the Army.  There is no real focus on fighting and excelling at a specific conflict, because there isn't any urgency, nor does the Army know what the next conflict will look like.

Folks in the Army know Russia isn't about to invade us via the Arctic, nor are they going to invade Europe.  Exercise Maple Resolve - Latvia edition, is just that.  And members know it.
...

While others' opinions may differ on this point, for much of the late 60s, 70s and 80s, there was no real expectations that the Soviets were actually ever going to come thundering through the Fulda Gap. We did have a brigade in Germany and much of our focus in the Army during those years was to train for war in Germany (or Norway as part of Ace Mobile) against a Soviet threat. That focus gave us purpose and saw us through during very difficult financial constraints. Many of our people rotated through 4 CMBG and thus kept up a heightened interest and expertise.

I've argued elsewhere that a mechanized brigade's worth of prepositioned equipment in Poland, for example, that different units in Canada, both regular and reserve, could rotate through during the year would do much to firstly build a credible deterrent force there. Secondly, it would provide a tangible purpose for our soldiers.

I don't consider the eFP Latvia mission a form of Maple Resolve--it's entirely too small for that. But a prepositioned brigade could very well become an interesting way of conducting Maple Resolve in the future and providing all units and formations in Canada an opportunity to train on a fully configured organization in an interesting environment.

“Opportunity is everywhere. The key is to develop the vision to see it.” Anonymous

:cheers:
 

rmc_wannabe

Full Member
Reaction score
0
Points
210
Any defense policy that comes before a well thought out and well defined Foreign/Domestic Response policy is a moot point. It sets out the belief that our forces will be able to do everything, in case of whatever scenario may or may not come to fruition. This creates the fallacy of "Just In Time" funding and procurement, alongside training and recruitment. This is a godsend for the budget folks, but complete nonsense for anyone with any foreign policy or military experience.

I find SSE to be just that. It is a 20 year commitment to do everything and nothing at the same time: Promises to buy new equipment, but no clear direction on how and where it will be employed. Parliament is pushing for a harder stance on China, yet our government is still talking trade deals. We put our token efforts into NATO, but have no plans to increase spending to meet our 2 percent GDP mandate. Our UN effort in Africa was notable, but short lived to make a real dent on the Security Council front. Domestic response efforts that are increasing in complexity and frequency, yet our equipping and bolstering of our reserve forces is wanting.

I feel the next party to form government needs to set out a better map of where we want to be in the world, how to get there, and fund accordingly. That will be more of a solution to branding that any PR campaign. 

 

MilEME09

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
57
Points
530
Eye In The Sky said:
You original statement, though, was the entire CAF has a crisis of purpose, including since SSE was produced (June 2017).  I just want to point out that the C Army is one part of the CAF, and the Pres world you serve in is just one part of that as well.  Down at the 'microscopic' level, things can look bleak and looking "up" can be challenging, more so looking "across".

I'm not going to comment on the C Army part of SSE etc;  I left the green DEU behind almost a decade and a half ago and am only an 'amateur observing' army topics these days.  I'm fairly stove-piped into RCAF operations and particularly those that involve the maritime battlespace, support to naval operations.  I've missed lots of family events since SSE was released, so I can attest that some of the RCAF operational units certainly have a purpose, and I've been 'away' and looking at RCN ships and crews on my sensors, and in some pretty far away places like the East China Sea.  I'll quote a few parts of SSE that I think say lots in a few words:

Sorry for taking so long to reply, SSE takes awhile to reread, and having a child under 1 takes up a lot of time. While my experience is entirely army based, and I will never claim to be an expert in the other fields. SSE has some substance, including the number of missions we want to be able to support, however it does not necessarily lay the ground very well for how that can be achieved or the why we need said missions. That said each arm is managing their own resources well, though the Army's new plan for two brigades being at high readiness at the same time when we only have three may burn people out.
 

OblivionKnight

Jr. Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Good2Golf said:
OblivionKnight, thank you for providing this snapshot of things going non-optimally...ie. Disappointingly.  Sorry to hear the CAF wasn’t able to attract you, but glad things are working for your career!

Regards
G2G

Thank you! Things have been working out well on the civilian side. Unfortunately the application process left me very disenchanted. I remember driving to the nearest recruiting centre (about an hour away from where I lived) multiple times for yearly medicals, interviews, document submission, and sometimes just to be told that the occupation was now closed and therefore my file would be closed, and to re-apply "next year". There was no effort made to process my application for another occupation. The background checks would not have been an issue, as I was born here and never travelled overseas. Hopefully things change in this regard!
 

FJAG

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
162
Points
680
rmc_wannabe said:
Any defense policy that comes before a well thought out and well defined Foreign/Domestic Response policy is a moot point. It sets out the belief that our forces will be able to do everything, in case of whatever scenario may or may not come to fruition. This creates the fallacy of "Just In Time" funding and procurement, alongside training and recruitment. This is a godsend for the budget folks, but complete nonsense for anyone with any foreign policy or military experience.

Bingo. I tend to believe that in the absence of a well thought out and well defined foreign/domestic policy from the government, the military needs to do it's own hard analysis and lean in the direction of preparing for the most possible and most dangerous threats. To try to create an all singing and dancing force to be able to handle the mid level threats without addressing the high level ones is a fool's game. This is why I hate the term "agile".

rmc_wannabe said:
I find SSE to be just that. It is a 20 year commitment to do everything and nothing at the same time: Promises to buy new equipment, but no clear direction on how and where it will be employed. Parliament is pushing for a harder stance on China, yet our government is still talking trade deals. We put our token efforts into NATO, but have no plans to increase spending to meet our 2 percent GDP mandate. Our UN effort in Africa was notable, but short lived to make a real dent on the Security Council front. Domestic response efforts that are increasing in complexity and frequency, yet our equipping and bolstering of our reserve forces is wanting.

Totally agree on SSE. Not a fan of the 2% of GDP thing until DND/CAF get's it's own s**t together and stops wasting billions on administrative overhead. Personal opinion: not one more nickle for full-time pay. Equipment. maintenance and reserves; yes. Full-time pay; no.

I actually see nothing wrong with staying on cordial terms with China and continuing trade relations. BUT. If this pandemic has shown us anything it's that we need to have a national economic strategy to ensure that all vital strategic supplies and industries are domestic. Similarly we should formally exclude imports that can harm our security (such as telecommunications) and ensure we have stockpiles of vital raw materials that cannot be produced domestically.

rmc_wannabe said:
I feel the next party to form government needs to set out a better map of where we want to be in the world, how to get there, and fund accordingly. That will be more of a solution to branding that any PR campaign.

I don't hold any hope out for that. I expect whatever party is in power next will continue to focus on domestic issues. I've said it elsewhere but proper reform of the military (including an enlightened foreign/security policy) will require an extraordinary minister to herd the bureaucracy into line. I don't see anyone like that on the horizon.

Incidentally, I'm a firm believer in Gen Simonds position back in the 50s/60s that doing domestic operations is easy for a military trained and organized for proper warfighting. Whether it's lifting sandbags, or medical support during pandemics, or firefighting in the forests, you can adapt to that very quickly if the basics are in place. If on the other hand your force is a shambles, domestic ops become a bit problematic while warfighting becomes an impossibility.

:cheers:
 

Cloud Cover

Army.ca Veteran
Subscriber
Reaction score
26
Points
430
Please name one pillar of our foreign policy that would trigger a military response from Canada that is not NATO or NORAD.

"Do as little as possible" and "cut and run" seems to be the defining characteristics but I would love to be wrong.  And do you want to put your life on the line for that and more particularly should we let our politicians put the lives of others at risk knowing that the effort will be minimal and they will in fact, cut and run. (edit- not the military- the military will fight if allowed).
 

MilEME09

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
57
Points
530
CloudCover said:
Please name one pillar of our foreign policy that would trigger a military response from Canada that is not NATO or NORAD.

"Do as little as possible" and "cut and run" seems to be the defining characteristics but I would love to be wrong.  And do you want to put your life on the line for that and more particularly should we let our politicians put the lives of others at risk knowing that the effort will be minimal and they will in fact, cut and run. (edit- not the military- the military will fight if allowed).

Top that off with potential having to sue the government to get your VAC benefits.
 

Halifax Tar

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
33
Points
530
MilEME09 said:
Top that off with potential having to sue the government to get your VAC benefits.

This is the crux to me.

I simply don't advocate for people to join anymore.  And when I am asked by a friend or theirs kid who is looking into it I tell in no uncertain terms not to join.  If they must join, stay in school and become and officer.  And preferably in the reserves.  I tell everyone to become an RCAF Food Services officer.
 

mariomike

Army.ca Legend
Staff member
Directing Staff
Subscriber
Mentor
Reaction score
63
Points
630
Never regretted my time in "the profession of arms". On the contrary, I enjoyed it. Maybe because I was young.

Never considered it for a full-time job, although my sister did and stayed in for the whole ride. Never heard her, or her husband, say a bad word about it. Maybe in private, to each other, I don't know. But, never in front of me, or our parents.
 

dangerboy

Army.ca Veteran
Subscriber
Mentor
Reaction score
37
Points
530
Never regretted my time in "the profession of arms". On the contrary, I enjoyed it. Maybe because I was young.

Never considered it for a full-time job, although my sister did and stayed in for the whole ride. Never heard her, or her husband, say a bad word about it. Maybe in private, to each other, I don't know. But, never in front of me, or our parents.
Just out of curiosity when did they serve, was it within the last say 10 years? Things within current society and the CAF are different now than what they used to be and we have to take that into account.
 

mariomike

Army.ca Legend
Staff member
Directing Staff
Subscriber
Mentor
Reaction score
63
Points
630
Just out of curiosity when did they serve, was it within the last say 10 years?
She retired a little over ten years ago. She did a Reg to Res CT within the Air Force ( I think so she could stay at the same base ) towards the end of her career.
He retired before her to take a really good trade-related job in the civilian world.

She doesn't strike me as a hard-core "profession of arms" type, but, for the most part, she seemed satisfied with her work and enjoyed the people she worked with. At least, that's the impression my mother and I have.

One thing for sure, she loves Cold Lake, Alberta and says she will never leave.
Things within current society and the CAF are different now than what they used to be and we have to take that into account.

Personally, I enjoyed my time in the PRes for perhaps the most selfish reason of all. Because we were young. :)
 

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Myth
Reaction score
429
Points
880
Bill tells it like it is.... or should be:

Life Lessons from Brigadier General William Fletcher

Over the span of more than 30 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, Brigadier General William Fletcher has learned a lot about what it means to lead and how to excel in a career with the military. The Commander of 3rd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force West shares a few of those lessons to empower soldiers to be the best they can be.

On leadership:
“I’m a lot of things, but one of my strengths as a leader is to actually listen. It doesn’t mean I always have to agree, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to influence my decision, but I am going to listen. It’s a recognition that I don’t have all the answers. Yes, I’ve been around a long time and I have opinions and experience, but I don’t have the answers. They’re not the same thing. I think sometimes people conflate experience with knowing everything, and that’s really dangerous. I recognize that I don’t know everything and I’m open to advice and I’ll try to make the best decision that I can.”

1608578957921.jpg

Caption

On the implications of command:
“As a young officer, sometimes you lose sight that your decisions have some pretty significant consequences in terms of the lives of your people. That was brought into stark reality in operations for me a few times. Some decisions I made led to a soldier not coming home. That’s huge. That experience really drives my concept of what resilience is and what it means to take care of our soldiers.”

On staying humble:
“If you see me, I don’t wear my rank 24/7. I’m Bill Fletcher, regular guy. Please say hi.”

Four pieces of advice for soldiers:​

Trust your gut.
“My initial reaction has been right more often than it’s been wrong. It’s always when I’ve ignored a strong feeling that I’ve ended up making a stupid decision or found myself in a bad situation. I believe that most of our folks have a tremendous moral compass and they know what right is and they know what wrong is.”

Don’t stress out about your career.
“I have never really asked for a job in my life. The two times I did, I ended up getting the exact opposite so I just stopped asking. I always got what I needed. It just worked. It worked because whatever job I was in, whether it was comfortable or uncomfortable, whether it was something I wanted or something I never saw coming, I just tried to do my best.”

Have fun.
“We often forget the benefits that come with being in the Army, and I’m not talking about pensions or medical or dental. I’m talking about camaraderie, and the fact that the stuff that we do is pretty cool. Some folks would give their eye teeth just to be able to be a soldier for a day and just to experience what we experience on a daily basis. You lose sight of that after a bunch of years going through the grind. Every once in a while, it’s good to get re-glued, take stock and look at the context of what’s going on. Remember what’s important in life and have fun with what you’re doing.”

Find balance.
“It’s easy to work a half day, and by that I mean 6 a.m. to 6 at night or later. There will always be stuff that needs to be doing.
“When I was offered command of 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the one star asked: ‘If this were to happen would you take it?’ I instantly responded yes. He suggested that I ask my wife first, but I said I don’t need to. He responded: ‘Look, I’m 52 years old, divorced, with a new wife and a young baby. I’m starting life again. None of it was worth it. At the end of the day, the big green machine is going to keep ticking along and you’re going to have your family, so hopefully your relationship with them is still strong. So go ask your wife what she thinks.’

“That stuck with me. My family are the ones that will be there long after this, and they’ve sacrificed just as much as anyone else for Canada. Balance is absolutely critical. Don’t lose sight of your loved ones.”


 
Top