An evolutionary Canadian Army

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Article / May 2, 2017 / Project number: 17-0118

By Major Nicole Meszaros, Directorate Army Public Affairs

OTTAWA – The Canadian Army (CA) has become more versatile in the post-Afghanistan environment. It has been an evolutionary process to make this change and to ensure Canadians and our Allies are aware of these efforts.

“We have to change the way the army is perceived by other organizations,” said Lieutenant-General Christian Juneau, Deputy Commander of the Canadian Army looking back over his tenure in this position. There is a perception that the size of our contribution to the mission in Afghanistan represents the only force employment model. In other words, some believe that the Army always deploys outside our boundaries with force packages of thousands of soldiers, hundreds of vehicles, etc., although we have the capacity to do so, the Canadian Army of today is scalable, agile, responsive, and versatile.” 

This means the CA can quickly deploy to meet any mandate it is assigned; it is capable of building ready-to-go teams of 10 soldiers and is also prepared to deploy a full brigade group if necessary.  For example, with Operation REASSURANCE, the first rotation of CA members of approximately 120 troops was in Poland within days of the announcement of Canada’s participation, which is testimony to the CA’s present-day versatility. “I am very proud of the Canadian Army’s ability to deploy so quickly,” said LGen Juneau. “This is a great example of our leaders being responsive and agile and of our troops’ ability to be versatile.”

There are more recent instances in which the Canadian Army has demonstrated its ability to adapt to specific mission requirements. We have a few Canadian Training Assistance Teams (CTAT) deployed in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Niger. These teams of 10-30 soldiers are engaged in delivering capacity building in counter-terrorism, logistics, etc. We currently have over 150 soldiers deployed to Ukraine. Their mission is to contribute to the Ukrainian Forces' capability development. In essence, our contingent trains Ukrainian Forces in individual and small unit tactics, techniques and procedures. Moreover, this summer the Canadian Army will lead a multinational Battle Group in Latvia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Force Presence.

LGen Juneau has served as the Deputy Commander of the Canadian Army since July of 2014 and following promotion to Lieutenant-General on April 28, 2017, he will be appointed Deputy Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, in Naples, Italy, during of the summer of 2017. Brigadier-General Carl Turenne, current Commander of the 5th Canadian Division, following promotion to Major-General, will be appointed as the new Deputy Commander of the Canadian Army.

For the next couple of years, LGen Juneau envisions that the CA will have opportunities to increase interoperability with Canada’s Allies, a key objective. “During our Afghanistan years, we worked predominantly with the Americans and the British – but with many other nations also. We developed command and control systems that worked at the time but interoperability is fleeting and must be worked at if it is to be maintained and improved.”

Canada, he explained, will always work in a multi-national environment and so interoperability will be key to the CA’s success. “The Canadian Armed Forces must invest in technology that ensures our systems are compatible with those of our Allies,” said LGen Juneau. “This is a challenge, one that Brigadier-General Turenne will have to work at as he assumes the role of Deputy Commander Canadian Army, under the excellent leadership of Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, Commander of the Canadian Army. When we buy or conceive systems, we must ensure they will work the systems our allies use.” Having served as the Deputy Commanding General for Operations with XVIII Airborne Corps in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, a highlight of his career where he was awarded the U.S. Forces Legion of Merit for his services, LGen Juneau’s experience allows him to be an authority on such complex matters.

The CA will continue its high operational tempo with personnel deployed on missions around the world. This can only be maintained because of the high-quality soldiers Canada produces. “Canadian soldiers are second-to-none,” noted LGen Juneau, saying that they protect Canadians and their interests in a number of important ways. “Our ability to always answer the call for domestic operations such as natural disasters will remain steadfastly in place,” he said. “When Canadians need us, the CA will be ready. When it comes to the service we provide to our nation, it is this of which I am most proud.”

As the need for well-trained, well-led, and well-equipped soldiers remains in place, the future is bright for the CA.

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