Canadian Army welcomes Auditor General’s report on Reserve

Article / May 3, 2016 / Project number: 16-0133

Ottawa, Ontario — Canadian Army (CA) officials are welcoming recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) on ways to improve how the Army Reserve is funded, recruited, trained, and equipped so they are ready to deploy as part of an integrated Canadian Army.

Those recommendations are part of the OAG’s annual Spring Report for 2016, which was released May 3.

“On behalf of the Canadian Army, I thank the Auditor General for his advice and recommendations in his report on the Canadian Army Reserve,” said Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Commander of the Canadian Army. “I accept this report and will address its recommendations.”

The Canadian Army has already undertaken steps to respond to the concerns raised by the Auditor General. These measures include ensuring funds are appropriately allocated for assigned tasks across the Army thereby contributing to readiness; improving recruiting and retention strategies; and looking into a workable plan to address the accessibility of equipment available for Reserve training.

Work is also ongoing through the Chief Military Personnel (CMP) Military Personnel Management Capability Transformation (MPMCT) project to maintain all Army Reserve personnel readiness with the future military personnel management tool, Guardian. Furthermore, presently any individual or collective training gaps identified are resolved during the pre-deployment phases for High Readiness and Theatre Mission Specific Training when Army Reserves are committed to international operations.

The OAG has concluded that funding for Reserve units is inconsistent with the expected results and recommended that the Department of National Defence ensure annual funding is consistent with unit activity. The Canadian Army (CA) is currently revising the Army Reserve funding model as part of its planned cyclical review process.

The recommendations of the Auditor General will serve to inform this review and ensure the funding model is more transparent and accountable to the Government of Canada. The Canadian Army will work to ensure that Reserve Funding is allocated in an efficient, responsive and timely fashion.

“The Canadian Army takes the stewardship of public resources seriously and continuously works to improve its funding model,” said LGen Hainse. “The Canadian Army will work to improve the allocation of reserve funding.”

Recruiting and retention of Reserve personnel are a high priority for the CA and the focus of a 2015 directive from General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff. In keeping with the directive, recruiting and retention strategies are being implemented to streamline the overall recruiting process and to set the conditions to increase retention across all Commands. A revitalized retention strategy will ensure optimum staffing levels are maintained and talent retained.

The OAG Report also concludes that CA Reserve personnel are not trained at the same levels as their counterparts in the regular force and that reserve units do not always have clear guidance when preparing for major international operations. The CA is committed to ensuring reserve personnel are thoroughly prepared for deployments both domestic and international. Training will be tailored to meet specific objectives and continue to ensure reserve members can seamlessly integrate with their regular force colleagues. Additionally, any gaps in training will be identified and resolved during the pre-deployment phases for High Readiness and Theatre Mission Specific Training when army reservists are committed to international operations.

“Training is fundamental to operational excellence and I appreciate that the Auditor General has recommended areas where we can further improve,” LGen Hainse said. “We are putting measures in place to continue to ensure that each reservist is prepared for any mission, domestic or international.”

The OAG also noted that reserve units have generally lacked access to equipment needed to train for missions here in Canada. Currently, most equipment is held either by reserve units themselves or Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters. When gaps are identified, equipment is reallocated from national stocks and CA officials are currently looking into a workable plan to address the accessibility of equipment available for reserve training as identified in the report.

Army reserve units are spread out right across the country, making them ideally suited to assist regular force personnel in domestic operations such as battling wildfires in Saskatchewan in 2015.

Brigadier-General Rob Roy MacKenzie, who was named Chief of Staff of the Canadian Army Reserve in 2015 and served several tours of duty in Afghanistan as a Reservist, said Canada’s part-time soldiers are also a key component of overseas operations.

“The Army that we are in today is one of the best institutions in the country and the Army Reserve is an integral part of that,” he said.

BGen MacKenzie is overseeing efforts to strengthen the Army Reserves that began shortly after his appointment. These efforts include streamlining the recruitment process, encouraging outgoing regular force members to transfer to the reserves in order to retain their valuable knowledge and expanding high school co-op programs.

“This year will be my 31st year serving in the Army, in both the reserve and regular force,” he added. “So, I view my service as part of Army service, period. I would recommend any young Canadian who has an interest and wants a good challenge, to join the Army Reserves. I really believe that.”

By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

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