Commander Canadian Army Statement on the new Defence Policy

Statement / June 8, 2017 / Project number: ncr-stmt-17

Yesterday, the Government of Canada released its new Defence Policy: Strong. Secure. Engaged. The review initiated to shape the Policy involved the most comprehensive consultations ever undertaken on defence by any Canadian Government.  It is important to note that the Canadian Army was involved from the beginning and that the Policy clearly defines how the Government of Canada will support and employ the Canadian Armed Forces into the future. It offers clear direction on Canadian Defence priorities for the next 20 years and is backed up by a long-term funding commitment that provides the resources for implementation. 

The Policy defines a new vision for Defence: a strong Canada that is well defended through expanded surveillance and enhanced presence in the Arctic; a secure North America defined by an unwavering defence partnership with the United States; and a globally engaged Canada contributing to a stable international environment. It is supported by a new approach to Defence. This approach will anticipate emerging threats and challenges fundamental to Canada’s security by improving surveillance and intelligence capabilities; adapt to the rapid pace of change in today’s fluid security environment by investing in technology, innovation, personnel management and the Primary Reserve; and will act decisively with effective military capabilities to defend Canadian interests.

The policy defines eight core missions for the Canadian Armed Forces:

  • Detect, deter and defend against threats to or attacks on Canada;
  • Detect, deter and defend against threats to or attacks on North America in partnership with the United States;
  • Lead and/or contribute forces to NATO or coalition efforts to deter and defeat adversaries;
  • Lead and/or contribute to international peace operations and stabilization missions;
  • Engage in capacity building to support the security of other nations and their ability to contribute to security abroad;
  • Provide assistance to civil authorities and law enforcement in support of national security and the security of Canadians abroad;
  • Provide assistance to civil authorities and non-governmental partners in responding to international and domestic disasters or major emergencies; and
  • Conduct search and rescue operations.

The Government of Canada expects the Canadian Armed Forces to be able to concurrently conduct domestic operations and up to three large-scale and four small-scale international operations, along with a disaster assistance and response team (DART) deployment and a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO). To contribute to these missions, there are three key areas of investment for the Canadian Army: our personnel and their families, the Army Reserve, and our equipment and capabilities.

The Army has always been soldier-centric and the new Policy places people at the core of its vision. It recognizes the importance of caring for our people, which includes supporting families. New initiatives will ensure our members and their families continue to be strong and resilient, especially during stressful and challenging times. A few of the many initiatives are highlighted below:

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy to keep our talented people in uniform;
  • Undertake a comprehensive review of conditions of service and career paths to allow much more personalised career choices and flexibility;
  • Implement the first-ever, integrated strategy for human resource to balance the optimal assignment of tasks between the military, defence civilians and the private sector;
  • Promote diversity and inclusion as a core institutional value across the Defence Team;
  • Place a new focus on recruiting and retaining under-represented populations, including but not limited to women, Indigenous peoples, and visible minorities;
  • Implement a joint National Defence and Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Strategy;
  • Remove barriers to care, including creating an environment free from stigma where military members are encouraged to raise health concerns;
  • Complete the full implementation of the 10 recommendations of the Deschamps Report;
  • Provide an additional $6 million per year to modernize the Military Family Support Program and enable Military Family Resource Centres to provide better support;
  • Establish relocation expertise to help military families find and access the services they need in a new community; and
  • Create a new Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group that provides support to all members to seamlessly transition to post-military life.

The Policy seeks to maximize the operational output of the Canadian Armed Forces by further integrating reservists into the Total Force. It builds on the initiatives found in the Strengthening the Army Reserve strategy as follows:

  • Increase the size of the Reserve Force by 1500 (of which a portion would be attributed to the Army Reserve) and dramatically reduce the initial recruitment process (already underway);
  • Assign new roles to Army Reserve units such as light urban search and rescue (LUSAR), chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRND), direct fire, mortars, and pioneers;
  • Enhance existing roles such as information operations, combat support, and combat service support;
  • Employ the Reserve Force to deliver select expeditionary missions in a primary role such as capacity building;
  • Create an agile service model that supports transition between full-time and part-time service;
  • Align Primary Reserve Force remuneration and benefits with those of the Regular Force where demands of service are similar;
  • Revise annuitant employment regulations to attract and retain more Regular Force personnel to the Reserves;
  • Offer full-time summer employment to reservists in their first four years of service commencing in 2018; and
  • Work with partners in the federal government to align federal acts governing job protection legislation.

With regard to Army capabilities, the Policy will ensure that the Canadian Army will undergo a recapitalization of much of our land combat capabilities and vehicle fleets. These investments will improve our interoperability with the other services, as well as with our allies and partners:

  • Acquire ground-based air defence systems and associated munitions;
  • Modernize weapons effects simulation;
  • Replace the family of armoured combat support vehicles;
  • Modernize the fleet of Improvised Explosive Devise Detection and Defeat capabilities;
  • Acquire communications, sustainment, and survivability equipment for light forces;
  • Upgrade specific combat vehicles;
  • Modernize logistics vehicles, heavy engineer equipment and light utility vehicles;
  • Modernize communications, shelters, power generation, advanced water purification systems and equipment to operate in austere environments and remote regions;
  • Modernize land-based command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; and
  • Acquire all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and larger tracked semi-amphibious utility vehicles for use in the Arctic.

The new Defence Policy reaffirms the importance of the Mechanized Brigade Group as the minimum level at which land power effects are integrated.  It recognizes that the Brigade Group provides the joint force with the requisite firepower, mobility, protection, sustainment and command and control functions to effectively coordinate their employment; and further acknowledges the importance of training at this level.

Within the Policy, the Army has been recognized for its ability to be agile, scalable and responsive to meet Government of Canada requirements at home and abroad.  Maintaining the proper mix of combat capabilities, the ability to operate jointly with the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces and in concert with key allies and partners is crucial for Army mission success. This Defence Policy will ensure that the Army remains relevant and ready to face the complex challenges of the future global security environment. I highly encourage every member of our Army Team to take the time to review the Defence Policy in order to fully understand the vision and approach set forth for the Canadian Armed Forces by the Government of Canada. 

P.F. Wynnyk
Commander Canadian Army

Date modified: