Misconceptions and misreporting (hopefully) dealt with, all in one column - I've highlighted some points that'll appeal to the "more teeth, less tail" caucus of Army.ca enthusiasts. As usual, shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act - http://www.cb-cda.gc.ca/info/act-e.html#rid-33409Forces deployment: for the record
CDS Gen Hillier, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 2 Nov 06HCH link
- Permalink, if HCH link expires
Much has been said in recent days on how the Canadian Forces (CF) intends to meet its commitments in Afghanistan utilizing the maximum number of men and women in uniform to therefore minimize the number of times a soldier will have to deploy to that country. While this debate has gone on, there has been much speculation as to our intentions, the breadth and depth of any actions we might be contemplating, and often criticism of the effects that may result. Given the variety of opinions expressed, and the obviously keen interest, I thought it would be useful to put on record a bit of context in the aim of better informing the debate.
While we are looking at various options to achieve the goal – balancing the demand and thus minimizing the number of an individual’s combat deployments – our guiding principle remains that military missions are Canadian Forces missions and will involve all parts of the Canadian Forces
. We have extremely competent men and women throughout our organisation and we want to make sure they are all given an opportunity to contribute, without asking any single one to carry an inordinate share.
To put the right person with the right training in the right position is a complex task – but, more important, a necessary one. Our intention is to make the smartest and the most sustainable use of our resources.Our mission in Afghanistan differs from others in the past, in that the structure required to support the troops involved in active operations is much larger. That support structure, however, does not need to be entirely operated by army personnel, and that, in past operations, has been the default setting.
We already have personnel from the navy and the air force in some of these support positions and, as you know, reservists, who are also an important part of this mission, both in combat and support roles.
Part of the solution to ensure we meet our commitments will simply be to do what we are already doing, this time on a larger scale, both in terms of numbers and in terms of where we look for these people, utilizing people from every part of the Canadian Forces in their primary role – logistics, military police, signallers and medics spring to mind – even though they are not in operational units. Thus, we are willing to shrink headquarters, task every wing, station, base and unit to ensure specialists are available, trained and deployable to do the job.
Second, making available combat arms soldiers from traditional static jobs, to ensure our units are filled, will occur. We’ll live with smaller headquarters to do this.
Third, recruiting and the efficient training of those combat arms soldiers already in the pipeline will ease the individual burden, as will the opportunity for former Canadian Forces members in our Supplementary Reserve to re-enrol under flexible terms for service in Canada or overseas. Temporarily employing uniformed personnel in other than their primary role, re-roling them, will also be an option
and is not something new to the military when it comes to adapting to changing situations. Our military personnel are extremely capable, and their training allows them to perform duties effectively that extend beyond their primary roles. This happens daily not only in operations, but also in non-operational functions in headquarters and support areas.
It is clear that re-roling must be done smartly to be effective. Infantry personnel employed in non-combat roles in Canada can be made available for deployment by replacing them in their current positions by navy, air force, reserve and civilian personnel
. We are looking at all options that will allow us to augment the infantry’s ranks with minimum impact on other services and on our serving members’ career progression. In fact, the operational experience will have a significant positive impact.
Our fine members wearing the uniform do so proudly and with the understanding that they are part of one big team. Most of them have already been employed in the past in other than their primary roles and they know this is part of our business. We are not looking at taking trained sailors and air force personnel and making soldiers out of them. We will find the right spot for each member. If it makes sense to train temporarily as infantry for some people who have not yet begun trades training, we will consider it.
But once again, this will be done only after careful consideration of effects, and only if taking such action would provide an effective and more timely result than those actions that we already employ.
The length of deployment is also something we are looking at. Troops participating in active or combat operations in Afghanistan will continue to deploy for approximately six months. Troops involved in other functions may see the length of their tour being extended for a total of nine months or longer.
This, as well, is not something new. We already have some members in Afghanistan serving one-year tours. Brigadier-General David Fraser, the Task Force Afghanistan Commander is one of them. As Commander Multi-National Division (South West) in Bosnia, I served there for 12 months. The relationship building at these levels of command takes time, so in order to get the positive effect we seek, longer command tours are necessary.
Some changes will occur sooner than others, but we don’t expect they will affect the current rotation in Afghanistan. We will make the logical and sensible choices to ensure we fulfil our commitment, take care of our troops and continue to assist the Afghan people on their way to a better life, free of oppression and violence.
Canadians can be assured that the troops we send to Afghanistan will continue to be trained to the highest standard and ready for the challenges ahead.
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