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Jerry Amernic: The downfall of Canada’s military

GR66

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Yes, but for example, Toronto already has a bunch of armouries (and HMCS York) which the Reserve units already use. Would it have been better to keep CFB Downsview, move those units there, and get rid of Moss Park, Fort York, etc?
Not move the units there, but to provide a centralized facility to house those capabilities that can't easily be managed in the individual armouries. Shared vehicles and maintenance facilities, indoor ranges and other training facilities (obstacle course, climbing wall, urban warfare training centre, larger classroom facilities, etc.). The airfield could have housed a Reserve helicopter unit. It could have been used by the Federal Government as a storage facility for humanitarian aid and disaster response equipment and supplies.
 

GK .Dundas

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Not move the units there, but to provide a centralized facility to house those capabilities that can't easily be managed in the individual armouries. Shared vehicles and maintenance facilities, indoor ranges and other training facilities (obstacle course, climbing wall, urban warfare training centre, larger classroom facilities, etc.). The airfield could have housed a Reserve helicopter unit. It could have been used by the Federal Government as a storage facility for humanitarian aid and disaster response equipment and supplies.
That would require a Government capable of thinking beyond winning the next election. And currently there really doesn't seem to be a single political leader or would be leader that seems able to do that.
I still think closing down CFB Winnipeg for example was incredibly stupid.
 

rmc_wannabe

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That would require a Government capable of thinking beyond winning the next election. And currently there really doesn't seem to be a single political leader or would be leader that seems able to do that.
I still think closing down CFB Winnipeg for example was incredibly stupid.
Same can be said for the Griesbach/Namao/Calgary debacle. 6jsl3v.jpg
 

Spencer100

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Not move the units there, but to provide a centralized facility to house those capabilities that can't easily be managed in the individual armouries. Shared vehicles and maintenance facilities, indoor ranges and other training facilities (obstacle course, climbing wall, urban warfare training centre, larger classroom facilities, etc.). The airfield could have housed a Reserve helicopter unit. It could have been used by the Federal Government as a storage facility for humanitarian aid and disaster response equipment and supplies.
That would have been a great idea.

The military needs PR in Canada. Forget Tik Tok and social media. Do the easy stuff first. Start with reservists wearing their uniforms outside of the drill hall. Be seen. The military has a built in super app. The uniform. Wear and be seen wearing it. High School kids in the reserves to prom etc. (if its a kilted reg they will look better than anyone else there :) Wear Class A to weddings, galas and fund raisers. Wearing just to the erg dinner not seen by an one.

Work with vet orgs and the legion have them wear their metals etc.

Put the cadets back in the high schools. Spend some money there. Get them young...... :)

Use the stone frigates, drill halls etc. for more out reach in the cities. Get into the new Canadian communities. This is the hard one. One example stand up the 1st Canadian Punjab Regiment.

As a organization I see a lot of hiding. Stop the social media and ads trying to be cool. its never going to work. All government organization are just bad at it. The military even more so. Go with what you have have. Tradition, history, uniforms, active life.

Too stop the downfall of the military it must start at the ground level.

I am sure I will get a lot negative for this.
 

CBH99

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I think it was a mistake too, but I'm not sure that retention (maybe recruiting) would be better.

The Australian Army has its bases in cities for the most part, and their retention is abysmal - even worse than us. Why? Because they realize that in Brisbane or Adelaide or wherever, they can just quit and look for a job in the city. This is not to say that our current basing locations are good, it's just that "moving bases to cities" won't necessarily mean people stay in.

Also, having a base in a city doesn't necessarily mean the public will think of it in their daily lives. I've met people in Winnipeg who didn't realize that 17 Wing was there (on the other side of the Int'l airport, no less). I'm not too familiar with Edmonton but would folks living and working in the south side really see that many soldiers in uniform? Would the CAF members be out and about in uniform before or after work, or be like Ottawa and go to/from work in civies?
So I live in south Edmonton, and it’s not uncommon to see members in uniform filling up at a gas station or popping into a Timmies around commute times.

North side/closer to base there are more, sure. I’m actually always surprised to see how many are in Sherwood Park (very much on the higher/high middle class scale) - the drive to base is about half the distance.

______

And I’d absolutely believe it when it comes to people not knowing 17 Wing is there. It blows me away - seriously blows me away - that people don’t pay more attention to what’s going on around them, look up more when planes/helicopters fly over, or are even spatially aware.

Is there a lot of noticeable military air traffic in Winnipeg?
 

CBH99

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That would have been a great idea.

The military needs PR in Canada. Forget Tik Tok and social media. Do the easy stuff first. Start with reservists wearing their uniforms outside of the drill hall. Be seen. The military has a built in super app. The uniform. Wear and be seen wearing it. High School kids in the reserves to prom etc. (if its a kilted reg they will look better than anyone else there :) Wear Class A to weddings, galas and fund raisers. Wearing just to the erg dinner not seen by an one.

Work with vet orgs and the legion have them wear their metals etc.

Put the cadets back in the high schools. Spend some money there. Get them young...... :)

Use the stone frigates, drill halls etc. for more out reach in the cities. Get into the new Canadian communities. This is the hard one. One example stand up the 1st Canadian Punjab Regiment.

As a organization I see a lot of hiding. Stop the social media and ads trying to be cool. its never going to work. All government organization are just bad at it. The military even more so. Go with what you have have. Tradition, history, uniforms, active life.

Too stop the downfall of the military it must start at the ground level.

I am sure I will get a lot negative for this.
I don’t think brainstorming ideas on how to increase recruiting/retention, and be more visible to the public, will/should get you a lot of negative.

Things won’t change if people don’t brainstorm or throw ideas out there. I think your ideas are all good ones, personally.


In terms of getting in front of the Canadian public, I’d take your recommendations & brainstorm.

- in Alberta we’ve always worn uniforms to/from work. I’m sensing that isn’t the case elsewhere?

- Static displays at the Calgary Stampede or Edmonton K-Days is always busy. A LAV and a TAPV, a few weapons changed to a table for the kids to play with, maybe a helicopter on static display, etc - helps us be more visible

- If the government funds the CBC to the tune of $11B a year, the CBC can damn well do some positive news stories on the CAF.

- 1000 members in Iraq training their security forces.

- 500 members in Ukraine training their military in the case of a Russian invasion…and look how well they’ve been doing thus far.

- Detail what’s included in these large military aid packages we send. “X Billion in military aid…” is pretty vague. Emphasize the 3000 Carl G’s donated & how it’s contributed to decimating Russian armoured forces

- Training exercises in foreign countries which can result in good things for the local populace. A positive spin on equipment procurement rather than ONLY focusing on the negative.

- DART deployments

You want us to fund you to the tune of $11B, and you go ahead and generate around $6B from advertising? You can report the good things too.


I’d also say DO NOT lower standards, or appear to be doing so. Keep the standards high, appearance crisp, and let the message be along the lines of “Want to make the world a better place? Join us.”

Appear to be a caliber above the rest. Canadians will notice and respect the organization more, and the applicants we get will be more passionate & driven, and I would think of a better quality overall.

(Think of the US Army - we think of professional, large, very capable, and a force for helping people in need, not just fighting wars. Now think of the USMC… most people just visually see it as another US Army, but the USMC has a reputation that attracts a certain type of person.)

You know who didn’t have a recruiting issue back when the Afghan War was in full swing? Us. I had applications coming in daily.

You know who doesn’t have a recruiting problem now? Ukraine.


Why do people of a certain flock go to these organizations when the fight is on? Because they want to make the world a better place. The military isn’t supposed to be ‘all accepting & all accommodating’ — if it appears that anybody can succeed, the ones that want something more will look elsewhere.


I think social media has a place. But you’re right, it has to be done proper.

(Look at the Royal Marines for how social media can be used to both inform the public of their importance & relevance, and recruit new members at the same time.)
 

SeaKingTacco

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So I live in south Edmonton, and it’s not uncommon to see members in uniform filling up at a gas station or popping into a Timmies around commute times.

North side/closer to base there are more, sure. I’m actually always surprised to see how many are in Sherwood Park (very much on the higher/high middle class scale) - the drive to base is about half the distance.

______

And I’d absolutely believe it when it comes to people not knowing 17 Wing is there. It blows me away - seriously blows me away - that people don’t pay more attention to what’s going on around them, look up more when planes/helicopters fly over, or are even spatially aware.

Is there a lot of noticeable military air traffic in Winnipeg?
Not noticeable, no. It usually just kind of blends in with the civil air traffic.
 

lenaitch

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I was in Toronto when the decision was made to close the base. IMO, politics(a large land area, and an expanding city) were more of a deciding factor than military expediency/efficiency. Then, more strident voices hijacked the decision and converted the lands to a rec park. Sigh.
I grew up in the shadow of Downsview, and clearly remember CF-100s, C-119 'Flying Boxcars, etc. Toronto had hated that base for years. It's not strictly an anti-military attitude, although there is likely an element to that, it just doesn't like anything that it 'blue collar' within its borders. Ships in its harbour, freight trains, noisy planes, heavy manufacturing; they should all be close by to serve it - just someplace else. The only reason the Downsview property wasn't built over years ago was Bombardier. Admittedly it was manufacturing, but it was such a large, well paying employer that they didn't dare try to chase it out.

I don't know the historic CAF staffing levels but it is my sense that downsizing in numbers and locations long predates the end of the Cold War.
Not move the units there, but to provide a centralized facility to house those capabilities that can't easily be managed in the individual armouries. Shared vehicles and maintenance facilities, indoor ranges and other training facilities (obstacle course, climbing wall, urban warfare training centre, larger classroom facilities, etc.). The airfield could have housed a Reserve helicopter unit. It could have been used by the Federal Government as a storage facility for humanitarian aid and disaster response equipment and supplies.
I think that would have been a sound use, but you do realize that you mention things like "warfare" and "range" that would make urban heads explode.

If I recall, it had a large, fairly robust supply depot building that is still standing.

Isn't 400 Squadron still called 'City of Toronto', even though it's in Borden? Anything that involved continued or increased use of the airstrip would have been problematic to the area residents and therefore local counsellors. Some have made it a life goal to close the airport on the Island and Downsview would have fared no better.
Put the cadets back in the high schools. Spend some money there. Get them young...... :)
Speaking of heads exploding . . .
I think it was a mistake too, but I'm not sure that retention (maybe recruiting) would be better.

The Australian Army has its bases in cities for the most part, and their retention is abysmal - even worse than us. Why? Because they realize that in Brisbane or Adelaide or wherever, they can just quit and look for a job in the city. This is not to say that our current basing locations are good, it's just that "moving bases to cities" won't necessarily mean people stay in.

Also, having a base in a city doesn't necessarily mean the public will think of it in their daily lives. I've met people in Winnipeg who didn't realize that 17 Wing was there (on the other side of the Int'l airport, no less). I'm not too familiar with Edmonton but would folks living and working in the south side really see that many soldiers in uniform? Would the CAF members be out and about in uniform before or after work, or be like Ottawa and go to/from work in civies?
Our daughter works at North Bay and regularly hears from local that they didn't know there was a base in the city.
 

dimsum

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Isn't 400 Squadron still called 'City of Toronto', even though it's in Borden?
The "City of..." name has no bearing anymore on where it's located.

405 LRP sqn, currently in Greenwood, was called "City of Vancouver"
403 sqn, currently in Gagetown, is "City of Calgary"
 

YZT580

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I grew up in the shadow of Downsview, and clearly remember CF-100s, C-119 'Flying Boxcars, etc. Toronto had hated that base for years. It's not strictly an anti-military attitude, although there is likely an element to that, it just doesn't like anything that it 'blue collar' within its borders. Ships in its harbour, freight trains, noisy planes, heavy manufacturing; they should all be close by to serve it - just someplace else. The only reason the Downsview property wasn't built over years ago was Bombardier. Admittedly it was manufacturing, but it was such a large, well paying employer that they didn't dare try to chase it out.

I don't know the historic CAF staffing levels but it is my sense that downsizing in numbers and locations long predates the end of the Cold War.

I think that would have been a sound use, but you do realize that you mention things like "warfare" and "range" that would make urban heads explode.

If I recall, it had a large, fairly robust supply depot building that is still standing.

Isn't 400 Squadron still called 'City of Toronto', even though it's in Borden? Anything that involved continued or increased use of the airstrip would have been problematic to the area residents and therefore local counsellors. Some have made it a life goal to close the airport on the Island and Downsview would have fared no better.

Speaking of heads exploding . . .

Our daughter works at North Bay and regularly hears from local that they didn't know there was a base in the city.
400 was at Downsview way back when they were flying otters. It was definitely politics that reduced Downsview's value but not in the way you might think. That supply depot you mention was moved to Montreal to keep the francophones happy. They spent literally millions duplicating a facility they already had in the name of appeasement. Once that was gone, there was no point in keeping the base.
 

daftandbarmy

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Our daughter works at North Bay and regularly hears from local that they didn't know there was a base in the city.

CFB Esquimalt runs ship tours.... at the base.

If they were to, oh I don't know, sail 20 minutes down to go alongside in Victoria harbour - wherever you can park a Frigate of MCDV - they might get more attention from people who aren't, mainly, base rats.

I ran that idea past a few RCN people a few years ago and got some interesting looks, as in 'you ain't from around here, are you?' ;)
 

Colin Parkinson

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That would have been a great idea.

The military needs PR in Canada. Forget Tik Tok and social media. Do the easy stuff first. Start with reservists wearing their uniforms outside of the drill hall. Be seen. The military has a built in super app. The uniform. Wear and be seen wearing it. High School kids in the reserves to prom etc. (if its a kilted reg they will look better than anyone else there :) Wear Class A to weddings, galas and fund raisers. Wearing just to the erg dinner not seen by an one.

Work with vet orgs and the legion have them wear their metals etc.

Put the cadets back in the high schools. Spend some money there. Get them young...... :)
I have been pushing for more opportunities for my Cadets to wear their uniform, but our headquarters are nervous nellies. I was offering to have our Colour Guard march in the city councillors and other events, but Covid squashed that. Next Sept I am looking for stuff for them to do in uniform in the community.
But we do have a tendency to eat our own. Many of the Cadet Corps look down on Navy Leagues, many of the Reserves look down on Cadets, Regulars still look down on Reserves. Support, respect and mentoring will draw people in and give a positive way to reach into communities.
 

Spencer100

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I have been pushing for more opportunities for my Cadets to wear their uniform, but our headquarters are nervous nellies. I was offering to have our Colour Guard march in the city councillors and other events, but Covid squashed that. Next Sept I am looking for stuff for them to do in uniform in the community.
But we do have a tendency to eat our own. Many of the Cadet Corps look down on Navy Leagues, many of the Reserves look down on Cadets, Regulars still look down on Reserves. Support, respect and mentoring will draw people in and give a positive way to reach into communities.
I just don't understand the not wanting to wear the uniforms. I say loosen the rules. I would almost make it an order to wear to big functions. Especially civilian ones. (sure you are going to get more walts but really is that big show stopper?)

Hey maybe there was advantage when officers purchased their commissions. They really really wanted to be seen :)

That gets me thinking. Lets get well off and successful people to adopt a regiment. How many would give time and money to wear a kilt? PPCLI was the last privately raised regiment in the Empire.......
 

Spencer100

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So...HCols and HCapts?

Or do you mean to start a regt?
I'm brainstorming! I probably shouldn't. I'm coming from real out of the box.

But maybe both. I did a few post ago think hmmm raise a Sikh/south Asian Regiment. 1st Canadian Punjab or something. But also more community's engagement. As things go HCols etc. are supercheap. They can buy their own stuff.

But how about sponsorship to buy kit? It was done in the way past. Old can work again with a twist.

Doing things currently really doesn't seem to be working great.
 
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markppcli

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Yes, but for example, Toronto already has a bunch of armouries (and HMCS York) which the Reserve units already use. Would it have been better to keep CFB Downsview, move those units there, and get rid of Moss Park, Fort York, etc?
Yes. Reserve armouries, almost without exception, are very very dated buildings generally build to house more social clubs that training facilities. One could make a strong argument, for example, to shut down both of them in Edmonton and have the reserve regiments use the enormous LTF and TAPV barn. Hell 41 service could do weekend shifts at 1 Svc.
 

markppcli

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I just don't understand the not wanting to wear the uniforms. I say loosen the rules. I would almost make it an order to wear to big functions. Especially civilian ones. (sure you are going to get more walts but really is that big show stopper?)

Gee what could possibly make us less inclined to wear uniforms out in public ? Was there perhaps a fairly recent violent event ?

Hey maybe there was advantage when officers purchased their commissions. They really really wanted to be seen :)

That gets me thinking. Lets get well off and successful people to adopt a regiment. How many would give time and money to wear a kilt? PPCLI was the last privately raised regiment in the Empire.......

Bearing in mind that Gault was already a Captain when he did that, it was a massively different world when he did that. Same with Lord Strathconna, paying for imperial adventure isn’t exactly fashionable for the super wealthy. There’s a reason we have seen Musk’s Own Hussars in Ukraine.
 
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