Author Topic: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?  (Read 76282 times)

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Offline Chief Engineer

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2014, 00:41:33 »
A good read here when time permits, pretty much sums it all up, even though it's a couple of years old.

http://naval.review.cfps.dal.ca/forum/view.php?topic=35

I for one believe that the title of this forum subject could be correct (hope not...). Not for al trades of course, but for Meso and even Mars bar...?

The Navres (Navy) has spent a huge sum of money over the last dozen or more years on recruiting and the good ole Navy bus attraction thing.

They put two fulltime recruiters at each unit and told them to "sell" the Navres by offering "employment" plain and simple, along with some tuition reimbursement and a class A dental plan.

When those that were recruited using this model figure out that the employment angle has pretty much dried up they are not going to hang around I bet.

The majority of units can barely maintain a decent size now, and the French units are in very bad shape personnel wise.

The coastal units fare better and also attract quite a few ex reg sailors as well, so they will be o.k.

The Navres has never achieved it's authorized manning level and is shrinking last time I saw the numbers.

The "grown-ups need to get a grip on this fast"...

At my home unit Cabot you would think for sure they would have a rather large unit, truth be told perhaps 60 or 70 pers parade on a regular basis and its the same pretty much everywhere. When I joined in the late 80's we had over a 160.  They do recruit a fair number of personnel but retention is not good as was previously mentioned. The naval reserves always had a certain number of people CT, but it was only a few years ago when the floodgates opened when then Commodore Bennett came to a town hall in Halifax and made comments that Class C is like crack, and people should seek employment elsewhere. I don't know for the life of me why she said that. Next came the reg Commodore and basically said the same thing, there was a panic and we lost a lot of good people. By the time a more positive message came, it was too late. The problem right now is that there are too many rumors going around and no one in NAVRES is quelling them, so you get posts like the first one in this thread.
Getting back to the MESO thing, yes the trade is in trouble and have been for sometime. Do I think the trade will cease, no I do not. I firmly believe that we are a resource that can benefit the regular force, all it would take is someone to recognize that. The only thing going for us right now is the amount of MAR ENG leaving due to the Spec pay issue and the amalgamation of the trade with the ET's. If they had the numbers the MESO's would be replaced on the MCDV's long ago. We do have people like Pat fighting for us, hopefully it'll be enough.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2014, 08:46:18 »
I found the referenced (Dalhousie Centre for Foreign Policy Studies/Canadian Naval Review)article, and the discussion following very interesting and informative.

Let me address the informative bit, first. My guess is that most serving senior officers are like me, as I was when I served: loaded with good will towards the reserve forces, constantly flummoxed when we tried/try to do something about, for or to the reserves and, broadly and generally, ignorant of the reserves. The fact that many, many senior officers started their careers in the reserves doesn't mean they actually know much about the reserves. There are very, very few (none?) officers in senior positions who have, for example, served as (full time, regular force) COs of Naval Reserve Divisions or reserve regiments, thereby learning and comprehending what the real, local, unit level challenges are.

I did not have any meaningful interactions with the reserves until I was a unit CO. My dealings then spanned the spectrum: from frustration, even occasional anger with one (nearby) unit through to continuous admiration for the qualities of the reserve folks, especially the NCMs, and their willingness to put themselves out to get training and experience.

I shouldn't be too surprised, my father began his career in an RCNVR's half company (that's what NRDs were called, apparently) when he was a university student, way back in the 1920s. He startd as an ordinary seaman and became an officer and then remained in the reserves while he started a civilian career. He went to sea, full time, fairly often ~ more often, in the mid 1930s,  as the full effects of the Great Depression set in. He was lucky to have been well enough trained and the RCN found fairly long term billets for him. That is, for me, the first lesson: reservists must be "well enough trained" to be able to "backfill" in full time (regular) positions on pretty short notice. The second lesson, from my own father's service and from my own experience, is that we have excellent people in the reserves: often, in my experience usually better people that we find in the regular force. (That shouldn't surprise us ~ one of my mentors told me once that we had (do we still have?) a "student militia" in which the soldiers in the ranks are, mostly, qualified to be officers in the regular force. I saw that in the enthusiasm and adaptability of reserve people when I initiated a somewhat imaginative training programme (I sent NCOs and equipment to some reserve units over the winter (got my knuckles rapped after the fact for abusing TD, etc, but it was all good ~ forgiveness is always easier to get than permission) and then (gentlemen's agreement) the 'owners' of the reserves sent me people I needed to "backfill" in the next year.) So, we have a useful primary role: backfill ~ which requires good enough individual skills training, some (much?) of which can be done in local reserve units on training nights and weekends, sometimes using simulators and properly designed and managed DL. And we have the kinds of people who, I think, are likely to make good (imaginative) use of local resources.

Slightly  :off topic: but:

Take a look at this list.

Every single Naval Reserve Division is, I think, very near a navigable waterway: some big rivers, some big (HUGE) lakes and two oceans. Why can't every single NRD have a vessel? Every NRD is also near an army reserve unit.


UK Archer class inshore patrol craft 

Swedish CB90 riverine patrol vessel

I know the answer is money, but ... just think of the useful, imaginative joint training that could be conducted with the army reserves if the local Naval Reserve Division had a couple of these:


US sailors and marines using the Swedish CB90 and a RHIB type vessel

It is training for war ... not training for this or that or any specific war. The only thing I know, with 100% certainty, is that no one in Ottawa (or Washington or Beijing), including Gen Lawson and LGen Thibault (who may be the smartest guy in NDHQ), knows what the next war will look like. Maybe inshore patrol vessels and riverine operations will be useful skills, maybe not ... But I am pretty sure that actual (lightly armed) vessels ans joint training will be good for moral and moral matters, doesn't it?

/higjack ends

I don't have any real answers to the reserve dilemmas, and I think the plural matters because I think the problems (and opportunities) that face, say, HMCS York on one hand and the Queens York Rangers on the other are different, and I think that the problems (and opportunities) that face HMCS York on one hand and HMCS Cabot on the other are also different. I think better regular reserve integration might help  and I think that needs to be a two-way street: more and better regular force people are needed to help the reserves to help themselves because that will, in the longer run, help the regular force ~ short term pain for long term gain, as then finance minister John Crosbie said of the 1979 budget (specifically an 18% gas tax) that cost the (Joe Clark) PCs their government. I think the reserve army needs a massive reorganization to save overhead ~ all those LCols and CWOs in units that cannot parade more than two platoons ~ and those savings need to be applied to things that make reserve service more attractive: summer work (they're students, after all and summer jobs matter) and useful, challenging, "fun" things to do in winter.
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Offline Halifax Tar

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2014, 09:04:17 »
summer work (they're students, after all and summer jobs matter) and useful, challenging, "fun" things to do in winter.

And travel!  A big draw for me to NavRes was the ability to have summer work away from home, sort of independent if you will.  Many young people would love the opportunity to get away from mom and dad for summer.

Of course I joined NavRes as a Sup Tech expecting I would be a sailor, boy was I wrong.  It wasn't until I was half way through my basic that I found out NavRes Sup Tech's don't sail.  Why join any facet of the Navy if you wont get to go to sea ? 

I loved my short time in the Nav Res but when the contract I was offered was in Quebec City; and all I wanted to do was go to sea, I quickly jumped ship to the regs.  No pun intended.
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Offline stoker8

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2014, 09:54:14 »
Exactly E.R Campbell, your link, "Take a look at this list".

Drives home my point about the Navres recruiters selling "employment" perfectly, look at all the email addresses for each unit, "Jobs Jobs Jobs".

The Navres is not a fulltime job/ career, yet that is what they are still pushing!

And that in the end will be the downfall of the organization unless they sell it for what it really is, "part time service to your country", citizen sailors who live work and serve within the community representing the RCN and giving up their vacation time to train away from home.

Early in their service yes they will serve more lengthy periods of time, but they should not get hooked on class B/ C employment, just look at the paperwork they use as well, it's called a "contract" not a "posting message"...


Offline Chief Engineer

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #29 on: March 16, 2014, 10:24:12 »
Exactly E.R Campbell, your link, "Take a look at this list".

Drives home my point about the Navres recruiters selling "employment" perfectly, look at all the email addresses for each unit, "Jobs Jobs Jobs".

The Navres is not a fulltime job/ career, yet that is what they are still pushing!

And that in the end will be the downfall of the organization unless they sell it for what it really is, "part time service to your country", citizen sailors who live work and serve within the community representing the RCN and giving up their vacation time to train away from home.

Early in their service yes they will serve more lengthy periods of time, but they should not get hooked on class B/ C employment, just look at the paperwork they use as well, it's called a "contract" not a "posting message"...

Back when I joined you usually received one training night a week, an admin night for supervisors and a weekend a month for training. If you were lucky you got a 100 day NATTRAP for the summer to make a few thousand for school. Generally we either sailed the Gate vessels, YAGS or painted rocks somewhere. Pay was low (around 60% of what we get now), no benefits, no pension. If you were lucky you may get on a destroyer for a trip. The full time work started to come when the reserves were given the MSA's, the precursor to the MCDV's. The 12 MCDV's were manned with people out of the units on a full time basis, that lasted for a year or so and we seen a general decline ever since and for any other reason, the amount of sailing people got, people got burnt out.
I think there is room for full time people in the reserves, but in certain positions to ensure corporate knowledge is not lost. I would love to see a overhaul to the entire reserve system and make it more in line to the US model of active or part time, letting personnel transit back and forth.
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Offline whitehorse

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #30 on: March 16, 2014, 23:26:23 »
Quite a few commentators on this post have referred to an article I wrote some time ago on the Reserves and AOPs and so I guess I should comment here as well. For some background I was for most of my 28 years in the Naval Reserve a 'traditional' reservist (i.e. a part timer). As a result of very fortunate circumstances with my employer I had an unusual opportunity to command an MCDV in the late 90s (you'll have to guess which onehttp://forums.army.ca/forums/Smileys/Armyca/nodsmile.gif). I subsequently commanded an NRD on a part time basis. I transferred to the Supp Res in 2008 and therefore I really haven't been involved witht eh Naval Reserve since that time but find the current situation (to the extent that I am aware of it - I don't have any access to the DIN) very interesting albeit predictable.

When I left the Naval Reserves in 2008 it was clear to me as well as a number of my contemporaries that the situation (i.e. the burning out of the full time folks while ignoring the part timers) as it existed at that time was not sustainable. It was also made perfectly clear to me then that part-timers regardless of their experience were there to be seen and not heard. I was told point blank by very senior people that as a part timer I had little chance for promotion and none for any further commands. The comments attributed to Commodore Bennett concerning Class C service were pretty much at odds what I was being told by others a just a few years prior.

Time has moved on and now with the impending end of service of the MCDVs the naval reserve finds itself in the same situation it faced in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s....What do we do next? All I can say is that I hope that whatever the future holds it includes some allowance for at sea, team training for part-time reservists from NRDs. I believe now as then that without it NRDs and ultimately the Naval Reserve are not sustainable. The obvious platform for this is the ORCAs and I have noted that some NRDs make use of these platforms when available. Good for them. Although I must add that I appreciate the difficulty that units further east encounter in using these platforms.

While I certainly understand and appreciate the other roles of NRDs (and ultimately the Naval Reserve) both current and proposed I believe that without this essential glue the whole will not hold together. 

Thanks to those for reading my article written on AOPS so many years ago I don't know what the current situation is but I suspect that on the whole it hasn't changed much other than that the numbers have gotten a bit worse since I left. To those still active in the Reserves, good luck.

Offline Svanen

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #31 on: March 23, 2014, 21:57:16 »
Every single Naval Reserve Division is, I think, very near a navigable waterway: some big rivers, some big (HUGE) lakes and two oceans. Why can't every single NRD have a vessel?


UK Archer class inshore patrol craft

Good idea; but unfortunately the Archer-class boats are a poor example.

The Archers are assigned to URNUs, not local RNR divisions. I could be wrong, but it is my understanding that following the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the RNR lost its seagoing functions. Much like the RAuxAF, it is now essentially restricted to providing administrative-type support to the regular forces.

Both the RNR and RAuxAF are now very small organisations, and have difficulty achieving their authorised manning levels. Small wonder, as few people join the reserves for the opportunity to sit at a desk.

Offline Svanen

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #32 on: March 23, 2014, 22:03:34 »
When I left the Naval Reserves … it was clear to me as well as a number of my contemporaries that the situation (i.e. the burning out of the full time folks while ignoring the part timers) as it existed at that time was not sustainable. It was also made perfectly clear to me then that part-timers regardless of their experience were there to be seen and not heard. I was told point blank by very senior people that as a part timer I had little chance for promotion ...

I don't know what the current situation is but I suspect that on the whole it hasn't changed much other than that the numbers have gotten a bit worse since I left. To those still active in the Reserves, good luck.
Ditto!  :(

Offline FSTO

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2014, 01:04:42 »
I was at QUEEN just a few years ago when the chickens were coming home to roost. The one bright spot is that NAVRES and CRCN knew it. The policy of "1 Navy" was being contemplated when I was there. Also the Naval Reserve was to return to the classic "Part Time Service" and class B and C service would be a rarity, not the norm. Case in point, all NRD CO's that were Class B positions had their contracts terminated (they weren't offered another one when their current one ended). Also NAVRES pers would have more opportunities to sail in the heavies (but with the speed that we are losing them there may not be room for any extras). There are many other things happening in the Naval Reserve which will change its make up and mission. I just hope the MCDV days have done too much damage to the foundations of the Naval Reserve.

Offline Mike5

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #34 on: March 26, 2014, 12:54:07 »
I'd like to see more consideration of the supply side of the equation.  There is a greater supply of labour in the major markets (GTA, Edmonton - Calgary, Vancouver, ...).  This labour is skilled, employed, experienced, available evenings / weekends / several weeks in the summer.   Then the key question becomes, 'can the RCN effectively leverage this labour pool -- given their advantages (experience) and constraints (limited availability) -- to further the mission of the RCN?'
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Offline Crispy Bacon

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #35 on: March 26, 2014, 13:15:06 »
Why not have the Navy take on more of the coastal patrols/domestic waterway control from the Coast Guard (which, for some strange reason, falls under DFO)?
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Offline MCG

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #36 on: March 26, 2014, 14:01:09 »
I've heard informal discussions of this, but can someone point me to an official plan / message / document suitable for those without DIN access? 
Already posted: http://forums.navy.ca/forums/index.php?topic=113705.0

and the link to an official announcement:  http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/news/article.page?doc=commander-rcn-sets-a-course-with-executive-plan/hqdzq9uf

Offline Monsoon

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #37 on: March 26, 2014, 14:41:32 »
Why not have the Navy take on more of the coastal patrols/domestic waterway control from the Coast Guard (which, for some strange reason, falls under DFO)?
For the same reason 3 PPCLI doesn't do policing in Edmonton.

Offline Sailorwest

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #38 on: March 26, 2014, 18:31:12 »
I'd like to see more consideration of the supply side of the equation.  There is a greater supply of labour in the major markets (GTA, Edmonton - Calgary, Vancouver, ...).  This labour is skilled, employed, experienced, available evenings / weekends / several weeks in the summer.   Then the key question becomes, 'can the RCN effectively leverage this labour pool -- given their advantages (experience) and constraints (limited availability) -- to further the mission of the RCN?'
The problem of course, is that those people who live in GTA, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver are not skilled, employed and experienced in being a sailor. By hard experience we've found that people who are already full time in a real career are very hard to retain in the naval reserve as they frequently can't spend enough time to become qualified in whatever trade they might be interested in with the RCN.

Our best demographic to attract is still the high school and university aged folks who frequently need gainful summer employment. The more of them that we can attract the greater the chance that some of them will stick around for awhile in the reserve after they have finished school and moved on to their careers. It would also be useful if we could retain people who move out of the reg force but this has always proved difficult if their trade isn't a match with the existing reserve trades.

Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #39 on: March 26, 2014, 20:11:40 »
I've often wondered why the Naval Reserve doesn't employ the Air Reserve model.  All Reg Force trades are represented in the Air Reserve- you just can't really get trained in most of them while being Reservist. You have to come over from the Reg Force already trained.

Offline Chief Engineer

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #40 on: March 26, 2014, 20:29:41 »
I've often wondered why the Naval Reserve doesn't employ the Air Reserve model.  All Reg Force trades are represented in the Air Reserve- you just can't really get trained in most of them while being Reservist. You have to come over from the Reg Force already trained.

We used to have ET's and medic's years ago. Most of the regs I know want nothing more to do with the military after they retire. That being said some trades can switch over, the ones that can't are the tech trades with the exception of MARENG.
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Offline dapaterson

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #41 on: March 26, 2014, 21:02:35 »
Medics were lost to RX2000, which repatriated all medical trades to Health Services.  It was the beginning of the stovepiping the was followed by the MPs, and that the Int branch is likely going to try shortly.
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Offline mikeninercharlie

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #42 on: March 26, 2014, 21:35:07 »
NAVRES medical personnel being cut had nothing to do with Rx2000, they were gone before that program kicked off. In the mid 90's here was a perceived issue of the med pers being unable to maintain their clinical skill sets by the MARCOM Surgeon. He had a choke on for the NAVRES for years and held the belief that patients were being endangered at home NRDs by substandard care after 1 or 2 questionable cases. When he finally got in to the big seat, the writing was on the wall. Unfortunately, his view wasn't shared by the folks who had the opportunity to have "shad medics" in their employ. Their basic course was equivalent to the RegF, many were nursing or medical students, and they could jump into any clinic and get the job done with minimal hassle. They same couldn't be said about the majority of Army reserve casualty aides... If you ever wondered where to medical positions ended up, look to the diving world

Offline Monsoon

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #43 on: March 26, 2014, 22:14:57 »
I've often wondered why the Naval Reserve doesn't employ the Air Reserve model.  All Reg Force trades are represented in the Air Reserve- you just can't really get trained in most of them while being Reservist. You have to come over from the Reg Force already trained.
I'm in full agreement with your sentiment: it's ridiculous that a PO2 NET can't be in NAVRES without retraining as something else. Surely he can do exactly as much refresher training on weekends and weeks at sea as any other trade; he just also happens to have years of prior Reg F experience to help mitigate the skill fade. At least now we have the General Service Officer/NCM trade to help facilitate switchovers, but why needlessly deprive people of the trade qualifications they work years to achieve that the RCN can still use?

I hope the solution that sees the reserve fully integrated into the RCN a la "One Navy" addresses this. Right now, the issue stems from NAVRES' position as a formation with an establishment for specific ranks and trades. The reality is that the majority of NAVRES positions at the PO1/LCdr and up ranks are effectively ATR as far as the formation is concerned (with the obvious exception of, say, trade instructors, comptrollers and ship COs). I think once NAVRES occupation/career management is merged with the RCN HQ/D Mil C-level and we start thinking of occupations as being the same regardless of whether a member is currently in the P Res or in the Reg F, then the apparent barriers to other trades being in the reserve will fall away.

Hopefully. There's a lot of change that has to happen between here and there, and it's just a matter of how long command intent stays swung in a "One Navy" direction.

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #44 on: March 26, 2014, 22:32:44 »
I think once NAVRES occupation/career management is merged with the RCN HQ/D Mil C-level and we start thinking of occupations as being the same regardless of whether a member is currently in the P Res or in the Reg F, then the apparent barriers to other trades being in the reserve will fall away.

Really?  I never figured the Army Reserve would be ahead of you guys in anything, but it appears that they are.
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Offline dapaterson

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #45 on: March 26, 2014, 22:45:20 »
Really?  I never figured the Army Reserve would be ahead of you guys in anything, but it appears that they are.

To be fair, Army Reserve trains a subset of the Reg F skillset (since not all skills can be maintained on a part-time basis).  Carefully documenting the delta means you know what you've got, which is part of the Army Res success- knowing what you don't know, so to speak.

The experiential delta is the big problem at higher ranks, though; civilian work experience can translate in some ways, but it's a huge variable.
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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #46 on: March 26, 2014, 23:12:40 »
To be clear- I am not advocating Res W Eng techs be created from scratch in Nav Res.  I I think that would be too hard.  However, if one walks into your local NRD from the Reg F and says he wants to CT, surely the RCN could keep him as a W Eng and slap an R in front of his MOS?

Offline Monsoon

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #47 on: March 26, 2014, 23:26:26 »
Really?  I never figured the Army Reserve would be ahead of you guys in anything, but it appears that they are.
From what I understand, "career management", such as it is, in the Army Reserve is more or less the unit chain of command, (rather than the D Mil C-esque structure that NAVRES mirrors but isn't integrated with) so I assume you're talking about occupation management. I think in that case the advantage the Army Reserve has is that its occupations benefit from a strong "branch" culture - for instance, it's difficult for me to put my finger on who exactly would be the equivalent of, say, the Director of Artillery in the RCN. The Operations Branch Advisor, maybe? In the Army Reserve, there at least exists a few days a year in which D Arty is compelled to think about reserve artillery and what it does and doesn't do in relation to Reg F artillery (as dapaterson pointed out). I would hazard a guess that the number of days a year the RCN Ops Branch Advisor has spent thinking about the reserve component of the occupations in his branch has traditionally approached the low zero-digits, but this is surely as much NAVRES' fault as his.

What NAVRES needs to move away from is the happy place it inhabited when it took over the manning of the Kingston-class: essentially running a small shadow-navy with it's own parallel universe of "Occupation Managers" and "Branch Advisors" who could make training changes based on the needs of the Kingston-class in isolation. This culture spilled over to its Log and Int branch trades, but these are now being swiftly brought back into line, at least partially aided by the fact that those trades have reserve components in other environments. In fact these so-called NAVRES "Occupation Managers" and "Branch Advisors" need to recognize that what the are in a One Navy context is "Reserve Advisors" on their trade/branch.

As I say, I gather this is all in the process of unfolding. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

Offline dapaterson

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #48 on: March 26, 2014, 23:32:21 »
I hope it goes well for the RCN; I am concerned about the Int Branch desire to grow and expand regardless of need or ability (a curse that afflicts everyone).

And in my perfect world the Army would look outside its green borders to learn from the RCN; they do do some Reserve things very well; one hopes that the desire for some to earn "leading change" PER points won't override the needs of the institution.
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Offline FSTO

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Re: Is the Canadian Naval Reserve all but finished?
« Reply #49 on: March 26, 2014, 23:47:56 »
I hope it goes well for the RCN; I am concerned about the Int Branch desire to grow and expand regardless of need or ability (a curse that afflicts everyone).


I'm good buddies with a Reg Force LCdr Intelligence Officer at MARPAC. I should ask him to comment on the relationships between Intel officers who wear different DEU's. It's quite the relationship.