Author Topic: Divining the right role, capabilities, structure, and Regimental System for Canada's Army Reserves  (Read 1098645 times)

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Offline Brad Sallows

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This is drifting off topic, but I'll throw in my 1c.

I'd rate this most important: "the training becomes obligatory and is supported by an internal to DND enforcement system rather than purely voluntary".

And this second most: "becomes organized and structured across the Army as a whole rather than ad hoc'd by individual units".

No data; only personal impressions.  My time with the Res F was 1982-2004.  In the early part of that period, I noticed that things tightened up a little through the '80s which moved some of the "militia rats" to drop out.  The immediate effect of tightening up terms of service should be to strip out most of the deadwood.  Reliable soldiers resented the ones who showed up infrequently, and didn't particularly care for the "prize pig" excuses ("so-and-so is a valuable soldier/doesn't have to play in the mud because...").  Thus: a one-time drop in numbers which might look alarming on paper but would represent no real loss of capability.

And: too much of the training plan was inflected by the desires of particular people, notwithstanding that in general it managed to cleave to whatever was required by higher HQ.

Building on first point, go all-in on reform with a major cultural shift in "when"; in particular, eliminate weekly evenings for most people. 

How many full weekends (Sat/Sun or Fri-Sun) can be reasonably demanded from Sep to Nov and Jan to May?  How many are needed when coupled with a one-week conc to at least maintain functional platoon-sized elements?  Instead of a one-week conc, what about 2 x 4/5-day across weekends* - one in May to confirm and shake out for one later in the summer in which everyone is plugged into a more or less full-size formation (bde) commanded and run for the most part by Reg F?
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Offline Rifleman62

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MilEME09:
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While PRes man power helped, individual augmentation is less effective and does effect unit cohesion by taking a bunch of unknown people and dropping them into an established organization that the people of know how to work together.

What do you think is going to happen when we get into combat and take casualties? The LOB's, if there were any, would have some unit cohesion. Reinforcements coming from e.g. reinforcement battalion/divisional reinforcement company which included returning battle casualties, but mainly battle inexperienced soldiers. Going into France in June 1944 there were few battle experienced soldiers.

After the D-Day drop 1 Can Para Bn received non jump qualified Inf reinforcements, incl a RWpgRif Rfn who was KIA with them.

B Coy, RWpgRif, landed 0750 where the Juno Beach Centre is now. Capt Gower, the Coy Comd, landed with reinforced Coy of 164, 8 Pioneers to clear wire with Bangalore's, FOO party of 3, and 18 Engrs as demolition and mine clearing teams When they got off the beach, Capt Gower was the only Offr with 24 Rfn, plus 4 stretcher bears he left at the beach to look after casualties (don't know if those figures incl the Engrs). That night B coy got 3 Offrs, and 60 OR's and he reorg the Coy into 3 Pls. On the morning of the 7th the Coy received 1 Offr and 40 OR'd which Capt Gower reported were untrained/non Inf. On the afternoon of 8 Jun, A, B, C Coys were over run by a unit of the 12 SS Panzer Div. Fifty-eight of our Rfn were murdered, Capt Gower was captured.

All that to say unit cohesion is going to be missing in a conflict. another example:


https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5362&context=etd

An Army of Never-Ending Strength: The Reinforcement of the Canadian Army 1944-1945

Extract: Combat losses robbed Canadian units of more than just personnel when large numbers of battle
casualties occurred during a short period of time. This type of casualty could total over 200 personnel in
one day, as evidenced by the experience of the previously mentioned The Royal Highland Regiment of
Canada.

Its losses on 25 July 1944 were almost exclusively confined to its four forward infantry line
companies. Due to the experienced, highly-trained and effective infantry platoons of these companies
being the real fighting power of the unit, it's combat effectiveness in the immediate aftermath was reduced
to nothing. The Black Watch would not regain its previous combat effectiveness for some time due to
inexperienced replacements not performing at the same level as their predecessors.
It was very dangerous for an Canadian combat arms unit in NWE to immediately launch a new
operation after receiving a large amount of new replacements. If a gradual integration of new personnel
was not completed with appropriate refresher training, further heavy losses could occur. This is exactly
what befell the Black Watch during its second failed operation on 5 August 1944 in the village of May sur-Orne.
This action involved many new replacement personnel, and it is arguable they had not had to time to acclimatize
themselves and lacked experienced NCO section leadership.

It was most beneficial to slow acclimatize new personnel to front line conditions, regardless of
the combat arm. Upon arrival, a new infantry replacement would not know any of his fellow platoon
members or his section commander. To function as a well-oiled machine in combat, each section member
had to possess a certain confidence in his fellow soldiers and his weapons. This came through training
and shared experiences, the most valuable but most dangerous of the latter being combat itself. Prior to
combat operations it was necessary to have new Canadian soldiers become confident in themselves and
their teammates as soon as possible due to the often immediate need to thrust them back into action.
While it was beneficial for this goal to be achieved on a regular basis within Canadian combat arms units
in NWE, military necessity and a lack of forces often did not allow it to occur.

Failure to accomplish successful integration could result poor combat performance and increased
casualties within the ranks of the new personnel, especially in the infantry. While a shortage of infantry
and constant high-intensity operations from August to November 1944 had hurt the ability of new
Canadian infantry replacements to integrate, a period of inactivity during the winter of 1944-1945
allowed unit training and gradual integration to occur.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 16:15:33 by Rifleman62 »
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Offline Colin P

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In the 80's we did one night and Saturday each week, the night was mostly admin stuff, the day was training. We also did 3-4 full weekends and at least 1 week long gun camp. Thanks to an injection of money from elsewhere we ran a 2 week basic gunners course and I think a 3 week recruit course. Done in the armoury and nearby training areas.

Tie a basic trades course that runs 2-3 weeks to a unit training week at a major training centre, so the recruits can get their live fire qualifications and learn how they integrate into the unit.

If we could get a setup like SYEP going in each area over the summer, perhaps with a few unit's pooling instructors and resources. That would be a good source of personal. Quite a few went either full time or reserve from those courses.

To qualify they get a basic medical and basic criminal record check ($75 each from the RCMP). Basic medical is done by the local medical unit for screening, anything weird sees a local civy clinic.

Issue kit is:
gym pants
T-shirts
Coveralls
Boots
Beret

Extra kit
is basic webbing (Belt, canteen and storage pouch)
Cheap sleeping bag and mat
Training rifle (plastic AR)
KFS, cup and mess tins

Once they complete the course they get a certificate and a option to go full or part time. In which case they go through the standard screening process.
 

Offline daftandbarmy

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How many full weekends (Sat/Sun or Fri-Sun) can be reasonably demanded from Sep to Nov and Jan to May?  How many are needed when coupled with a one-week conc to at least maintain functional platoon-sized elements?  Instead of a one-week conc, what about 2 x 4/5-day across weekends* - one in May to confirm and shake out for one later in the summer in which everyone is plugged into a more or less full-size formation (bde) commanded and run for the most part by Reg F?

As a rifle company OC I've seen the full range of options tried. I found that if you did more than one weekend's training per month, you got more students to attend as people with 'real jobs' and families couldn't attend more than one weekend a month. This meant that the senior people were burning out.

I found that the optimum schedule was one weekend a month, and one parade night a week. More often than not, a social event took up at least one other weekend each month so, sometimes, could be paired with a range day, which got people doing more shooting.

Funny thing... regardless of the schedule, if the training was well prepared and supported, incremental, realistic, interesting and challenging, attendance was always better.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline FJAG

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As a rifle company OC I've seen the full range of options tried. I found that if you did more than one weekend's training per month, you got more students to attend as people with 'real jobs' and families couldn't attend more than one weekend a month. This meant that the senior people were burning out.

I found that the optimum schedule was one weekend a month, and one parade night a week. More often than not, a social event took up at least one other weekend each month so, sometimes, could be paired with a range day, which got people doing more shooting.

Funny thing... regardless of the schedule, if the training was well prepared and supported, incremental, realistic, interesting and challenging, attendance was always better.

I basically have the same thoughts about one weekend per month being the optimum. During my RSSO days my unit did every second weekend and it was definitely too much as we generally had a lack of the married/working folks attending (who were also our key MBdrs, senior NCMs) leaving us with a few junior officers and the usual student gunners.

I'm generally against the one evening per week concept. I think that it's primary purpose is to gather folks together for a night in the mess (which does have some utility in bonding and making for a "fun" activity for everyone). I generally found that little else was accomplished during these evenings other than some minor administrative work around the chief clerks and finance office. While it's useful to keep "admin" functions away from the "training" weekend, perhaps one night per month would be sufficient. The CO and DCO I worked with, while generally good guys and true reservists, not Reg F retreads, spent most of their admin nights on mess and band matters, regt'l association issues, regt'l ball/mess dinner planning etc which to me should be done as non-paid extra curricular activities. Most of the troops spent their evening time polishing guns that were already clean or maybe attending the odd lecture that would be run again on another day because too few attended the first time.

I think that the real problem that we have is in not having the ability to put together a good summer training cycle with sufficient time that would allow firstly, new recruits to be brought to a proper DP1 standard in one fell swoop and, secondly (and separately) to allow DP1 and higher trained personnel/units some solid collective training. That, however, has an underlying cultural and legislative issues that are well beyond the ability of any one unit's or even brigade's capability of solving.

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Offline Colin P

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Keeping the night to Admin stuff, paperwork and Stores, prepping for an exercise means not everyone has to show up, it does mean that a course instructor can prep for the Saturday course and maybe have paperwork sorted, trainings set up, etc. Then Saturday morning a quick parade and then training starts and your not mucking around till 10 to get started.

Online mariomike

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Might depend somewhat on one's trade.

As PRes MSE Ops, we paraded two nights a week. We could work every weekend, if we wanted.

Some of it was trade training. But, mostly it was doing your job in support of the District.

Offline Eye In The Sky

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If our PRes were deployable sub units or unitz as a whole, IE the brigade HQ was a deployable HQ, we would see less strain on our limited RegF elements that struggled to maintain a brigade in Afghanistan.

I'm not connecting the dots here;  if CBG HQs were deployable, the strain on the RegF in Afghanistan would have been mitigated?

It's been some time since I was at a CBG HQ, but my impression from the several years I was there:

CBG HQs and CMBG HQs are significantly different orgs, rightfully so IMO.  The units and capabilities they administer, command and control are completely different.  I don't think any commander who exists in the real world believes a CBG can really 'deploy' much above and beyond the OP LENTUS stuff, which is pretty basic tasks and expectations in the big scheme of things.

CBGs are the wealth-family distant cousins of CMBG, and the HQs of each reflect that (IMO).
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Offline MilEME09

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I'm not connecting the dots here;  if CBG HQs were deployable, the strain on the RegF in Afghanistan would have been mitigated?

It's been some time since I was at a CBG HQ, but my impression from the several years I was there:

CBG HQs and CMBG HQs are significantly different orgs, rightfully so IMO.  The units and capabilities they administer, command and control are completely different.  I don't think any commander who exists in the real world believes a CBG can really 'deploy' much above and beyond the OP LENTUS stuff, which is pretty basic tasks and expectations in the big scheme of things.

CBGs are the wealth-family distant cousins of CMBG, and the HQs of each reflect that (IMO).

Yes they are different beasts, not saying previous experience in Afghanistan would of been better if Pres units could be called up amd deployed. Not in their current state any way. To make PRes units deployable a reality would require a reorganization, and a shift in training focus and intensity from the PRes. For example if say the Seaforth Highlanders, Regina Rifles, and Loyal Edmonton Regiment were called up to form a mixed battalion for over seas. Assuming each is at company strength, how well would this deal with burn out among the reg force with the current deployment cycle we have? It would also help create a more operationally ready reserve force because of that experience.
"We are called a Battalion, Authorized to be company strength, parade as a platoon, Operating as a section"

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Funny thing... regardless of the schedule, if the training was well prepared and supported, incremental, realistic, interesting and challenging, attendance was always better.

I witnessed this last month when we had a total of two sections worth of people deploy on ex and about 1/3 of these were dedicated to pre-PLQ training. We had one MCpl, a few Cpls of varied seniority (again, most of which were dedicated to pre-PLQ) and a lot of recently trained privates. The focus was stand-based training including basic patrolling, why things are seen, and how to move. Definitely not the epitome of realistic, interesting or challenging.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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I witnessed this last month when we had a total of two sections worth of people deploy on ex and about 1/3 of these were dedicated to pre-PLQ training. We had one MCpl, a few Cpls of varied seniority (again, most of which were dedicated to pre-PLQ) and a lot of recently trained privates. The focus was stand-based training including basic patrolling, why things are seen, and how to move. Definitely not the epitome of realistic, interesting or challenging.

Sigh.... so much for creative leadership, eh?

Therefore, I predict that next exercise you might get about one section out....

"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

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Even better, they stood us down three weeks early to accommodate a locally run DP1 Infantry. Like they can't find something for the candidates to do for three hours on a Wednesday night. So our next ex will be the range in Sept/Oct. and that always gets a good turn out. Oh, and for some reason there was no brigade ex run in the spring.
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Offline MilEME09

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Even better, they stood us down three weeks early to accommodate a locally run DP1 Infantry. Like they can't find something for the candidates to do for three hours on a Wednesday night. So our next ex will be the range in Sept/Oct. and that always gets a good turn out. Oh, and for some reason there was no brigade ex run in the spring.

My understanding at least in 41 cbg is no brigade EX due to a fucus on individual training vs collective. Especially with the large influx of recruits they want instructors avalible. Unfortunately interesting or useful training sometimes comes down to the jr leaders to plan and exacute last minute rather then be part of a larger training plan.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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My understanding at least in 41 cbg is no brigade EX due to a fucus on individual training vs collective. Especially with the large influx of recruits they want instructors avalible. Unfortunately interesting or useful training sometimes comes down to the jr leaders to plan and exacute last minute rather then be part of a larger training plan.

We can, and must, figure out how to do both or retention issues will kill your best recruiting efforts.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Jarnhamar

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Dom ops exercise.

Road move to another town or city without the use of GPS or the internet. Convoy drills, manifest lists, broken down vehicle SOPs, route cards.

Set up a CP at the location then have sections conduct operations. Collect information on infrastructure, man a VCP, QRF/rest, local security, point, area and route recces. Practice self-recovery. Officers practice meeting with and speaking to local police, fire, EMS.

Reservists won't deploy overseas without a few months of training (in most cases). They may be called upon for domestic operations last minute. If you're creative you can check off a whole lot of IBTS boxes with domestic operations.
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Online Remius

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Dom ops exercise.

Road move to another town or city without the use of GPS or the internet. Convoy drills, manifest lists, broken down vehicle SOPs, route cards.

Set up a CP at the location then have sections conduct operations. Collect information on infrastructure, man a VCP, QRF/rest, local security, point, area and route recces. Practice self-recovery. Officers practice meeting with and speaking to local police, fire, EMS.

Reservists won't deploy overseas without a few months of training (in most cases). They may be called upon for domestic operations last minute. If you're creative you can check off a whole lot of IBTS boxes with domestic operations.

We did something like that for OP Abbacus.   
Optio

Offline Haggis

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We did something like that for OP Abbacus.
But how many times since then?

I retired as the Ops O of a P Res Infantry unit in December last year.  It was a constant battle to find white space to conduct unit training once all the annual IBTS, Battle School and TBG/Bde activities were overlaid unless you used a stat holiday weekend (which was pretty much verboten by higher).  Shifting L1 and L2 priorities often meant shifting activity dates.  Competition with Reg F units for equipment and training areas was ongoing.  The process for use of civilian land was cumbersome and inflexible.

Late notification of collective training activities meant little time for the most basic Battle Procedure in a Class A world.  This last point was particularly irritating as it is exceedingly easy to pass information today in the Class A world.  Far too easy, in fact, that it almost encourages 'just-in-time" planning and passage of information.  That makes command and battle staffs lazy and fosters procrastination.
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Online Remius

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Off hand maybe two or three times that were of any value. 

Definitely not enough.  But that sort of training is possible.


But how many times since then?

I retired as the Ops O of a P Res Infantry unit in December last year.  It was a constant battle to find white space to conduct unit training once all the annual IBTS, Battle School and TBG/Bde activities were overlaid unless you used a stat holiday weekend (which was pretty much verboten by higher).  Shifting L1 and L2 priorities often meant shifting activity dates.  Competition with Reg F units for equipment and training areas was ongoing.  The process for use of civilian land was cumbersome and inflexible.

Late notification of collective training activities meant little time for the most basic Battle Procedure in a Class A world.  This last point was particularly irritating as it is exceedingly easy to pass information today in the Class A world.  Far too easy, in fact, that it almost encourages 'just-in-time" planning and passage of information.  That makes command and battle staffs lazy and fosters procrastination.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 22:15:52 by Remius »
Optio

Offline MilEME09

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Haggis you might be able to relate, another headache is when 80% of the units in the brigade decide to go on ex the same weekend, makes it potentially hard to get enough vehicles amd equipment.
"We are called a Battalion, Authorized to be company strength, parade as a platoon, Operating as a section"

Offline Eye In The Sky

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Yes they are different beasts, not saying previous experience in Afghanistan would of been better if Pres units could be called up amd deployed. Not in their current state any way. To make PRes units deployable a reality would require a reorganization, and a shift in training focus and intensity from the PRes. For example if say the Seaforth Highlanders, Regina Rifles, and Loyal Edmonton Regiment were called up to form a mixed battalion for over seas. Assuming each is at company strength, how well would this deal with burn out among the reg force with the current deployment cycle we have? It would also help create a more operationally ready reserve force because of that experience.

Does the average Pres "Regiment" have the experience to deploy and command a Coy or equivalent size on deployed ops?

You've stated the avg Res member is only showing up 2 times a month; and the Cl A trg year is approx 10 months long.  Using those numbers, that's 60 hours of experience/year and all at an Armouries.
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Offline Eye In The Sky

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Dom ops exercise.

Road move to another town or city without the use of GPS or the internet. Convoy drills, manifest lists, broken down vehicle SOPs, route cards.

Set up a CP at the location then have sections conduct operations. Collect information on infrastructure, man a VCP, QRF/rest, local security, point, area and route recces. Practice self-recovery. Officers practice meeting with and speaking to local police, fire, EMS.

Reservists won't deploy overseas without a few months of training (in most cases). They may be called upon for domestic operations last minute. If you're creative you can check off a whole lot of IBTS boxes with domestic operations.

This;  I've said before "do what you can with what you have".

We used to do creative stuff;  Tp Leader would issue a Wng O on a Class A night (was Thursday for us back in the day) early in the night for a tasking, say Estab Mounted Ops covering the harbour entrance or something.  That night would then be spent doing BP.  That night would usually end with Patrol Commanders issuing their orders.

Next trg night, crews went to the Veh Garage to kit out the callsigns, comms checks, etc.  Crew Commanders went to confirmatory orders, troop mounted up, and moved off to occupy the Mounted Ops.  once the final Op Report was sent in, End Ex was called, returned to the armouries, Stables conducted and then a hot-wash in the mess (we had an All Ranks one) and usually pizza's showed up.

Best use of 6 hours, got people doing the real stuff, found out what kit worked, what needed to be fixed, trained newer people in some basic tasks.  No extra funding required.  We had 90% attendance rates as a rule.
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Offline FJAG

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Does the average Pres "Regiment" have the experience to deploy and command a Coy or equivalent size on deployed ops?

You've stated the avg Res member is only showing up 2 times a month; and the Cl A trg year is approx 10 months long.  Using those numbers, that's 60 hours of experience/year and all at an Armouries.

That's an interesting question and I'll answer as far as it relates to an artillery regiment where the sub-unit is a gun battery.

Essentially you can train a battery and conduct live fire exercises with as little as one gun, one CP, one FOO party and a battery commander with an FSCC. Artillery officers will learn the the essential skills for their jobs at their various DP level courses and as such one can say that a PRes artillery regiment can field a functioning battery (albeit that doesn't mean they have the numbers or equipment to field a full battery). In fact most units carry out some extent of live fire training several times per year.

What is missing from the equation is that PRes artillery regiments have none of the A or B echelon staff or equipment (veh, weapons and rad techs, medical or kitchen) required to actually be capable of deploying.

Equally important is that a number of the higher end functions of fire support coordination (such as air integration) is nowhere near as well learned or practiced as they need to be.

The short answer is that while a PRes artillery regiment has the fundamental ability to "deploy and command" a battery on "deployed ops" it has neither the equipment, personnel, or experience to do so successfully without major augmentation and predeployment training.

 :cheers:
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Offline CTD

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That's an interesting question and I'll answer as far as it relates to an artillery regiment where the sub-unit is a gun battery.

Essentially you can train a battery and conduct live fire exercises with as little as one gun, one CP, one FOO party and a battery commander with an FSCC. Artillery officers will learn the the essential skills for their jobs at their various DP level courses and as such one can say that a PRes artillery regiment can field a functioning battery (albeit that doesn't mean they have the numbers or equipment to field a full battery). In fact most units carry out some extent of live fire training several times per year.

What is missing from the equation is that PRes artillery regiments have none of the A or B echelon staff or equipment (veh, weapons and rad techs, medical or kitchen) required to actually be capable of deploying.
Equally important is that a number of the higher end functions of fire support coordination (such as air integration) is nowhere near as well learned or practiced as they need to be.

The short answer is that while a PRes artillery regiment has the fundamental ability to "deploy and command" a battery on "deployed ops" it has neither the equipment, personnel, or experience to do so successfully without major augmentation and predeployment training.

 :cheers:
Although a Regular Force Regiment might have the support behind them in theory, they are heavily augmented to fill a deployment especially sustained operations. Usually taking all three Gun Btys/ HQ Bty and using Soldiers from each to full fill their lines for each deployment. When a Bty deploys from the Regiment the gun lines look pretty empty. Its a sad reality in some of the Regular Force and Reserve units that at times they lack the manpower to deploy even a small number of their equipment.
I remember back in the late 90's My Reserve Sub unit could deploy 90 soldiers in the field (we had 100-120 on paper). Our Parent unit 40ish, The other sister Regiment was around another 40. Plus With our local Service Battalion we could field our own Mechanics,Techs, Medics and such.
We had 6 guns, two working command posts and everything else was usually bailing twined together between the two Regiments. 
At times We lacked much of the working technical equipment such as survey, Op Equipment,radios etc  That limited us severely for training and retention.

As for the Higher Integration We could have filled that gap very quickly if we had the training allotment to do so. As much as a Bty can deploy, its assets are seldom far from full Regimental support.

Its a topic that is sore point for many. To compare a Reserve Unit to a Regular Force one for training and skills has many on edge to favor the Regular Force. My expirance has been both have their short comings that can be over come fairly quick with proper allotment of training and equipment along with engaged recruiting and retention.

Offline Haggis

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This;  I've said before "do what you can with what you have".

I tried as much as possible to make the IBTS exercises challenging and fun but was often defeated by the higher HQ requirement to have all my IBTS done by end October despite the fact that a lot of my equipment hadn't returned yet from RST or had come back broken and every unit in the Bde and 2 CMBG were trying to book training areas and ranges at the same time.

In my three years as Ops O, at least in my Div/Bde, training direction and required BTS were proscribed by higher and units had certain IBTS and collective BTS gateways to attain by certain dates before all unit collective training became focused on preparing members for TBG led/directed collective training. In my unit, I was able to find one free weekend of white space every quarter to do "fun" unit stuff and that sometimes disappeared when Bde or TBG either moved or added activities. (I lost one late spring DOMOPS/IS exercise that had taken months to plan due to the urgent need across the Bde to support Op LENTUS 17-2... clearly not the Bde's fault)

I even went to Quebec for an excellent range and IBTS exercise one year but the process changed the following year making training in Quebec almost as cumbersome as going OUTCAN.
Train like your life depends on it.  Some day, it may.

Offline Brihard

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I even went to Quebec for an excellent range and IBTS exercise one year but the process changed the following year making training in Quebec almost as cumbersome as going OUTCAN.

I know the vote was pretty close, but...
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.