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Divining the right role, capabilities, structure, and Regimental System for Canada's Army Reserves

Bird_Gunner45

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RCPalmer said:
The "civilian equivalent skills" argument has been tossed around a fair bit, and while it has some merit, would require institutional change within the training system that would be no easier/less expensive than scaring up a few more radios and machine guns.  The army specific components of the various army CSS trades always seem to be just different enough that you still need significant additional training:

Long Haul Truck Driver?  You can drive, but now we need to teach you to drive an MSVS...
Heavy Vehicle Mechanic?  Ok, that covers off your EME common training, but now we need to teach you all of these platforms...

Additionally, whether subject to compulsory service or not, CAF members are volunteers, and elect their military occupation.  For most reservists, they are there for challenge, variety and adventure, not a casual second job in their core career.  We have a lot of office workers in the PRes.  We don't make them all RMS clerks. 

You are correct, the U.S. Army Reserve is CSS focused, but composed largely of former Active Duty members completing compulsory service.  In many ways, it is a mechanism to ensure a good return on the expensive training investments the Army has made in those members.  Additionally, it is only about 1/3 of the U.S. Army reserve component. 

The U.S. Army National Guard is the larger element, is combat arms focused, and is more of a mixed bag of former Active Duty and purely part time soldiers .  As you have noted, there is considerable debate in the U.S. forces with regards to getting the right full-time/part time mix.  All components make their arguments (indirectly) at the political level, and state governments back the guard. This is done largely through the argument that the inflow of forces into a major theater of operations permits significant work-up training windows, making a large standing army less important.

My anecdotal exposures to these organizations has been that guard troops and units are more disciplined and effective than their USAR counterparts.  I would argue that this is due in no small part to the citizen soldier component.

You are right that some relatively minor trade training would be required to take a long haul driver and teach him to drive a MSVS, but the skill sets of that person are going to be overall better, and training time reduced, than bringing a 18 year old off the street and training him to drive a MSVS, get experience, etc etc etc. Same for Mechanics, Finance people, supply, cooks, etc. As a bonus, you are recruiting people who have an interest in those trades (as they do it in civie world) that can be sold on the "army/military" aspects of those jobs (CPs, DPs, ranges, etc). And with a direct role for standing forces they would directly impact operations on the grand scale which helps with job satisfaction.  As Colin P and Chris Pook noted, and I agree with, people who join the reserves aren't generally doing it for money, but rather for experiences or a real desire to serve. This can be achieved just as easily in a CSS capacity as it can in an infantry role (perhaps more so... the long haul trucker who is a reserve Sgt gains skills he can apply directly to his civilian job and gets to talk about ranges, exercises, etc with other truckers as opposed to an artillery reservist who shows up, gets lectures on MAPS or some other thing since there's no equipment to train with, sits in the mess, and then goes home).

The National Guard/Reserves/Regular force in the US is a completely different bag from us due to their history. The National Guard is a left over of the militia system that the states maintained whereas the reserves were created to DIRECTLY augment regular forces and provide capabilities. Our reserve is also a hold over of our militia system, but was never controlled at provincial level, so has completely different emotional baggage. The fact that the Regular forces in the US cannot deploy domestically creates a different element as well. That's why their reserves are a much better comparison for us than the National Guard as the reserves were created to tie governments to the people and LIMIT foreign involvement in wars (since reserves would need to be called up to support). With our reserve having no ability to be called into service it effectively became a 1 for 1 augmentation of regular forces.

It's true that the reserve use a lot of former regular force personnel, but that could be said more many of the reserve units here too (not including the many retiring members who move directly into the Public Service doing the same job they were as a regular force member) so I don't think the difference is as big as you make it to be.
 

dapaterson

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A few thoughts:

1. Not everyone wants to do the same things in the Reserves they do for full-time employment.  People are looking for challenges, not more of the same.  (I seem to recall a heart surgeon who, evenings and weekends, was an infantry officer).  In a mobilization framework, it's a fine way to fill out ranks.  Peacetime, likely not as much.

2. Most trades training is more intense, resource and time consuming than most Cbt Arms training.  If we are to get a reasonable return on investment, and wish to ensure readiness, then it makes sense to vest those skills more heavily in the Regular Force - so, when called, the military (reg and res) are ready to respond - vehicles are fixed, boots are available, communications are reliable... all the unsexy support pieces are in place.  Without those pieces in place, you can't respond effectively.

3. The current Army Reserve model does need fixing.  Too much C2, at the unit and above level.  If we begin our analysis looking at what government has directed, which seems to be a paid strength for the Army Reserve of around 20,000, that translates into no more than six brigade-ish sized formations, of about 3300 each (all ranks, trained and untrained).  If a brigade consists of three maneuver units, one artillery unit, one engineer unit, one signals unit, and one CSS unit, they should be about 450 trained strength each, all ranks, for a total of 2700 trained strength, plus personnel not yet qualified numbering around 600.  With seven units per brigade, that's forty-two LCol command positions across the Army Reserve - a reduction of about two thirds.

4.  The biggest resistance to change comes from Reserve units (and their various senates and boosters).  Where Reg F functions have been successfully centralized, Reserve units fight tooth and nail to retain end-to-end admin inside their lines, to the detriment of the quality and timeliness of their admin.


 

RCPalmer

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Bird_Gunner45 said:
You are right that some relatively minor trade training would be required to take a long haul driver and teach him to drive a MSVS, but the skill sets of that person are going to be overall better, and training time reduced, than bringing a 18 year old off the street and training him to drive a MSVS, get experience, etc etc etc. Same for Mechanics, Finance people, supply, cooks, etc. As a bonus, you are recruiting people who have an interest in those trades (as they do it in civie world) that can be sold on the "army/military" aspects of those jobs (CPs, DPs, ranges, etc). And with a direct role for standing forces they would directly impact operations on the grand scale which helps with job satisfaction.  As Colin P and Chris Pook noted, and I agree with, people who join the reserves aren't generally doing it for money, but rather for experiences or a real desire to serve. This can be achieved just as easily in a CSS capacity as it can in an infantry role (perhaps more so... the long haul trucker who is a reserve Sgt gains skills he can apply directly to his civilian job and gets to talk about ranges, exercises, etc with other truckers as opposed to an artillery reservist who shows up, gets lectures on MAPS or some other thing since there's no equipment to train with, sits in the mess, and then goes home).

The National Guard/Reserves/Regular force in the US is a completely different bag from us due to their history. The National Guard is a left over of the militia system that the states maintained whereas the reserves were created to DIRECTLY augment regular forces and provide capabilities. Our reserve is also a hold over of our militia system, but was never controlled at provincial level, so has completely different emotional baggage. The fact that the Regular forces in the US cannot deploy domestically creates a different element as well. That's why their reserves are a much better comparison for us than the National Guard as the reserves were created to tie governments to the people and LIMIT foreign involvement in wars (since reserves would need to be called up to support). With our reserve having no ability to be called into service it effectively became a 1 for 1 augmentation of regular forces.

It's true that the reserve use a lot of former regular force personnel, but that could be said more many of the reserve units here too (not including the many retiring members who move directly into the Public Service doing the same job they were as a regular force member) so I don't think the difference is as big as you make it to be.

I agree with you that converting a civilian skill set to a military qual (such as a civvy heavy equipment mechanic into an Army Veh Tech) should be a relatively short conversion course, but up to this point we haven't been able to do that, even for the RegF where semi-skilled (red seal pre-enrollment) and NCM SEP entry plans should make it straight forward. 

On the whole, the PRes CSS trades have the longest initial training periods, and as a result, the reserve CSS capability is hamstrung even more than the rest of the PRes capabilities. 

My unit has piles of skilled tradespeople, (as well as cops, paramedics, and lawyers, etc.) and as Dapaterson has said, they have chosen combat arms for a reason.

Ultimately, the tasks to the PRes are more than just individual augmentation.  We have unit level DOMOPS tasks (TBG) and sub-unit level expeditionary tasks (Force Pro, PSS, and IA).  We have completed those tasks surprisingly well considering the lack of investment, and a volunteer model.  While we could do a lot more with an element of compulsory service, I don't see that happening anytime soon.  However, some modest investments (along with a institutional realignment) would make the reserve force much more viable in the long term because the value proposition for the members would be improved, and that would be a game changer for us. 

Just a small point, but the U.S. Army active component can absolutely be deployed domestically (through the provisions of the Pose Comitatus Act), and they have been for the larger disasters like Katrina.  The U.S. Army also has some strategic infrastructure responsibilities within CONUS to include dams, canals, and flood protection.  The use of Active Duty forces is just less common for DOMOPS because each state has significant DOMOPs capability within its own National Guard element. 
 

trustnoone73

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Journeyman said:
If the RegF cared, they'd fund, mentor, and ensure the Reserves were trained.

The RegF does not fund the PRes.  Training the PRes is not a primary task of the RegF though it happens pretty much constantly via IT at CTC, the Div TC's, and the RSS postings  Should the RegF care more about the quality of the PRes than the PRes themselves?  There is more than enough institutional experience in the PRes to know what standards need to be achieved to meet the required tasks within thier respectiver skill sets.  It's not hard but it is a unit responsibnility to ensure it is trained.  If a unit cannot do that, fire the leadership and promote those who can.
 

Bird_Gunner45

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dapaterson said:
A few thoughts:

1. Not everyone wants to do the same things in the Reserves they do for full-time employment.  People are looking for challenges, not more of the same.  (I seem to recall a heart surgeon who, evenings and weekends, was an infantry officer).  In a mobilization framework, it's a fine way to fill out ranks.  Peacetime, likely not as much.

2. Most trades training is more intense, resource and time consuming than most Cbt Arms training.  If we are to get a reasonable return on investment, and wish to ensure readiness, then it makes sense to vest those skills more heavily in the Regular Force - so, when called, the military (reg and res) are ready to respond - vehicles are fixed, boots are available, communications are reliable... all the unsexy support pieces are in place.  Without those pieces in place, you can't respond effectively.

3. The current Army Reserve model does need fixing.  Too much C2, at the unit and above level.  If we begin our analysis looking at what government has directed, which seems to be a paid strength for the Army Reserve of around 20,000, that translates into no more than six brigade-ish sized formations, of about 3300 each (all ranks, trained and untrained).  If a brigade consists of three maneuver units, one artillery unit, one engineer unit, one signals unit, and one CSS unit, they should be about 450 trained strength each, all ranks, for a total of 2700 trained strength, plus personnel not yet qualified numbering around 600.  With seven units per brigade, that's forty-two LCol command positions across the Army Reserve - a reduction of about two thirds.

4.  The biggest resistance to change comes from Reserve units (and their various senates and boosters).  Where Reg F functions have been successfully centralized, Reserve units fight tooth and nail to retain end-to-end admin inside their lines, to the detriment of the quality and timeliness of their admin.

A few thoughts back,

1. True, but many would want to work within their jobs and offer more long term value to the CAF (which is the point, isn't it?). Having only 1 type of reserve unit in a geographical area similarly limits someone's options as not everyone may want to be infantry, artillery, armour, engineers, CSS, etc... People who are employed in similar positions to their civilian employment also offer the benefit of having continual Professional Development

2. Skilled persons training is only limited and long duration due to the requirements of the CF and I would argue could be reduced. For example, a civilian qualified chef could be trained in large scale feeding relatively easily if the system was more flexible to allow them to do so. Plus, as mentioned, they continually develop their primary skills through their civilian jobs (Finance offers working as accountants, for example). Skill fade would be less than in combat arms units, so costs associated with work up, etc would be reduced. Not to mention that an armoured solider, to be brought to the Reg force, needs further courses and to learn to drive a Coyote, or a gunner needs to convert to M777, etc. Further, CSS pers can be more easily kitted out (trucks, etc) than combat arms (lets face it- armour reserves will never have armour again). Unless we expect to force employ large numbers of light infantry than keeping large numbers of light infantry makes little sense too, aside from a manpower pool (which could be any trade).

3. agree.

4. Agree.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Equipping the Reserve armoued units with light armour could easily be done, if your not looking at MRAP's levels of protection. It would also give the reg force a pool of vehicles to harvest for that unforeseen mission that is coming. Trade off some protection for mobility and a light weight class. while they can still train for recce, also train for patrolling and escorting and for rapid securing of infrastructure. We used to run 6 gun batteries in the 80's and 90's and the budget was not so great then either. I seriously believe the real problem is less money than will. Once the will and direction is there, the budget can be focused. The constant wandering of mission is soul destroying, so they focus on mundane things (buttons and bows) they can achieve.   
 

Eye In The Sky

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I remember before the G Wagon and TCCCS radio days.  My old PRES recce Sqn could field 3 x 5 car troops, a SHQ that had a CP, step-up, etc etc and a small but effective A1 Ech.  And, we had enough radio's for all C/S's AND...'drum roll' pretty much every C/S was properly manned.  It was common to have 5 pers Ptl's, but you could still man an OP, etc with those numbers.

Now?  GWagons replace the Iltis but I think there was not even enough for 1 x 7 car troop.  TCCS radios...nope, 1 radio per patrol (interesting when a Ptl is 2 goddamn veh's...), etc etc etc.

I don't know what all PRES units are now compared to what mine was like back in the 1990 timeframe.  For mine, what used to be a decent Res recce sqn has shrunk to...god knows what.  It is a Regiment in name only.  Heck Sqn might be a big stretch now.  History and all that aside, from a completely military standpoint, is there not better things to do with the $$ for trg, equip, stores, ammo and gas? 

:dunno:
 

Kirkhill

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Like this Colin?

Reserve Yeomanry in LandRovers - WMIK http://www.army.mod.uk/armoured/regiments/28480.aspx
Regular Light Cavalry in Jackals - WMIK http://www.army.mod.uk/armoured/regiments/26871.aspx
Regular Armoured Cavalry in Scimitars http://www.army.mod.uk/armoured/regiments/26872.aspx
Regular Tanks in Challengers http://www.army.mod.uk/armoured/regiments/34270.aspx

With respect to driving vehicles in the army.  Why isn't everyone qualified to drive a straight frame, 2 axle vehicle on the highway? And couldn't off-road driving skills be taught universally on ATVs?

Nobody is going anywhere without an internal combustion engine these days.  Isn't driving as critical a skill set as navigation, communication and weapons handling?
 

RCPalmer

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trustnoone73 said:
The RegF does not fund the PRes.  Training the PRes is not a primary task of the RegF though it happens pretty much constantly via IT at CTC, the Div TC's, and the RSS postings  Should the RegF care more about the quality of the PRes than the PRes themselves?  There is more than enough institutional experience in the PRes to know what standards need to be achieved to meet the required tasks within thier respectiver skill sets.  It's not hard but it is a unit responsibnility to ensure it is trained.  If a unit cannot do that, fire the leadership and promote those who can.

A few things:

1.  The budgets of PRes CBGs and units are captured within the budgets of their respective divisions.  There is no separate funding envelope dedicated to the PRes, and because there is no PRes commander above CBG level, there would be no authority to spend that money in a focused manner to develop the reserve force on a national level if there was.  So, we count on our RegF commanders to spend that money in a manner that makes sense for the force as a whole.

2.  PRes IT was a core mandate of the RegF up until very recently, around 2002-2003. The transition to a primarily self-trained PRes has significantly reduced the reserve force intake and training capacities, which is a major contributor to our current state.  That should not be surprising given the fundamentally part time nature of reserve service.  If you want a soldier to be working all the time, they belong in the RegF.  British and American reserve force IT is completely underwritten by their full-time forces.  Beyond that, the original reason the government of Canada created a RegF in the first place was to create a militia training cadre. While the roles have clearly evolved since then, that should tell you something. 

3.  The PRes does not control the training system, the Army does, and because there are no reserve commanders above CBG level, that means it is driven by RegF priorities.  PRes participation in QS and TP writing boards is token at best.  This means that we have no ability to shape the training system accommodate reserve, part time realities.

To summarize, from an internal management perspective the RegF controls all of the resources and sets the rules of the game.  There is one army, and the reserve force is nearly half of it.  If nearly half of the Army is failing (as opposed to isolated units or formations), that is an army problem, and requires Army level solutions. 

While I agree that the structure of the PRes is completely outdated which results in significant unnecessary overheard (this is also outside of the control of the PRes by the way) the idea that lower level commanders are to blame for army level, structural problems is both disingenuous, and insulting. 
 

Eye In The Sky

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Chris Pook said:
And couldn't off-road driving skills be taught universally on ATVs?

Driving an ATV cross country is prettyyy different than crewing an AVGP cross country.  At least an ATV you have a decent chance to jump off if the driver goes full-on stupid.  Little harder to do from something like a Bison (which was/is a great AVGP IMO).  Incidentally, the Bison was initially called the MILLAV (Militia Light Armoured Vehicle).  Then people realized it was a decent piece of kit and...the "MIL" in MILLAV" went away.  8)
 

dapaterson

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Most PRes senior leaders have no understanding of the way that DND/CAF operates.  Reserve control of Reserve funding would be an unmitigated disaster.

There does need to be Army leadership to put the Permanent Active Militia back to work in training the Non-Permanent Active Militia; when Reserve units are sending people on five month summer taskings while Div HQs are ordering all their pers to take at least two weeks of leave over the summer, there's a pretty bad disconnect.
 

daftandbarmy

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dapaterson said:
Most PRes senior leaders have no understanding of the way that DND/CAF operates.  Reserve control of Reserve funding would be an unmitigated disaster.

There does need to be Army leadership to put the Permanent Active Militia back to work in training the Non-Permanent Active Militia; when Reserve units are sending people on five month summer taskings while Div HQs are ordering all their pers to take at least two weeks of leave over the summer, there's a pretty bad disconnect.

We always tend to learn more when we concentrate 'en masse'.

I know that geography is a challenge, but it would be interesting to see how much better we would do if every weekend exercise was a Bde exercise.

I assume you could share the OPI role across units, with Bde HQ support, but having two or three hundred people working together each weekend, in the same place, would make it feel more like a real Army than what can actually happen e.g., a flat faced major like me supervising a 2Lt commanding two weak sections.

Heck, you might even be able to run some pretty effective Pro D for Officers and SNCOs.
 

dapaterson

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My back of the envelope structural math for an Army Reserve designed from the ground up, not morphed to fit the historical cap-badges on the ground.

Trained platoon = 32
Trained Company = 125 (3 platoons + Wpns + CHQ)
Trained Bn = 420 (3 companies + Bn HQ)

Bde = 3300 (7 Bns + Bde HQ + Recruiting/Battle School unit (call it a Depot?) + BTL)

We can fit six of those into our current ~20K total strength target.

That means 42 trained Bns (plus six Depots), with 126 trained companies, with 378 trained platoons.


Obviously, different corps and branches have variations in structure, but as a high level start point, perhaps that's what we should aim for: 420-strong Bns that do not do recruiting, or worry about training before soldiers are occupationally qualified - that's the Depot's task.  Even if folks have exams / fall sick / are washing their hair, a Bn sized exercise run to train sections and platoons is now much more viable and interesting.
 

Colin Parkinson

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daftandbarmy said:
We always tend to learn more when we concentrate 'en masse'.

I know that geography is a challenge, but it would be interesting to see how much better we would do if every weekend exercise was a Bde exercise.

I assume you could share the OPI role across units, with Bde HQ support, but having two or three hundred people working together each weekend, in the same place, would make it feel more like a real Army than what can actually happen e.g., a flat faced major like me supervising a 2Lt commanding two weak sections.

Heck, you might even be able to run some pretty effective Pro D for Officers and SNCOs.

I noted that many cross training opportunities grew out of personal relationships at the unit level. It was also common of the QM staffs of the various units to help each other out when it didn't impact the home unit. The same still applies in my Public Service work, personal relationships with people in other ministries is how things get done, the official process are always to unwieldy. Cross training with the other units builds those relationships and furthers communication and flexibility, which is why the "kingdom builders" hate it. 
 

RCPalmer

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dapaterson said:
Most PRes senior leaders have no understanding of the way that DND/CAF operates.  Reserve control of Reserve funding would be an unmitigated disaster.

There does need to be Army leadership to put the Permanent Active Militia back to work in training the Non-Permanent Active Militia; when Reserve units are sending people on five month summer taskings while Div HQs are ordering all their pers to take at least two weeks of leave over the summer, there's a pretty bad disconnect.

I would be curious to know what specific skill set a reserve full Col or BGen is missing that would prevent them contributing effectively at the defence team at that level, but I see your point with regards to the deeper corporate institutional knowledge.

Perhaps a better way to articulate my point that is that there should be commanders at the appropriate levels responsible for the success of the reserve force with the financial authority to make it happen.  If that authority were to take the form of an HQ, that HQ would have need to have a combination of RegF and PRes pers, and like every other element of the CAF, would be accountable to its higher authority for its broader governance.  For example, the Aussies do that by organizing their Army into 2 divisions. 1 Div is primarily (but not exclusively) RegF and 2 Div is primarily (but not exclusively) PRes.  I would also offer that a guy who has spent his entire career in the RegF is likely not well equipped to make decisions about what is "good" for the PRes.



 

daftandbarmy

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RCPalmer said:
I would be curious to know what specific skill set a reserve full Col or BGen is missing that would prevent them contributing effectively at the defence team at that level, but I see your point with regards to the deeper corporate institutional knowledge.

How about 'zero experience leading teams larger than Coy/ Sqn size' and, for units of that size, zero experience leading them for more than an aggregate total of a week or two over a period of, maybe, a year or two.
 

RCPalmer

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daftandbarmy said:
How about 'zero experience leading teams larger than Coy/ Sqn size' and, for units of that size, zero experience leading them for more than an aggregate total of a week or two over a period of, maybe, a year or two.

From a tactical standpoint, absolutely, but I am talking institutional leadership here.  To become a full Col in the PRes, you have to command a CBG, a unit of 1500-2000 pers, and that is effectively a full time role.  Those officers have also completed a tenure as a unit CO, which is also nearly a full time job and while the units are embryonic, they have significant responsibilities in shaping their own institutions in terms of community footprint, recruiting, strategic engagement, etc.  The best of the group will become Div DComds, also nearly a full time job with significant responsibilities.  These senior leaders get the better part of a decade to "learn the ropes" institutionally.  Senior reserve force leaders frequently also bring significant management and leadership experience from their civilian employment.  Again, I agree that there are a lot of "Kentucky Colonels" out there, but there are also a lot of really sharp people.

As I said, they also lack some of the depth with regards to CF/DND level bureaucratic knowledge that comes with decades of full time service (and they would definitely need some staff to help them out), but I view that as a positive.  What we need are fresh ideas, and not slavish servitude to an organizational culture that has made little recent institutional progress, apart from adding ever increasing layers of HQ in the Army, and maintaining an 8,000 man NDHQ while the core capabilities rot.

I'm not saying that a reservist should be the Army Commander, or even a brigade in active operations, but I think that to move forward institutionally, reservists need a voice at the highest level, and that requirement is not met by officers in purely advisory roles.  What we need are some reservists in some responsible positions at the highest levels to help shape the institution so that the needs of the whole army are met.
 

Journeyman

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trustnoone73 said:
The RegF does not fund the PRes. 
Thank you; the military folks predominantly involved in making the big decisions  are RegF.
 
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