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Military bases struggling with personnel shortages, internal review finds

MilEME09

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How many bases have functioning fixed-wing airfields anymore? Nearby civilian strips perhaps but you'd still have the 'last mile' problem.
Last mile could be handled by base transport and a cargo truck. No I am not necessarily suggesting this as a every day thing. High priority things like say a bulk order for say a SAR squadron needs a bunch of parts for their birds, a two week or more pick time I feel is unacceptable for a unit that is needing to be ready 24/7.

Back to the topic at hand though of personal shortages, reading over the years on this forum. It almost sounds like being posted to a base is almost seem as a punishment due to the pay cut. I feel this needs to be looked as a factor needing change. Base postings if the financial effects could be evened out would be a positive, especially for say service member X who just had a kid and might want more time at home.
 

Quirky

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It almost sounds like being posted to a base is almost seem as a punishment due to the pay cut.
Pardon my ignorance, but what is exactly "posted to a base"? I've never heard that term before as I thought all postings are to bases to begin with.
 

dapaterson

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Posted to the staff of the base and not to a field unit on the base - for example, a MSE Op posted to Base Transport at Greenwood won't get Land Duty Allowance, while his wife, posted to 2 Svc Bn as a MSE Op, will get Land Duty Allowance.
 

Navy_Pete

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I'm really struggling with their complaint that the base is only 3/4s staffed; short of a deploying ship that has pretty much been my experience at every posting I've been to on the support/training side. In fact, 3/4 stafffed would have been an improvement in most places, even with them being priority 1 or 2 workplaces.

Also, think they are specifically talking about jobs on Base/Plant operations, not just general 'postings on base', and doesn't include logistics or anything. Kind of hard to be sure as they are mixing a lot of jargon, but they also talk about alternate postings to training and support getting higher priority, and those are co-located with the actual base.

For example, in one of the Navy bases, you will have several training schools, the operational support, maintenance facility, log branch, transport and other functions, and a core base function responsible for the building maintenance and base security. I think it's the latter group they are talking about.

Navy bases probably aren't a great example though, as I doubt we're poaching anyone from base ops to keep ships at sea, but generally reflected in what happens to people at the schools/FMFs or other shore postings in the area that get poached when units are short qualifications. Unless you get a posting outside the geographic area of Halifax/Esquimalt, the rubber band to get someone back to sea is pretty short. IF that's included, I would agree, but really hard to tell what they are specifically talking about as it is, once again, a poorly explained article on a military topic.
 

daftandbarmy

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One way the private sector is increasing HR efficiency in the supply chain is through AI:

What is Artificial Intelligence’s Role in the Supply Chain?​

On track to reach $1.3 billion by 2024, the integration of artificial intelligence and supply chain management applications helps automate decision making, improve efficiencies, and better human resource utilization.

 

ballz

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Posted to a "base" in this context means being posted to the actual formation or unit that is "the" Base. I.e. Being posted to 3 CDSB Edmonton vice being posted to 1 PPCLI (in Edmonton). While in both cases you might colloquially say "I'm posted to Edmonton," the former is a posting to the actual base while the latter is a posting to a field unit that just happens to be located on that base.

Internal audits have to stay within the scope of their audit parameters, which in this case was to evaluate the Base/Wing sustainment programs. So their comment that the bases are suffering from being bottom priority for manning is obvious but it's as far as they can go with their observations, they can't go as far as pointing out it is just an obvious symptom of the real problem... not enough resources to execute more and more tasks, some of which is not within our control and some of which is (our IT system, unmitigated ambition from senior leadership, etc.).
 

ballz

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I'm really struggling with their complaint that the base is only 3/4s staffed; short of a deploying ship that has pretty much been my experience at every posting I've been to on the support/training side. In fact, 3/4 stafffed would have been an improvement in most places, even with them being priority 1 or 2 workplaces.

They aren't "complaining," they are making an observation. Your reaction comes across as defensive, which the DND/CAF always does because it's awfully insecure about itself and being criticized about anything. And if you actually don't see 3/4 manning as an issue, perhaps that's just further support to their observation since it's become so engrained in our modus operandi that people don't even recognize it as a problem.

The article is pretty poor at explaining anything but it's worth reading the actual internal audit report, I wish we paid more attention to the ADM(RS) reports. https://www.canada.ca/en/department...ion-caf-bases-wings-sustainment-programs.html
 

MilEME09

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They aren't "complaining," they are making an observation. Your reaction comes across as defensive, which the DND/CAF always does because it's awfully insecure about itself and being criticized about anything. And if you actually don't see 3/4 manning as an issue, perhaps that's just further support to their observation since it's become so engrained in our modus operandi that people don't even recognize it as a problem.

The article is pretty poor at explaining anything but it's worth reading the actual internal audit report, I wish we paid more attention to the ADM(RS) reports. https://www.canada.ca/en/department...ion-caf-bases-wings-sustainment-programs.html
Call my cynical but I see the recommendation to create working groups pop up a lot. Our problem is that people already in the organization don't see the problems, have a group of these people working on a solution might not be the best approach. For the civilian side of DND we should bring on a third party HR firm to evaluate the entire structure.
 

Furniture

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So based on the responses here I think people are missing the real problem, as I see it, and talking about supply....

From what I got out of the story, bases are suffering from staffing shortages because operational units are pulling out the healthy pers for Ops, and Ops units are dumping their medically unfit to the base, creating problems with getting things done due to MELs.

Why are Ops generating so many medically unfit pers? Should we be slowing the CAF Ops Tempo to allow our pers to get healthy, recruiting to catch up, and maybe match our tempo with our real staffing?
 

PuckChaser

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Why are Ops generating so many medically unfit pers? Should we be slowing the CAF Ops Tempo to allow our pers to get healthy, recruiting to catch up, and maybe match our tempo with our real staffing?

A Tac Pause isn't going to catch up with numbers. The pers being "dumped" on Base aren't on TCats with a broken leg. They're on PCat and chronically undeployable. Now, the CAF doesn't want to medically release people any more because of the bad press, so operational units have no choice but to push them to Base. What's your Recruiting Slogan going to be as well? "Join the CAF and travel the world (once we hit PML, otherwise enjoy sweeping floors and 3 months in Wainwright every year)!" As soon as you call a Tac Pause all those healthy folks are going to pull pin and find civilian employment elsewhere, you'd compound the problem with a higher ratio of fit to unfit and gutter the morale that's left in the CAF.
 

Furniture

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A Tac Pause isn't going to catch up with numbers. The pers being "dumped" on Base aren't on TCats with a broken leg. They're on PCat and chronically undeployable. Now, the CAF doesn't want to medically release people any more because of the bad press, so operational units have no choice but to push them to Base. What's your Recruiting Slogan going to be as well? "Join the CAF and travel the world (once we hit PML, otherwise enjoy sweeping floors and 3 months in Wainwright every year)!" As soon as you call a Tac Pause all those healthy folks are going to pull pin and find civilian employment elsewhere, you'd compound the problem with a higher ratio of fit to unfit and gutter the morale that's left in the CAF.
Clearly the current system of pretending everything is good isn't working either. It doesn't have to be a complete pause, but we can slow down in some areas, without hurting our already broken recruiting system.

Also, TCAT pers do go base side on AP, so the healthy can deploy/train. The more pers working a "modified" schedule, the more the healthy pers posted to base units are required to pick up the slack. Then those pers burn out without ever having to go through the hassle of being deployed... They can just go straight from working on base full time, to being on a TCAT for 6+ months...

As pointed out in the story, postings to the base are supposed to be down time, but when you're doing the work of 2-3 pers while on "down time" from being operational, you don't get rest.
 

PuckChaser

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No one in the CAF gets rest. Every CO needs to check boxes to get promoted, Bde Comds need to push "new capabilities"... Troops are doing 6 month predeployment training to go to Latvia, to then turn around and do the exact same ranges for 6 months over again for "readiness" training. Except they spent 4 of those 6 months before they deployed sitting in the field away from their families. We wonder why people quit...
 

Furniture

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No one in the CAF gets rest. Every CO needs to check boxes to get promoted, Bde Comds need to push "new capabilities"... Troops are doing 6 month predeployment training to go to Latvia, to then turn around and do the exact same ranges for 6 months over again for "readiness" training. Except they spent 4 of those 6 months before they deployed sitting in the field away from their families. We wonder why people quit...
People quit, except the ones sitting at home on their third or fourth well timed TCAT... filling the billets the deployers should be in.

Get your helmets on, it's story time.

I spent three of my five years on the Left Coast being promised a shore posting for a year or two for rest, to only be told you're needed on a ship deploying. The first two years were split between a deployment, and WUPS on PRO. Needless to say, by the time I left I was close to quitting the CAF at 20... I'm now come around to a slightly modified "I'll quit when you annoy me again".
 

csssupportmb

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Would you say pre-deployment training is still 3 to 4 months at a base? I've heard stories of reservists heading to Edmonton & showing up, doing lots of PT & no real training values for weeks on end.
 

daftandbarmy

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A Tac Pause isn't going to catch up with numbers. The pers being "dumped" on Base aren't on TCats with a broken leg. They're on PCat and chronically undeployable. Now, the CAF doesn't want to medically release people any more because of the bad press, so operational units have no choice but to push them to Base. What's your Recruiting Slogan going to be as well? "Join the CAF and travel the world (once we hit PML, otherwise enjoy sweeping floors and 3 months in Wainwright every year)!" As soon as you call a Tac Pause all those healthy folks are going to pull pin and find civilian employment elsewhere, you'd compound the problem with a higher ratio of fit to unfit and gutter the morale that's left in the CAF.
As I recall, once upon a time , a CO couldn't just 'dump' people on someone else just because these people were perceived as a burden of some kind.

They had a responsibility to make sure that everyone was 'looked after' in a way that made sure unit readiness was balanced with personnel needs.

CO's in units with high turnover rates were therefore looked upon as 'not very good leaders'.

As a result, CO's had quite bit of of independence and discretion in the way they dealt with people: from putting them in the battalion jail for up to 60 days, to giving everyone extra leave for a couple of weeks. Alot of resources could be called in by the CO to help, as well.

Maybe we need to give CO's back some of those decision making powers, and make suitable resources available to them, and then hold them accountable/ recognize them for the good leadership that results in low turnover rates. Along the way, we might also make the job of a CO more attractive, and less of a 'ladder rung' for career climbing one, two and three stars.

And now I think I've officially deviated from the theme of this thread :)
 

FJAG

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As I recall, once upon a time , a CO couldn't just 'dump' people on someone else just because these people were perceived as a burden of some kind.

Once upon a time. Back in the '70s - yeah it's going to be one of those stories - we had things a bit better.

Firstly, there were about twice as many of us in four brigades. One brigade was permanently in Germany so while they had a lot of exercises they went home to the family after only three weeks away. Secondly, the only "ops" tour was Cyprus which was a battalion (not a whole battle group) and didn't need much in the way of predeployment training. Recruiting was better (and for several years afterwards as we downsized, it wasn't even necessary)

We still had manning problems though. My troop which should have had three gun sergeants had none because, while still in the regiment, none of the three were medically capable of field duty so they were respectively: the NCO i/c hockey rink; the regimental duty sergeant and the regimental canteen sergeant (none of which, as you can imagine, were actual establishment positions but buckshee hidey-holes). Pretty much every troop in the regiment was in the same shape (we even had a regimental graphic arts sergeant) The result was my guns were run by master bombardiers who, at the time, earned a whole five bucks a month more than their bombardier (thanks Hellyer) gun numbers. That led to some lovely post-exercise smokers I'll tell you.

The lesson here: there never were any good old days, just different old days.

🙂
 

Humphrey Bogart

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I got news for you all:

It ain't going to get better, it's only going to get worse. Why?

1. We are being continuously subjected to the pressures of defence Inflation which is eroding what we get for our money. We spend slightly more and get far less, year after year.

2. The gene pool the CAF has recruited from historically is drying up.

3. The pressures of multi-generational Government mismanagement are finally bearing down on the organization.

The CAF has been staring at the fiscal cliff for a couple of decades now. All of what is happening has been predicted by numerous reports put out by many people, including the Parliamentary Budget Officer who said years ago that our present force posture and force composition was unsustainable.

I have just accepted this as a fact. Reasons I stay in the CAF have changed as well. I'm on my second trade, don't give a damn about promotions or the latest "leading change" idea coming out of some Senior Officer's mouth.

I enjoy travelling, testing myself physically and mentally, the occasional adrenaline rush I get from time to time and just hanging out with the boys all sleep deprived and knackered from the latest and greatest thing we did.

The fact they pay me to do this is just a bonus.
 
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MilEME09

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I got news for you all:

It ain't going to get better, it's only going to get worse. Why?

1. We are being continuously subjected to the pressures of defence Inflation which is eroding what we get for our money. We spend slightly more and get far less, year after year.

2. The gene pool the CAF has recruited from historically is drying up.

3. The pressures of multi-generational Government mismanagement are finally bearing down on the organization.

The CAF has been staring at the fiscal cliff for a couple of decades now. All of what is happening has been predicted by numerous reports put out by many people, including the Parliamentary Budget Officer who said years ago that our present force posture and force composition was unsustainable.

I have just accepted this as a fact. Reasons I stay in the CAF have changed as well. I'm on my second trade, don't give a damn about promotions or the latest "leading change" idea coming out of some Senior Officer's mouth.

I enjoy travelling, testing myself physically and mentally, the occasional adrenaline rush I get from time to time and just hanging out with the boys all sleep deprived and knackered from the latest and greatest thing we did.

The fact they pay me to do this is just a bonus.
It does appear our chickens are coming home to roost, the writing has been on the wall but maybe that's why we put the army as CDS so much, they know we can't read.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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It does appear our chickens are coming home to roost, the writing has been on the wall but maybe that's why we put the army as CDS so much, they know we can't read.
Crayons do taste delicious. The reality is nothing is going to change. Anyone in the CAF with any sort of ability to make a change has been rewarded and benefitted financially and personally from our present system.

Why would someone who has been rewarded change anything? We spend Millions of dollars training people to do a job and then have them spend very little time actually doing said job.

It's all about pushing people through to get the management checks in the box so they can receive their next promotion. The organization they may be leading is a paper tiger but it briefs real well and looks good on paper!
 

Navy_Pete

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They aren't "complaining," they are making an observation. Your reaction comes across as defensive, which the DND/CAF always does because it's awfully insecure about itself and being criticized about anything. And if you actually don't see 3/4 manning as an issue, perhaps that's just further support to their observation since it's become so engrained in our modus operandi that people don't even recognize it as a problem.

The article is pretty poor at explaining anything but it's worth reading the actual internal audit report, I wish we paid more attention to the ADM(RS) reports. https://www.canada.ca/en/department...ion-caf-bases-wings-sustainment-programs.html
Yeah, you're right, came across as defensive. My bad; wasn't my intent, but guess my point was it sucks everywhere, so pers issues at the bases are a 'symptom' vice a self contained problem. 70% filled billets is the new 100% filled, and from personal experience usually the working groups/consultants that look into it result in changes like getting rid of the empty seats, redistributing the responsibilities to who is left, and maybe adding extra resources on a part time 'matrix' assignment. So a lot of shuffling of the deck chairs with no real fix to the problem.

Thanks for sharing the audit, that was much clearer. Didn't realize the ADM(IE) change, but the example of the CFB Halifax gym was a good one for it causing issues; that really blew up on the BComd when it wasn't their swim lane (guess it's a good example of not their responsibility but it's their problem). Also kind of reinforced that reporters that specialize in a topic generally don't know what they are talking about, which is good to keep in mind when reading anything.

No real suggestions here, but my gut feeling is that the push for 'more teeth less tail' generally underestimates how much 'tail' is required to maintain the teeth we want across a geographically massive area, as well as a full suite of complex, modern equipment. Logistics are a lot easier if your entire military in a place the size of PEI, and procurement, maintenance and support is much simpler if you don't have a blue water navy or an air force.
 
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