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Military bases struggling with personnel shortages, internal review finds

FSTO

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The thing about Shilo was if you were married with kids it was a great base to live on; if you were single ... not so much.

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What?!? Lots of "Talent" at the Keystone, the Crystal, the Unwinder!

Pretty good place to be if you liked to hunt, fish and do outdoorsy stuff.
I was born and raised about 40 miles to the south and used to hear the guns all the time.
When I went to the recruiting centre to join the Navy, a MCC suggested armoured, I told him that I already knew how to drive a tractor.
 

dimsum

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What?!? Lots of "Talent" at the Keystone, the Crystal, the Unwinder!

Pretty good place to be if you liked to hunt, fish and do outdoorsy stuff.
I was born and raised about 40 miles to the south and used to hear the guns all the time.
When I went to the recruiting centre to join the Navy, a MCC suggested armoured, I told him that I already knew how to drive a tractor.
I see you, like many other Prairie sailors, joined the RCN to get the hell out of the Prairies ;)
 

mariomike

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...and everyone joining the RCAF will be posted to Cold Lake for their career.
My sister loves the area. Retired now, but says she will never move away. I understand opinions may vary between single members, and those married with children.

QUOTE: "I see you, like many other Prairie sailors, joined the RCN to get the hell out of the Prairies ;)"

My father mentioned that a significant number of his shipmates during the war were from the prairie provinces. Their last re-union was in Red Deer, Alberta. He never joined the Legion, but never missed a re-union. BC , Atlantic Canada, or anywhere in between.

QUOTE: "The Canadian Forces area on reddit makes for some pretty interesting observations."

Never read that forum. Social media did not exist when I, and many others, joined "the profession of arms". Just had to find out for ourselves.
 

dimsum

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My sister loves the area. Retired now, but says she will never move away. I understand opinions may vary between single members, and those married with children.
Probably a bigger divide between those who want to be near cities, and those who want to be in rural areas.

On another note, now that telework has been shown to be a viable option for some office workers, it'll be interesting to see if bases decide to let some of their office-bound folks work from home. Taking it the next step, maybe even allowing people to stay in one spot while working in another, e.g. "posted" to a new location but really staying in their old one. A few people I know have done that during Covid with little to no stoppage in work. That could help alleviate the whole issue of getting posted to somewhere like the NCR, if you can do your work at home or in a borrowed office at your current base.

I've never thought that it would be successful but from what I've heard, it's worked out quite well.
 

Quirky

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Probably a bigger divide between those who want to be near cities, and those who want to be in rural areas.
All comes down to this, our rural superbases, by Canadian standards, probably cause more people hardship than anything else. Cold lake itself isn’t a horrible place on its own, but the biggest complaint is the isolation and time it takes to get anywhere for services. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere only because of its proximity to CLAWR.
 

MilEME09

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All comes down to this, our rural superbases, by Canadian standards, probably cause more people hardship than anything else. Cold lake itself isn’t a horrible place on its own, but the biggest complaint is the isolation and time it takes to get anywhere for services. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere only because of its proximity to CLAWR.
Considering I have seen services get better to a degree in places like Wainwright as a result of some of the bases influence, how much does CFB cold lake contribute to the local economy? One would think services would come to cold lake if the was the economic drive to make it worth it.
 

MJP

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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
As you know I live the admin issue raised by the report and
Considering I have seen services get better to a degree in places like Wainwright as a result of some of the bases influence, how much does CFB cold lake contribute to the local economy? One would think services would come to cold lake if the was the economic drive to make it worth it.
We like to think that in places like Brandon, Wainwright, Medicine Hat and Cold Lake that DND/CAF contribute greatly to driving the local economy but reality is that we just don't in any of those locations. For the Alberta based ones Oil and Gas are the main drivers even in the downturn and Brandon is a regional collector and aggregates as Southwest economic hub in MB.

Often what you see in places affiliated with bases is that people offer services that the base needs. In Wx's case the Log Company there has build and maintains a number of long term contracts to support base and visitor requirements which is why you see better service delivery
 

Jarnhamar

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On another note, now that telework has been shown to be a viable option for some office workers, it'll be interesting to see if bases decide to let some of their office-bound folks work from home.
We could probably save a lot of money having office workers at field units work from home and not collect LDA, especially when units send someone to the field over night once every 6 months to "qualify" for LDA.
 

MJP

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We could probably save a lot of money having office workers at field units work from home and not collect LDA, especially when units send someone to the field over night once every 6 months to "qualify" for LDA.
Just go with a super allowance that rewards you for doing your job at sea, in the field or in the air and remove the gaming of the system and rewarding folks by virtue of posting.

That said while it removes some of barriers to filling base posns the long and short of it is that the issue has many facets and needs a holistic look.
 

Eaglelord17

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Great post.

The Canadian Forces area on reddit makes for some pretty interesting observations.

I've been lurking there for a while just reading posts and I'm continuously surprised at how many new members appear to:
-have joined the CAF with pre-existing mental health issues
-self diagnosis mental health issues; and
-think it's ****ing bullshit that the CAF would have the audacity to post them, especially if they don't want to which they feel is harassment/trying to murder them.

Not everyone is like that and their regular members often call them out for it, but it's still surprising (to me) at how many have joined the CAF with those issues/views.

The MH is another interesting one.
Stuff like
"I had severe anxiety and depression as a teen and I joined the CAF and have been in for a year now and they want me to goto the field but that will negatively impact my mental health, what do I do?"

Are our recruiters not managing people's expectations?

"Hurts my mental health" seems to have became a mantra.

This the reality of the newest generation. Ultimately life in the first world really doesn't have much in the way of struggles. If you need your dishes cleaned, there is a dishwashing machine. If you need to shovel your driveway, there is a snowblower. If you need to go somewhere even the most basic of cars have a ton of features that would have been high end 40 years ago (not to mention things like uber, etc.). You need to get a item, it is shipped to your door in two days. If you need to research something, you google it quickly. They don't even do pop quizzes in school anymore because kids can't handle it.

What this means is there is a lack of stressors. Without stressors we do not develop stress management skills which in turn means when they do receive a little bit of stress they panic and melt down. The CAF happens to be a excellent workplace to provide all sorts of stress and if people are not even remotely prepared for it they will struggle and/or fail. Even if you are well prepared this workplace can still cause you to struggle and/or fail.

Difficulty managing stress isn't also confined to newer members. I have seen older members struggle with having to go to the field, they just tend not to post about that on social media, instead trying to figure out ways to get out of it.

This problem isn't going to go away, it is only going to get worse as time progresses. Our weak education systems are failing to give people the tools they need and the opportunities to fail (and failing is usually more important than succeeding as you learn more from failures than you do from successes).
 

PuckChaser

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We could probably save a lot of money having office workers at field units work from home and not collect LDA, especially when units send someone to the field over night once every 6 months to "qualify" for LDA.
Oh they went to the field for real? I know of a major Sigs unit in Kingston years ago that did exercises in a parking lot on the base to justify LDA... and they went home at night...
 

Blackadder1916

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. . . now that telework has been shown to be a viable option for some office workers, . . .

We could probably save a lot of money having office workers at field units work from home and not collect LDA, especially when units send someone to the field over night once every 6 months to "qualify" for LDA.

I suppose the definition of "office workers" varies. During my military career (and afterward in the private sector) my primary place of employment was sometimes an office (or cubicle), but rarely would I have described myself as an "office worker" or, while still in the CAF, have described my immediate (uniformed) subordinates (especially in field force units) as "office workers". Yes, clerical, administrative and some staff functions could be performed remotely from home, but if the occupants of those positions were able to do that, why are they in uniform? The standard response is because of the requirement to perform those functions when deployed operationally. But if the function can be performed remotely, why is there a need to deploy these pers?
 

Furniture

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Considering I have seen services get better to a degree in places like Wainwright as a result of some of the bases influence, how much does CFB cold lake contribute to the local economy? One would think services would come to cold lake if the was the economic drive to make it worth it.
The number and types of services required for a few thousand(at best) military members and their families is nothing compared to the services offered in places like Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Vancouver, etc... The kinds of places we are attempting to draw/retain recruits from.

We may have saved money by going to rural bases and shutting down the urban ones, but we may be costing ourselves in personnel.
 

dimsum

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The number and types of services required for a few thousand(at best) military members and their families is nothing compared to the services offered in places like Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Vancouver, etc... The kinds of places we are attempting to draw/retain recruits from.

We may have saved money by going to rural bases and shutting down the urban ones, but we may be costing ourselves in personnel.
I've mentioned this before, but the Australian Army (whose bases are generally in urban areas) are also having the same issue. So I'm not 100% convinced that we'd magically fix the personnel issue.

It would definitely be a step in the right direction, but I think it's incorrect to think that it will fix retention completely.
 

MilEME09

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I've mentioned this before, but the Australian Army (whose bases are generally in urban areas) are also having the same issue. So I'm not 100% convinced that we'd magically fix the personnel issue.

It would definitely be a step in the right direction, but I think it's incorrect to think that it will fix retention completely.
I think what would be useful if its not being done right now is anonymous exit surveys/interviews. If members are honest about why they are leaving we can look at addressing it.
 

Colin Parkinson

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The city bases also kept the military as part of the fabric of the society. Now people rarely see military personal in most cites and towns. As you travel around the world, the military is always in the community.
 

MilEME09

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The city bases also kept the military as part of the fabric of the society. Now people rarely see military personal in most cites and towns. As you travel around the world, the military is always in the community.
You would think a viable strategy would be to use the PRes or even reg force in more COMREL type events to keep us in the public eye. Urban ops exercises, etc... wasn't it in about 2008 the military took over a portion of Okotoks, AB for a urban warfare EX?
 

Weinie

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You would think a viable strategy would be to use the PRes or even reg force in more COMREL type events to keep us in the public eye. Urban ops exercises, etc... wasn't it in about 2008 the military took over a portion of Okotoks, AB for a urban warfare EX?
We have tried that on several occasions ISO various initiatives (outreach,recruiting etc). Invariably factors such as cost, pushback (and there is always some group opposed no matter the initiiative), new leadership, fatigue, disinterest, ops, gaffes, or political restrictions lead to abandonment.
There is very little day to day interest in the CAF amongst the populace. They are completely supportive (polling is always about 90%). We have very little impact on the daily lives of Canadians, and that is a good thing.
Rather than be all singing and dancing, or at every dance, better to show up when you are most needed, do the biz exceedingly well, and quietly get outta Dodge.
 

dimsum

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We have tried that on several occasions ISO various initiatives (outreach,recruiting etc). Invariably factors such as cost, pushback (and there is always some group opposed no matter the initiiative), new leadership, fatigue, disinterest, ops, gaffes, or political restrictions lead to abandonment.
There is very little day to day interest in the CAF amongst the populace. They are completely supportive (polling is always about 90%). We have very little impact on the daily lives of Canadians, and that is a good thing.
Rather than be all singing and dancing, or at every dance, better to show up when you are most needed, do the biz exceedingly well, and quietly get outta Dodge.
There could be a middle ground. Have units in the cities but not outwardly (or too outwardly) publicize things. Just have personnel go about their lives - the public will see them going to/from work, getting groceries, going places with families...

We already have examples with CFBs Edmonton and Halifax.
 

ballz

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You would think a viable strategy would be to use the PRes or even reg force in more COMREL type events to keep us in the public eye. Urban ops exercises, etc... wasn't it in about 2008 the military took over a portion of Okotoks, AB for a urban warfare EX?

This strikes me as a good way to hurt the retention, not to mention just effectiveness overall from a training perspective as vital activities continue to take a backseat to activities that add questionable value. In my circles, most of us are sick of draining the limited resources we have with more BS COMREL activities. It's all very hypocritical of senior leadership who keep saying "yes we need to reduce op tempo" while being completely unrestrained at any COMREL opportunity no matter how expensive or stupid a particular opportunity might be.

As I said at the start of this thread, this report is reporting a symptom of a larger problem, not enough resources to deal with ever increasing unrestrained ambition of our political masters and senior leadership. That problem isn't going to be improved by even more tasks...

Maybe they should actually do some performance measurements, like a grown-up organization would, on the efficacy of COMREL events (or anything for that matter). Everyone seems to be assuming that they are good for recruiting but there's no evidence to suggest so one way or another because we're completely void of any performance metrics, a pretty key part of implementing anything that we can't seem to figure out. At least if there were some performance metrics to support it, the people who have are continually put through the ringer to conduct these types of tasks might actually be able to get behind it.
 
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