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Military bases struggling with personnel shortages, internal review finds

Weinie

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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.


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).
And as the guy that was invariably directed to be the lead on this, I was way past "sick" of asking you folks to support. I soldiered on.:salute:

The only "performance measurement" that senior leadership was concerned with was the 30 second clip, and the two columns in the local (and occasional national) paper. Check in the box, duly communicated on high.
 

MilEME09

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Given the above posts highlight the mindset around these types of events, I question if the events them selves are being executed well, or if we are doing the right kinds of events.
 

FSTO

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I see you, like many other Prairie sailors, joined the RCN to get the hell out of the Prairies ;)
You mis-understand me grasshopper. I absolutely love the prairies and get back there as much as possible. I just liked the thought of being a Naval Officer and never considered the Army or Air Force at all.
 

daftandbarmy

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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.
There are thousands of Navy personnel within a stone's throw of Victoria, at CFB Esquimalt, and you wouldn't know it unless you hung out at the Timmie's on Esquimalt Rd. There are hundreds of Army reservists in Victoria's Capital Region and no one really knows they're there, or what they do.

Unless you're prepared to have large numbers of uniformed troops wandering up and down Douglas or Blanshard streets on a daily basis chatting to people, which would more likely cause alarm than build rapport, you'll never really have the military cross the minds of local civilians on a regular basis. Even then, the 'CAF Brand' is such that you're not likely to hit the right COMREL targets - whatever those are beyond making CO's look good marching at the head large groups of troops - by merely showing up occasionally.

The answer likely lies somewhere in the realms of a more sophisticated virtual/online marketing and advertising program, much like other big organizations do these days. However, a recent project I came across was looking at ways to get more posters and brochures distributed like, you know, we used to do in the 1970s.

As always, our challenges are intellectual, strategic and cultural as opposed to anything else.
 

mariomike

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However, a recent project I came across was looking at ways to get more posters and brochures distributed like, you know, we used to do in the 1970s.
I remember seeing the posters and brochures in high school. They also had "Sentinal Magazine".
 

FJAG

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...
The answer likely lies somewhere in the realms of a more sophisticated virtual/online marketing and advertising program, much like other big organizations do these days. However, a recent project I came across was looking at ways to get more posters and brochures distributed like, you know, we used to do in the 1970s.
...
Strangely enough my 44 year military career started in 1965 as the Vietnam War was ramping up down south. I never knew a thing about the Canadian Army nor had I seen any advertising or brochures.

The sole reason I was recruited was because there were ten of us (out of 1,300 students) on my high school's stage crew and one of them was a reservist whose regiment offered a ten dollar bounty (i.e the equivalent of four cases of 24's of beer in those days) for every new recruit they brought in. He talked me into going down. I always thought it was the best ten bucks DND ever spent and that they got their money's worth.

;)
 

daftandbarmy

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Strangely enough my 44 year military career started in 1965 as the Vietnam War was ramping up down south. I never knew a thing about the Canadian Army nor had I seen any advertising or brochures.

The sole reason I was recruited was because there were ten of us (out of 1,300 students) on my high school's stage crew and one of them was a reservist whose regiment offered a ten dollar bounty (i.e the equivalent of four cases of 24's of beer in those days) for every new recruit they brought in. He talked me into going down. I always thought it was the best ten bucks DND ever spent and that they got their money's worth.

;)
Here's a good example of the confusion between COMREL and Recruiting:

In this case, COMREL measures of success seemed to be connected to generating more recruits. And the plan worked.

What if COMREL success measures were more connected to 'make sure that the civilian population supports our next (slightly confusing) foreign conflict that may result in dead Canadians', or 'ensure that there will be a howl of outrage across voters of all stripes should the government of the day even consider de-funding the Arm/Nay/Air Force.'

I guess it's all about the old 'seleciton and maintnenance of the aim' thing....
 

YZT580

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It was also simpler when many high schools hosted their own cadet corps. Mine even had a gun range located in the cafeteria. Superb drawing card for a bunch of young teens brought up on Gunsmoke and Rin Tin Tin.
 

mariomike

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It was also simpler when many high schools hosted their own cadet corps. Mine even had a gun range located in the cafeteria.
This may, or may not, be of interest,

QUOTE

TL Kennedy Secondary School had an indoor rifle range

Back in the 50s and 60s there was a rifle club and cadet training at T.L. Kennedy. Cadets used it first in association with the Lorne Scots Regiment and by the late ’50s Cadet membership became mandatory for grade 9 boys. Then the Rifle Club started and lasted until 1975 when the mass shooting at Brampton Centennial in 1975 happened (two daughters of then Min. of Education Bill Davis were attending there). It was the first school shooting in Canadian history that resulted in deaths. Back in the 1960s T.L. Kennedy alumni have mentioned that some of them brought their own rifles to practice and stored them in their lockers. There was the actual rifle range in the basement that was located in the basement by the school office as seen below. It is now used as an equipment and storage room.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Mississauga | insauga.com

END QUOTE
 

YZT580

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This may, or may not, be of interest,

QUOTE

TL Kennedy Secondary School had an indoor rifle range

(two daughters of then Min. of Education Bill Davis were attending there). It was the first school shooting in Canadian history that resulted in deaths. Back in the 1960s T.L. Kennedy alumni have mentioned that some of them brought their own rifles to practice and stored them in their lockers. There was the actual rifle range in the basement that was located in the basement by the school office as seen below. It is now used as an equipment and storage room.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Mississauga | insauga.com

END QUOTE
Small correction that doesn't change the import: Bill Davis was the Education Minister in John Robarts government. In 1971 he became premier of Ontario; a position he held for a decade. Interesting though that the shooting did not occur at the school with the rifle range where students were properly introduced to firearms and firearm safety. Perhaps there is a lesson there too (but I am off-topic, sorry)
 

mariomike

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Small correction that doesn't change the import: Bill Davis was the Education Minister in John Robarts government. In 1971 he became premier of Ontario; a position he held for a decade. Interesting though that the shooting did not occur at the school with the rifle range where students were properly introduced to firearms and firearm safety. Perhaps there is a lesson there too (but I am off-topic, sorry)
I offered it only as possibly historical, not political, interest. It was a quote from a Mississauga news report. :coffee:
 

YZT580

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I offered it only as possibly historical, not political, interest. It was a quote from a Mississauga news report. :coffee:
Sad that a local newspaper can't take the time to fact check. It would appear though that rifle clubs and ranges were no all that uncommon. Cadets though are a great way to foster recruiting. Perhaps spending a little advertising cash on improving the cadet programmes to make them more appealing to young people would be one way to go to up the numbers of 'good' candidates.
 

mariomike

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Cadets though are a great way to foster recruiting. Perhaps spending a little advertising cash on improving the cadet programmes to make them more appealing to young people would be one way to go to up the numbers of 'good' candidates.
I do not recall cadets in our school. But, we had CAF posters, brochures and Sentinel. I joined the RCASC - PRes when I was 16. My friend joined the Infantry.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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There are thousands of Navy personnel within a stone's throw of Victoria, at CFB Esquimalt, and you wouldn't know it unless you hung out at the Timmie's on Esquimalt Rd. There are hundreds of Army reservists in Victoria's Capital Region and no one really knows they're there, or what they do.

Unless you're prepared to have large numbers of uniformed troops wandering up and down Douglas or Blanshard streets on a daily basis chatting to people, which would more likely cause alarm than build rapport, you'll never really have the military cross the minds of local civilians on a regular basis. Even then, the 'CAF Brand' is such that you're not likely to hit the right COMREL targets - whatever those are beyond making CO's look good marching at the head large groups of troops - by merely showing up occasionally.

The answer likely lies somewhere in the realms of a more sophisticated virtual/online marketing and advertising program, much like other big organizations do these days. However, a recent project I came across was looking at ways to get more posters and brochures distributed like, you know, we used to do in the 1970s.

As always, our challenges are intellectual, strategic and cultural as opposed to anything else.
Couldn't agree more D&B. I think most of our COMREL events are misguided and don't really target the right audiences.

I personally think online marketing as well as advertising are better uses of our dollars than 'send trooper/sailor x' to whatever function, parade, etc. We've been pressured to attend. Unless it's high profile, like this particular event:


62k views of a recording of a couple of CAF folks doing some cool stuff in a high profile venue.

We also do a real poor job at leveraging social media. We get excited over a couple of thousand hits on a video which are usually just CAF members watching videos of themselves.

Compare it to channels like Funker tactical:


1.5 million views on the Funker Tactical Youtube Channel of CANSOF no less.


Or this one of The RCR engaging the Taliban. 1.5 million views.

Compared to the CAF Official Channel which get in the sub 10k views for every video it puts out.

The advertising also has to be done at the right events and be the right kind of advertising. Sporting events like combat sports, extreme sports, Major Leagues, etc offer great venues for our adverts and billboards. They also need to target the right demographics.

As for building favour for our Military Operations, that's an entirely different conversation.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Couldn't agree more D&B. I think most of our COMREL events are misguided and don't really target the right audiences.

I personally think online marketing as well as advertising are better uses of our dollars than 'send trooper/sailor x' to whatever function, parade, etc. We've been pressured to attend. Unless it's high profile, like this particular event:


62k views of a recording of a couple of CAF folks doing some cool stuff in a high profile venue.

We also do a real poor job at leveraging social media. We get excited over a couple of thousand hits on a video which are usually just CAF members watching videos of themselves.

Compare it to channels like Funker tactical:


1.5 million views on the Funker Tactical Youtube Channel of CANSOF no less.


Or this one of The RCR engaging the Taliban. 1.5 million views.

Compared to the CAF Official Channel which get in the sub 10k views for every video it puts out.

The advertising also has to be done at the right events and be the right kind of advertising. Sporting events like combat sports, extreme sports, Major Leagues, etc offer great venues for our adverts and billboards. They also need to target the right demographics.

As for building favour for our Military Operations, that's an entirely different conversation.
You are, perhaps, mistaken that we are officially even chasing that demographic anymore...
 

materialpigeonfibre

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Has anyone ever done a comprehensive study to see if we are obtaining the cost benefits that a manufacturer's 3rd and 4th line maintenance system was supposed to bring. I've read a few CRS reviews and Auditor General's reports that seem to indicate we are being badly served by these systems.

Personally, I dislike any logistics or maintenance system that we don't own and can't deploy.

🍻
I am also interested if a study was ever done.
However, I could care less if we are being served well by these service contracts. It doesn't matter.
How strictly they are adhered to in the march to save a few pennies will cost the CAF. In personnel and operational readiness.
We have personnel who have left home and their family's from six months to a year training to be able to fix equipment and solve problems down to the component level. Then they get posted.
If they are posted to 1rst line field unit, they tag equipment and send it in. No problem.
2nd and 3rd line, Because of these service contracts we are not allowed to open the equipment. The high level of skill that has just been provided you is slowly fading. That doesn't mean nothing is being done. There is always slack to pull. There is always an endless supply of equipment that needs work/ inspection.

Meanwhile you have the upper CoC in front of everybody saying that your trade will no longer be necessary because all your trade does is swap cards and your trade will be entirely replaced by 4th line service contracts.

God help us if we ever get in to a shooting conflict. I'm sure relying on civilians to do our repairs and trouble shoot during war/ pandemic/ famine etc. etc. will do us well *Sarcasm (Just look at BGRS during covid).

It is the intimate knowledge of knowing how the equipment works inside and out that lets us "cowboy" when we need to.

And now when sh** does hit the fan (as it frequently does). The upper CoC has done their absolute best through action and inaction to:
Have the signalers only be capable of pushing buttons and possibly changing a box (if they haven't been told they aren't allowed to do that). Why isn't being explained to them. They can not tell you why they are doing what they are doing. Just that they are doing it. (I know this does not apply to all signalers).
Logical thinking process and a reasonable level of how things work needs to be taught at the school. Shifting the responsibility to the units with "You'll never use this" or "You'll learn it at the unit" doesn't work.

What happens when the signalers get to the field and all of a sudden are expected to be experts?
Often there is failures though no fault of their own. Because they haven't seen a particular configuration of equipment. The only way to fix this is spending time in a classroom and backed up by field training. I imagine this would help with morale (doing training and getting good instead of busy work or having to prepare a day in advance for something that was known about months earlier).

The sig techs who are supposed to have intimate component knowledge of the equipment are picking up the slack from a lack of signaler personnel.

What does this all this add up to? Disgruntled signalers. Disgruntled techs. Loss of professional identity and esprit de corps. Reduced capacity to respond communications problems. Reduced operational readiness.

Indirect costs of CAF personnel are roughly double those of the public service (health care costs, early pension costs, military training costs...) If we accept the assumption that public service personnel are more expensive than contracted personnel, then a model that grows CAF personnel or public service personnel in 2nd / 3rd / 4th line positions would be cost prohibitive - and, since the overall number of CAF personnel is limited, would detract from the "pointy end" of the CAF (unless we come up with better tools to optimize both the full and part-time components of the CAF).

How many "urgent" CAF requirements are driven by units unwilling to plan ahead, and dropping demands at the last minute? How many delays are driven by incomplete work and lack of follow-up?


SIDEBAR: I recently read an AAR type document where there were multiple complaints about equipment and infrastructure. When the staff ('3 and '4 for equipment and Engr for infra) dug deep into the problems, they discovered that the whiners had never submitted UCRs for equipment or requests for infra to be fixed - they never bothered to figure out the process to request change or improvement. How many CAF problems are driven by lazy leadership, unwilling to do the work?
How many urgent requirements by units unwilling to plan ahead. At least 80%. I would just laugh and do my best.

I believe that 4th line refers to being sent to a civilian company for repair. Not the level.
But yes, the CAF 3rd line should be capable to do EVERY repair 4th line does. I'm not saying we should do it ALL the time. But at least some of the time. Schematics, tools, time, and will-power to open equipment must be available. Yes! This is not the most economical way to do it! It is the only way to do it if we wish to maintain skilled personnel and be ready for conflict.
How many actually understand how the process works or how to fill it out? First UCR I ever did took awhile for me to get done because the CAF UCR instructions are read as a what the form is and when to use it, not how to fill out the form, and no one around knew either had to make a few phone calls.
You can easily spend at half a day at it. It will probably go straight to Ottawa. I still do them. I want to believe.
If we are to change mindset to that model, we'll have to made SCAN seminars mandatory (which I'm sure everyone will love) and/or institute the US-style "up or out". I'm not a big fan of "up or out" since some people are really good at their job and should stay there.

Also, I'd feel sorry for anyone (recruiters, especially) trying to explain the change to the public. I can already imagine people saying "the military will send you to war, then fire you." Hell, they do it now.
Lateral promotions?

Time for coffee!
 

daftandbarmy

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It was also simpler when many high schools hosted their own cadet corps. Mine even had a gun range located in the cafeteria. Superb drawing card for a bunch of young teens brought up on Gunsmoke and Rin Tin Tin.
And we have basically the same approach today AFAIK, which will likely not hit the mark for a more 'woke' audience.
 

Ostrozac

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This thread has swerved far away from Base level support being understaffed -- it is taken as written that this is just a symptom of a wider problem, that the Canadian Armed Forces is understaffed, and has problems with recruiting and retention. After all, if all CFBs were magically fully manned tomorrow, then something else would have to be understaffed, and those units would complain about it -- it's a bit of a zero sum game in that respect.

So what is the actual problem? It could be strongly argued that our traditional recruiting pool of men from small town Canada is demographically dying. (The demographics, present and projected, of the Quebecois population has further implications for the Canadian Army, specifically whether 3 of 9 infantry battalions, and 1 of 3 mechanized brigades, can be sustained as Francophone in the future, but that's probably a sacred cow to be barbecued separately from the rest of the herd). And with our traditional recruiting pool evaporating, we are now turning, grudgingly and in some desperation, to other parts of the population. But we have, as an institution, not exactly been welcoming to the groups we are now forced to see as our future. Closing garrisons in cities didn't help, but neither do some of our other choices. It isn't new -- Web of Hate (with a chapter on racism in the CF) was published in 1996 and "Rape in the Military" was a Maclean's cover story in 1998. Our ongoing issues with sexual assault and racist conduct have been in the press for decades, and we as an institution have had those decades to either solve the problem or prove that there was no problem and the media didn't know what they are talking about. We failed, and if we want to embrace a diverse future we have to admit that, fix the problems and move on.

Because if we think this woke stuff is just a flash in the pan and we are waiting for small town Canada to flock back to the recruiting centres, I have a news flash -- it just isn't there anymore. The median age of Newfoundland and Labrador is 47. My own home town in northern Ontario isn't far behind. The future of the Canadian Armed Forces is closely tied to the diverse populations of our major cities, and we need to do whatever it takes to reach out to those cities and prove that we are indeed an institution worth serving in. And yes, that probably means that we have to change. But as much as we like to condemn the youths for not being able to change to suit military service, we also have a pretty poor record ourselves of being flexible as an organization. But we need to be flexible in order to survive -- and the onus is on the CAF to change. Because what we're doing now? It isn't sustainable.

As to what those changes should be? I'm close to 50, and I'm the wrong guy to ask. Ask your troops. And especially ask the ones who are walking away.
 
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