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.