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Too many generals spoil the forces: study

JasonH

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Too much inefficiency, authors conclude in call for overhaul

Chris Wattie
National Post

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The Canadian Forces face dire, even terminal, consequences after decades of government neglect and underfunding, but a comprehensive new report on the future of Canada‘s military has also concluded more money is not the answer.

"About half of the defence budget is spent on military capability related to operations and the remainder on various managerial activities," said the 125-page report by researchers at Queen‘s University and the Conference of Defence Associations.

"Even though the Canadian Forces has been reduced by 50% over the last 40 years, overhead (measured as the increase in supervisory groups) has increased in the same time frame by 300%."

The Canadian military is overburdened with generals and senior staff officers and a structure that is three decades out of date, the report said.

"National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ), designed in 1972 to meet Cold War commitments and the demands of the Ottawa officialdom, remained essentially unchanged in structure throughout the 1990s."

Canada‘s military has long been criticized for its high ratio of generals and senior officers to privates and corporals, and the paper concludes the Canadian Forces also needs a top-to-bottom overhaul of its structure, "a huge redistribution of the resources allocated to national defence and the Canadian Forces, and a reordering of attitudes as well."

However, the authors of "Canada Without Armed Forces?" conclude: "Even in the best of circumstances, it might take many years before this transformation is fully effective."

Colonel Howard Marsh, a retired army officer and co-author of the study, said inefficiency and orders imposed by politicians waste "perhaps 40 to 50%" of the defence budget.

For example, the study says the military‘s training system is too often forced to deal with ad hoc recruiting drives that deliver more new soldiers, sailors and airmen than it can handle.

This May, for example, there were 7,872 troops awaiting or receiving training. "Given that the recruiters are annually pumping 5,000-6,000 candidates into an individual training system that was downsized in the 1990s to handle fewer than 3,000 trainees a year, one should not be surprised to discover that thousands of paid but unqualified ... people are waiting to begin or to complete [basic] training," the study notes.

But in addition to increased funding, more troops and newer equipment, the study also calls for wholesale changes to the way new weapons and vehicles are purchased.

Col. Marsh, a former senior army planner, is scathing in his analysis of the military‘s purchasing programs, which eat up scarce defence dollars by requiring equipment be bought at a premium from certain Canadian manufacturers.

He cites the example of the army‘s heavy, medium and light trucks, including the ageing Iltis jeep-type vehicles, which were purchased from manufacturers in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

"The Department of National Defence paid an exorbitant premium for these regionally manufactured trucks, a premium estimated at 250% of the original manufacturers‘ retail price. In other words, the DND should have obtained twice the number of vehicles for the same price, or paid half as much for what it got."

The pattern of "regional development strategies imposed on DND by Cabinet" make such equipment more expensive to operate, as spare parts must eventually be ordered from the original foreign manufacturer.

And the study notes that buying even the simplest pieces of kit require years of study and requisitioning.

"Acquiring equipment and bringing it to operational standards require a minimum of eight to 12 years," the study said. "Even the seemingly straightforward project to replace combat clothing started in 1992 and was not completed by 2002."

One of the most serious shortcomings, according to the study, is the absence of an up-to-date plan for the future of the military.

The study notes that since the last Defence White Paper was issued in 1994, the international scene has changed dramatically -- particularly since Sept. 11, 2001.

"But so far as research into public records and other primary sources reveal, no Canadian review of the implications of this strategy on Canada‘s defence situation has been conducted in Ottawa.

"Certainly, the realities of what some Americans now call ‘the Fourth World War‘ have not caused Canadian ministers to spring to the garrison‘s walls."

cwattie@nationalpost.com

© Copyright 2003 National Post

http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?id=0256E04A-C553-49C9-9051-7CE1A1BB62BA
 

Enzo

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To sum it up. The politicians don‘t care. Patronage and regionalism will continue.

Sorry...
 

RCD

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Our Generals have become a bunch of YES men & are to complacent with what the Prime Minister will give the Forces. But this has been going on since Confederation.
 

Jungle

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It‘s the old 3M‘s, but in a modified version: Myself, Mission, My Men. The Mission part is always carried out in view of supporting the Myself part. If they don‘t say yes, they don‘t get the next promotion, or the second career position as an ambassador or something... Very few actually stand up for the better of the CF.
 

winchable

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I was told by one of the other junior officers at my unit that this is soemthing that happens to all officers eventually, they seem to side with the machinery of the system rather then look out for the men, which is every officer and senior NCO‘s primary job as far as I can see.
It‘s a function of old age and letting a commission become more important then the reason you become an officer to lead the men and to be there for them.
I hope to try my best to be more for the men then for the system, but when you‘re presented with some of the things they give you on your courses, you start to realise how difficult it is, but that is what makes it interesting I suppose.
It is good to read the honest opinion of the men here though, because at the unit they won‘t say a word to anyone with straight lines instead of hooks sometimes, so keep it coming.
 

Infanteer

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Its called CRS syndrome...

Can‘t Remember Sh*t, in other words the useful lessons and lay of the land instilled into junior officers by the NCO corps and by the blood and sweat of operations becomes lost in the fold to careerism and plain old me,me, me. Usually accelerated by immersion in Ottawa.
 

Garry

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in the FWIW file.....

I‘ve been in long enough to see some of the "young guys" I worked with make it...and they are truly honourable men.

They‘re also smart, hard working, and listen to their men.

I believe that they will make a difference. How much of a difference they are able to make remains to be seen, but it gives me hope.

Honest.

Cheers-Garry
 

winchable

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Well as I said, I honestly hope to be an officer for the men, any advice enlisted men would have on here would be greatly appreciated.
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I‘m just wondering what infanteer means by immersion in Ottawa.
 

Slim

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It means the longer you‘re posted to "wonderworld" in Ottawa the more likely you are to start viewing the army as your own personal career enhancement tool ( read between the linesthere!). I hope you don‘t become one of those CHE. The Canadian Military needs good officers with backbone to lead, back and stand up for their men...and they will be your men whether you think of them like that or not...
Just a thought...when an officer makes general rank they must negotiate their salary...usually dependant on how "reliable" they are. Just food for thought... :cdn:
 

winchable

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I absolutely do see them as my men (what few men I have been entrusted with at this point)
I had the fortune of doing my BMQ as a private before being commissioned out of the ranks, so I was able to experience first hand what it is like to look up to a good officer.
I believe that thanks to this I do have a better understanding, more then many officers, of what it really means to have a commission.
Funny story about negotiating wages ,when my father made commodore, he was asked to negotiate his salary; he politely refused the opportunity for promotion and promptly retired.
 

Scoobie Newbie

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Officers and SNCO‘s should be more careful or more Naptha in the coffee might just happen. There are very few soliders I would trust in battle. They‘re all about getting that check in the box so they can move on.
P.S. Didn‘t Canadians invent fragging (of their own officers) in WWI?
 

Slim

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Originally posted by Che:
[qb] Funny story about negotiating wages ,when my father made commodore, he was asked to negotiate his salary; he politely refused the opportunity for promotion and promptly retired. [/qb]
CHE
My hat is off to your Dad. That isn‘t an easy thing to do and takes alot of backbone! Good for him.
Unfortunately it‘s usually the officers such as that that the men need. The weak ones who are only out for themselves would never dream of doing something like what your father did. :cdn:
 

Enzo

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I still plan on getting back in. And when I do, I‘m going officer. I‘m 32 now. I‘ll be perfectly happy being a Lt. for as long as I‘m in. Promotion doesn‘t matter to me and I live just fine on little now. It‘s only money. I wouldn‘t for any means think of myself as a slacker, I just want to be involved and by that I don‘t mean with the dinner parties. If I ever get back into the Infantry. I‘ll be fine as a PL CO.

Any opportunites I decide to take, money won‘t be the determining factor. Made it this far, I honestly wouldn‘t know what to do with $40k yr. Let alone <$80.
 

winchable

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The key to it all is not to let the system rot your brain. There are perks to being an officer(There are also bad things), but the perks have to remain just that, perks. If the perks become the best part of the job then you become a cog in a machine (alebeit a machine that is badly in need of repair) and everything that we once thought we‘d never turn into we become.
Although I suppose that given my current place at the bottom of the ladder this might be a little unrealistic a resolution to make, but what the **** everything starts off with a wild idea.
 

The_Falcon

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Just for peoples info, went to the dnd site and counted the number of current general/flag officers we currently have (87 is what i counted might of miscounted but not by much 10 at the most). That is down, a few years ago (read about five or six) we had well over 100 general/flag officers. Colonels/Captain(N) on the other hand, I lost count at about 100 something and I wasn‘t half way done. The scary thing is looking at their titles/positions, and thinking wtf!?! You need to be a Brig Gen to be the assisant to the deputy of the big shot of the man and on and on.
 

Enzo

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As part of the CF‘s ‘trimming‘ retiring senior officers of certain positions were not being replaced. I‘m assuming that this will account for the change in the numbers.

It‘s a start.
 
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