A Canadian military commander has called on the country to rally behind its forces as it faces an unprecedented personnel crisis that threatens its ability to protect and defend Canada.
“We are here to protect our way of life, now and in the future.” chief of defense Staff General Wayne Eyre said. “Thus, we need a collective effort to get our military back in place for the dangerous world ahead.”
An extraordinary allure has been brought about by Eyre and his men as they struggle to fill the nearly 10,000 vacancies at a time when the Canadian military faces an increasing number of threats and requests for assistance, both at home and abroad. rice field.
early this month, defense chief After years of fast-paced deployments and operations, it issued orders that set the new direction of the army, making recruitment and retention of personnel a top priority.
About 1 in 10 positions within the military remain vacant after years of low recruitment rates, and there is an increasing shortage of non-commissioned officers and other mid-level leaders.
“We need to rebuild our army, we need to put our numbers back,” Ayer said in an interview. “And it must be done with urgency and priority as it is impacting our ability to respond globally.”
Neither the order nor the accompanying retention strategy clearly indicate why Canadians are avoiding recruitment centers or why the military is having trouble maintaining military uniforms.
The retention strategy instead emphasizes the need for better data on departures, but Eyre said military officers are “seized” on the same issue regarding recruitment.
of defense chief He quickly realized that he wasn’t the only organization struggling to attract talent due to a national shortage.
However, the Canadian military faces unique challenges, starting with reputational issues after reports of sexual misconduct involving senior leaders and concerns about the presence of right-wing extremists within the ranks.
Not all difficulties are self-inflicted. Part of it is due to the nature of military service. Although most bases and wings of the Canadian Armed Forces are located in rural communities, the majority of the country’s population lives in cities.
“Let’s be honest: Petawawa is a little different than downtown Toronto or Ottawa,” Ayer says. “But we have to push people out to Cold Lake, Bagotville, and the coast to generate the necessary operational outcomes.
“Cracking that code — how to encourage travel to those locations — is a big challenge.”
poll conducted on behalf of defense Earlier this year, the Department of Defense found that most Canadians are reluctant to consider a military career.
“When asked if they would consider participating in the CAF, young men were more likely than young women to participate, but overall less than half indicated they would normally participate in any group. ” read the summary report.
“Both men and women were discouraged by the idea that they would need to separate their families by leaving them or moving frequently.”
The poll also revealed public concerns about sexual misconduct and racism within the ranks.
Many of the recruitment and retention challenges are not new, and past commanders have deployed many initiatives aimed at fixing them.
These include everything from signing bonuses in certain occupations to preaching the importance of class diversity and pledging to eliminate inappropriate behavior.
These efforts continue under Air.
The new dress code significantly relaxes military appearance and dress rules. Despite some outside criticism, the move has been embraced by many military members.
“There was no wall coming down, no overnight inefficiency,” said Ayer, the first to allow long hair, nail polish and facial tattoos while in uniform, including gender. He talked about the new dress code.
“I’m more concerned: Can they fight? Do they fit? Will they follow orders?”
Eyre opened the door for other changes, such as more remote work and a relaxed requirement that members physically perform their duties and be able to deploy to missions at any time as a condition of employment.
of defense chief He also said he was working to make sure the military could live. This includes renewal of benefits to offset the cost of living in higher regions, which has been frozen since 2009.
“Accommodation prices are skyrocketing,” he said. “But it’s more serious for members because they expect to move across the country more often. So it’s a coping method at the top of the list of things that need fixing.”
Ayre admits that trying to change an organization with decades of established traditions is difficult. A tradition he has been immersed in for nearly 40 years. But he says he and his army have no choice.
“It’s a case of embracing them and trying and experimenting with new things,” he said.
Asked if such a change would risk stopping the military’s traditional draft pool (single white men), Eyre said the traditional draft pool is shrinking as the population grows. Recognizing the “paradox”.
But it underscores the need to embrace diversity, and those who disagree with the change are probably not the people Canada wants uniforms to be.
What Eyre needs is buy-in from across the country, including recognition of the stakes involved.
“The Canadian military is not the only one to worry about recruiting for the Canadian military.”