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Divining the right role, capabilities, structure, and Regimental System for Canada's Army Reserves

Eye In The Sky

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Loch Sloy! said:
I'm very confident that we (41 brigade) could manage a rifle company.

Think about that statement.  An entire CBG might be able to manage a Coy.  Is that supposed to be impressive? 

3 decades ago, my old PRes Armd unit could field a decent Recce Sqn;  3 x 7 (or 5) car troops, an A1 Ech, SHQ with 2 X CPs from the resident Comm Res unit.  Nowadays?  I'd be surprised if they had the kit and people for a single recce troop.  We paraded 2 nights a week, usually did Weekend Recce Ex's regularly (10 was normal pre/trg year, plus the normal range/IBTS weekends, Winter Indoc and Warfare)...we could go out on a ruck march or establish a hasty mounted Op screen on a trg night back then without having to go thru ridiculous amounts of requests and staff work to everyone above the rank of MCpl in the Bde (District).

Training has been decimated, with 32 cl A days per mbr/per year, which includes all the mandatory mamby-pamby stuff.

Are we getting the bang for our buck out of the Reserves as a whole?  My opinion is "I don't think so, unfortunately".  Should we throw a bunch of money at problem?  Nope.  We have operational, Reg Force units who NEED that money to do the day to day business, at home and around the world.  :2c:
 

MilEME09

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In my opinion it's not that we as an organization need more money, the problem is we as an organization are not spending the money we have efficiently, look at our bloated HQs and empires, we have 5 divisions, and would never field enough manpower to fill 1.if we continue to pretend we are something we aren't , the CAF will continue to fail.
 

Jarnhamar

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Eye In The Sky said:
Think about that statement.  An entire CBG might be able to manage a Coy.  Is that supposed to be impressive? 

Said it before but to rehash I've seen it take 3x reserve brigades to populate a reserve infantry company and couple dets for a roto.

Reserve armored regiments across 3 brigades couldn't populate a platoon and needed augmentation.

Shorter work up periods would help. In the case of the former we had 6 months of pre-work up training. Weekends and some week or two ex's here and there. 6 months work up. 6 month tour.
Bet I could put together some wicked training to qualify people in the important stuff in a month or two.
But I also bet that would turn into 7 months of BS
 

daftandbarmy

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Jarnhamar said:
Said it before but to rehash I've seen it take 3x reserve brigades to populate a reserve infantry company and couple dets for a roto.

Reserve armored regiments across 3 brigades couldn't populate a platoon and needed augmentation.

Shorter work up periods would help. In the case of the former we had 6 months of pre-work up training. Weekends and some week or two ex's here and there. 6 months work up. 6 month tour.
Bet I could put together some wicked training to qualify people in the Importsnt stuff in a month or two.
But I also bet that would turn into 7 months of BS

Just think of all the rice bowls you'd be breaking  ::)
 

RCPalmer

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Eye In The Sky said:
Think about that statement.  An entire CBG might be able to manage a Coy.  Is that supposed to be impressive? 

3 decades ago, my old PRes Armd unit could field a decent Recce Sqn;  3 x 7 (or 5) car troops, an A1 Ech, SHQ with 2 X CPs from the resident Comm Res unit.  Nowadays?  I'd be surprised if they had the kit and people for a single recce troop.  We paraded 2 nights a week, usually did Weekend Recce Ex's regularly (10 was normal pre/trg year, plus the normal range/IBTS weekends, Winter Indoc and Warfare)...we could go out on a ruck march or establish a hasty mounted Op screen on a trg night back then without having to go thru ridiculous amounts of requests and staff work to everyone above the rank of MCpl in the Bde (District).

Training has been decimated, with 32 cl A days per mbr/per year, which includes all the mandatory mamby-pamby stuff.

Are we getting the bang for our buck out of the Reserves as a whole?  My opinion is "I don't think so, unfortunately".  Should we throw a bunch of money at problem?  Nope.  We have operational, Reg Force units who NEED that money to do the day to day business, at home and around the world.  :2c:

The Primary Reserve budget is a rounding error in the overall defence budget at around 1 billion dollars.  That includes all of the Reserve salary, the salary of RSS, equipment, our slice of individual training and institutional support, base infrastructure...everything. The department turns back significantly more than that every year.  If you're looking for efficiencies, there isn't much blood to squeeze out of the PRes stone.

At that price point, I would offer that the PRes would be a great investment if it did nothing but act as a strategic reserve of trained personnel to be called up in the event of some sort of major domestic calamity, or to provide depth to the Regular Force in the case of a protracted major conflict.  However, we don't just do that.  We have contributed to domestic and international operations on a sustained basis since the early 90s, including 20% of our commitment to Afghanistan, and even higher percentages for the former Yugoslavia operations.  It was fairly clearly recognized that the Army would not have been able to sustain either of those operations without significant reserve support.  Beyond that, we provide a military presence and conduct community relations in every major community in the country, keeping the military at the front of mind of our citizens and helping to maintain the goodwill necessary protect the military budget we have. 

If you are talking about gaining efficiency in terms of manpower, I would offer that we should absolutely be looking at that.  The Australian Defence Forces maintain every capability the CAF does (and some we don't to include Attack Helicopters and Amphibious Assault Ships) and a very similar force structure with a full-time component of 55,000 compared to our 68,000.  Is that particularly efficient? The capital acquisition/O&M/manpower balance is the real question here, and I would offer that we are unbalanced with high personnel costs at the expense of O&M and capital acquisition.
 

McG

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RCPalmer said:
The Primary Reserve budget is a rounding error in the overall defence budget at around 1 billion dollars.  That includes all of the Reserve salary, the salary of RSS, equipment, our slice of individual training and institutional support, base infrastructure...everything. The department turns back significantly more than that every year.
Is your premise here an assumption, or can you reference something that shows the aggregate of all these costs adding up to just "a rounding error" ... including where you point to the costs of infrastructure and Reg F pay that are consumed in support of PRes?
 

Infanteer

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As well, I'd hardly consider $1b in a $22b budget a rounding error - that's a significant portion (just below 5%) of the defence program.
 

Rifleman62

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Canada spends more on National Debt interest than on Defence per year.

Last Updated on December 18, 2019:

Interest Payments Per Year C$29,534,055,223;

Interest Payments Per Second C$937; National Debt Per Citizen C$34,173; Debt as % of GDP 62.58%; GDP Of Canada C$1,981,461,877,337; and Canada Population 36,285,770.

Read more at: https://commodity.com/debt-clock/canada/
 

RCPalmer

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MCG said:
Is your premise here an assumption, or can you reference something that shows the aggregate of all these costs adding up to just "a rounding error" ... including where you point to the costs of infrastructure and Reg F pay that are consumed in support of PRes?

Admittedly that is a hard thing to quantify, but they did attempt to do precisely that in the FY 13/14 Departmental Plans and Priorities report. The have not done so in subsequent years, so perhaps it is hard to do.  The link is now dead, but I've included below my original post in this thread from when it was active. I will see if I can find the original report.  With regards to cost capture around things like RegF infrastructure in support of PRes tasks, it is admittedly hard to disentangle for expenses not directly related to an O&M fin code.  However, RegF units use PRes infrastructure too, CFTPO PRes equipment in support of various tasks, and even occasionally participate in individual training delivered by the PRes. 

Perhaps "rounding error" is a bit too strong of a word, though I'm sure the variance in DND's Q1 and Q2 financial projections is well over a billion dollars.  My point is that even if you closed down the PRes program entirely, it would not be significant enough to change the funding outlook for the institution more broadly.

RCPalmer said:
Agreed.  To provide a bit of context as the overall cost of the reserve force has been talked around in this thread, a fairly comprehensive estimate of the cost of the reserve force for FY 13/14 can be found here:

http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/about-reports-pubs-report-plan-priorities/2014-reserve-force.page

To summarize, the total cost of the PRes (including RSS PYs, pay, infrastructure and equipment) is approximately 1.3 billion dollars, or 7.2% of the 18 billion dollar defence budget.  Unfortunately, this type of cost capture was not published for the years before or after, so there is no easy way to do a year over year comparison.  Viewed in this context, I would offer that the PRes offers excellent value for the money. 

I would further offer that even if you disbanded the PRes tomorrow, and the defence portfolio somehow realized that 1.3b in savings, you wouldn't see much in the way of capability growth in the RegF.  LGen Leslie's 2011 transformation report concluded that most of the funding growth realized in the 2000's not directly related to the war in Afghanistan went into personnel costs that did little to enhance capabilities or readiness.  This is why he was making the case for a leaner, more efficient force.  Until we take some steps to achieving such a force, we really have no idea whether anyone in defence needs more money. 

In terms of comparing forces, the Australians manage to maintain all of the capabilities we do (and a number of capabilities we don't) with a 55,000 person full-time component.  Assuming a CAF funded to 68,000, that is a 20% manning difference of 13,000 full time personnel.  Employing a $100,000/person/year SWAG for the incremental cost of a full time paid member (think pay, benefits and training only), that personnel delta alone (without accounting for the capability deltas which would widen that chasm) accounts for $1.3 billion dollars, equivalent to the cost of the entire PRes. 

It is undeniable that the PRes requires significant structural reform, particularly if an increase in PRes roles and missions is desired in the context of the needs of the overall force.  There are inefficiencies all over the place. However, the cost of those inefficiencies are absolutely trivial compared to those that exist in the full time component. 

The last point I will make (and to echo FJAG) is that the people empowered to make decisions regarding reform of the PRes are without exception members of the RegF.  There are no PRes commanders above CBG level. My hope is that within the CAF there would be discussions about reform on all fronts to make the entire force more efficient.  Instead, what I hear (both from an institutional perspective and to a certain extent on this forum) are parochial discussions of the PRes not providing value for money, and a requirement for the PRes to grow while simultaneously becoming more accountable and efficient without any of the structural changes necessary to actually make that happen.  To summarize, from the shop floor it looks like we (the PRes) are being set up for failure as an excuse to justify the status quo.  Whether that is true or not, the perception exists and it is a morale crusher.  Until we as a force find a way bring the full and part time components together to move forward together as a team, we are just spinning our wheels.
 

RCPalmer

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RCPalmer said:
Admittedly that is a hard thing to quantify, but they did attempt to do precisely that in the FY 13/14 Departmental Plans and Priorities report. The have not done so in subsequent years, so perhaps it is hard to do.  The link is now dead, but I've included below my original post in this thread from when it was active. I will see if I can find the original report.  With regards to cost capture around things like RegF infrastructure in support of PRes tasks, it is admittedly hard to disentangle expenses not directly related to an O&M fin code.  However, RegF units use PRes infrastructure too, CFTPO PRes equipment in support of various tasks, and even occasionally participate in individual training delivered by the PRes. 

Perhaps "rounding error" is a bit too strong of a word, though I'm sure the variance in DND's Q1 and Q2 financial projections is well over a billion dollars.  My point is that even if you closed down the PRes program entirely, it would not be significant enough to change the funding outlook for the institution more broadly.
 

Loch Sloy!

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Shouldn't take an entire brigade to field a rifle company...

In a perfect world reserve battalions would be properly manned and equipped, and in that world I would agree with you.

In reality 41 brigade only has 2 Infantry Units both of which are only authorized a certain number of pers (as I'm sure you know that authorized strength is WAY below a full battalion) and very few vehicles. Of the vehicles we had, many were re-directed to the reg force to cover shortfalls caused by delayed procurement projects. Although I hear we're getting some of our MSVSs back now and we do get to see our milcots parked in a field in Wainwright when we are on EX...  ::)

Also the reserves have tasks other than supporting the Regular force on international operations (in particular the DomOps task is fairly significant) which place constraints on reserve COs.

Given all of those factors, it doesn't seem unreasonable to form a composite (each unit to provide a platoon or 2) reserve company. As you say, it's worked fairly well for reserve concentration exercises, and with a proper work up I'm confident that a sub unit of this type could add a lot of value operationally (DNS tasks for example). It would be sustainable for reserve units as currently configured and would actually drive recruiting and retention for the reserves.
 

GR66

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Hi,

Lots of questions come to mind in following this discussion.  Very informative!

What would the impact be of going from 9 x Infantry Battalions (6 x LAV, 3 x Light) in 3 x Reg Force Brigades to 6 x Infantry Battalions (1 x Medium LAV Brigade and 1 x Light Infantry Brigade)? 

Would the command overhead and PY savings in the reduction of the number of Commands/Battalions allow the remaining 6 x Battalions to be fully manned including all of the supporting elements, school and staff positions, etc?

If fully manned, would these Brigades be more or less capable of deploying a Battle Group (with less Reserve augmentation required?) than the existing undermanned Battalions?  Would overall troop availability for "routine" (non-emergency) deployments be significantly affected?

Would there be enough annual PY savings year on year to reinvest the money into better (properly) equipping the Reg Force Armoured, Artillery and Engineer Regiments (roles that from what I gather from these forums are difficult for a Reserve unit to generate up to a Reg Force standard).

If we are replacing the current (6 Battalion?) fleet of LAV IIIs with LAV 6.0's, would there benefit to taking the fleet that would have gone to the 3 x disbanded LAV battalions in this scenario and keeping them as replacement war stocks that could be manned by troops from the Light battalions and/or Reserves in case of mobilization?  Would having this kind of reserve equipment available be more useful in being able to sustain a single existing Brigade Group in combat rather than trying to increase the size of our force in time of war (without having the equipment stocks available to properly equip them)?

Would changes like this enable a re-think in how the Reserves are expected to support the Reg Force?
 

PuckChaser

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Its almost like these are the questions that could have been answered with a promised (in 2015) wide-ranging defense policy review...
 

FJAG

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GR66 said:
Hi,

Lots of questions come to mind in following this discussion.  Very informative!

What would the impact be of going from 9 x Infantry Battalions (6 x LAV, 3 x Light) in 3 x Reg Force Brigades to 6 x Infantry Battalions (1 x Medium LAV Brigade and 1 x Light Infantry Brigade)? 

Would the command overhead and PY savings in the reduction of the number of Commands/Battalions allow the remaining 6 x Battalions to be fully manned including all of the supporting elements, school and staff positions, etc?

If fully manned, would these Brigades be more or less capable of deploying a Battle Group (with less Reserve augmentation required?) than the existing undermanned Battalions?  Would overall troop availability for "routine" (non-emergency) deployments be significantly affected?

Would there be enough annual PY savings year on year to reinvest the money into better (properly) equipping the Reg Force Armoured, Artillery and Engineer Regiments (roles that from what I gather from these forums are difficult for a Reserve unit to generate up to a Reg Force standard).

If we are replacing the current (6 Battalion?) fleet of LAV IIIs with LAV 6.0's, would there benefit to taking the fleet that would have gone to the 3 x disbanded LAV battalions in this scenario and keeping them as replacement war stocks that could be manned by troops from the Light battalions and/or Reserves in case of mobilization?  Would having this kind of reserve equipment available be more useful in being able to sustain a single existing Brigade Group in combat rather than trying to increase the size of our force in time of war (without having the equipment stocks available to properly equip them)?

Would changes like this enable a re-think in how the Reserves are expected to support the Reg Force?

You raise a good point. If the three battalions of LAVs are kept "in reserve" (rather than cut up for scrap like the M109s) then we have not lost any capability if manned by properly trained reserve battalions.

The trouble is that under the current system we cannot create "properly trained" reserve battalions. Not because we don't have good willing people; but because the system just makes it impossible with our "parade whenever you feel like it" system and a system that has lesser standards for individual training for reservists and no system at all for viable and realistic collective training.

One other point is that in your model you are not reducing the size of the regular force (and thereby freeing up $ for capital equipment purchases and O&M costs) but just shuffling PYs around. (and me being the cynic that I am would bet dollars to donuts that most of those PYs would end up in Ottawa)

:cheers:
 

Eye In The Sky

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RCPalmer said:
At that price point, I would offer that the PRes would be a great investment if it did nothing but act as a strategic reserve of semi-trained personnel to be called up in the event of some sort of major domestic calamity, or to provide depth to the Regular Force in the case of a protracted major conflict.  However, we don't just do that.  We have contributed to domestic and international operations on a sustained basis since the early 90s, including 20% of our commitment to Afghanistan, and even higher percentages for the former Yugoslavia operations.  It was fairly clearly recognized that the Army would not have been able to sustain either of those operations without significant reserve support.  Beyond that, we provide a military presence and conduct community relations in every major community in the country, keeping the military at the front of mind of our citizens and helping to maintain the goodwill necessary protect the military budget we have.

I'm sorry, but having heard this argument before, I always remember reading Red Storm Rising and the callup of the Category C units in the old Red Army;  how their fitness, training and equipment actually demonstrated they lacked combat capability when the bullets started flying (yes, I know it was a book, but you get my point).  Strategic Reserve...like how 41 CBG might be able to form a Rifle Coy?  I don't see much punch there for the price point. 

Yup, I was in the PRes when Yugo was going on, UNPROFOR...Afghanistan.  I'm not slighting anyone who served in, well, any operational theatre or on DOMOPs.  Both are important.  But, during any of those, did a Reserve unit go "complete" or were they plugged in here and there?  It's not like the 8 CH loaded up all their Cougars and deployed to FYR, right?  So, we could cut down on the amount of HQs (which are fairly top-heavy in terms of rank/pay) and even Res units...and put that money into Cpls and Lts on the armoury floor.  Example;  what is the actual need for 2 CBGs and CBG HQs in the Atlantic provinces? 

I'm never sold on the "military presence" part.  I don't believe it plays a part, at all, in how big/small the defense budget is.   

The capital acquisition/O&M/manpower balance is the real question here, and I would offer that we are unbalanced with high personnel costs at the expense of O&M and capital acquisition.

Start paying less;  see how many people release, or start 'working less'.  I think our personnel costs (salary, programs, benefits) are reasonable and if we need more for O & M, that indicates we need a bigger budget. 
 

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Eye In The Sky said:
Start paying less;  see how many people release, or start 'working less'.  I think our personnel costs (salary, programs, benefits) are reasonable and if we need more for O & M, that indicates we need a bigger budget.

You're quite right that paying less won't work. There's an expectation and an "industry standard" that we have to contend with.

On the other hand numbers of PYs we can deal with. I won't get into my usual rant about the fact that our headquarters is probably bigger now then it was when we had some 120,000 folks.

When you deal with just the math it gets kind of simple:

1 RCR (for example) is established at 593 all ranks. Of those 279 are Cpl/Ptes, another 78 are Cpls and another 100 are MCpls (the three lowest paid ranks). That's some 457 out of 593 who learn their basic skills at a fairly early stage in their careers.

If you consider that most of those have had about one year of course based training and thereafter are just putting in time honing their skills and climbing the career progression ladder (or just putting in time to retirement) for the next 19 years then you can begin to see where reserve service can help out.

Let's say you give a reservist that same year of training to the same standard but over two or three years (at 2 - 4 months per summer) and thereafter you employ them for two months a year (say a weekend every month and a three to four-week annual collective training exercise) then you end up saving 5/6th of a PY for the next 18-19 years for every regular that you can convert to a reservist.

Yup; you do have to factor in attrition. How many times do you need to roll-over that same reservist to keep the position filled for 20 years. Attrition's been running at 5-8% from what I understand - so it looks like maybe two to three times. That leaves you replacing that 20 years PY with 3 PYs in training and 1/6th of 17 PYs for another 3 PYs. That means that you fill that 20 PYs position for roughly 6 PYs, a cost saving of approximately 14 PYs or better if we can cut attrition. (and as an aside we have attrition in the reg force too which results in having a position unfilled within the battalion while the replacement is in training)

And yes, you still need to develop leaders but that's only for the remaining 136 positions (which includes 61 sergeants). That will require an additional training PY equivalent or two along the way. (As another aside, a reserve battalion would provide much more stability from the annual posting cycles that plague the regular force battalions which has them going though constant reconstitution cycles)

You can enshrine the attrition rate by requiring recruits to enroll on fixed term contracts and enforcing those together with requiring mandatory training attendance. Those are the two major prerequisites for creating any reserve service system that will actually create a reliable reserve force. Without that; as long as we stay with "come play with us whenever you feel like it" we'll have a reserve force that provides limited value for even the small amounts paid for it.

:stirpot:
 

GR66

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FJAG said:
...
One other point is that in your model you are not reducing the size of the regular force (and thereby freeing up $ for capital equipment purchases and O&M costs) but just shuffling PYs around. (and me being the cynic that I am would bet dollars to donuts that most of those PYs would end up in Ottawa)

:cheers:

Are our infantry battalions so undermanned that dropping from 6 x LAV battalions to 3 x LAV battalions and dropping from 3 x Reg Force Mechanized Brigades and 10(?) x Reserve Brigade Groups to 2 x Reg Force Mechanized Brigades and 1 or 2 Reserve Brigade Groups would not allow the remaining Reg Force infantry battalions to be fully manned and still have PY's left over for savings?

I'm not proposing increasing the size of the Armoured/Artillery/Engineer regiments...just using the savings in PY's from above to properly equip them.
 

FJAG

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GR66 said:
Are our infantry battalions so undermanned that dropping from 6 x LAV battalions to 3 x LAV battalions and dropping from 3 x Reg Force Mechanized Brigades and 10(?) x Reserve Brigade Groups to 2 x Reg Force Mechanized Brigades and 1 or 2 Reserve Brigade Groups would not allow the remaining Reg Force infantry battalions to be fully manned and still have PY's left over for savings?

I'm not proposing increasing the size of the Armoured/Artillery/Engineer regiments...just using the savings in PY's from above to properly equip them.

I'm not sure how under resourced our battalions are although with the drop of mortar and pioneer platoons I would think it's a bit thin. I know the last establishment I saw for 2018 was 593 while I believe the "desired" strength (I'm not sure if its a "war establishment") is at 750 which leaves a given battalion short 157 even if all authorized positions are manned. So, doing some meatball math, each battalion chopped should allow up-manning four others. Cutting three battalions should up-man the six remaining ones and leave 900 PYs unallocated.

Reserve Bde headquarters have varying establishments but they roughly end up with 14 PYs and 90 reserve positions each (no idea how many of those would be made Class B) - so there isn't a big saving.

I've been doing some number crunching including all PRes units including their bdes and regular support staff, adding in the MPs and Health Services numbers plus the reg f folks in the Canadian Combat Support Brigade and from that end up with a consolidated organization that has two manoeuvre brigade groups (either light, medium or heavy) and one Sustainment Bde (all three mostly reservists) and a total force artillery bde and a manoeuvre enhancement brigade (roughly equally mixed regular and reserve units and people)

We might be able to squeeze one more sustainment brigade out of the organization but that might require getting more folks into the system and I'm not sure if we have the ability to actually recruit to the full 21,000 that the Army reserve should be allowed to grow to this year.

All of that said, I'm pretty sure that I do not want to see us cutting a regular force brigade group.

We can do the other stuff without that (but I really doubt that we ever would) Equipment is an issue but not so much if you form light infantry brigades now and convert them up to medium or heavy when the money is available (or if you can get the equipment cheap from the US under the US Foreign Assistance Act - Excess Defence Articles provisions (M1s, M2s, and M109s are available - but I doubt our Army would take it on account of the maintenance and operating costs)

Have fun

:stirpot:
 

daftandbarmy

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Alot of kids do a gap year between high school and college, or whatever comes next.

We could run a national program where school leavers (at 17 or 18 years old, or 16 for those who leave in Grade 10) become soldiers/ sailors/ air peeps for a year, at a reduced wage in return for university credits/ tuition support. They then get called up/ given an opportunity to apply for positions on, as required for operations, upgrading training or major exercises.

This could be administered from Ottawa. Local units could be assigned the role of keeping track of them, doing the work up training, or something like that.

Call it 'Combat Katimavik', just to rile up the 'do gooders'. :)
 
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