Want a real change in the Canadian Forces? Cut 100 General: Commentary

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by steve giberson

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Defense Watch Guest Writer

The arms profession in Canada is being decimated as a hobby as senior leadership engages in solving a crisis that has been exposed by another round of sexual misconduct allegations.

While the Canadian military is brimming with self-loathing and exploring how to create safe spaces to entice Canadians to wear uniforms, the world is becoming even more dangerous and ready to make a stand. Our ability to live is eroding past the point. of obsolescence.

I have long held the view that many of the shortcomings of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) leadership stem directly from the fact that the CAF is overburdened with general officers/flag officers (GOFOs).

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There simply aren’t enough resources to command these GOFOs and thanks to long-standing military traditions of honoring these ranks, the resulting effect is to turn a group of them into arrogance. We have GOFOs that command nothing, but believe they are on par with our NATO allied partners of the same rank that actually have structures behind them.

Military structures are designed to be built above the ground, like a pyramid. For each pyramid building block, there is an assigned commander for that group and an assigned rank for that commander. Based on this design, the roughly 80,000-strong CAF (both regular and reserve on a good day) does not have enough resources to justify a 129 GOFO.

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By simple comparison, the UK Defense Force is the one that is most closely aligned with the CAF in terms of composition and conventions, with around 85 GOFOs managing about 200,000 routines and managing to lead their forces. Stocks all elements (Army, Navy and Air Force) with significantly higher combat power.

The comparison to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is even more cutting. It has an active force of about 170,000 personnel. Its operational forces range from 10 combat brigades in the Army to CAF three; About 480 fighter aircraft in the Air Force compared to CAF 390 of all types; And finally, a navy that compares pretty well even for ships of the line and subs (18 for the IDF, 16 for the CAF) but in smaller patrol ships almost twice as much for the IDF. For all this, the IDF manages to dominate its neighbors led by only 25 GOFOs, one of whom is the Lieutenant General (three star) Chief of Defense Staff.

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The CAF size and combat power do not justify us having a four star normal CDS. We should start from there. Once our CDS ranks appropriately then the rest of the structure should follow. With three-star CDS, commanders of three elements (Army, Navy and Air Force) can now be two-star generals. There is an argument for four divisional-level groups based solely on personnel and resources in the Canadian Army (there are currently six nominally). These divisional groups would be headed by one-star generals.

With RCAF and RCN being smaller, there is arguably room for 2 one-star level structures in each of these institutions. The rough personnel/resources for the required commander evaluation should mean that the CAF could effectively be led by less than 20 GOFOs.

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If the CAF can be effectively led by 20 GOFOs, then what is the effect of having nothing but more than 100 senior leaders to lead? The age-old traditions and customs of military rank structure implies that the higher the senior rank, the more respect is accorded. The more perks you get. You get the staff to make sure your every wish is met and the nature of human beings is that those demands go straight ahead of the professional needs and the employees are held responsible for the personal needs of the GOFO.

Plus, having women in weak positions in an organization with alpha male leaders is completely bloated with unearned rights and you have a recipe for potential abuse of power.

I believe that the issue of sexual misconduct in the military is not just an issue of inappropriate relationships. This is a reflection of the critically balanced power dynamic in the CAF with so many senior leaders that cannot be justified by any practical measure.

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Accountability in the military comes from our commanders in harm’s way with the soldiers, sailors and air crews they command in dangerous locations. When you have an institution with a bloated leadership structure that’s constantly touting its ego for no valid reason, do we really wonder why some people think they’re preying on weak subordinates on their employees? can?

If we want to make a real change in the CAF ethos then cut 100 GOFOs and keep the remaining 20 busy thinking about the threats facing our country.

(Comment)

(Steve Giberson retired from the Canadian Army as a major in 2017. He joined the Canadian Army as an Armor Officer in 1991. He spent nearly 10 years in the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. His Bosnia, Middle East, Africa , Southeast Asia as well as on a number of domestic security tasks.)

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