Free The Canadian Forces Reserve and Afghanistan Essay Sample

The Canadian Reserve Forces constitutes approximately 50,000 supplementary and primary reservists. These reservists are usually called upon in the event of a national emergency or an alarming threat.  The order of precedence in the Canadian Reserve Forces constitutes the primary reserve, the supplementary reserve with both the ready reserve and the holding reserve, the cadet organizations administration and training service and lastly the Canadian rangers. While these reservists are called upon to augment the regular force both in the domestic and international operations, recent engagements by the Canadian forces in Afghanistan have raised a lot of question on the training of the reservists. Despite the inclusion in the Canadian regular force to combat the war in Afghanistan, Canada withdrew its forces because they were not able to deliver in the operations. The Canadian Reserve Force would rescue the situation but this was never realized due to inadequate material and training resources.  Thus, this research paper asserts that the lack of material and training reduces the performance of the reserve as it cannot effectively mobilize to augment the regular forces in Afghanistan.

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Reports from the CanWest News Service (2007) raised concerns that the Canadian Forces were compelled by pressure to call off their courses of training for both the reserve and the regular soldiers that was scheduled for the summer 2007 in Canada due to the Afghanistan conflict. The squeezing of the training is thought to have caused a lack of qualified soldiers to train troops and also have a projected loss in 2009 in the event that the then Prime Minister, Stephen Harper chose to extend the mission for a period past the February of the same year. Commanding officers in the reserve units like Lt.-Col. Tom Manley conceded that there was a lot of struggle in getting trainers (CanWest News Service, 2007). This generated unbalanced volunteers for the mission in Afghanistan. Thus, the lack of training resources caused the situation in Canada and the failure to effectively augment the regular force and especially in Afghanistan was indeed a humiliating affair.

During the preparations for the Afghanistan mission, there were a lot of fears in the quality of reserve soldiers to be sent on the field to supplement the regular force (Reserve Force, 2011). It was not possible to train all the soldiers that could have the potential to respond to the demands in Afghanistan. Some soldiers were left behind in 2009 due to the fact that they did not access the training that was required to successfully execute the operations. The existence of the many incompetent soldiers resulted due to the shortage of materials and resources needed for training. The adequacy of training resources is normally important to guarantee excellence in operations both domestically and internationally (Reserve Force, 2011). The lack was first anticipated in the first half of 2008 where trainers who would usually pilot training sessions in preparation for the Afghanistan rotation seemed a hard thing to come by touching on the western Canadian soldiers.

The issue was very weighty even to the Senate national security committee.  Senior authorities in the Canadian reserve forces expressed worries and fears about the recruitment and training of reservists for a successful mission to Afghanistan in 2009. The reserve unit was therefore plagued with the lack of enough resources and training personnel to offer the required preparation for operations internationally. Due to this situation, more than 50% of the summer courses went untouched. In fact, only 18 summer courses out of a possible 40 could be accomplished (Tabbernor, 2010).   The lack of enough materials and training resources led to the cancellation of six and flagging of sixteen others courses for the reserve unit. Consequently, an incompetent reserve unit whose effort to supplement the regular force is required ended up being worthless in the Afghanistan operations.

It was important for all courses to be conducted if the reserve unit was to be of any consequence to the regular forces and the entire operation in Afghanistan. The situation was worsened by reserve soldiers taking leave from job which made a significant 14 per cent of the total force that was expected in Afghanistan. There was increased pressure in the search for recruits and meet the 20 per cent of the entire rotation that was needed in the initial half of 2008 in the hands of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry regiment battalion in Edmonton (CanWest News Service, 2007). The Princess Pats were expected to be the lead regiment in the Afghanistan mission in the last half of 2009 in the event that the mission continued than it was initially anticipated.

The Canadian reserve force faced a lot of training challenges and that is what mainly contributed to the poor performance as could not effectively mobilize to augment the regular forces in Afghanistan. The comments from most of the reserve officers are a reflection of the increasing pressure on a component of the Canadian forces that is increasingly significant in both domestic and international military operations.  The Canadian reserve system is habitually under stress. The problem of managing priorities seemed to weigh heavy on the Canadian reserve force. Individual reserve units began to strain since they were generating more individuals for international operations like in the Afghanistan case than it was the case in the past.

The challenge facing the Canada forces reserve is the fluctuation of trainers that has made the officers to fail to meet their commitments. The weight was so much on the Canadian Reserve Forces. The Canadian reserve unit appeared to be overstretched based on the Afghanistan mission. The ability of the military and reserve units to offer enough personnel in handling matters of security and defense was jeopardized owing to the insufficient training in the Canada Reserve Force.  The manner in which the Canadian Forces reserves have handled missions in the recent past has been found wanting. This is mainly due to the absence of the proper training and timing during preparation procedures. Canadian forces generally have received a lesser support in their military engagements due to the nature of their preparedness, organization and operation. This is more specifically looking at the Canadian forces reserve.

When looking at the nation’s military of the G8, the Canadian forces are considered to be very small. This is where the challenge begins. The regular forces are not even considered satisfactory. It then follows that the Canadian forces reserves are much worse in number. It was a wonder that Canada could only maintain and sustain a force comprising of 2800 including both women and men (Granatstein, n.d). Definitely, the only thing that would limit a country from increasing its forces would be because of the inability to support the requirements of maintaining them. The forces require a lot of materials and training resources in order to effectively perform in its operations both domestically and internationally. There is an insurmountable challenge in Canada that has forced the citizen soldiers to have day jobs in the workforce comprising civilians. This shows how limited the Canadian Reserve unit is to meet the needs and requirements for a fully equipped military force.

It then follows that the Canadian Forces reserves are in a deep challenge of preparing the officers for the augmentation of the regular force in Canada. The soldiers give either one or two nights every week and another one to three compulsory weeks in each year and mainly during summer to exercise their military trade. Quite a number of reservists happen to be students who earn some money to assist in covering their university and college tuition. In essence, that lasting pattern on the obligation of the Canadian Forces Reserve has turned around drastically in the recent years. The Canadian Regular forces lack adequate personnel to address the air, naval and land forces set up that have taken place from the time the 9/11 attacks occurred in the United States that the reservists are growingly taking on fulltime service.

There are flaws that are experienced in the Canadian Forces Reserve based on materials and training procedures that has made many reservists to work full-time in the regular force for a pay that is 15 per cent less than the pay for the regulars. These officers are mainly reservists and other members who have not yet been commissioned. The challenges facing the Canadian force reserves are founded on the training facilities and resources required for making a strong unit. The poor performance of the Canadian forces in the Afghanistan mission was largely attributed to the number of the reservist not fully commissioned in supplementing the regular force. The reservists comprise of about 20 per cent of the strength of the Canadian forces and a big number of them work on contractual basis with no link to their original reserve unit. The Canadian forces reserve is apparently not supporting the establishment of competent officers to effectively augment operations overseas.

Each rotation to Afghanistan included between 15 to 15 percent accounting for the reservists (Granatstein, n.d). All of them are expected to go through training for seven months before deployment to Kandahar for a number of six to nine month tours. Such kind of training is expected to bring each and every reservist to a level that meets the standard of the Regular force. Additionally, a number of the reservist work as specialists. This means that a lot of training is thoroughly needed to present a competent force to fit squarely in the regular force. Such specialties work on Civil-Military Cooperation and Psychological Operations. The cause of alarm is the fact that the Canadian forces do not have abilities in such areas except those offered by the reservists who are faced with challenges of materials and training resources. The only hope that is bestowed upon the Canadian force reserve dies away because of inadequate training that consequently leads to poor performance. The Afghanistan mission is one such overseas operation that exposed the nature of un-preparedness in the Canadian forces reserve. Despite having been given the opportunity to serve the Canadian forces in this capacity, the reservists’ services have been found wanting (Zuehlke, 2006).

Another issue arose amongst the infantry reservists who emerged from militia regiments across Canada and who offered their service to be posted in Afghanistan for the sake of adventuring and due to the fact that they believed in every bit of the mission just like the professionals (French, 2005). The fact was that there were no enough reservists trained for the Afghanistan mission. This affected all departments: the land forces, the air forces and the navy forces. The navy forces, for instance, had only 4,000 reservists and not all of them were in training due to the shortcoming of materials needed to facilitate the same. The Navy needed to search for crews for the Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels of the Kingston class that required meeting full-time reservists totaling to 1250. That implies that there are merely two groups of part-time trained reservists for every full-time service. This speaks volumes of the adequacy of preparations needed to support the welfare and performance of the Canadian forces in Afghanistan before they finally pulled out.

Basic training for the reservists needs the services of warrants and officers to carry out the training. The number that is considered to be effectively trained in the reserve forces is not considered enough.  Militia regiments have widely gone from training as individual units to provide augmentees for the Canadian regular forces. The speed of training per unit has gradually slowed down while the speed of turning out women and men who can take up a slot in the Afghanistan-bound Canadian regular force unit has increased drastically (Granatstein, n.d). Based on this, it is evidently clear that the Canadian forces reserve is plagued with the absence of robust training measures and routine preparation procedures to augment the Canadian regular forces. The challenge remains unaddressed.

There were a lot of worries whether the Canadian Reserve forces would survive until the Afghanistan commitment culminated in the year 2011. The reservists who carry out their duties with the regular forces have been learning valuable skills of military operations (Peabody, 2005). However, they are feared to go back to a slower pace in training. Many of them are joining the Canadian regular force from the forces reserve. There are also fears that others will completely leave military and break up their link to the reserve unit. Even though these are mere speculations, the fact remains that the reserve unit is underperforming in its assignments and the issue of training apparently takes a center stage in the matter. Therefore, there is a reason for concern over the commitment made in providing the right materials and training facilities to support the functions of the Canadian forces reserves.

The matter is very clear and direct. The major cause of the strain in the Canadian forces reserve is the lack of adequate personnel for training and materials. The land forces are very near in meeting their annual recruitment targets. The navy is in the way of engaging in campaign of recruitment. All the same, the Canadian regular force is at or merely above its target of 65,000 soldiers and the Canadian forces reserves are a mere 10 per cent. These figures are not essentially sufficient and it is until the government offers the Department of National Defense the required money to increase the numbers of the Canadian forces reserves substantially, the strain on Canada’s reservists is going to persist.  Basically, there are deficits in the budgetary allocations which have posed a great challenge in the acquisition of adequate resources for training the Canadian forces reserves (Granatstein, 2004).

While addressing a conference on behalf of the chief commander of the Canadian forces, Major general Tabbernor (2010) raised some concerns in the manner in which the Canadian forces reserves augmented missions conducted by the Canadian forces as decreed by the government of Canada. It is evident that the incompetence of the Canadian forces reserve is felt from within. It is an issue of having thorough preparation and enough materials needed to make a strong force. The challenge remained in maintaining the high degree of operational speed which was explored and discussed thoroughly in the conference (Tabbernor, 2010). A lot of uncertainties surround the Canadian forces reserves owing to the challenge of material and training resources.

The withdrawal from Afghanistan by Canada is largely attributed to the failure in the Canadian forces reserve. The need is to have flexibility in responding to challenges while carrying on with important daily trainings and military missions.  The duty of the Canadian forces reserves has changed drastically following the end of the cold war (Cook, 2008). From a strategic foundation for mobilization, the Canadian forces reserve took on the duty of an organization charged with close involvement in domestic and overseas operations together with the daily business in the forces of Canada (Morton, 1999).  

The primary reservists include both full-time and part-time personnel. The basic duty is to sustain, supplement and augment the regular force. This has been their responsibility in the recent Canadian operations both domestically and internationally. All the same, the reserve force takes up much more assignments other than supplementing the regular force but with the challenge remaining in their training engagement. This has amounted to poor performance and most importantly in the recent operation on Afghan soil. Therefore, the lack of material and training reduced the performance of the reserve in augmenting the regular forces in Afghanistan


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