The Issues Crystallize

The Militia Council

Lord Dundonld’s Plan

Dundonald's analysis of the situation led him to suggest a first-line force of 100,000 men, based in reality on a militia 40,000 to 50,000 strong ready to react to any threat to the national territory. The second line of defence would rest on the shoulders of 100,000 more men who could be rapidly recruited and trained by officers who were supernumerary in peacetime units; hence the purchase of large training camps like the one in Petawawa. Dundonald also wanted to rebalance the arms and set up the necessary support services, reforms he was permitted to implement. It was he who suggested the regional commands that still exist in the army despite changes and a 20-year eclipse. Naturally these serious labours came at a price. Acceptance of his plan would entail initial expenditures of $12 to $13 million and an annual $5-million investment for upkeep. The outcry in the press did not stop the minister from implementing some of Dundonald's proposals while keeping the whole picture from the public. Two of his recommendations would not be acted on: compulsory service in cadet corps by all young boys and the enlistment of a surplus of officers and men, a move that would have doubled militia strength in times of emergency.

Nonetheless, between 1902 and 1904 the militia underwent a major reorganization that had been begun by Dundonald's predecessors. These years saw the creation of an Intelligence Service and a Central Records Office and the construction of arsenals and indoor ranges. A new Militia Pensions Act supported the Permanent Force, which was receiving more and more RMC graduates.