From Cold War to Present Day

The Army Since 1945

Another Change Envisaged

De Havilland-Canada CC-108 Caribou light transport, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1967

Caption: De Havilland-Canada CC-108 Caribou light transport, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1967

The end of the Cold War and tough new budgetary imperatives necessitated another white paper, this one (1994) calling for, among other things, a review of the reserve to be conducted between April and October 1995 by the Right Honourable Brian Dickson (Chairman), Lieutenant General (Retired) Charles H. Belzile and Professor Jack L. Granatstein. The commission focused on the three reserve elements with their total personnel of 23,000, and concluded that the reserve should reflect the operational requirements of the Canadian Forces, taking into account socio-economic factors and regional circumstances. The commission recommended an overall rationalization of infrastructure (especially for the militia), consolidation of units and elimination of superfluous subcomponents. The overall mandate, it should not be forgotten, was to lower the reserve's operating costs, which after 1996 would still be $895 million annually.

The Naval Reserve has some 4,300 members in 24 divisions across Canada, with headquarters in Quebec City. Its main role is to ensure the country's coastal defence with new vessels, most of them built by the year 2000. This very clear, specific role no doubt explains the absence of major problems.

The Air Reserve has 1,500 reservists out of an authorized strength of 1,800. This reserve is well used despite a lack of consensus on what the proportion of flying personnel should be.

The three reserves are designed to support a potential national mobilization. There are problems, however, in the militia. From sea to sea there are 133 militia units in 125 towns and villages in 14 districts in four regions - Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and Western. The units are often under-strength yet the number of officers is excessive. In a way, today's militia is reminiscent of that of 1868. In other words, the total number of militiamen in 1995 was about right - 18,347 of the 19,957 militia positions were filled, with Quebec the only region to reach (and even exceed) its ceiling - but the large number of units means that many of them have sufficient members for only one company.