From Cold War to Present Day


A New Concept

One of the most striking changes to affect the armed forces since the end of the Second World War was the integration and unification of the Canadian Armed Forces during the 1960s.

These changes did not come about as abruptly as we are often given to believe. The first step towards integration had actually taken place in 1923, when, to increase both savings and effectiveness in national defence, the department of militia and defence was merged with the Naval Service, to which was added the newly created air ministry. As we have seen, the same period saw an unsuccessful attempt at limited integration of the main headquarters. The senior officers resisted this move. The Chiefs of Staff Committee was formed in 1939 but would not acquire a chairman until 1951. This position would survive, though with no real power or staff of its own, until it was replaced in 1964 by the new position of Chief of the Defence Staff. Also in 1939, a bill to unify the Armed Forces was draughted, though it was never introduced in Parliament: First it met with powerful domestic resistance; then the war in Europe put it in mothballs.

Impetus for unification resumed in 1947 when Brooke Claxton was minister. He presented his department's long-term objectives to Parliament under 14 points, the first of which set out the need for tighter coordination between the military and the unification of the department in order to create a single defence force, within which the three services would function. Claxton immediately ordered the establishment of a single headquarters to bring the three under one roof, with the three civilian administrators united in one position, Deputy Minister of Defence. He then ordered each service to adopt a similar organizational structure made up of three main divisions, namely planning and operations, personnel and payroll, and supply and equipment. In the face of inertia on the part of the services, the Korean War and the establishment of NATO, Claxton was unable to pursue this ambitious plan.