From Cold War to Present Day


Management Problems and Solutions

For some, the most serious change in functions, responsibilities and chain of command since 1947, despite integration and unification, was the restructuring of 1972 that attempted to productively blend the military and civilian streams within the department of national defence.

The responsibilities of the Deputy Minister's Division, representing the civil authority with respect to the functions of economy and effectiveness, had not been defined in the framework of unification. Yet despite all the upheavals in the military structure between 1964 and 1968, the defence department was still wrestling with management problems. The ship replacement programme was making little headway and was being hit by frequent cost hikes. There was concern over the planning process, the sharing of responsibilities and the control of fixed assets. In 1971 a task force was appointed to examine the ship acquisition programme and, more generally, relations between civilian and military organizations including the Defence Research Council. Its report, completed in 1972, recommended the creation of a new National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) that would merge the duties of the deputy minister with those of the Chief of the Defence Staff. This restructuring was implemented that same year, along with a programme management system.

More reorganizing would follow, without unification being called into question, at least initially. Air Command was established in 1975, and certain restrictive practices believed to be demoralizing were abandoned - for example, those preventing the wearing of distinctive badges on uniforms or the use of traditional titles and ranks in the navy, which some felt had mitigated the absolute character of unification. In fact, the unifying suit was beginning to come apart at the seams.

The 1979 election of the Clark government, which would last only six months, provided yet another minister with an opportunity to strike a task force, this time to "study the advantages and drawbacks of the unification of the Canadian Forces and ... at the same time provide an opinion on the unified system of command." 90 After many hearings and some highly detailed research, the task force concluded that it was difficult to assess the direct role played by unification in terms of defence savings in the years 1964-80, given the reductions in resources, both personnel and equipment, imposed on the department during the period. The Forces remained generally under-equipped, said the report, and the financial savings that unification would have made possible had been absorbed by inflation, a frenzied rise in the cost of military equipment, the oil crises of 1973 and 1979, and pay equity between military and civilian personnel beginning in 1972. The task force was evasive about the achievement of all the objectives sought by unification: There was no basic plan to facilitate comparison of the goals of 1964 with the outcomes of 1979; nor did the task force have the means of assessing whether unification had made possible a speed-up in decision-making or a cut in response time. Without making any absolute judgements, the task force offered 30 recommendations on particular problems.