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Want a real change in the Canadian Forces? Cut 100 generals: comment

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By Steve Giberson

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Defense Watch Guest Writer

The profession of arms in Canada is reduced to amateurish time as senior management scrambles to appear engaged in resolving the crisis that has been exposed by yet another round of allegations of sexual misconduct.

As the Canadian military is embroiled in self-hatred and looking for ways to create safe spaces for Canadians to be encouraged to wear uniforms, the world becomes more and more dangerous and our ability to be prepared. to take a stand continues to erode beyond the point of obsolescence.

I have long believed that much of the leadership gap in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is a direct result of the CAF being heavily overloaded with General / Flag Officers (GOFOs).

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There simply aren’t enough resources for these GOFOs to command and thanks to long-standing military traditions of deference to these ranks, the resulting effect is to turn a bunch of them into egotistical. We have GOFOs who don’t command anything but believe they are the equivalent of their fellow NATO allies of the same rank who actually have formations behind them.

Military structures are designed to be built from the ground up like a pyramid. For each building block in the pyramid, there is a commander appointed for that group and an assigned rank for that commander. Based on this conception, the approximately 80,000 CAF members (both Regular and Reserve on a good day) do not have enough resources to justify 129 GOFOs.

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By simple comparison, the UK Defense Force with which the CAF is most closely aligned in terms of structure and traditions manages to lead its army with around 85 GOFOs while managing around 200,000 regulars and reservists with significantly greater combat power in all elements (army, navy and air force).

An even sharper comparison is that of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It has an active force of nearly 170,000 people. Its operational forces consist of 10 combat brigades in the three CAF army; around 480 combat aircraft in the Air Force against 390 CAF of all types; and finally, a navy that compares well enough even for liners and submarines (18 for IDF, 16 for CAF) but almost double for IDF in smaller patrol vessels. For all this, Tsahal manages to dominate its neighbors while being led by only 25 GOFOs including a lieutenant general (three stars) is the chief of staff of the armies.

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The size and combat power of the CAF does not justify having a four star general CDS. We should start there. Once our CDS has been reduced to the appropriate rank, the rest of the structure should follow. With a three-star CDS, commanders of the three elements (Army, Navy, and Air Force) can now be two-star generals. Based solely on the personnel and resources of the Canadian Army, there is an argument for a maximum of four divisional level groups (there are currently six). These divisional groups would be led by one-star generals.

The ARC and the RCN being smaller, there is probably room for 2 one-star level formations in each of these entities. A rough estimate of the personnel / resources required by the commander should mean that the CAF could be effectively led by less than 20 GOFOs.

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If the CAF could be effectively led by 20 GOFOs, what would be the impact of having more than 100 senior leaders with nothing to lead? Long-standing traditions and customs of the military rank structure imply that the higher the rank, the more deference you are accorded. The more benefits you get. You get staffed to make sure that all of your wishes are met and the nature of humans is that these demands go beyond direct professional demands for staff to be responsible for the personal needs of GOFO.

Add to that women in vulnerable positions in an organization teeming with dominant male leaders with completely undeserved rights and you have a recipe for potential abuse of power.

I believe that the issue of sexual misconduct in the military is not just about inappropriate relationships. This is a reflection of the severely overbalanced power dynamics that exist in the CAF due to the large number of senior leaders who cannot be justified by any practical measure.

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The responsibility in the military arises from the fact that our commanders are in danger along with the soldiers, sailors and aircrew they send to dangerous places. When you have an institution with a bloated leadership structure that is constantly getting ego stroked for no good reason, do we really have to ask ourselves why some think they can get away with preying on vulnerable subordinates in their area? staff ?

If we are to make a real change in the ethics of the CAF, remove 100 GOFOs and keep the other 20 busy thinking about the emerging threats facing our country.

(Remark)

(Steve Giberson retired as Major of the Canadian Forces in 2017. He joined the Canadian Army in 1991 as an Armor Officer. He spent almost 10 years in Forces Command Special Operations Operations Department and has been deployed to Bosnia, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia as well as numerous homeland security operations.)

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.