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Kandahar power grid

Corporal Dave Valentine marches past the ragged and relatively unsafe power lines in Kandahar City. The lines are stringed together with tape and pieces of wire, the power grid in the city is unreliable and electricity is supplied to different parts of the city at various times throughout the day. Members of Stab A from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) conduct a foot patrol in District 9 of Kandahar City on 2 February 2010. (Master Corporal Matthew McGregor, Image Tech, JTFK Afghanistan, Roto 8)

RELATED: The battle to electrify Kandahar.

Category: Foreign Affairs, National Defence  Tags:  Comments off

ISAF dumping “nonessential” amenities

Bubblehead at The Stupid Shall Be Punished notes an interesting item on the blog of Command Sergeant Major Michael T. Hall, International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan.  ISAF will be shutting down Orange Julius, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen and Military Car Sales concessions.  It it also seeking to reduce the amount of canned and bottled goods coming into Afghanistan, and—strangely—first-run feature films and non-USO entertainment.

There are, no doubt, sound reasons for GEN McChrystal and CSM Hall to make these changes.  Perhaps the rear-echelon areas do need to get re-focused on supporting the warfighter out in the field, far from the big bases.  Perhaps the dangers of road-transporting all this stuff outweighs the benefit; nobody should be getting killed for the privilege of eating Pizza Hut, after all.  This is also why the Air Force flies 165 airlift sorties a month, to lessen the amount of food, gear and people that have to travel along IED-vulnerable roads.

The comments are instructive; there are some positive remarks, but I think it fair to say the vast majority are perplexed if not appalled.  My own sensibilities are ably reflected by a couple of Bubblehead’s commenters, whose thoughts I will reproduce here (any emphases are mine).

What I don’t get about this is, does it take that much more room to ship a BK hamburger over to Afghanistan than a regular ol’ unbranded mess hall one? If they’re putting all the pizzas in cardboard boxes, that sounds like reducible waste, but come on. Food is food, unless everything they eat is dehydrated.

The movie thing seems ridiculous, and likely to backfire as the alternative ways soldiers find to spend their time probably aren’t going to include mastering the violin or reading the classics.

Anonymous, 25 March 2010 1718

No, Nein, Nyet!!

Now, I’ve not done an IA tour, but I see this as a pointless endeavor in trying to make headlines along with fortifying our next SITREP.

Give the folks on the ground who are pounding sand a break wouldja’ please?! Those simple things like pizza hut and theaters are a biggy for those who serve over there. Umm, what useful purpose does it serve to minimize these areas of comfort?

What?…do you need more room? Is that it? You’re in the middle of the stinkin’ desert. You have more “potential” real estate than you know what to do with. Ever flown in to Vegas? For those who have not been there, I can say when you look out the starboard porthole of the plane while descending to McCarran Airport, you see nothing more than desert. Vegas is in the middle of the desert. You have ample square footage to build on.

Now back to the sand box across the seas. You have more than enough room if needed. There is no reason to take away the comforts of home. Again, I’ll admit I’ve never been there, but please don’t fuck it up for all the ground troops who are sweating it out so you can look good for your next Eval.

MT1(SS) WidgetHead, 25 March 2010 1801

If the purpose is to remember that the focus is on winning the war, perhaps there should be austerity programs back home too.

Rationing, warbonds, etc.

It seems the US People have lost the focus, not the soldiers.

Anonymous, 26 March 2010 0452

The last quote says it all, really.  The people that need to be reminded that there is a war on are not the men and women who are already deployed to the Sandbox.  It is the citizenry back home in North America who are blessedly far removed from any hardship, privation and danger.

RELATED: Mr. Brooks of The Torch has cogent thoughts as well.

Category: National Defence  Tags: , , ,  Comments off

Centennial of American military flight

March 2nd, 2010 was a significant anniversary in the history of American military aviation, and the Company regrets that we did not mark it properly.  One hundred years ago on that date, then-Lieutenant Benjamin Foulois—assigned to the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Signal Corps, forerunner of today’s U.S. Air Force—made the first all-military flights in a powered, heavier-than-air craft.

The celebration honored Maj. Gen. Benjamin Foulois, a Signal Corps pilot who flew the “Wright “B” Flyer” aircraft. In his honor, a demonstration of two Wright “B” Flyer replicas were watched by the more than 1,500 in attendance at the MacArthur Parade Field at Fort Sam Houston.

On March 2, 1910, this parade field was where General Foulois made his first take-off, solo flight, and landing and after four flights, his first crash. He survived.

— McGovern, Matthew (Technical Sergeant, USAF).  “Military, civilians celebrate 100 years of military flight at Fort Sam Houston.” Defense Media Activity-San Antonio, 2 March 2010.

Here’s a sample of four images from the AF.mil photo essay that accompany the article:

Members of the Texas Military Forces Museum dressed in replica Army uniforms of 1910 render a salute during the opening ceremonies of the Fort Sam Houston Centennial Reenactment March 2, 2010. The ceremony honored the first flight of Signal Corps Aircraft No. 1 on the Fort Sam Houston Parade Ground. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Members of the Texas Military Forces Museum dressed in replica Army uniforms of 1910 render a salute during the opening ceremonies of the Fort Sam Houston Centennial Reenactment March 2, 2010. The ceremony honored the first flight of Signal Corps Aircraft No. 1 on the Fort Sam Houston Parade Ground. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Don Gum, pilot of this Wright "B" Flyer, stands before the aircraft before taxiing down the Fort Sam Houston Parade Ground during a reenactment of the first all-military flight in America, March 2, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Don Gum, a Wright "B" Flyer pilot, taxis the "Yellow Bird" down the Fort Sam Houston Parade Ground March 2, 2010, during a reenactment of the first all-military flight in America. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Rich Stepler and Don Stroud, Wright "B" Flyer pilots, performed a demonstration flight of their "Brown Bird" March 2, 2010, over MacArthur Parade Ground at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, during the Foulois Centennial Military Flight Celebration event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lance Cheung)

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Balar Hissar, Kabul, c. 1879

A selection from the British Library’s stunning collection of images from the Second Afghan War (1878-1880). The Bala Hissar (Persian for “high fortress”) is a 5th century fort on the Kuh-e-Sherdarwaza (Mountain of the Lion’s Gate). The walls are 20 feet high and 12 feet thick, and it is actually two distinct facilities; the lower fort contained stables, barracks and the former royal palaces; the upper fort was home to an armoury and a jail.

The Bala Hissar will no doubt be familiar to readers of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novel, as it figures prominently in the events leading up to Major-General William Elphinstone’s disastrous retreat from Kabul.

Burke, John. Panoramic view looking along the walls of the Bala Hissar Fort in Kabul, Afghanistan, with Shah Shahid Gate in foreground. (The British Library)

Bengal Sappers and Miners, Indian Army. Bala Hissar from Sher Denwaza. (The British Library)

Bengal Sappers and Miners, Indian Army. Upper Bala Hissar, looking down onto the palace and gardens, with the Kabul Valley beyond. (The British Library)

Burke, John. Looking along the wall of the mighty Bala Hissar fort towards the burnt-out Residency in Kabul. (The British Library)

Burke, John. Burnt-out ruins of the Residency at the Bala Hissar fort in Kabul. The British Resident, Major Sir Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari, KCB, CSI, was killed here along with his staff—and 71 defending officers and enlisted men—on September 3rd, 1879 by mutinous Afghan troops. (The British Library)

Burke, John. Upper Bala Hissar from gate above Residency, Kabul. (The British Library)

Burke, John. Upper Bala Hissar from west. (The British Library)

Burke, John. South face, Upper Bala Hissar. (The British Library)

Burke, John. The Diwan-i-Am or audience hall of the Amir at Kabul, Afghanistan, with the fortress of Bala Hissar in the background. (The British Library)

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Turning the Titanic

hillierA few days ago my wife spotted A Soldier First—the autobiography of General Rick Hillier, CMM, MSC, CD—at the library, and brought it home for me.  It is an engaging read and the prose style is fairly casual, much like the general speaks.  I am told National Post journalist and reservist Chris Wattie lent some assistance, but in the main, the written flow of Hillier’s thoughts is uncannily like that of his actual public speaking style.

The most illuminating aspects of the book are not necessarily those that deal with ISAF in Afghanistan and the general’s well-known career as Chief of the Defence Staff; I found the descriptions of the institutional culture of the Canadian Forces to be highly illuminating.  I had always thought that careerism and the survival mentality were gradually inculcated as one aged, advanced in rank, and became reluctant to risk the gains of one’s life work; in fact it turns out that the CF was more or less deliberately creating that mindset at the junior officer level.

In the summer of 1976, when Hillier was going through Phase 4 of his Armoured Officer training, the CF had created a manpower SNAFU:  it had several times as many armoured officer candidates as the Armoured Corps required.  So the Army set out with brutal efficiency to whittle down its overflowing cup and eliminate, as fast as possible, as many surplus bodies as it could.

So that summer became an exercise in survival.  In fact, it was a slaughterhouse: out of the sixty-five who started the course, only twenty-eight graduated at the end of the summer.  The rest failed…

…Some pretty good people went out the door that summer, and the experience left an overwhelming impression in the minds of everybody who was on that course that this was just not the way to do business.  It says something about the state of the leadership of the military and the incredibly poor training process at the time that we lost so many good young men.  It was appalling.

We spent the first week of the course in garrison, taking classes, refreshing skills from previous courses, and then deployed to the training area, or “into the field,” for the practical-training part of the course.  The instructors began weeding people out right away.  By the time that first week was over, some of the men were already on formal warning of shortcomings because their inspections weren’t good enough or they had not received a high enough mark on one of their tests.  If you got three warnings from the course staff, you were out.  By the time we got out into the field to actually start learning how to command our vehicles and a later troop of tanks, some guys were already more than halfway out the door.

By the end of that week, we knew what was happening and became very cynical about it…

The experience shaped, in a dramatic way, my approach to leadership.  I believe in doing things almost the exact opposite of what we encountered that summer—respecting individuals, bringing them along, training and developing them, occasionally jacking them up but always on a path to make as many as possible the leaders we needed.  Instead, the CF, and specifically the army, treated great young men deplorably, created a culture of survival, and as a consequence, lost many of the very good ones.  Every day that summer we all worried that we would be the next to go.

…The course staff even started a bit of a competition among themselves to see who could fail the most students.  I failed my share of tests but was never on warning and so wasn’t concerned that I was going to be kicked out, but we were so gun-shy about the way things were being run and had so little faith in our instructors that we didn’t believe a thing they said.

The situation was so bad that Hillier did not believe his instructors when, during a training exercise,  they told him that his wife was in the hospital for an emergency operation.  The instructor offered to release him from his training that day so that he could go be with his wife, but young Hillier thought they were probing for a weakness or looking for a way to sabotage his resolve and fail him out of the course.  He carried on with his training task, and was surprised to learn that his wife’s hospital trip was genuine.  He did not trust his instructors to tell him the truth.  The CF later formed an inquiry and examined the running of the Phase 4 course, with disappointingly predictable results.

Toward the end of that summer there was an inquiry into how the course was handled.  Colonel Nicholson, the Combat Training Centre commandant, stood up at the mess dinner at the end of our course and said, “The inquiry’s done and we’ve proven that the leadership is great, and everything is exactly as it should be.”  Everybody in the room thought that this was great and applauded, except for the handful of us who survived.  We sat there shaking our heads.  That course had almost nothing to do with learning how to lead a troop of tanks; it was about hanging on desperately until it was over.

— Hillier, Rick [General, CF].  A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War.  Toronto:  HarperCollins Canada, 2009. p. 45.

Unfortunately, as the young officer would soon find out, that directionless, survive-at-all-costs mentality did not end in training, either.  Hiller was posted to the 8th Hussars in Petawawa as their intelligence officer, and made the dispiriting discovery that risk-averse leadership was alive and well at the regimental level in a line unit, too.

When I arrived in Petawawa and joined the regiment, I saw that what had occurred in Phase 4 was not the exception, but the rule.  The same attitudes and approaches that we had experienced were reflected throughout the army…

The actions of many of the regiment’s leaders articulated what I thought were questionable values.  Some of them were more concerned with looking after themselves or their careers than looking after their men.  There is an old army adage that an officer’s priorities are supposed to be his mission, his soldiers and then himself, but that certainly wasn’t the rule in the 8th Hussars.  Many of us really did believe in those priorities, but the actions of others made me question whether they did.  It was a tough baptism…

The army and the rest of the Canadian Forces—after decades of training, few operations, a Cold War, government inattention and being on the back burner in Canada—were becoming a bureaucratic organization, just another department of the Government of Canada, administered by managers, not leaders.  We had moved away from many of the best characteristics of leadership—focusing on getting the job done and giving the soldiers a vision of how to get it done—and had replaced it with bureaucratic process, turning the military into a risk-averse organization that didn’t give us the results needed.

The same problems were evident throughout the entire brigade command structure, not just the 8th Hussars, and caused me to ask, numerous times, what the hell we were doing.  I saw little in that first year that inspired me to want to continue to be a leader, an officer, or to continue to serve in the Canadian Forces.

— Hillier, Rick [General, CF].  A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War.  Toronto:  HarperCollins Canada, 2009. p. 46-48.

There are also some barbed words for the CF’s procurement policies, and how seeking a “made (or modified) in Canada” solution often results in expensive, less-than-stellar gear.  In 1979, as a young captain deployed to Germany with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Hillier (and doubtless other other armoured crews) ran into a serious problem with the fire control system on the then-new Leopard C1 main battle tanks.

When we bought the Leopards from the Germans, someone in Ottawa had decided that the German fire control system wasn’t good enough for Canadians, so we had to go put in our own.  We bought a unique-to-Canada computerized fire control system.  Once the gunner fed the range and all the other factors into the system, the gun did the rest; we were supposed to get a kill every time.  In cold weather, the system worked like magic.  What nobody realized was that the system was connected to the interior roof of the tank’s turret—in reality a thin piece of metal.  In hot weather, the turret roof would buckle slightly—just a few milimetres, but more than enough to shift the sight completely out of alignment…

It took more than seven years for the Canadian Forces to solve that problem.  It took the army more than three years just to admit that there even was a problem.  Everyone who looked into the issue said, “No, it’s the gunner’ fault,” or “Put a few wet sandbags on the roof of that turret and we’ll be good to go.”

…Our problems with the tank sights were caused by our tendency to Canadianize everything that the Canadian Forces purchased, taking something that worked perfectly well for others and deciding that it wasn’t good enough for us.  The Canadian Forces have thought that way for decades, and we worked really hard over the past few years to change that thinking.  If an American-built weapon is working fine or a British vehicle drives beautifully, then let’s buy it as is.  Otherwise we end up with a unique, Canadian-modified beast that causes us technical headaches and costs us money.  Canadianized pieces of kit are hugely expensive to maintain because there are usually fewer of them.  Secondly, if there are problems, they end up being uniquely Canadian problems, and the CF has to go through long and expensive procedures to identify and resolve them.  I learned in Germany to put an appetite suppressant on Canadianization. Despite our efforts, this is still a major challenge.

— Hillier, Rick [General, CF].  A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War.  Toronto:  HarperCollins Canada, 2009. p. 64-66.

It is more than a little frightening to think that, had the Cold War gone hot at some point between 1979 and 1987, Canadian tankers would have rode into battle with fatally flawed equipment, forced on them by a department that didn’t want to use the perfectly serviceable German original.  And it is no less than enraging to realise that this flaw was effectively off the radar of Canadian politicians and the public, even though it would have been painfully obvious to Canadian armoured crews themselves—not to mention any allied crews who took part in multinational exercises and armoured corps competitions.

These passages are, I think, emblematic of why Canadians took to General Hillier so readily.  Even as a gold-braid-bedecked general officer, he is a man unafraid to slay sacred cows and to speak the truth plainly, without theatrics or ornamentation.  His many predecessors have not been so outspoken, nor drawn as much attention to the unsung triumphs and travails of the average young man and woman in uniform.  I am skeptical, however, of General Hillier’s claim to have changed the default institutional behaviour of the Canadian Forces, from a risk-averse bureaucracy into something a little bolder and more concerned with serving the nation.  He did indeed change it, albeit temporarily; the question is whether that change will outlast him in any significant degree.

My fear is that the transformation he hoped to effect within the Forces is stillborn, or at best half-complete.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the CF procurement battles underway and know that the useless, money-wasting Canadianization fetish is alive and well.  And statistically we may be sure that careerists are alive and well in any organisation, even the Canadian Forces.  But in what density and concentration?  The best we can hope for is that there are more future Rick Hilliers in the ranks than Jean Boyles or Larry Murrays, and that future Canadian governments continue to fund the Forces at a level where they can thrive, not just survive.  I fervently hope that succeeding generations of officers are, in fact, risk-taking leaders who look after the men and women under them, and not survival-minded careerists/managers who only want to save their own skin and hang in there for the pension payoff.

As the general says so ably, long periods of underfunding the Forces from the Nineties to the early Aughts had a dramatic and profound effect upon those in uniform:

…we found ourselves shelving plans to rebuild atrophied capabilities, saw our budgets cut by more than 25 per cent, our training slashed to an almost non-existent state, bases closed and the numbers of uniformed men and women reduced drastically.  In a perfect storm, then, our confidence in who we were and our pride in being soldiers, in the most generic sense, was shattered.  Several scandals, including those in Somalia and Bosnia, compounded our stress, while frozen, insufficient wages spoke eloquently as to our value in the eyes of our government and Canadians.  Most of us in uniform, key to coping with humanitarian crises worldwide, were not making enough money to feed or house our own families.

The perception across the junior ranks was that we, the leaders, had broken faith with those we led, and if there is one thing I learned over the years, it is that perception is reality.  Our soldiers did not trust us.  We could do little to address the key issues that weighed so heavily on them and their families.  The Canadian Forces moved into crisis and focused on survival, not excellence or shaping for the future or serving Canada.  We were largely incapable of coping and “SALY” [the “same as last year” mindset] had been responsible for a lot of that.  After thirty to forty years in an organisation where everything was the same, leaders could not handle the sudden, global changes or the enormous issues those changes created.

— Hillier, Rick [General, CF].  A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War.  Toronto:  HarperCollins Canada, 2009. p. 93.

What is interesting is that in spite of all this, General Hillier appears to have had much warmer relations with the former Liberal government (mainly MND Bill Graham and former PM Paul Martin) than he did with their Conservative successors (MNDs O’Connor and MacKay, and their boss PM Stephen Harper).  Too many of the general’s critics, particularly on the left, imagine the opposite; that he, Mr. Harper and—quelle horreur—Mr. George W. Bush were the coziest of pals.  (Just Google “rick hillier” plus “bush” for a plethora of examples.)  That delusion is not supported by the general’s own account.  On the other side of the aisle, whatever conservatives may think of Paul Martin (and his Minister of National Defence), it is worth pondering that as Finance Minister and famous budgetary “Dr. No,” Mr. Martin helped craft the era of decreasing CF budgets described by General Hillier above (and elsewhere, as a “decade of darkness”)—and yet in spite of all that, Hillier counts Martin as a good friend today.  Either the General does not hold Mr. Martin partly responsible for those dark times, or he is a man that does not hold grudges.

There is much more, of course—lively accounts of operations in Bosnia, and naturally the bulk of the book revolves around the political machinations in Ottawa (through governments of two different parties) during the Afghan campaign.  A Soldier First is an engrossing read, especially for anyone that has served (or their families).  It offers much sunlight into areas of the bureaucratic mind that ought to be cleansed.  Canada would do well to have more officers of a similar mind, who can express themselves so capably.

You would not be qualified for the rank you already hold

This story is not directly related to stressed or critical trades, but does highlight how difficult it can be for a CF member to transfer from the Reserves to the Regular Force.  It is instructive to note that the officer in question still serves Her Majesty—but now as an Australian, not a Canadian.

Assistant Deputy Minister for Human Resources (Military) Vice-Admiral Greg Jarvis told the Committee there appears to be something off in the system, testifying:

“I do acknowledge that currently we are averaging, on a component transfer, about 12 months. Our goal is to reduce that to 90 days.”

It takes – on average – a year to go from one part of the Canadian Forces to another part. Reducing that process by three-quarters is a good goal, but one that would represent a sea change.

On March 8, 2005, the Commanding Officer of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment, a militia unit, testified “… it is easier to join the Australian army online than it is to transfer into the regular army here, and you get a higher equivalency, and quicker.”[140] Our jaws dropped open. His claim seemed far-fetched. But wait . . . this story is even longer, but then, it takes a long time to get to Australia.

In January 2004, a Canadian Army Reserve Lieutenant-Colonel, serving in the Armoured Corps, resigned from the Canadian Forces and enrolled in the Australian Army. He now holds the rank of Major. In his sixteen years of Canadian service, most of which was on full-time duty, he worked in a wide variety of capacities, including a tour as an armoured troop leader in Bosnia, and as the lone Canadian liaison officer in Baghdad, in 2003.

Prior to leaving Canada, this man twice attempted to transfer from the Army Reserve to the Regular Force. The first time, in 1998, he was a 31-year old a four year Captain, having just completed an operational tour of duty in Bosnia. He followed all the rules and applied through a local Recruiting Centre. He had positive letters of reference from senior serving and retired General officers. He heard nothing for four months. He finally badgered the Recruiting Centre for a response. He was told that his file had been closed because he did not have enough education.

According to a clerk at the recruiting office, the Captain needed another mathematics course to join the Canadian Forces as an officer (which he already was in the Reserves) and furthermore – should he ever resign – he wouldn’t be educationally qualified to re-enroll in the Reserves as an Officer Cadet.

So he enrolled in the Canadian University Program to upgrade his education. After a few years of part-time studies towards a BA degree he had also obtained the required mathematics course. In 2001, he once again requested a transfer from the Reserves to the Regular Force.

Now a 34-year old Major, this Canadian Army Reserve officer contacted both the Recruiting Centre (for processing), the Director of Army Training (to verify qualification equivalencies), and both the Director of Armour and the Armoured Officer Career Advisor (for details on initial postings and career prospects).

To no avail. The Recruiting Centre informed him that while he was at school the Canadian Forces had raised the academic bar even higher.  A full degree was now required. Further, he was told that even with a degree, he would not be assigned to a regiment or other posting until he had completed second-language training.

The Director of Army Training insisted that, despite the fact that he had commanded a Regular Force troop on operations, the Major’s Reserve qualifications were insufficient. Although he would be granted an equivalency for Basic Officer Training, he would have to complete Regular Force Armoured officer training and qualify on the current Regular Force armoured vehicles (Leopard tank and Coyote surveillance vehicle) before being accepted for regular duty.

Furthermore, the Director of Armour and the Career Advisor told him that it would be unlikely that he would ever reach the rank of Major in the Regular Force.

If he were eventually accepted into the Regular Force, they said, he would likely serve in positions such as a unit Transportation Officer or equivalents, not in operational combat command roles. They added that despite his “Outstanding” evaluation reports from senior Regular Force officers and his operational experience, he probably couldn’t compete. It was unlikely he would be considered for one of the “top three” Captain’s positions in the unit that are usually a stepping stone to promotion.

In 2003, the Army Reserve Major, still only 35, was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. He was sent as the sole CF representative to V Corps (US) in Baghdad. His performance was good enough to represent Canada in a large U.S. Army formation conducting combat operations in a war-fighting theatre of operations. But it wasn’t sufficient to qualify him as an officer in the Canadian Regular Force Army.

He then successfully negotiated a transfer to the Armoured Corps of the Australian Regular Army, where he began his new career in January 2005, with the rank of Major. In January, 2006 he will assume the duties of Regimental Second-in-Command of an Australian Regular Force Armoured Corps regiment.

The Canadian Forces will continue to cry out for good people in the years to come. But sometimes they seem to be crying with their eyes closed.

—  “Wounded: Canada’s Military and the Legacy of Neglect“, An Interim Report by the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, September 2005

In 2005 it took, on average, a year to go from the Reserves to the Regular Force.  One hopes that in the intervening four years, the CF has gone some way toward remedying that situation

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