CAF Needs More Generals and Admirals?

CAF Needs More Generals and Admirals?

As published in Esprit de Corps: September 1, 2020

2020-09-01 · Free Online Library: CAF NEEDS MORE GENERALS AND ADMIRALS?(POSTED IN Letters to the editor, Letter to the editor) by "Esprit de Corps".

The pending retirement of Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff, General Jonathan Vance, reminded me of his previous comments on the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) urgent need for more generals. According to Vance’s staff,
“Canada has about one general or flag officer for every 500 soldiers in its permanent force…” for a total of over 100. In Vance’s defense, this ratio is lower than similar NATO states like Australia and the U.K.

However; by comparison, Canada’s World War Two (WW2) armed forces reserved the lowest general rank (brigadier) for brigade-sized units of 3000 to 6000 soldiers. Using the 2020 CAF general-to-soldier ratio, Canada’s WW2 military of 730,000 would have required over 1400 generals and admirals. The actual total was closer to 300.

My point in providing this information is to illustrate the expense of CAF careerism at a time when Canada employs more headquarters staff than front line combat troops in the army, air force and navy. The importance of planning and the excellence of Canada’s elite Special Forces are often used to excuse this massive staffing disparity.

It’s worth remembering that wars are not won by generals but by soldiers, sailors and pilots who forge deep bonds of loyalty under horrific conditions. Office work, as vital as it is; does not prepare people for the trauma of combat. The lofty rhetoric of commanders rarely comforts those at “the sharp end”.

Morgan Duchesney
Ottawa Canada