In keeping with the (just for now) governing Liberal Party of Canada norms, and American marketing guru Elmer Wheeler‘s dictum, the Canadian Army serves up a fair bit of sizzle … even as there is less and less steak every day. The Canadian Army‘s public affairs people have released a somewhat breathless announcement on social media saying that “Military intelligence is generally a highly secretive affair, of course, but the Canadian Army (CA) is very publicly celebrating a re-branding of its intelligence corps … [and] … It will now be called the Canadian Intelligence Corps (C Int C), the name it held from 1942 until 1968. C Int C is still a part of the larger Intelligence Branch, a personnel branch formed in 1982, and is the organization designation used by the members who wear the Army uniform … [further] … The name change is part of a wider initiative to put the CA back in touch with its historical roots that began in 2011 when the federal government of the day re-introduced the Canadian Army name. All of Canada’s military branches were unified under the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) banner in 1968 … [and] … Since 2011, a number of other CA corps have reverted back to historical names, including the Canadian Forces Medical Service, which was renamed the Royal Canadian Medical Service in 2013. The CA’s Engineering and Signals branches are now known as The Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers and Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.“
Now, don’t get me wrong: I am glad to see the old C Int C title restored, along with e.g. the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals and others … like those others, the Intelligence Corps has a long, proud history, going all the way back to the Corps of Guides (1903) (the central device of its (the C Int C’s) 1942-68 cap badge was from the former Canadian Corps of Guides badge with it’s two arrows pointing to magnetic and true North ~ the latter signified by the pole star) and I hope that they, and e.g. Signals, will adopt some of their older, pre 1968, traditions, too. Surely this effort “put the CA back in touch with its historical roots” is about more than just undoing what Paul Hellyer did in the 1960s; surely no one believes that the 1967 organizational model or dress regulations were perfect, do they? Traditions have a role ~ sometimes an important one ~ in maintaining morale which, in itself, can be a vital component of military effectiveness, but traditions have deep roots and 1967 was not the be-all and end-all.
But, one has to ask …
… we can all see the sizzle, but where’s the steak?
The Army needs this kind of “steak:”
… and it needs lots of it. It, especially, needs thousands of new, young, tough, superbly disciplined, well trained, well led, adequately equipped and properly organized soldiers (and fewer colonels and generals behind desks in headquarters) … and they, in turn, need rifles and mortars, tanks and howitzers, bridge layers and electronic warfare sets, and helicopters for reconnaissance, troop lift and cargo carrying, and, and, and … and they all need the logistical and support services to sustain them and keep the soldiers and their equipment combat ready.
At a guess (and it can be no better than a guess because I’ve been retired for a long time and I no longer understand all the complexities of the organizational details of regiments and brigades) the Canadian Army really needs about 25,000± full time soldiers in four or five combat brigade groups. It also needs some, additional, soldiers (above and beyond those in brigades) in HQs and supply depots and training schools, and, and, and … According to most sources the Canadian Army has about 21,000+ full time soldiers, that number includes everyone from Lieutenant General Paul Wynnyk, the Army’s commander, on down to the newest recruit. That’s far too few people, especially it is too few soldiers in too few brigades. The Army has about 30,000 reserve soldiers including about 5,000 in the Canadian Rangers. I’m not sure what the right number is for the reserve forces, but I am pretty certain that they (reserve units) are top-heavy, under-equipped and less than well managed.
They, the soldiers in brigades and supply depots and the officers in HQs and schools are good people ~ better, I think, than we have had since 1873; but they are too few in number, they don’t have enough equipment and they are not properly organized for modern, 21st century joint operations. If everything old is, indeed, new again, then let’s go back and remember how we learned to win wars, let’s not have stagnant organizations that seem designed mainly to inflate the egos of a few admirals and generals.
Thanks for the sizzle, Canadian Army, and congratulation C Int C on being another part of everything old is new again … but, we, Canadians, are getting hungry for the steak.
I’ll return to this tomorrow.