Good move …

… and  Harjit Sajjan and General Jonathan Vance should follow suit.

The Times reports that “Britain’s army is getting stronger because it has nearly halved the number of generals, the head of the armed forces has said … [and] … Responding to criticism that the army is top-heavy, General Sir Nick Carter said that the total number of starred officers — brigadiers and generals — had been reduced by nearly 40 per cent, from 141 to 85, during the past five years … [further] … Over the same period, he said, the proportion of generals to troops had improved to about 1 to 2,400, and the number of two-star headquarters staff had fallen from nine to five.

I have been complaining about a bloated morbidly obese command and control (C²) superstructure for the better part of two years now. I do not expect any change. Canadian admirals and generals are in thrall to a command and control system that might (but I have some serious doubts) work for a giant force like the US military but it does not work for Canada.

Too many admirals and generals and commodores and colonels are in too many headquarters writing e-mails to one another and interfering in work which should be being done by commanders and lieutenant colonels and majors and Navy lieutenants Figure_Breckenridgeand sundry levels of chief petty officer and warrant officer. But we have a system that is terrified of making a mistake, it quakes in its boots at the thought that some warrant officer or Army lieutenant might do something that will embarrass the minister … so we stack major generals on top of colonels who shout at lieutenant colonels who scream at majors to make sure the junior officers don’t mess up … it is bureaucratic madness … it is a failure in leadership.

That system, the one we think works so well, has failed before and will, in all probability fail again because it is based on mistrust and a lack of ability in the junior officers that the general and colonels recruited and trained. It is, in fact, a bunch of admirals and generals saying “I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing so I assume that my subordinates are equally uncertain …” But that’s not true; no one blames General Vance for not being sure what the political centre wants ~ hell’s bells it has no idea what it is trying to do, why should he? But out in the field, in Iraq, in Kuwait or Latvia, at sea, the lieutenant colonels and commanders actually do understand what they are supposed to be doing and they are well trained and competent. Our problems lie in headquarters … in too many headquarters and in too many headquarters that have too much rank.

Canada should do what the Brits have done, cut 40% of the admirals and generals and commodores ~ it doesn’t even have to be planned, just cut all the “brass hats” whose name begin with A through J or P through Z, that should do it just as well as any other system and there’s no need to pay millions for consultant studies. It isn’t that we need to find the 40% of generals who are least effective … it;’s not a personal issue, it’s an issue of too many cooks spoiling the broth, etc.

Of course there are a few quite useless flag and general officer level jobs that must be kept … there always will be some of those. They need to be filled and, largely, ignored … they’re harmless. What’s harmful is a system that doesn’t trust it’s mid ranked leaders ~ the ships’ captains (commanders) and the regiment and battalion and flying squadron commanding officers (lieutenant colonels).  That will be fixed if there are fewer very senior officers there to meddle … the survivors K through Z or A through O, will have to trust the leaders in the fleet and the field.


Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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  1. You are right on the money here Ted – the “triangle” is upside down – too many seniors at the top of the inverted triangle, and too few units all across the spectrum (Navy, Army Airforce) for the LCols to command at the bottom end – and which we could, if the triangle was reversed, contribute to global commitments. What to do with all the extraneous senior ranks? Keep and groom what you need for real and necessary jobs and retire the rest like other Armies do.

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