Reserves, a solution to the manpower dilemma.
I had a thought cross my mind a while back – an answer to a dilemma that might prove cost-effective and efficient. Presently the Canadian Forces sits at about 22,000 army personnel serving in the regular force (full-time), and 13,700 reserve force (part-time). Now before I go on I would like to note that I am only quoting army numbers as I want to focus on the army in particular for this post – now back to our regular programming.
Canada fielding a massive regular army (full-time) could prove costly as these soldiers will sit idle due to a lack of missions to partake in apart from small training missions, and missions like Afghanistan. However with the current situation of fiscal limitations and the growing need to have a standing body of personnel on hand to assist in natural disasters, and to be called up and mobilized quickly to assist the regular force in large-scale operations, an enlarged reserve force might be the way to go in the future. Presently there are numerous reserve units scattered across all major cities of this country, and presently a good portion of them (especially in rural parts of provinces) have little to no presence, or were reduced to nil strength following cuts between the 60s till the early 2000s. Therefore I propose that the reserve force be given more attention than present, and have their numbers go from 13,700 to 100,000 over the span of a decade or two.
This enlarged force will be similar to that of Finland in that we possess a small professional army, but have a massive reserve to call upon should the need arise – on top of this numerical benefit, these part-time soldiers will have full-time employment outside of the military, giving them two streams with which to develop their skills, as well as reduce the overall cost to the government as reservists receive only 85% of a regular force member’s pay. The reservist would primarily rely on their civilian work to provide the bread and butter, but the added income from the reserves will enable them to tackle smaller items like phone bills, and/or give an added amount of cash for the monthly budget.
Now comes the difficult part of this, equipment and supplies. Well the weekend exercises conducted are a way to sharpen a soldier’s skills, true. Yet we can also conduct training at the armories themselves (more so than what is currently done), thereby reducing travel costs and giving our reservists regular, steady hours of practice for their chosen trade. Ammunition and small arms can be universal, and indeed if need be we can issue second-line equipment to the reserves to enable them to do something as opposed to nothing when the need arises.
By now many of you reading on have noticed that cost is the biggest element I am addressing here, and it is indeed important – after all a large standing army of full-time soldiers can cost the state billions if they are sitting idle and doing nothing. With an enlarged reserves, these soldiers can be readily called up to serve at a moments notice, and it would be far more politically popular than a sudden draft of all able-bodied males which could reduce the standard of training dramatically, and have a negative affect on morale which could cost us a victory in a future conflict.
Perhaps this idea will take shape in the coming years; after all the nature of military service is constantly evolving, and we must think ahead in order to maintain a stable, strong, and ready force to meet these challenges that lie ahead.