Canada’s armed forces are “ready” to fulfill their commitments if Russia’s war in Ukraine spreads to NATO countries, but launching a larger-scale operation in the long term would be a “challenge”. with continuing shortages of personnel and equipment, said Chief of the Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre.
Eyre told Joyce Napier on CTV’s Question Period in an interview aired Sunday that while the troops in Europe are “ready for the tactical mission they’ve been assigned,” he has greater concerns about strategic readiness. He said there is a lack of people and equipment, and further concerns about its ability to support a large-scale mission in the longer term.
The Canadian Forces continue to struggle to retain personnel, with nearly 10,000 fewer trained personnel than they would need to be at full strength, and equipment stocks below the level they need.
“We’ve got into all of these challenges,” Eyre said, adding that the numbers reflect what “has eluded over the past few decades, as we’ve focused on the more immediate (needs).”
Eyre said the Canadian military would have “hard pressure” to launch another large-scale operation, such as in Afghanistan, without having to reallocate its resources around the world as threats evolve.
“The military we have now will increasingly be called upon to support Canada and Canadian interests, to support our allies abroad, but also at home,” Eyre said, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the climate change affecting the landscape. in the Arctic, and an increase in digital and cybersecurity threats.
“It’s always a matter of prioritizing and balancing our deployments around the world, not just with what, but when, and with whom… and getting that balance right is something we’re working on,” he said. “Can we use more? Yes absolutely. But we work with what we have.”
“We prioritize and balance based on what our allies need and what demand indicates, to make sure we achieve the strategic effect the government wants us to achieve,” he also said.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Anita Anand said on CTV’s Question Period last week that Canada “should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” balancing its NATO commitments with securing the Arctic and promoting peace in the Indo-Pacific. .
Eyre said his first priority is to get Canada’s armed forces up to full strength, with a 9.3 percent attrition rate between both regular and reserve troops, compared to 6.9 percent last year. The Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy was released last month.
“We face the same challenge that every other industry faces in terms of a very tight job market,” said Eyre. “Every other army in the West faces the same challenge.”
He explained that, among other things, the organization is working to streamline the hiring process to meet the increasing need, with the goal of increasing numbers “as soon as possible”.
“Ideally, it would have been yesterday,” he said. “We’re looking at where we can accelerate recruiting and training and optimize our training pipeline.”