I asked my question to the Defence Panel.
It was actually related to recruitment/retention. One of the main reasons I quit was because my unit was not interested in training me to actually do my job. I did not have the required course to be a Corporal (A QL5 course). I was promoted to Corporal anyway but I was sick and tired of the constant, you will get the course next year, yeah we want you to get the course …. etc,etc,etc.
The panel had some very interesting presentations. Sadly, the representative of DND feed the government lines and one could tell she was more worried about getting in hot water with DGPA (Director General Public Affairs) than anything else. The two academics on the panel had very different viewpoints. One took the viewpoint that we needed to cut some of our current equipment, invest in heavy airlift and increase the amount of DART teams. Both academics agreed that the biggest problem facing DND is recruitment / retention. DND cannot meet its recruiting goals and is unable to keep most of its people.
They were both in agreement that the reserves need a complete overhaul. One of them was very correct (in my opinion) in saying that reserves need to be made professional with a move to better training/career management.
As I was waiting to ask my question, a question was asked about what equipment should be invested in right away. During his answer, one of the speakers said “We need to separate procurement from regional development”. I applauded this statement and very quickly the rest of the room joined in agreement.
Now, my question. I got up to ask my question, with a lengthy preamble about how the CF cannot seem to recruit effectively. I pointed out that 1/3rd of the cases dealt with by the Ombudsman are recruiting related, that the Regular Forces and especially the Reserves have a major retention problem. That retention should be the top priority of the CF, especially considering how much money it costs (mostly due to the bureaucracy involved) just to get a recruit in the door and through their BMQ. How many of these recruits end up sitting in Borden in Holding Platoons due to a lack of training courses available. Even when they are through this phrase, it is unlikely they will be out of garrison doing whatever they signed up to do and the second their three years are up, they are gone.
Then my question which was: “I find it interesting that Dr. Roy said we should cut equipment but that none of the panel talked about cutting the bureaucracy in the Canadian Forces. Why is it that no one mention the uniformed bureaucrats that number in the tens of thousands?”
That sparked a very interesting discussion from the panel. Both of the academics stating they agreed but that it would be impossible unless the Minister decided to do it and made sure the cuts were not passed down like the last round of cuts. The DND official stated that the bureaucracy was necessary and in some cases understaffed.
Overall, it was a great conference and I will maybe return next year for it.
Both of these pictures were taken from the back of the room during the first question:
(Click on them for a pop-up 1024×768 larger sized version)