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Cdn Inf comes out on top in restructure

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I copied this whilst I was in Canberra this week.

Jock in Sydney

Sharon Hobson, Ottawa
Janes Defence Weekly 22 May 2002

The infantry is the winner in the Canadian Army‘s new 10-year restructuring plan as the service reduces the readiness of its armour and artillery regiments, while increasing the capabilities of its light infantry battalions.

Stretched to its limits by more frequent and complex global commitments, and with no prospects for significant budget increase, the army has developed ‘Advancing with Purpose: The Army Strategy‘. The service plans to restructure its expeditionary forces to be of maximum strategic value to its allies, particularly the USA; provide for more specialised capabilities; and, mitigate both organisational and operational risks.

The strategy calls for a medium weight, information-age army by 2012 based on the three existing regular brigade groups, optimised for operations in complex terrain such as urban environments. Priority will be given to increased intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities, an improved training system and better alignment of the regular and reserve components.

To improve readiness and assist co-operation with allies, the three regular brigade heaquarters will be given a more specific operational orientation.

The army will use a modular approach to force deployments, based on approximately 100-strong sub units rather than the current appraoch of basing deployments on 700 strong battalions. However Maj Gen Rick Hillier, assistant chief of the land staff, told an industry meeting that the army is "not looking to deploy 100-man units overseas" that it is just "a way of tailoring packages better".

The army has developed an interim force model for 2007 that will serve as the transition between the ‘Army of Today‘ and the ‘Army of Tomorrow‘ set for 2012.

The major changes include developing the capabilities of the three light infantry battalions, each of which includes an airborne company to achieve a potential special operations capability similar to that found in the US Army‘s 75th Ranger Regiment (Jane‘s Defence Weekly 17 April 2002).

Colonel Bill Peters, director land strategic plannings, says "if you allow a dismounted organisation to concentrate on dismounted infantry work they can become extremely proficient, more so than a mechanised unit". He told JDW that the special opertions capabilites might include strategic capabilities migh include strategic reconnaissance, direct action missions at the company level, non-combatant evacuation operations and countering asymmetric threats. He added "That‘s not something that we necessarily are going to go into easily...and the training bill is not inconsiderable, but that‘s where we‘d like to go."

The interim model will regroup the existing three identical brigades into one heavy and two medium brigades> To achieve this, most Leopard C2 main battle tanks, M109 155mm self-propelled howitzers and some heavy armoured engineer equipment will be consolidated in Land Force Western Area, which will be home of the army‘s Combat Manoeuver Training Centre.

The army will rely more heavily on the reserve force for manning these units, although the precise ratio of regular to reserve personnel has yet to be determined. The armoured regiment will consist of three leopard squadrons (not all at high readiness and one Coyote reconnaissance squadron.

The armoured regiments in the other two brigades will be reorganised as reconnaissance regiments equipped with Coyotes. This will improve the availability of the Coyote that has been in high demand for recent multinational operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

For the interim force model, the heavy brigade‘s artillery regiment will have three M109 batteries (two of which could be lower readiness), a target acquistion battery and a mortar battery. The two regular regiments in the other brigades will consist of two LG1 105mm light gun batteries, and target acqistion and mortar batteries. The infantry will transfer its 81mm mortars to the artillery and the assault pioneer tasks to the engineers.

After much internal debate, the army has decided to keep one regular air-defence regiment, but still must decide "whether or not we should emphasise the VSHORAD (very short range air defence) or the SHORAD side", said Colonel Peters; colonel Chris Davis, director land requirements, says the army will not keep both capabilities and is "leaning towards SHORAD".

Whilst in Canberra, I attended a lecture followed by a discussion period on this subject. There would appear to be many things wrong with this planned reorganisation, not least in the French Canadian political aspect. With the reorganisation, it would require that instead of the three brigades being based upon a specific infantry regiment, it would require a mix of battalions and sub units, this would entail the breakup of the francophone brigade! (this could be the reason why a study is being done on the regimental system). The transfer out of mortar and pioneer pls does not make tactical sense, nor does the disbandment of regular VSHORAD batteries. As one lecturer stated it seems to be a way of once more reducing expenditure, and the operational capability of the Canadian Army. Also the use of designated reserve units to enhance the lower readiness units would require at least six months to make such units viable!
Transferring functions to consolidate technical and training requirements doesn‘t mean doing without.

One can fathom the reasoning. If units are habitually understaffed and the only way to form a deployable battalion or battle group is to rob Peter for Paul, why not face the reality, make the basic building block the company/squadron/battery, and task organize for each mission by drawing on formed sub-units?

Consider: if an infantry battalion is at about 50% strength, does it make more sense to try to maintain three line companies and a combat support company at varying reduced strengths, or just have two fully-manned (and collectively trained) line companies and give up the specialists to functional branch units so they can do the same thing (form squadrons/batteries)?

Which seems likely to have greater cohesion: a battle group of cadre sub-units augmented by individuals, or a battle group of fully-manned sub-units grouped for a mission?

Currently, pre-deployment means having to integrate individuals and work up from the team/section level. If the concept of managed readiness is successfully applied (and these initiatives should not be viewed in isolation from that concept) then in principle one should be able to group the required elements with the tasked unit (HQ) and proceed directly to unit-level collective work-ups.