(Another) reply to Derek Carroll

This discussion has been helpful to me, as I have always felt there was a need to stand back and examine naval reserve manning priorities.

In addition, you and I may be reaching agreement in some areas.
In your paragraph one you argue that "If (and only if)..." the decision has already been taken to not replace the TRUMPs, we might "use at least some of these" destroyer crews to man the AOPV. I agree. However, the Conservative government has not reversed its election promise to replace them, and at a briefing by the MND this year he indicated he still planned to do so. Therefore, any suggestion to move any part of their crews to the AOPV risks hazarding the destroyers and their replacements. With 55 percent of the DND budget now going to personnel costs, all eyes are down and looking for people cost savings, and the 675 sailors in the destroyers must be closely guarded until the destroyer replacement decision is made.

I also don't wish to convert destroyer crews when the naval reserve can and should take up the AOPV task for the reasons of relevance I outlined in my earlier post. Here I must also re-stress that the MCDV-naval reserve programme and Afghanistan have raised the bar for what we should expect from the reserve organizations. This Thursday, the Canadian Press included a DND spokesperson's claim that "about 30 percent of the 2,500 Canadian Forces personnel stationed in Afghanistan are reservists." I find that figure may be a tad high, and I also recognize that the militia is huge. Nevertheless, in the competition for scarce defence resources the naval reserves must turn out that kind of operational output. Therefore, it can and should grow by 1,500, even by 3,000 if the data merits it, but only if it has the task of manning the MCDV and AOPV. Conversely, a naval reserve with no sea-going responsibilities at all should be cut to a total of 500 for the sub-secondary tasks that they still retain. These tasks were outlined in my earlier post and are regional control of shipping, intelligence, and harbour defence. Responsibility for mine countermeasures will have to go entirely to the Fleet Diving Units.

Your points, however, on needing to improve recruiting are shared. I am amazed how most other NATO nations are able to achieve many times Canada's uniformed personnel to civilian population ratio with less recruiting angst than we do. I also suspect the reason lies in the fact we also spend the least on this critical task.

As to your para three, I never used the term irrelevant. Moreover, a 5000 man naval reserve that briefly and sporadically manned two gate vessels of some 30 crewmembers apiece and supplied a naval control of shipping cadre might well have met the standards of the day decades ago It no longer does today. We are personnel short, we expect more from all the Canadian Forces reserves, and they have proven they can deliver more.

I bow completely to your knowledge of actual NRD conditions. However, I cannot accept the fact that our providing the naval reserves with good ships and relevant tasks was the root cause of those NRD ills. If nothing else, this exchange suggests that the NRD are having problems. In that case, the navy should devote the time to studying the entire reserve personnel programme. It should use some of the $3 Billion in AOPV funding to ensure a thorough study by a lead Canadian personnel resource firm.

Within this debate there is the suggestion of a deeper problem involving the fact that we seem to have two kinds of reserve: a sea-going "full time" reserve and more traditional "part time" reserve. Something is amiss here. I do not value one more than the other as either an ex-sailor or a taxpayer. All I want from both of them is sustainable operational output - primarily ships crews. Further, I am not at all sure as to whether a division has to exist along these lines. Then again, perhaps a division is needed. I am not sure, but in a perfect world it would seem all reserves would have the time, pay, and opportunity to go to sea, acquire credibility, then rotate back to their NRD to be 'part time' reservists who recruit and train. In fact, the study I suggest should examine how the NRD could also take on much more of the overall naval recruiting task. This, again, enhances naval reserve and NRD relevance.

I honestly have no ready answers to how to square the 'part time' versus 'full time' reserve division. All indications are, however, that this also needs to be part of a larger reserve study. In the interval, it makes far more sense to expand the reserves and their ships than it does to hazard the destroyers.