What we get for the price

I have to disagree with almost all of John Arthur’s claims that the Naval Reserve Divisions (NRDs) and their part time reservists should be “a public relations operation” with naval operations as their “job #2.”  He also states that the naval reserve “core mission” has been “maintaining presence ashore via the NRDs” since Captain Walter Hose.

In direct response, I note:
- In 2006, DND spent some $1,193,060,000 on our total reserves.  If one assumes all our reserves have public relations as their core function, this is way too much to pay for CF public affairs.
- I am not able to determine the precise naval share of that $1.2B, but I assume it to be at least $100 M.  I am reasonably sure, however, that in 2006 the navy allocated some $68M to the Director Naval Reserves (DNAVRES) for reserve salaries with the vast majority of this going to reservists ashore in NRDs and DNAVRES.  In addition, a series of new NRDs have been built with each appearing to cost some $9M. This is way too much to pay for naval public affairs.  It is, however, a fair bargain for them to fully meet their force generation responsibilities of manning maritime coastal defence vessels (MCDVs) and port security units.
- If public relations are to be the dominant naval activity, from whence comes their credibility with the public? One has to assume the public wishes to hear about sailors going to sea or, at a very minimum, protecting our ports.
- In that regard, the army reserve now has over 2000 militia members who have a compelling story to tell from their time in Afghanistan.  Our MCDV crews doing coastal patrols have equally relevant tales as might our port security teams, especially after the Olympics in 2010.  Once they come back from arctic sovereignty patrols, they will have a very compelling message indeed for Canadians.  Public affairs officers exist to ensure these stories get out. They are not the story themselves.

I have no problem with the naval reserves having the additional task of assisting in getting the naval message out. All sailors have this function, but no naval establishment should be manned for it nor have it assume anything like a core function.

I suspect the entire navy has some 15 public affairs officers.  The naval reserves need no more than 15.

By the way, again we have an author focusing only on the part time reserves.  We need someone who raises the concerns of the entire naval reserves community, including all its seagoing members.

Further, who affiliated with the NRD volunteered to speak to the 1994 Defence Policy Review when it conducted its public hearings across Canada?