CDS msg 2023

CDS and CAF CWO end-of-year 2023 message to the CAF

CDS and CAF CWO end-of-year message to the Canadian Armed Forces.

Reflecting on 2023, we want to express our sincere appreciation for the extraordinary dedication and resilience demonstrated by each member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) throughout this challenging year.

2023 has seen further deterioration in the security environment with Russia’s brutal war of aggression on Ukraine continuing, war in the Middle East, wars and coups in Africa, rising tension in the Indo-Pacific, increased interest in the Arctic, climate change-related disasters around the world and here at home, and an information environment rife with sophisticated disinformation and visceral hatred.  

In the face of this confluence of crises, your unwavering commitment to standing on guard for Canada and its people has been a beacon of hope. You have consistently risen to the occasion, showcasing dedication, professionalism, and a greater purpose of serving Canada and Canadians. Your response, both at home and abroad, continues to be a source of inspiration.

It is well known that we currently, as we have many times throughout our history, face numerous challenges as a military.  While acknowledging there is much work to do, we believe it is opportune to highlight your hard work and some positive strides made in key areas of focus laid out earlier this year: Reconstitution, Modernization, Cultural Evolution, and Operations and Readiness.

Reconstitution: We are making progress in reconstitution efforts, with force numbers beginning to stabilize.  Our attrition rate is returning to historical norms and recruiting is increasing. Many initiatives to streamline the recruiting process are underway, including efforts to address medical procedures, digital portals, security screening, and more. Initiatives to streamline the training pipeline, add more flexibility to individual career pathways, and address such challenges as childcare are ongoing.  This work will take several years of concerted effort but we are cautiously optimistic about progress.

Modernization: In response to the evolving nature of warfare, our military is undergoing significant modernization. Key efforts in 2023 include the acquisition announcements of P-8A Poseidon aircraft and F-35 fighter jets, which will provide the most advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities needed in today’s high-threat operational environment. We also took delivery of the first of nine CC-330 Husky aircraft, strengthening our strategic airlift, transport, and medical evacuation capacities, and the first of 360 Armoured Combat Support Vehicles providing versatile battlefield support. Our digital transformation initiatives promise a more tech-savvy and efficient operational framework, aligning with ongoing efforts to modernize NORAD for contemporary defence strategies. We continuously adapt our force structure, operating concepts, and operational sustainment to meet evolving challenges and foster collaboration with Allies and partners.

Cultural Evolution: The External Monitor's second report indicates balanced progress in our cultural evolution efforts and is recommended reading. While the StatCan Survey on Sexual Misconduct revealed areas for improvement, the CAF's voluntary transparency underscores our commitment to positive change. We are consolidating our efforts to address external recommendations with an approach focused on making improvements that most directly benefit Defence Team members. Work is also underway across the organization to implement tailored Implementation Plans, nested under the Culture Evolution Strategy. Transformation of the grievance and complaint process has begun, and the services of the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre have been expanded. Across the Defence Team, there is clear dedication to fostering a positive cultural evolution; it remains a strategic imperative to be able to attract and retain talent from all segments of Canadian society if we wish to be relevant into the future.

Operations and Readiness: Despite a high demand for our services and a consistently high operational tempo, your commendable efforts allowed us to make positive impact both at home and around the world. During Op LENTUS, we deployed over two thousand members, providing crucial disaster assistance across six provinces and two territories for 131 consecutives days. Our contributions extended globally through operations like UNIFIER and REASSURANCE, fostering stability in Europe and fortifying allied posture. Our commitment to a safe and stable Indo-Pacific saw the deployment of three Royal Canadian Navy patrol frigates and two Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 on Operations PROJECTION and NEON. These are only a few examples of the remarkable work that was done at home and elsewhere, in making Canada and the world a safer place.

As we wrap up this year, it is important to recognize the potential impact of global events on you and your families, especially given recent events in the Middle East. These events could easily lead to a sense of divisiveness and polarization within our workplaces and communities. In such trying times, these divergent conversations, if not done with respect and dignity, may cause further individual and collective harm and jeopardize our sense of belonging. We encourage everyone to embrace understanding, compassion, respect, and dignity during this challenging time for many. Remember, we are all on the same team and no one is alone.

In conclusion, despite resource shortfalls and increased demand, our commitment stands strong. In a world increasingly characterized by cynicism, take the high road and take pride in being part of something bigger than yourselves, of being part of a dedicated Canadian Armed Forces focused on going forth and doing good. As we wish you the best for the holiday season, be proud of your contributions and your identity. The country relies on your commitment and military professionalism, and together we will navigate future challenges with strength and unity, to defend Canada and Canadian interests.

As you relax this holiday season, feel proud of your contributions and those of the team – we certainly are. And rest assured that what you have accomplished in 2023 stands as a beacon of hope for Canadians and many around the world.

General Wayne D. Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff

Chief Warrant Officer Bob McCann, CAF Chief Warrant Officer


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