Monday, May 12, 2008


Mark already brought your attention to it in this post, with great excerpts, but I really want to encourage you to read the Legion Magazine piece by Adam Day on Rick Hillier. Day does a wonderful job letting the general's words stand on their own, including this handwritten diagram (click to view a larger version)...

I was particularly happy to hear General Hillier mention the training block that is currently the CF's biggest barrier to growth:

Meanwhile, back in Canada, the CF is in a different struggle. After being repeatedly reduced in size and restricted in equipment purchases in the period following the end of the Cold War, it is now in the position of growing slightly faster than it can manage. “We went down so low in numbers; I actually think we went below critical mass,” explains Hillier. “In a country this big, with this number of bases and stations, with this number of tasks in Canada, this number of tasks in North America with Norad and this number of missions outside…we were below critical mass.”

And while the forces are growing rapidly, the main problem Hillier faces is training the recruits fast enough. In addition, he says there are so many procurement programs going on that they too are moving a little too fast to handle. “We’ve got more equipment programs ongoing right now than we can actually manage at one time,” he explains, “and as a result we are prioritizing and sliding some to the right. For example, we would have liked to have been at fixed wing Search and Rescue two years ago, but it just wasn’t possible with all that we’re doing, but now in the not distant future we’ll get back to that one and get that one moving….”

I've spoken with two senior officers in the past few weeks, both of whom have some experience putting people through the recruitment-training-employment-retention pipeline, and both mentioned the training bottleneck as a significant problem. When we can recruit motivated and talented people into the CF, but then lose them to voluntary withdrawal after they spend a year in a PAT (Personnel Awaiting Training) platoon painting rocks white in Borden, or picking up garbage in St. Jean, or making coffee in Halifax, we're doing something wrong. Not just because we lost those recruits, mind you, but because each of those recruits has friends and family whose opinion of the CF as a profession will be tainted by their one recruit's poor experience.

Anyhow, the article touches upon a whole host of issues, including Hillier's "Four Lessons of Counter-Insurgency Warfare," and other gems. Like I said, do yourself a favour and read the whole thing.

Update: Oh, and for those who need a laugh on this overcast Monday, remember: Rick Hillier makes Chuck Norris look like a baby when it comes to fighting. No, really - Rick came over to Chuck's place last week and made him dress up in a diaper and bonnet with a soother in his mouth. And Chuck thanked him for it, right before paying Rick 105% of the earnings Chuck had made from movies based loosely on 1/10th of what Rick Hillier could do.

Totally true story.


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