The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) (French: Forces armées canadiennes; FAC), or Canadian Forces (CF) (French: les Forces canadiennes; FC.), is the unified armed force of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."
This unified institution consists of sea, land and air elements referred to as the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Personnel may belong to either the Regular Force or the Reserve Force, which has four sub-components: the Primary Reserve, Supplementary Reserve, Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service, and the Canadian Rangers. Under the National Defence Act, the Canadian Armed Forces are an entity separate and distinct from the Department of National Defence (the federal government department responsible for administration and formation of defence policy), which also exists as the civilian support system for the Forces.
The Canadian Armed Forces is managed by the Armed Forces Council, chaired by the Chief of the Defence Staff. The Commander-in-Chief is the reigning Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the Governor General of Canada.
Since the Second World War, Canadian defence policy has consistently stressed three overarching objectives:
- The defence of Canada itself;
- The defence of North America in cooperation with US forces;
- Contributing to broader international security.
During the Cold War, a principal focus of Canadian defence policy was contributing to the security of Europe in the face of the Soviet military threat. Toward that end, Canadian ground and air forces were based in Europe from the early 1950s until the early 1990s.
However, since the end of the Cold War, as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has moved much of its defence focus "out of area", the Canadian military has also become more deeply engaged in international security operations in various other parts of the world – most notably in Afghanistan since 2002.
Canadian defence policy today is based on the Canada First Defence Strategy, introduced in 2006. Based on that strategy, the Canadian military is oriented and being equipped to carry out six core missions within Canada, in North America and globally. Specifically, the Forces are tasked with having the capacity to:
- Conduct daily domestic and continental operations, including in the Arctic and through NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command);
- Support a major international event in Canada, such as the 2010 Winter Olympics;
- Respond to a major terrorist attack;
- Support civilian authorities during a crisis in Canada such as a natural disaster;
- Lead and/or conduct a major international operation for an extended period; and
- Deploy forces in response to crises elsewhere in the world for shorter periods.
Consistent with the missions and priorities outlined above, the Canadian Forces also contribute to the conduct of Canadian defence diplomacy through a range of activities, including the deployment of Canadian Defence Attachés, participation in bilateral and multilateral military forums (e.g. the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces), ship and aircraft visits, military training and cooperation, and other such outreach and relationship-building efforts.
Origins and establishmentEdit
Prior to Confederation in 1867, residents of the colonies in what is now Canada served as regular members of French and British forces and in local militia groups. The latter aided in the defence of their respective territories against attacks by other European powers, Aboriginal peoples, and later American forces during the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812, as well as in the Fenian raids, Red River Rebellion, and North-West Rebellion. Consequently, the lineages of some Canadian army units stretch back to the early 19th century, when militia units were formed to assist in the defence of British North America against invasion by the United States.
The responsibility for military command remained with the British Crown-in-Council, with a commander-in-chief for North America stationed at Halifax until the final withdrawal of British Army and Royal Navy units from that city in 1906. Thereafter, the Royal Canadian Navy was formed, and, with the advent of military aviation, the Royal Canadian Air Force. These forces were organised under the Department of Militia and Defence, and split into the Permanent and Non-Permanent Active Militias—frequently shortened to simply The Militia. By 1923, the department was merged into the Department of National Defence, but land forces in Canada were not referred to as the Canadian Army until November 1940.
The first overseas deployment of Canadian military forces occurred during the Second Boer War, when several units were raised to serve under British command. Similarly, when the United Kingdom entered into conflict with Germany in the First World War, Canadian troops were called to participate in European theatres. The Canadian Crown-in-Council then decided to send its forces into the Second World War, as well as the Korean War.
Since 1947, Canadian military units have participated in more than 200 operations worldwide, and completed 72 international operations. Canadian soldiers, sailors, and aviators came to be considered world-class professionals through conspicuous service during these conflicts and the country's integral participation in NATO during the Cold War, First Gulf War, Kosovo War, and in United Nations Peacekeeping operations, such as the Suez Crisis, Golan Heights, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Libya. Canada maintained an aircraft carrier from 1957 to 1970 during the Cold War, which never saw combat but participated in patrols during the Cuban Missile Crisis
Battles which are particularly notable to the Canadian military include the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Dieppe Raid, the Battle of Ortona, the Battle of Passchendaele, the Normandy Landings, the Battle for Caen, the Battle of the Scheldt, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, the strategic bombing of German cities, and more recently the Battle of Medak Pocket, in Croatia.
At the end of the Second World War, Canada possessed the third-largest navy and fourth-largest air force in the world, as well as the largest volunteer army ever fielded. Conscription for overseas service was introduced only near the end of the war, and only 2,400 conscripts actually made it into battle.
The current iteration of the Canadian Armed Forces dates from 1 February 1968, when the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force were merged into a unified structure and superseded by elemental commands. Its roots, however, lie in colonial militia groups that served alongside garrisons of the French and British armies and navies; a structure that remained in place until the early 20th century. Thereafter, a distinctly Canadian army and navy was established, followed by an air force, that, because of the constitutional arrangements at the time, remained effectively under the control of the British government until Canada gained legislative independence from the United Kingdom in 1931, in part due to the distinguished achievement and sacrifice of the Canadian Corps in the First World War.
After the 1980s, the use of Canadian Armed Forces gave way to Canadian Forces; Canadian Armed Forces returned to use in the 2010s.
Land Forces during this period also deployed in support of peacekeeping operations within United Nations sanctioned conflicts. The nature of the Canadian Forces has continued to evolve. They have been deployed in Afghanistan until 2011, under the NATO-led United Nations International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), at the request of the Government of Afghanistan.
The forces are today funded by approximately $20.1 billion annually and are presently ranked 74th in size compared to the world's other armed forces by number of total personnel, and 58th in terms of active personnel, standing at a strength of roughly 68,000, plus 27,000 reservists, 5000 Rangers, and 19,000 supplementary reserves, bringing the total force to approximately 119,000. The number of primary reserve personnel is expected to go up to 30,000 by 2020, and the number of active to at least 70,000. In addition, 5000 rangers and 19,000 supplementary personnel will be serving. If this happens the total strength would be around 124,000. These individuals serve on numerous CF bases located in all regions of the country, and are governed by the Queen's Regulations and Orders and the National Defence Act.
In 2008 the Government of Canada made efforts, through the Canada First Defence Strategy, to modernize the Canadian Forces, through the purchase of new equipment, improved training and readiness, as well as the establishment of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment. More funds were also put towards recruitment, which had been dwindling throughout the 1980s and '90s, possibly because the Canadian populace had come to perceive the CF as peacekeepers rather than as soldiers, as shown in a 2008 survey conducted for the Department of National Defence. The poll found that nearly two thirds of Canadians agreed with the country's participation in the invasion of Afghanistan, and that the military should be stronger, but also that the purpose of the forces should be different, such as more focused on responding to natural disasters. Then CDS, Walter Natynczyk, said later that year that while recruiting has become more successful, the CF was facing a problem with its rate of loss of existing members, which increased between 2006 and 2008 from 6% to 9.2% annually.
The 2006 renewal and re-equipment effort has resulted in the acquisition of specific equipment (main battle tanks, artillery, unmanned air vehicles and other systems) to support the mission in Afghanistan. It has also encompassed initiatives to renew certain so-called "core capabilities" (such as the air force's medium range transport aircraft fleet – the C-130 Hercules – and the army's truck and armoured vehicle fleets). In addition, new systems (such as C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft and CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters) have also been acquired for the Forces. Although the viability of the Canada First Defence Strategy continues to suffer setbacks from challenging and evolving fiscal and other factors, it originally aimed to:
- Increase the number of military personnel to 70,000 Regular Forces and 30,000 primary Reserve Forces;
- Replace the Royal Canadian Navy's current auxiliary oiler ships with 2–3 new vessels under the Joint Support Ship Project;
- Build 15 warships to replace existing destroyers and frigates under the Single Class Surface Combatant Project;
- Acquire new Arctic patrol vessels under the Arctic Patrol Ship Project;
- Replace the current maritime patrol aircraft with 10 to 12 new patrol aircraft;
- Strengthen readiness and operational capabilities; and,
- Improve and modernize defence infrastructure.
The following is the hierarchy of the Canadian Forces. It begins at the top with the most senior-ranking personnel and works its way into lower organizations.
|Commander-in-Chief||Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General David Johnston|
|Level Zero Organization (L0)||Chief of the Defence Staff|
|Level One Organizations (L1s)||Vice Chief of the Defence Staff||Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy||Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force||Commander of the Canadian Army||Chief of Military Personnel||Commander of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command||Commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command||Commander of the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command|
|Level Two Organizations (L2s)|
|Level Three Organizations (L3s)|
The Canadian constitution determines that the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces is the country's sovereign, who, since 1904, has authorized his or her viceroy, the governor general, to exercise the duties ascribed to the post of Commander-in-Chief and to hold the associated title since 1905. All troop deployment and disposition orders, including declarations of war, fall within the royal prerogative and are issued as Orders in Council, which must be signed by either the monarch or governor general. Under the Westminster system's parliamentary customs and practices, however, the monarch and viceroy must generally follow the advice of his or her ministers in Cabinet, including the prime minister and minister of national defence, who are accountable to the elected House of Commons.
The Forces' 115,349 personnel are divided into a hierarchy of numerous ranks of officers and non-commissioned members. The governor general appoints, on the advice of the prime minister, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) as the highest ranking commissioned officer in the Forces and who, as head of the Armed Forces Council, is in command of the Canadian Forces. The Armed Forces Council generally operates from National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa, Ontario. On the Armed Forces Council sit the heads of Canadian Joint Operations Command and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, and the heads of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force and other key Level 1 organizations. The sovereign and most other members of the Canadian Royal Family also act as colonels-in-chief, honorary air commodores, air commodores-in-chief, admirals, and captains-general of Canadian Forces units, though these positions are ceremonial.
Canada's forces operate out of 27 Canadian Forces bases (CFB) across the country, including NDHQ. This number has been gradually reduced since the 1970s with bases either being closed or merged. Both officers and non-commissioned members receive their basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Officers will generally either directly enter the Canadian Forces with a degree from a civilian university, or receive their commission upon graduation from the Royal Military College of Canada. Specific element and trade training is conducted at a variety of institutions throughout Canada, and to a lesser extent, the world.
The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), headed by the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, includes 33 warships and submarines deployed in two fleets: Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) at CFB Esquimalt on the west coast, and Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) at Her Majesty's Canadian Dockyard in Halifax on the east coast, as well as one formation: the Naval Reserve Headquarters (NAVRESHQ) at Quebec City, Quebec. The fleet is augmented by various aircraft and supply vessels. The RCN participates in NATO exercises and operations, and ships are deployed all over the world in support of multinational deployments.
The Canadian Army is headed by the Commander of the Canadian Army and administered through five Divisions—the 1st Canadian Division, the 2nd Canadian Division, the 3rd Canadian Division, the 4th Canadian Division and the 5th Canadian Division—the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training System and the Canadian Army Headquarters.
Currently, the Regular Force component of the Army consists of three field-ready brigade groups: 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, at CFB Edmonton and CFB Shilo; 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, at CFB Petawawa and CFB Gagetown; and 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, at CFB Valcartier and Quebec City. Each contains one regiment each of artillery, armour, and combat engineers, three battalions of infantry (all scaled in the British fashion), one battalion for logistics, a squadron for headquarters/signals, and several smaller support organizations. A tactical helicopter squadron and a field ambulance are co-located with each brigade, but do not form part of the brigade's command structure.
The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions each has a Regular Force brigade group, and each division except the 1st has two to three Reserve Force brigades groups. In total, there are ten Reserve Force brigade groups. The 5th Canadian Division and the 2nd Canadian Division each have two Reserve Force brigade groups, while the 4th Canadian Division and the 3rd Canadian Division each have three Reserve Force brigade groups. Major training and support establishments exist at CFB Gagetown, CFB Montreal and CFB Wainwright.
Royal Canadian Air ForceEdit
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is headed by the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The commander of 1 Canadian Air Division and Canadian NORAD Region, based in Winnipeg, is responsible for the operational command and control of Air Force activities throughout Canada and worldwide. 1 Canadian Air Division operations are carried out through eleven wings located across Canada. The commander of 2 Canadian Air Division is responsible for training and support functions. 2 Canadian Air Division operations are carried out at two wings. Wings represent the grouping of various squadrons, both operational and support, under a single tactical commander reporting to the operational commander and vary in size from several hundred personnel to several thousand.
Major air bases are located in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, while administrative and command and control facilities are located in Winnipeg and North Bay. A Canadian component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning Force is also based at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen near Geilenkirchen, Germany.
The RCAF and Joint Task Force (North) (JTFN) also maintain at various points throughout Canada's northern region a chain of forward operating locations, each capable of supporting fighter operations. Elements of CF-18 squadrons periodically deploy to these airports for short training exercises or Arctic sovereignty patrols.
Canadian Joint Operations CommandEdit
The Canadian Joint Operations Command is an operational element established in October 2012 with the merger of Canada Command, the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command and the Canadian Operational Support Command. The new command, created as a response to the cost-cutting measures in the 2012 federal budget, combines the resources, roles and responsibilities of the three former commands under a single headquarters.
Special Operations Forces CommandEdit
The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) is a formation capable of operating independently but primarily focused on generating special operations forces (SOF) elements to support CJOC. The command includes Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2), the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU) based at CFB Trenton, as well as the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) and 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (SOAS) based at CFB Petawawa.
Information Management GroupEdit
Among other things, the Information Management Group is responsible for the conduct of electronic warfare and the protection of the Forces' communications and computer networks. Within the group, this operational role is fulfilled by the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group, headquartered at CFS Leitrim in Ottawa, which operates the following units: the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group Headquarters (CFIOGHQ), the Canadian Forces Electronic Warfare Centre (CFEWC), the Canadian Forces Network Operation Centre (CFNOC), the Canadian Forces Signals Intelligence Operations Centre (CFSOC), the Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Leitrim, and the 764 Communications Squadron. In June 2011 the Canadian Forces Chief of Force Development announced the establishment of a new organization, the Directorate of Cybernetics, headed by a Brigadier General, the Director General Cyber (DG Cyber). Within that directorate the newly established CF Cyber Task Force, has been tasked to design and build cyber warfare capabilities for the Canadian Forces.
Canadian Forces Health Services GroupEdit
The Health Services Group is a joint formation that includes over 120 general or specialized units and detachments providing health services to the Canadian Forces. With few exceptions, all elements are under command of the Surgeon General for domestic support and force generation, or temporarily assigned under command of a deployed Joint Task Force through Canadian Joint Operations Command.
Canadian Forces Reserve ForceEdit
The Canadian Forces have a total reserve force of approximately 50,000 primary and supplementary that can be called upon in times of national emergency or threat. For the components and sub-components of the Canadian Forces Reserve Force, the order of precedence follows:
- (1) Primary Reserve,
- (2) Supplementary Reserve Prior to 2002 this consisted of:
- (a) Supplementary Ready Reserve, and
- (b) Supplementary Holding Reserve,
after 2002 there is no sub division of the Supplementary Reserve.
- (3) Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service, and
- (4) Canadian Rangers.
Approximately 26,000 citizen soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women, trained to the level of and interchangeable with their Regular Force counterparts, and posted to CF operations or duties on a casual or ongoing basis, make up the Primary Reserve. This group is represented, though not commanded, at NDHQ by the Chief of Reserves and Cadets, who is usually a major general or rear admiral, and is divided into four components that are each operationally and administratively responsible to its corresponding environmental command in the Regular Force – the Naval Reserve (NAVRES), Land Force Reserve (LFR), and Air Reserve (AIRRES) – in addition to one force that does not fall under an environmental command, the Health Services Reserve under the Canadian Forces Health Services Group.
Cadet Organizations Administration and Training ServiceEdit
The Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (COATS) consists of officers and non-commissioned members who conduct training, safety, supervision and administration of nearly 60,000 cadets aged 12 to 18 years in the Canadian Cadet Movement. The majority of members in COATS are officers of the Cadet Instructors Cadre branch of the CF. Members of the Reserve Force Sub-Component COATS who are not employed part-time (Class A) or full-time (Class B) may be held on the COATS "Inactive List" in anticipation of employment in the same manner as other reservists are held as members of the Supplementary Reserve.
The Canadian Rangers, who provide surveillance and patrol services in Canada's arctic and other remote areas, are an essential reserve force component used for Canada's exercise of sovereignty over its northern territory.
Although the Canadian Forces are a single service, there are three similar but distinctive environmental uniforms (DEUs): navy blue (which is actually black) for the navy, rifle green for the army, and light blue for the air force. CF members in operational occupations generally wear the DEU to which their occupation "belongs." CF members in non-operational occupations (the "purple" trades) are allocated a uniform according to the "distribution" of their branch within the CF, association of the branch with one of the former services, and the individual's initial preference. Therefore, on any given day, in any given CF unit, all three coloured uniforms may be seen.
The uniforms of the CF are sub-divided into five orders of dress:
- Ceremonial dress, including regimental full dress, patrol dress, naval "high-collar" whites, and service dress uniforms with ceremonial accoutrements such as swords, white web belts, gloves, etc.;
- Mess dress, which ranges from full mess kit with mess jacket, cummerbund, or waistcoat, etc., to service dress with bow tie;
- Service dress, also called a walking-out or duty uniform, is the military equivalent of the business suit, with an optional white summer uniform for naval CF members;
- Operational dress, an originally specialized uniform for wear in an operational environment, now for everyday wear on base or in garrison; and
- Occupational dress, which is specialized uniform articles for particular occupations (e.g., medical / dental).
Only service dress is suitable for CF members to wear on any occasion, barring "dirty work" or combat. With gloves, swords, and medals (No. 1 or 1A), it is suitable for ceremonial occasions and "dressed down" (No. 3 or lower), it is suitable for daily wear. Generally, after the elimination of base dress (although still defined for the Air Force uniform), operational dress is now the daily uniform worn by most members of the CF, unless service dress is prescribed (such as at the NDHQ, on parades, at public events, etc.). Approved parkas are authorized for winter wear in cold climates and a light casual jacket is also authorized for cooler days. The navy, most army, and some other units have, for very specific occasions, a ceremonial/regimental full dress, such as the naval "high-collar" white uniform, kilted Highland, Scottish, and Irish regiments, and the scarlet uniforms of the Royal Military Colleges.
Authorized headdress for the Canadian Forces are the: beret, wedge cap, ballcap, Yukon cap, and tuque (toque). Each is coloured according to the distinctive uniform worn: navy (white or navy blue), army (rifle green or "regimental" colour), air force (light blue). Adherents of the Sikh faith may wear uniform turbans (dastar) (or patka, when operational) and Muslim women may wear uniform tucked hijabs under their authorized headdress. Jews may wear yarmulke under their authorized headdress and when bareheaded. The beret is probably the most widely worn headgear and is worn with almost all orders of dress (with the exception of the more formal orders of Navy and Air Force dress), and the colour of which is determined by the wearer's environment, branch, or mission. Naval personnel, however, seldom wear berets, preferring either service cap or authorized ballcaps (shipboard operational dress), which only the Navy wear. Air Force personnel, particularly officers, prefer the wedge cap to any other form of headdress. There is no naval variant of the wedge cap. The Yukon cap and tuque are worn only with winter dress, although clearance and combat divers may wear tuques year-round as a watch cap. Soldiers in Highland, Scottish, and Irish regiments generally wear alternative headdress, including the glengarry, balmoral, tam o'shanter, and caubeen instead of the beret. The officer cadets of both Royal Military Colleges wear gold-braided "pillbox" (cavalry) caps with their ceremonial dress and have a unique fur "Astrakhan" for winter wear. The Canadian Army wears the CG634 helmet.
The Constitution of Canada gives the federal government exclusive responsibility for national defence, and expenditures are thus outlined in the federal budget. For the 2008–2009 fiscal year, the amount allocated for defence spending was CAD$18.9 billion. This regular funding was augmented in 2005 with an additional CAD$12.5 billion over five years, as well as a commitment to increasing regular force troop levels by 5,000 persons, and the primary reserve by 3,000 over the same period. In 2006, a further CAD$5.3 billion over five years was provided to allow for 13,000 more regular force members, and 10,000 more primary reserve personnel, as well as CAD$17.1 billion for the purchase of new trucks for the Canadian Army, transport aircraft and helicopters for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and joint support ships for the Royal Canadian Navy.
- Authorized marches of the Canadian Forces
- Canada First Defence Strategy
- Canadian Cadet Organizations
- Canadian Coast Guard
- Canadian Forces order of precedence
- Canadian Forces Radio and Television
- Code of Service Discipline
- Planned Canadian Forces projects
- List of Canadian military operations
- List of conflicts in Canada
- List of infantry weapons and equipment of the Canadian military
- Defence diplomacy
- North Warning System
- Communications Security Establishment Canada
- Upholder/Victoria-class submarine
- List of Canadian military occupations
- Persons 17 years of age, with parental permission, can join the Canadian Forces.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Canadian Armed Forces.|
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- Official website of the Canadian Armed Forces
- Official website of the Canadian Army
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- Combat Camera – Official CF photo website (Note: image licencing is not compatible with Wikipedia licences)