ARMY RESERVE TRAINING TAKES BRUNT OF DND FISCAL “ADJUSTMENTS”
By David Pugliese
The Army, Navy and Air Force are all facing budget “adjustments” that have to be made by the end of March but the extent of the impact appears to be felt the hardest on the Army reserves.
“The main thing for the Reserves is that training has stopped,” said one Defence Watch reader in the reserves recently noted. “We can’t train any new recruits, drivers, signallers, junior NCOs, nothing.”
The navy will cut some training for its reserve forces in January and reduce infrastructure maintenance and repairs while the air force will scale back on non-operational training, cut some of its flying time as well as scale back non-essential repairs.
The army is cutting some training and reducing the number of reserve soldiers who are employed full-time as Class B reservists.
The air force is required to “adjust” $59 million of its budget while the navy has $52 million in adjustments to make, according to the Canadian Forces. The army’s portion of the adjustments is $80 million. The money is being redirected to priority areas, according to DND.
The air force’s adjustments represent seven percent of its annual budget; the navy’s is six per cent. The army’s share is five per cent of its budget.
“We’re moving around about $80 million to support higher CF priorities this fiscal year,” Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Jay Janzen told Defence Watch. “Of that about $2 million have been assigned to full-time reserve budgets.”
“But local commanders may decide to make further reductions in that area,” he added.
Officially, the unit budgets have only been cut by 10 per cent, some reservists told Defence Watch. There are still parade nights, and possibly a weekend exercise or two. “But the meat and potatoes of our training cycle is gone and there is no information whatsoever,” said one reservist.
At 31 Canadian Brigade Group in Southwestern Ontario, the budget has been cut by about 16 per cent. That works out to about $2.5 million on its $18.2-million budget, according to news reports. The brigade also cut 25 full-time jobs.
Reservists report how the cuts have affected their units:
— Ongoing courses including the BMQ (recruit course) and PLQ (junior leadership course) were shut down at the last minute even though they were ongoing.
— Emails came in from Army in the morning to “cease training” immediately and reservists were phoned at home to inform them not to show up for pre-scheduled training that night.
–There is little information provided for units about the way ahead. More is expected in April when the government announces its budget.
-Until the BMQ courses are complete, other training (SQ, DP1, etc…) cannot be done so everything else gets backlogged.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay has remained silent on the cuts. However, Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate, has said she read about the cuts in the newspaper and that every effort was being made to ensure that reservists are prepared for any operational activity.
The Harper government, she noted, is committed to treating the reservists reasonably so that they remain fully operational.
But when asked about the reserve cuts in December by Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, LeBreton originally denied that such a thing had happened.
For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at: