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Canadian Armed Forces Fall Short of Target Strength by 26%: Report

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is currently operating at 26 percent below target readiness levels, as stated in a Department of National Defence briefing note.

The CAF can only recruit an average of 7,600 new members annually, with the current force strength standing at 63,000 individuals—significantly lower than the desired number of 71,500, according to the note released in December and obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter. Out of the 63,000 members currently enlisted, only 52,707 are fully trained, as highlighted in the document.

A report titled “Evaluation Of Ready Air And Space Forces,” published in March of 2023, raised concerns about recruitment within the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), noting that “the RCAF is facing a personnel crisis related to both recruitment and retention.”

Another significant challenge for the CAF has been the increasing attrition rates, making it difficult to retain soldiers and personnel.

To address the personnel crisis, the CAF has recently modified its regulations to allow the recruitment of immigrants with permanent residency status. This program, previously promoted by Ottawa as a means for immigrants to accelerate their path to Canadian citizenship, aims to bolster the military with skilled and trained individuals opting for a career in uniform.

Former Defence Minister Anita Anand stated in 2022, “Enrolling permanent residents will assist us in expanding our military with capable, well-prepared personnel who choose a profession in the armed forces.”

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According to a recent briefing note made public this year, only 77 applicants out of 21,472 permanent residents who applied to join the CAF have successfully enlisted.

The note mentioned that enlisting permanent residents was more challenging due to the longer security clearance validation process compared to Canadian citizens.

Defence Minister Bill Blair expressed concerns last month about the recruitment crisis, stating, “More individuals have left than entered in the past three years.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a substantial increase in spending for the CAF, disclosing plans to invest $73 billion in the CAF over the next two decades as part of the upcoming federal budget.

When questioned by journalists about recruitment challenges, Mr. Trudeau attributed the decline in applications to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Minister Blair mentioned that the government was exploring digital strategies to enhance efficiency and enable quicker enlistment in the military.

As part of the military spending announcement, Mr. Trudeau also outlined Canada’s new defence strategy titled “Our North, Strong and Free: A Renewed Vision for Canada’s Defence,” highlighting the CAF’s plans to revamp and modernize its recruitment tactics by simplifying security clearance procedures and reassessing medical prerequisites.

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