Skip to main content Start of content
EVIDENCE

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Tuesday, October 29, 1996

.1600

[Translation]

The Chairman: Order, please.

Good afternoon everyone.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(d), the Standing Committee on Public Accounts is meeting to consider Chapter 7 of the Report of the Auditor General of Canada that was tabled on May 7, 1996. This chapter is entitled, ``Peacekeeping - National Defence''.

.1605

I apologize to the witnesses for the late start. As parliamentarians, we have legislative responsibilities, and so we had a number of votes. We are going to try to ensure that the meeting moves along quickly.

Some people indicated that they had other commitments. I will start with the Deputy Minister, Ms Fréchette. Could you and the five witnesses introduce yourselves and go ahead with your presentations.

Ms Louise Fréchette (Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence): My name is Louise Fréchette, and I am the Deputy Minister at National Defence.

[English]

Vice-Admiral Larry E. Murray (Acting Chief of Defence Staff, Department of National Defence): Larry Murray, vice-chief of defence staff and acting chief of defence staff at the moment.

[Translation]

Lieutenant-General Armand Roy (Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Department of National Defence): Armand Roy, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff.

[English]

Mr. David Rattray (Assistant Auditor General, Office of the Auditor General of Canada): David Rattray, assistant auditor general.

Mr. Peter Kasurak (Principal, Defence, Office of the Auditor General of Canada): Peter Kasurak, principal with the defence team.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Thank you, Ms Fréchette. Thank you, gentlemen.

We will proceed in the order that is shown here. The Office of the Auditor General will give its presentation, followed by officials from the Department of National Defence.

Mr. Rattray: Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to appear before this committee to discuss our May 1996 chapter on the management of peacekeeping by the Department of National Defence. This chapter represents the conclusion of a cycle of audits of National Defence that began in 1992 and includes most of the major support functions of the Department. The peacekeeping audit attempted to bring the management of these functions together and examine how they related to operations.

The 1994 White Paper on Defence Policy provided the essential framework for our audit. In the White Paper, the government gave the department the task of providing effective, realistic and affordable defence services to meet national objectives and international commitments, including peacekeeping. The White Paper set high standards for the Canadian Forces saying that, ``Canada needs armed forces that are able to fight 'alongside the best, against the best' ''. This challenge has increased because of budget reductions and a fluid international environment.

[English]

The overall objective of our audit was to assess the quality of management practices rather than to assess military judgments or achievements. Nevertheless, during the course of our audit we noted that Canadian peacekeepers are highly regarded by their foreign colleagues. The five operations included in our audit - Somalia, Angola, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Haiti - have been distinguished by humantarian acts and acts of personal bravery.

Peacekeeping operations are only one of many tasks assigned to the Canadian Forces. Our findings can be used as a lense through which to view the Canadian Forces overall, especially the land force. While findings cannot be extrapolated directly to other tasks, they often do provide insight into the military capability for which Parliament votes $10 billion a year to maintain.

Our audit raised important questions as to the readiness levels the forces can reach and the extent to which they can fulfil the requirements of the white paper.

Our opening statement will focus on two major areas presented in the chapter - operational deficiencies and supply management. I'll ask Mr. Peter Kasurak, the principal who directed the audit, to comment on our findings.

Mr. Kasurak: Our audit discovered several operational deficiencies that we believe are worthy of Parliament's attention. These are collective training, reserve training standards, medical support and equipment.

The most important operational deficiency identified by our audit was land force collective training. Armies must train in large groups to become effective. However, by mid-1994 land force command was experiencing what was called a ``collective training crisis''. Combined arms training at the battle group level and above had come to a virtual standstill since 1992, and leaders were beginning to rotate to their commands without having exercised their unit or formation.

.1610

The major brigade exercise, Rendez-vous '95, was cancelled, replaced by a reduced exercise named Venom Strike. Even the goals set for Venom Strike were not reached. The Operation Cobra relief force, being trained to support a possible withdrawal from Yugoslavia, was judged by the land force commander to be 14 days away from the standard at the end of the exercise, even at the most optimistic interpretation of readiness.

The post-exercise report noted that one of two battle groups had arrived at the exercise without having completed the entry standards. This was in spite of being allowed 72 days for assembly and preparation rather than the 29 days allowed in operational plans. The exercise was the single highest priority training event of 1995.

We also noted that out of 130 exercises sampled, we could only find evidence that 46 took place. Exercise completion rates for battalion and regiment-sized units were less than 20%. The department's readiness reporting system attributed the problem to budget cuts and peacekeeping deployments.

The deficiency of collective training is perhaps the single most important finding of our audit. An army that does not meet training objectives can become a hollow force, filled with the correct numbers of personnel and equipment but still unable to fulfil its mission.

The department responded to this observation by saying that the increase in the size of the field force approved in the white paper will improve the land force's ability to conduct collective training. However, at the time of our audit we found there had been little actual increase in the size of the field force.

We hope this committee will give some priority to consideration of the department's response to this deficiency.

Reserves training standards was the second area of operational deficiencies we found. In 1992 we reported that retention difficulties and problems in setting and maintaining standards had resulted in severe training deficiencies. These deficiencies were still present up to 1995.

Although the militia had an effective strength of 18,300 at the time of our audit and was expected to contribute up to 700 soldiers at a time to peacekeeping operations, it often could not do so. Moreover, on land force troop rotations in 1994 and 1995, about 20% of militia personnel selected for peacekeeping missions were unable to pass selection training at the lowest level of required individual skills.

Senior staff at land force area and brigade headquarters informed us that enormous effort was required to generate and train the required number of militia soldiers. They told us there was a lack of leadership skills among the militia and there was still a requirement for additional supervision in theatre - that is, where the peacekeeping operation is taking place - for some ranks and trades.

Although the department has recently recommitted itself to improvements in its response to the report of the minister's commission on the reserves, this is a long-standing problem and will require continued effort and attention to resolve.

We found no instances where medical support to an actual mission had been inadequate. However, the total medical support available for the entire deployable force called for in the white paper is below the estimated requirement. Canadian Forces planners estimate that 340 hospital beds would be required to support the land force. However, medical planners were instructed by the department to limit planning to 200 beds for sea, land and air forces. While officials told us they were willling to accept the associated risk, once navy and air force needs were taken care of this would mean that should a peacekeeping operation turn into a mid-intensity operation, the Canadian Forces would have to improvise 240 beds for the land force if no spare capacity was available from allies.

I would note, Mr. Chairman, that the department responded to our observation by saying it would further investigate the implications of the additional resources needed to provide a 340-bed capacity.

.1615

[Translation]

We also found a range of equipment deficiencies. The Canadian Forces determined in 1995 that long-standing equipment deficiencies no longer allowed troops to perform missions within an acceptable level of risk. The principal deficiency is in armoured vehicles and protection against direct fire weapons. Canadian peacekeepers can find themselves under fire from 14.5 millimetre heavy machine guns and even tank and heavy mortar fire. At the time of our audit, one currently employed vehicle - the M113 armoured personnel carrier - was particularly deficient even when recent armour upgrades were taken into account. Officials told us that military officers have been able to manage the risk so far and on review of casualty reports we found no direct attribution of death or injuries to these vehicles.

[English]

In response to our observation, the department said it would ensure the government would receive risk assessments regarding further use of the these vehicles.

Finally, I would like to refer to our findings regarding supply management. Peacekeeping operations require the deployment of a large amount of equipment and materiel. During the period from 1990 to 1995 about $800 million in assets was deployed overseas. At the time of the audit over $300 million in forces' assets was still on the books as being overseas in theatre.

Controlling and accounting for these assets is a challenge. Previous audits have commented that the Canadian Forces supply system has significant limitations that make inventory control difficult. The department has been working on replacing this system since at least 1982.

Our system found that some important controls in the supply system had broken down. There had been $80 million in downward stock adjustments. When we requested the documentation to justify adjustments, the department at the time of our audit could not find much of it and losses and adjustments remained largely unexplained.

We concluded that the department has failed to provide adequate control over supplies and equipment sent on peacekeeping operations. Assets are therefore at considerable risk.

Your committee may wish to ask the department how and when it will reduce its inventory control problems.

[Translation]

Mr. Chairman, that concludes our opening statement. We would now be pleased to respond to questions from the committee.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Ms Fréchette.

Ms Fréchette: I'd like to thank the committee for inviting to appear to comment on the recent Auditor General's Report on Peacekeeping.

Many of the observations in the report relate specifically to the Canadian Forces and Vice-Admiral Murray will address these shortly. Before he does, I would like to make a few points.

First, DND has carried out the peacekeeping function in close collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. As the Auditor General's report says, the co-operation between our two departments in this area is excellent.

Secondly, the time frame which the Auditor General's report covers, namely 1991 to 1995, coincides with the period of highest intensity ever for Canadian peacekeeping operations. During the peak period there were more than 4000 troops deployed simultaneously. This situation put unusual pressure on the Department, including on our management system.

Today, the pace is more measured. Currently, 2070 personnel are participating in 14 peacekeeping and related operations throughout the world. There are currently only two major operations - in Bosnia, with about 1000 personnel, and in Haiti, with 750. Canada is also contributing about 190 personnel to the UN mission on the Golan Heights. Other missions involve very modest contributions from Canada, ranging from one person in Macedonia, for example, to 28 with the Multinational Force and Observers in Egypt.

.1620

Third, the new international environment calls for complex, multidisciplinary peacekeeping operations that combine a wide variety of functions, both civil and military. These include the provision of humanitarian assistance in conjunction with the non-governmental community; human rights and election monitoring; civil administration; the reconstruction of basic economic and social infrastructure; police training and assistance; judicial functions; and a host of other roles that have rarely been carried out in the past. All these changes have had an impact not only on the way we conduct peace operations, but also on how we manage peacekeeping resources.

Fourth, there have been many lessons learned in peacekeeping in the past few years. In particular, the more complex and often more dangerous nature of today's missions has underlined the importance of matching mandate to resources, as well as assessing realistically the chances of success. This assessment must take into consideration both the total United Nations force structure and the viability of Canada's specific contribution.

For example, it is on the basis of such assessment that Canada decided last winter to withdraw its contingent from Rwanda, and to insist, last June, that 1300 troops was the minimum required for a successful mission in Haiti even though the United Nations covered only 600.

[English]

My fifth point concerns the statement in the Auditor General's report that certain weaknesses exist with respect to the control of inventory and equipment. Mr. Chairman, we have taken steps to improve in these areas. For instance, a UN logistics course and a deployed finance operations course are now offered twice a year for personnel deployed to UN missions. Many of the personnel who have attended these courses have subsequently been deployed to peacekeeping missions, for example, in the former Yugoslavia and Haiti.

We are continuing our efforts to improve the reimbursement of costs from the United Nations. In this fiscal year, DND had recovered $17.6 million to date. A total of about $85 million remains outstanding.

A Canadian-led project to simplify reimbursement for national contributions to the UN is now being implemented. This initiative provides for a standard rate of reimbursement for personnel and major equipment items. Furthermore, we have recently assigned a public servant from the department to the Canadian mission in New York to work with the UN to help resolve this problem. We expect to recover very shortly some $7.7 million related to the Haiti mission alone.

To conclude, the resources that are invested in peacekeeping are very significant. But there's no doubt that they are well invested. To begin with, we should not forget that peacekeeping has brought real relief to millions of citizens. Even missions that some have criticized and classified as failures have accomplished much good. Lives have been saved and much worse situations have been averted.

Furthermore, Canada's contribution to international peacekeeping is well recognized around the world. Our professional and highly skilled troops have earned us an enviable reputation. The respect we enjoy as a nation because of our peacekeeping accomplishments helps us in the pursuit of our broader objectives internationally.

I will now turn the floor over the Vice-Admiral Murray to address the issues related to the Canadian forces specifically.

VAdm Murray: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I too am pleased to be here today to discuss the Auditor General's report on peacekeeping. The deputy minister has already dealt with a number of the peacekeeping policy and resource issues. Therefore, I will focus my remarks on operational questions.

Given the time available, it would be difficult to deal with each and every item raised in chapter 7 of the Auditor General's report. Instead, I will comment on a few central concerns and expect that there will be an opportunity during the discussion period to cover other issues.

Let me begin with a general observation. The Auditor General's report was reasonably positive about our recent peacekeeping achievements. This is certainly encouraging. I can also tell you that in those areas where the Auditor General raises concerns more often than not the department and the forces agree with the assessment and are taking steps to remedy the problems.

I would also like to re-emphasize a point the deputy minister raised indirectly a few moments ago. In my experience, no Chief of Defence Staff has, nor ever would, advise the government to send our people into an operation without first assessing the risk involved and ensuring that they have been provided with adequate training and equipment.

.1625

Turning now to the report itself, one of the chief concerns raised by the Auditor General relates to gaps in deployment planning for peace operations. This is a problem we recognize and that we are attempting to solve in a number of ways.

[Translation]

First, as the Auditor General noted in his report, we have enhanced our staff planning procedure.

Second, we have instituted a regular system of more frequent staff visits to deployed units. The purpose of these visits is to monitor developments, address any problems, and report all concerns to Headquarters.

Third, we agree that the lessons learned from peace operations should be put into practice sooner. I can only point to the new Army Lessons Learned Centre as an indication of how seriously the Canadian Forces take this issue.

That said, I would emphasize that, in general, we already have a sound decision-making process whereby the Canadian Forces use every means available to assess the feasibility of contributing to peace operations. We know there have been some discrepancies, but we are moving quickly to ensure that these are resolved.

[English]

I would now like to say a few words about force generation, a subject the Auditor General also commented upon. There are several elements to this question, including the adequacy of equipment, additional personnel for the land force, and the use of reserves.

It is difficult to make any definitive, all-encompassing judgment about the adequacy of equipment, particularly in the new environment of highly complex peace operations. I know that some concerns were expressed about the practice of emergency buys and their cost-effectiveness. I share those concerns. However, emergency buys can be a highly appropriate reaction to a sudden or unforeseen need. Once a problem is identified by our troops on the ground, we have a responsibility to provide an adequate temporary solution until a long-term solution can be found.

I might add that the announcement last year of the government's intention to purchase 240 armoured personnel carriers I think does indicate the government is thinking long term. This leads me to another point - the continuing importance of providing the Canadian Armed Forces with an adequate capital program. Funding stability is needed if we are to have a rational capital equipment program over time.

[Translation]

I would also like to mention our White Paper commitment to provide additional personnel to the Land Force. By raising the personnel level of units, we will lessen the need to strengthen units selected for peacekeeping duty with personnel drawn from other Regular Force units. We will also reduce disruptions to collective training and assist in maintaining the readiness of the Land Force.

There are many other issues that deserve attention. Let me briefly mention a few.

First, in terms of training, the Peacekeeping Training review commissioned by the Deputy Chief of the Defence staff has now been completed, and we are aiming to implement new training standards by the end of December 1996.

[English]

A comprehensive study of the Canadian Armed Forces medical services was completed in 1995. As a result, we are now placing more emphasis on the provision of medical support to Canadian Armed Forces' operations.

Over the last few years, the forces have developed the Canadian Armed Forces stress management program. As well, a special committee on stress has been established under the auspices of the chief of health services to coordinate and provide professional guidance on all activities related to deployment stress, critical incident stress, and post-traumatic stress.

Finally, there is the question of reservists and peacekeeping operations. Out of a total force abroad of about 2050 today, approximately 10% are reservists. We are in the process of restructuring the reserves with the aim of enhancing their operational effectiveness as well as improving a number of the personnel policies related to the reserves.

I would be happy to address any of these issues in greater deal with members of the committee.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think we would now all welcome your questions.

.1630

[Translation]

The Chairman: Thank you, Madam, thank you, gentlemen. Before I give the floor toMr. de Savoye for the first ten-minute round, I would like to ask an 80-million-dollar question.

The Auditor General tells us that the value of equipment you received for the peace missions that were studied comes to a total of $822 million. From this total amount, there has been an 80-million-dollar downward adjustment that has not been explained, as well as $13 million worth of losses due to fires, theft, as well as equipment that was left in the field.

In paragraph 7.121, the Auditor General concludes:

The Auditor General tells the department:

He provides some examples. Three hundred sea containers were sent to Somalia without any documentation. Thirty-one jeeps were sent to Haiti, but only 21 arrived, and no one knows why. We're told that it was probably due to a clerical error. Apparently you are able to provide us with an explanation about the two jeeps that were lost at sea, but I would also like to hear an explanation about the 300 containers that were sent without any documentation regarding the contents.

Ms Fréchette, I am disappointed with your presentation, because with all due respect, you actually trivialized the problem. The Auditor General has certainly stressed the entire issue of inventory management, and you just say that you knew that there were weaknesses. You told us that the Department's solution is to give a United Nations logistic course twice a year, and one course on financial issues. That is supposed to solve this entire 80-million-dollar problem.

You know that we members of Parliament, from the three parties, must account for the way taxpayers' dollars are being spent. You know that a significant proportion of the documentation could not be found. Where have these documents gone? People are making assumptions. In any event, I would like to hear your response to this issue.

Ms Fréchette: First of all, Mr. Chairman, I'm sorry if you found that my presentation dealt lightly with a sum of money as large as $80 million. That certainly was not my intention.

In my presentation, I gave you an example. It was merely one example. The Department has taken many other measures, and is currently taking other measures, to ensure closer monitoring of equipment sent out for our peace missions.

First of all, we have carried out an exhaustive review of our procedures and methods, which led to about 50 recommendations being made, some of which have to do with improved training.

The analysis found in the Auditor General's report has lead to the discovery of many problems, problems stemming from procedures not being followed properly. Our procedures are detailed and adequate, but they are not necessarily followed as strictly as they should be in such cases. We mustn't overlook the training aspect of this issue.

One reason for the contradictions is that errors were made when entering supply data; there was confusion in the system, and often peace missions had to deal with several offices in Ottawa.

We have created a unit that is now operating in Montreal. It serves as the single central office for supplies for peacekeeping, thereby ensuring better monitoring between shipment and arrival.

We have also taken measures to improve our computer system. We haven't solved all our problems yet, but an entire program is underway to modernize our computer system. It still isn't satisfactory in that it still does not provide all the services we need to manage and monitor such materiel.

.1635

Sixth, we have instituted a stricter monitoring program for equipment. We have a number of teams that travel to the field to carry out inspections.

You asked me some specific questions about the truck story. It was only a problem with entering data into the computer program. In Canada, at the point of departure, 31 trucks were entered into the computer under an identical code. However, although these trucks were quite similar, they came under two different categories. At the other end, in Haiti, the arrival of the two trucks was recorded with these different codes.

Later, our computer system realized that 31 trucks had been entered under one particular code, when there were only 29. The two trucks were entered a second time, with the additional code. As a result, 33 trucks were entered using that code rather than 31, which created confusion at the other end. Our expert in these matters, Mr. Lagueux, is with me, and he is much more capable than I am of explaining the details to you.

It basically was a computer input error, and the matter has now been cleared up. We have sent documentation to the Auditor General, and he is satisfied.

There are other examples.

The Chairman: Could you stick to the 300 sea containers that were sent without documentation?

Ms Fréchette: It's not that there was no monitoring. What went into the containers did not entirely match what the contingent received at the other end.

If you wish, I can ask Mr. Lagueux to tell you more about these 300 containers.

The Chairman: No. The Auditor General says that the appropriate identifying documents were lacking. What is that all about?

Ms Fréchette: Could I ask Mr. Lagueux to give us a more technical explanation on that point?

The Chairman: The departmental report on the mission in Somalia points out that the inventory that was sent to that country was not monitored strictly enough.

Mr. Pierre Lagueux (Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel), Department of National Defence): Mr. Chairman, I believe you are referring to several containers that came back from Somalia, unfortunately without the required documents.

We must remember that at the time, many things were going on in Somalia. Unfortunately, the documents did not go along with the containers, as our procedures and policy require.

That doesn't mean that equipment was missing, lost or not appropriated, but rather, it took a while to check what was in the containers and to ensure that everything was there.

It really was a matter of documents not following the materiel, documents that should have gone along with it.

The Chairman: Thank you. Mr. de Savoye.

Mr. de Savoye (Portneuf): Ms Fréchette, gentlemen, the Valcartier military base is located in the eastern part of my riding. I think highly of all these young men and women who are taking part in peace missions. I know that they do so with a great deal of determination and courage, and that their families also must show courage.

When the Auditor General tells us about operational deficiencies, I wonder if the Department really makes sure that these young people we send overseas receive the necessary training, materiel and medical services to carry out their mission as effectively as possible and to ensure their safety as much as possible.

Your answers really haven't convinced me of that. For example, as the Chairman was pointing out, when you were asked about material management, you gave the example of United Nations logistics courses.

.1640

I suppose that is the most convincing example, the one that will reassure us the most. Well, no, it is not reassuring, or at least, it doesn't reassure me.

You gave some other explanations, Ms Fréchette, which I thought were quite sensible. I assume that in the very near future, you will have an opportunity to send the clerk of this committee a list of all the measures you are taking to correct the problem.

Even so, more than $80 million worth of equipment has evaporated, equipment for which there is no documentation, and in principle, $300 million worth of equipment was disposed of in the field. According to the Office of the Auditor General, most likely that equipment must be there, since that is what the documentation that the Department submitted to them says.

Ms Fréchette, could you tell me whether you have had an opportunity, since your visit from officials of the Office of the Auditor General, to reconcile the $300 million worth of equipment that was supposedly disposed of in the field with the documentation that the Auditor General checked in your Department? What measures have you taken to reconcile the two?

Please go ahead.

Ms Fréchette: The Auditor General's comments about a lack of documentation had to do with a downward adjustment of $80 million, an adjustment that could not be explained at first glance. That does not mean that $80 million worth of equipment evaporated, and it certainly doesn't mean that $300 million worth of equipment is still there.

Let's discuss the equipment that is currently there. Each time a rotation occurs, when one group leaves the theatre and another group replaces it, procedures are followed to ensure that the equipment stays there and that the new group takes over responsibility for it.

At the time, these procedures were not always followed. This work may not have been done as carefully as it should have, and perhaps not all the papers were filled out to transfer the equipment. This is one of the things that we have improved. Now, each time a rotation occurs, we follow a much stricter system to account for the equipment and all the materiel that has been passed on to the new team. Furthermore, we have a troop support team that can be sent to the field to help with the transfer of books, for instance.

You must realize that our peacekeeping missions are not always conducted under the easiest of circumstances.

I went to Bosnia last June, when the peacekeepers were deployed there. Hardly anything worked in the country, and the top priority was to organize things as best we could.

Consequently, during some operations, some of the details relating to administrative procedures are neglected. However, we do acknowledge, with the Auditor General, that there was room for a great deal of improvement, and I think that we have made it.

Mr. de Savoye: In response to my question about the $300 million worth of equipment in the field and the relating documentation that the Auditor General's Office says it saw at the Department, could you tell us whether you have reconciled this equipment and the documents you do have? I asked the Auditor General about this last week, and he confirmed that no such reconciliation had been done. Today are you able to tell us whether the papers and the equipment match?

Ms Fréchette: What I can tell you, is that in the last rotation, in Haiti, the list of equipment and materiel that went from one contingent to the next was officially transferred.

This has been underway for only a few months. We are currently making adjustments for discrepancies and cases where we could not explain why a particular piece of equipment or materiel was missing. In such cases, a piece of equipment may have been lost or destroyed, but the proper form was not filled out. It's that kind of thing.

I can tell you that we are following much stricter procedures now, in order to make sure that we do not lose sight of the material we have, both from an administrative point of view and in terms of our computer systems.

You asked us some questions about the $80 million worth of equipment. After the Auditor General's report came out, we attempted to shed light on that particular amount.

I can give you some examples of what we did discover. For example, of the $77 million, there was $11 million worth of equipment for which we had no explanation and no documentation.

.1645

We discovered that the problem was caused by a data entry error. The serial number of the materiel in question was placed in the ``quantity'' column. Sixty seven thousand was recorded as the quantity, but it was really the serial number.

Mr. de Savoye: What did you put in the box for the serial number?

Ms Fréchette: I'm sorry, sir, I don't have an answer for that. All I can tell you is that we are cleaning it all up so that...

Mr. de Savoye: You're telling me that your computer systems do not check the serial numbers entered to see whether they are truly in the database, that you can input a serial number instead of the quantity, and perhaps the quantity where you should record the serial number, and the computer does not validate the data entered at all.

Ms Fréchette, when it comes to computers, for at least 30 years people have been doing better than that, at least when it comes to management.

I really am having a hard time following you.

However, ...

The Chairman: I wanted to let Ms Fréchette finish.

Mr. de Savoye: If you don't mind, Mr. Chairman, I will continue, just so that we can get a broader response.

There certainly seem to be management problems in the army. I believe you have become aware that these problems must be corrected. It won't happen overnight. So you must have a plan for the short term, the middle term and the long term.

What deadline have you set for yourself to clean up this mess?

Ms Fréchette: Are you just talking about monitoring material, or are you talking about reforms...?

Mr. de Savoye: I'm not talking about operations. I'm talking about management.

Ms Fréchette: Fine, you're talking about management. Mr. de Savoye, all our management systems in the Department of Defence are going through a time of profound change, change which is partly caused by budget cuts.

The goal we set is to reduce budgets for support services as much as possible so that we can allocate as much funding as possible to our colleagues in uniform, who need equipment, who need as much money as possible allocated to their training, preparation and equipment.

So, we are reviewing our management methods, and where possible, we are introducing new computer systems that are a great deal more sophisticated than the ones we had.

We have plans to reform the administration, structure and functioning of the Department that will take us to the dawn of the next century, to the year 2000, more or less.

Our resources for contracting out at Headquarters will be reduced by 50% between now and the year 1999. The subject will be discussed in an Auditor General's report that will come out in the next few months.

All I can tell you is that there will be a much more thorough reform than what I described for materiel management. It is just part of a broader management reform program.

Mr. de Savoye: Thank you.

[English]

The Chairman: Mr. Silye.

Mr. Silye (Calgary Centre): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have four topics to cover and only ten minutes to do it in. I'd like to start with Ms Fréchette, the deputy minister.

You made the comment that between 1991 and 1995 has been a period of high activity, and I agree, there were a lot of lessons learned. I would like to find out what lessons were learned by applying the example of Haiti just for a second. In Haiti, what you said is that we have 750 people deployed there, apparently. We can go as high as 1,000. But the term of commitment we made is expiring. When is it expiring?

Ms Fréchette: The end of November.

Mr. Silye: So at the end of next month it's expiring. Let's just see what we've learned. The vice-admiral said you're going to match resources with the chances of success, that you're going to try to make sure it's a positive contribution we're making, that until we get enough people we'll try to reduce the stress and strain on our troops. So what have you done to date to prepare for a decision on Haiti? Are we going to renew? Are we going to leave, as we said we would? We said we were just going to stay there for six months.

Ms Fréchette: This will be a decision for the government to make in the context of negotiations that will start shortly in the United Nations on whether or not to renew the mandate of the UN force in Haiti. This in turn will depend on the assessment made by, first of all, whether the Government of Haiti would wish the UN presence to continue in Haiti, and on whether the members of the Security Council are prepared to authorize an extension of this mandate, which will in turn depend on an assessment of whether the mission is successful and contributing to the attainment of the goal that has been set for it and so on. We in Canada will do the same kind of assessment.

.1650

Mr. Silye: So what you're saying is you're going to wait until the end, rather than making an assessment three-quarters of the way through. Is there not a preliminary assessment now? Is there not a report the department is reviewing in conjunction with the forces as to yes, we're achieving our objectives, no, we're not, we're going to...? Are you prepared for that, or are we just waiting for the United Nations to dictate to us?

Ms Fréchette: First of all, I think we make an assessment every day because we monitor very carefully how things are evolving. We do regular analysis and assessments of developments in the country, of the risk in terms of the viability of the mission. So this is an ongoing process. Usually, well ahead of the time when a decision has to be made, we, in cooperation with Foreign Affairs, draw up more formal assessments for our ministers, who then will consider them. We have to give instructions to our mission in New York so they can -

Mr. Silye: Do you think we're going to stay for another six months?

Ms Fréchette: It will be for the government to decide.

Mr. Silye: Okay.

I'd like to direct the next topic to Vice-Admiral Murray. My personal opinion is that our armed forces is undersized. We don't have enough troops, and this is combined with an over-eagerness to participate. We do have a good reputation and we can be proud of our military, but I think we sometimes over-commit, and I believe we should be more selective.

What I've heard, in terms of lessons learned and vis-à-vis chances of success, is that the criteria used are very important. But it also starts with defining the role of the military, and we can't be all things to all people and be all things to our own citizens here and protect our own borders. So in determining what size of defence budget we should have and in determining the role of the military, and given that we have a certain mandate now in the white paper, and given that we've matched that with $10 billion, my question is do you feel that $10 billion is the right amount, or do we need to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate the role of the Canadian Armed Forces?

VAdm Murray: That too is more a question for the government than for me. My personal view is that the current funding level is matched adequately to the white paper. And assuming some version of that funding continues and we continue to make the sorts of savings Ms Fréchette referred to in relation to all the initiatives, the many hundreds, indeed probably thousands of initiatives under way throughout the department to come to grips with doing business better, smarter, cheaper, and how we provide support in downsizing our higher level headquarters by a stretch target of 50%, assuming that we make the savings we believe we can, then I believe the current policy is sound and doable.

Mr. Silye: Thank you.

I have a question for Ms Fréchette on equipment. I'm confused about the white paper. I'd like to know where we are on our submarines and on our helicopters and other aged equipment. What are we doing? Are we going to buy new equipment? Are we going to keep paying to repair existing equipment? What's the objective there?

Ms Fréchette: The white paper mentioned four major crown projects for consideration. On the armoured personnel carrier, as Admiral Murray mentioned in his opening statement, the decision has been made to order the first 240. This is going ahead. Secondly, there was a decision to proceed with the purchase of new search and rescue helicopters. The decision was announced.

Mr. Silye: How much will that cost?

Ms Fréchette: About $600 million -

Mr. Silye: Is that all? How many are we buying?

Ms Fréchette: - for the search and rescue helicopters. There are 15, but what we're looking for is a certain level of service and it could end up with 15 or 14 or 13. It depends on what -

Mr. Silye: Is that 15 helicopters for $600 million? That's a good price.

Ms Fréchette: Yes. The preliminary work has been done. There should be now a formal request for a proposal out and on the street shortly, and then it will follow its course.

.1655

As for the other two, the government has not reached a decision on the maritime helicopters. I think Mr. Collenette announced several months ago that it would not take place in this fiscal year, but the government will have to decide on that one. As you will recall from the white paper, there was a tentative intention on submarines, but the government has some options before it and will also have to make a decision on those.

Mr. Silye: My last topic and my last question is directed to the Auditor General's department. Mr. Rattray, are you satisfied that the defence department's answer here in response to your audit has produced the solutions that will solve these problems that you point out in the areas you audited?

Mr. Rattray: Mr. Chairman, we're pleased at the progress that we hear is being made, and with the plans that will see further action take place. Our policy really is to follow up in much more detail, and we'll be doing so and reporting back to Parliament in our report in 1998. At that time we'll have been able to do a lot more for the testing and the examination against the plans and activities that are being talked about today.

Mr. Silye: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman: Thank you, Jimmy.

Mr. Hubbard.

Mr. Hubbard (Miramichi): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, getting back to standards - and I asked this question before, at a meeting last week - we measure our medical demands and our objectives against various standards. We have the NATO standards, we have standards of other armies, we have the white paper. Overall, in terms of being measured against the white paper, it seems that we're deficient in a number of areas. At that time - in 1994 - the white paper probably had expectations. In terms of 1996, how are we doing in terms of meeting the white paper standards?

VAdm Murray: I'll kick this off. Would you like me to pursue the medical one in particular, or the more general one?

Mr. Hubbard: The more general one. We had an answer on the medical one, which differs in terms of beds available and so forth. But overall - for example, in terms of being committed to a certain size of land force, navy and air element with a short period of deployment - are we ready to meet that objective in terms of three groups, plus a wing, plus -

VAdm Murray: In my view, we are making good progress, but we're not there yet. We have a ways to go. As both Madame Fréchette and I have said, we have learned a number of lessons in a variety of areas through a very intense period of peacekeeping and other operations effectively since the Gulf War in 1990.

If we're talking about training on the peacekeeping front, we have established... Led by the deputy chief and the commanders in the land forces, we have done a number of studies that are the focus of this report. We have established operational readiness standards. We have established battle standards.

In terms of the collective training issue that the Auditor General has raised, we are coming to grips with that. In that context, though, I would not want to leave a wrong impression in the sense that the peacekeeping training standards for every unit that has deployed since 1991 have actually been quite high. The units that have deployed have been well trained and adequately equipped for their mission as we understood it at their time of deployment.

In the context of lessons learned, we have established in all three services a lessons-learned centre because the scenario in which people of my generation served the first thirty years of our career - the Cold War - is quite different from the scenario in which... Each operation is unique. Rwanda is different from Yugoslavia is different from Haiti is different from Angola. We've had to become more flexible. We've had to deal with greater requirements for mobility.

Mr. Hubbard: When would you expect, for example, to meet the standard of having the naval task force, a brigade group or three separate battle groups, a wing and a squadron of tactical transport aircraft? How close are you to meeting it, and which area of that is the weakest in terms of those four objectives?

VAdm Murray: If I just quickly run through the services, at the moment I think the navy, because of the arrival of the Canadian patrol frigates - arguably the best ships in the world and developed largely by Canadian industry and Canadian science - and the modernized destroyers, is literally among the best in the world in terms of vessels of those sizes. We're therefore very capable of providing the surface task group we're committed to on each coast, as well as the commitments to STANAVFORLANT.

.1700

In terms of maritime air, obviously we are challenged in terms of the helicopter and the need for a new helicopter. The Aurora aircraft needs some updating but certainly has reasonable capability at the moment. On the submarine issue, again we are challenged, but the three submarines have had updated fire control systems and so on over recent years.

On the air side, there are needs to update the helicopters but we are in the process of acquiring new tactical helicopters to support land forces. We are in the process of acquiring new search and rescue helicopters. We have a tactical transport fleet that has performed magnificently through all these operations, and in many cases have been unsung heroes - keeping Sarajevo open, keeping Kigali open. Those aircraft have well-trained crews with modern electronic warfare systems that have enabled them to keep flying. We haven't had enough of them equipped with this, so we now have a project under way that will equip the whole transport fleet.

On the strategic airlift we have the Airbus, which is being converted to cargo carrying, so we're making progress there. The fighter fleet needs upgrading in an update program for the F-18, but that is in the planning process and within the funds as we understand them now.

So on the air side there are some challenges but it's manageable, and on the land side there has also been significant progress that hasn't actually received the same visibility. We have a major project under way updating the entire command and control system. We are just getting new RECCE vehicles that are as good as anything in the world. The APCs, as I've already mentioned, are being replaced. In terms of direct fire support, we are working on a modest update to the Leopard tank and are looking down the road for a direct fire support capability there.

Minister Young is having a careful look at a number of projects and I expect he will probably want to say something about some movement in those areas in the near term.

As I said, we have just replaced the helicopter support to the army and that's all happening. So there are some challenges in some areas, but on balance we're not doing too badly, quite frankly.

Mr. Hubbard: The other area I'd like to talk about is training. There seem to be major concerns here, and I assume part of it is due to the fact that many units had insufficient numbers for training because many of their groups were tasked for peacekeeping and for peacemaking. But it would appear that there is a significant problem in terms of the number of exercises the Auditor General has identified as necessary in order to maintain a ready army, and the fact that in terms of those there was a great deficiency.

There are probably two corollaries to this. Is there a need for special peacekeeping training activity within the forces that we don't seem to have at a general level? Second, how are we to overcome some of these problems with training? Because they also indicate that officers are moving up through the ranks without any real exercise in terms of the command posts they're holding. I think it could be very difficult to assume that perhaps a major or company commander is moving up through the ranks and has never been able to command a company in an exercise, or does not have sufficient training to be promoted. Is this a problem, and what are your solutions for it?

VAdm Murray: Mr. Chairman, the issue Mr. Hubbard raises and the intensity of the operations in the period in question is definitely part of the reason higher-level collective training suffered during that period. I would like to separate peacekeeping training from collective training while acknowledging that in our view the best-trained peacekeeper is a well-trained soldier, but the point is that the number of units involved in peacekeeping operations meant that higher-level collective training at the brigade level did suffer in that period. There is no question about that.

To deal with the peacekeeping training first and then the collective training, as I said, we're very comfortable that we have learned lessons, but throughout this period we provided very intensive and very good training for our troops prior to each deployment. The recent publicity about the PPCLI efforts in the Medac pocket - they were very well trained in Fort Ord in California before they went there, so that's where we put our focus. We were concerned about numbers and that's part of the challenge in the collective training side. That is part of the reason the white paper and the special joint committee recommended an increase of about 3,000.

.1705

The Auditor General has raised some concerns about where we are on that. I can tell you that we have 2,173 soldiers now in place - I can list their various occupations if you want - and we have 800 more in the training system who will be fully trained soldiers at a junior level by next summer, and those two numbers add up to 3,000. So we are making that commitment and we will have that by next summer. That will enable us, as I said in my remarks, to have units at full strength so that we don't have to do what we did on occasion when it was really intense - take a company from one unit to make a proper-sized battalion. It really kicks the hell out of collective training when you're mixing and matching. Having said that, that mixing and matching occurred before the unit trained for the operation, so by the time they went they were fully trained.

On the collective training side, by augmenting the numbers and doing a number of things, as the Auditor General has raised, we have had operational readiness standards in the navy and the air force, and we're now applying that to the army. So indeed battle standards will be established and we will be accountable for collective training at all levels. It will still be a challenge to do as much collective training at the brigade group level as we would all like, but we are making progress, we will make progress, and you're right that commanders do need to have that sort of experience.

Mr. Hubbard: If we get a call to central Africa for 600 or 800 troops, would they be ready? How long would it take for them to be deployed?

VAdm Murray: I'll kick off and then ask General Roy to respond to that.

As in all of these things, we would want to have a very careful look at the situation on the ground. Is the mission, whatever is being considered, doable, both in a Canadian context and whatever coalition is being formed? So we would want to have a very careful look at what we're talking about here. We do have a stand-by battalion that is meant to be ready to move, but it would take some time to ensure that they were ready for the particular operation.

General Roy may want to add a little more detail.

LGen Roy: The kind of collective training we have been forced to neglect in the last few years has been at the divisional level. The last division-level exercise conducted in the army was in 1992. Normally we do those every two years to keep up the expertise and to ensure that all levels of command are trained to do what they exist for.

In 1995 we could do that collective training only at brigade level, which is the level below, and during those years the training has been conducted at unit and subunit levels, which is at the company and the battalion level you referred to, which prepares them very well for peacekeeping duties.

If we were called to a new mission based on a government decision tomorrow, we would need to train for the task, and right now it takes 90 days to prepare a unit to deploy for a peacekeeping mission. So we would start from where we are in the collective training level at the unit level and expand on that specifically, the peacekeeping, reviewing all of the lessons we have learned in the recent missions to ensure that our people would be well prepared to do the job when they would be deployed. At this time it would take 90 days to execute that.

VAdm Murray: Mr. Chairman, as a result of the lessons learned in recent years, we have trained... Indeed, we involved non-government organizations in a major seminar in Kingston. We call it Operation Griffon, and it is a short-fuse humanitarian relief effort that would involve transport aircraft and medical facility, engineer support and security in the form of I think about a company of infantry. We can respond very quickly and activate that sort of response at relatively short order, but that is a humanitarian relief scenario.

Mr. Hubbard: Thank you.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Before moving to the five-minute round, I would like to ask Ms Fréchette whether we have already started to withdraw our troops from Haiti. You said earlier to Mr. Silye that the withdrawal is supposed to take place between now and the end of November, unless the government decides otherwise.

.1710

Ms Fréchette: No, in accordance with United Nations practice, the withdrawal begins at the end of the mandate, unless there is an interim decision by the Security Council to withdraw the troops gradually. So the withdrawal would not begin before the end of November, in any case, if the mandate is not renewed.

The Chairman: I think there is a contradiction in your figures. Perhaps it is a typographical error. In the second point on page 2, you say that Canada:

Ms Fréchette: There are 1,300 troops all told in the U.N. Force. Canada is not the only country with soldiers in Haïti; the other soldiers are part of other battalions, including those from Pakistan.

In this regard, it is important to remember that as a result of the negotiations within the United Nations, a ceiling was established which we thought was unrealistic in light of the tasks to be performed. Canada said at that time that even though the United Nations had only voted to send 600 troops, we felt that 1,300 were required and we were prepared to make up the financial difference if necessary.

During the first phase of the two-phase mandate, we covered all our costs. During the second phase, the second five or six-month period, as a result of an agreement, the United States made a voluntary contribution so that Canada was not alone in paying the extra costs of the contingent that were not covered by the U.N. ceiling.

The Chairman: Thank you.

You have five minutes, Mr. Rocheleau.

Mr. Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières): There are two parts to my question. One is about the medical support referred to in point 15 of the Auditor General's statement. The other point has to do with what I would call the safety of our troops, and this is discussed in point 17.

Point 15 reads as follows:

I find this disturbing, given the seriousness of the potential situation, particularly since the response is very laconic and merely states that in future more importance will be attached to medical support. I would like you to give us more information about this situation to try to reassure us a little more.

My second question is about safety. The Auditor General's statement mentions that although the armour of the military vehicles used at the moment has been upgraded, and I am referring to the APC M-113 and the Cougar armoured vehicle general purpose, they are very fragile to withstand 14.5 mm from both heavy machine guns and even tank and heavy mortar fire. We are exposing our young troops to situations that are unsafe. There is no reference to this issue in the response of the Department of National Defence. I would like you to give us some more information on this.

[English]

VAdm Murray: Mr. Chairman, I'll respond to both questions and General Roy may wish to come in as well.

On the medical support side, I would like to make it clear that the medical support we provide to our troops, and I believe the Auditor General agrees with this, has always been of a very high standard. The debate in terms of 200 beds or 340 beds does not relate to peacekeeping operations, in my view, but is related to a major war with high-intensity conflict in which, using NATO casualty calculations, the Canadian forces should have a 340-bed hospital as opposed to a 200-bed hospital.

Based on warning times of 18 months to two years and relative priorities, it was decided to concentrate initially on a 200-bed hospital. In terms of where we're at now, we have done a total re-engineering of our medical services. We are doing a lot more in the private sector and we are focusing our own medical support on operational support so that we can support the peacekeeping operations.

.1715

One of the fallouts of both the defence white paper and the recent review of the reserves has been a decision to look very carefully at our mobilization planning. We're now looking at one of the fallouts of the militia restructuring, which will probably be the formation of 350-bed militia hospitals that will enable us to get to a 350-bed capability in a global emergency while still being able to support our normal peacekeeping operations adequately around the world. Indeed, in most of our operations we operate hospitals at about 40 beds, in Bosnia and so on.

The real challenge as well is the necessary surgical staff, anaesthesiologists and that sort of thing. Again, as a result of the reserve study we're looking at ways to encourage medical specialists into a highly trained reserve. Obviously there are financial and other implications to that. But if we can put those two things together, we believe we can answer that one adequately in terms of peacekeeping operations.

In terms of the equipment, I think it's unfair and unrealistic to look at one vehicle against one weapon system out of any context at all. Therefore, taking a single vehicle and saying it can't stand or withstand a particular hit from a particular weapon is, in my view, somewhat unrealistic.

When we go to a place like Yugoslavia, let's say, we have to do a risk assessment. We have to look at the whole context. We have to look at the whole force that is working together. We have to look at the situation. Quite frankly, in the former Yugoslavia, we and everyone else are operating softskin trucks, softskin ambulances. The NGOs run around in jeeps and land rovers with no protection at all because it's fundamentally a humanitarian relief operation.

That's not for one minute to say APCs did not need enhanced protection and all that sort of thing. What I'm saying is that in all of our planning we have to look at an overall force structure and we can't have every single vehicle capable of taking on a tank or whatever.

Having said that, in the context of the vehicles that did get criticized, in terms of the tracked APCs, the M-113, there has been a major project under way to enhance their protection. We have added add-on armoured systems and gun shields and they do have protection against the 14.5-millimetre heavy machinegun, although, in fairness to the Auditor General, we did not close the loop on paper with them in that context. So that's our fault for not closing the loop with the Auditor General.

It is the same thing with our Grizzlies and Cougars. We are putting add-on armour to them so they will be capable of this sort of thing. On the new vehicles, they will have that capability as well as being able to sustain a 30-millimetre hit from the front and the rear and the heavy machinegun from the side. But again I do think that taking a single weapon system, they will not be able to sustain a hit from an anti-tank rocket because they're not designed for that. So one has to use a little care in some of this stuff.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Mr. Grose, you have five minutes.

Mr. Grose (Oshawa): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As usual, I will use the five minutes.

Having been very proud to have worn a uniform, although in a minor role, that said Canada on the shoulder, what I have to say I say with a great deal of sadness. I've been three years on this committee and I have never, in my experience, seen a worse reply to an Auditor General's report than the one that's been presented to us. The points were not addressed. As far as I'm concerned, a lot of it was unbelievable. As an example, last week we lost two jeeps in the parking lot and this week we lost them in the computer.

I have absolutely no confidence in the people who are presenting the response to the Auditor General's report. I will not ask any questions because I would have no confidence in the answers. Again, I repeat it's with a great deal of sadness that I say this.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Would colleagues from the Liberal Party care to...

[English]

You will use the three remaining minutes.

Mr. Richardson (Perth - Wellington - Waterloo): I'll use them, Mr. Chair. Thank you.

I'd like to skip back into the companion to the document, which in a sense mentions National Defence. It is a suggestion by the Auditor General that as the lead operator in most cases in foreign adventures is Foreign Affairs, there should be an accountability report at the end of every mission.

.1720

I'd just like to ask the Auditor General what... There is some lead-up to it, but the accountability here would be through the lead person being Foreign Affairs in all these debates. Yet the major operator would be National Defence. In this case, Foreign Affairs would have to make that report as outlined by you on section VI, page 15. The lead operator will always be Foreign Affairs. In this case, where we're committed offshore, they'll be the leader on the debate and the vote. So they get the operational lead through the government.

I see your need. You're trying to say the government should be reporting back to Parliament on this mission under a number of categories, but I just want to see what drove you to this suggestion. I think it's 640, 641.

Mr. Kasurak: Yes. Mr. Chairman, although that's in the Foreign Affairs chapter, we also touch on a similar issue on this chapter in the shaded box. We talk about information to parliamentarians.

What drove us in that direction was comments from your colleagues on the two standing committees, who said they would appreciate more feedback during the course of missions and after the completion of missions to find out what had happened. While they were briefed at the start of missions by the department, in their mind there was room for improvement in follow-up and reporting back to close the loop.

So I think that may be part of the answer to this particular question. It's really coming from your colleagues on the standing committees.

Mr. Richardson: Thank you, from that point. I think there is from both the opposition parties too a wish to see that there is some accountability for our actions. It will continue to be pressed, I think, by the opposition parties. I'm glad to see it in, but I don't know how it will be accomplished on the action side, with Foreign Affairs doing it or all the legwork being done by Nationl Defence and reported by Foreign Affairs.

The Chairman: Mr. Rattray.

Mr. Rattray: Mr. Chairman, we haven't taken a position. I think it's more appropriate for the government to decide who would be the lead department to do this comprehensive reporting back. So we've more or less said that doesn't rest with us to say whether it's Foreign Affairs or National Defence. Certainly they have to work together to prepare it, but that's a government decision who plays the lead.

The Chairman: Okay.

[Translation]

Mr. de Savoye, five minutes.

Mr. de Savoye: I've been listening to the questions asked by my colleagues and the answers provided by our witnesses. Rightly or wrongly, with respect to operational weaknesses, it is my impression that steps have been taken to set things on the right track.

However in the area of management problems, I must say that I have found the answers unsatisfactory. It actually seems to me that things are not going very well. I would have presumed that with a budget of $10 billion, we would have had state of the art computerized management systems.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh in my judgement. So I will ask Mr. Rattray, from the Auditor General's Office, whether he thinks the answers we have had about operations and management are accurate. Am I right to be concerned about management, or, are things actually headed in the right direction?

I would like some enlightment on this, please.

.1725

[English]

Mr. Rattray: Thank you. I have a number of points I would like to make on that.

First of all, we have been in some contact throughout the last several months since tabling the report on peacekeeping because material has been coming to us on a number of points and we continue to keep a dialogue on that.

As I said earlier in my comments, though, there is more for us to receive in terms of action and plans to be taken. That will form a very large part of the work we will be doing probably beginning in the next several months in order to be in a position to report back through the Auditor General's report specifically on the points we make with respect to peacekeeping.

On the broader management topics you referred to earlier, we do have two chapters that are going to be reported to Parliament in our November report. They deal very much with the broader subject of management systems, practices and concepts in the department and the Canadian Armed Forces. Those chapters are going through the final preparation for tabling next month. They deal very much I think with the topics you have a particular interest in in terms of those broad management practices that are needed to make the change that is necessary to correct a lot of the points we have raised and a lot of the points the department has acknowledged they need to address as part of the change process they are presently going through.

At this point my short answer is that the November report should contain a great deal of the information you're looking for.

Mr. de Savoye: What I understand is I'm right to worry. Thank you.

Mr. Rattray: That's not what I said, Mr. Chairman, but you can read the reports there in November and form your conclusion.

[Translation]

Mr. de Savoye: That is fine, thank you.

The Chairman: As you know, I represent the Quebec City region, and the influence of the base in Valcartier is felt throughout the whole Quebec City region. Although I have already asked for some information and should be receiving it soon, before giving the floor to Mr. Paradis, I would like to ask a question to which I know the answer in part.

I would like to come back to the whole matter of stress management. Military personnel who go off on peacekeeping missions are men and women with families. We know what type of shape some people are in when they return from peacekeeping missions. We see them in our offices on Fridays. This may not apply to all military personnel. Personally, I have not seen the horror of the missions to Somalia, Haiti or the former Yugoslavia, but I know what sort of shape people are in when they come back.

You say that you are taking steps to facilitate stress management. They appear in the grey background on page 7-21 in the Auditor General's Report. You will be:

Are these measures in place as we speak, October 29, 1996? Are these empty statements, or have some steps actually been taken?

VAdm Murray: Yes, these measures are in place at the moment, and improvements to them have been made since the tabling of this report. We are among the world leaders in this field. Improvements are made after each operation. This is quite a new area for us. We sent experts to Rwanda to assist the United Nations a year ago. We have learned a great deal in this area since the operations began in 1982.

The Chairman: How long have these measures been in place, Mr. Murray?

VAdm Murray: I think we started two years ago, and we are gradually introducing improvements, adding things and so on.

.1730

For instance, we discovered that we did not pay enough attention to the members of our reserves when they returned home to Canada. We are now trying to do that. Lieutenant-General Roy may have more information for you.

The Chairman: Was any anti-stress training provided before deployment, Lieutenant-General Roy?

LGen Roy: We began this program in the field when the reserves arrived. It was relatively easier to provide follow-up for our regular units, which were accustomed to preparing themselves and going abroad for long periods. In addition, they had the support of all their families.

When we started to recruit militia men throughout the territory and in all the small communities, we had to take more specific preventive measures. As a preventive measure, we have a system of briefing sessions aimed at educating the chiefs first and foremost. We use the same system to inform the troops, families and friends before departure.

During the mission, there is knowledgeable supervision, with all the necessary psychological and medical resource staff to allow us to detect and treat problems that can be prevented. Of course, the greatest concern arises when we come back, because it's much more difficult to do follow-up. But once again, the follow-up program is in place. If you talk to the people in Valcartier, to people in the regular Forces who served in several missions during their career and whose families are based in Valcartier, they may not put as much emphasis on the aspects that I have just described. But for the reservists who come from all regions of Quebec, throughout the province, a very detailed and well followed-up program is necessary to enable us to do the required prevention.

Despite these efforts, there is no guarantee that we will detect all cases. There are undoubtedly some exceptions that will slip through the cracks in the system.

The Chairman: I have just one last comment. Mr. Murray, you said earlier that you'd taken even more measures than those that you had committed to taking before the Auditor General. Could you provide the clerk with a written list of the measures that you have taken?

VAdm Murray: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Murray.

Mr. Paradis, five minutes.

Mr. Paradis (Brome - Missisquoi): First of all, all my colleagues who sat on the committee last year when we heard witnesses from National Defense may recall the concern that I expressed at the time and that I continue to have concerning deficiencies in management. Some of my colleagues share these concerns. We're wondering when we'll see the day when these problems are solved.

Let me recall that last year I asked to see the organizational chart of the department's financial administration, budget is some 10 or 11 billion dollars. You're running the largest department in Ottawa, which receives the largest amounts of taxpayer money. Last time, we waited a long time before receiving this organizational chart of financial administration which indicated who decides what in the Department of National Defense in matters of finance.

I remember that the organizational chart that we'd been provided with last year indicated how military decisions were made, the procedure used when the Department decided to intervene or not in a conflict somewhere in the world. That's the type of organizational chart that we were provided with; it looked like a plate of spaghetti turned upside down. We couldn't figure out where it began and where it ended.

I'm just as concerned today about the direction the Department is taking for its financial decisions. I repeat that this department has the largest budget. You wouldn't think that this would be so difficult to obtain. The budget may be that large because nobody knows where to start. And yet at the top level or top of the pyramid somewhere there must be someone who can explain who makes what financial decisions within the Department.

As an example, although I run the risk that you will answer quickly that this question is not directly related to your Department, I would like to briefly discuss construction undertaken for the Department of National Defence, which is no longer administered by the Department of Public Works, but according to what I've been told, construction rapidly follows your requisitions. In my riding, a few days before October 21, there was a call for tender for the construction of a road in the Farnham military camp.

.1735

Everything happens very quickly: the site was visited October 21, the tender had to be presented on October 29, therefore today, and the road has to be completed on December 31.

No one in my riding was informed about that call for tender. Everything is rushed. This is already late October and everything must be finalized by December 31. I fail to understand the management prevailing within the Department of National Defence.

That was my introduction and I would like someone to shed light on the subject.

My question is on another subject and has to do with the reserves. I'd like to get back to the presentations made this afternoon concerning the difficulties we encounter with reservists and peace missions. We're told that they represent about 10 per cent of these peace mission troops, and I believe, 25 per cent of our forces here in Canada. I'm told the opposite is true in the United States, where reservists represent 75 per cent of the forces whereas the remaining 25 per cent are made up of full-time members of the Regular Forces.

My question is in two parts and is either for the Deputy Minister or Lieutenant-General Roy. Why do we have so much trouble with our reservists in terms of preparation and assignment? How come our huge neighbour the United States can operate with the opposite proportion? If these figures are accurate for Canada, reservists represent one quarter of our forces, whereas in the United States they represent three quarters.

Ms Fréchette: With regard to the management structure or financial decision-making within the Department of National Defence, this department is indeed very large and very complicated. It has a staff of over 100,000 people, a very large number of units throughout Canada and has both civilian and military personnel. This may seem very complicated, but in reality, the principle and policy framework is the same everywhere. I think that the lines of authority are clear. Authority is delegated at several levels, as is the case in other departments.

I can tell you that in the past year, Headquarters proceeded with the simplification of DND structure. It was indeed very dense and involved several decision-making levels, which could make the organizational chart difficult to understand. Nor was this the best thing from a management standpoint. The departmental organization chart was therefore simplified. Some decision-making levels were eliminated, which will help.

Mr. Paradis: Ms Fréchette, could you table the new financial administration organizational chart with the committee?

Ms Fréchette: Absolutely.

Mr. Paradis: Thank you.

Ms Fréchette: I will give the floor to Vice-Admiral Murray who can answer your question about the reserves.

VAdm Murray: The figures about the reserves are somewhat different. Our forces currently have 60,000 regular military personnel and 30,000 reserves, therefore half.

This increase of some 20 to 30,000 reserves is the result of a study conducted by a special committee a year and a half ago. Our Department is currently examining the results of that study and I hope that the assessment of the reserve will be quite favourable.

In our efforts to restructure, we need the militia, and the naval reserve now has new coastal vessels. The equipment is quite good and results are very impressive. The same situation is true in the Air Force and communications. I think that most of our efforts will be directed to the militia, where we will assess training, equipment, etc. Lieutenant-General Roy may wish to add something.

M. Paradis: When you talk about the militia, are you referring to the members of the reserves?

VAdm Murray: Exactly, yes. We're talking about the members of the reserve of the Land Forces.

LGen Roy: The militia are the land component reserves. I would like to clarify the figures mentioned by the admiral, if I might. At the moment the Land Forces consist of 19,000 regular soldiers and just over 18,000 members of the militia. The percentage of members of the reserve or militia in the Land Forces is much higher than the other two elements.

.1740

With respect to your question about the difference between Canada and the United States, regardless of the figures, the United States can call up their reserves and their National Guards and force them to serve. In Canada, however, the members of our militia always volunteer to take part in missions.

Mr. Paradis: If our militia had no choice, we could...

LGen Roy: I don't recommend that approach. The Regular Force, the militia and the reserves are all volunteers.

Mr. Paradis: Thank you.

VAdm Murray: The only exception is emergencies in Canada. Under the Emergency Act, the government can use the reserves.

[English]

The Chairman: Mr. Richardson.

[Translation]

Mr. Richardson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[English]

Two or three things on these tables keep coming up over and over again.

I know we're driven by war and peacetime establishments, but, General Roy, have we been able to make some ad hoc establishment changes to accommodate the overwhelming demand for our engineering services? In terms of time away, they lead the field next to infantrymen. If we use the small numbers of engineers provided in the war establishment's requirements, as we have for the three brigades or the division, we'd be wearing these people out quickly. Do we not have the capability to have an ad hoc establishment to see...?

The Cold War is down. These missions seem to be more recurring and more consistently demanding those kinds of services. There should be some capability for you to manipulate the establishments to accommodate this particularly demanding service, especially since we picked up the lead in mining operations.

VAdm Murray: I'll kick that one off and then pass it off to General Roy.

That is an area we were very concerned about. We have fundamentally attacked it by coming to grips with commitments. In other words, the 300 engineers that went to Kuwait aren't there. The 300 engineers we had in Yugoslavia aren't there. We are finding that in fact meeting our own engineering support requirements is basically, as you are aware, Mr. Richardson, how the army is structured.

One thing we have discovered in our operations is that perhaps the nature of these operations is different from that on which our army doctrine was based. We have found, for example, that the Brit scale of engineers to others is a little bit different. So in the context of the reserves studies going on and so on, we are looking at it, but at the moment we've gotten it under control by controlling commitments, quite frankly.

We're trying mightily to ensure that our engineers do not suffer any greater rotation rate than the other occupations in the forces to the extent we can.

LGen Roy: In the land force enhancement program, of the 3,000 positions, of which there's a real addition of 2,173, we have distributed those positions among the trades needed most. The engineers will be acquiring over 400 while the whole of the infantry will be acquiring 700 additional positions. That was one decision made to redress the problem we were living with a few years ago.

Mr. Richardson: Thank you very much.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Do my colleagues have any other questions for our witnesses? No. I would like to thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for appearing before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. We will probably be meeting again some time. Good-bye until then.

The meeting is adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 3:30 p.m., when we will have an in camera meeting on Chapter 14 of the Auditor General's September report on service quality.

.1745

The meeting is adjourned.

Return to Committee Home Page