Reservists bring a wealth of important skills, training, and experience to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, and represent the wide diversity of this nation. We serve as both a strategic and operational resource for the Canadian Armed Forces by providing depth and breadth to the military's capabilities, as well as a vital link to Canadian communities.
With respect to today's topic, it's important to note that the reserve force consists of four very different subcomponents, not all of which are trained for or serve on operations or contribute to the defence of North America. Our cadet instructors are not trained for, nor will they be called upon to serve on, any domestic response or operational capacity. The primary reserve—closely aligned with the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Army, health services, judge advocate general, and special ops—and the Canadian Rangers are the only reserve subcomponents trained and employed for domestic operations.
The Canadian Armed Forces' unified force of maritime, land, and air elements is based on a total force concept that integrates full- and part-time military personnel to provide multi-purpose, combat-capable armed forces. Under this concept, regular forces are maintained to provide the government with a ready response capability. Reserve forces are intended for augmentation and sustainment for regular units and, in some cases, unique complementary tasks.
The total force concept also provides the framework for training and equipping the reserves. With the total force concept in mind, environmental commanders have designed their delivery of capability based upon a scaled response in conjunction with the required speed of response. Simply put, the regular force can more readily respond to crises due to its breadth of training and full-time nature, and is usually called upon as first responder for the Canadian Armed Forces. However in the case of a domestic response, owing to the immense geography of our nation and current Canadian Armed Forces footprint, the reserve would often be in a better position to respond due to their proximity and familiarity with the affected community.
However, reserves are generally held at a lower level of readiness and agree to serve voluntarily for operations. Therefore, there are a few distinct considerations to keep in mind for the employment of reservists in domestic operations, including notice, preparation time, as well as the fact that more than 80% of the reserve force who serve the military on a part-time basis need to return to civilian employment or studies in a timely manner following any operation.
Mr. Chair and committee members, BGen Bury and I are very pleased to be here to speak to you regarding the role of the reserve force in the defence of North America.
The Chief of the Defence Staff's vision for the primary reserve is a force that consists predominantly of part-time professional CF members, located throughout Canada, ready with reasonable notice to conduct or contribute to domestic and international operations to safeguard the defence and security of Canada.
The contributions of reserves to operations and their connections with Canadians are critical to the nation and to the environments and communities in which we serve. We must ensure that we attract, develop, support, and retain a ready, capable, motivated, and relevant primary reserve force as a strategic and operational resource for Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces well into the future.
In addition to our work to renew the Canada First defence strategy, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces continue to review and refine our readiness levels and training requirements as well as the balance of full- and part-time military and civilian personnel to meet our institutional needs into the future. There have been and continue to be ongoing reviews and validation of primary reserve roles, missions, and tasks; establishment, recruiting, and retention; the balance of full- and part-time personnel; budget, compensation, and benefits; equipment and infrastructure; training; and care of our ill and injured and their families.
We are interested in expanding the use of reservists' civilian skills based on our success in operations with civil-military cooperation and civilian medical expertise through our health service reserves. We are also considering expanding reserve areas of expertise in the future to include capabilities like cyber.
Recent history has demonstrated the value of a highly trained and well led primary reserve that can be seamlessly integrated into the regular force whether that is on a mission or backfilling positions while others deploy.
Our successful integration of primary reservists on operations over the past two decades, combined with the provision of domestic capabilities for the Canadian Armed Forces, like the Arctic response company groups, sovereignty patrols, and coastal defence, has confirmed that our reserve force remains a foundation of Canada's defence and security. A sustainable reserve trained and equipped to meet the operational and security needs of our nation is critical to the operational success and the defence of North America.
Primary reservists are essential to the Canadian Armed Forces' ability to successfully execute international and domestic operations, and the Canadian Rangers have proven themselves to be critical not only to our domestic response in remote and isolated parts of this nation but to the training and employment of forces members in the Arctic.
The past 15 years have seen an exponential growth in the trust and dependence upon reserves to support and deliver on the defence of North America. Reservists have also deployed to every corner of the world in the delivery of operational excellence that has made Canada and Canadians proud.
Our collective challenge is to maintain the momentum of our total force approach and integrated model, and ensure we attract, train, employ, and retain a highly professional and motivated reserve force that will continue to be an effective and relevant part of Canada's defence well into the future.
Thank you. Merci beaucoup.