PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Monday announced a suite of measures to strengthen the Canadian Armed Forces reserve force which he said would better protect Canada’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and deepen the connection between the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian communities.
“Our government has made the rebuilding of the Canadian military a priority since we took office,” Harper said. “These measures will provide the Canadian Armed Forces with the strategic depth they need to respond to varied, and sometimes multiple, national and international emergencies and challenges.”
Harper outlined several distinct components of the plan to strengthen the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve Force:
* Accelerating the expansion of the Primary Reserve from 24,000 personnel currently to reach 30,000 within the next mandate;
* Improving training for reservists to respond to domestic emergencies such as floods and forest fires, and enhancing the role of the naval reserve in protecting Canada’s coastal and offshore waters;
* Taking steps to streamline and shorten the current reserve recruiting process;
* Providing predictable, sufficient and sustainable budgets for reserve units;
* Connecting with Canadians by expanding the role of reserve units in ceremonial and other public duties;
* Investing in maintaining effective reserve infrastructure and regional armouries as well as naval facilities in communities across Canada.
“These initiatives will permit the Canadian Armed Forces to draw on the varied skillsets possessed by Canadians in the private sector who are also anxious to serve their country through service in the military,” said Harper. “By shortening the recruitment time and introducing a series of measures to support the retention of skilled reservists, we will ensure that those who wish to pursue a part-time and also long-term career in the Armed Forces are better able to do so.”
He added: “While [Liberal Leader] Justin Trudeau and [NDP Leader] Thomas Mulcair irresponsibly proclaim their intent to end Canada’s military mission against the ISIS terrorist group, we will continue to take the steps that are required to strengthen our military and to ensure that it is positioned to respond to the real dangers that Canada faces. My focus is on ensuring that the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces have the resources they need to continue protecting and serving their fellow citizens effectively.”