Canada's Defence Reorganization
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Feb 1965, p. 217-231

Hellyer, The Honourable Paul T., Speaker
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Some of the basic arguments in favour of integration of Canada's armed forces. A brief summary of progress to date. Three steps to take: to bring the past up to the present, i.e., to arrange for the stockpiling of warheads for the weapons systems already acquired for our armed forces; to review the major procurement programmes outstanding and, in particular, what effect those programmes might have on future defence policy; to work out a long-range defence policy for Canada. Details of those steps. The strategic assessment for the development of policy: a review of the world situation. Looking for the most likely scenarios; designing a force structure flexible enough to contribute through the scale. Providing flexible and mobile forces with the right equipment and the right weapons. The difficulties involved in doing so. Rationale for reorganization. Details of integration. Examples of what is possible with integrated command. The defence budget. An equipment programme, with highlights detailed. Progress on integration. Towards a military organization designed to meet the technological advances of our age.
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18 Feb 1965
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Full Text
FEBRUARY 18,1965
Canada's Defence Reorganization
CHAIRMAN, The President, Lt. Col. Robert H. Hilborn


If I may indicate very generally and briefly the characteristics of the relatively short yet distinguished career of the Hon. Paul Hellyer, I begin by asking you to note one which every citizen wants to see in every public man, be he of his own party or any other, and that is the capacity for leadership. The speech or the writing, or the act even, is as nothing to the man behind it and to the impression he makes of sincerity, trustworthiness and general sanity of mind and thought.

When I introduce our speaker today I am encouraged by Stonewall Jackson's aphorism that: "Providence is more inclined to side with the big brains than with the big battalions."

Maclean's magazine recently included The Hon. Paul Hellyer in a select group of Canadians who made outstanding contributions to our national life in 1964 as the politi cian having the highest batting average. 1965 may find him rated as our least accident-prone cabinet minister.

About two years ago I was a completely gratuitous, unsolicited and self-appointed adviser to the Minister. I hasten to explain to senior officers present that I tried to avoid any conflict with Queen's Regulations which frown upon serving officers communicating directly with higher authority. Whenever I felt impelled to convey my strong views and considered opinions to the Minister, I would call a Mess Dinner and invite him as a guest. Unfortunately he never found it possible to attend, but I was always considerate, in expressing our regrets at his absence after the occasion, to enclose a copy of my speech. I will say this for the Hon. Paul Hellyer that regardless of how forthright my advice, the extent to which it might be at variance with official policy, and its general impracticality--he always acknowledged receipt of my letter.

His White Paper in March of last year set out Canada's defence policy in a wise and rational manner which virtually abolished one active arm, the R.C.C.R.M.C.--The Royal Canadian Corps of Retired Military Critics. With courage and after careful preparation he gave the armed services a definition of direction and purpose they had conspicuously lacked. It is remarkable that with this revolutionary change he accomplished the improbable feat of pleasing everyone from The Globe and Mail to retired brass and the three services themselves. There may have been, briefly, some lack of enthusiasm in certain areas and there have been some raised shelalaghs but in one stroke he repealed Parkinson's Law at National Defence Headquarters and gave us a greater striking force for less money.

We are particularly proud of the fact that he is not our guest of honour today but, as a Director of our Club, our honoured speaker. It is my great privilege to present one, who, in reorganizing Canada's defence with vision coupled with respect for traditional values, has won the admiration and respect of foes and the permanent confidence of friends--our Minister of National Defence, The Honourable Paul Hellyer.


I am indeed honoured that The Empire Club should invite me to this distinguished platform again. I should like to take advantage of the opportunity thus provided to follow a suggestion made by several members of The Empire Club that I repeat for the benefit of a wider, audience, some of the basic arguments in favour of integration of our armed forces and also to give a brief summary of our progress to date in that direction. To put the question in context, some background information may be helpful. When Mr. Cardin and I accepted responsibility for the Department of National Defence we sat down to consider what course we should follow. We soon came to the conclusion that there were three steps we should take. First, to _. bring the past up to the present. More specifically, I mean to arrange for the stockpiling of warheads for the weapons systems already acquired for our armed forces. Second, to review the major procurement programmes outstanding and, in particular, what effect those programmes might have on future defence policy. Third, to work out a long-range defence policy for Canada.

In order to obtain the warheads for our weapons systems it was necessary to sign an inter-governmental agreement between Canada and the U.S. to permit the stockpiling of warheads for use by Canadian forces in case of emergency. It was also necessary to sign technical agreements between forces relating to the storage, safety and other technical arrangements. Finally, it was necessary to complete the administrative arrangements, including the construction of special storage for the warheads and training of our forces.

As you know, three of the four weapons systems are now operational. The Bomarc missile squadrons--part of the continental anti-bomber defences--have been operational for a year. The CF-104 Starfighters in the nuclear strike role have been operational for some months. More recently, the Honest John surface-to-surface missile battery with our brigade in Germany passed its final test and the fourth system, the Genie air-to-air rocket for our air defence interceptors, will be available shortly. Canada then will be discharging, in full, those obligations undertaken for us in the name of Canada.

In our review of procurement policy, we considered all factors including technical, budgetary, and industrial but our main concern was the effect on future policy which would result from proceeding with existing plans. In some cases we decided to proceed. We placed an order for three "O" class submarines which are desperately needed for training and which also have some operational capability. The first of these will be commissioned this fall. We ordered a limited number of dual place Starfighters needed for safety in checking out our aircrews. These too have an operational capability.

On the other hand, we decided not to procure more single-seater CF-104's for the strike role because of the limitation this would place on future policy. We cancelled the general purpose frigate construction programme for the same reason, in addition to technical and budgetary considerations. The development of the Bobcat armoured personnel carrier was cancelled because, after ten years, we had not produced a perfected vehicle and because a successful carrier, the American M113 which was already in service in many parts of the world and for which there exists first-class world-wide logistic support, was available to us at least a year sooner and at about one-half the price per vehicle. As our brigade in Europe had for too long been exposed unprotected to possible mechanized attack, the decision taken was the only one which common sense could dictate. On the other hand, we decided to proceed with the development of an experimental hydrofoil vessel for the Navy since in this field our development is still ahead of others who are interested and the advantages of developing an ocean-going hydrofoil are sufficient to justify the risk involved.

Concurrently with the consideration of these first two action areas, we were laying the groundwork for number three. Studies were conducted in the Defence Department on a wide variety of subjects as background for the preparation of a long-range defence policy for Canada. The studies included a review of Canada's defence policy, a review of technological changes in the past decade, an assessment of the world strategic situation, an estimate of likely weapons development in the next decade, an educated guess as to likely changes in world politics and the balance of power, and other factors bearing on future policy and plans. By the fall of 1963 these were completed and the task of writing a policy began. The several government departments interested in defence were involved in the preparation of the White Paper and, in particular, the Department fo External Affairs was consulted throughout in order that the two arms of government, defence and external policy, would be working in complete harmony, as indeed they must.

One of the first and most important considerations in the development of policy was the strategic assessment. The world is a far different one than that of 1949 or even of 1957. The U.S.S.R. has developed a formidable nuclear strategic force, and this has had a profound effect on the balance of power. It was necessary to take a look at the possible spectrum of conflict based on these new and changed circumstances.

Following careful study we concluded that the most unlikely development at this time would be an all-out thermonuclear exchange. The second least likely, would be a major conventional war in Europe lasting for any extended period. At the other end of the spectrum, the most likely possibility of conflict will be a continuation of small wars, riots, insurrections, overthrow of the civil power, etc. These are likely to continue--perhaps on an increased scale.

The reasons for this assessment, which incidentally was unanimous in the department, are pretty obvious. Under existing circumstances an all-out thermonuclear exchange, even after a surprise first strike by either side, would inflict unbelievable damage on the two great power blocs. Casualties on each side would number in the tens of millions, and there is no known way that this result could be avoided. An exchange could take place as the result of miscalculation although I think the chance is remote. From a rational standpoint, there is no conceivable national purpose to be achieved by an all-out thermonuclear exchange and, consequently, the probability of it happening is low--provided, of course, a credible deterrent is maintained.

Almost equally unlikely is a major conventional war in Europe since a war on this scale would almost inevitably escalate into nuclear conflict, if for no other reason than it would soon threaten the nuclear capability of one or both sides.

At the other end of the scale, and far more likely, is a continuation of small wars, insurgency, riot, overthrow of civil government, and other minor conflicts of this sort. Not only have we been warned that there will be activity in these areas, but in some cases it could be a legitimate extension of an aggressive foreign policy from the standpoint that the potential gain might justify the risk taken and, therefore, we should expect continued and, perhaps, accelerated activity at this level.

Once having decided what we believe the possible spectrum of conflict to be, we began the task of designing a force structure flexible enough to contribute through the scale. This means forces equipped to contribute to the deterrent on the central front and also capable of being employed in peace-keeping activities, brush fire wars and related missions. The range of training and equipment required for these varied tasks is very great indeed. Requirements range from the heavy equipments needed on the central front for deterrence, to that of light air-portable equipments for peacekeeping, brush fire wars, etc. Training ranges from that required to cope with the possibility of nuclear war, to lightly armed peacekeeping. To meet these varied contingencies it is necessary to have forces that are flexible and mobile. Key words in our force structure then are "flexibility" and "mobility".

If we are to achieve our aim in having forces that are truly flexible and mobile, these forces must be provided with the right equipment and the right weapons. This has been one of the major problems to overcome. Over the past several years, while the defence budget has remained relatively stable, the day-today cost of operating our forces has risen to a marked degree. This, in turn, has meant that in each succeeding year there has been less money available for capital expenditures, including equipment. Last year we reached a low point of about 14% of the total budget available for equipment, while it is estimated that a minimum of something of the order of 20% to 25% should be allocated if we are to maintain a viable force with a proper balance between operations and maintenance costs on the one hand and equipment costs on the other.

This was clearly unsatisfactory. Had the trend continued for three or four years the proportion of our budget available for new equipment would have declined to zero. Obviously, something had to be done. There were two areas of possible saving--a substantial reduction in operational capability on the one hand or a reduction in overhead on the other hand. Between these two the choice was obvious. Our overhead establishment was quite large in relation to our operational units--and we came to the conclusion that substantial savings could be achieved in these areas without impairing our operational effectiveness.

The Glassco Commission in its study of the Department reported that there was a great deal of duplication and triplication and that through reorganization considerable savings could be made. One of its recommendations was that the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee should be given additional responsibilities and authority. As you know, before integration the senior military advisers to the Minister were the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chiefs of the three individual Services. In addition, the Minister also received advice from the Deputy Minister and from the head of the Defence Research Board. The Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee was, as the name implies, a committee chairman. He had no veto power nor could he overrule the advice of any of the Service Chiefs.

Below the Chiefs of Staff Committee there were two or three hundred tri-service committees. Again, the chairmen of these committees had no over-all decision-making power.

My experience with the system convinced me that a military organization could not afford to operate in a manner which tended to keep decisions from being made and once made, from being implemented. I was thoroughly convinced that the recommendation of the Glassco Commission did not go far enough and that solely by transferring additional functions to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff we would, in effect, not be simplifying the organization but, rather, setting up a fourth force. More important, we could not see that such a reorganization would in any way bring about the required savings in manpower at Headquarters both in Ottawa and in the field. After very careful thought we came to the conclusion that the only adequate answer was a straight-line organization with power to act.

Legislation abolishing the position of the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff, and the positions of the three Service Chiefs in favour of one Chief of Defence Staff was introduced in Parliament last year, was approved and came into effect on August 1, 1964. The new organization was immediately established with the Defence Staff being organized on a functional basis. Under the Chief of the Defence Staff, a Chief of Operational Readiness, Chief of Personnel, Chief of Logistics, Engineering and Development and a Comptroller General were appointed with each of these officers having the responsibility and authority to carry out his function for the three armed forces of Canada.

Since August of last year the process of reorganization has continued, with integration of the various service directorates proceeding as scheduled. We fully expect that by later this year Canadian Forces Headquarters will be completely integrated with a saving in service manpower at Headquarters in the order of 30%. Consideration is now being given to the integration of the various operational, logistic and training commands throughout the country and, while it is hard to forecast the time period necessary for the work to be completed, we expect that basic decisions can be taken shortly which will allow detailed planning to proceed. Once this has been done we will proceed with the complete integration of our training and logistics systems. This should yield considerable savings which can be diverted to the acquisition of new equipment. Our clear goal--as stated in the White Paper on Defence published last March -is a single unified fighting force for Canada.

It has been suggested that the idea of a single force is new and should be approached with extreme caution. Actually it is not a new idea. It is one which has been discussed and debated for at least a generation. The idea has won the support of some of the greatest military commanders this century has produced. These include Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur, Field Marshal Montgomery, Lord Mountbatten, and Air Chief Marshal Harris, to name some of the more illustrious. Each of these on the basis of his own command experience came to the conclusion that the old lines of demarcation were no longer valid. The grey areas are increasing and the trend to combined operations involving two or more of the traditional elements requires a unity of command and control to ensure maximum success.

These same considerations apply through many areas of service activity. There have been cases in this country where one service has been discharging trained personnel as redun dant at the same time that another service has taken in raw recruits to train in the same trade. There have been cases where materiel has been declared surplus by one service at the same time another service has been requisitioning the purchase of the identical item. Clearly this is not a prudent use of resources. At least 20% of the materiel used by the three services is common. Separate cataloguing, inventory and distribution does not make sense.

In respect to manpower, the services have estimated that the basic training in 70% to 90% of the trades in the armed forces is common to two or more--pilots, navigators, air controllers, airframe mechanics, aero-engine mechanics, doctors, dentists, clerks, cooks, motor mechanics, etc. The list is as long as your arm, and when you have finished, you wonder what is left. What is left, of course, is the specialized operational units.

It should be clearly understood that some things are integratable and some are not. We will always have battalions of soldiers, squadrons of airplanes and squadrons of ships. But this does not mean that the vast support companies required to keep any military force in operation cannot operate as a unity. Our object is to use our men and materiel in the most efficient and effective manner. This should reduce the cost of materiel and increase the career opportunities and opportunity for service of the men. It is a question of where a man can serve best and make the greatest contribution.

Already some of the advantages of integration are becoming apparent. We have established a single information service with a reduction of 60% in personnel and an annual saving of close to $1 million.

The establishment of an integrated construction engineering branch has been agreed with a 45% reduction in manpower forecast with the same workload.

A new and common pay system will be introduced in three stages in successive years. Stage one is expected to save 121 positions, and by the end of stage 3, it is anticipated that just over 650 positions in all will become redundant.

There have been many reports and studies urging a common system of long-line communications. The separate services could never agree on implementation. The project is now going forward.

A preliminary look at our integrated intelligence section indicates a possible Headquarters saving of 18%. I think this estimate is conservative and that we can do better. These are just a few dramatic examples of what is possible with integrated command. So far we have just scratched the surface. We have begun a common cataloguing system for our materiel using the NATO standard as an essential prelude to a common logistics system. Work in these and other areas is proceeding well and I have no doubt whatsoever about the ultimate success.

I should emphasize at this point that although substantial savings in manpower will be made as integration proceeds, there will, on the other hand, be a continued require ment for new men entering the force. In fact this requirement will be in the order of eight to nine thousand young and intelligent men each year and it should be stressed that the career opportunities available to them will, with the reorganization of the forces, be greater than they ever were before. Enterprising young men are needed today and will continue to be needed in the future and, while the challenges of service life are demanding for those who meet the grade, the personal satisfaction and personal benefits in terms of training and experience are most valuable and stimulating.

The new joint headquarters has facilitated the preparation of the first five-year integrated defence programme in Canadian history. For such a programme to be viable it was necessary to have some fairly firm idea of what the defence budget might be over the next several years.

Approval was obtained that, as a basis for planning, the . defence budget would remain at approximately the present level in constant dollars. Without such approval it would have been quite impossible to prepare a realistic, long-range programme.

This is relevant not only in so far as our commitments are concerned but, more particularly, in relation to manpower requirements and equipment programmes to ensure that our forces are operationally ready. Although there has been some long-range planning carried out within the department, in so far as equipment was concerned, since approval of expenditures was given on an annual basis, programmes were submitted to meet the short-term requirement with minimum consideration to producing a wellbalanced force with all the necessary equipment for the extended period of time. The primary concern was expenditures in one given year rather than the overall cost for the duration of an equipment programme. The results on several occasions were that, due to escalation in development and production costs, in subsequent years other branches of the Service were seriously deficient in new equipment through lack of necessary funds.

By being able to plan a long-range programme it is possible to ensure that not one branch of the Services would get the major proportion of funds available for equipment but, rather, that such funds can be distributed with the end result that all our forces are in a position to carry out operations with the maximum effectiveness.

Having received the go-ahead from the government which made long-range planning possible, we, within the department, proceeded to make detailed studies of exactly what would be required to have truly effective maritime, land and air forces.

As a result of these studies, a major five-year equipment programme was announced in December of last year. This programme will enable our armed forces to increase appre ciably their ability to play their part in the NATO alliance, in the United Nations and other peacekeeping operations and in meeting requirements in Canada. They are particularly related to the policy and roles set forth in the White Paper on Defence. The total cost of the programme is approximately $1.5 billion and takes into consideration the foreseeable requirement for an integrated force.

Highlights of this programme will include four new helicopter-equipped destroyers and two operational support ships for our Maritime forces, new anti-submarine heli copters and a conversion programme of seven destroyer escorts involving the installation of improved detection devices and other equipment which will significantly improve their submarine protection capability. In addition, these destroyer escorts will also be equipped with a rocket-assisted homing torpedo delivery system, known as ASROC, which has a much greater range than the present anti-submarine weapons in these ships.

In so far as land forces are concerned, I have already referred to the fact that for a number of years our brigade in Europe, as part of the NATO forces, has suffered a serious deficiency with regard to mechanized equipment. Under this programme, therefore, additional armoured personnel carriers to those already on order will be obtained. The Army will also get improved communication equipment, antitank weapons, long-range infantry mortars and 155-mm Howitzers.

Our air transport capability will be supplemented by the addition of four C130E Hercules aircraft. These, together with C130's already ordered, will provide a fleet of twenty four aircraft of the long-range air truck variety. Of particular interest to this area is the decision to obtain fifteen Buffalo aircraft from the De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited here in Toronto. It is also intended to obtain a tactical close ground support aircraft and I anticipate an announcement in this regard shortly.

These, as I said, are the highlights of the programme. The significant factor is that we can look forward to balanced forces furnished with equipment to enable them to carry out their assigned tasks with despatch and with efficiency whatever and wherever such tasks may be in the years ahead. I want to emphasize, however, that in planning for this equipment programme we have proceeded on the assumption that, through integration, financial savings can be made on operations and maintenance to make available sufficient funds for the programme without relying on the expectation of any significant increase in the defence budget. Progress has been made on integration, progress has been made on producing a long-range defence programme but this has not been done at the expense of our operational commitments. In fact, two decisions have been taken recently, albeit forecast in the White Paper, which increase our effective contribution both to NATO and to the United Nations.

The first of these relates to the earmarking of a Canadian Army battalion to NATO's mobile reserve which operates directly under the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. This is a new Canadian commitment to NATO. The Battalion nominated is the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada now stationed at Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick, and while this battalion group will be located in Canada, it will be available for airlift to Europe as part of the land component of the NATO Mobile Force. This Force is designed to help protect NATO's northern and southern flanks.

The second decision concerns the composition and organization of a new Special Service Force of the Canadian Army. The Headquarters and most of the units will be formed from the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade Group which has its Headquarters at Camp Petawawa, Petawawa, Ontario. It will be specially trained and equipped for service anywhere in the world and will be airportable with the capability of airdropping a portion of its equipment. Strength will be about 4,000, including support elements. Each unit of the force is being reorganized to fit the concept of instant readiness and airportability.

I do not want to leave the impression that our work is finished. On the contrary, it has just begun, but I think we can all take some satisfaction in the progress made to date. What we are doing is being watched with keen interest by many other countries and I have no doubt that if we are successful, and I am sure we will be, the example we are setting will be followed by others. We have, I know, the overwhelming support of the Canadian people and we have the support of the men and women of the armed forces. We are going to be successful and in doing so our country will be the pacesetter in military organization specifically designed to meet the technological advances of our age.


Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Lt. Col. B. J. Legge, a Past President of The Empire Club.

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Canada's Defence Reorganization

Some of the basic arguments in favour of integration of Canada's armed forces. A brief summary of progress to date. Three steps to take: to bring the past up to the present, i.e., to arrange for the stockpiling of warheads for the weapons systems already acquired for our armed forces; to review the major procurement programmes outstanding and, in particular, what effect those programmes might have on future defence policy; to work out a long-range defence policy for Canada. Details of those steps. The strategic assessment for the development of policy: a review of the world situation. Looking for the most likely scenarios; designing a force structure flexible enough to contribute through the scale. Providing flexible and mobile forces with the right equipment and the right weapons. The difficulties involved in doing so. Rationale for reorganization. Details of integration. Examples of what is possible with integrated command. The defence budget. An equipment programme, with highlights detailed. Progress on integration. Towards a military organization designed to meet the technological advances of our age.