For the first time, the Canadian Armed Forces is opening its doors at every reserve armoury across the country in an attempt to boost its dwindling part-time force.
At more than 100 open houses, recruiters will pitch a new expedited enrolment process and guaranteed summer jobs for students. Reserve units will try to wow would-be members with demos of artillery equipment and combat training, as well as displays from medics, engineers and weapons technicians.
‘Recruit until you cannot recruit anymore.’
– Col. Thomas Mackay, Canadian Army Reserves
There are approximately 21,000 army reservist positions in Canada. The reserve lost about five per cent, or about 1,000 soldiers per year, between the 2012-13 and 2014-15 fiscal years.
Col. Thomas Mackay, director of the Canadian Army Reserves, attributes the shrinking force in part to a strong economy that offered part-time reservists other opportunities, as well as the end of the Afghanistan mission.
“After the Afghanistan mission ended, I think there was a period where a lot of soldiers probably looked around and said, ‘Well, that might have been the best [mission] we were going to have, and now there’s nothing on the horizon,'” Mackay said.
He also said the reserve hasn’t always prepared recruits adequately or challenged them enough.
“You know, these are all volunteers — they can leave the force any time,” Mackay said. “If the training isn’t delivering to their expectations, if they’re not getting the experience that they hoped to get out of the institution, then yes, the person is likely to leave.”
Mackay says the mantra right now is “Recruit until you cannot recruit anymore.”
Part-time reservists are given the choice to sign up for domestic missions, such as fighting forest fires in B.C. or sandbagging in Quebec during floods, or they can volunteer for overseas missions. A reservist cannot be deployed overseas unless he or she volunteers to…