Reserve training policy aims for higher readiness, more flexibility

Article / March 10, 2022 / Project number: 22-0019

By Steven Fouchard, Directorate Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario - A new set of minimum training requirements for Canadian Army (CA) Reservists is being introduced over the next year to ensure greater readiness and more flexibility in how they serve.

The Soldier Readiness Policy, the first of its kind for the Army Reserve (ARes), will replace the current Non-Effective Strength policy, under which Reservists can be released from service after 30 unauthorized absences.

The new policy includes a minimum attendance requirement of 10 days of training per year and outlines essential training activities and administrative requirements that must be completed in order for Reservists to be considered ready for service. Essential training activities include Individual Battle Task Standards, like weapons handling and first aid, as well as online courses such as Hateful Conduct Awareness and Introduction to Indigenous Cultures.

“Some might say that's kind of a low requirement,” said Brigadier General Nick Stanton, Director-General Army Reserve. “Most units are actually achieving more than this – Army Reservists average 131 days of service a year - but we're starting with a baseline level of attendance and training requirements to enable us to develop the policy.” A one-year trial period for the policy began in September 2021, to allow members to shape it, explained BGen Stanton.

“We're going to be learning about and communicating the Soldier Readiness Policy for a year, so people can actually learn about it and members can tell us about any issues, so we have opportunities to adapt it properly.”

Army Reserve members make significant contributions to military operations both domestic and foreign, including some 8000 who were part of the response to COVID-19.

BGen Stanton explained that the new policy will give planners a clearer idea of how many Reservists are ready to answer the call.

“With the Soldier Readiness Policy, we are stepping up to the plate and defining the minimum requirements for readiness,” he said. “So we will know at the unit level, and all the way up to the Army, what is our readiness level”.

Doing so will have a greater effect across the entire Canadian Armed Forces. Knowing the state of readiness in the ARes is a major contributing factor to supporting operations.”

The policy will be a benefit to Reservists themselves, he added. By having their training obligations clearly defined, they will be better able to balance their civilian and military lives.

“You may have a new civilian job, you may be in a new relationship, or have a family. This policy allows some flexibility because you can say, ‘I need to take a knee this year to address my own life, but I know I must accomplish those days of training to still be effective within my unit.’”

“It's really important, I believe, that we be able to tell a Reserve recruit, ‘Here's the expectation of what you have to do this year.’”

The policy will also support goals in the Canadian Army Modernization Strategy - a five-year action plan to restructure the CA so that it remains relevant and effective well into the future. One of those goals is fully integrating all CA elements – the Regular and Reserve Forces, and Canadian Rangers – into a single, effective team.

According to BGen Stanton, the policy will more closely align the expectations for Reservists with those for Regular Force members.

“When you join the Regular Force, your terms of service actually state what you must accomplish, and what's expected of you. We now have an equivalent for Reservists.”

The ARes is actively recruiting to fill just under 3,000 vacant positions. To learn more about the most in-demand trades and find an ARes unit near you, visit the Canadian Army Reserve Recruitment 2022 website.

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