Happy Holidays from the Canadian Army Command Team

Statement / December 15, 2022 / Project number: 22-0141

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As we move again into the holiday season, Army Sergeant-Major Chief Warrant Officer James Smith and I would like to extend best wishes to our Canadian Army family and our partners and allies abroad.

Thanks to each of you – soldiers, families, and our civilian teammates alike – the Canadian Army in 2022 continued to be versatile, flexible, and agile. These essential qualities have allowed for success in all the missions entrusted to us.

This year also marks the Canadian Ranger 75th Anniversary, recognizing their significant contributions to Canadian sovereignty. As Canada’s eyes, ears, and guides in the most remote, northern, and isolated areas of our nation, their ability to deploy rapidly and operate self-sufficiently has made their communities, and the country, safer. The Year of the Canadian Rangers is a well-deserved public recognition of their longstanding dedication to service.

As we close out the year, this is a time to reflect on how fortunate we are as Canadians and appreciate our freedoms and incredible quality of life. It’s also a time to pause and reflect on the pain and suffering many less fortunate people around the world are enduring, including the citizens of Ukraine.

As winter takes hold, many find themselves without power and water, searching for food and struggling to survive. Many are separated from their loved ones, who are fighting against Russia’s illegal aggression and many have lost members of their families. Many others have been scarred physically and emotionally. This brutal war has marked each Ukrainian for generations to come.

We, together with our NATO allies and partners, will always stand with Ukraine. Since 2015, the Canadian Armed Forces has supported the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their defence against Russia’s illegal invasion.

We are training new Ukrainian recruits in the United Kingdom and sharing our combat engineer expertise with their sappers in Poland. Our gunners continue to train theirs in the use of M777 Howitzers and other equipment we have donated to the cause.

Our support in the next months will grow, as Canada moves to lead the enhanced Forward Presence Multinational Brigade in Latvia. Together with our NATO partners we are bringing additional troops and capabilities to Europe to send a message that tyranny does not trump order, illegal action does not go unpunished, and terror does not rule free people.

The Canadian Army will always stand for democracy and exists for one purpose: to defend Canadians and support Canada’s interests. To that end, we must be agile, versatile and adapt to every situation. And you have done so remarkably over the past year.

Whether in a vaccination centre, responding to floods or fires, in garrison, on exercise, at a training center, or serving in a headquarters, your individual and collective work helps protect Canada, secure North America, and support engagement with our allies around the world.

Our footprint has been as large as ever this year. On the domestic operations front, you continued to play an important role in the national response to COVID through Op LASER and Op VECTOR.

Under the Op LENTUS umbrella, you were part of offering welcome relief to Eastern Canada in the aftermath of hurricane Fiona. I know your work is appreciated equally by the impacted residents and the other government agencies we collaborated with.

Many of our colleagues will be engaged with Op PALACI over the holidays, helping to protect key national rail and road lines in British Columbia from the threat of avalanche.

We are thinking of those who are furthest from home this year, and of the families supporting and missing them.

We continue to have a strong presence in the Middle East, providing training and capacity-building assistance to Iraqi Security Forces, and the armed forces of Jordan and Lebanon.

You are all to be congratulated for making a difference in these and many other ways. At the same time, we must also acknowledge the significant challenges that lie ahead.

In order to meet our future challenges – both foreign and domestic - we need to address all elements of readiness: people, training, equipment, and sustainment.

The Ukraine situation confirms that we are on the right track with the Canadian Army Modernization Strategy, and we must remain committed to implementing it.

Our Digital Strategy is a key part of the process. We must be ready for a world in which information is currency.

Many of our members are already digitally immersed in their personal lives. With the Digital Strategy, we are bringing that mindset to all levels. We are focused on increasing digital literacy among members and recruiting new, digitally-literate talent and fostering talents we already have.

People are the Canadian Army’s greatest strength. That is why they are at the center of our Reconstitution effort. We are reorganizing, regenerating, and rehabilitating the Army. This includes continuing the important work of changing our work culture and embracing the recommendations of external reviews such as those from former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour.

Focusing on our most critical missions – particularly our work in Latvia as part of Op REASSURANCE – and through measures such as decentralizing basic training, we are already on a solid path to Reconstitution. The ASM and I ask you to return in the New Year energized and prepared to keep pushing forward.

For now, we urge you to use whatever time you have available to unplug, rest, be with loved ones, and keep looking out for one another. This time of year can be difficult for some of us; if you know someone who is struggling, reach out.

The ASM and I know we can count on you to return to work ready to meet and overcome the challenges ahead.

Lieutenant-General J.J.M.J. Paul
Commander Canadian Army

Chief Warrant Officer James Smith
Army Sergeant-Major

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