The Canadian Armed Forces Ethos: Trusted to Serve is the most essential doctrine in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). It must guide our conduct and performance at all times, both on- and off-duty.

This Canadian Armed Forces Ethos (CAF Ethos) comes at a particular turning point in Canadian Armed Forces’ history. Mainly in response to strategic transformation at the turn of the century, the previous publication Duty with Honour: The Profession of Arms in Canada emphasized the profession, organizational aspects and future challenges related to the evolution of our Profession of Arms rather than our ethos. Instead, Trusted to Serve is focused on expanding and refining our shared understanding of our military ethos.

The CAF Ethos reflects Canadian values. These values allow our profession to operate with the trust of those within the organization and those we proudly serve; the Government of Canada and Canadians. Therefore, we entrust this renewed military ethos to all serving CAF members; to commit to and live by its principles. Every single one of us must embody the CAF Ethos and employ its values in our decisions and actions both while in the service of others and in our personal lives.

This renewal represents a necessary shift in approach to our ethos. With this publication, we have focused on accurately describing our ethos and putting it to best use in our daily service within the Profession of Arms. As military professionals, we must internalize all the elements of the CAF Ethos because it needs to underpin our character. Close to two millennia ago, Marcus Aurelius wrote that a person’s worth is measured by the worth of what they value. Our worth will be judged by how we best exemplify the ethos espoused here.

Our conduct and performance reflect directly on all of us. Therefore, we need to apply the highest standards of ethics and professionalism in all that we do. Our military effectiveness and credibility depend on it. 

The Profession of Arms can only maintain its credibility and trust with the Government and Canadians by respecting the dignity of all persons. The employees of the Department of National Defence and CAF personnel share this foundational ethical principle within our combined Code of Values and Ethics. This foundational principle as well as other Defence Team values and ethics are now incorporated into the CAF Ethos in a way that more fully articulates what is expected from our military personnel. The CAF Ethos also serves as the basis for building the CAF Code of Professional Military Conduct.

As we progress in rank, this doctrine is formally taught and discussed on all common career-related professional military education programs; however, this is not enough. Leaders have the most significant impact on CAF culture and cohesion. Therefore, as leaders, we must demonstrate the highest standards of conduct and professionally socialize this ethos in our daily military service, ensuring that we live up to its ideals.

All military personnel must frequently return to our ethos for guidance and regularly discuss it with other members of the Profession of Arms. This is especially true when faced with challenging situations and decisions. All CAF personnel regardless of rank must play an active role in reshaping military culture by embodying the CAF Ethos and helping others to do the same.

Finally, we remind all leaders of their responsibility to consistently reinforce these values and principles through action, especially when it may seem challenging to do so. Our actions or inactions influence others whether we realize it or not. The example we make is the standard that we set. Remember, if we commit to and live our ethos, we will have earned the trust and respect of our team, the Government, and our fellow Canadians.

W.D. Eyre


Chief of the Defence Staff


G.A. Grégoire

Chief Petty Officer First Class

Canadian Armed Forces Chief Warrant Officer

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