Reserve Force - RPP 2015-16

Canada's Reserve Force

The Reserve Force is composed of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who are enrolled for other than continuous full-time military service. The Reserves play three key roles in the CAF: Operational, trained and ready to respond; CAF presence and community connection; and Citizenship, displaying leadership and commitment to country.

The Reserve Force is based on a long standing “citizen soldier” model and serves both as a strategic and operational resource by providing depth and breadth to CAF capabilities, a vital link to communities and to Canadians . While Regular Force members are enrolled for a specified term of service, members of the Reserve force are enrolled for an indefinite period of service and as such volunteer to keep themselves ready for duty if and when necessary.

The Reserve Force is comprised of four sub-components: the Primary Reserve, the Canadian Rangers, the Cadet Organization, Administration and Training Service (COATS) and the Supplementary Reserve. The Reserve Force represents a rich heritage and tradition of service to Canada with its presence in local communities throughout the country. A sustainable Reserve Force, trained and equipped to meet the needs and operational challenges of the Department of National Defence and CAF, is a critical enabler to CAF strategic and operational success.

Budget 2012 announced that the Reserve Force strength will be maintained at 27,000 which, in conjunction with the 68,000 Regular Force personnel, will support the continued implementation of the Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS). Ongoing efforts within National Defence and the CAF will optimize Reserve Force resources and the force structures necessary to ensure that the critical link to communities across Canada is retained and will continue to evolve while facing the full range of defence and security challenges facing Canada now and into the future.

Primary Reserve

The Primary Reserve is a force that consists of predominately part-time professional CAF members, located throughout Canada, ready with reasonable notice to conduct or contribute to domestic and international operations to safeguard the defence and security of Canada. This force is fully integrated into the CAF Chain of Command.

The Primary Reserve is also a diverse military community and management of the Primary Reserve is primarily in the hands of Force Generators (Navy, Army, Air Force, Health Services, Judge Advocat General and Special Operations Forces) while some others are self-managed (Primary Reserve Lists). Specific tasks, roles and missions flow from the Force Generators. Their employment and training models, as well as integration, vary. Common to all is the contribution to the Defence Mission and the delivery of Canadian Armed Forces capabilities.

The Primary Reserve contributes to the overall CAF capability to deliver strategic effects in the defence of Canadian interests both at home and abroad. It consists of professional, well-trained and predominantly part-time CAF members who contribute to the defence and security of Canada by maintaining directed levels of readiness.

Informed by experience gained in multiple domestic and expeditionary operations, the Reserve Force has proven to be a critical component of the CAF. The ongoing development of the roles, missions, and operational tasks within each of the services has ensured that the Reserves are trained, developed, and equipped to work seamlessly alongside the Regular Force in providing the capabilities necessary to achieve success at home and abroad.

Primary Reservists are recruited through CAF recruiting centres staffed by both Regular and Reserve personnel. Recruitment is accomplished through a combination of national advertising and unit initiative.

Primary Reservists have an obligation to train annually. Part-time training is normally conducted as individual training to meet trade or general specifications or to maintain skills (such as annual weapon qualification or first aid certification), while the two week annual training is normally utilized as an opportunity for collective training. Courses must be structured to accommodate demands of a civilian career such as school and family. Courses are modularized in two week blocks whenever possible and distributed learning is used when feasible. That does not usually extend to courses as basic training or initial trades training. As Reserve personnel do not perform the same variety of tasks expected of a member of the Regular Force they are not always trained to the same breadth. That said, many of the occupational specifications are seamless for both. Skills are now trained to the same standard and integrated or common training has a positive impact on employment, operations, component transfers and a more integrated CAF. The Primary Reserve sub-component consists of the following elements:

  • The Naval Reserve;
  • The Canadian Army Reserve;
  • The Air Reserve;
  • Military Personnel Command Primary Reserve List (PRL), which includes the CF Health Services Reserve and the National Defence Headquarters (PRL);
  • The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command Reserve; and
  • The Legal Reserve.

In international operations, the role of the Primary Reserve is to augment, sustain and support deployed forces and up to 20% of deployed forces during recent international operations have been Primary Reserve personnel. With respect to domestic operations, the Primary Reserve provides the personnel for coastal, air, and arctic operations and the Territorial Battalion Groups. Reserve units are located in Canadian communities across Canada, and as residents of those communities, Primary Reserve members work with local first responders when called up in the event of an emergency. Their involvement contributes to reducing the effect of the crisis and assisting in a return to normalcy. Primary Reserve domestic operations response has included Disaster Relief Assistance, Search and Rescue, Security and Sovereignty Operations, Support to law-enforcement and Support to major events. There will continue to be significant opportunities for the Primary Reserve to serve in current and future operations.

Progress has been steady to improve care of ill and injured Reserve members and their families, as well as access to a wide range of DND/CAF and Veterans Affairs Canada programs and services. Work continues on the integration of Reserve Force considerations and/or consolidation into policies and programs across the CAF, as well as the implementation of the Primary Reserve Employment Capacity Study recommendations to improve and update internal management policies and directives that govern the Primary Reserve and confirmation of the Missions, Roles and Tasks of the Primary Reserve elements through the Comprehensive Review. Key recommendations of the study included getting to a full-time Primary Reserve baseline establishment of 4,500 (which has been achieved), developing strategic guidance for the Primary Reserve (which was promulgated last year), reviewing human resources and other administration policies (which is ongoing), and improving the tracking, management and calculation of Primary Reserve funding to increase predictability. Some progress is being made on the review of Reserve funding. However, this work is still in the early stages and will follow on from the missions, roles and tasks confirmation.

Over the past three years, the balance of employment positions has shifted to favour part-time service. Full-time positions have been decreased and aligned to support the priorities of Reserve Force Generation, Support to operations, Reserve Professional Development and Support to the Institution. The Primary Reserve is established at 27,000 and the average paid strength over the past year was 22,023. Of those Primary Reserve members employed on full-time service, up to 4,500 perform ongoing duty and training in direct support to the control and administration of the Reserve Force at units, schools and headquarters across the country. About 2,000 members either attend or deliver training courses or provide short-term support to individual units throughout the year. Annually approximately 430 Primary Reserve members support international and domestic operations at any given time.

Reservists’ contributions to operations and connections with the communities in which they serve are critical to Canada. The CAF must continue to recruit, develop, support and retain a ready, capable, motivated and relevant Primary Reserve force as both a strategic and operational resource for Canada and the CAF well into the future. The Primary Reserve will provide continued support to deployed operations and have demonstrated leadership and professionalism by making important contributions to CAF capability and response when called upon for operations and exercises at home and around the world.

Naval Reserve

The Naval Reserve trains and prepares individuals to supplement the Regular Force at home and abroad through part-time and full-time service. Naval reservists are employed on CAF operations domestically, particularly in the seaward approaches to North America, and abroad. The Naval Reserve is focused on providing a sustainable strategic source of trained personnel for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and CAF within a "One Navy" concept. It is continuing to realign its structure to support the CAF's direction regarding Primary Reserve employment and implement the "One Navy" concept, becoming fully integrated into the RCN's force generation and force employment processes and structures, to better enable achieving RCN's strategic objectives. As well, through its Naval Reserve Divisions, the Naval Reserve is the Navy's vital link to communities across Canada and supports, through a broad national presence, the RCN's efforts in connecting with Canadians.

Army Reserve

Canada's Army Reserve is organized into 123 units, located in 117 cities and communities across the country. The role of the Army Reserve, an integral component of the Canadian Army (CA), is to augment, sustain and support the CA in carrying out its mission.

After a period of very high operational tempo, the Army Reserve is focusing its efforts on reconstitution and expanding to meet its funded strength target of 19,471 part-time soldiers. The current strength of the Army Reserve is 18,456 part and full-time Reservists. It continues to provide augmentation to the Regular Force for domestic and international operations and to backfill Regular Force personnel shortfalls within the land forces and the CAF at all levels of responsibility. These demands will be balanced against the needs of the Army Reserve for its own leadership and management of personnel.

Domestically, the Army Reserve contributes to the Canadian Army's Lines of Operation 1 and 2 through Territorial Battalion Groups, Domestic Response Companies and Arctic Response Company Groups. These nascent capabilities represent the force employment framework through which the Army Reserve will leverage existing unit structures and capacities and eventually take the land forces lead in domestic operations, with support from the Regular Force as required.

Internationally, the role of the Army Reserve has expanded to provide 20 per cent of required land force personnel to expeditionary operations through individual and formed capability augmentation.

Air Reserve

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is a Total Force organization -- the military structure comprises Regular and Reserve personnel, who are fully integrated under a single chain of command. Air Reservists force generate by working in concert with the Regular Force – as opposed to other elements who force generate separately. An “Operational Reserve,” because the reservists are fully interchangeable with their Regular Force counterparts, they receive the same training, are held to the same standards and hold the same qualifications. The Air Reserve are employed across the country and provides an important link to our communities. The close integration of the Air Reserve into total force establishments provides a surge capacity to ensure that the RCAF is able to deliver strategic effects for the CAF particularly during periods of high operational tempo, in support of the Canada First Defence Strategy.

The Air Reserve initiated a Campaign Plan in 2013 to address its challenges and build on its opportunities – with the aim of moving the Air Reserve forward in the coming years to become fully sustainable while maintaining or augmenting its value to the RCAF. This campaign plan comprises 5 Lines of Operation: Stabilize, Educate, Lead, Retain and Grow. Present Air Reserve Strength is around 1,950 personnel but the goal is to grow the force to about 2,300, in order to provide the RCAF with a reliable and robust Reserve component to continue to contribute to air effects now and in the future.

CF Health Services Reserve

The Health Services Reserve, with approximately 1,600 members, is organized into two functional groups: Primary Reserve units known as Field Ambulances, and the 1 Canadian Field Hospital Detachment Ottawa. Core tasks assigned to the Field Ambulances include force generating trained personnel to support, augment and sustain CAF Health Services Group's domestic and expeditionary commitments, to provide health services support to their affiliated Canadian Brigade Groups and to conduct community outreach activities. The members of the 1 Canadian Field Hospital Detachment Ottawa include specialist clinicians and serve to provide depth and breadth to the Health Services Group on international operations and in military clinics within Canada.

Priorities for the Health Services Reserve in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-16 include:

  • Field Force Review. Review Reserve Field Ambulance capabilities including establishments and equipment to ensure they have an appropriate field structure to meet current and future tasking requirements. This will be harmonized with the Regular Force review to ensure interoperability and compatibility for training;
  • Develop a Health Services Reserve career management program. Develop a comprehensive program of career management and merit boards to ensure viable succession for Health Services Reserve units. This program will be tied to career progression and training plans to allow members to gain the professional development opportunities and experience needed to be employed in various jobs over their entire career;
  • Enhance the clinical capability of the Field Ambulances and 1 Canadian Field Hospital Detachment Ottawa through targeted recruiting and a harmonized recruiting and training plan. This will allow the Health Services Reserve to continue augmenting and sustaining the CAF Health Services Group in meeting its tasking and operational commitments to the Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS) and relevant six core missions, as well as provide a robust health services support capability to their affiliated Canadian Brigade Groups. The Health Services Reserve will continue to participate in the Health Services Annual Military Occupation Review to ensure synchronization with the overall recruiting strategy of Health Services Group;
  • Reserve Casualty Support Initiative - Field Ambulance Medical Link Teams (FAMLT). Provide coordination, support and unit liaison to facilitate the medical follow up process for all personnel returning from deployed operations – primarily dealing with Class A members. This entails contacting each deployed Reservist 3 times post-deployment. The second primary function of the FAMLT is to conduct annual health care entitlement briefings to all Primary Reserve units (Army, Navy and Air) within the Reserve Field Ambulance's area of responsibility. In addition, in accordance with the Chief of Defence Staff and Surgeon General emphasis on mental health, the FAMLT has begun to deliver an additional briefing on mental health specific to the Primary Reserve;
  • Post Afghanistan Operational Readiness training opportunities. Continue to develop collective training opportunities that will increase the domestic operational response capabilities of the Reserve Field Ambulances as well as train to meet CFDS imperatives;
  • Primary Reserve Operational Readiness care. The trial to conduct Periodic Health Assessments (PHAs) to Class A members of the Primary Reserves was inconclusive and will continue for this training year to provide a more robust data trail on the personnel and resource requirements to provide this service nationally. Providing PHAs to the Primary Reserves would ensure their members were ready to meet its domestic and international operational commitments on short notice; and
  • Implementation of CF Health Services Reserve Performance Measurement Framework (PMF). This PMF is focused on quantifying Reserve activities that has been integrated into the broader Health Services Group framework. The collection and assessment of data is geared toward converting Health Services Reserve potential and capacity into operational capabilities.

Legal Reserve

The planned strength of the Judge Advocate General Primary Reserve List (PRL) for FY 2015-16 will be 100% staffing of the 64 legal officer positions. Reserve Force legal officers will be employed on Class A service providing legal advice in all areas of military law. They will also continue to be employed on limited Class B (full time, temporary) service from time to time, as well as on Class C service on international operational tours of duty.

Supplementary Reserve

The Supplementary Reserve is administered by Director Reserve Support Management (DRSM). With the current policies in place, the Supplementary Reserve will consist of approximately 15,000 members as of 1 April, 2015. However, a submission was made to reduce the Supplementary Reserve period of service from 10 years to 5 years and, if approved, would see Supplementary Reserve with approximately 9,000 members.

DRSM is also examining the Retirement Age of its current members in order to provide a more accurate accounting of personnel that can be employed after 55 years of age. If authorised to release members who are over 55 and have not elected to retire at age 60 because they would not be meeting the purpose of the Supplementary Reserve, membership could be approximately 12,000. If authorised to reduce the period of service to 5 years and release those who have not elected retirement age of 60 the Supplementary Reserve could consist of approximately 8,000 members.

Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service

The Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (COATS) which consists of Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC) Officers, General Service Officers and General Service Non-Commissioned Members who have undertaken, by the terms of their enrolment or transfer, to perform such military duty and training as may be required of them, but whose primary duty is the supervision, administration and training of cadets or Junior Canadian Rangers (JRC) who are members of the cadet organizations referred to in section 46 of the National Defence Act. Their mandate is to ensure the safety and welfare of cadets and JCRs while developing in them the attributes of leadership and citizenship, promoting physical fitness and stimulating their interest in the sea, land and air activities of the CAF. From time to time, they may be assisted by members of the Regular Force or members of other sub-components of the Reserve Force.

Canadian Rangers

The Canadian Rangers (CR) are Reservists, who provide a military presence in remote, isolated, and coastal communities of Canada, report unusual activities or sightings, and conduct surveillance or sovereignty patrols as required. One of the tasks assigned to the Canadian Army is to support the Government's sovereignty and security objectives in the North. Canadian Rangers contribute to this objective by providing a military presence in those sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas of Canada which cannot conveniently or economically be covered by other elements of the Canadian Armed Forces. Canadian Rangers also support the JRC program, a program sponsored by the CAF for youths 12 to 18 in remote and isolated communities. The CR have grown to 179 Patrols and their current strength is approximately 5,000 nation wide.

Canadian Forces Liaison Council

The Canadian Forces Liaison Council (CFLC) is a group of more than two hundred Canada-wide senior civilian business executives and educational leaders who volunteer their time and efforts to promote the primary Reserve Force by highlighting the benefits of Reserve Force training and experience to the civilian workplace. Supported by a full-time military Secretariat and a national network of Reserve officers, CFLC assists individual Reservists as well as Reserve units in matters related to employer support.

The Council's mandate is to enhance the availability of Reservists for their military duties by obtaining the support and co-operation of organization leaders in Canada. As a force enabler, the Council encourages civilian employers and educational institutions to grant Reservists military leave on a voluntary basis, without penalty, to participate in their military activities, duties and training.

CFLC's operational activities are based on two key defence tasks – Provide Force Elements and Program Governance – and contribute directly to the achievement of two of the Vice Chief of Defence Staff's strategic objectives – Generate and Sustain Forces and Contribute to Canadian Government, Society and the International Community.

The Council has five programs. Two programs, namely the ExecuTrek and the Outreach programs, are focused on generating awareness and educating employers, academic leaders and other organizations as to the value of Reserve service. Two other programs, the Reservist's Assistance program, the Reserve Unit Support program, exist to support Reservists in their discussions with employers when there are challenges regarding a Reservists request for military leave for operations or training. Finally, the Awards and Recognition program is designed to recognize Canada's organizations that have been highly supportive of their Reservists. All of these programs have been implemented with the intent of significantly improving employer and educator support for Reservists. In this manner, the Council continues to play an important role in the ongoing availability of Reservists for domestic and international operations.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: