Lieutenant-General P.F. Wynnyk: Commander of the Canadian Army.
LGen Wynnyk's overseas assignments include, in addition to four years of service in Germany, tours with the UN Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC), the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), and an assignment as the Canadian Task Force Commander and mission Chief of Operations of the Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies en Republique Democratique du Congo (MONUC). In 2009, he was posted to the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan as the Assistant Commanding General responsible for overseeing the development of the Afghan Ministry of Defense and the Afghan National Army.
On 14 July 2016, LGen Wynnyk was appointed as Commander of the Canadian Army.
CDR: General, thank you for speaking with CDR for our report on Canada's Army. What is your vision for the Army of today and tomorrow?
LGen Wynnyk: Thanks Joetey. I think any army commander would say the same thing - the mission of the Army is to force generate soldiers in the defence of Canada, for operations up to and including combat.
In the short term, there are two major areas, potentially three, that I believe will consume just about my entire effort. I think they're almost self-evident. First, as we go into Latvia, we're training again in a peer-on-peer context. Sometimes I take that for granted because that's how I cut my teeth.
This is new to most of our soldiers. After the time that we spent in Afghanistan fighting a counterinsurgency, this is new terrain in terms of actually preparing to deal with or deter a peer-on-peer adversary. It's very exciting and it's going to take a lot of work. The interoperability aspect of us going into Latvia will be somewhat challenging but very rewarding as well. During the mission, we'll be working with five, and potentially more, different countries in our battle group. We've committed up to 455 personnel to form the framework of this unit, but the actual battle group will be about 1300 or 1400, which is significant.
Even as we sit here, we're doing key leader training with our Allies in Kingston where we're discussing the Latvia mission and the challenges as we go forward.
Second, the Government, as you know, has announced the potential to go back into peace support operations. There's much speculation in the media as to where that might be. It's not my job to speculate, but it is my job to make sure, if and when the time comes, that our soldiers are ready and prepared to deploy into whatever environment and location that the government dictates. That will be another focus as we go forward.
Third, and it is one aspect I'm very passionate about, is the reinvigoration of the Army Reserve. I personally started out as an Army reservist, and there's a lot more that we can do. Some of it will depend on government direction and resourcing, but there are some things that we can do better now with the resources we have.
CDR: What other aspects are you focusing on for the reserve?
LGen Wynnyk: There are a number of other initiatives that we're looking at that are linked to the Defence Policy Review. We've made some proposals, but it will be up to the Minister of National Defence and the Government of Canada to decide whether or not these proposals are desirable and necessary for the defence of Canada.
There are a lot of things we can do better within the Canadian Army; equipment acquisition is one of them. I have stressed with my leadership team that we've got to put more priority on acquiring equipment for the Reserves. Furthermore, a decision was made last year, while Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse was still in the seat, to increase the size of the Army Reserve. The Chief of the Defence Staff directed the Canadian Army to grow the Army Reserve by 950 within the next two years, and we have divided this allocation amongst various units in Canada. What we're doing is trying to reinforce success by assigning those positions to units where we know there are large populations, primarily in urban areas, where in some cases there are waiting lists of people to get in.
In many ways we have a 19th century militia footprint in Canada when we require a 21st century Army Reserve. In 1900 I believe that 63% of the Canadian population was rural; that trend is now reversed. About 80% of the Canadian population is urban, but our units have not necessarily followed this shift. When I say rewarding success, I'm fairly confident that in cities like Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, for example, we can increase the size of our units by concentrating on recruiting and retention.
CDR: That actually segues into my next question which is about personnel. You've addressed the reserve aspect, but what about regular members. Are there any trades where you have deficits, or any place where you need more people?
LGen Wynnyk: We track every occupation, every classification, and every trade. Overall, the Army is manned at about 93% of its established strength. Would I like it to be 100% - absolutely! But anything over 90% is what we would call healthy. There are a couple of trades and classifications that are below 90%, which we deem as stressed, because then we have to make tough choices as to where we send people.
Two of them are related to communications and electronics. It's probably no surprise, in this high-tech world, that it's a little hard sometimes to retain our signals personnel. Sometimes they may absolutely love the military, but there are just offers that they cannot refuse in the high-tech sector. The technological training that we offer is a bit of a double-edged sword. We absolutely need it, but it makes our soldiers extremely attractive to civilian employers.
CDR: What does the Army need to focus on from an infrastructure perspective? LGen Wynnyk: Infrastructure's an important issue. As you're probably aware, the Army doesn't manage any infrastructure anymore. All DND infrastructure was centralized about a year and a half ago under the Associate Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Environment. I believe that DND is the federal government's largest landlord, and within the federal government the majority of the infrastructure, I believe it's 43%, is actually Army-related. I do have concerns related to the sustainability of our infrastructure footprint, particularly with regard to some of our reserve units. Many of our reserve units are in armories that were built between 1910 and 1930. They are great historic buildings, but I have two concerns - can we maintain them, and are they functional for the Army Reserve of the 21st century as we go forward? In some cases, the answer to both questions is yes, but we've got to look at optimizing our footprint to make sure that it meets our needs and is sustainable.
A great example, and a success story, is the Seaforth Highlanders Armory Complex in Vancouver. The local brigade headquarters, 39 Brigade Headquarters, used to be housed in "temporary" WWII infrastructure at Jericho Barracks. We got rid of that, and consolidated on the Seaforth property, we reinforced the existing armory, made it earthquake-proof, but at the same time preserved the original building, the history and the heritage, and actually built an addition for the brigade headquarters. I think as we go forward, we've got to develop more solutions like this where we consolidate but, at the same time, protect unit history and heritage. This will take funding and local support.
In many cases, I don't want to reduce the footprint. Many Canadian Army Reserve units, particularly in Western Canada and Atlantic Canada, are the only Canadian Armed Forces presence in these cities and towns. Timmins, Prince Albert, Matane, and Lethbridge are just a few examples. Sometimes we have to put more emphasis on the fact that you can't just look at the dollar value associated with the number of soldiers parading there. You have to measure the presence and what that brings to the community, as well. The link that the community has not just to the Canadian Army but to the Canadian Armed Forces is important.
CDR: Is there anything that stands out where you need to focus on a particular location?
LGen Wynnyk: There are a number of priorities and there is a mechanism where we rank and prorate them, and that is then fed into a committee that assesses the Canadian Armed Forces' priorities. When it comes to infrastructure, there are more demands than resources, so we must be very prudent in assessing which projects go forward.
I pay particular attention to infrastructure associated with supporting our families, including gyms and Military Family Resource Centres. We've been pretty good over the last couple decades on adequately resourcing those facilities that we require for operational reasons. We've been less successful in ensuring that the recreational facilities are there for dependents and families, and not just the soldiers. Behind every effective soldier, there is normally a partner and often a family, and you've got to look after them as well. They are part of our Army team. They don't wear the uniform, they haven't signed up, but they support our soldiers 24/7.
SHIFTING TO A LIGHT FORCE
CDR: I think most people would agree with you General. A year ago I met General Hainse in Poland, and he mentioned that under his tenure the Army was shifting more to a dismounted or a light force. Is that shift continuing under your tenure as Commander of the Army?
LGen Wynnyk: Yes, it was one of the initiatives that Lieutenant-General Hainse launched, and that was to further develop our light forces. You're probably familiar with our structure. Our light forces are primarily based around our light infantry battalions, and in each of the regiments, in each of the Regular Force brigades, the third battalion is the light battalion. In the west, we have the 3rd Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, we have the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment in Ontario, and the 3rd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment in Quebec, but none of these were light by design.
What we mean by light is agile: the ability to deploy very quickly with modern equipment. They were light by default in that we had not equipped them - therefore, they became light. Essentially, they were foot-borne soldiers.
What we're embarking on now is a deliberate program over time to equip light forces in a comparable fashion to light infantry battalions found in the US, UK or Australia.
CDR: What type of equipment will you be looking at?
LGen Wynnyk: A good example is reinvigorating our anti-tank capability. We have had the TOW missile, and it's a good system, but it's based on 1970's technology which has been updated. If you put light forces out, you have to have the ability to defeat an armored threat. The best way to defeat armor is with other armor, but light forces don't have that, so modern anti-tank systems are very important. That's one example where, as we go forward, we're looking at projects that would really modernize these light forces and make them more lethal on the modern battlefield.
CDR: Could you give us a brief update on Op Unifier which was just renewed.
LGen Wynnyk: I'm very pleased that the Government of Canada renewed the mission. There's the strategic aspect - I firmly believe we need to do everything we can to deter Russian aggression because we must not forget they invaded a sovereign country. Having visited that mission in the fall, I was very impressed by what our soldiers are delivering. They're extremely professional and the level of training they are providing is first-rate. The feedback that I got from the Ukrainian army commander and some of his officers was extraordinary.
CDR: It's clearly a very important mission.
LGen Wynnyk: It is, and I'm constantly impressed by the professionalism of our soldiers. Even after 36 years in uniform, the enthusiasm the soldiers have for what they are doing over there, the sense of purpose that they displayed, and their genuine desire to make a difference struck me as exceptional.
HONING MILITARY SKILLS
CDR: Well General, as Senior Staff Writer for CDR I've talked with a lot of soldiers and it's very clear to me that they're energized by being engaged in operations since that's what most sign up to do.
LGen Wynnyk: You've underscored a very good point. It gets back to what I said originally. With the enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia, the extension of the mission in Ukraine, and potentially a peace support mission on the horizon, it's very good for the Army because we're honing our skills. Our soldiers didn't join to stay at home, they want to deploy, and they want to do meaningful things on behalf of Canada.
CDR: Let's get into some procurement programs. Maybe we should start with MSVS. The Standard Military Pattern truck portion of the project was awarded to Mack Defence, but I believe Oshkosh has contested the award.
LGen Wynnyk: Well, the MSVS is intended to deliver at a rate of 80 to 100 vehicles per month starting in December 2017. I'm very pleased with that because we've had to consolidate fleets. We've had to take some vehicles away from the reserves so for every vehicle that comes in, I can start pushing vehicles back to the reserves.
CDR: And, that segues over to LVM because MSVS fits the middle portion of vehicle logistics, but LVM addresses the opposite ends.
LGen Wynnyk: You're absolutely right, and that still has to go forward. That's probably the most significant equipment issue we have. I can't really give you any more on that right now, other than it's being worked on. You're aware that with MSVS and LVM, it's predominantly Army, but the Army's doing that project on behalf of the entire Canadian Armed Forces as the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force also need trucks. It's all the same fleet, of which about a third of the LVM fleet will be operated by users other than the Canadian Army.
CDR: Are the LAV6.0s replacing all of the Army's LAV Ills, and if not, is there an effort to upgrade LAV IIIs?
LGen Wynnyk: We have a fleet of 651 LAV III that are in the process of being upgraded to LAV 6.0. A total of 550 LAV 6.0 have been approved by government for the upgrade program. This leaves us with a small delta of vehicles to meet all of the Government of Canada objectives for force readiness. A third project of 60 vehicles will help meet this delta created in the program, but this has not yet received approval and is not expected in the short term. As Commander of the Canadian Army, I'm still short a number of hulls - about 60.
POSITIVE FEEDBACK ON NEW TAPV
CDR: Perhaps you can speak about the TAPV. It's had a difficult gestation period, but I believe they're now starting to come online.
LGen Wynnyk: The redesign effort that delayed the initial delivery of the TAPV ensured that what we are receiving now is a highly mobile vehicle that fully meets the Canadian Army's needs. Fielding and training are progressing well with more than 25% of the 500 TAPV delivered to date. Feedback from the users has been very positive and we are confident that we have a world-class vehicle for use by our world-class soldiers.
CDR: It's my understanding that the army lacks a bridging capability. What other capabilities do you need?
LGen Wynnyk: Yes, you may recall that we used to have armored bridge layers. We took those out of service some time ago, and we do have a capability gap that we have to address in the future. Air defence is another example where we've got a gap.
CDR: Is there any other operation or initiative which you'd like to speak to?
LGen Wynnyk: It's important to mention Operation Honour. Harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour grievously erodes the confidence that members need to successfully carry out their military duties. The chain of command at every level is empowered to engage personnel and clearly reaffirm behavioural expectations of all our members. The Canadian Army must be a safe and inclusive organization, and the Army Sergeant-Major and I will do everything within our power to ensure that it is.
CDR: Thank you General.
CDR sent Senior Staff writer, Joetey Attariwala, to interview the Commander of Canada's Army at NDHQ in Ottawa, where the discussion focused on requirements like anti-tank kit and new military vehicles as well as the reserves, infrastructure, Op Unifier and much more. Here is that conversation.
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|Title Annotation:||CANADA'S ARMY|
|Publication:||Canadian Defence Review|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2017|
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