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Military and civilian fat cats.

Once upon a time, it was fashionable to decry the number of generals serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. Admittedly, over the past decade the number of generals have been reduced in real terms. The reduction in the number of generals has matched but not surpassed the overall reduction in the size of the Canadian military. Hence, now and then, the military still enjoyed the unviable record of having the highest ratio of generals-to-troops in NATO: one general for every 800 military persons.

Two things have not changed, however: the numbers of generals and lieutenant generals. Despite a 30 per cent reduction in the overall size of the force, the Canadian Forces are still commanded by an officer of the rank of a full general, which is absolutely silly. An officer of equivalent rank commands the U.S. Army, for instance, which numbers 499,000 people. Go figure. Equally silly is the fact that the payroll absorbs a total of 10 lieutenant generals, the same number we had in 1993 when the Canadian military numbered 90,000. We had an excessive number then. Today, the number is totally absurd. General A.G.L. [Andy] McNaughton, credited to be the architect of the Canadian Army just preceding WWII, must be rolling in his grave!

However, there is worse. Much worse. Within the Department of National Defence, there are exactly twice as many 'civilian generals' as uniformed generals and flag officers. And that number has been growing at a furious pace since the 'peace dividend' was cashed in the early 1990s. Instead of the traditional balance with one deputy minister and one chief of the defence staff, National Defence headquarters must now accommodate two deputy ministers and one chief of the defence staff; and the three environmental chiefs who are vying for attention at the corporate table to obtain their fair share of resources are literally outnumbered by their civilian counterparts.

Oh, and I forgot. To keep pace with the growth in civilian-politico senior staff, the department is now headed not by one minister of national defence but by two.

One would think that with all the brass and brains at NDHQ, each drawing a very significant salary plus performance bonuses, the department would have been alerted to the $159 million fraud which came to light recently. But, not unlike their brethren over at Public Works and Government Services, the word is that they 'saw nothing, heard nothing' which explains why a lower-level bureaucrat was allegedly able to process invoices for services not rendered.


How to explain this explosive growth in the number of senior executives at NDHQ, at a time when we are witnessing an unprecedented reduction in the size of the military? Also, now that the Cold War has ended, one would think that the conduct of military strategy, intelligence, procurement as well as the tailoring of the forces would be a much simpler operation requiring less skill and fewer people in the ivory towers. But you would be wrong to think this way. As Parkinson's Law reveals, a rising number of civil servants seldom reflects a growing volume of work to be done. Indeed, according to the late Professor Cyril Northcote Parkinson, the number of officials and the quantity of the work are seldom related to each other because growth is controlled by two almost axiomatic statements: (1) "An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals" and (2) "Officials make work for each other." Multiplying the number of his subordinates over the past decade, the deputy minister has quietly taken complete control of NDHQ, relegating the military senior staff to a docile and compliant minority. Imagine being in the shoes of the Chief of the Land Staff and attempting to be heard at the senior management table over the chorus of the twelve civilian deputy ministers each clamoring for a bigger share of the defence budget. It would be enough to motivate one to seek a field posting in Afghanistan.

At the current rate of expansion, the salary and benefits paid to these 223 senior DND/CF officials cost the defence budget the very tangible sum of $33 million a year. However, if you add the costs for their accommodation and that of their staff, communications, travel, and conferences, you could probably round out that amount to $50 million a year. If you add the salaries of their assistants and secretaries you can probably push that number to $75 million. Now, the question: How much bang do you think the Forces and the Canadian taxpayers are getting for this tidy investment? One can only wonder how in their day Canadian generals such as Crerar, McNaughton, Pearkes, and Dextraze managed to command and control large and complex military forces without the sage advice of luminaries such as an assistant deputy minister (public affairs) or the assistant deputy minister (information technology)?


With an authorized strength of 60,000 (although only about 52,000 are listed as effectives at any given time), the Canadian Forces boasts one full general, 10 lieutenant generals, 22 major generals, and 38 brigadier generals. Their yearly earnings range from $176,000 at the top end of the pay scale to a paltry $118,000.

By way of contrast, at the height of World War II, with a strength of 237,000, the Canadian Army got along quite nicely with one full general, 2 lieutenant generals, and 6 major generals. There were a number of brigadiers of course, but they were not accorded general officer rank. That only came with the unification of the forces.

Regardless of rank, the CF is the most officer-heavy military organization in the world. It holds a NATO record with officers making up 22.6 per cent of its strength compared to 15 per cent in the rest of the Alliance, or 10.35 per cent in the U.S. Marine Corps.

At the junior level, there are more lieutenant colonels (939) than chief warrant officers (595); twice as many majors (2,963) as sergeant majors (1,590); and more captains (6,018) than privates (5,289).

In addition, two deputy ministers and 138 senior executives with a pay range of $176,000 to $102,200, respectively, oversee the work of DND's 20,000 or so civilian employees. All of them are eligible for annual bonuses ranging from $11,150 to $15,700.

Today, the CF has a senior general to soldier ratio of 1 to 6,800. During the Cold War, as the Canadian Forces were rapidly expanding to meet the Soviet threat, that ratio stood at 1 to 17,857.

Lest we forget, DND also employs 21 defence scientists in the DS7 and DS8 categories at $128,200 to $160,000 a pop. The total number of generals, flag officers and senior executives is 223.

2004 NDHQ Military Brass

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Raymond Henault

Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Lt. Gen. George Macdonald

Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff Lt. Gen. Greg Maddison

Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources-Military) VAdm. Greg Jarvis

Chief of Naval Staff VAdm. Ron Buck

Chief of Land Staff Lt. Gen. Rick Hillier

Chief of Air Staff Lt. Gen. Ken Pennie

2004 NDHQ Civilian Executives

Deputy Minister Margaret Bloodworth

Assistant Deputy Minister H. Gosselin

Chief, Communications Security Establishment Keith Coulter

Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs) Georges Rioux

Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy) Ken Calder

Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources-Civilian) S.M. Siegel

Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel) Alan Williams

Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure & Environment) Karen Ellis

Assistant Deputy Minister (Finance & Corporate Services) Rod Monette

Assistant Deputy Minister (Science & Technology) J. Leggatt

Assistant Deputy Minister (Protection of Infrastructure) James Harlick

Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Technology) H.C. Dickson
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Author:Drapeau, Michel W.
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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