Canadian Armed Forces

From Academic Kids

Canadian Forces Flag
Canadian Forces Flag

The Canadian Armed Forces (Fr. Forces armées canadiennes), also referred to as the Canadian Forces or CF (Fr. Forces canadiennes or FC), refers to the combined branches of the military forces of Canada, these being Canada's army, navy, and air force. The Canadian Forces are part of the Department of National Defence and are headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario.

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Canadian Armed Forces Tri-Service Badge

Canadian Forces Tri-Service Badge


The Canadian Forces are charged with providing a multipurpose, combat-capable military service that is ready and able to:

  • protect Canada effectively from a direct military threat;
  • respond to terrorist activities;
  • help Canadians during times of domestic crises caused by environmental or other disasters;
  • assist government agencies to
    • handle civil emergencies,
    • protect Canada's fisheries,
    • interdict illegal drugs,
    • provide search and rescue services.

Canadian Forces also have a long history of leadership in multi-national peacekeeping and humanitarian relief efforts worldwide.

Force structure

Defence is one of the few national institutions under Canada's constitution that is solely under federal authority; in fact it is against CF protocol for the flag of any province to be flown on parade unless all provinces are represented.

The Governor General, as the Queen's representative in Canada, acts as the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces; however, the CF receives its political direction from the Minister of National Defence who represents the Department of National Defence (DND) in the government.

The military chain of command leads to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) while civilian personnel report to the Deputy Minister (DM) of National Defence. Both the CDS and DM report directly to the minister although in actual military operations, the CDS sometimes reports directly to the prime minister.

The CF regular and primary reserve forces currently stand at approximately 62,000 and 23,000 personnel (all ranks), respectively. In addition, the Canadian Rangers, a force of about 4,000 mostly aboriginal reservists, provide the only military presence in many Arctic areas. CF operations are supported by 22,000 full-time civilian DND employees, which when combined with CF personnel, makes DND the largest federal government department in terms of employees and in terms of budget. In 2004, departmental spending was approximately C$14 billion.

The structure of the Canadian Forces originated with a multi-service model based on British traditions. In 1968, an act of Parliament combined the army, navy and air force into a unified force under a single command. While the CF still act as a unified force, individual branches have regained much of their distinct structure and character.

The Canadian Forces underwent a restructuring in 1975 which saw Training Command (TC) removed from the command structure. Additionally, in the 1995 restructuring, Communication Command (CC) or "signals" was removed from the command structure.

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Canadian Armed Forces Land Force Command Badge

Canadian Forces Land Force Command Badge

Land Force Command

Main article: CF Land Force Command

Canadian army brigades are administered through four geographically determined area commands:

In each command (except Atlantic), regular force troops comprising a mechanized brigade group (CMBG) are supported by reserve forces in nine brigade groups. Regular forces in the Atlantic command are based in the Combat Training School at CFB Gagetown.

Today, Land Force Command (army) consists of three field-ready brigades:

  • 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Edmonton, Alberta,
  • 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in CFB Petawawa, Ontario, and
  • 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in CFB Valcartier, Quebec (the francophone brigade).

Each brigade contains one regiment each of artillery, armour, and combat engineers and three battalions of infantry (all scaled in the British fashion), as well as a service battalion (logistics), a headquarters/signals squadron, and several minor organizations. A tactical helicopter squadron and a field ambulance are collocated with each brigade but not part of the brigade's command structure.

Major training establishments and non-brigaded troops exist at CFB Gagetown and CFB St. Jean. Well-known regiments in the army include Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) and Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in 1 Brigade, The Royal Canadian Regiment in 2 Brigade, and the Royal 22e Régiment or the "Van Doos" in 5 Brigade. A tank training range is at CFB Meaford in Ontario.

Land vehicles

  • 114 Leopard C2 tank
  • 204 Coyote Reconnaisance Vehicle
  • 100 Cougar AVGP
  • 274 Grizzly AVGP
  • 27 Husky AVGP
  • 147 M113 AV
  • 651 LAV III AV
  • 199 Bison AV
  • Taurus ARV
  • 9 Badger AEV
  • LG Mark II, C2, C3, M109A4, M113A3
  • BV206
  • Bombardier Iltis
  • Mercedes G-Wagon
  • Nyala and Mamba
  • Aadvark JSFU
  • Krupp crane
  • Gailon grader
  • backhoe
  • track excavator

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Canadian Armed Forces Maritime Command Badge

Canadian Forces Maritime Command Badge

Maritime Command (MARCOM)

Main article: CF Maritime Command

Canada's naval forces are deployed at CFB Esquimalt on the west coast and CFB Halifax on the east coast. The Canadian fleet comprises of:

The Atlantic Fleet constitutes approximately two-thirds of the overall fleet, accounted for by the larger operating area and longer coastline compared to that of the Pacific Fleet. The navy has no permanent Arctic presence.

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Canadian Armed Forces Air Command Badge

Canadian Forces Air Command Badge

Air Command (AIRCOM)

Main article: CF Air Command

Canada's air force is deployed at 13 bases across Canada under the overall direction of 1 Canadian Air Division and constitutes the Canadian NORAD Region. Major air bases are located in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador while administrative and command-control facilities are located in Winnipeg and North Bay. A Canadian component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning Force is based in Geilenkirchen, Germany. Wings vary in size from several hundred personnel to several thousand.

Principal aircraft include:

  • 121 McDonnell-Douglas CF-18A/B Hornet tactical fighter bombers (though the popular name is not used to refer to CF craft as it is not bilingual)
  • 18 Lockheed CP-140 Aurora/3 CP-140A Arcturus long-range patrol aircraft
  • 28 Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King maritime helicopters
  • 15 CH-149 Eurocopter Cormorant search and rescue helicopters
  • 98 CH-146 Bell Griffon tactical transport helicopters
  • 32 CC-130 Lockheed Hercules transport aircraft
  • 5 CC-150 Polaris Airbus A310
  • 6 CC-115 Dehavilland Buffalo short range transport
  • 6 CC-144 Canadair Challenge transport (4 VIP/2 utility)
  • 4 CC-138 Dehavilland Twin Otters
  • 22 CT-114 Canadair Tutor trainers
  • 24 CT-156 Raytheon Harvard II trainer
  • 21 CT-155 BAE Hawk trainer
  • 4 CT-142 Dehavilland Dash8
  • 4 CT-133 Silver Stars

Canada also hosts significant amounts of flight training for allied NATO air forces, as Canada possesses air-combat and low-level ground-attack ranges the size of entire European countries:

Special forces

Main article: Canadian special forces

Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) is the CF special forces unit. Personnel are recruited from all CF units for counter-terrorism and covert operations.

Canadian Forces reserve force

The CF reserve force is comprised of the following:

Primary reserve

The primary reserve is comprised of citizen volunteer soldiers, sailors, and aircrew who train part-time and can be posted to regular force operations. They number approximately 23,000 (all ranks, all services).

Naval reserve

The naval reserve has divisions (shore-based training locations known as NRDs) located in 24 cities across the country. Periodic training is conducted at the two MARCOM bases and personnel frequently deploy on regular-force missions to supplement crewing levels. The naval reserve also constitutes the majority of personnel aboard maritime coastal defence vessels which are used for coastal patrol and minesweeping operations. Recently the naval reserve has also taken an active role in training and maintaining port securty units (PSUs).

Air reserve

The air reserve is organized into flights or squadrons at locations across the country where personnel conduct training. Units are specialized in various areas of surveillance, engineering, and airfield construction. Personnel also conduct further training at AIRCOM bases and can deploy with regular force AIRCOM crews around the world in support of CF missions.

Land Force reserve

The Land Force reserve, also known as the army reserve or militia, is organized into under-strength brigades (effectively just for purposes of administration) along geographic lines. The militia is very active and has participated heavily in all Canadian army deployments in the last decade, in some cases contributing as much as 40 per cent of each deployment in either individual augmentation, as well as occasional formed sub-units (companies). Reserve regiments have the theoretical administration capabilities for an entire battalion, while often only having the manpower of one or two platoons. They are perpetuated as such for the timely absorption of recruits during times of war. Current strength is approximately 15,000, and DND committed to an increase to 18,500 in 2000.

Communication reserve

The communication reserve is the primary reserve element responsible to the regular forces of the now defunct Canadian Forces Communication Command (now DND's Information Management Group), formerly known as the Canadian Corps of Signals. Communication reserve units are organized similarly to the militia with troops, squadrons and under-strength regiments located across the country. "Sigs" reservists are involved in radio communications , data transmission, and installation and maintenance of tactical cable networks.

Health services reserve

The 1500-strong health services reserve provides essential health services in the Canadian Forces. Health services reservists serve the Canadian Forces in a wide range of health care professions, including medicine, nursing and social work. Reserve paramedical personnel who are not civilian trained and employed are trained, as a minimum, to the level of emergency medical responder (EMR).

Supplementary reserve

The supplementary reserve is part of the CF reserve and comprises a voluntary call-up list for former CF regular- and reserve-force personnel who wish to be considered for reactivation in the event of a national emergency.

The Canadian Rangers

The Canadian Rangers are part of the CF reserve, provide surveillance and patrol services in Canada's Arctic and other remote areas, and are an essential component to Canada's exercise of sovereignty over its territory.

Cadet Instructors Cadre

Cadet Instructors Cadre (CIC) personnel are commissioned officers who are instructors in the various army, air and sea cadet corps across the country.

Canadian Forces bases

The Canadian Forces have a number of active installations across the country with some being branch-specific. There are also a number of facilities which have closed in various defence cutbacks since the 1970s -- for further info, consult Canadian Forces Bases.



Air force

Air Command and CF Northern Area also maintain a chain of Forward Operating Locations at various points across northern Canada, capable of supporting fighter operations. Elements of CF-18 squadrons periodically deploy to these FOLs for short training exercises or Arctic sovereignty patrols.

All services


Early days

Canadian troops in colonial times served as regular members of British forces and in local militia groups. After Confederation in 1867, Canada's forces remained under British command until the turn of the 20th century. Canadian militia defended their homeland in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and in the Fenian Raids. A Canadian expeditionary force assisted Britain in the Boer War.

The Canadian Forces date to the War of 1812 when Canadian militia units were formed to assist in defending British North America from the invasions by the United States. The Royal Canadian Navy was created in 1910 and the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1924.

Canadian soldiers, sailors and aviators came into their own through conspicuous service in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.


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Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan

The Canadian Forces or its component regiments have fought in the War of 1812, the Fenian Raids (1841-1871), North-West Rebellion (1885), the Boer War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the First Gulf War, and have contributed to UN and other peacekeeping missions and undeclared wars, notably the Suez Crisis, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia, and the War on Terrorism (Afghanistan). Canada is a charter member of NATO and a member of the North American Air Defence treaty (NORAD).

Battles which are particularly notable to the Canadian military include the Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I and, in World War II, the Dieppe Raid, the Battle of Ortona, the Normandy Landings, the Battle of the Scheldt Estuary, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, and the strategic bombing of German cities. At the end of World War II Norway and the part of the Netherlands North of the rivers Rhine and Lek were liberated almost solely by the Canadian Forces from the Nazi-German occupying forces. After restoring law and order they left the countries within several months.

Since 1947, the CF has undertaken 73 operations worldwide. In 2002, nearly 3000 Canadian troops were on active duty in 11 additional operations including the international war on terrorism in Afghanistan and the NATO stabilization force (SFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Canadian regular and reserve troops are a visible and respected force at home as well. In 2001 alone, the Canadian Forces responded to more than 8,000 search and rescue incidents and helped to save more than 4,500 lives.

Postwar developments

At the end of World War II, Canada possessed the third-largest navy and fourth-largest air force in the world, as well as the largest volunteer army ever fielded (conscription for overseas service was introduced only near the end of the war, and only 2400 conscripts actually made it into battle). Defence spending and personnel remained high during the early years of Cold War, but began to decline in the 1960s and 1970s as the perceived threat from the Warsaw Pact diminished. Throughout the 1990s, successive budget cuts forced further reductions in the personnel, number of bases, and fighting ability of the Canadian Forces. Sizable Canadian air and land forces were maintained in West Germany under NATO command from the end of World War II until the early 1990s.

Modern reorganization

Unlike the armed forces of Canada's closest allies -- the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and New Zealand -- the Canadian Forces is a single organization with a unified command structure. "The March 1964 White Paper on Defence outlined a major restructuring of the separate services. The White Paper described a reorganization that would include the integration of operations, logistics support, personnel and administration of the separate services under a functional command system."[1] (

On February 1, 1968, Bill C-243, The Canadian Forces Reorganization Act became law and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) were combined into one service -- the Canadian Forces. While unification was ostensibly undertaken for cost savings, it has also been suggested that Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Defence Minister Paul Hellyer were essentially unaware of the traditions behind each service, or did not care for them; and that the new Canadian Forces (in Canada's post-war modernist fashion) was easily translated to French and eliminated inconvenient monarchist references during a contentious period in Canadian history. In contrast to this perception, individual Canadian army units were permitted to retain their "Royal" prefixes (e.g., "The Royal Canadian Regiment") and ceremonial uniforms.


The British-style service-specific uniforms (navy blue, khaki, and light blue) of the three services were abandoned in favour of rifle green. The traditional navy and air force rank names were replaced by their army equivalents, with naval-style rank badges for officers and army-style for non-commissioned members. Maritime Command has long since returned to the traditional naval rank names (e.g., an army colonel corresponds to a navy captain) but Air Command did not retain its rank names (e.g., major not squadron leader). It has been widely argued that unification had a terrible impact on the morale of the Air and Maritime Commands and accomplished little in cost savings. In an effort to restore morale (and international credibility among its allies -- many of whom mocked the unification uniforms), Maritime and Air Commands were allowed to return to pre-unification versions of their traditional navy and sky-blue uniforms and headgear in the mid 1980s.

The Canadian Forces remains a single service, but each member belongs to one of three "environments": navy, army, or air. The environment is usually determined by the individual member's trade: for example, a pilot is automatically in the air environment. However, for trades that are not specific to one environment, such as medical technician or military police, the environment is assigned more or less at random. The environment remains unchanged throughout the member's career, regardless of the member's unit or base; thus, many units of the Canadian Forces, when on parade in dress uniform, will display a mix of navy, army, and air force uniforms.

Facility names

Unification also eliminated service-specific facility names. All RCAF facilities had previously followed RAF practice by using the prefix "RCAF Station" or "RCAF Detachment" prefixes (see the list of RCAF stations). RCN facilities followed RN practice by using the prefix "HMCS" (His/Her Majesty's Canadian Ship) for any shore-based facility (known as 'stone frigates'), in addition to major vessel names (see the list of RCN facilities). The army used the prefix "Canadian Military Camp" or just "Camp" for short.

The new "Canadian Forces" opted for the generic-sounding "Canadian Forces Base" (CFB) or "Canadian Forces Station" (CFS) prefixes. This is starting to evolve. Although the CFB prefix is still the official name for the installation, service-specific names are beginning to appear. Several minor installations of Maritime Command which are already located on the two major navy bases are again prefixed with HMCS, and Halifax has maintained the historic HMC Dockyard title (the RN's ex. HM Dockyard). In the 1990s, Air Command reorganized its bases and squadrons into a classic "wing-squadron" structure and now major air force bases have changed how they refer to the facilities accordingly (eg. "CFB Shearwater" is now referred to as "12 Wing Shearwater"). In Land Force Command, army bases are beginning to see a use of the "camp" prefix again, and in one specific instance, CFB Gagetown is referred to by three names: CFB, the old pre-unification "Camp Gagetown" has now resurfaced, and the newer "Combat Training Centre (CTC) Gagetown" is also being used, particularly in highway signs.


Military manpower
- military age: 16 years of age
- availability: males age 15-49: 8,417,314 (2004 est.)
- fit for military service: males age 15-49: 7,176,642 (2004 est.)
- reaching military age annually: males: 218,488 (2004 est.)
- active troops: 52,300 (Ranked 66th)
Military expenditures
- dollar figure: $9.801 billion (FY03/04)
- percent of GDP: 1.1% (FY03/04)

See also

External links

fr:Forces armées canadiennes

sl:Kanadske oborožene sile


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