Recently the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) came out with its new dress and deportment regs and it got me thinking about recruiting and retention. Also, reading Scott Faith’s article on retention and recruiting got me thinking that no matter the nation, all armies deal with the same issues. Pay, chow, promotions, etc.
The new regs for dress in the CAF are a bit of a tough pill for an old crusty guy like myself and many others. For example, men who identify as men, can now have their ears pierced and wear earrings in uniform. Want to wear nail polish as a dude? Go for it! These same people can order a skirt and wear it with their dress uniforms. I CANNOT wait to see a big tat’d up, bearded dude with his earrings and ponytail in a skirt on parade.
Hair of any length will be acceptable and any facial hair combo you so desire is good to go. Including goatees, and facial tattoos are fair game as long as they are not racial or offensive. To me, all face tat’s are offensive. I know: old school.
There is even a paragraph on underwear. “Undergarments shall be worn under all orders of dress and shall be of an appropriate colour so as not to be visible through uniform items of clothing.” No more free balling.
All this is to attract and recruit more people to the CAF. Like our U.S. counterparts, we are dealing with recruiting and retention issues. I do not know the answer to recruiting issues, but I do know that this is not the answer. Although these new “regulations” may stop the “I almost joined, but… (Insert lackluster reason).”
Wanna smoke weed? Yes, it is legal up here in Canada, the CAF is treating it like alcohol, no cannabis 8 hours before duty and if your MOS dictates that you may have to operate a vehicle, nothing for 24 hours before operation of said equipment. There is a plethora of other regulations around it as well. In my last 3 years of service, I attended more briefings on the use of cannabis than I did on use of force or weapons handling training.
This leads me to retention, keeping those in uniform that want to stay in uniform. What is the CAF doing for them you may ask? Well, actually they are doing nothing. No incentive to stay and really no one is doing anything to keep people in.
Good troops are seeing less-than-competent people getting promoted regardless of their physical ability to do their job. On permanent medical category for your knees? No problem we will promote you to a desk position so you don’t have to hurt your knees anymore. Bad back? No worries you don’t need a physical fitness test to be promoted anymore. Those good troops that see this are getting out of the military at record rates because they realize no matter how hard they work or how good they perform they will be graded on the same scale as a morbidly obese person who has trouble finding their own feet. Who is gonna stay in with this happening?
I recently saw the retirement of a damn good senior non-commissioned member, a man I would follow anywhere. He said that the new regs were his final straw. Now here is a highly decorated combat veteran with multiple overseas deployments, years of experience, and leadership that has left the CAF. What did the CAF do to try and retain him? Nothing, they let him leave and all that experience went with him.
Now add in the people that voluntarily released due to not wanting the COVID jab and those that are being unceremonially kicked out for not getting the jab and you have lost decades of experience, leadership and skillset. Ironically now a new recruit doesn’t need the jab to sign up, but those who refused the jab are still being punted. They are receiving 5F releases, “unsuitable for further service.” It’s a good thing the Forces aren’t woefully undermanned right?!
I don’t know or have all the answers, but I do know that the lines outside the recruiting center that these new initiatives were meant to attract haven’t materialized. Nor have I heard of anyone canceling their release because they can now grow their hair long and have a goatee.
Jay is a Retired Canadian Army Sgt, who served 25 years to Queen and Country. He has multiple deployments both foreign and domestic including the Balkans and Afghanistan. When not smashing keys on a keyboard, he coaches little league baseball and competes nationally as a Service rifle, Pistol, and Precision long-range shooter. Jay is an avid hunter and outdoorsman and married to an amazing woman and has two incredible kids. He ends his writing with “VP” (Victoria Patricia) and “88W out” (his vehicle’s call sign).
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