Vanguard Magazine

Jun/Jul 2015

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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CANCAP employee Richard Houde cutting steel in the welding shop, Kandahar Airfield, 2009. CANCAP Operations in Camp Julian (KABUL), 2004. l lOgiSTiCS 32 JUNE/JULY 2015 a t first glance, the slide was a mess; it looked like a pre-school art project destined for a place on the fridge, let alone a brief- ing document meant to guide the direction of war. But given time, and a good set of eyes, the tangled web of scribbles gave way to a complex set of weaving arrows inter- rupted with bold, block-letter words such as Tribal Governance, Coalition Capacity and Priorities, Population Conditions and Beliefs, Insurgents, Narcotics. Then, in pale green, barely visible on the right-hand bottom corner of the page, were the words, "Infrastructure Services and the Economy." Lean in, squint, and it's here where you'd find tiny, greased cogs sup- porting the giant, spinning gears of coali- tion forces: the civilian workforce that set- up camps for soldiers to sleep in, clean their dirty laundry, supply their drinking water, or maintain roads and vehicles. They are the details, the punctuation in a complicated sentence that goes un- noticed until it isn't there, and then sud- denly, the structure begins to fall apart. Canada was slow to catch on to the civil- ian element of deployed operations com- pared to allies like the U.S. and Britain. In fact, a lot of soldiers resisted the appear- ance of "outsiders" when they finally be- gan appearing in Bosnia and Afghanistan not quite 15 years ago. Change was afoot. The overarching question for soldiers was, "Why?" Dave Rooke, program general manager with SNC-Lavalin, admits contracting out in-service support and logistics was initial- ly a "hard sell" with the military. "'We're already spending money on people,' they'd argue. 'And now, we are spending quite a bit more'." What they did not see, at least in the be- ginning, was that hiring civilians to assist with the support elements of the Canadian Armed Forces actually was cost effective. "Overall," Rooke explains, "you are going to pay a carpenter or another trade special- ist X amount to work for you on a deploy- ment. The equivalent military position for a deployment has many more responsibilities and pure military duties. As such, the mili- tary incurs additional overheads for support personnel due to security, training or other unexpected taskings; they aren't just car- penters when they deploy, they are soldiers first." The CAF is in the business of training and employing soldiers, something that is both time-consuming and expensive. Their professional trade duties, whether mechan- ics, carpenters or welders, is almost second- ary to that role in some theatres of opera- tion. Rooke sums it up: "When we hire a CANCAP person," a term used to describe the civilian workforce for the Canadian Forces Contractor Augmentation Program, "they have one job." That saves the government money and, The privaTizaTion oF in-service supporT in deployed operaTions The invisible elemenT: Approximately five years ago, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul, Afghanistan meant to outline the complexity of American military strategy. "When we understand that slide," he remarked, "we'll have won the war." Jason Mcnaught is a freelance defence writer based in Ottawa.

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