File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk salutes after assuming command of the Canadian Army from Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse during a ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Wynnyk is hoping the days of having to pinch pennies just to train his soldiers are over.

Army commander welcomes training commitment

OTTAWA — Canadian Army commander Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk is hoping the federal government’s new defence policy means the days of pinching pennies to properly train his soldiers are finally in the past.

Much of the attention around the Liberals’ defence policy has focused on the large amounts of money promised for new equipment such as fighter jets and warships.

The army will benefit from this bonanza, with new air-defence weapons and logistical vehicles among the extra $62 billion that the government has promised for the Canadian Forces over the next 20 years.

But what has Wynnyk most excited is that the government has — for the first time — promised to train Canada’s soldiers to what he considers the required level.

“Throughout the years, when I look back at my career, we haven’t always had a government promise or a government commitment to do that, and by extension the funding to do that,” Wynnyk told The Canadian Press.

“So I think that’s an incredibly important thing that was included in this defence policy, which we haven’t necessarily seen in the past.”

The defence policy specifically states that training to what is known as the “brigade-group level” is the minimum required to be able to conduct large military operations that include non-army units and allies.

Yet funding hasn’t always been available to train to that level, especially following the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan and deep spending cuts under the Harper Conservatives starting in 2012.

The army managed to keep training at the brigade-group level, Wynnyk said, but “it was almost on an ad hoc-basis in terms of cobbling together the funding, having to borrow from one area to go to another.”

One of the areas from which money was drawn? Infrastructure, which has been historically underfunded across the Canadian Forces because of a shortage of funding in other priority areas.

“We had to make hard choices,” Wynnyk said. “We didn’t cut on (training), but we had to skimp and penny-pinch in a number of areas to make sure that that continued.”

The army commander also has high hopes for the future of the military reserves, which are facing a dramatic overhaul after struggling with a shortage of people and equipment for years.

The fate of the part-time force is especially important to Wynnyk given that between 65 and 70 per cent of its members belong to the army reserve, which plays a huge role in virtually all army operations.

The Canadian Forces is supposed to have 28,500 reservists, but the actual number has been thousands less because of problems with recruiting and retention.

The defence policy calls for the reserve force to be expanded to 30,000, as well as shorter recruiting times and four years of guaranteed summer employment to keep them in uniform.

Wynnyk, who started his own 36-year career as an army reservist, is hoping those changes will reverse what had become a steady decline in the size of the part-time force in recent years.

Just Posted

Christmas season in Red Deer begins with Festival of Trees

The kickoff to the Christmas season in Red Deer is upon us.… Continue reading

Judge allows Mr. Big evidence in murder trial

Two men accused of triple-murder admitted their involvement to undercover police

Red Deer agency supporting for LGBTQ2S+ youth

New report on LGBTQ2S+ youth from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate

Four people arrested after gas and dash

Four people were arrested after an alleged gas and dash in two… Continue reading

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer: Nov. 19

Watch news highlights from the week of Nov. 13

Red Deer Christmas Bureau to help 1,300 children this year

Demand is high, but Red Deer always provides

CP Holiday train to stop in Ponoka for another year

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Kittens rescued after allegedly being tossed from vehicle

Couple finds abandoned kittens new home through Facebook

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month