Military reserve running 19 per cent under strength as part-timers bail

The bottom appears to have fallen out of the military reserves with the latest government figures showing a shortfall of 5,293 part-time soldiers, sailors and aircrew.

OTTAWA — The bottom appears to have fallen out of the military reserves with the latest government figures showing a shortfall of 5,293 part-time soldiers, sailors and aircrew.

The numbers were released in federal departmental performance reports for the last budget year, which also show the military’s medical branch has 367 unfilled positions — both uniformed and civilian.

A handful of those vacancies are in the mental-health section, which was the subject of an intense recruiting campaign following a string of suicides in late 2013 and early 2014.

The performance report, tabled as Parliament returned this week, also raises the flag about the army’s non-combat vehicles, which have a serviceability rate of just 60 per cent — something National Defence claims does not affect its ability to operate and defend the country.

In one of its final acts in power, the former Harper government last summer issued a tender for logistics trucks — a program a decade in the making that had become a political and fiscal football.

Defence officials blame the drop in reservist numbers to 21,707 on a higher-than-expected departure rate and challenges in meeting recruiting quotas.

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