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Is Canada’s military ready for the challenges ahead? ‘No,’ says defence chief

Click to play video: 'Military recruitment challenges persist as domestic demand increases: defence minister'
Military recruitment challenges persist as domestic demand increases: defence minister
WATCH: Military recruitment challenges persist as domestic demand increases, says Canada's defence minister – Sep 28, 2022

Canada’s military is not ready for the challenges the future holds as the global security situation continues “deteriorating,” warned Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson airing Sunday, Eyre spoke about the efforts the military is making to support Ukraine in its defence against the Russian invasion, but also about the difficulties the Canadian Forces are facing in preparing for the demands of a more unstable world.

“Do you think that you are ready right now?” Stephenson asked.

“Right now, for the challenges that lie ahead? No,” Eyre said.

“That’s why it’s so important that we reconstitute our force, get our numbers back up, that we get the capabilities in place that are relevant for the future security environment, while at the same time, as we focus on that future piece, being able to respond today.”

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The full interview will air at 11 a.m. Eastern on Sunday.

The Canadian Armed Forces have been facing a significant personnel crisis over recent years.

While it is supposed to be adding about 5,000 troops to regular and reserve forces to meet a growing list of demands, the military is instead short more than 10,000 trained members – meaning about one in 10 positions are currently vacant.

In addition to a lack of recruits, the Canadian military continues to face longstanding challenges in procuring new equipment, maintaining aging gear, and tracking down replacement parts.

There are also ongoing questions about whether the federal government will move to contract replacements for the weapons, gear and other equipment such as ammunition that the Canadian military has been donating in the billions to Ukraine.

While military officials aren’t placing blame on any single issue with respect to the recruitment and retention problems, the Canadian Forces have been shaken in recent years by a sexual misconduct crisis that touched even the highest ranks, along with wider attention on systemic racism.

The reputational problem has been compounded by concerns about the presence of right-wing extremists and racism in the ranks, which a review said last year were factors “repulsing” new recruits.

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