Is Canada’s military facing a new decade of darkness amid persistent personnel challenges and growing demands on the force from around the world?
“History will tell,” said Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre in an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, airing in full on Sunday.
“I think it’s too early to say … if it’s a decade of darkness. I’ve certainly faced some challenges in this position, and the armed forces writ large are facing some challenges,” he said.
“But our job is to do everything we can within our power to make it better, to be ready.”
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.
But the compounding problems come amid a world rapidly becoming more unstable and uncertain — one Defence Minister Anita Anand said last year is growing “darker” and more “chaotic.”
“We can still respond pretty fast, but are we big enough for what the requirement is? And so we need to work on all of those factors,” Eyre said.
“I am concerned because we see that increased demand signal around the world and here at home, because our security situation globally is deteriorating. And what that means is the country is going to require more and more out of the Canadian Armed Forces in the years to come.”
Eyre said he worries those factors mean Canada’s military is not ready for the challenges the future holds as the global security situation continues “deteriorating.”
The full interview will air at 11 a.m. Eastern on Sunday.