July 20, 2024

No wonder the military can’t recruit

Young people want to work for organizations with purpose

Who will fight for Canada? With all the sabre-rattling happening around the world, and the possibility of an isolationist president south of the border, it is a question Canadians must start asking themselves.

For decades, we’ve blithely basked under the U.S. defence umbrella. But should that shelter be withdrawn, we and other nations in the free world would be exposed to the icy whims of autocracies like Russia and China, whose war machines are ready to go. At last week’s Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of military and world leaders, the prevailing theme was not if there will be more conflict, but when. And how to prepare for it, starting with military capabilities.

Last month, UK Defence Forces Chief Gen. Patrick Saunders said his country would need a “citizen army” of 120,000 soldiers to fight a war with a country like Russia. Sweden reintroduced conscription in 2018. Recruitment is up 30 per cent this year, the armed forces’ budget is up by an almost equal amount, and Sweden plans to double the number of conscripts to 10,000 by 2030.

France implemented General National Service, a voluntary month-long program for all male and female citizens aged 16 to 25, in 2021. This year, the government plans to make it mandatory for high school students. While not directly designed to build an army, in the words of the French head of the national defence and armed forces committee, “The SNU encourages the youth to serve the public; joining the army can be one way of doing so.”

And then, there’s Canada. Our Armed Forces is short 16,000 troops in the regular and reserve forces. That means fully sixteen per cent of the 100,000 positions are unfilled. Another 10,000 soldiers reportedly do not have the training they need to be deployed. As for compulsory service for young people, it’s not even a conversation starter.

Interesting Read…