Blunt talk on military challenges is a ‘good thing,’ retired defence chief says

Three retired Canadian defence leaders say chief of defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre making the right move in sharing public statements about the challenges facing the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) around personnel shortages, aging equipment and operational readiness.

This level of candor is not usually seen among military leaders when it comes to sharing issues with the CAF, but retired Royal Canadian Air Force commander and former chief of defence staff Gen. Tom Lawson sees it as a positive.

I think good, clear talk at this time is a good thing. And I did say earlier that I’m optimistic. I think him sharing some of these shortterm problems helps him [Gen. Wayne Eyre] deal with it,” Lawson told The West Block host Mercedes Stephenson.On the Jan. 7, 2024 episode, Stephenson sat down with Lawson, retired Royal Canadian Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and retired vice-chief of defence staff Lt.-Gen. Guy Thibault to discuss the issues facing the CAF.

“Some of the problems that the chief and his entire leadership cadre are dealing with are bigger and internal compared to what the three of us dealt with,” Lawson said.

“The shortage of personnel, the rusting out of fleets and the shortage of spare parts, really things that make it very tough today. And then of course, on top of all that, the decrease in the budget that was just announced.”As part of broader budgetary deliberations, Defence Minister Bill Blair has been tasked with shaving $1 billion off defence expenditures. Blair previously said they are looking for efficiencies in areas like consulting and administration.Meanwhile, the CAF is operating in an increasingly volatile world with the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict, military posturing from China and increasing calls to help assist on natural disasters.

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