Backgrounder: Strengthening the Army Reserve through Mission Tasks

Backgrounder / April 26, 2018 / Project number: 18-0200

Overview

  • A key component of Strengthening the Army Reserve (StAR) strategy will be Mission Tasks. It is the long term goal of StAR that every Reserve Unit will have a Mission Task specific to it.
  • Moving forward, Mission Tasks could encompass a wide range of significant and specific Canadian Army (CA) functions, both current and future, including Arctic Response Company Groups, Territorial Battalion Groups, Infantry Platoons, Assault Pioneers, Mortars, Influence Activities, Long Haul Trucking, Light Urban Search and Rescue and Light Engineer Bridging.
  • Assigning Mission Tasks will only be done with the clear understanding that no task will be given without being adequately resourced. 
  • Each unit will be assigned the resources required to train and employ soldiers in their Unit’s specific Mission Task. The goal will be to have seven times the number of trained personnel a unit needs to fulfill its Mission Task.
  • Mission Tasks will not be a stand-alone Army Reserve (ARes) initiative. But rather part of the overall CA strategy and structure. It will be institutionally ingrained and integrated into the next CA Force Generation (FG) and Force Employment (FE) concepts.
  • Mission Tasking will be done carefully and logically, with a constant focus on ensuring that operational output is the only justification for every unit’s existence.
  • Mission Tasks will assigned directly from the Commander Canadian Army (CCA) to a specific unit, on the recommendation of the chain of command.

Mission Tasks: Details

An important Part of Canada’s Defence Policy Strong, Secure, Engaged

Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE), Canada’s Defence Policy, released in June 2017, clearly dictates that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) must strengthen its Primary Reserve Force (PRes). The policy recognizes that the PRes forms an integral part of the CAF and its members contribute varied skills and backgrounds that enrich and strengthen the military.

The Canadian Army has a mandate and an obligation to strengthen its Army Reserve to fill critical gaps in its overall force generation structure

Under SSE, the PRes will become more integrated into the total force, providing an agile and effective full-time capability through part-time service.

A key initiative of Strengthening the Army Reserve

The Strengthening the Army Reserve strategy clearly sets out how the CA will meet the ARes goals of SSE. The StAR strategy is to have one Army team that can better support Canada’s domestic and international defense objectives, while also becoming an even more attractive and stimulating employer. StAR and its twelve component initiatives has a clear aim to grow, support, equip, and employ the ARes.

Mission Tasks defined

One of the StAR twelve initiatives deals with the assignment of Mission Tasks to every ARes unit. The term “Mission Tasks” is not doctrinal, not found in any army publication, nor is it a term from the past. Accordingly, Director Land Force Development (DLFD) staff have developed a meaningful and easily understood definition that has been approved by the CCA, in support of his intent.

A Mission Task:

  • Is assigned directly from the CCA to a specific unit, on the recommendation of the chain of command
  • Is a primary tactical responsibility assigned permanently to a unit
  • Can be either fully in line with a unit’s core role and functions, or it can be a specialization in addition to those core roles and functions
  • Includes a clear expectation of Force Employment output, generally at the Platoon/Troop level, to be generated from the tasked unit for Army operations either directly or through reinforcement of an affiliated Regular Force Army unit
  • Is tailored to the operational needs of the CA and, where possible, the realities of ARes units. Mission Tasks are therefore not distributed with symmetry, they vary substantially between Corps and Branches, as well as with the geographical and demographic circumstances of each CA Division.

Intent to assign every ARes unit a Mission Task

Over time, it is the intent that every ARes unit will be assigned a Mission Task.

The operational output expectations will be managed by providing each unit with enough resources to train to a ratio of seven to one, meaning that a unit will have seven times the number of trained personnel it needs to fill the allocated Mission Task structure.

Mission Tasks will not be a stand-alone ARes initiative. It will be institutionally ingrained and integrated into the next CA Force Generation and Force Employment concepts.

Ultimately, Force 2021 and Army of Tomorrow documents will be the sources that assign and direct how ARes units will be structured for FG, and what FE outputs will be expected from each of them.

As with any significant change, in 2017 the CA identified three strategic approaches to establishing credible missions for its Reserve forces:

  1. Validating current missions – Tasks to be validated and aligned (Force Protection, Convoy Escorts, Arctic Response Company Groups, Territorial Battalion Groups) with a defined equipment plan;
  2. Identifying new missions – Tasks to be directed and resourced (Infantry Platoons, Reconnaissance, Direct Fire Support, Assault Pioneers, Mortars, Influence Activities, Persistent Surveillance System, Long Haul Trucking); and
  3. Exploring future missions – Tasks to be examined and analyzed for possible development (Assault Troop, Light Urban Search and Rescue, Light Engineer Bridging, Cyber Threats).

Assigning Mission Tasks will only be done with the clear understanding that no task will be given without being adequately resourced.  This will include people, funding, equipment, ammunition, infrastructure and training.

Now, with the early stages of strategic analysis and an understanding of certain capabilities, the CA is emerging with assigning the first wave of Mission Tasks to units in each Canadian Division. Those will be directly linked to SSE, which was very specific in some areas of ARes capability expectations, and which strives to enable an agile, multi-purpose, combat-capable military.

Mission Tasks help integrate the Regular and Reserve Force team

The next move in the analysis of the need for Mission Tasks will be focussed on the all-arms team by Corps and Branches and on long term procurement.

Throughout this process, the importance of CA Regular and Reserve Force integration cannot be overstated. Most, if not all, ARes mission-tasked units will have a trained Reserve soldier output that is critical when aligned to an affiliated Regular Force unit. This will either fill a Regular Force structure gap or allow the Regular Force unit to focus on things that require full-time commitment.

Regular Force units must also be ready to adopt new ways of conducting collective training to allow their affiliated ARes units to productively participate, grow, and also build the cohesion required for operations.

Mission Tasking will be done carefully and logically, with a constant focus on ensuring that operational output is the only justification for every unit’s existence. It is quite possible that this process will lead to some adjustments and changes based on units’ demonstration of their ability to grow and train into new roles. Some units may end up growing substantially because they are able to fulfill their Mission Tasks while others may have to give up positions they cannot fill. All units will eventually have a relevant clear role and understanding of where it fits in the overall CA’s employment concept, with the resources that ensure its soldiers meet those expectations

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