As economies across the globe continue to contract, navies, armies, and air forces are being told, if not, “do more with less” to at least “do the same with less.” Proceedings thus asked sea-service commanders around the world: What innovative efficiencies and economies are you implementing, or considering implementing, to improve force readiness?
Like many of our sister services, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is faced with the challenge of making better use of allotted resources while improving force readiness to meet higher demands for maritime effect in today’s world. In addition, the RCN is in the midst of a very welcome, but nonetheless challenging, period of fleet renewal that includes: modernizing our 12 Halifax-class frigates; replacing the Protecteur-class auxiliary oil replenishment ships; acquiring 6 to 8 new Arctic and offshore patrol ships; achieving a steady-state operational posture for the Victoria-class submarines in 2013; integrating the new Cyclone maritime helicopter and modernized Aurora maritime patrol aircraft into fleet operations; and finally, replacing the Iroquois-class destroyers, and eventually the frigates themselves, with a new class of Canadian surface combatant.
The prospects of ongoing significant change at the fleet level over the next decade and beyond have galvanized a major planning effort by the RCN. We have recognized the need to become better balanced between generating today’s maritime force—with all that means in terms of force readiness—and delivering tomorrow’s maritime force into fleet service.
To that end, we earlier this year realigned a number of readiness and training processes, which had been duplicated among national and formation staffs, under new single pan-naval authorities. For example, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic was designated as the Canadian Forces Maritime Component Commander for all deployed operations, providing his advice to the new Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command. In the same vein, a new Director Canadian Submarine Force has been established in Maritime Forces Pacific, which will coordinate with training, personnel, and technical entities on both coasts to generate Canada’s submarine force. Other changes include a Director of New Capability Introduction, the consolidation of the navy’s four schools into a single Naval Training System, and the establishment of a Readiness Directorate to manage the tiered readiness of the east- and west-coast fleets, including development of operational schedules, as if they were a single entity.
The early results have been encouraging, as senior leaders learn new ways of working with one another. We’ve embarked on a journey of long-term transformation, and these changes are but the first steps. Success will be achieved by establishing a culture of continuous adaptation that preserves our strategic agility for the challenges of this inherently unpredictable and uncertain—but indisputably maritime—century.