Topic: Canadian Militia
Some Reserve Units to be Disbanded or Merged With Others In Shake-Up (1954)
Ottawa Citizen, 21 June 1954
The reserve army is to be shaken up.
Announcement was made in the Commons last night near the end of the day-long scrutiny of the $2,000,000,000 defence appropriations which were approved.
Number of reserve force units will be substantially reduced but there was no immediate indication which units will be disbanded or merged with others.
Maj.-Gen. G.R. Pearkes, VC (Esquimalt-Saanich), progressive Conservative military critic, asked that names of units to be merged, disbanded or otherwise affected by published as soon as possible so that commanders can plan training schedules.
Earlier, Opposition Leader Drew said the 57,000-member reserve force---to be renamed the militia---is less capable of assuming its responsibilities in case of an emergency than at any time in the last 50 years.
For that reason the government should make public the report on the reserve army prepared for the Defence Department and which served as the basis for the sweeping changes in militia reorganization.
Mr Claxton said:
"There will be an extensive reorganization of militia units to relate them more closely to possible wartime requirements, effective peacetime training and local support.
"The changes proposed are planned to tap the resources of interested and available personnel so as to provide the best basis for the build-up of forces that may be required in the second or later stages of another world war.
"The over-all number of units will be substantially reduced. It is expected that at the outset these changes may result some reductions in the total number of officers and men on strength. But it is expected that they will result in more effective use of personnel.
"It is hoped to work out all these changes so that there will be as few as possible actual disbandments and no loss of existing support or local interest."
Some of the major changes:
1. Maj.Gen. H.F.G. Letson of Vancouver, one of three reserve force officers who wrote the report, is to be adviser on militia matters to the chief of the general staff. The other two authors were Maj.-Gen. Howard Kennedy of Ottawa, chairman, and Maj.-Gen. E.J. Renaud of Montreal.
2, Minimum attendance equivalent to 15 days' training will be necessary before a militia member is entitled to receive pay.
3. A new bonus will be [paid each member attending annual campo provided he has attended not less than 75 percent of local unit training in the six months preceding camp.
4. Income tax will be deducted at source for all members unless a member claims that his total next taxable income is below the minimum taxable and requests that no deductions be made.
5. Present brigade and other formation headquarters will be replaced by a new type to be known as militia group headquarters.
6. A number of artillery units will be converted to armored units; "excess" anti-aircraft will be converted to other types of artillery or amalgamated with units of other corps; coast defence units will become harbor defence units.
7. A new directorate combining militia and cadets will be set up at army headquarters.
8. Additional facilities will be provided for the militia "as funds permit."
Mr. Claxton said the militia itself approves of the reorganization and the changes had been discussed with the Conference of Defence Associations, which represents the 12 corps associations and all reserve force units in Canada.
During the long debate on the service appropriations, these were some of the points made:
1. Mr. Claxton said Canada would be expected to supply a full division in Europe in event of war. Equipment was being stockpiled in Europe for it.
2. Gordon Churchill (PC, Winnipeg South Centre) said the Canadian Army has too little armor.
3. Mr. Claxton said the army is trying to develop a new armored personnel carrier.
4. Mr. Claxton indicated that he favors adoption of the Belgian .300-caliber Fabrique Nationale rifle as the army's standard infantry weapon. The standard rifle now used is the .303 Lee-Enfield.
5. Douglas Harkness (PC, Calgary North) contended that the army's equipment is inadequate and outdated.
6. Mr. Claxton said it would be impossible to close down RCAF fields near commercial air lanes as an air safety measure.