Culture Change Beyond Misconduct: Addressing Systemic Barriers
Coherent Identifier 20.500.12592/9cnp7zp

Culture Change Beyond Misconduct: Addressing Systemic Barriers

1 November 2023


Table of Contents Introduction What Is Culture? Systemic Barriers Align Your ARAs What Now? Appendix A: List of Reports Studied End Notes About the Author Canadian Global Affairs Institute Introduction The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is at a major inflexion point. The entrenchment of great-power competition means that sets of threats are multiplying across maritime, air, space, cyber and land domains. The technological advances of adversaries’ militaries require the CAF to undergo profound digital transformation and the increased incidence and severity of natural disasters in Canada are putting extreme pressures on the military to be operationally effective across a very diverse set of missions. In parallel, the military is experiencing a personnel shortage that will take five to 10 years to correct (according to the 2021–22 Department Results), an urgency to modernize and replenish stocks and an obligation to tackle misconduct issues. At the end of the 2021–22 fiscal year, only 34.4 per cent of surveyed service members said they felt “that the Canadian Armed Forces provides a reasonable quality of life” for them and their families and 61.7 per cent of occupations were in “critical shortfalls.” It is to the point that operational effectiveness is in serious jeopardy; in January 2023, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre admitted to journalist Mercedes Stephenson that the military was not ready for the “challenges that lie ahead.” Business as usual for the Canadian military is no longer an option. Many strategic documents, such as the Reconstitution Directive, the Digital Campaign Plan and the Operational Sustainment Modernization Strategy,1 have recognized this. The CAF needs to undergo profound transformation to ensure it is fit-for-purpose and strategic direction is urgently needed. The military and its leadership must go beyond siloed strategies that pursue different objectives in isolation from one another. Inherent to this required military transformation is conduct-related culture change (commonly referred to as “cultural evolution” among the CAF’s senior leadership). Former justices Marie Deschamps and Louise Arbour, as well as senior military officers, have explicitly said that combating misconduct and improving diversity will improve operational effectiveness.2 To succeed in this endeavour, the military needs to understand and recognize that its historical inability to tackle those issues is not an anomaly. Similarly, the CAF’s troublesome personnel shortage should not be unexpected, as the Auditor General’s report warned as recently as 2016 about significant issues with recruitment and retention

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canada culture personnel defence policy perspective culture change caf defence resources defence operations charlotte duval-lantoine