Military plans post-Afghanistan review

Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, a high-profile Canadian general suggested to lead a potential deployment to Congo, has instead been ordered to plan a reorganization of the entire military.

Canadian Forces won't deploy large force to war-torn Congo: sources

Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, a high-profile Canadian general suggested to lead a potential large troop deployment to Congo, has instead been ordered to plan a top-down reorganization of the entire military.

Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, the Canadian Forces' outgoing chief of the land staff, visits Afghanistan earlier this month. Leslie had been touted as a possible head of the world's largest peacekeeping force in Congo. ((Murray Brewster/Canadian Press))

Meanwhile, sources tell CBC News the Canadian military will not deploy a large force to the Democratic Republic of Congo after its mission in Afghanistan ends next year.

Gen. Walt Natynczyk, chief of defence staff, confirmed to CBC News on Friday that Leslie has been tasked to lead a transformation of the military's complicated organizational structure, similar to the one begun by the Canadian Forces in 2005.

The chief of defence staff said the Canadian Forces have had a "certainty and clarity" since the military's move to Kandahar in 2006 when headquarters and formations were organized to meet that challenge.

But with the Afghan mission heading to a conclusion, Natynczyk said it's time to refocus and reorganize, so Leslie will spend about a year looking at the entire structure, command and control of the Canadian Forces.

"We have got to set ourselves up for success in that post-2011 process," Natynczyk told the CBC's James Cudmore.

Natynczyk would not comment on Canada's plan to scrub the proposed mission to Congo, also known as Congo-Kinshasa, where some 20,000 United Nations peacekeepers are currently stationed in an attempt to quell violence that has continued since the country's bloody five-year civil war ended in 2003.

Last month, the military announced Leslie would be replaced as army chief, but his new job was not revealed. Natynczyk said Leslie clearly has "a bright future and has performed exceptionally well" as commander of the army for four years.

Afghanistan, Haiti missions took toll

Natynczyk led the 2005 reorganization before he was promoted to the top position of chief of defence staff to replace a retiring Rick Hillier. That review led to the establishment of several new headquarters to manage operations both at home and abroad.

But there is now a sense that process led to an over-complicated structure — with too many staff officers at too many headquarters.

There is also a feeling inside the Defence Department that the military is too overstretched to deploy to the Congo due to its missions in Afghanistan, Haiti and at the Vancouver Olympics — as well from its upcoming roles during this summer's G8 and the G20 summits.

"We're seeing such a significant step in the post-Olympics, post-Afghanistan time frame that we really do need to put the horsepower to make sure we get this right to take us through the rest of this decade," Natynczyk said.

Without a large force ready for a Congo mission, it makes little sense to send a high-ranking Canadian general to lead it.

Since the military needs time to recuperate and reorganize, the decision to hold off on the Congo mission frees up Leslie to lead the military reorganization instead.

With files from James Cudmore