Canadian troops in Afghanistan (CP Photo)

In Depth

Canada's Military

Canadian Forces in the 21st century

Last Updated April 21, 2008

In June 2005, the Canadian Forces announced a major overhaul of its command structure - with a new emphasis on its mission within Canada. The goal: to respond more quickly to domestic disasters and terrorist threats.

Then defence minister Bill Graham said the new Canada Command will also improve co-ordination between the military and Canada's security and border control agencies, while reinforcing the country's commitments under the North American Aerospace Defence Command.

He said the announcement was the first step in a larger plan to revamp Canada's military, a force that has been criticized by the U.S. and other NATO allies as underfunded.

In the 2005 budget, the Liberal government promised a nearly $13-billion boost in military spending for the next five years. The Conservatives' budget in 2006 allocated $1.1 billion to the Canadian military over two years, as part of $5.3 billion in funding coming over the next five years.

As well, during the last week of June 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced $15 billion in spending on military vehicles, including transport planes, heavy-lift helicopters, troop carrier ships and trucks. The spending will be spread out over several years.

Canada's military budget for 2008 was $18.2 billion. It's projected to reach $19 billion next year. In the 2008 budget, the government pledged to increase military spending by two per cent a year for 20 years, starting in 2011, which would add an additional $12 billion over those 20 years.

Canada Command

The officer in charge of Canada Command, Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, is the second most powerful uniformed officer in the Canadian Forces - reporting directly to the chief of defence staff.

The aim is to cut red tape and deploy soldiers and supplies quickly across the country when they are needed.

The Department of National Defence said the commander of Canada Command "will be responsible for the conduct of all domestic operations - routine and contingency - and will be the national operational authority for the defence of Canada and North America."

That means the new Canada Command will be this country's equivalent of the U.S. military's Northern Command, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The headquarters for Canada Command are in Ottawa, and there are also six regional headquarters: Northern, Pacific, Prairie, Central, East and Atlantic.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier said regional commanders will have the authority to deploy land, sea and air resources where they are needed, without going through what he called the current structure's "complex matrix" of commanders.

Here's a look at Canada and its military by the numbers.

  • Today: 33,143,610 (2008 estimation)
  • Second World War: 11,507,000 (1941 census)
  • First World War: 7,207,000 (1911 census)
  • Canada occupies 9,093,507 sq km, making it the second largest country in the world after Russia.
  • Canada has 243,791 km of coastline and 8,893 km of borders.
Military expenditure
  • Canada's defence budget for 2008: $18.2 billion.
  • Promised budget boost: $12 billion over 20 years beginning in 2011-12.
Armed Forces
  • Today: 62,000 military personnel including 9,000 sailors, 19,500 soldiers, 12,500 air force personnel and 20,000 administrative and support personnel. There are also about 25,000 reservists.
  • Second World War: 60,000 men and women enlisted in Canada's armed forces in one month (September 1939) after the declaration of war.
  • First World War: More than 600,000 Canadians enlisted to fight in the First World War from 1914-1918.
  • Today: There are 33 surface ships, four submarines and 9,000 sailors in Canada's navy.
  • Second World War: At the end of the war, Canada had the third-largest fleet in the world, after the U.S. and the U.K. 23 Canadian ships were sunk by German U-Boats in the Battle of St. Lawrence alone.
  • First World War: During the course of the First World War, Canada's naval service grew to a force of 9,000 men and 100 ships.
Canadians on the front lines
  • Today: More than 2,900 members of the Armed Forces are deployed overseas.
  • Second World War: More than one million served and approximately 45,000 died.
  • First World War: Almost 620,000 Canadians served in First World War and 66,000 died.
  • Canada in NATO: Of NATO's 26 member countries, Canada is...First in land area (9,093,507 sq. km), and sixth in total military spending ($13 billion)

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