Politics

Top general supports $1B savings plan

Gen. Walt Natynczyk said Thursday that a report outlining how the department of national defence could save $1B annually was bang on and he supports its recommendations.
Gen. Walt Natynczyk, chief of defence staff, said Thursday he supports the recommendations in a major report that identified how the department of national defence can save $1 billion. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Gen. Walt Natynczyk, chief of the defence staff, said Thursday that the Canadian Forces has already started to implement some of the recommendations in a department of national defence report that outlined how to save $1 billion a year.

The recommendations were contained in a major report by Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie on how to make the Canadian Forces more efficient without compromising operational capability. The report, leaked to the media last month, was written at the request of Natynczyk and the deputy minister of defence, and called Report on Transformation 2011.

"Andy Leslie has produced an extraordinary report that gives a 360 degree look at the Canadian Forces," Natynczyk said after an event in Ottawa. "And the mission we gave him was to look at innovative ways that we could improve our efficiency without giving up our operational effectiveness and Andy Leslie's report has done exactly that. Some of the stuff that Andy has put in the report, we’re already starting."

Leslie's report calls for cuts on the bureaucratic side of DND, trimming jobs at headquarters and reallocating resources in order to reduce overhead costs. Up to 11,000 military and civilian jobs could be affected if the recommendations are all accepted. Among the suggestions were to cut the number of full-time reservists and the amount of money spent on outside contractors and consultants.

Natynczyk said the Canadian Forces has already begun reducing its number of civilian staff and reservists. Leslie, who is set to retire from the Canadian Forces in September, wrote in his report that some of his recommendations require further study. Natynczyk agrees and said they have to investigate what effect they would have if implemented and nail down the specifics on how to implement them.

The country's top general said Leslie and his team had a big responsibility and were under a lot of pressure to research and produce such an extensive study in only a year.

Overall, he supports Leslie's report but noted that making major changes at the department of national defence is not up to him.

"I can't implement all of this. A lot of this is government decisions. I support what Andy has put in that report, he's done exactly what I asked him to do, the mandate that the minister and indeed the mandate that the deputy minister gave him to do, and now it’s a question of how we implement it," said Natynczyk.

He said he and Leslie briefed MacKay on the report and told him the Canadian Forces has already taken steps to implement cost-savings measures in the short-term and they outlined other measures that would take longer.

All government departments are currently facing budget cuts and are in the midst of an operational review to find the savings. The review was imposed by the government as part of its deficit-elimination plan. Natynczyk said his challenge is to make sure the Canadian Forces members of today and tomorrow are looked after despite a reduced budget. 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this article stated that Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie is retiring as head of the army in September. In fact, Leslie was succeeded as commander of Canada's land forces by Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin in June 2010. Leslie has been chief of Canadian Forces transformation, and is retiring Sept. 5.
    Sep 01, 2011 5:25 AM ET

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