Canadian army size

Canadian army size DEFAULT

Military Size By Country 2021

A reservist is not full-time. These servicemembers typically hold another full-time job. Reservists may be deployed at any time and may have to attend special training and work part-time throughout the year. Many people join the reserves – such as the Army Reserve or National Guard – to make extra money, get tuition bonuses to go back to school, or take advantage of other perks without devoting themselves full time to the military.

Finally, paramilitary members are part of an organization that is similar to the military. However, these are not formally part of the armed forces. Some examples of paramilitary organizations worldwide include Canada’s Canadian Rangers of the United States Civil Air Patrol.

Now knowing the differences between these, we can explore which nations have the largest militaries. By active military members, China comes out on top with over 2 million people in this nation’s military.

There are three other nations with active militaries exceeding 1 million people. Those are India (1.395 million), the United States (1.358 million), and the Russian Federation (1.01 million). The United States has the third-highest number of active military members and the fourth-highest overall military members. The U.S. also the highest military spending of any country.

Nations with militaries exceeding 500,000 active members include:

  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: 950,000
  • Pakistan: 653,000
  • Republic of Korea: 599,000
  • Iran: 523,000

On the other side of the coin, some nations have no active military members, or their militaries are minimal. These nations have no active members of the military:

In terms of reserve members, Vietnam comes out on top. This nation has about 5 million members of its reserves. The Republic of Korea also has several million members of its military reserves – 3.1 million to be more exact. Other nations with reserve militaries with at least 1 million members include:

  • Republic of China: 2.8 million
  • Russian Federation: 2.57 million
  • India: 2.096 million
  • Iran: 1.35 million
  • Brazil: 1.34 million
  • Cuba: 1.159 million
  • Finland: 1.127 million

The nation with the largest paramilitary is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which has over 5.889 million members. In the United States, there are more than 2.9 million people that work for a paramilitary organization. Iran, the Russian Federation, the Republic of China, India, the People’s Republic of China, and Cuba all have paramilitary organizations that exceed 1 million members.

When looking at the total numbers, the nation with the largest military is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which has over 7 million members. The Russian Federation, Vietnam, the United States, and India also top the list with more than 5 million military members per country. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also tops the list in terms of total military members per capita and active military members per capita.


2021 Canada Military Strength logo logo

Canada National flag graphic

For 2021, Canada is ranked 21 of 140 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. It holds a PwrIndx* score of 0.3956 (a score of 0.0000 is considered 'perfect'). This entry last updated on 03/03/2021.

*Each nation is assessed on individual and collective values processed through our in-house formula to generate its 'PwrIndx' score. Some values are estimated when official numbers are not available. View Notes.
Canada country map image


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Total Population:
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Available Manpower
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Reaching Mil Age Annually
Tot Military Personnel (est.)
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Active Personnel
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Reserve Personnel
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Manpower Composition:
Hover over the various sections in the bar below for more details.

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Defense Budget:
$23,400,000,000 USD
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External Debt:
$1,608,000,000,000 USD
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Foreign Exchange/Gold:
$86,680,000,000 USD
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Purchasing Power Parity:
$1,812,000,000,000 USD


MANPOWER - Values partly derived from the CIA World Factbook. Some values may be estimated.

AIRPOWER - Values derived from multiple sources. Total Aircraft Strength value includes both fixed-wing and rotorcraft platforms from all branches of service (at this time UAVs are not included in the total). 'Attack' value constitutes purpose-built attack types. 'Transports' value includes only fixed-wing aircraft while all rotorcraft are represented under the 'Helicopters' value. 'Special-Mission' value no longer includes aerial tankers which are now covered in their own listing. For an in-depth look into the current air powers of the world, consider "the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft" [ - external link].

LAND FORCES - Values derived from multiple sources. 'Tanks' value includes Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), light tanks, and tank destroyers (no distinction being made between track-over-wheel and all-wheeled types). 'Armored Vehicles' value includes APCs, IFVs, MRAPs, and Armored Cars. 'Rocket Projectors' include only self-propelled forms.

NAVAL FORCES - Values derived from multiple sources. 'Total Assets' value includes all possible/available vessels including auxiliaries, which are not showcased individually. 'Aircraft Carriers' value includes only traditional carriers (both conventionally- and nuclear-powered while Helicopter Carriers are now considered under their own listing. 'Submarines' value includes both diesel-electric and nuclear-powered types. Landlocked nationd are not penalized for the lack of a standing navy.

NATURAL RESOURCES - Values derived from the CIA World Factbook or estimated in some cases. Values presented as BBL (Barrel unit).

LOGISTICS - Values derived from the CIA World Factbook. Ports & Terminals may reside outside of a nations own borders if arrangements with an ally have been made. Landlocked nations are penalized for the lack of a standing Merchant Marine force.

FINANCIALS - Values partly derived from the CIA World Factbook. Values presented in USD ($). Estimates made when needed.

GEORGRAPHY - Values derived from the CIA World Factbook. As geography can play a role in both offensive and defensive wars, the GFP formula takes geographic qualities of a nation into account (border coverage, coastline coverage).

Neighboring Powers

Entries below are selected based on geographic proximity to host nation, typically a shared border.

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Canadian Armed Forces

Combined military forces of Canada

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF; French: Forces armées canadiennes; FAC) is the unified military of Canada, comprising sea, land, and air elements referred to as the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

Personnel may belong to either the Regular Force or the Reserve Force, which has four sub-components: the Primary Reserve, Supplementary Reserve, Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service, and the Canadian Rangers. Under the National Defence Act, the Canadian Armed Forces are an entity separate and distinct from the Department of National Defence (the federal government department responsible for administration and formation of defence policy), which also exists as the civilian support system for the Forces.[7][8][9] Current authorized strength is 71,500 Regular Force members and 30,000 Reserve Force members.[10] The number of filled positions is lower than the authorized strength.

The command-in-chief of the Canadian Forces is constitutionally vested in the monarch, Elizabeth II, who is represented by the governor general (or the administrator).[11][12][13] The professional head of the organization is the chief of the Defence Staff, who under the direction of the minister of national defence and together with the assistance of the Armed Forces Council, manages the operations of the Canadian Armed Forces.


Main article: Military history of Canada

See also: History of the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force

Origins and establishment[edit]

Uniforms of the Canadian militiain 1898. The Canadian Armed Forces traces its roots to the militia.

Prior to Confederation in 1867, residents of the colonies in what is now Canada served as regular members of French and British forces and in local militia groups. The latter aided in the defence of their respective territories against attacks by other European powers, Indigenous peoples, and later American forces during the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812, as well as in the Fenian raids, Red River Rebellion, and North-West Rebellion. Consequently, the lineages of some Canadian army units stretch back to the early 19th century, when militia units were formed to assist in the defence of British North America against invasion by the United States.

The responsibility for military command remained with the British Crown-in-Council, with a commander-in-chief for North America stationed in Halifax until the final withdrawal of British Army and Royal Navy units from the city in 1906. Thereafter, the Royal Canadian Navy was formed, and, with the advent of military aviation, the Royal Canadian Air Force. These forces were organized under the Department of Militia and Defence, and split into the Permanent and Non-Permanent Active Militias—frequently shortened to simply The Militia. By 1923, the department was merged into the Department of National Defence.

The first significant overseas deployment of Canadian military forces occurred during the Second Boer War, when several units were raised to serve under British command. Similarly, when the United Kingdom entered into conflict with Germany in the First World War, Canadian troops were called to participate in European theatres. Battles that are particularly notable to the Canadian military include the Second Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Second Battle of Passchendaele, as well as a series of attacks undertaken by the Canadian Corps during the Hundred Days Offensive.

During this period, a distinctly Canadian army and navy was established, followed by an air force, that, because of the constitutional arrangements at the time, remained effectively under the control of the British government until Canada gained legislative independence from the United Kingdom in 1931, in part due to the distinguished achievement and sacrifice of the Canadian Corps in the First World War.[14][15] In November 1940, the Canadian militia was formally renamed the Canadian Army. However, in the 1950s, Reserve Army forces were once again referred to in official documentation as "Militia", which, although rare, is still used to refer to part-time members.

Canadian Forces entered the Second World War in September 1939, after the Canadian Crown-in-Council declared war on Nazi Germany. Battles and campaigns during the Second World War that were particularly notable to the Canadian military include the Battle of the Atlantic, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of Hong Kong, the Dieppe Raid, the invasion of Sicily and Italy, Operation Overlord, the Siegfried Line Campaign, Operation Veritable, as well as the strategic bombing of German cities.

At the end of the Second World War, Canada possessed the fourth-largest air force and fifth-largest naval surface fleet in the world, as well as the largest volunteer army ever fielded.[16]Conscription for overseas service was introduced only near the end of the war, and only 2,400 conscripts actually made it into battle. Originally, Canada was thought to have had the third-largest navy in the world, but with the fall of the Soviet Union, new data based on Japanese and Soviet sources found that to be incorrect.[17]

Since 1947, Canadian military units have participated in more than 200 operations worldwide, and completed 72 international operations. Canadian soldiers, sailors, and aviators came to be considered world-class professionals through conspicuous service during these conflicts and the country's integral participation in NATO during the Korean War, First Gulf War, Kosovo War, and in United Nations Peacekeeping operations, such as the Suez Crisis, Golan Heights, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Libya. Canada maintained an aircraft carrier from 1957 to 1970 during the Cold War, which never saw combat but participated in patrols during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Since unification[edit]

See also: Unification of the Canadian Armed Forces and Structure of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1989

The current iteration of the Canadian Armed Forces dates from 1 February 1968,[18] when the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force were merged into a unified structure and superseded by elemental commands, known as Air Command, Land Force, and Maritime Command. On 16 August 2011, the names for the three elemental commands were reverted to their historical predecessor, although the unified structure of the Canadian Armed Forces was maintained.[19][20]

Deployment of Land Forces during this period has included Canadian emergencies, NATO efforts in Europe, peacekeeping operations within United Nations-sanctioned conflicts and combat missions. The Forces were deployed in Afghanistan until 2011, under the NATO-led United Nations International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), at the request of the Government of Afghanistan.

The Forces are today funded by approximately CA$20.1 billion annually[21] and are presently ranked 74th in size compared to the world's other armed forces by number of total personnel, and 50th in terms of active personnel, standing at a strength of roughly 68,000, plus 27,000 reservists, bringing the total force to approximately 95,000.[22] These individuals serve on numerous Canadian Forces bases located in all regions of the country, and are governed by the Queen's Regulations and Orders and the National Defence Act.

In 2008, the Government of Canada began efforts, through the "Canada First Defence Strategy", to modernize the Forces, through the purchase of new equipment, improved training and readiness, as well as the establishment of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment. More funds were also put towards recruitment, which had been dwindling throughout the 1980s and '90s, possibly because the Canadian populace had come to perceive the Forces as peacekeepers rather than as soldiers, as shown in a 2008 survey conducted for the Department of National Defence. The poll found that nearly two-thirds of Canadians agreed with the country's participation in the invasion of Afghanistan, and that the military should be stronger, but also that the purpose of the forces should be different, such as more focused on responding to natural disasters.[23] Then Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Walter Natynczyk said later that year that, while recruiting has become more successful, the Forces was facing a problem with its rate of loss of existing members, which increased between 2006 and 2008 from 6% to 9.2% annually.[24]

Renewal and re-equipment efforts have resulted in the acquisition of specific equipment (main battle tanks, artillery, unmanned air vehicles and other systems) to support the mission in Afghanistan. It has also encompassed initiatives to renew certain so-called "core capabilities" (such as the air force's medium-range transport aircraft fleet—the C-130 Hercules—and the army's truck and armoured vehicle fleets). In addition, new systems (such as C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft and CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters) have also been acquired for the Forces. Although the viability of the Canada First Defence Strategy continues to suffer setbacks from challenging and evolving fiscal and other factors, it originally aimed to:[25]

  • Increase the number of military personnel to 70,000 Regular Forces and 30,000 primary Reserve Forces
  • Replace the Royal Canadian Navy's current auxiliary oiler ships with 2–3 new vessels under the Joint Support Ship Project
  • Build 15 warships to replace existing destroyers and frigates under the Single Class Surface Combatant Project
  • Acquire new Arctic patrol vessels under the Arctic Patrol Ship Project
  • Replace the current maritime patrol aircraft with 10 to 12 new patrol aircraft
  • Strengthen readiness and operational capabilities
  • Improve and modernize defence infrastructure

Role of women[edit]

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This section needs to be updated. The reason given is: Recent crisis involving resignation of high ranking members. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(June 2021)

In the 1950s, the recruitment of women was open to roles in medicine, communication, logistics, and administration. The roles of women in the CAF began to expand in 1971, after the department reviewed the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, at which time it lifted the ceiling of 1,500 women personnel, and gradually expanded employment opportunities into the non-traditional areas—vehicle drivers and mechanics, aircraft mechanics, air-traffic controllers, military police, and firefighters. [26]

The department further reviewed personnel policies in 1978 and 1985, after Parliament passed the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a result of these reviews, the department changed its policies to permit women to serve at sea in replenishment ships and in a diving tender, with the army service battalions, in military police platoons and field ambulance units, and in most air squadrons.[27]

In 1987, occupations and units with the primary role of preparing for direct involvement in combat on the ground or at sea were still closed to women: infantry, armoured corps, field artillery, air defence artillery, signals, field engineers, and naval operations. On 5 February 1987, the minister of national defence created an office to study the impact of employing men and women in combat units. These trials were called Combat-Related Employment of Women.[27]

All military occupations were open to women in 1989, with the exception of submarine service, which opened in 2000. Throughout the 1990s, the introduction of women into the combat arms increased the potential recruiting pool by about 100 per cent.[28] Women were fully integrated in all occupations and roles by the government of Jean Chrétien, and by 8 March 2000, even allowed to serve on submarines.[27]

All equipment must be suitable for a mixed-gender force. Combat helmets, rucksacks, combat boots, and flak jackets are designed to ensure women have the same level of protection and comfort as their male colleagues. Women's uniforms are similar in design to men's uniforms, but conform to the female figure, and are functional and practical. Women are also provided with an annual financial entitlement for the purchase of bras.[27]

In 2019, the National Post columnist Christie Blatchford reported, per an anonymous source, that the Canadian Armed Forces had been fulfilling employment equity targets for internal job postings by secretly rejecting applications from white males, and by not requiring Indigenous candidates to either write, or pass, the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test. However, Brigadier General Virginia Tattersall (commander of military forces generation, including the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group [CFRG]) has stated, "There are no occupations that we restrict based on gender", though "diversity is a consideration" and near the end of the recruiting year, "We will look at diversity applicants first."[29]

In March 2021, Lt Col Eleanor Taylor resigned citing sexual misconduct among top brass.[30]

Current structure[edit]

Further information: The Canadian Crown and the Canadian Armed Forces

The Constitution Act, 1867 affirms that the commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces continues to be the country's sovereign,[11] who, since 1904, has authorized his or her viceroy, the governor general, to exercise the duties ascribed to the post of commander-in-chief and to hold the associated title since 1905.[31][32] All troop deployment and disposition orders, including declarations of war, fall within the royal prerogative and are issued as Orders in Council, which must be signed by either the monarch or governor general. Under the Westminster system's parliamentary customs and practices, however, the monarch and viceroy must generally follow the advice of his or her ministers in Cabinet, including the prime minister and minister of national defence, who are accountable to the elected House of Commons.

The Canadian Forces 92,600 personnel are divided into a hierarchy of numerous ranks of officers and non-commissioned members. The governor general appoints, on the advice of the prime minister, the chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) as the highest-ranking commissioned officer in the Armed Forces and its commander. In this role the CDS heads the Armed Forces Council, which also includes the vice chief of the Defence Staff and the commanders of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Joint Operations Command, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, as well as certain other designated personnel. The Armed Forces Council generally operates from National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa, Ontario. The sovereign and most other members of the Canadian Royal Family also act as colonels-in-chief, honorary air commodores, air commodores-in-chief, admirals, and captains-general of Canadian Forces units, though these positions are ceremonial.

The Canadian Forces operate out of 27 Canadian Forces bases (CFB) across the country, including NDHQ. This number has been gradually reduced since the 1970s with bases either being closed or merged. Both officers and non-commissioned members receive their basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Officers will generally either directly enter the Canadian Armed Forces with a degree from a civilian university or receive their commission upon graduation from the Royal Military College of Canada. Specific element and trade training is conducted at a variety of institutions throughout Canada, and to a lesser extent, the world.

Royal Canadian Navy[edit]

Main article: Royal Canadian Navy

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), headed by the commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, includes 28 warships and submarines deployed in two fleets: Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) at CFB Esquimalt on the west coast, and Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) at Her Majesty's Canadian Dockyard in Halifax on the east coast, as well as one formation: the Naval Reserve Headquarters (NAVRESHQ) at Quebec City, Quebec. The fleet is augmented by various aircraft and supply vessels. The RCN participates in NATO exercises and operations, and ships are deployed all over the world in support of multinational deployments.

Canadian Army[edit]

Main article: Canadian Army

The Canadian Army is headed by the commander of the Canadian Army and administered through four divisions—the 2nd Canadian Division, the 3rd Canadian Division, the 4th Canadian Division and the 5th Canadian Division—the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training System and the Canadian Army Headquarters.[33][34]

Currently, the Regular Force component of the Army consists of three field-ready brigade groups: 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, at CFB Edmonton and CFB Shilo; 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, at CFB Petawawa and CFB Gagetown; and 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, at CFB Valcartier and Quebec City. Each contains one regiment each of artillery, armour, and combat engineers, three battalions of infantry (all scaled in the British fashion), one battalion for logistics, a squadron for headquarters/signals, and several smaller support organizations. A tactical helicopter squadron and a field ambulance are co-located with each brigade, but do not form part of the brigade's command structure.

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions each has a Regular Force brigade group, and each division except the 1st has two to three Reserve Force brigades groups. In total, there are ten Reserve Force brigade groups. The 5th Canadian Division and the 2nd Canadian Division each have two Reserve Force brigade groups, while the 4th Canadian Division and the 3rd Canadian Division each have three Reserve Force brigade groups. Major training and support establishments exist at CFB Gagetown, CFB Montreal and CFB Wainwright.

Royal Canadian Air Force[edit]

Main article: Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is headed by the commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The commander of 1 Canadian Air Division and Canadian NORAD Region, based in Winnipeg, is responsible for the operational command and control of Air Force activities throughout Canada and worldwide. 1 Canadian Air Division operations are carried out through eleven wings located across Canada. The commander of 2 Canadian Air Division is responsible for training and support functions. 2 Canadian Air Division operations are carried out at two wings. Wings represent the grouping of various squadrons, both operational and support, under a single tactical commander reporting to the operational commander and vary in size from several hundred personnel to several thousand.

Major air bases are located in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, while administrative and command and control facilities are located in Winnipeg and North Bay. A Canadian component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning Force is also based at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen near Geilenkirchen, Germany.

The RCAF and Joint Task Force (North) (JTFN) also maintain at various points throughout Canada's northern region a chain of forward operating locations, each capable of supporting fighter operations. Elements of CF-18 squadrons periodically deploy to these airports for short training exercises or Arctic sovereignty patrols.

Canadian Joint Operations Command[edit]

Main article: Canadian Joint Operations Command

The Canadian Joint Operations Command is an operational element established in October 2012 with the merger of Canada Command, the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command and the Canadian Operational Support Command. The new command, created as a response to the cost-cutting measures in the 2012 federal budget, combines the resources, roles and responsibilities of the three former commands under a single headquarters.

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command[edit]

Main article: Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) is a formation capable of operating independently but primarily focused on generating special operations forces (SOF) elements to support CJOC. The command includes Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2), the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU) based at CFB Trenton, as well as the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) and 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (SOAS) based at CFB Petawawa.

Information Management Group[edit]

Among other things, the Information Management Group is responsible for the conduct of electronic warfare and the protection of the Armed Forces' communications and computer networks. Within the group, this operational role is fulfilled by the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group, headquartered at CFS Leitrim in Ottawa, which operates the following units: the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group Headquarters (CFIOGHQ), the Canadian Forces Electronic Warfare Centre (CFEWC), the Canadian Forces Network Operations Centre (CFNOC), the Canadian Forces Signals Intelligence Operations Centre (CFSOC), the Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Leitrim, and the 764 Communications Squadron. In June 2011 the Canadian Armed Forces Chief of Force Development announced the establishment of a new organization, the Directorate of Cybernetics, headed by a Brigadier General, the Director General Cyber (DG Cyber). Within that directorate the newly established CAF Cyber Task Force, has been tasked to design and build cyber warfare capabilities for the Canadian Armed Forces.[35][36]

Royal Canadian Medical Service[edit]

The Royal Canadian Medical Service is a personnel branch of the CAF, consisting of all members of medical occupations.

Royal Canadian Dental Corps[edit]

The Royal Canadian Dental Corps is a personnel branch of the CAF.

Canadian Forces Health Services Group[edit]

Main article: Canadian Forces Health Services Group

The Health Services Group is a joint formation that includes over 120 general or specialized units and detachments providing health services to the Canadian Armed Forces. With few exceptions, all elements are under command of the Commander, who may also be appointed Surgeon General when the position is filled by a medical officer, for domestic support and force generation, or temporarily assigned under command of a deployed Joint Task Force through Canadian Joint Operations Command.[37][38]

Canadian Armed Forces Reserve Force[edit]

The Canadian Armed Forces have a total reserve force of approximately 50,000 primary and supplementary that can be called upon in times of national emergency or threat. For the components and sub-components of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve Force, the order of precedence follows:

after 2002 there is no sub division of the Supplementary Reserve.

  • (3) Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (7,500), and
  • (4) Canadian Rangers (5,000).[39]

Primary Reserve[edit]

Main article: Primary Reserve

Approximately 26,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen,[40] trained to the level of and interchangeable with their Regular Force counterparts, and posted to CAF operations or duties on a casual or ongoing basis, make up the Primary Reserve. This group is represented, though not commanded, at NDHQ by the chief of Reserves and Employer Support, who is usually a major general or rear admiral, and is divided into four components that are each operationally and administratively responsible to its corresponding environmental command in the Regular Force – the Naval Reserve (NAVRES), Land Force Reserve (LFR), and Air Reserve (AIRRES) – in addition to one force that does not fall under an environmental command, the Health Services Reserve under the Canadian Forces Health Services Group.

Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service[edit]

The Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (COATS)[41] consists of officers and non-commissioned members who conduct training, safety, supervision and administration of nearly 60,000 cadets aged 12 to 18 years in the Canadian Cadet Organization. The majority of members in COATS are officers of the Cadet Instructors Cadre (CIC) branch of the CAF. Members of the Reserve Force Sub-Component COATS who are not employed part-time (Class A) or full-time (Class B) may be held on the "Cadet Instructor Supplementary Staff List" (CISS List) in anticipation of employment in the same manner as other reservists are held as members of the Supplementary Reserve.

Canadian Rangers[edit]

The Canadian Rangers, who provide surveillance and patrol services in Canada's arctic and other remote areas, are an essential reserve force component used for Canada's exercise of sovereignty over its northern territory.

Defence policy[edit]

Since the Second World War, Canadian defence policy has consistently stressed three overarching objectives:

During the Cold War, a principal focus of Canadian defence policy was contributing to the security of Europe in the face of the Soviet military threat. Toward that end, Canadian ground and air forces were based in Europe from the early 1950s until the early 1990s.

However, since the end of the Cold War, as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has moved much of its defence focus "out of area", the Canadian military has also become more deeply engaged in international security operations in various other parts of the world—most notably in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2014.[43]

The basis for current Canadian defence capability objectives were originally set in the Canada First Defence Strategy,[44] introduced by the former Harper Government in 2008 but now updated through the Liberal Government's 2017 defence strategy, Strong, Secure and Engaged (SSE). The SSE pledged greater funding to support the Canadian military (particularly in relation to the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy) in its primary tasks related to the defence of Canada, the defence of North America and contributing to global security.

In addition to its core missions, the Canadian Armed Forces also contribute to the conduct of Canadian defence diplomacy through a range of activities, including the deployment of Canadian Defence Attachés,[45] participation in bilateral and multilateral military forums (e.g. the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces), ship and aircraft visits, military training and cooperation,[46] and other such outreach and relationship-building efforts.

Military expenditures[edit]

The Constitution of Canada gives the federal government exclusive responsibility for national defence, and expenditures are thus outlined in the federal budget. For the 2016–17 fiscal year, the amount allocated for defence spending was CA$18.6 billion.[47]

The federal government now factors in military-related spending from departments such as Veterans Affairs, Public Works, and the Treasury Board when calculating "defence spending".[48] It is believed that this move was made in order to improve Canada's defence-related NATO reporting metrics.[49]


Main article: Canadian Armed Forces ranks and insignia


Main article: Uniforms of the Canadian Armed Forces

Operational dress uniforms for the three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces, shown here with naval rank insignia.

Although the Canadian Armed Forces are a single service, there are three similar but distinctive environmental uniforms (DEUs): navy blue (which is actually black) for the navy, rifle green for the army, and light blue for the air force. CAF members in operational occupations generally wear the DEU to which their occupation "belongs." CAF members in non-operational occupations (the "purple" trades) are allocated a uniform according to the "distribution" of their branch within the CAF, association of the branch with one of the former services, and the individual's initial preference. Therefore, on any given day, in any given CAF unit, all three coloured uniforms may be seen.

The uniforms of the CAF are sub-divided into five orders of dress:[50]

  • Ceremonial dress, including regimental full dress, patrol dress, naval "high-collar" whites, and service-dress uniforms with ceremonial accoutrements such as swords, white web belts, gloves, etc.
  • Mess dress, which ranges from full mess kit with mess jacket, cummerbund, or waistcoat, etc., to service dress with bow tie
  • Service dress, also called a walking-out or duty uniform, is the military equivalent of the business suit, with an optional white summer uniform for naval CF members
  • Operational dress, an originally specialized uniform for wear in an operational environment, now for everyday wear on base or in garrison
  • Occupational dress, which is specialized uniform articles for particular occupations (e.g., medical, dental, firefighter)

Only service dress is suitable for CAF members to wear on any occasion, barring "dirty work" or combat. With gloves, swords, and medals (No. 1 or 1A), it is suitable for ceremonial occasions and "dressed down" (No. 3 or lower), it is suitable for daily wear. Generally, after the elimination of base dress (although still defined for the Air Force uniform), operational dress is now the daily uniform worn by most members of the CF, unless service dress is prescribed (such as at the NDHQ, on parades, at public events, etc.). Approved parkas are authorized for winter wear in cold climates and a light casual jacket is also authorized for cooler days.

Units of the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force, and cadets of the Royal Military College of Canada also wear full dress uniforms. The Army's universal full dress uniforms includes a scarlet tunic, midnight blue trousers with a scarlet trouser stripe.[51] However, many regiments in the Canadian Army maintain authorized regimental differences from the Army's universal full dress, most notably for its armoured units, Scottish regiments, and Voltigeur/Rifle regiments. The full dress uniform for cadets Royal Military College is similar to the Army's universal full dress uniform. Full dress uniforms for units of the Royal Canadian Air Force include a blue tunic, and blue trousers and facings.[51] Naval full dress includes a navy blue tunic and trousers with white facings, although the Canadian Forces dress instructions state that naval full dress is no longer worn.[51]

Authorized headdress for the Canadian Armed Forces are the: beret, wedge cap, ballcap, Yukon cap, and tuque (toque). Each is coloured according to the distinctive uniform worn: navy (white or navy blue), army (rifle green or "regimental" colour), air force (light blue). Adherents of the Sikh faith may wear uniform turbans (dastar) (or patka, when operational) and Muslim women may wear uniform tucked hijabs under their authorized headdress. Jews may wear yarmulke under their authorized headdress and when bareheaded. The beret is probably the most widely worn headgear and is worn with almost all orders of dress (with the exception of the more formal orders of Navy and Air Force dress), and the colour of which is determined by the wearer's environment, branch, or mission. Naval personnel, however, seldom wear berets, preferring either service cap or authorized ballcaps (shipboard operational dress), which only the Navy wear. Air Force personnel, particularly officers, prefer the wedge cap to any other form of headdress. There is no naval variant of the wedge cap. The Yukon cap and tuque are worn only with winter dress, although clearance and combat divers may wear tuques year-round as a watch cap. Soldiers in Highland, Scottish, and Irish regiments generally wear alternative headdress, including the glengarry, balmoral, tam o'shanter, and caubeen instead of the beret. The officer cadets of both Royal Military Colleges wear gold-braided "pillbox" (cavalry) caps with their ceremonial dress and have a unique fur "Astrakhan" for winter wear. The Canadian Army wears the CG634 helmet.

See also[edit]


  1. ^Persons 16 years of age, with parental permission, can join the Canadian Armed Forces.


  1. ^ abJackson, Hannah (5 April 2020). "Canada to recruit volunteers, offer jobs to reservists amid COVID-19: Trudeau". CTV News.
  2. ^CAF Operations. "There are approximately 2000 @CanadianForces members deployed on 20 operations worldwide". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  3. ^Tian, Nan; Fleurant, Aude; Kuimova, Alexandra; Wezeman, Pieter D.; Wezeman, Siemon T. (April 2021). "Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2020"(PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  4. ^"TRENDS IN WORLD MILITARY EXPENDITURE, 2020"(PDF). Relief Web. April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  5. ^Canadian Defence Review Canada's 2011 Top 50 Defence CompaniesArchived 31 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on: 15 December 2011
  6. ^Canadian Defence Review Canada's 2011 Top 50 Defence CompaniesArchived 31 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on: 28 August 2011
  7. ^"Frequently Asked Questions – What is the relationship between DND and the CAF?". Department of National Defence. 27 July 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  8. ^"About the Canadian Armed Forces". Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. 27 July 2013. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  9. ^"About the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces – National Defence Act". Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  10. ^Government of Canada, National Defence (19 February 2013). "About | National Defence | Canadian Forces".
  11. ^ abVictoria (29 March 1867). Constitution Act, 1867. III.15. Westminster: Queen's Printer. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  12. ^Lagassé, Philippe (December 2013). "The Crown's Powers of Command-in Chief: Interpreting Section 15 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1867"(PDF). Review of Constitutional Studies. 18 (2): 189–220. Archived from the original(PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  13. ^"Governor General of Canada > Commander-in-Chief". Rideau Hall. Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  14. ^Nersessian, Mary (9 April 2007). "Vimy battle marks birth of Canadian nationalism". CTV. Archived from the original on 15 February 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  15. ^Cook, Tim (2008). Shock troops: Canadians fighting the Great War, 1917–1918. Toronto: Viking. ISBN .
  16. ^World War – Willmott, H.P. et al.; Dorling Kindersley Limited, London, 2004, Page 168
  17. ^Stuart, Rob (Fall 2009). "Was the RCN ever the Third Largest Navy?"(PDF). Canadian Naval Review. 5 (3): 4–9. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  18. ^Gilmour, Sarah (17 May 2006). "Navy celebrates 96 years"(PDF). The Maple Leaf. 9: 10. Archived from the original(PDF) on 6 February 2009.
  19. ^"Canadian armed forces to be 'royal' once again". BBC News. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  20. ^"National Defence Act". Government of Canada. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  21. ^"Current Operations". Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  22. ^Defence, Government of Canada, National. "Frequently Asked Questions | National Defence | Canadian Armed Forces, Question #12". Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  23. ^The Canadian Press (5 September 2005). "Canadians still view troops as peacekeepers: DND poll". CTV. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  24. ^The Canadian Press (21 November 2008). "Military as message for job seekers: we want you". CTV. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2008.
  25. ^Department of National Defence "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 April 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^Canada, Veterans Affairs (8 August 2019). "Canada Remembers Women in the Canadian Military - Women and War - Remembering those who served - Remembrance - Veterans Affairs Canada". Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  27. ^ abcdDefence, Government of Canada, National. "National Defence – Canadian Armed Forces – Backgrounder – Women in the Canadian Armed Forces".
  28. ^Government of Canada, National Defence (6 March 2014). "Backgrounder | Women in the Canadian Armed Forces". Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  29. ^Blatchford, Christie (22 April 2019). "The Canadian Forces Jobs Where Only Women Need Apply". National Post.
  30. ^Canada: top female soldier quits over military's failures on sexual misconduct The Guardian, 2021
  31. ^"1947 - 1952 The Assignment of Sovereign Powers". Office of the Governor General of Canada.
  32. ^"Commander-in-Chief". Office of the Governor General of Canada.
  33. ^Government of Canada, National Defence (8 July 2013). "ARCHIVED - Article | Historical Features of the Canadian Army Restored".
  34. ^"1st Canadian Division". Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  35. ^The Maple Leaf, 22 June 2011, Vol. 14, No. 22, p.3
  36. ^Khang Pham, Cyber Security: Do Your Part, The Maple Leaf, Vol. 15, No. 2, February 2012, p.12
  37. ^"Canadian Forces Health Services website"Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 18 February 2012
  38. ^"Canadian Forces Health Services Group Surgeon General’s Report 2010"Archived 27 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 18 February 2012
  39. ^Department of National Defence (15 February 2012). "National Defence and the Canadian Forces > CFOA 66-6 Precedence in the Canadian Forces". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  40. ^Department of National Defence (19 December 2008). "National Defence and the Canadian Forces > About DND/CF". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  41. ^"Administrative Order: Implementation of Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service", NDHQ 1085-30 (D Cdts 6) dated 2 July 2009.
  42. ^"About Us – National Defence – Canadian Forces". Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  43. ^"Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan formally ends". 12 March 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  44. ^Department of National Defence (30 March 2009). "Canada First Defence Strategy". Archived from the original on 1 April 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  45. ^"Canadian Defence Attaché Network". 22 July 2010. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  46. ^For example, through the Military Training and Cooperation Program and its ancillary activities "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  47. ^"Planned Expenditures". Department of National Defence. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  48. ^"Strong, Secure, Engaged"(PDF). Minister of National Defence.
  49. ^Scotti, Monique. "Even with new military investments, Canada to fall short of NATO target". Global News.
  50. ^Canada – National Defence: "A-AD-265-000/AG-001 CANADIAN FORCES DRESS INSTRUCTIONSArchived 23 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine"
  51. ^ abc"6-1"(PDF). Canadian Armed Forces Dress Instruction. Canadian Armed Forces. 1 June 2001. p. 211. Retrieved 11 June 2018.

Further reading[edit]

Main article: Bibliography of Canadian military history

  • Beaudet, Normand (1993). Le Mythe de la défense canadienne. Montréal: Éditions Écosociété. ISBN 2-921561-11-5
  • Morton, Desmond (1999). A military history of Canada (4th ed.). Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN .
  • Rennick, Joanne Benham (2013). "Canadian Values and Military Operations in the Twenty-First Century,"Armed Forces & Society 39, No. 3, pp. 511–30
  • Leuprecht, Christian & Sokolsky, Joel. (2014). Defense Policy "Walmart Style" Canadian Lessons in "not so grand" Grand Strategy. Armed Forces & Society Journal Online First.
  • Granatstein, J. L (2004). Canada's army: waging war and keeping the peace. University of Toronto Press. ISBN .
  • Zuehlke, Mark (2006). Canadian Military Atlas: Four Centuries of Conflict from New France to Kosovo. Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN .
  • Faces of War at Library and Archives Canada

External links[edit]

Life in the Canadian Forces

The Canadian Army of Today

2nd Canadian Division

2nd Canadian Division (2 Cdn Div) is responsible to provide combat ready land forces in accordance with assigned tasks, conduct general purpose training in preparation for various land operations, and provide support services to other organizations as directed or as mutually arranged. It includes all Regular and Reserve Force units in Quebec.

3rd Canadian Division

3rd Canadian Division (3 Cdn Div) is responsible to provide combat ready land forces in accordance with assigned tasks, conduct general purpose training in preparation for various land operations, and provide support services to other organizations as directed or as mutually arranged. It includes all Regular and Reserve Force units in western Canada from the Pacific Ocean to Thunder Bay, Ontario, with the exception of the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright, Alberta, which is administered by the Canadian Army Training and Doctrine Centre.

4th Canadian Division

4th Canadian Division (4 Cdn Div) is responsible to provide combat ready land forces in accordance with assigned tasks, conduct general purpose training in preparation for various land operations, and provide support services to other organizations as directed or as mutually arranged. It includes all Regular and Reserve Force units in Ontario, with the exception of a portion of North Western Ontario, which falls under 3rd Canadian Division (3 Cdn Div). Army national training and doctrine facilities in Ontario are administrated by the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre.

5th Canadian Division

5th Canadian Division (5 Cdn Div) is responsible to provide combat ready land forces in accordance with assigned tasks, conduct general purpose training in preparation for various land operations, and provide support services to other organizations as directed or as mutually arranged. It includes all Regular and Reserve Force units in the four Atlantic Provinces, with the exception of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment, which falls under the operational command of 4th Canadian Division (4 Cdn Div). The Combat Training Centre in Gagetown, New Brunswick, is administered by the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre.

 Note: 1st Canadian Division Headquarters, as of 1 April 2015, is part of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC). Article: 1st Canadian Division moves to CJOC


Army size canadian

The Canadian Military

Protected by close alliances with the world’s dominant superpowers — first Britain, then America — Canada has not historically felt the need to develop a particularly large military for itself. At about 50,000 strong, less than half a per cent of Canadians are currently enlisted in their country’s armed forces, and among NATO members, only tiny Luxembourg spends less of its GDP on defence.

Nevertheless, the Canadian military remains a proud national symbol just the same. For more than a century, Canadian troops have helped carry out Canadian foreign policy objectives all over the world — whether through combat or peacekeeping — and gratitude for military service is an ingrained part of Canadian culture. The defining challenge of the Canadian armed forces has always been finding a unique and useful function to fill, however, and that struggle continues to this day.

History of the Canadian Military

For much of Canada’s early history as a British colony, there was little interest in creating a strong domestic military force. British troops still occupied much of Canada, and everyone assumed they always would. This ended in 1871, when Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Washington as part of an effort to secure lasting peace and trust between the two former rivals. As part of the deal, the U.K. agreed to withdraw all imperial troops from North America. Suddenly, Canada was forced to carry the burden of its own self-defense.

The first Canadian militia, known as the Royal Canadian Regiment, was established in 1883 with a mandate to both protect the homeland and defend British interests abroad, which it did in the South African War (1899-1902), Canada’s first overseas conflict. It was followed in 1910 by the creation of the Royal Canadian Navy. When Britain demanded colonial support for its war against Germany in World War I (1914-1918), many new Canadian militias were quickly cobbled together in response, and a total of more than 425,000 Canadian soldiers were eventually sent to Europe, in what was called the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).

After the war, Canadian secured foreign policy independence from Britain, but the militias were quickly sent back to Europe once Canada decided (independently!) to back the British side in World War II (1939-1945). It was during the war that Canada’s armed forces finally became organized more like a traditional military, and in 1942 the Canadian Army was officially founded. The army underwent more restructuring in the 1950s and 1960s, eventually culminating in the creation of a single unified Canadian military known as the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1968.

Structure of the Canadian Military

Like the militaries of most countries, the Canadian Armed Forces are divided into three specialized branches: the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Unlike most countries, however, these branches are all unified under a single leadership structure headed by a single commander known as the Chief of the Defence Staff, currently General J.H. Vance (b. 1964), who reports directly to the prime minister of Canada. Known as unification, the idea of combining all branches of the military under a single hierarchy was part of a controversial plan to help streamline the country’s small military in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Today, it results in phenomena such as joint training for new recruits, and commandingofficers who are promoted from one branch to another.

The Three Branches

The Canadian Army

Canada’s traditional land force consists of around 123,00 regulars (full-time soldiers) plus another 17,000 in reserve (part-time) service. The oldest and largest branch of the Canadian armed forces, the army consists of 419 units, some of which trace their roots back to the old militia days.

The Royal Canadian Air Force

Given Canada is such a gigantic country, maintaining a large air force has long been considered the most logical way to ensure domestic security. The RCAF consists of 13,000 regulars and 2,400 reserves who are spread out in 10 bases across Canada. Most of the country’s 300 or so aircraft are U.S.-made.

The Royal Canadian Navy

The Canadian Navy now consists of 8,300 regulars, 4,600 reserves and 29 warships. Although the Canadian Navy maintains active operations around the world to help assist the country’s land forces, in practice Canada’s sea forces serves mostly as a patrol and rescue force, similar to the Coast Guard of most nations.

Divisions and Units

When in service, members of the three branches of the Canadian Forces operate together under three larger Operational Command units, each of which exists to tackle a different realm of responsibility. The main one, the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), is responsible for domestic security and overseas missions, while the Canadian Special Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) is the country’s elite special ops unit, and the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (CFINTCOM) does reconnaissance and mapping missions.

Distinct from Canada’s main military hierarchy is theNorth American Aerospace Defence Command, or NORAD, which is a joint U.S.-Canadian program to monitor and protect the security of North American airspace. A testament to continental military cooperation that dates back to the Cold War (1945-1990), NORAD has several bases in both Canada and the United States, featuring members of both the Canadian Forces and the American Air Force under joint U.S.-Canadian command.

Canada does not maintain any permanent military bases outside of Canada itself.

Canadian troops in Afghanistan's Panjwa'i District, 2010.
Sgt Daren Kraus/DND-MDN Canada

Contemporary Debates and Controversies

The Cold War was an era of unprecedented military expansion for the United States, which provoked a relatively stand-offish attitude towards military policy in Canada. Safe under the umbrella of American protection as guaranteed by the NORAD alliance, successive Ottawa administrations viewed their country’s armed forces as a low priority at best, and a waste of money at worst. Sceptical government attitudes towards military spending became particularly pronounced during the deficit-conscious, budget-slashing 1990s, which, even today, some soldiers sneeringly describe as the “dark decade.” Lurid media stories of Canadian soldiers wearing bright jungle-green uniforms on desert battlefields and decrepit air force helicopters that required two hours of repair for every hour they spent in the air became familiar clichés.

The events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent “War on Terror” that saw Canadian troops deployed to fight against Islamist terrorist groups in Afghanistan (2002-2011), is usually seen as helping reverse a trend of military ambivalence in favour of a new era in which the armed forces once again played a large role in Canadian foreign policy — and the public imagination. For a time, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper(b. 1959, served 2006-2015) emphasized a commitment to increased military funding, but once the Afghanistan conflict ended the armed forces once again became viewed as a costly expenditure worth cutting to ensure balanced budgets.

The question of what kind of military Canada needs — and how much it should it cost — is ultimately bound to one’s opinion on the larger purpose of Canadian foreign policy. Those who believe Canada should maintain an aggressive stance against foreign terrorists and rogue states will naturally see a strong, well-equipped military as one of the necessary components of giving Canada the capacity to act on its convictions. Those who would like to see the country play a lesser role in international conflicts, by contrast, and focus more on humanitarian causes and peacekeeping, will be more inclined to favour a smaller and leaner armed forces and be critical of military spending. To a large degree, this debate is one of the sharper left/right polarizations within the modern Canadian party system.

More About the Canadian Military

Canada Military Power 2021 - Canadian Army - Canadian military - How powerful is canada ?



Military Sizing

SAS Conversion

6736, 6738,

Small Short

7036, 7038,

Small Regular

7336, 7338,

Small Tall

6740, 6742

Medium Short

7040, 7042

Medium Regular

7340, 7342

Medium Tall

6744, 6746

Large Short

7044, 7046

Large Regular

7344, 7346

Large Tall

6748, 6750

X-Large Short

7048, 7050

X-Large Regular

7348, 7350

X-Large Tall

**  The first two letters represent person’s height, and the second two letters represent chest width in inches.

Example:  7044 equals :  height 70”,  chest 44”

There may be other sizes available now shown on the chart.   Please email us for inquiries.


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The Canadian Expeditionary Force

The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was the entire overseas force fielded by Canada during the First World War. Of the 630,000 Canadians who enlisted for military service, 424,000 went overseas as part of the CEF.

The Canadian Corps that fought on the Western Front was the CEF’s largest formation and its principal combat element, but not its only one. Other units in the CEF served outside the Corps, including the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, forestry and railway units, and various medical hospitals.

Forming the Corps

Canada’s first fighting division in Europe, comprised mainly of troops from the First Contingent who had sailed in fall 1914, served as an individual division under British command.

The growing size and complexity of Canadian forces overseas led in September 1915 to the creation of the Canadian Corps, an operational and administrative grouping of most Canadian fighting units and their supporting services.

At first commanded by British Lieutenant-General Sir E.A.H. Alderson and, from May 1916 to June 1917, by British Lieutenant-General Sir Julian Byng, the Corps grew from an initial establishment of two divisions with approximately 35,000 troops to a powerful striking force of four divisions with 100,000 troops by early 1917.

A Canadian Commander

From June 1917, the Canadians were led by Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie, a Canadian militia officer who rose during the war from command of a brigade to command of the entire Corps. Currie, who remained in command until 1919, is widely considered one of the war’s most capable generals.

The Corps’ Effectiveness

The Canadian Corps was a unique national formation that fought together for most of the war. While British corps usually consisted of an administrative or command structure through which divisions often cycled, and could be larger or smaller, depending on operational requirements, the divisions of the Canadian Corps almost always fought together.

The soldiers of the four divisions and their supporting troops learned to work together and could pool resources to improve combat effectiveness. This cohesion and stability, jealously guarded by most senior Canadian military and political figures, bred a sense of identity and pride in national accomplishment among both soldiers and civilians.

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