The Canadian Armed Forces Primary Reserves and Aid to the Civil Power

Maximizing Service and Minimizing Risk for Canadians



Abstract: Over the past twenty years, domestic military operations in Canada have seen a dramatic increase in the employment of the Primary Reserve (PRes) alongside the Regular Force. This raises an important question regarding how, in an evolving environment, the PRes can be successfully employed in future aid to the civil power roles? This paper argues that the current organization and terms of service for the PRes are not properly structured and mandated to support any large-scale and sustained aid to the civil power operation - and that this forces Canadians to accept risk when it comes to domestic national security. Theoretically, Canadians have relied for decades on what Sokolsky and Leuprecht have defined as an easy rider approach; where the government contributes just enough resources to ensure that the Canadian public respects and values the military effort.  As demands increase, future domestic operations may now have to adapt to a new approach where the criteria for success becomes crisis resolution rather than crisis contribution. By examining the current roles and framework under which the PRes operates, the legal obligations that are currently in force, and the proposal that the PRes assume primary responsibility for domestic response operations, this paper concludes that assigning new roles and responsibilities to the PRes without additional legal obligations will not set the conditions for success should a large scale or lengthy call out be required. (230 words)

Author Biography

Mike Fejes, Royal Military College of Canada

Mike G. Fejes is a PhD candidate at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, where he specializes in International Conflict. He holds a BA (Hons) and an MA from the University of Manitoba. An experienced infantry officer with over 24 years of military service in both the regular and reserve force, he is currently employed as a Lecturer at The Royal Military College of Canada. His research interests include foreign policy analysis, comparative defence policy, civ-mil relations, and the contemporary use of armed force.