Military Wiki
Canadian Forces Primary Reserve
Calgary Highlanders Exercise Black Bear 2004.jpg
Reserve infantrymen train in urban operations circa 2004
Active 1867 — Present
Country Canada Canada
Allegiance Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada

23pxRoyal Canadian Navy

23pxCanadian Army

Royal Canadian Air Force
Type Reserve force
Size 25,000
Part of

Department of National Defence

Canadian Forces

The Primary Reserve of the Canadian Forces (French language: Première Réserve des Forces Canadiennes) is the first and largest of the four sub-components of the Canadian Forces reserves followed by the Supplementary Reserve, the Canadian Rangers, and the Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (formerly the Cadet Instructors Cadre[1]).

The reserve force is represented, though not commanded, at the national level by the Chief of Reserves and Cadets. This is usually a Major General or Rear Admiral.[2]

The Primary Reserve consists of sailors, soldiers and airmen who train to the level of and interchangeable with their Regular Force counterparts, as per the "total force" policy outlined in both the 1987 and 1994 Defence White Papers, and are posted to CF operations or duties on an on-going basis. Each reserve force is operationally and administratively responsible to its corresponding environmental command; those being, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force.[citation needed]

Primary reservists number approximately 25,000[3] (all ranks, all services). It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the reserves to sustaining CF operations, particularly following the defence budget cuts under the Chrétien government's Finance Minister Paul Martin and increased operational tempo of the 1990s, which highly strained both the Reserve's personnel and equipment.[4]


Naval Reserve

HMCS Brandon

The Naval Reserve (NAVRES) is the reserve formation of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). It is organized into 24 Naval Reserve Divisions (NRDs), shore-based training facilities located in communities across the country. Each NRD has a small cadre of full-time reservists and regular force members to coordinate training and administration, but is for the most part directed by the division's part-time leadership. Training is conducted year round with regular force counterparts at the three Canadian Forces Fleet Schools and reservists frequently deploy on regular force ships to augment ships' companies. The Naval Reserve supplies all personnel (except two regular forces Electrician and one Marine Engineer) for the 12 Kingston Class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs), which are used for patrol, minesweeping and bottom-inspection operations. The Naval Reserve has a funded manning level of 4,000.[citation needed]

Army Reserve

Canadian Soldiers inspect Browning Hi-Power

Army Reservists conduct weapons training in drill hall

The Army Reserve of the Canadian Army (CA) is the largest part of the Primary Reserve. It is sometimes referred to by its original name, the Militia. The Army Reserve is organized into under-strength brigades (for purposes of administration) along geographic lines. It is very active and has participated heavily in all deployments of the regular Canadian Army over the last decade. In some cases the Army Reserve has contributed as much as 40 per cent of the personnel in each deployment in the form of individual augmentation and occasionally formed sub-units (companies). Regiments of the Army Reserve have the theoretical administrative capacity to support an entire battalion, but typically only have the deployable manpower of one or two platoons. They are perpetuated as such for the timely absorption of recruits during times of war or in aid of the civil power.[citation needed]


Air Reserve

The Air Reserve is the reserve element of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). It is organized into flights and squadrons that are attached to Regular Force RCAF wings at various bases. Air Reserve personnel conduct training to support wing operations. Air Reserve units are specialized in various areas of surveillance, engineering, and airfield construction. Personnel also conduct further training at Canadian Forces bases and can deploy with Regular Force RCAF crews around the world in support of RCAF missions. Unlike the Naval Reserve and Army Reserve, the Air Reserve is composed principally of former members of the Regular Force, although this does not reflect any official policy.[citation needed]

Health Services Reserve

The 1,500-strong Health Services Reserve (HSR) provides essential health services in the Canadian Forces. Health services reservists serve the Canadian Forces in a wide range of health care professions, including medicine, nursing and social work. Reserve paramedical personnel who are not civilian trained and employed are trained, at a minimum, to the level of emergency medical responder.[citation needed]

Training and employment

The level of activity associated with being a reservist varies from formation to formation. There are three classes of employment available to Reservists:

Class A

The most common form of employment for reservists; members are employed on a part-time basis within their unit. This form of employment is entirely voluntary, provides no job security and fewer benefits (medical and dental, e.g.) than the other classes of service. The Class A contract covers training or employment up to 12 consecutive days.[5] Class A reservists are generally limited to a certain number of paid days per year[6]

Most units provide employment for training in the form of one evening per week or two full days a month during the training year (September - April). Units also normally provide one additional evening a week for administration purposes.

Reservists are obliged to accumulate a minimum of 14 full days of service per year and may not exceed 30 days of unauthorized absence during which no fewer than 3 duty periods were conducted by the reservist's unit. Those failing to adhere to these requirements can be deemed to be Non-Effective Strength and can be subject to administrative action.[7]

Class B

This form of employment is for Reservists employed full-time in a non-operational capacity. The length of the employment is dependant on the Reservist's availability and the needs of the Canadian Forces. Reservists on Class B employment receive many of the same benefits as members of the Regular Force, and, for members on contracts longer than six months duration, almost exactly the same benefits aside from pay. Members on Class A and B are paid 85% of their counterparts on Class C and in the regular force.[8]

Class C

This is the operational level of employment. Reservists on Class C employment receive an increase in pay to the level that a Regular Force member in the same position would be expected to receive (Reservists employed in either of the other classes earn 85% of the amount their Regular Force counterparts receive). There is no maximum length of employment and is normally in excess of one year. Typically, a reservist in a Class C contract fills the role of a Regular Force member and is accordingly paid from the Regular Force budget.[9]

Domestic operations

A LAV III during the Operation Lotus.

Members of the Primary Reserve may serve in routine domestic operations, or be called up in cases of national emergency as an aid to the civil power. This may include rescue operations, disaster management, or as additional security operations.[10]

Examples include:

  • Operation CADENCE: security support during the 2010 Muskoka G8 and Toronto G20 Summits.[10]
  • Operation LAMA: the joint humanitarian relief mission in Newfoundland after Hurricane Igor.[10]
  • Operation LOTUS: a military operation to assist flooding victims in the Montérégie area [10]
  • Operation LYRE: Canadian Forces assistance to flooded communities in southern Manitoba.[10]
  • Operations NANOOK, NUNALIVUT and NUNAKPUT: the annual sovereignty operations in Canada’s North.[10]
  • Operation PALACI: which supports Parks Canada’s annual avalanche control program in British Columbia’s Rogers Pass.[10]
  • Operation PODIUM: the Canadian Forces support to security operations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February 2010[10]

Foreign operations

Overseas deployment on operations is voluntary. Members of the Primary Reserve are required to be selected after volunteering and must undergo workup training before being deployed overseas on operations.[citation needed]

In case of a severe national emergency, an Order in Council may be signed by the Governor General of Canada acting under the advisement of the federal cabinet to call reserve members of the Canadian Forces into active service. Members of the reserve have not been called to involuntary active service in foreign operations since the Second World War.[citation needed]


Model Type Number Dates Builder Details
G-Wagen 4 × 4 Light Utility Vehicle 1,159 2004- Mercedes-Benz, Germany replaced the Iltis light trucks in Afghanistan
MILCOTS (Milverado) - 2003 Silverado Basic model 861 (GM K25943HD) light utility vehicle wheeled 1,061 2003–2004 Chevrolet, United States replacing the Bombardier Iltis jeeps in North American operations only
Cougar AVGP Fire Support Vehicle N/A N/A General Dynamics,  Canada to be replaced by G-Wagen
Kingston class patrol vessel Coastal Defence/Mine Clearance Vessel 12 1996- Halifax Shipyards An operational asset of Royal Canadian Navy manned by reservists
24' RHIB Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat 24 1993- Zodiac Hurricane Technologies Inshore patrol and operations vessel

See also


  1. "Administrative Order: Implementation of Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service", NDHQ 1085-30 (D Cdts 6) dated 2 July 1009.
  2. "About - Chief Reserves and Cadets"
  3. Department of National Defence (August 2007). "About DND/CF". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  4. J.L. Granatstein; LGeneral (Ret’d) Charles Belzile (September 2005). "The Special Commission on the Restructuring of the Reserves, 1995: Ten Years Later". p. 5. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  5. "Employment Opportunities". 2013-01-10. Retrieved 17 May 2013. ""Class A - includes training or employment for a half-day, full-day, weekend or as many as 12 consecutive days."" 
  6. Primary Reserve (August 2006). "Classes of Reserve Service". Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  7. "Military Administrative Law Manual Chapter 19 - Release". Office of the JAG. Non-Effective Members: 33.. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  8. The Honourable Pamela Wallin; The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire (December 2011). "Answering the Call: The Future Role of Canada's Primary Reserve". Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. p. 12. 
  9. Corinne McDonald (29 November 1999). Trainingtxt "THE CANADIAN ARMED FORCES: THE ROLE OF THE RESERVES". Political and Social Affairs Division. C. Organizational Structure: 1. Primary Reserve. Trainingtxt. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 "Domestic Operations" Canadian Forces Canada Command[dead link]

External links

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