Canadian Army

Canadian Army
Armée canadienne

Badge of the Canadian Army
Active 1867 – present
(149 years, 5 months)
Country  Canada
Type Army
Size 49,500 (23,000 regular force, 17, 000 reserve forces, 5000 rangers, 4,500 civilians)[1]
Part of Canadian Forces
Headquarters National Defence Headquarters
Motto(s) Vigilamus pro Te (We Stand on Guard for Thee)
March "The Great Little Army"
Mascot(s) Juno the Bear

Fenian raids
Red River Rebellion
Wolseley Expedition
North-West Rebellion
Second Boer War
First World War
Russian Civil War
Second World War
Korean War
October Crisis
Oka Crisis
Operation Deliverance
Operation Medak Pocket
War in Afghanistan
2004 Haitian coup d'état
War on ISIL

Commander-in-chief Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, represented by Governor General, David Johnston
Commander of the Canadian Army Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, CMM, MSM, CD
Deputy Commander of the Canadian Army Major-General J.C.G. Juneau, OMM, MSM, CD
Flag The current flag of the Canadian Army since July 2016.

The Canadian Army (French: Armée canadienne) is one of three environmental commands within the unified Canadian Armed Forces. As of September 2013 the Army has 21,600 regular soldiers, about 24,000 reserve soldiers, and 5,000 rangers, for a total of 50,600 soldiers. The Army is supported by 5,600 civilian employees.[2] It maintains regular forces units at bases across Canada, and is also responsible for the Army Reserve, the largest component of the Primary Reserve. The Commander of the Canadian Army and Chief of the Army Staff is Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk.

The name "Canadian Army" only came into official use beginning in 1940; from before Confederation until the Second World War the official designation was "Canadian Militia". On 1 April 1966, as a precursor to the unification of Canada's armed services, all land forces were placed under a new entity called Mobile Command. In 1968 the "Canadian Army" ceased to exist as a legal entity as the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Canadian Army (CA), and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) were merged to form a single service called the Canadian Armed Forces. Mobile Command was renamed Land Force Command in the 1993 reorganization of the Canadian Armed Forces. In August 2011, Land Force Command reverted to the pre-1968 title of the Canadian Army.[3]


Prior to Confederation in 1867, the British Army, which included both "Fencible" Regiments of the British Army - recruited within British North America exclusively for service in North America - and Canadian militia units, was responsible for the defence of Canada. Some current regiments of the Canadian Army trace their origins to these pre-Confederation militia and Fencible units. After 1867, a Permanent Active Militia was formed, and in later decades several regular bodies of troops were created, their descendants becoming the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, and the Royal Canadian Regiment. Regular Canadian troops participated in the North West Rebellion in 1885, the South African War (Second Boer War) in 1899, and, in much larger numbers, constituted the Canadian Expeditionary Force in First World War.[4]

In 1940, during Second World War, the Permanent Active Militia was renamed the Canadian Army (Active), supplemented by the non-permanent militia, which was named the Canadian Army (Reserve). The Army participated in the Korean War and formed part of the NATO presence in West Germany during the Cold War. In the years following its unification with the navy and air force in 1968, the size of Canada's land forces was reduced, but Canadian troops participated in a number of military actions with Canada's allies, including the Gulf War in 1991 and the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, as well as peacekeeping operations under United Nations auspices in various parts of the world.[5]

Despite Canada's usual support of British and American initiatives, Canada's land forces did not directly participate in the Vietnam War or the Iraq War.[6]


Command of the Army is exercised by National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. The Army is divided into four divisions:[7]

1st Canadian Division, now under Canadian Joint Operations Command and no longer part of the Canadian Army, serves as a deployable headquarters in the event of a major mobilization of Canadian forces on operations, and has taken the place of the previous Canadian Joint Forces HQ.[8] The other four divisions replaced the previous geographical land force areas, and are responsible for administering all regular and reserve force units within them. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions each have a Regular army mechanized brigade group under their command, together with between two and three Reserve brigades.

Each mechanized brigade group contains three infantry battalions, an armoured regiment, an artillery regiment, and a combat engineer regiment. Each brigade group also contains a service support battalion and a signals squadron.

In addition to the four regional command areas, the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre, previously called Land Force Doctrine and Training System, commanded by a major-general and headquartered at McNaughton Barracks, CFB Kingston, Ontario, is responsible for the supervision, integration and delivery of Army training and doctrine development, including simulation and digitization. It includes a number of schools and training organizations, such as the Combat Training Centre at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, and the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre at CFB Wainwright, Alberta.[9]


The senior appointment within the Canadian Army was Chief of the General Staff until 1964 when the appointment became Commander, Mobile Command in advance of the unification of Canada's military forces.[10] The position was renamed Chief of the Land Staff in 1993.[11] Following the reversion of Land Forces to the Canadian Army in 2011, the position became Commander of the Canadian Army and Chief of the Army Staff.

Officers are selected in several ways:

In addition there were other commissioning plans such as the Officer Candidate Training Plan and Officer Candidate Training Plan (Men) for commissioning serving members which are no longer in effect.

Occupational training for Canadian Army officers takes place at one of the schools of the Combat Training Centre for Army-controlled occupations (armour, artillery, infantry, electrical and mechanical engineers, etc.) or at a Canadian Armed Forces school, such as the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics or the Defence Public Affairs Learning Centre for officers from career fields controlled outside the Army.

Regular force

Canadian infantry and armoured regimental traditions are strongly rooted in the traditions and history of the British Army. Many regiments were patterned after regiments of the British Army, and a system of official "alliances", or affiliations, was created to perpetuate a sense of shared history. Other regiments developed independently, resulting in a mixture of both colourful and historically familiar names. Other traditions such as battle honours and colours have been maintained by Canadian regiments as well. Approximately two-thirds of the Regular Force is composed of anglophone units, while one third is francophone.

Between 1953 and 1971, the Regular Canadian Infantry consisted of seven regiments, each of two battalions (except the Royal 22e Régiment, which had three, the Canadian Guards which had four battalions between 1953 and 1957 and the Canadian Airborne Regiment, which was divided into three commandos). The three present Regular infantry regiments were augmented by three further regiments each of two battalions:

Following the unification of the three services to form the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968, the Regular Force battalions of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and the Black Watch were dissolved (their Militia battalions remained in Toronto and Montreal, respectively), the Regular regiment of The Fort Garry Horse was disbanded and the Canadian Guards were reduced to nil strength.

The 1st Battalion of the Canadian Guards was disbanded on 1 October 1968. On 6 July 1970, the 2nd Battalion, The Canadian Guards was reduced to nil strength and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle, with the unit's soldiers and officers becoming the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment.

On 1 July 1970, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada were reduced to nil strength and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle, and the Reserve Force battalion automatically relinquished its numerical designation.

On 15 September 1968, the 2nd Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada was reduced to nil strength and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle, while when the 1st Battalion was reduced to nil strength and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle on 27 April 1970, with the unit's officers and soldiers forming the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. The Reserve Force battalion automatically relinquished its numerical designation at that time.

The Canadian Airborne Regiment was disbanded in 1995.[17]

The Regular Force regiment of the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's), formed in 1957, was converted to a mixed Regular and Reserve “Total Force” unit with the close-out of 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at Lahr, Germany in 1994, before reverting to a Reserve regiment in 1997.[18]

Army Reserve

Main article: Primary Reserve

The Army Reserve is the reserve element of the Canadian Army and the largest component of the Primary Reserve. The Army Reserve is organized into under-strength brigades (for purposes of administration) along geographic lines. The Army Reserve is very active and has participated heavily in all Regular Army deployments in the last decade, in some cases contributing as much as 40 per cent of each deployment in either individual augmentation, as well as occasional formed sub-units (companies). LFR regiments have the theoretical administrative capacity to support an entire battalion, but typically have the deployable manpower of only one or two platoons. They are perpetuated as such for the timely absorption of recruits during times of war. Current strength of the Army Reserve is approximately 18,000. On April 1, 2008, the Army Reserve absorbed all units of the former Communications Reserve.[NOTE: "light infantry" and "heavy infantry" are obsolete historic British Army categories for lightly equipped troops who could march fast and rove ahead of the main army force (rifle regiments were an example of this) and the normal ("heavy") infantry who marched slower but could handle the normal fighting and were not so lightly equipped. All Canadian infantry units in the war in Afghanistan were loaded even more than historic heavy infantry ever were with body armour and large rucksacks, even those with "light infantry" in their title e.g. PPCLI.]

Organization of the Army

  1. Canadian Army Headquarters (Ottawa, ON)
  2. Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre (Kingston, ON)
  3. 2nd Canadian Division (formerly Land Force Quebec Area )
  4. 3rd Canadian Division (formerly Land Force Western Area )
  5. 4th Canadian Division (formerly Land Force Central Area )
  6. 5th Canadian Division (formerly Land Force Atlantic Area )
    • 5th Canadian Division HQ (Halifax, NS)
    • 5th Canadian Division Support Group (Gagetown, NB)
    • 5th Canadian Division Training Centre (Gagetown, NB)
    • 4 Engineer Support Regiment
    • 4th Regiment (General Support) Royal Canadian Artillery
    • 36 Canadian Brigade Group
      • 36 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters
      • 36 Canadian Brigade Group (NS) Band (music)
      • The Halifax Rifles (RCAC) (armoured) (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
      • The Prince Edward Island Regiment (RCAC) (armoured) (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island)
      • 1st (Halifax-Dartmouth) Field Artillery Regiment, RCA (artillery) (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
      • 84th Independent Field Battery, RCA (artillery) (Yarmouth, Nova Scotia)
      • 45 Engineer Squadron (combat engineer) (Sydney, Nova Scotia)
      • The Princess Louise Fusiliers (infantry) (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
      • The West Nova Scotia Regiment (infantry) (Aldershot, Nova Scotia)
      • The Nova Scotia Highlanders (infantry) (Truro, Nova Scotia)
      • The Cape Breton Highlanders (infantry) (Sydney, Nova Scotia)
      • 36 Service Battalion (service and support) (Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia)
      • 36 Signals Regiment (Glace Bay, Nova Scotia; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island)
    • 37 Canadian Brigade Group
      • 37 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters
      • 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) (armoured) (Moncton, New Brunswick)
      • 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, RCA (artillery) (Saint John, New Brunswick)
      • 56 Engineer Squadron (combat engineer) (St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador)
      • 1 Engineer Squadron (combat engineer) (Fredericton, New Brunswick)
      • 1st Battalion, The Royal New Brunswick Regiment (Carleton and York) (infantry) (Fredericton, New Brunswick)
      • The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment (infantry) (Bathurst, New Brunswick)
      • 1st Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment (infantry) (St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador)
      • 2nd Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment (infantry) (Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador)
      • 37 Service Battalion (service and support) (Saint John, New Brunswick and St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador)
      • 37 Signal Regiment 2 Squadron (Saint John, New Brunswick)
      • 724 Communication Squadron (Oromocto, New Brunswick) [Update Needed]
      • 37 Signal Regiment 8 Squadron (St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador)
    • 5 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador)
    • 3 Military Police Regiment (Canada) Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia

Bases and training centres

  1. 2nd Canadian Division
    • 2nd Canadian Division Support Base Montreal
    • Garrison Valcartier
    • Garrison St Jean
    • 2nd Canadian Division Training Centre Valcartier
  2. 3rd Canadian Division
    • 3rd Canadian Division Support Base Edmonton
    • Garrison Wainwright
    • Garrison Shilo
    • 3rd Canadian Division Training Centre Wainwright
    • 3rd Canadian Division Training Centre Detachment Shilo
  3. 4th Canadian Division
  4. 5th Canadian Division
    • 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown
    • 5th Canadian Division Training Centre Gagetown


Soldiers of the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada armoured reconnaissance regiment

Canada is an industrial nation with a highly developed science and technology sector. Since the First World War, Canada has produced its own infantry fighting vehicle, anti-tank guided missile and small arms for the Army. Regular and reserve units operate state-of-the-art equipment able to handle modern threats through 2030–2035. Despite extensive financial cuts to the defence budget between the 1960s–2000s, the Army is relatively well equipped.[21] The Army currently operates approximately 10,500 utility vehicles including G-wagon and 7000-MV and also operates approximately 2,700 armoured fighting vehicles including the LAV-III and the Leopard 2.[22] The Army also operates approximately 150 field artillery pieces including the M777 howitzer and the LG1 Mark II.[23]

In the near future, between 2011 and 2017, (see also the list of Future Canadian Forces projects), the Army will receive a new family of tactical armoured patrol vehicles which will eventually replace the RG-31 Nyala and Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicle, known as the Textron Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle.[24] The dismounted soldiers will be equipped with the long-awaited Integrated Soldier System designed to improve command execution, target acquisition and situational awareness. The Army will receive a new family of engineering vehicles especially designed to clear pathways for troops and other vehicles through minefields and along roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices. This new family of vehicles will eventually replace the aging fleet of AEV Badger, ARV Taurus and AVLB Beaver.

The Army infantry uses the C7 Rifle or C8 Carbine as the basic assault rifle, with grenadiers using the C7 with an attached M203 grenade launcher, and the C9 squad automatic weapon.[25] The Canadian Army also uses the Browning Hi-Power and the SIG Sauer P226

Newer variants of the C7/C8 family have since been integrated into common use throughout the Canadian Armed Forces. The C7 has most recently been updated in the form the C7A2. The major internal components remain the same, however, several changes have been made to increase versatility of the rifle. Changes include adding a TRI-Ad rail mount system to the front iron sight which allows accessories such as laser designators and tac lights to be added. Also, the fire control selector lever has been made ambidextrous in addition to the cocking lever. A much needed 4-position telescopic butt-stock has been added to better accommodate different sized shooters. But, perhaps most obviously the rifle has undergone some aesthetic changes, moving away from the traditional all black rifle to one with olive green in the hand guards, pistol grip and sight cover.[26]

Members of the Canadian Grenadier Guards on parade in Ottawa

Uniforms, load bearing and protective equipment

Canada's battledress developed parallel to that of the British from 1900 to 1968, though always with significant differences, and then increasingly followed the American pattern of separate uniforms for separate functions, becoming distinctively "Canadian" in the process. Prior to unification in 1968, the uniforms of the RCN, CA, and RCAF were similar to their counterparts in the forces of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, save for national identifiers and some regimental accoutrements. With unification in 1968 all branches started wearing a new rifle green coloured service uniform. The present distinctive environmental uniforms in different colours for the navy, army and air force were introduced in the late 1980s and have a different cut and colour than their pre-1968 counterparts. The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced on 8 July 2013 the Government of Canada's intent to restore Canadian Army rank insignia, names and badges to their traditional forms.[27]


Field kitchens and catering are used to feed members of the Canadian Army personnel at bases and overseas operation centres. For personnel on patrol away from bases, they are supplied Individual Meal Packs (IMPs). The IMP is used by the Canadian Forces. Other types of rations are used by the Canadian Forces, notably fresh rations, or cooked meals provided directly from the kitchen or by haybox. There are also patrol packs, which are small high-protein snack-type foods (such as beef jerky or shredded cheese) and boxed lunches (consisting of assorted sandwiches, juice, fruit, pasta and a dessert) provided for soldiers to consume in situations in which meal preparation is not possible.

Badge of the Canadian Army

The badge of the Canadian Army consists of:[28]

Rank structure

Military rank in the Canadian Army is granted based on a variety of factors including merit, qualification, training, and time in-rank. However, promotion up to the rank of corporal for non-commissioned members, and to captain for officers, is automatic based on time in previous rank. Some ranks are associated with specific appointments. For example, a regimental sergeant major is held by a chief warrant officer, or adjutant held by a Captain. In some branches or specific units, rank titles may differ due to tradition. A trained private within the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps is a trooper, whereas the same rank within the artillery is gunner. Other titles for the rank of private include fusilier, sapper, rifleman, craftsman, and guardsman.[29]

For a comparison of ranking structure, see Ranks and insignia of NATO. Not shown are the various appointment badges for specialist positions such as Base Chief Warrant Officer, Drum Major, etc.



Canada Commander-in-chief
Title Commander-in-chief
Abbreviation C-in-C

The Canadian Army's naval-style insignia for commissioned officers has been replaced by the previous British Army style, effective August 2014, following the restoration of the Canadian Army in 2011. The rank insignia for General ranks was reverted to the post-unification insignia in 2016. The Canadian Army rank structure is shown below.

NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student Officer
Canada Canada
No Equivalent No Equivalent
General Lieutenant-General Major-General Brigadier-General Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant (Pronounced lef-tenant) Second Lieutenant Officer Cadet
Général Lieutenant-général Major-général Brigadier-général Colonel Lieutenant-colonel Major Capitaine Lieutenant Sous-lieutenant Élève-officier
Canada Canada
Chief Warrant Officer
Master Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer
Master Corporal
Private (Basic)
Soldat (Confirmé)
Private (Recruit)
Soldat (Recrue)

Battles involving the Canadian Army

The Canadian Army has participated in the following campaigns as a combatant:

Note: The Canadian army was involved in the battle of the Medak Pocket, but the actual type of involvement is under dispute.


See also


  1. "About the Army". Canadian Army. Government of Canada. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  2. "About the Army". Department of National Defence. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  3. "Navy and air force to be royal once again". CBC News. 16 August 2011.
  4. "Soldiers of the First World War - CEF". Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  5. "Canada in Afghanistan: Overview of Military and Development Activities". Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  6. "Canada's 'No' To Iraq War A Defining Moment For Prime Minister, Even 10 Years Later". Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  7. "Canadian Army reverts to British-style ranks and designations". Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  8. "1st Canadian Division moves to CJOC". National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  9. Department of National Defence, 2011. Leader in Land Operations: LFDTS Land Force Doctrine and Training System
  10. Dr. Wilf Lund (n.d.) Integration and Unification of the Canadian Forces, CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum,
  11. Major Andrew B. Godefroy CD PhD (2007) Chasing the Silver Bullet: the Evolution of Capability Development in the Canadian Army, Canadian Military Journal, vol 8, no 1, pg 59.
  12. CF Military Personnel Instructions 09/05
  13. CFAO 9-13—University Training Plan—Non-Commissioned Members
  14. CFAO 11-9—Commissioning From The Ranks Plan
  15. CFAO 11-14—Special Requirements Commissioning Plan
  16. The Canadian Officer Selection System Retrieved 17 August 2011
  17. Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003/AF-002—Part Two: Infantry Regiments
  18. Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003/AF-001—Part One: Armour, Artillery and Field Engineer Regiments
  19. 39 Canadian Brigade Group – The Army Reserve in British Columbia, published by the authority of the Brigade Commander, 39 Canadian Brigade Group, Vancouver, September 2011
  20. Lance W. Roberts (2005) 9.3 Military Forces, Recent social trends in Canada, 1960-2000, McGill-Queen's University Press, pp.372-376.
  21. Equipment: Vehicles,
  22. Equipment: Weapons,
  23. Equipment: Weapons,
  24. "Canadian Armed Forces Assault Rifle". 2008.
  25. Canadian Forces to go back to the future with British-style ranks
  26. "Canadian Army". Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  27. article on Rank and Responsibility
  28. Canadian Military Journal
  29. Canadian Army Journal

Further reading

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