By Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force –
Quality of Life — Quality of Service
The Chief of the Defence Staff recently launched “Operation EXPERIENCE”, which directs the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to implement immediate actions to stabilize and rapidly increase levels of pilot experience. These actions are nested within a broader Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) campaign plan, “Operation TALENT”, which focuses on the quality of life and quality of service of all our personnel and their families. It addresses, in particular, the intake, training, absorption and employment of our members.
Although these two directives have been published separately, be assured that they address two aspects of a single challenge and we will implement measures arising from both in a seamless, mutually complementary and holistic manner.
Together, these initiatives are vital in face of an unprecedented level of global competition for the skills of pilots, technicians, highly trained aviation specialists and support personnel. We are at risk of losing the depth of experience that our more senior personnel possess and, thus, the ability to mentor, train and transfer knowledge to our newer aviators and bring them to an operationally effective level.
Without action to stabilize our levels of experienced personnel, the RCAF’s operational output will be further impacted. Increasing our intake and our training capacity is not enough. We must nurture an environment where the RCAF’s quality of life and quality of service make it more attractive for our members to stay than to leave.
The challenge is complex, however, and will require equally complex solutions. We are already working on several solutions to alleviate our situation. We will implement some of them quickly but others, I want to be clear, may take up to five to seven years to put in place.
We’re already seeing progress on the establishment of a new Air Operations Support Technician Occupation (Reserve Force) that will augment force protection capabilities and provide support to aircraft maintenance and search and rescue activities. This will allow highly qualified Aviation and Search and Rescue Technicians to focus on their primary functions. We will begin accepting applications to this Occupation this summer. Planning is also under way to establish an Air Operations Officer Occupation (Regular Force) that will focus on non-flying activities, thereby returning more aircrew to the flight lines. More immediate actions include adjusting the restricted release policy and increasing the length of first flying tours to a minimum of four years. Additional initiatives are outlined in our Fact Sheet.
You will be able to learn more about both operations at future town halls in your locations, and we will distribute a “tool box” through the chain of command for leaders at all levels to use. We will also set up an intranet page that will keep you up to date on the progress of all our initiatives. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the upcoming edition of PERSpectives, which contains a more detailed account of our planned way ahead.
As we work to ensure the RCAF remains an effective provider of air and space power for the Canadian Armed Forces and the Government of Canada, I encourage you to become informed, do your part and always keep in mind the words of our motto: Such is the pathway to the stars – Sic Itur Ad Astra.
This post is also available in: Français (French)