Canadian Military During the Cold War



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    Canadian Military During the Cold War

    Post by mk1rceme on Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:46 pm

    The Canadian Army underwent many changes after the Second World War, including redesignations. The full time component became the Canadian Army Active Force and the part time component the Canadian Army Reserve Force.

    Korean War

    Canada sent 26,791 Canadians to serve in the Korean War, with 7,000 more remaining to supervise the ceasefire until the end of 1955. Of these 1,558 became casualties, including 516 deaths, most due to combat.[4] Canada's participation included several naval vessels and aircraft, in addition to the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade which served as part of the 1st Commonwealth Division.

    Canada's military was revitalized as a result of the Korean War. A planned changeover to US designed weapons equipment had been planned for the 1950s, but the emergency in Korea forced the use of war stocks of Second World War vintage British designed weapons. In the late 1950s, Canada adopted a variety of weapons of European, British and US design rather than proceeding with its planned Americanization.


    Aside from providing a field force for the Korean War, few operational missions existed until the rise of Peacekeeping in the 1960s.

    Prior to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the Canadian Army was the only Imperial/Commonwealth nation to have provided the King's Guard in London. In the lead up, the contingent of Canadian troops sent for the coronation provided the guard during June 1953, along with an equivalent unit of the Australian Army.

    During the early 1950s the Army advertised in British newspapers for English ex-servicemen to join the Canadian Army. These recruits were transported to Canada for training. After a 6-month trial period the soldiers' families were allowed to emigrate to join the father. Transport was usually by scheduled sea transport.

    In 1954, the report of the Kennedy Board was tabled, giving suggestions for reorganizing the Militia. The Anderson Report followed in late 1957.

    The late 1950s saw a dramatic increase in the Army's size and Canada's largest ever standing army was created, largely through the vision of General G.G. Simonds the Chief of the General Staff. The reason for this expansion was the need to maintain a presence in Germany as part of NATO, while simultaneously ensuring forces for the conflict in Korea. Initially, six new regular infantry battalions were raised by regiments of the Militia - two were raised from ordinary line infantry regiments, two from regiments of rifles and two from regiments of Highlanders. When the decision was made to make this arrangement permanent, it was decided that the battalions would become regular battalions of regiments. The decision was taken to make the rifles and highland battalions part of two of the senior existing militia regiments, while the infantry battalions were organised into a new national regiment:

    * 1st & 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalions - 3rd & 4th Battalions, Canadian Guards
    * 1st & 2nd Canadian Rifle Battalions - 1st & 2nd Battalions, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
    * 1st & 2nd Canadian Highland Battalions - 1st & 2nd Battalions, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada

    In the early 1950s Canada sent a brigade to West Germany as part of its NATO commitment after the creation of that alliance in 1949. The 27th Canadian Infantry Brigade later became 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, which remained stationed in West Germany and later the unified Germany until the 1990s and the end of the Cold War.

    The future of the Army was put in grave doubt in the age of nuclear deterrence. The postwar Militia (the part time component of the Canadian Army) was reroled from combat operations to civil defence, an extremely unpopular move. In 1964 the Suttie Commission made suggestions on improving the Army.

    In 1968, The Canadian Airborne Regiment, a full time parachute regiment, was created.


    The Army was integrated with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force on February 1, 1968 under the policy of Unification. The newly formed Canadian Forces was the first combined command military force in the modern world. The Army became known as Force Mobile Command (FMC). Helicopter operations, briefly instituted under Army purview in the early 1960s, transferred to Air Command.

    Most of the pre-Unification corps that had been created in the early 20th Century were disbanded; they were merged with counterparts in the Navy and Air Force to form the personnel branches of the CF. The move toward unification, as well as other budget and cost cutting moves during the 80s and 90s were opposed by many and is sometimes seen as a fault in the Canadian Forces. Many veterans objected to this move and to this day refuse to acknowledge the unification, still referring to branches of the military by their pre-unification titles (Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy etc.).

    * Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and Royal Canadian Dental Corps—became the Canadian Forces Medical Service and Canadian Forces Dental Service respectively; in the 1990s, both the CFMS and CFDS would combine together administratively as the Canadian Forces Health Services (though both still wear their individual branch insignia)
    * Royal Canadian Corps of Signals—became the Communications and Electronics Branch
    * Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps amalgamated with supply and transport services of Royal Canadian Army Service Corps—became the Logistics Branch
    * Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers—became Land Ordnance Engineering, then Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Branch
    * Clerical trades of Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps, and Royal Canadian Postal Corps—became the Administration Branch (later merged with the Logistics Branch)
    * Canadian Provost Corps and Canadian Intelligence Corps—became the Security Branch

    Cold War

    The Regular Force was downsized in 1970, and the number of regular infantry battalions was reduced from 13 to 10. This was achieved by disbanding entirely the Canadian Guards, and returning both the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada to their militia only status.

    Francophone Units

    In the late 1960s, the Canadian Forces committed itself to creating French Language Units (FLUs) and encouraging career opportunities for Francophones. The Minister of National Defence, Léo Cadieux, announced their creation on April 2, 1968, to include artillery and armoured regiments as well as units of the supporting arms, with two battalions of the Royal 22e Régiment at their core. The Army FLUs eventually concentrated at Valcartier and became known as 5e Groupement de Combat. A French-speaking Regular Force armoured regiment was created, and the policy of bilingualism was supported by the first Chief of the Defence Staff, General J.V. Allard.

    The focus of Force Mobile Command was set on peace missions as well as future conventional war in Europe. Equipment acquisitions such as the M113 APC and Leopard tank marked a modernization, as did the Militia's use of the Cougar and Grizzly AVGP in armoured reconnaissance and mechanized infantry roles.

    Post–Cold War

    Mobile Command took part in several international missions following the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Aside from playing a minor part in the Gulf War in 1991, Canadian Forces were heavily committed to several UN and NATO missions in the former Yugoslavia which tested the shrinking military's abilities and resources.


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