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Divining the right role, capabilities, structure, and Regimental System for Canada's Army Reserves

daftandbarmy

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This raises a question that has interested me for some time: how does the system (software or whatever) correct for such a situation?

Does the system need a manual input to override or correct such a setting? And if so is there a policy/overwatch system in place to make such corrections on the thousands of disparate parts recorded in the system?

Or does the system itself (through some magical algorithm) self correct itself when a given parameter is exceeded?

This again reminds me of Target's failure in Canada which in very large measure came about because the software (which itself was very powerful) was not properly programmed (to an extent the requirement to incorporate bilingualism and the metric system to an existing product line proved difficult) and ended up causing major supply management failures as a result of which the customer base (which was very excited by the chain's entry into Canada) lost faith in the brand. Target ultimately decided it couldn't cure the problem and took a multi-billion dollar hit to extricate itself.

🤔

I connect regularly with people who are really good at getting billions of dollars worth of product from one part of the globe to another, with no problems at all.

It would be nice to see the CAF be able to get that right, starting with the same postal code.
 

FJAG

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I connect regularly with people who are really good at getting billions of dollars worth of product from one part of the globe to another, with no problems at all.

It would be nice to see the CAF be able to get that right, starting with the same postal code.
I've just read the another answer to my interview questionnaire on Op Athena 1 Roto 0 and now have my fourth response that indicates that the NSE there had problems in giving any priority to replacing/fixing operationally necessary technical (primarily electronic or optical) equipment.

🍻
 

MilEME09

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I've just read the another answer to my interview questionnaire on Op Athena 1 Roto 0 and now have my fourth response that indicates that the NSE there had problems in giving any priority to replacing/fixing operationally necessary technical (primarily electronic or optical) equipment.

🍻
Was that due to the supply chain? We have a priority list for vehicle and equipment repair. Example an Ambulance is priority 1, even above tanks and arnoured fighting vehicles, and standardized repair times. This usually gets tracked via time cards, and if you log 10 hours on a 5 hour repair, the system should flag it and you better explain why. Now repairs can only begin and time logged if the parts are available in most cases.
 

FJAG

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Was that due to the supply chain? We have a priority list for vehicle and equipment repair. Example an Ambulance is priority 1, even above tanks and arnoured fighting vehicles, and standardized repair times. This usually gets tracked via time cards, and if you log 10 hours on a 5 hour repair, the system should flag it and you better explain why. Now repairs can only begin and time logged if the parts are available in most cases.
I must admit these are anecdotal (but I think the speakers were credible) In one case a request for a critical circuit board for a radar had been submitted in to the NSE but when checked on a week later was found to not have been forwarded onward submitted but was being held up for a bulk request. Another was a thermal sight on a OPLAV which was down for a month without any action and finally ended up being swapped out from a Zulu LAV which didn't have the same operational need. The folks I'm talking about were gunners and if you recall the gunners were a brigade resource and not a battle group one. While that should have made no difference there was a distinct feeling (whether rightly or wrongly) that the battery, which had a BQMS, did not get the same response rate from the NSE as the battle group which had a Log O on staff. People who were in even smaller brigade level detachments but not part of the usual Bde HQ felt particularly that they were orphans as far as logistics support was concerned.

🍻
 

daftandbarmy

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I must admit these are anecdotal (but I think the speakers were credible) In one case a request for a critical circuit board for a radar had been submitted in to the NSE but when checked on a week later was found to not have been forwarded onward submitted but was being held up for a bulk request. Another was a thermal sight on a OPLAV which was down for a month without any action and finally ended up being swapped out from a Zulu LAV which didn't have the same operational need. The folks I'm talking about were gunners and if you recall the gunners were a brigade resource and not a battle group one. While that should have made no difference there was a distinct feeling (whether rightly or wrongly) that the battery, which had a BQMS, did not get the same response rate from the NSE as the battle group which had a Log O on staff. People who were in even smaller brigade level detachments but not part of the usual Bde HQ felt particularly that they were orphans as far as logistics support was concerned.

🍻

If I remember correctly, we had a truck VOR at CFB Esquimalt for months because they were waiting for one part. For the heater. In Victoria.
 

Halifax Tar

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I must admit these are anecdotal (but I think the speakers were credible) In one case a request for a critical circuit board for a radar had been submitted in to the NSE but when checked on a week later was found to not have been forwarded onward submitted but was being held up for a bulk request. Another was a thermal sight on a OPLAV which was down for a month without any action and finally ended up being swapped out from a Zulu LAV which didn't have the same operational need. The folks I'm talking about were gunners and if you recall the gunners were a brigade resource and not a battle group one. While that should have made no difference there was a distinct feeling (whether rightly or wrongly) that the battery, which had a BQMS, did not get the same response rate from the NSE as the battle group which had a Log O on staff. People who were in even smaller brigade level detachments but not part of the usual Bde HQ felt particularly that they were orphans as far as logistics support was concerned.

🍻

The Army portion of the RCLS should have some very big takeaways from our Afghan excursion. Having said that, moving a pencil from Canada is hard when you don't have the planes that can do it. And only marginally better when you have 5 or 6.

On my second tour I was at the PDC. And I remember being frustrated that I wasn't getting my ADREPs filled but randomly the NSE would ship me flat screen TVs and fridges. There were less than 20 Canadians there... How many TVs and fridges did we need ? It all seemed very adhoc to me.
 

MJP

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How often does the supply and procurement side sit down with specialists on the operational side to assess service to the users and upcoming needs?
Major procurements projects in terms of building a capability into a SOW/SOR is done by the various services by operators (Director Land Requirements, Director Air Requirements, Director Naval Requirements). ADM(Mat) in concert with PSPC do the procurement but largely "what to buy" is shaped by the various environments/end users. There is more nuance and stakeholders than that but procurement I would argue (along with many others) is not the issue. Rather, largely the issue is that Canada’s Defence Supply Chain (DSC) was designed with a procurement and materiel life cycle focus and therefore is at odds with the customer (command) focus and agility required in an expeditionary force ( Mills, 2014 discussing Zimmer's 2008 analysis). So what we procure is less the issue, rather the issue is more how we manage supply chain relationships which is the backbone of Supply Chain Management.

(I adapted this from some other work I am doing, so if it seems not perfectly tailored apologies)

A bit of background to how we are orientated and organized to support CAF operations is in order to give some perspective to what Supply Chain management (SCM) means to the CAF. National Defence falls under two umbrellas ; The Dept of National Defence which is predominantly civilian in the form of ADM (Mat). Within ADM (Mat) there are equipment management divisions and supply chain directorate. On the equipment side they procure and support the various fleets (vehicles, ships, aircraft, weapons etc) while the supply chain directorate develops supply policies and procedures:

ADM (Mat) is the designated functional authority for [MA&S] and is responsible to develop all related policy, procedures, processes and training standards as well as ensuring compliance and oversight.”49 Essentially, the ADM (Mat) is responsible for the provisioning component of the supply chain, by acquiring equipment on behalf of the CF and filling the depots with the necessary stock to sustain it, and for the corporate level management function, to include the CFSS and performance management

On the CAF side there is an Canadian Material Support Group that oversees national stocks and the transportation system that moves material (and a few other things). In addition, each of the services (Navy, Army, Air Force) run and maintain bases that include regional and local warehouses and repair facilities and are linked into the national supply chain.

(look at OAG 2020 exhibit 3.1, which has an easy to understand diagram that lays this out, but I can't upload to the site for some reason)

So the CAF (CMSG) stores and moves equipment based on policy developed and managed by DND which is often at odds with environmental priorities and policies. To link back to issues surrounding DND/(ADM (Mat) holding the conch for in-service management means that CMSG holds stock that is often slow moving or dormant but still takes up space in our depots. So much material at one point that we were perilously close to being at 100% capacity leaving no room for additional stocks. This has an impact on other resources especially time, as we have to still account for that inventory through deliberate counts and other control measures on a regular basis. DND and the CAF has gone on a deliberate strategy to reduce these stocks but even with a plan at the strategic level, what what is held is managed by ADM(Mat) and at times they are very reluctant to remove items from the inventory (sometimes the environments are the issue as well). An example I was given, was there was a textile that we have almost 20,000 meters of that had zero demand in ten years that took some deliberate back and forth to dispose of and even then we kept 5000 meters "just in case".

The other issue is that at our strategic level we have a completely joint system whereas most other country's supply chains follow service lines (i.e. Navy, Army, and Air Force). This means at that strategic level there are competing priorities between the services that all place demand on the same finite amount of resources (Zima, 2012). Acerbating this is that as you can imagine across all the services their is an incredible amount of equipment all with their own unique NSNs that either needs holdings or a dedicated supply channel.

Simply put our management of relationships between all these stakeholders is weak and does not follow good SCM principles. Processes to order/move/fulfill demands internal to the CAF are also an issue but we do not own all the processes and many things are silo'd leaving different people holding the bag all with their own competing priorities. Our transportation tracking system for example does not communicate very well with DRMIS as it is a bespoke standalone system, same as our ammo management system.

Because there is no central controlling agency, we are left trying to piece things together ad hoc to fix these issues. It is not all bleak as there are some great projects on the go that are strengthening the relationships but also working on bringing silos in from the dark like MISL and even rationalizing where inventory is located based on demand.

Some light reading if ya want to see some decent background papers which is where I got most of this material for another project I am doing

Zimmer, 2008 For Want of a Nail the Campaign was Lost’ DND’s Supply Chain: A State of Performance Paralysis,
Zima, 2012 A Canadian Revolution in Military Logistics – Improving the CF Operational Supply Chain Through Benchmarking
Mills, 2014 LOGISTICS: REDUCING FRICTION THROUGH UNDERSTANDING, INTEGRATION, AND OWNERSHIP
This raises a question that has interested me for some time: how does the system (software or whatever) correct for such a situation?

Does the system need a manual input to override or correct such a setting? And if so is there a policy/overwatch system in place to make such corrections on the thousands of disparate parts recorded in the system?

Or does the system itself (through some magical algorithm) self correct itself when a given parameter is exceeded?



🤔
At the end of the day any computer system will only do what you tell it to do, one of my mentors always laughs as there is a computer error code that one can utilize for write offs but he points outs that "computers don't make the errors, people feeding the info make them".

That aside SAP/DRMIS can absolutely tell you when you have stock outs, and other supply chain issues as ithas built in ability to do analytics (and can be linked to powerful visuals like Business Objects (BOBJ) but execution has to be done by folks at the strategic or tactical level (depending what they want to do). You can automate aspects of the system and many are but you still need real life people who know what they are doing making the corrections or determining what KPIs to monitor, which I would argue is where we suffer.


This is way outside the lanes of PRes Restructure so I apologize for the tangent.
 

quadrapiper

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...consolidate soldiers in rural and small urban locations into single (administrative, if not role) units...
A "(Town) Garrison" structure would make sense.
It was also a time when platforms were very simple and could be fixed by an 18 year old with a grade 10 education and very little training.

The other thing we did was subscribe to the school of inventory where any inefficiency in your system can be hidden because you just always have the parts.

Nowadays platforms are complex, have way more parts and we've gone from fixing those parts to just pull and replace. However we also don't have the inventory to lean on like we used too, so that replace aspect has to be carefully managed to make sure parts are in the right area. We are not good at that. Part of that is much of our senior managers both military and civilian lived in the era where we just held lots inventory, so they think we still do it that way but also our system is inefficient.....very very inefficient
How does the actual difficulty level compare between more involved repair operations on simpler equipment and plug-and-play swaps on more complicated kit?
 

MJP

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How does the actual difficulty level compare between more involved repair operations on simpler equipment and plug-and-play swaps on more complicated kit?
It is not one thing alone. The sheer number of parts for each platform has skyrocketed plus the inability to fix a broken part at the lowest level combined with an overall reduction in inventory held means there are more chances for failure within the supply chain itself.
 

childs56

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If I remember correctly, we had a truck VOR at CFB Esquimalt for months because they were waiting for one part. For the heater. In Victoria.
Its funny one of my Gun Tractors was a mis-matched truck full of parts from other donors. When something broke and Esquimalt did not have a part. magically one would be found for my truck and another truck would be missing it. My truck looked like it was painted a really bad camo pattern, because it was full of parts from other trucks. Once they caught on to what we were doing, they said they didn't blame us for doing what we did. But to stop borrowing parts.
 

dapaterson

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The CAF supply chain requires significant investments: in technology (the next big step is rumoured to be WiFi in warehouses to enable (gasp!) bar coding technology); in personnel (bases and support structures are generally first in line for reductions); and in inventory (just in time is fine for COTS items with robust supply chains; not so much for military unique requirements). But the Army would rather 600 LAVs without parts than 500 LAVs with parts, it sometimes seems.

Operating equipment beyond its forecast life adds additional complexities, suppliers go under, certain parts wear more quickly than anticipated or any number of other possible ways for things to go astray. The C6 discussed earlier is a good example; weapons used hard, in many cases beyond economical repair yet pushed back into service, consuming parts and driving requirements for additional parts because the replacement was arguably a decade+ late.

On the personnel front, there will sometimes be redundancies in military personnel which are locally unneeded and could be replaced with civilians, but the enterprise requires them. As there is little to no lateral entry in the CAF, if you want a Sgt today, it means you recruited a dozen or so a decade or so ago. Assuming the usual Reg F 7% attrition annually, and that Sgt requires a tail of a dozen or so people to produce, and to get the experience and knowledge (CAF, environmental and trade) necessary for that rank. Those other eleven people need to exist for the purpose of the enterprise, even if at CFAD Bedford they'd rather trade that Cpl MM Tech for a GL...
 

MJP

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If I remember correctly, we had a truck VOR at CFB Esquimalt for months because they were waiting for one part. For the heater. In Victoria.
While that is silly unless it is a safety issue that grounds the veh, the unit can take the vehicle back and use it as outstanding usable (which means there is a fault but veh is still drivable). This is less a maint/supply issue and more a unit that doesn't understand how things work (or is getting bad advice).
Its funny one of my Gun Tractors was a mis-matched truck full of parts from other donors. When something broke and Esquimalt did not have a part. magically one would be found for my truck and another truck would be missing it. My truck looked like it was painted a really bad camo pattern, because it was full of parts from other trucks. Once they caught on to what we were doing, they said they didn't blame us for doing what we did. But to stop borrowing parts.
That is robbing which mean there is an intention to replace the part eventually, cannibalization means there is no intent to ever replace the part. Permission for both is usually held at the formation level but not unheard of at the tactical/unit level to make magic happen. Have subscribed to the school of rob first ask permission later at times myself.
 
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childs56

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While that is silly unless it is a safety issue that grounds the veh, the unit can take the vehicle back and use it as outstanding usable (which means there is a fault but veh is still drivable). This is less a maint/supply issue and more a unit that doesn't understand how things work (or is getting bad advice).

That is robbing which mean there is an intention to replace the part eventually, cannibalization means there is no intent to ever replace the part. Permission to both is usually held at the formation level but not unheard of at the tactical/unit level to make magic happen. Have subscribed to the school of rob first ask permission later at times myself.
LOL, often the only permission was cruising the fence looking for a truck with a red tag on it. Find the part take the part. Install the part then put broken part on floor boards of red tagged truck. Then Let base maintenance know your truck magically fixed itself and You found the same part on the floor boards of truck on the fence but it was broken so you couldn't use it. Call it what ever you want, trucks kept rolling and eventually base maintenance figured out what we were doing. I (we) were not allowed unsupervised in their yard.
Or buying a airline yourself and replacing the $20 part so your truck wasn't grounded and did not need a $500 tow bill.:ROFLMAO::unsure:
 

FJAG

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A "(Town) Garrison" structure would make sense.
I'm not sure that I buy into that.

Brad's suggestion was to reduce the amount of full-time administrators by aggregating small town units into one unit with shared administrative overhead. That makes sense to me, but I don't think that a "(Town) Garrison" is the answer, if I correctly understand what you mean by that. I'm understanding what you mean as a group of disparate units (say an inf coy an arty battery a recce squadron) all located close to each other and all supported by a single administrative element.

The US National Guard has a concept like that called a "Troop Command" which is a static brigade-level equivalent headquarters in a given state that is too small to have a brigade and that provides administrative services for whatever units are in that state that either aren't affiliated with a given brigade or division or are too far geographically from their next highest headquarters.

The single problem that I have with that is that these are administrative headquarters where in my perfect world, all reserve elements, from brigade on down, should be mobilizable and deployable in the case of a major emergency including their Reg F members who are needed to provide leadership and administration on deployment. There is no place in that construct for a small town subunit that doesn't belong to a higher battalion headquarters (even if a hundred miles away) which has responsibility for administrative oversight.

Again, in my perfect world, the only agencies that aren't deployable are what I call depot battalions which provide across the board individual training and the reason I have them as non deployable entities is that in a major emergency you will still need a core that can recruit and train further reinforcements long term and what is better than giving that job to the same organization that does it in peacetime?

If there's one thing that bothers me about our current reserve system its that we parade too much and don't train enough (especially collectively) I don't want to sound too cynical (as this was my attitude as both an RSS officer and a parading reservist,) but the admin night every Tuesday, training night every Thursday one exercise per month (two if its a recruit course) routine was one of the big reasons we never got anywhere. (Except into the mess quite regularly at 10:00 pm. twice a week)

You always had a large number of people who couldn't keep up with the routine so both administration and training became very spotty and if one hour of good administration or training was accomplished on any of those nights then you were lucky. That's why, IMHO, we need to parade less, off load administration on full-timers, off-load individual training on a dedicated training cadre and have units conduct one solid two and one half day - 100% attendance IBTS or collective training exercise per month augmented by a two to three week 100% collective training exercise in the summer.

Our valuable Class A pay and training time is being frittered away in tiny little 3 hour fragments throughout the year. (You can still open the mess on Tuesday and Thursday nights for those that need it.) If you do go to a solid one mandatory weekend per month and summer training exercise then the whole RSS staff concept can change dramatically, especially for those tiny remote outposts which could become serviced by a "circuit" administration/training team from battalion headquarters who conducts administration, planning and leadership full-time centrally and then supervise/conduct the training events. (I remember having a Reg F WO working for me as the sole RSS staff at the battery in Portage La Prairie - he was too far away to supervise properly and was undoubtedly one of the most underemployed folks in the CAF. There are a lot of those distributed around the RSS system)

🍻
 

MilEME09

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While that is silly unless it is a safety issue that grounds the veh, the unit can take the vehicle back and use it as outstanding usable (which means there is a fault but veh is still drivable). This is less a maint/supply issue and more a unit that doesn't understand how things work (or is getting bad advice).

That is robbing which mean there is an intention to replace the part eventually, cannibalization means there is no intent to ever replace the part. Permission for both is usually held at the formation level but not unheard of at the tactical/unit level to make magic happen. Have subscribed to the school of rob first ask permission later at times myself.
Do you have a reference for robbing authorization also being formation level? My understanding from reading various RCEME documents on ACIMS is Robbing and reclamation is authorized at the tactic level (Wainwright PCC lot is pretty empty after my techs stripped it this summer) and cannibalizing parts was formation or higher level, in the case of weapons usually the LCMM.
 

MJP

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Do you have a reference for robbing authorization also being formation level? My understanding from reading various RCEME documents on ACIMS is Robbing and reclamation is authorized at the tactic level (Wainwright PCC lot is pretty empty after my techs stripped it this summer) and cannibalizing parts was formation or higher level, in the case of weapons usually the LCMM.
No, going off memory and experience on expeditionary ops and brigade level exercise as a staff weenie. My experience is generally we do what we need to keep things going and if you fall below a certain threshold it makes sense to keep a vehicle going than holding two VOR. Not at work until next week so fill your boots if you want to read RCEME doctrine...
 

quadrapiper

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I'm not sure that I buy into that.

Brad's suggestion was to reduce the amount of full-time administrators by aggregating small town units into one unit with shared administrative overhead. That makes sense to me, but I don't think that a "(Town) Garrison" is the answer, if I correctly understand what you mean by that. I'm understanding what you mean as a group of disparate units (say an inf coy an arty battery a recce squadron) all located close to each other and all supported by a single administrative element.
I was actually thinking specifically of the situation on Vancouver Island, with a fair number of units not just close to each other, but in the same building.

Was thinking of how you might shuffle tasks to get the admin side of things out, as much as possible, of the Reserve unit's finite time on site: how much of what ends up taking up admin nights would go away with e.g. a common OR open (say) three times a week, including a day on the weekend, for hours convenient to members? I'm assuming the goal is to have the Reservist, from recruit to OC, spending as much of their Class A time as possible training in/for role/trade.

Could also be a place, especially in areas with several smaller units, to accrete specialist instructors only needed on a fractional basis by each local unit.

Seems like it could align with the same sort of principle as your depot battalion: someone to keep the lights on, and the bodies flowing, should the local unit(s) be deployed.
 

FJAG

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I was actually thinking specifically of the situation on Vancouver Island, with a fair number of units not just close to each other, but in the same building.

Was thinking of how you might shuffle tasks to get the admin side of things out, as much as possible, of the Reserve unit's finite time on site: how much of what ends up taking up admin nights would go away with e.g. a common OR open (say) three times a week, including a day on the weekend, for hours convenient to members? I'm assuming the goal is to have the Reservist, from recruit to OC, spending as much of their Class A time as possible training in/for role/trade.

Could also be a place, especially in areas with several smaller units, to accrete specialist instructors only needed on a fractional basis by each local unit.

Seems like it could align with the same sort of principle as your depot battalion: someone to keep the lights on, and the bodies flowing, should the local unit(s) be deployed.
True enough. You always need a rear party.

🍻
 

daftandbarmy

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I was actually thinking specifically of the situation on Vancouver Island, with a fair number of units not just close to each other, but in the same building.

Was thinking of how you might shuffle tasks to get the admin side of things out, as much as possible, of the Reserve unit's finite time on site: how much of what ends up taking up admin nights would go away with e.g. a common OR open (say) three times a week, including a day on the weekend, for hours convenient to members? I'm assuming the goal is to have the Reservist, from recruit to OC, spending as much of their Class A time as possible training in/for role/trade.

Could also be a place, especially in areas with several smaller units, to accrete specialist instructors only needed on a fractional basis by each local unit.

Seems like it could align with the same sort of principle as your depot battalion: someone to keep the lights on, and the bodies flowing, should the local unit(s) be deployed.
We have 6 (six) licensed establishments in one 1915 era building but only one (very poorly equipped e.g. 6ft tables and folding chairs avec chalk board a la 1968) training room shared by two regiments. We have to parade on different nights of the week, in part so we can use the one room that can seat 30 (pre- COVID).

I think you seriously misunderstand the primarily role of the reserve Infantry and Artillery :)
 

FJAG

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We have 6 (six) licensed establishments in one 1915 era building but only one (very poorly equipped e.g. 6ft tables and folding chairs avec chalk board a la 1968) training room shared by two regiments. We have to parade on different nights of the week, in part so we can use the one room that can seat 30 (pre- COVID).

I think you seriously misunderstand the primarily role of the reserve Infantry and Artillery :)
That just gave me pause to think.

In 1966 I had the pleasure of being a member of the first troop to parade on the drill square of the brand spanking new, state of the art Moss Park Armoury in Toronto which housed one artillery regiment, two infantry battalions and the fledgling service support elements that were about to become a service battalion. There were offices all around the main floor including three classrooms while the entire upper floor was taken over by messes. So a ration of 1:1 for messes v administration/training. Oh yes and there was also a basement for QM stores and all of our guns and vehicles which at best could hold around twenty maybe twenty-five trucks. So. Four "battalions"; twenty some odd trucks; four guns; and twelve wet messes and two dry canteens. Priorities.

🤦‍♂️
 
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