Canadian Army

The Canadian Army (French: Armée canadienne) is the command responsible for the operational readiness of the conventional ground forces of the Canadian Armed Forces. As of 2018 the Army has 23,000 regular soldiers, about 19,000 reserve soldiers, including 5,000 rangers, for a total of 40,000 soldiers. The Army is supported by 3,000 civilian employees.[3] 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 Wayne Eyre.[4]

Canadian Army
Armée canadienne
Badge of the Canadian Army
Active19th century – present
Size40,000 (23,000 regular force, 17,000 reserve forces, 5,000 rangers, 3,000 civilians)[1]
Part ofCanadian Armed Forces
HeadquartersNational Defence Headquarters
Motto(s)Vigilamus pro te (in Latin)
(English: We stand on guard for thee)[2]
March"The Great Little Army"
Mascot(s)Juno the Bear
Commander-in-chiefElizabeth II, Queen of Canada, represented by Governor General, Julie Payette
Commander of the Canadian ArmyLieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, MSC, CD
Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian ArmyChief Warrant Officer S. Hartnell

The name "Canadian Army" came into official use beginning only 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, plus RCAF tactical units, were placed under a new command called Force Mobile Command.[5] The "Canadian Army" persisted as a legal entity for two more years, before it amalgamated with the Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force to form a single service called the Canadian Armed Forces. Force Mobile Command was renamed Mobile Command in 1991-2, and Land Force Command in 1993. In August 2011, Land Force Command reverted to the pre-1968 title of the Canadian Army.[6]


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. Following the passage of the Militia Act of 1855, the 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, Second Boer War, and, in much larger numbers, constituted the Canadian Expeditionary Force in First World War.[7]

In 1940, during Second World War, the Permanent Active Militia was renamed the Canadian Army (Active), supplemented by the Non-Permanent Active 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.[8]

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.[9]


Command of the Army is exercised by the Commander of the Canadian Army within National Defence Headquarters located in Ottawa. The Army is divided into four force generating divisions based on geography; the 2nd Canadian Division is based in Quebec, the 3rd Canadian Division is based in Western Canada, the 4th Canadian Division is based in Ontario, while the 5th Canadian Division is based in Atlantic Canada.[10]

The single force employing division, 1st Canadian Division, is part of the Canadian Joint Operations Command and is not under the command of the Canadian Army. It serves as a deployable headquarters to command a divisional-level deployment of Canadian or allied forces on operations, succeeding the previous Canadian Joint Forces HQ.[11]

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.[12]

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.


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.[13] The position was renamed Chief of the Land Staff in 1993.[14] Following the reversion of Land Forces to the Canadian Army in 2011, the position became Commander of the Canadian Army.

Officers are selected in several ways:

  • The Regular Officer Training Plan, where candidates are educated at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) or at civilian Canadian universities.
  • Direct Entry Officer Plan, for those who already hold a university degree or technology diploma.
  • Continuing Education Officer Training Plan, addresses shortages in certain officer occupations, and is intended to attract candidates who are otherwise qualified for service as officers, but who lack a degree. Candidates complete their degrees while serving in the Army.[15]
  • University Training Plan (Non-Commissioned Members), designed to develop selected serving non-commissioned members for service as career officers in the Regular Force. Normally, candidates selected for this plan will attend RMC or a civilian university in Canada.[16]
  • Commissioning From the Ranks Plan, provides officers to augment the number of officers commissioned through other plans and applies exclusively to those who have acquired some military experience and possess the necessary qualities that make them suitable for employment as officers.[17]
  • Special Requirements Commissioning Plan, is designed to meet the needs of the officer occupations. It allows the Canadian Forces to profit from the skills and experience of senior non-commissioned members and may provide an opportunity for career advancement for selected deserving Chief Warrant Officers.[18]
  • Subsidized special education, which includes the Medical Officer Training Plan or Dental Officer Training Plan.[19]

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

There are presently three mechanized Brigade Groups in the Canadian Army's Regular Force. Approximately two-thirds of the Regular Force is composed of anglophone units, while one third is francophone. The mechanized brigades includes battalions from three infantry regiments, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the Royal Canadian Regiment, and the Royal 22e Regiment.

Between 1953 and 1971, the Regular Canadian Infantry consisted of seven regiments, each maintaining 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). In addition to the Canadian Guards, and the Canadian Airborne Regiment, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, and The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada also fielded units that served in Regular Force.

In the years that followed the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces, several units of Regular Force were disbanded, or reduced to nil strength. 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. Several weeks later, The 1st Battalion of the Canadian Guards was disbanded on 1 October.

In 1970, several more units were reduced to nil strength. The 1st Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada was reduced to nil strength and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle on 27 April, with the unit's personnel forming the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Further reductions occurred from mid-June to early-July 1970, with the Regular Force unit from The Fort Garry Horse being disbanded on 16 June. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada were reduced to nil strength on 1 July, and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle. Several days later, on 6 July, the 2nd Battalion, The Canadian Guards were reduced to nil strength and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle; while its personnel became a part of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment. After the Canadian Guards were reduced to nil strength, the role of the Household Troop reverted to the two seniormost infantry regiments of the Reserve. The respective battalions automatically relinquished its numerical battalion designation at that time.

During the 1990s, the Regular Force saw further organizational restructuring. The Canadian Airborne Regiment was disbanded in 1995.,[20] while 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.[21]


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.


Total force units [note 1] Regular Force units Reserve units
2nd Canadian Division

CO: Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan

HQ: CFB Montreal

3rd Canadian Division

CO: Brigadier-General S.M. Lacroix

HQ: CFB Edmonton

  • 3rd Canadian Division Headquarters
  • 6 Intelligence Company
  • 4 Canadian Rangers Patrol Group
  • 1 Area Construction Troop, 4 Engineer Support Regiment
  • 1 Military Police Regiment
  • 3rd Canadian Division Training Centre
4th Canadian Division

CO: Brigadier-General J.J.M.J Paul

HQ: Denison Armoury, Toronto

5th Canadian Division

CO: Brigadier-General D.A. Macaulay

HQ: CFB Halifax

  • 5th Canadian Division Support Group
Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre

CO: Major-General S.M. Cadden

HQ: CFB Kingston


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
    • 4th Canadian Division Support Base Petawawa
    • Canadian Forces Base Kingston
    • 4th Canadian Division Training Centre Meaford
  4. 5th Canadian Division
    • 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown
    • 5th Canadian Division Training Centre Gagetown
    • 5th Canadian Division Training Centre Detachment Aldershot


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.[23] 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.[24] The Army also operates approximately 150 field artillery pieces including the M777 howitzer and the LG1 Mark II.[25]

In the near future, between 2011 and 2017, 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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28]

Tactical communication is provided via the Iris Digital Communications System.


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.


The Canadian Army maintains a variety of different uniforms, including a ceremonial full dress uniform, a mess dress uniform, a service dress uniform, operational/field uniforms, and occupational uniforms. Canada's uniforms developed parallel to that of the British from 1900 to the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968, though maintained significant differences. The adoption of a number of separate uniforms for separate functions, also made its uniforms become distinctively "Canadian" in the process.

Prior to unification in 1968, the uniforms between the three branches were similar to their counterparts in the forces of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, save for national identifiers and some regimental accoutrements. 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.[29]

The Canadian Army's universal full dress uniform includes a scarlet tunic, midnight blue trousers with a scarlet trouser stripe, and a Wolseley helmet. However, a number of regiments in the Canadian Army are authorized regimental deviations from the Army's universal design; including some armoured, Canadian-Scottish regiments, and all rifle/voltigeur regiments.[30] The full dress uniforms of the Army regiments originated from the Canadian militia, and was eventually relegated from combat to ceremonial use.

The present service dress uniform includes a rifle green tunic and trousers, similar to the older iteration of the service dress, although with a different cut, and an added shoulder strap. The present service dress uniforms were introduced in the late 1980s, alongside the other "distinctive environmental uniforms" issued to other branches of the Canadian Armed Forces. From the unification of the armed forces in 1968, to the introduction of the distinctive service uniforms in the 1980s, the branches of the Canadian Armed Forces wore a similar rifle green service uniform.

The Canadian Army began to issue combat specific uniforms in the early 1960s, with the introduction of "combats," coloured olive-drab shirt. The olive-drab uniforms continued to be used with minor alterations until the Army adopted CADPAT camouflaged combat uniforms in the late-1990s. With the adoption of CADPAT, the Canadian Armed Forces became the first military force to adopt digital camouflage pattern for all its units.


Past versions of the badge used by the Canadian Army, with the years they were in use listed above

The badge of the Canadian Army consists of:[31]

  • St. Edward's Crown
  • Three red maple leaves on one stem
  • Crossed swords
  • Motto: Vigilamus pro te (Latin for "We stand on guard for thee")

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.[32]

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.




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 name 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 codeOF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D)Student officer
No equivalent No equivalent
General Lieutenant-General Major-General Brigadier-General Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Officer cadet
Général Lieutenant-général Major-général Brigadier-général Colonel Lieutenant-colonel Major Capitaine Lieutenant Sous-lieutenant Élève-officier
Senior non-commissioned member appointments of the Canadian Army
Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer Army Sergeant-Major/

Command, Group Chief Warrant Officer

Command, Group, Formation, Brigade, Garrison Chief Warrant Officer
Chief Warrant Officer
Master Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer
Master Corporal
Private (Trained)
Soldat (Formé)
Private (Basic)
Soldat (Confirmé)
Private (Recruit)
Soldat (Recrue)


The Canadian Army produces two peer-reviewed academic journals including:

See also


  1. Total force describes a unit which includes both Regular and Reserve Force members.


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  2. "Canadian Army". Ottawa: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. 2013. Archived from the original on 2017-05-02. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  3. "About the Army". Department of National Defence. Archived from the original on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  4. Government of Canada, National Defence (2013-07-18). "Commander Canadian Army | About | Canadian Army". Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  5. Whitby, Michael; Gimblett, Richard H.; Haydon, Peter (2006). The Admirals: Canada's Senior Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century. Dundurn. p. 285."Canadian Army". Retrieved 2019-10-21.
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  12. Department of National Defence, 2011. Leader in Land Operations: LFDTS Land Force Doctrine and Training System
  13. Dr. Wilf Lund (n.d.) Integration and Unification of the Canadian Forces Archived 2010-01-15 at the Wayback Machine, CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum,
  14. Major Andrew B. Godefroy CD PhD (2007) Chasing the Silver Bullet: the Evolution of Capability Development in the Canadian Army Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine, Canadian Military Journal, vol 8, no 1, pg 59.
  15. CF Military Personnel Instructions 09/05
  16. CFAO 9-13—University Training Plan—Non-Commissioned Members
  17. CFAO 11-9—Commissioning From The Ranks Plan
  18. CFAO 11-14—Special Requirements Commissioning Plan
  19. The Canadian Officer Selection System Archived 2016-04-10 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 17 August 2011
  20. Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003/AF-002—Part Two: Infantry Regiments
  21. Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003/AF-001—Part One: Armour, Artillery and Field Engineer Regiments
  22. Government of Canada, National Defence (2016-06-29). "Canadian Combat Support Brigade - Canadian Army". Retrieved 2019-10-01.
  23. Lance W. Roberts (2005) 9.3 Military Forces, Recent social trends in Canada, 1960-2000, McGill-Queen's University Press, pp.372-376.
  24. Equipment: Vehicles Archived 2013-07-16 at the Wayback Machine,
  25. Equipment: Weapons Archived 2013-07-16 at the Wayback Machine,
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2013-12-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. Equipment: Weapons Archived 2012-06-14 at the Wayback Machine,
  28. "Canadian Armed Forces Assault Rifle". 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-01-28. Retrieved 2011-11-10.
  29. "Canadian Forces to go back to the future with British-style ranks". Archived from the original on 2013-07-10. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
  30. "6-1". Canadian Armed Forces Dress Instruction (PDF). Canadian Armed Forces. 1 June 2001. p. 211. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  31. "Canadian Army". Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges. Governor General of Canada. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  32. " article on Rank and Responsibility". Archived from the original on 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
  33. Canadian Military Journal Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
  34. Canadian Army Journal Archived 2005-10-27 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • Kasurak, Peter. A National Force: The Evolution of Canada's Army, 1950–2000 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013)
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