This paper presents a proof-of-concept discrete-event simulation model for examining the ability of the Canadian Forces (CF) to sustain operations, from a human resources perspective. Given a set of future operations for the CF, ranging from known ongoing domestic commitments to possible international missions, the goal is to identify potential shortages of deployable personnel by occupation, rank and unit, up to five years in advance of actual deployment. As a demonstration case, the proof-of-concept model was applied to a contingency analysis of the sustainability of Task Force Afghanistan over a three year planning horizon.
The Government of Canada’s Defense Policy Statement delineated a series of future tasks for the Canadian Forces (CF) in support of Canada’s role in contributing to international peace and stability. Included in the list of specific tasks are: the ability to sustain for an indefinite period of time two land-based Mission Specific Task Forces of approximately 1,200 personnel each, in potentially different theatres of operation; and the ability to deploy a third task force of approximately 1,000 personnel for up to six months either to reinforce a current operation or mount a new short-term mission.
When running the operational sustainability model, there are two options: to restrict the pool of nominees to those in deployable units (the model default), or to allow all deployable members regardless of their unit type to be eligible for selection. The aim of running the model is to identify potential shortages of positions (and by association personnel) in the CF establishment by unit, occupation and rank. The shortages identified in the model can be of two types: the position was filled but an operational waiver had to be signed, or the position could not be filled at all. In the latter case this can be due to: there not being any personnel in the pool of potential nominees with the requisite characteristics (correct occupation and rank); or all personnel with the requisite characteristics were already deployed or in a mandatory 60 day respite period.
In this paper, we have presented a proof-of-concept model for assessing the ability of the CF to sustain operations. The operational sustainability model can provide projections of potential personnel shortages several years in advance of deployments, and enables the assessment of whether or not the distribution of deployable versus nondeployable positions across the CF is appropriate for meeting operational demands. This study shows one way in which modeling and simulation can be used to inform the operational planning process, and the generation (assembly, training and deployment) of forces to meet the requirement.
The application of the proof-of-concept model to the analysis of sustaining TFA provided insight into several improvements that should be made to the model, in order to provide a more holistic and realistic analysis of the CF’s ability to meet operational demands. In future phases of the project, the model logic will be enhanced to determine Reserve Force augmentation patterns stochastically based on historical rates, rather than the current hard-coding of specific positions. Linkages to existing models for projecting demographic changes should also be incorporated so the input population can be updated annually within the model to reflect the effects of attrition, promotions, postings and recruitment on the deployable population. As well, future versions of the model should incorporate both stochastic and deterministic mechanisms for deciding when future tasks and operations will occur.