THE HISTORY OF CANADA'S AIR FORCE
Air Command 1968 - 1996
In March 1964 a White Paper was tabled in the House of Commons to review Canada's defence policy and forecast the future development and use of the armed forces. The introduction defined the objectives of defence policy, which could not be separated from foreign policy, as the preservation of peace by supporting collective defence measures; the deterrence of military aggression; and the protection and surveillance of Canadian territory, air space and coastal waters. The White Paper then went on to propose that the three separate military services be unified in a single organization, the Canadian Armed Forces," the fundamental considerations being more effective control, the streamlining of procedures - particularly decision- making - and the reduction of overhead costs.
The White paper pointed out that a measure of integration had already been effected as early as 1946, with the abolition of separate defence ministries "for Naval Services" and "for Air" (introduced in 1940) and a return to a single Minister of National Defence. On 1 April 1947 the Defence Research Board had been established to provide all three services with scientific advice. A further step towards integration was the appointment, in 1951, of a Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee to co-ordinate the training and operations of the three services. Other examples of integration were the Royal Military Colleges (actually tri-service); common legal, medical and chaplain services; interservice logistics, for which a standard catalogue of all material had been devised; and food procurement, dental and postal services, provided by the army for all three services.
As a first step towards total unification, on 13 April 1964 the government introduced Bill C-90, "Integration of the Headquarters Staff", whereby a single Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) was to replace the individual service chiefs. On 16 July the Bill was given Royal assent, and on 1 August Air Chief Marshal F.R. Miller was appointed as the first CDS, along with the heads of new functional branches of Canadian Forces Headquarters (CFHQ). This meant that the former three services were no longer independent entities for the purpose of control and administration.
Following the appointment of the CDS and the reorganization of CFHQ, attention was turned to the command and control of integrated units. It was decided in January 1966 to establish six functional commands to replace the eleven mainly regional service commands; every Regular establishment in Canada was to be reallocated to the appropriate command by 1 April 1966.
Mobile Command was formed to maintain combat-ready land and tactical air forces capable of rapid deployment, in circumstances ranging from NATO service in Europe to United Nations and other peace-keeping operations. Tactical Air Group would consist of CF-5 tactical ground-support, Buffalo transport aircraft, heavy and light helicopters.
Maritime Command, embodying all sea and air maritime forces on both the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards, was primarily responsible for anti-submarine defence, but was to become increasingly capable of such other tasks as patrolling the Arctic region.
Air Transport Command would provide the forces with "strategic airlift capability", the emphasis being on troop-carrying operations.
Air Defence Command was to contribute squadrons of CF-101 Voodoo interceptors, and surveillance and control radar, to North American Air Defence Command.
Training Command was responsible for all individual training, including flying and trades training.
Materiel Command would provide the necessary supply and maintenance support to the other functional commands.
In addition there were: Reserve and National Survival; Communications System (elevated to command status in July 1970); and Canadian Forces Europe (consisting of the 4th Mechanized Combat Battle Group and No. 1 Canadian Air Group) as independent organizations reporting directly to CFHQ.
Although the detailed structure of the Canadian Armed Forces has undergone changes as priorities have altered, the basic aim remains the forging of a highly compact and mobile force that can be deployed to meet future needs.
On 4 November 1966, Bill C-243, "The Canadian Forces Reorganization Act," was introduced to amend the National Defence Act; the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force, previously separate and independent services, would become one. Following debate in the House of Commons and further examination in the Defence Committee, the Bill was given third and final reading in April 1967, clearing the way for unification.
The Canadian Forces Reorganization Act came into effect on 1 February 1968. With that, the identity of the RCAF, its records and its achievements, were laid to rest in the pages of Canadian aviation and military history.