No fat to cut in Army overhead; budget cuts affect training of soldiers: general

OTTAWA – Canada’s top soldier says budget restraint is forcing the Canadian Army to train soldiers to a lower a standard than during the Afghan war.

Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin testified at a Senate committee today that 22 per cent of his force’s baseline budget has been slashed, and when combined with the loss of a stipend for the Kandahar mission, the cumulative fiscal hit is even bigger.

Figures released earlier this year show the army spent $123 million on training during the height of the Afghan war in 2009-2010, including a special $79 million cash injection specifically for Afghanistan.

That figure fell to $57 million last year and is down to an estimated $46 million this year.

Devlin says he’s focused his remaining dollars on what’s known as Level 5 training, which is live-fire exercises meant to keep soldiers sharp for combat, but still the army would require 60 days notice to deploy on another mission.

He says he’s even held back on a portion of his infrastructure budget in order to preserve training.

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