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Canada Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Canadian Forces: Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force; Department of Fisheries and Oceans: Coast Guard (2024)

note 1: the CAF is comprised of both a Regular Force and a Reserve Force; the Reserve Force is part of all three services (Army, Navy, and Air Force) and is considered an integral component of the CAF; reservists are primarily part-time service positions; they may volunteer for full-time employment or deployment on operations; they typically serve one or more evenings a week and/or during weekends at locations close to home; the Reserve Force is comprised of the Primary Reserve, Canadian Rangers, Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service, and the Supplementary Reserve; the Canadian Rangers are part of the Army Reserve Force and provide a limited presence in Canada's northern, coastal, and isolated areas for sovereignty, public safety, and surveillance roles 

note 2: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP or "Mounties") are under the Department of Public Safety; only Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador have provincial police forces, but the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary contracts policing in regions of the province to the RCMP; the RCMP and municipal forces provide coverage for other provinces and territories; some Indigenous reserves provide Indigenous policing; provincial and municipal police report to their respective provincial authorities

Military expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2023)
1.2% of GDP (2022)
1.3% of GDP (2021)
1.4% of GDP (2020)
1.3% of GDP (2019)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 70,000 active armed forces personnel (23,000 Army; 12,000 Navy; 12,000 Air Force; 23,000 other) (2023)

note: the Army also has approximately 19,000 part-time volunteer soldiers in the Reserve Force, including about 5,500 Rangers

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the CAF's inventory is a mix of domestically produced equipment and imported weapons systems from Australia, Europe, Israel, and the US; in recent years, the leading supplier has been the US; Canada's defense industry develops, maintains, and produces a range of equipment, including aircraft, combat vehicles, naval vessels, and associated components (2023)

Military service age and obligation

17 years of age for voluntary male and female military service (with parental consent); 16 years of age for Reserve and Military College applicants; Canadian citizenship or permanent residence status required; maximum 34 years of age; service obligation 3-9 years (2023)

note 1: Canada opened up all military occupations to women in 2001; women in 2023 comprised about 16% of the CAF

note 2: the CAF offers waivers to foreign nationals applying for military service only in exceptional cases — to individuals on international military exchanges, for example, or to candidates who have specialized skills in high demand

Military deployments

the CAF has approximately 1,000 military personnel forward deployed for NATO air, land, and sea missions in the European theater, including a ground task force in Latvia (2023)

note: in response to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, some NATO countries, including Canada, have sent additional troops and equipment to the battlegroups deployed in NATO territory in eastern Europe 

Military - note

the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are responsible for external security; the CAF’s core missions include detecting, deterring, and defending against threats to or attacks on Canada; the military also provides assistance to civil authorities and law enforcement as needed for such missions as counterterrorism, search and rescue, and responding to natural disasters or other major emergencies; it regularly participates in bilateral and multinational training exercises with a variety of partners, including NATO (Canada is one of the original members) and the US; the CAF also contributes to international peacekeeping, stability, humanitarian, combat, and capacity building operations with the UN, NATO, and other security partners

the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) plans, directs, and leads most CAF operations in Canada, North America, and around the world; it has six standing regional Joint Task Force (JTF) headquarters across Canada, as well as other JTFs deployed overseas; the CJOC is assisted by air, ground, and naval components; the Canadian Army is the land component of the CAF and its largest element; it has four divisional headquarters (plus one under the CJOC), three Regular Force combined arms mechanized brigade groups, and 10 brigade groups in the Reserve Force; the Navy’s principal warships are 12 frigates and four attack submarines, which are supported by six Arctic/offshore patrol ships and 12 coastal defense vessels; the Air Force has over 400 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, including about 100 US-made F/A-18 multirole fighters; Canada has ordered more than 80 US-made F-35 stealth multirole fighter aircraft which the Air Force expects to start receiving in 2026; the CAF also has a separate Special Operations Forces Command with a special operations regiment and a joint task force, plus air, incident response, and training units

Canada is part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD; established 1958); NORAD is a Canada-US bi-national military command responsible for monitoring and defending North American airspace; traditionally, a Canadian Armed Forces officer has served as the deputy commander of NORAD; Canada’s defense relationship with the US extends back to the Ogdensburg Declaration of 1940, when the two countries formally agreed on military cooperation, including the establishment of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense (PJBD), which continues to be the highest-level bilateral defense forum between Canada and the US

British troops withdrew from Canada in 1871 as part of the UK-US Treaty of Washington; following the withdrawal, the first Canadian militia, known as the Royal Canadian Regiment, was organized in 1883 to protect Canadian territory and defend British interests abroad, which it did in the South African War (1899-1902), Canada’s first overseas conflict; militia units formed the backbone of the more than 425,000 Canadian soldiers that went to Europe during World War I in what was called the Canadian Expeditionary Force; the Royal Canadian Navy was created in 1910, while the Canadian Air Force was established in 1920 and became the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1924; the Canadian Army was officially founded in 1942; a unified Canadian Armed Forces was created in 1968 (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Canada on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Canada 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Canada 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.