Organizational Structure

The RCAF Reserve is part of the Reserve component of the Canadian Forces and an integral part of the Total Air Force.

RCAF reserve positions are incorporated into both Air Force headquarters - in the Air Staff at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa and at 1 Canadian Air Division Headquarters (1 Cdn Air Div HQ) in Winnipeg.

Most Air Force wings, squadrons and units are comprised of both Regular and Reserve Force personnel. RCAF Reserve Flights provide administrative support to the ready pool of reserve operational and support personnel who are employed, primarily on a part-time basis, along-side their regular force counterparts.

Most air environment and support occupations are available to reservists. The RCAF Reserve targets occupationally qualified personnel such as former members of the regular force, or civilian candidates whose qualifications equate to those of the required military trades. The RCAF Reserve also recruits unskilled candidates and ensures that all required occupational and military training is provided. For more information, please visit CF Recruiting.

Although all Air Force units are now Total Force, three flying squadrons are "reserve-heavy" with reserve force commanding officers: 402 Squadron in Winnipeg is equipped with the Dash 8 Aircraft and provides support to the Canadian Forces Air Navigation School; 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Borden and 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in St. Hubert provide tactical helicopter support to the army flying CH-146 Griffon helicopters.

The newest Air Force addition of "Air Reserve heavy" units are the Airfield Engineering Flights (AEF) which include: 143 Construction Engineering Flight in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia and surrounding Lunenburg County; 144 Construction Engineering Flight in Pictou, Nova Scotia; 91 Construction Engineering Flight in Gander, Newfoundland; and 192 Construction Engineering Flight in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The AEFs are comprised of skilled construction and engineering or engineering related tradespeople who support the Air Force during deployed and non deployed operations.

Total Force Concept

The Total Force concept was introduced in the 1987 White Paper and further developed in the 1994 White Paper. White Papers are issued by the Government to provide direction to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces concerning national defence.

The Canadian Forces are a unified force of maritime, land and air elements. Their structure is based on a Total Force concept that integrates full- and part-time military personnel to provide multi-purpose, combat-capable armed forces. Under the Total Force concept, Regular Forces are maintained to provide the Government with a ready response capability; Reserve Forces are intended as augmentation and sustainment for Regular units, and, in some cases, for tasks that are not performed by Regular Forces - such as mine countermeasure operations. The concept also provides the framework for training and equipping the Reserves.

Progress has been made in the implementation of the Total Force concept, with many reservists now fully ready to undertake Regular Force functions. Indeed, in recent years, several thousand reservists have served in demanding missions at home and abroad. The Total Force approach is right for Canada. The Government recognizes the continuing need for a national mobilization framework; however, changes are needed to reflect Canada's requirement for ready forces if it is to be able to meet domestic needs and contribute to multilateral operations.

1994 White Paper

Total Force - Maritime, Land and Air

Canada's Navy, Army and Air Force have each implemented the Total Force concept in their own way:

  • The Navy assigned the Naval Reserve specific maritime defence responsibilities including Coastal operations, naval Control of Shipping and mine countermeasures.
  • The Army Reserve provides a framework for mobilization should the need arise, serves as a link between the Army and communities across Canada, and augments the Regular Force on deployments and operations.
  • The Air Force chose to fully integrate the RCAF Reserve and the Regular Air Force establishments.  Most air force wings, squadrons and units are now comprised of both Regular and Reserve Force personnel. Members of the RCAF Reserve are employed, primarily on a part-time basis, along-side their Regular Force counterparts, across the spectrum of air force activities. The RCAF Reserve provides support to the Air Force in ongoing peacetime tasks as well as deployed operations.
The Total Air Force

The Air Force concept of Total Force brings members of the Regular Force and the Reserve together to meet a common goal. Regulars provide a strong base of military experience and culture. Reservists bring different skill sets from their civilian occupations and studies and provide a window to the community. The integration of Regulars and Reserves is working well for the Air Force through the development of mutual understanding and respect as well as team effectiveness.