Command Philosophy

As a start point, all must embrace the notion that ultimately everything we do in the Army is to produce combat forces whose fundamental role is to fight and win. Everything else emanates from this reality. With this as a basis, the essence of my command philosophy is in the following 13 broad focus areas, for which their specific applicability may somewhat vary by nature military or civilian service, but I expect all in the Army to take to heart.

I very much look forward to soldiering with you, and together we will be stewards of our Army' s success. I encourage commanders at all levels to share this with their soldiers.

1. Leadership

Leading our soldiers is a privilege. First and foremost I expect leaders at all levels to know and look after their teams. They must understand and manage tempo, set the example, publically recognize performance and service, and when necessary, hold our people accountable when they falter. Leaders get out and see and are seen. They seize the initiative and create opportunity. They are self-aware and realize the impact of their personality, actions , and decisions on others. They create a command climate of respect, trust, and healthy debate, and provide forthright yet tactful feedback up and down the chain of command. They exude a positive outlook and avoid engendering morale sapping cynicism. They make the hard decisions, and are loyal to those made by higher authorities. They strive to create predictability and certainty to the degree possible for their subordinates - in other words, to create simplicity and clarity out of chaos. They accept and turn honest mistakes into learning opportunities. They connect the needs of their subordinates and their families with available resources without fostering a culture of entitlement. They are humble men and women who are grateful for the opportunity to lead and are not burdened with a sense of entitlement for promotion and position. With strong character, they readily take action to do what is right.

2. Commitment and Purpose

We serve our nation. For many it is a calling, for others it is a means to an end, but regardless the concept of 'service' is inherent in our role. All in the Army must be invested and believe in the success of our mission. Whether on full or part-time duty, this is not a profession in which one gets rich - it has a transcendent purpose - which is to serve. As such, it requires passion and enthusiasm , and often it demands sacrifice and service before self. At the same time, one should enjoy a calling, and overall service in the Army has to be fun.

3. Mission Command

I am a firm believer in mission command - that is, articulating intent (the ' why' ) and then empowering and resourcing subordinates to get on with it. In many cases, however, the centralized policy and resource environment in which we operate constrains the traditional sense of this philosophy. That said, we will use mission command to not only execute these policies, but moreover to shape and develop them. The scope and complexity of the issues with which we deal means that no one individual is the fount of all answers, and we must leverage wisdom where we find it - which is often at the grassroots level. Furthermore, no one individual can shoulder all decisions, and thus power must be distributed and command exercised collectively.

4. Agility

I define agility as the ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. The pace of technological change, the ability of our enemies to quickly learn, and the globalization of information all contributing to the uncertainty and volatility of our operating environment. We must be swift to adapt or else face defeat. Agility is based on a mindset, one that must be instilled throughout all training at all rank levels. We can' t be wedded to a plan, a certain way of doing business, or existing structures. Challenging the status quo is inherently difficult so we must encourage and empower innovation at every opportunity. Part of agility is disciplined initiative - realize when the situation has changed, identify what needs to be done, and do it while ensuring no surprises for the chain of command.

5. Teamwork, Respect, and Dignity

The Army is a diverse group comprised of Regular, Army Reserve, Ranger, and Civilian components, all reflecting the makeup of Canada. All have a vital part in our mission and together we are 'One Army' . I consider diversity to be a force multiplier that better enables us to address complex issues and thus must be nurtured and protected. Exercising mutual respect is key and I have no time for any member of the Army who does not treat others with dignity, who impedes an inclusive environment, who does not promote a workplace free of harassment, or who otherwise exudes toxicity. Be welcoming of, look after, and look out for each other. Take action when inappropriate behaviour surfaces - to not do so is to be an accessory to it. Likewise, we will be strong team players with all external stakeholders as well, and when there is a clash of views, strive to see things from the other's perspective and assume positive intentions.  Higher headquarters is not the enemy - there are enough real enemies striving to do us harm.

6. Discipline and Conduct

For our members in uniform, as part of the sole institution charged with applying collective deadly force on behalf of the nation, we are rightly held to higher standards than the general population. This must be reflected in all of our activities, on and off duty, and including online. For all members, including civilians, we are always perceived as representatives of the institution. We will all reflect and defend the values of the institution, both in word and action. Self-discipline is vital - where one will do the right thing, even in the absence of supervision. Furthermore, I expect leaders at all levels to be vigilant and ruthless in enforcing ethical standards - in a leadership vacuum divergent sub-cultures with unwelcome values will invariably emerge.

7. Retaining Talent

Talent management and retention, especially of our mid-level leaders, warrants special mention. The long-term health and professionalism of our Army is predicated on creating the conditions for retaining and employing our members where they are best suited. In conjunction with MilPersCom, we must move from an industrial age career management system to one that is much more personalized. There does not need to be one traditional path for all. We must strive for predictability and transparent communication. Leaders at all levels must be personally invested in retention. We cannot afford to bleed talent.

8. Fundamentals

Despite our best efforts, we will not get our preparations for the next conflict right - but we do need to get them right enough. That demands a solid grounding in the fundamentals of our profession. Many of these fundamentals are age old - all in uniform must be able to shoot, move, communicate, and be physically fit and mentally resilient.  Recent operations have highlighted new, henceforth enduring fundamentals that must be part of our baseline, such as C-IED, combat casualty care, and population engagement. Following soldier fundamentals, all must master the core competencies of their trade. Mastery of fundamentals is a sign of true professionalism and requires deliberate effort and allocated time.

9. Communication


Communicate early and often up and down the chain. Keep subordinates informed frequently and through multiple means, especially face to face. Remember the old adage when information arrives: ' what do I need to do with it and who else needs to know.' For reporting up, also remember that bad news does not get better with time and that over communication is a good thing. I expect all to understand CCIRs, and report appropriately when incidents arise. The overarching principle is ' no surprises' .


We will be proactive and nimble in the public information space. We will own the narrative, be first with the truth, bust myths and toxic falsehoods, and to the degree allowed by law and OPSEC, be transparent. Information vacuums will be filled with speculation and lies. Throughout the Army we will actively engage with the media and increase social media engagement.

10. Stewardship

We face significant resource pressures - but this has been the norm during the history of our Army. Let's view it as a forcing function to find innovative ways to ensure our readiness. As part of this, we must ruthlessly discipline our stewardship of resources, look after our equipment, and create a culture of pride of ownership. Commanders at all levels will be personally invested in the business planning and comptroller processes and in getting the ' most bang for the buck'.

11. Force Protection

Soldiering is inherently risky. That said, nothing we do justifies unnecessary force protection risk. I charge all members of the Army to intervene if you see unsafe activities occurring - common sense must prevail. Be vigilant and be curious. If it doesn' t look right - ask and act. Lastly, remember OPSEC and cyber security - our enemies have many ways of gathering intelligence.

12. Professional Development

History has shown that the most important activities any Army undertakes is developing junior leaders. I expect all commanders to execute leader development programs, including reading, writing and publishing to contribute to our body of professional knowledge. Our only enduring and meaningful legacy as commanders will be those subordinate leaders we develop who will lead us to success in our next fight. This principle of professional development applies to all - focus on getting better every day as a person and as a professional. A day in the Army when you don't learn something new is a day wasted.

13. Total Fitness and Balanced Lives

Fitness across all domains greatly improves not only quality of life, but moreover individual and collective performance, and thus is a key contributor to readiness. We must strive to improve physical performance and cognitive abilities and set conditions for healthy, balanced living, which will be greatly enhanced by numerous efforts:

  1. We will aggressively implement Mission: Ready as the key driver of Army Total Fitness. This will remain nested under the numerous CAF Total Health and Wellness initiatives, such as recently published physical performance strategy, Balance. I am a convinced that the powerful combination of daily physical activity, healthy nutrition, sleep hygiene, and injury prevention will stand all in good stead in all aspects of professional and personal lives.
  2. There is more work than we have capacity to accomplish. I expect ruthless prioritization of tasks and clear communication on what will not get done. We have a culture of trying to do everything, with certain tasks falling off by default, not by deliberate decision.
  3. I expect all to maintain an overall work-life balance. Use your leave - all of it - for its intended purpose. In our connected world, avoid intruding on others' personal time by sending non-operationally urgent emails after work hours or on weekends.
  4. Finally, social balance is vital. Create and enjoy opportunities to get out and talk, socialize, and build support networks with others. Life in the Army goes beyond just work.

In closing, I very much look forward to soldiering with you, and together we will be stewards of our Army's success. I encourage commanders at all levels to share this with their soldiers.

Lieutenant-General W.D. Eyre
Commander Canadian Army

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