About the Canadian Armed Forces

Who we are

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members are proud to serve Canada by defending its values, interests and sovereignty at home and abroad. They support freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights around the world.

The CAF are an entity separate and distinct from the Department. The CAF are headed by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General J.H. Vance, Canada’s senior serving officer. He is responsible for the conduct of military operations and to ensure that the CAF is always ready to carry out the tasks that Parliament assigns through the Minister of National Defence.


What we do

The mandate of Canadian Armed Forces is:

  1. Protecting Canada and defending our sovereignty.
  2. Defending North America in cooperation with the United States, Canada's closest ally.
  3. Contributing to international peace and security through operations around the world, most often in partnership with allies from other countries.

1. Protecting Canada

Every day thousands of members of the Canadian Armed Forces contribute to protecting Canada by:

  • Patrolling our coasts
  • Monitoring our skies
  • Leading search and rescue missions
  • Assisting civilian rescue authorities with disaster relief (forest fires, floods, avalanches, hurricanes, etc.)

2. Defending North America

Canada helps to defend North America by working with the United States at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to monitor and defend continental airspace and ocean areas.

3. Contributing to International Peace and Security

The Canadian Forces contribute to international peace and security through operations around the world. Canadian Armed Forces personnel are currently deployed overseas on operational missions. On any given day, one third of the deployable force are preparing for, engaged in, or returning from an overseas mission.


Navy, Army and Air Force

The Canadian Forces serve on the sea, on land, and in the air, with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The Royal Canadian Navy

The Royal Canadian Navy is the maritime component of the Canadian Armed Forces. It protects Canada’s interests by:

  • Safeguarding our maritime approaches
  • Exercising sovereignty over our waters
  • Protecting our offshore natural resources
  • Supporting search and rescue missions
  • Supporting international operations helping to maintain global stability

The Royal Canadian Navy is composed of approximately 8,400 full-time sailors and 5,100 part-time sailors.

The Canadian Army

The Canadian Army is the land component of the Canadian Armed Forces. It protects Canada’s interests by:

  • Providing land surveillance and combat-ready forces
  • Providing assistance to civil authorities when needed to maintain public order and security;
  • Assisting with natural disasters including earthquakes, floods, storms, forest fires and other emergencies
  • Supporting international operations helping to maintain global stability

The Canadian Army is composed of approximately 22,800 full-time soldiers, 18,700 Reservists, and 5,000 Canadian Rangers.

The Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force is the air component of the Canadian Armed Forces. It protects Canada’s interests by:

  • Defending Canadian airspace
  • Conducting maritime and northern patrols
  • Supporting search and rescue missions
  • Airlifting military personnel and supplies
  • Supporting international operations and helping to maintain global stability

The Royal Canadian Air Force is composed of approximately 13,000 Regular Force personnel and 2,400 Air Reserve personnel (both Primary Reservists and officers of the Cadet Instructors Cadre.

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