The Canadian Forces, officially the Canadian Armed Forces, are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: “The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces.” This singular institution consists of three main branches: Maritime Command (MARCOM), Land Force Command (LFC), and Air Command (AIRCOM), which are together overseen by the Armed Forces Council, chaired by the Chief of the Defence Staff. At the pinnacle of the command structure is the Commander-in-Chief, who is the reigning Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the Governor General.
The current incarnation of the Canadian Forces dates from 1 February 1968, when the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force were merged into a unified structure. Its roots, however, lie in colonial militia groups that served alongside garrisons of the French and British armies and navies; a structure that remained in place until the early 20th century. Thereafter, a distinctly Canadian army and navy was established, followed by an air force, that, because of the constitutional arrangements at the time, remained effectively under the control of the British government until Canada gained legislative independence from the United Kingdom in 1931, partly due to the performance and sacrifice of the Canadian Corps in the First World War. The Canadian forces were then heavily involved in the Second World War and Korean War, and, from the 1950s on, actively worked with her NATO Allies to counter the threats of the Cold War. Land Forces during this period also deployed in support of peacekeeping operations within United Nations sanctioned conflicts. The nature of the Canadian Forces has continued to evolve, and they are currently engaged in Afghanistan, under NATO ISAF at the request of the Government of Afghanistan.
The forces are today funded by approximately $20 billion annually ranked 16th, and are presently ranked 74th in size compared to the world’s other armed forces by number of total personnel, and 58th in terms of active personnel, standing at a strength of roughly 67,000, not including the 26,000 reservists. These individuals serve on numerous Canadian Forces bases located in all regions of the country, and are governed by the Queen’s Regulations and Orders and the National Defence Act.