CAE CEO Marc Parent says the growing use of private contractors by Western militaries – including Canada’s – bodes well for his company and for global security, even as questions remain about expenses and liability.

The escalation of international conflicts has triggered a military buildup that means governments, facing personnel shortages, are increasingly dependent on private sector companies for catering, construction, mercenaries and others, Mr. Parent in an interview.

“The armed forces literally do not have enough uniformed personnel to be able to conduct operations themselves. In Canada, they are turning to private industry to be able to provide more and more contracted services in support of the military,” he said, adding that the trend is global.

Last month, a joint venture between Montreal-based CAE and British Columbia-based KF Aerospace was awarded an $11.2 billion contract from the federal government to train aircrew and provide simulators to the Royal Canadian Air Force (BOW).

The 25-year deal represents a vast expansion of the flight simulator maker’s previous role in RCAF training, as the partnership aims to take responsibility for more areas, such as aircrew training support and the purchase of training aircraft.

“We will basically run the bases here,” Parent said, referring to those in Moose Jaw, Sask., Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie, Man.

“The Canadian government is essentially transforming the way it provides flight crew training,” he argued, adding that “almost everything” in this area will be outsourced.

In a technologically complex combat world, companies can fill critical niches for armed forces already short of recruits.

Defence Minister Bill Blair says the Canadian Armed Forces is facing a 16,500-member shortfall that could take years to fill.

David Perry, president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, argued that it makes sense to tap large corporations and specialized businesses to draw on, among other areas, “a specialized skill set related to digital technology”.

“The private sector can undoubtedly make more efficient, more agile and faster decisions,” Perry said.

However, the Costs of War Project at Brown University in Rhode Island says the military is spending an increasingly larger portion of its budget on contractors with little accountability for how the funds are being spent. distributed.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada argues that there is no evidence that the billions of public dollars spent each year on defense contracts with private companies are an efficient use of funds.