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Army goes back to the future with return to British-style ranks and designations

Soldiers wear poppies on their uniforms in a Remembrance Day ceremony in Calgary. The army will replace the Maple Leaf rank designation on the shoulder boards of officers with the traditional “pips and Crowns” last used in 1968, before the various branches were unified as the Canadian Forces.

JEFF McINTOSH/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian Army is marching into its past.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the army will replace the Maple Leaf rank designation on the shoulder boards of officers with the traditional "pips and Crowns" last used in 1968, before the various branches were unified as the Canadian Forces.

The ranks of non-commissioned officers will also be returned to the original British Army and Commonwealth designations.

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As a result, the rank of private will be virtually eliminated within the army and replaced with trooper, bombardier, fusilier, rifleman or guardsman, depending upon the unit.

In recent years, the Conservative government has restored the preunification names of different branches of the military, reintroducing the Royal designation to the air force and navy.

Mr. MacKay also says the military will do away with the geographic "land forces" designations within the domestic army command, instead organizing different regions of the country into their historic "divisions."

He says the changes don't strip away any Canadian identity, but rather strength the bond with the past.

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