Vanguard Magazine

Aug/Sep 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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S sit rep Special Forces team summits Mount Logan Ice axe inscribed with the names of all the Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan. On the evening of June 11, five senior members of Canada's Special Operations Forces community reached the summit of Mount Logan, the highest peak in the country and the second highest in North America. The climb was part of recent celebrations to commemorate the birth of modern special operations in Canada through an expedition that would test the team's ability to manage risk in challenging situations and environments. A six-member team departed from base camp on the Quintino Sella Glacier in the Yukon's Kluane National Park on May 28, ascending the 19,545-foot peak over two weeks through temperature extremes, snow, periodic high winds, and the evacuation of one member due to symptoms of high altitude pulmonary edema. At the summit, they planted an ice pick inscribed with the names of every Canadian soldier who had lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001. The six veteran members of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, two captains, a chief warrant officer, a master warrant officer, a warrant officer and a lieutenant-colonel, range in age from 43 to 53. All six are military mountain operations instructors and proposed the climb in 2011 as a way to commemorate the 20th anniversary of modern SOF in Canada. BGen Denis Thompson, commander of CANSOFCOM, recognized the climb as an opportunity to provide inspiration to younger and newer members of the special forces community. But he also saw a chance to "test drive" some new high alpine equipment during the climb and over several preparatory excursions in the Rockies the past year. Special Operations Forces team on the face of Mount Logan. 6 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013 Kevin West named new CWO The Canadian Armed Forces welcomed a new Chief Warrant Officer in July with the appointment of CWO Kevin West at a ceremony in Ottawa. West, who most recently served as the RCAF Command CWO, replaces Chief Petty Officer First Class Bob Cléroux, who will be retiring following almost 37 years of service. "My first priority will be to get out to our Fleets, Bases and Wings to meet with our people and to develop a better sense of where we stand. I intend to focus on ensuring we have the programs and tools that will enable all members of the CAF to effectively carry out their missions," West said. The CFCWO serves as the principal non-commissioned advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff. Military leadership: Reconnecting with community The Canadian Armed Forces and the University of Alberta have partnered to launch a program that will enable students to obtain a university degree while gaining important leadership skills with the Canadian military. To qualify for the Civil Military Leadership Pilot Initiative, students must enrol in a four-year program and join the primary reserves at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton. Students must be accepted separately by each in order to participate. "We've got quite a close relationship, which dates back to World War I," said BGen Paul Bury of the partnership with U of A. "The [university] is ideally situated for the pilot location because it's close to a large military installation, and there are a number of very local primary reserve units." If the pilot proves successful, however, it could be rolled out to other universities across the country. Through a hands-on application of skills, students will learn better communication tactics, in-depth problem solving, theory and application of leadership, and the planning and organizational skills necessary to manage a small team. The goal is to provide students with tools that, while applicable to military service, can be translated into civic leadership situations as well. According to Bury, the program will also strengthen the CAF. "Aside from building the leadership potential and abilities in the students, this also goes a long way to help build the ethos of national service, which I'm not aware exists anywhere else in another program between a university and the military. So building that ethos of national service through this program I think is a huge benefit to Canadian society." The program will begin in September 2013 and run until 2017. Earlier this summer, soldiers from the 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment with recent experience mentoring Afghan forces took on a new mission as instructors and role models for 24 teenagers from the Zhibaahaasing First Nation during a week in the scrub and bush of western Manitoulin Island. LGen Peter Devlin, who recently retired as commander of the Canadian Army, urged that the program be extended to other communities, telling Canadian Press that soldiers "share Canadian values, military values in particular; integrity, discipline, courage, respect." — Amy Allen

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