Money on the bar. That’s what draws many people to a change of appointment ceremony, especially when Generals are involved. But that was truly not the case on 26 May 2015 at the Change of Appointment ceremony for the CAF Chief Military Engineer (Ch Mil Engr) in Ottawa. Everyone was there to see one of the most respected and personnel-focused leaders of the Canadian Military Engineer Branch hand the Spanner of Power over to another, exceptionally qualified Engineer of renown.
After many reschedules and changes to calendars, this event took place at the Astra Lounge, RCAF Officers’ Mess. The Master of Ceremonies, LCol Eric Fortin, ACOS CME, gave the opening remarks touching on LGen Chris Whitecross' many appointments, awards, deployments and achievements.
Next, the Colonel Commandant, BGen (Retired) Steve Irwin, spoke to the good health of the Engineering Branch throughout the country. He noted that LGen Whitecross is the first female three-star general in the Canadian Armed Forces and highlighted what a major accomplishment that was for her and the Engineering Branch.
LGen Whitecross spoke next, acknowledging some very special people present that day; her parents, her husband and two very close friends. She thanked a number of Branch staff, both past and present, and presented her Ch Mil Engr coin for the last time to nine staff members who worked closely with her over the past four years.
LCol Fortin introduced the new CME, highlighting BGen Karl McQuillan’s career accomplishments. The scrolls were signed and the change of appointment was made official. BGen McQuillan then spoke briefly. The ceremony concluded with a presentation of gifts to LGen Whitecross. The Branch Chief Warrant Officer, CWO Kevin Patterson, presented her with the Branch Pennant. The Colonel Commandant presented her with three volumes of the History of the Canadian Military Engineers in a beautiful wooden book holder. Lastly, BGen McQuillan presented her with his coin for the outstanding work she has accomplished in her last four years as the Ch Mil Engr.
The official ceremony completed, guests relocated to the Cockpit Bar where Col Quinn, RP Ops Comd, commended LGen Whitecross for seeing the people behind the rank and never forgetting about them, a skill that “every general needs in their toolkit.” The guests toasted her and wished her well. LGen Whitecross thanked everyone, noting that she was "speechless for the second time that day”, something that "n ever happens," and that she was simply, “very touched” by the day’s events and the people that were there to share it with her. Everyone was extremely joyful to be there and also to find that there was, indeed, money on the bar.
Terms of Reference – CAF Chief Military Engineer
Approved by CDS Apr 2011
The CAF Chief Military Engineer is accountable to the CDS for the provision of Military Engineering advice to him, as well as to his military chain of command. The responsibilities of the Chief Military Engineer include:
• Maintain situational awareness of Military Engineering issues emerging from CAF Force Employment and Force Generation;
• Contribute to the capture of Lessons Observed and support the CDS and his chain of command to turn them into Lessons Learned;
• Support the Chief of Force Development and the principal Force Generators with the development of Military Engineering doctrine and related capabilities as key enablers to the current and future Force Employment concepts;
• Coordinate the interaction of CAF Military Engineer representation on Military Engineering matters with NATO organizations and Allied nations; represent CAF at the annual NATO Senior Joint Engineer Conference;
• Steward the Canadian Military Engineering Profession and as such, chair the Canadian Military Engineer Branch Council and oversee Branch issues; and
• Coordinate Military Engineering human resource management functions with the Occupational Advisors for Military Engineering occupations.