25-28 Mar 2014
The Colonel Commandant and I went to Montreal to visit with 2 Div Engrs and 34 RGC. We spent the afternoon with LCol Marc Rancourt and his RSM, CWO Garray Cotton.
The visit started with an overview of the unit and the tasks in 2 Div. They are responsible for the infrastructure on 1 Base, 2 Garrisons, 4 detachments as well as armouries spread across 25 municipalities in Quebec. Including training areas they have 4 552 buildings with a total holding of 2 130 435 sq ft, this includes the largest single structure (sq ft) in the DND’s inventory (MEGA complex in St Jean), and also the largest warehousing/distribution building in Canada (public or private, 25 CFSD).
Over the past year the civilian work force has been reduced by 75 positions and they have moved to a centralized management model. With cutbacks to operational budgets the challenge is “how to keep things safe”. They have temporary structures that are 70 years old that they are still being used by units. Compliance is always an issue as well as maintaining structures that are now designated as heritage buildings. The average age of armouries in Quebec is 83 years and they have 12 armouries that were built before 1914. Over that past three years money for maintenance has gone from 130 million to 100 million to 80 million this year.
After the unit brief we then toured the workshops at Longue Pointe and the heating plant. There we met and talked with some of the members of the Base Construction Engineer section.
In the evening we toured the new armouries of 34 RGC in Longue Pointe. We were met by Maj Doran and RSM McIntyre. The Regiment had just completed its move from its old armouries a sentimental favourite at 3 Hillside Lane in Westmount to its new location in Longue Pointe.
We were given a unit brief with an overview of its training plan for the year. We talked at length of some of the challenges that Reserves face in terms of getting their trades qualifications. Engineer training is so long that a Sapper or an Officer cannot be trained in the course of one summer. Another complicating factor is that DP1 Engr Trg is no longer taught using the modular system. There are many factors that have influenced CFSME to make this change in its training delivery method. Not the least has been a 30% cut in Primary Reserve training funding. This cut translates into a loss of 20 training days for a reservist soldier. Although the Army Comd supports the principle that the Res Force should be trained at the same level as the Reg Force it is recognized that they will be trained in fewer competencies and tasks. The Combat Engineer Force Generation model is built with a 20% Res Force augmentation. This delta in training will now have to be made up during extended pre deployment training.
Maj Doran has written a very good article on the challenges of training the Reserve Force and it can be found in the Canadian Military Journal Volume 11 Number 4 or at the following web address: http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vol12/no4/page75-eng.asp Other training issues that the Reserves are finding frustrating and particularly time consuming is the amount of mandatory training that must be done that is not core Engineer training. It takes a lot of time and resources to give Trg on WHIMIS, Defensive Driving (Cours de Conduite Préventive) Safe Backing (Cours de Marche Arrière), Information Management and International Trade in Arms Regulations to name a few.
Some of the above mentioned courses involved bussing 150 Reservist from all across the Bde to one location so that they could attend a Power Point Presentation. If some of these courses were put on the Web instead of DWAN they could then be accessed from home and Reservist would not have to use valuable “Armoury Time” in order to complete them.
DWAN access is also a frustration for the Reserves. Since many of them only have DWAN access when they are physically in the Armouries, much of their communication is done over civilian email systems suck as Gmail or Hotmail. I am assured by some members of the unit who work in the IT industry in their daytime jobs that there are many readily available products on the market that would allow them to connect with their DND accounts.
Following our Montreal visit we spent the next afternoon with the School of Military Mapping (SMM) at Algonquin College in Ottawa. The SMM is a unique partnership in the CF in that the training is delivered over a two year period at a civilian educational institute by a mix of civilian and military instructors.
The Colonel Cmdt had the pleasure of presenting a CD and a QDJM. We toured the Algonquin facilities with the CO and the CI and then had lunch with the students. There are two courses running concurrently, one is in their first year and the other class is in its second year of training.
The next morning we had a tour of MCE on Booth St with the CO LCol Vandenberg and the RSM CWO Lemieux. In the last number of years Geo Techs have moved out of their Ottawa home base in large numbers. MCE now has have nearly 70 Geo Techs serving across Canada and OUTCAN. The goal of the CO is to have Geo Techs in the Regts seen as an Engineer who is an integral part of the Regt with a Geo specialty.
We were briefed on the Reserve Geo Tech capability that is in its infancy. There are currently 8 Res Geo Techs in the system. CFSME is going to teach Res Geo Techs starting this summer. There will be 4 Res CERs that will get a Geo Tech capability. Because of the lack of Cl B Res Geo Techs much of their support will come from Reg F Geo Techs that that are collocated with the Res units. Help in the form of technical advice will come from Reg F Geo Techs in Edmonton, Ottawa, Valcartier and Halifax.
The Col Cmdt and I also had the pleasure of taking part in the DwD of MWO Val Schenk. We presented her with her CME Branch certificate.
In the evening we also visited with the 3018 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Orleans. The CO of the Corps is Maj Sexton and he was a very gracious host. This is a very successful Cadet Corps and they had over 100 cadets on parade the night the Col Cmdt and I visited with them. We presented a number of newly qualified cadets with their new Engineer Hat badges as well as promotions. After the parade and inspection the nights training began. The Col Cmdt and I had the opportunity to watch some of the training that was happening and meet with the parents committee that is dedicated to helping to organize and fund raise for the Corps. The CO and his staff spoke of the great support that they receive from the parents as well as their sponsor 33 CER. 3018 is a well organized and well run large Cadet Corps that is doing great things with young Canadians.
01 Apr 2014
I attended the official ceremony to commemorate the achievement of Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for centralized Real Property management and the official stand-up of the Canadian Forces Real Property Operations Group in Ottawa. Col Quinn took over as the Comd of Real Property Ops Gp. The signing ceremony was presided over by the CDS Gen Lawson with the Ch Mil Engr and Mr Jamie W Pitfield ADM (IE) in attendance. 04 Apr 2014.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the CMEA had a meeting which I attended as part of the executive. A number of topics were discussed and decisions were made. We approved the establishment of a new Chapter in Bagotville, the first one in Quebec, and secretarially approved the Chapter in Cold Lake, Alberta. Work is underway to establish Chapters in the Greater Toronto Area as well as St. John’s NL. We are now fourteen Chapters strong and growing.
Our Director of Communications Don Chipman advised us that the new web site would go live on April 16 with the ability to join the association on-line as well as many more modern and useful features.
Our Registrar John MacPherson reported that our numbers are now 1,480. Thanks to all for spreading the word!
The CMEA News Brief weekly newsletter had its inaugural launch on Friday 4 April and it is hoped that you are enjoying this new feature of our Association. A new policy is being developed to deal with Engineers in Need. The process will soon be developed. The aim will be to have a flexible and responsive policy in place that can give immediate support to those who require help and are not able to obtain it through other sources.
Our Not for Profit status as an independent Corporation will be renewed under the new federal policy thanks to the volunteer efforts of Captain Mike Syzek, the President of the Greenwood Chapter.
24 Apr 2014
CME Branch Council met for the day. A number of updates and briefs were presented to Branch Council ranging from RCE accouterments, IE Transformation to Op Renaissance (DART), Op Render Safe (a EOD operation in collaboration with the US and Australians in the Solomon Islands) and the Geospatial Tiger Team Update.
25 - 27 Apr 2014
The Col Cmdt and I travelled to Chilliwack for the dedication of the Colonel Roger St John Armoury and the 40th Retired Sappers Reunion.
The weekend started out with a Meet and Greet that was widely attended. There were many familiar faces in the crowd.
On Saturday we attended the dedication of the armouries followed by a reception and Saturday evening we attended the Sappers Reunion banquet were we had the distinct pleasure of presenting CME Commendations to the CFB Chilliwack Historical Society, the Retired Sappers Reunion and to Capt (Ret'd) Bill Stone.
21 May 2014
On 21 May Maj Rich Busbridge and myself went to Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) for the Confirmation of CME Colours. This is a project that Maj Busbridge started on more than two years ago.
Our colours are well understood by their nomenclature, “Brick Red” and “Royal Blue.” However, this has proven insufficient to ensure standardization of the Branch colours. Decentralized production has resulted in wide variances in the reds and blues used to represent the Branch in physical items such as flags and banners, and in the electronic medium in websites and presentations.
The first step in this process was to establish what the colours were meant to be. It was presented to and agreed by Branch Council last fall that the governing definition of the CME colours should come from the Heraldic Description of the Canadian Military Engineer Branch Flag.
Technical Description - A dark blue flag of proportions two by length and one by width (or 6 units in length by 3 units in width) containing two vertical red bars each 1 unit wide located 1 unit in from the pole and fly ends of the flag. The dark blue is Munsell Notation 7.5PB2/10, the red is CGSB standards 1 GP 12C 1965 509-103.
The problem that arose was that while the Heraldic Description is very specific, neither Munsell Notation, nor the CGSB 1 GP 12C standard from 1965, is commonly used today in industry or in software available on DND networks. Colours used in products such as flags, banners, and T-shirts representing the Branch must be selected so that they match the colours defined in the Heraldic Description. To enable proper use of the CME colours, the definitions needed to be translated into terms that would simplify and standardize their use in today’s environment.
Through some great detective work and perseverance Maj Busbridge was able to obtain the colour plates from the two original standards listed above and we were able to take them to DHH and match them with the plates that are used in today’s industry standard. It must be noted that there is no current exact match, however by comparing the plates in different types of light and from different angle we were able to come up with three standards for CME colours. One for electronic media, one for solid items such as paint for signs and one for textiles, that would include flags, banners and clothing etc.
For the electronic format most commonly used in DND software, specifically Microsoft Office, RGB colours are used. The RGB values that best represent the CME Colours are:
Brick Red R=211 G=040 B=051
Royal Blue: R=037 G=040 B=112
For all other items the Pantone Color Matching System (PCMS) was used. For solid items such as paints and signs, the Pantone colours 485C (Red) and 2188C (Blue) are to be used.
For products using fabrics, the Pantone colours 18-1763TCX (“High Risk Red”) and 19-3864TCX (“Mazarine Blue”) are the best matches.
In the near future a letter from the Ch Mil Engineer will be promulgated to the CME Branch making these colour matches official and the official colour sheets will be handed over to DHH, where they will be held on file for future colour matching purposes.
23 May 2014
I participated in the Annual Dave Lamont Golf tournament that has been an annual tradition at MCE for more than 20 years. In that time the tournament has raised more than $26,800 for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). The tournament was renamed in 2006 in honour of the late Sgt. Dave Lamont, our good friend and colleague, who passed away from cancer in 2004. The proceeds from this year were once again donated to CHEO and MCE made a special request that our donation be earmarked for the children’s oncology ward.
This is a great event open to all and I strongly encourage anyone who can to participate in this tournament.
2-5 June 2014
The Colonel Cmdt and I visited the Base Construction Engineers and 5 RGC in Valcartier, 35 RGC in Quebec City and the 2 Wing Engineers in Bagotville.
Our first visit was with the Base Construction Engineers with Capt Schwalm and MWO Dugas. Engineers Services Valcartier is not only responsible for the base itself but also the Citadelle in Quebec City and 13 other sites around the province of Quebec. All of this is being done on a shrinking budget. In FY 11/12 they had 9M for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) and in 14/14 they will have 5.3M. This of course has forced them to prioritize their work with health and security as the number one priority and compliance issues as number two, operational capability as number three and finally others (considered non military) as a fourth priority. With the resources at hand they will have a hard time to complete all tasks that are priority one and two. This has led to some creative thinking that some will recognize from years gone by. Engineer Services has formalized tasks in CFTPO and now have several soldiers from units across 5 Bde working in the Roads and Grounds section cutting grass and doing other types of Roads and Grounds tasks. The Col Cmdt and I spoke to these soldiers and they all seemed to be very content with their tasks were happy to have a break from their units for awhile.
The next morning we attended a Regt Pde with 5 RGC and along with the CO, LCol Michaud and the RSM, CWO Gaudreau. We had the pleasure of helping the CO and RSM promote one WO and several Sgts. After a unit brief we visited with troop that was giving Explosive threat Hazard Training to members of Bde HQ. We then went to the ski hill in Valcartier. Much to the chagrin of the Col Cmdt (who worked on clearing trees to build the ski hill) the ski hill is now unused and is again covered in trees. It is now part of a fitness trail and the Heavy Equipment troop was employed improving the road to the top of the hill and its drainage. A great job for the Hvy Eqpt operators and a very challenging one as well as they deal with constricted sites and very steep inclines.
In the afternoon we attended a Bde Parade were the Commander of the Canadian Army LGen Hainse presented Army commendations to several individuals as well as a unit commendation to 5 RGC for their work on Ex Guerrier Nordique 2013.
In the evening we visited with 35 RGC and had a unit brief from the CO LCol Martineau and the RSM, CWO Seguin.
The unit is very active and has increased its strength over the last year to just over 200 pers. The units regular attendance for training events is an impressive 80% of the unit's posted strength. They have a very aggressive training schedule plotted out that will see new soldiers to the unit trained and qualified. Some of the training highlights from the last year have been some very good demolition ranges, bridging and some rafting on the St Lawrence. The Regt enjoys a very close relationship with 5 RGC and stated that the support that they have received from 5 RGC has been tremendous. The rafting ex on the St Lawrence was only successful due to the support that 5 RGC gave to the unit by way of ensuring that 35 RGC had serviceable BBE’s for the exercise.
One of the problems that we discussed was the challenge of Reserve Individual Training. Although the goal of training reservists to the same level as regular force soldiers is laudable it is very hard to do and especially at the higher rank levels. 35 RGC is having a very difficult time to generate WOs. One of the main contributing factors of not being able to get soldiers onto the DP4B (QL6B) is that it is run in the spring time. By the time a reservist reaches the point in their career that they are ready for a DP4B they also have a family (probably a young family) and a full time civilian job. With these two competing priorities it is not hard to see how the DP4B becomes unattainable. We must work harder to tailor training to the reserve soldier. There are several options that can be explored. Some options would be to modify training by deleting some POs, making more POs distance learning and or making a DP4B reservist course that can be run during the summer time. In any case what we are offering the reserves now is not working for them.
Other Important Engineer Points
Sgt Kurdziel was recently awarded the Medal of Bravery for his actions in Afghanistan. A complete story can be found in the link below. He also spoke at the parade that was held in Ottawa for the National Day of Honour.
The CMEA continues to roll along getting larger and more active all of the time. The new CMEA Web site is now up and running and it can be found at the same address as the old one. http://cmea-agmc.ca/ it is a much improved web site that has a new clean and improved look with many drop down menus such as an area for each local chapter to post their news and events. I am also happy to report that you can now buy your CMEA Membership on-line. This will alleviate problems with cheques, pay office problems with allotments etc. There has also been a new CMEA News Brief created which is in electronic format. It is best to use an address other than a DWAN address for this news service. You can subscribe to the new news service at http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/cmea/
The Edmonton chapter of the CMEA recently held a very successful CMEA Edmonton Golf Tournament held on 19 June. The Edmonton chapter of the CMEA raised $4000.00 for Valour Place, and also donated $700 for Cpl Turner’s son, Evan. For more see http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/donations-pour-in-to-help-bring-evan-turner-h...
A special mention is in order for WO Dwayne Waller and Sgt Charles Baird for organizing the tournament and carrying it off in fine fashion. Personally I find it very rewarding to see the Engineer Family, in this case the CMEA chapter in Edmonton, rise to the occasion and provide leadership of this stature. We have a long tradition of caring for our own and also for caring for our greater community and it make me proud to be part of this Engineer family.
CME Branch CWO
For daily CME History and up to date CME Br CWO activities follow me on Twitter @CMEBranchCWO