11 June 2014
I attended the handover briefing and the appointment of our new CME Branch Advisor Col Horgan.
Col Horgan's biography is included in the attached file.
25 June 2014
Col Horgan the CME Branch Advisor and I attended the Funeral of Sgt Paquette from MCE who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident. Sgt Paquette was a man that had touched many lives. There was a large turnout of City of Ottawa Fire Fighters as he was a volunteer Fire Fighter in Fitzroy Harbour. Of course his current unit the Mapping and Charting Establishment was present as well as members of 2 CER who had served with him in that regiment before he remustered to Geomatics Technician.
Col Horgan presented the family with three Engineer Broaches that were provided by the CMEA. The family was very touched by the presentation and appreciated the gesture.
26 Jun 2014
The Branch Advisor, Col Horgan and I visited with 1 ESU in Kingston. We attended their sports day and farewell BBQ along with a mess dinner that evening at the CFB Kingston WOs’ and Sgts’ Mess.
4 July 2014
I accompanied the Col Cmdt to the 2 CER Change of Command between LCol Pilon and LCol Gasparotto. This was marked by a regimental parade reception and mess dinner. This was a great gathering of Engineers with many old acquaintances re-united and new friend ships made. The Regiment looked great on parade though the ceremony was interrupted by a torrential downpour and thunderstorm just after the signatures were signed.
7 July 2014
The Col Cmdt and I attended the Change of Command ceremony for Canadian Forces Intelligence Command. This was a Change of Command between MGen Rousseau and MGen Wynnyk, both of whom are Engineer officers. It was held in the Cartier Drill Sq with a small reception following. CF Int Com had soldiers on parade representing the whole command included several members from the Mapping and Charting Establishment.
15 July 2014
The Col Cmdt and I attended the DwD ceremony for MGen Rousseau. The Col Cmdt presented MGen Rousseau with his CME Certificate.
16 July 2014
The Col Cmdt, CME Branch Advisor and I attended the Change of Command of the Canadian Forces Fire Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Academy (CFFA). We arrived in the afternoon and after supper we went to the training area and observed QL3 night training. We were immediately put through our paces breaking windows and cutting up cars. After that we used the fire trucks and water cannons and watched the QL3s fight a fire in a jetliner mock up and perform casualty evacuation.
The next day was the change of command ceremony between Maj Chartrand and Maj Anderson. To reflect the unique nature of this school they had personal on parade dressed in bunker gear and full NBCD Top High gear.
The parade was followed by a very enjoyable mess dinner at the CFB Borden WOs’ and Sgts’ Mess. While in CFB Borden we also paid a visit to the RCAF Academy. The Commandant of this Academy is CWO Marty Rousseau an Engineer from the Fire Fighter trade. His mission is to strengthen the RCAF by developing proficient leaders through exceptional delivery of comprehensive leadership training and education to all NCMs serving under the RCAF.
The Academy provides leadership and management training, broadens awareness of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) heritage and develops general service knowledge and professional attributes among non-commissioned members. It does this by offering courses on Basic Air Environmental Qualification (BAEQ), Primary Leadership Qualification (PLQ), Primary Air Environmental Qualification (PAEQ), Intermediate Air Environmental Qualification (IAEQ) and Senior Air Supervisor (SAS) courses.
The through-put of this Academy is over 1000 students a year and it has recently been awarded a CF Unit Commendations for its work. DWAN user can view CANFORGEN 060/14.
31 July 2014
The Col Cmdt, CME Branch Advisor and I attended the Change of Command of the Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE). This event marked the change of command from LCol Vandenberg to LCol Nickerson.
04 Sept 2014
The Col Cmdt, Chief Military Engineer and I attended the DwD for CWO Keith Jones. Among other things Keith was the past CME CWO, Base CWO in Edmonton and Mr Nijmegen. This event was held in the NDHQ WOs’ and Sgts’ Mess. It was a fine tribute to a man who has dedicated the last 40 years of his life to our Branch. Presentations were made along with many kind words, especially those from his wife Patsy.
West Coast Trip 16 – 19 Sept 2014
The Col Cmdt and I visited BC. We started off our visit in Esquimalt with a visit to the Deputy JTF(P) JEngr, Maj Harris. She has a staff of about 4 people and the unenviable job of looking after and giving Engineer advice on land based operations in a HQ that is Maritime centric. Further complicating matters is that JTF(P) has no troops as all of the Engineers in BC belong to the RCN, the Army or the RCAF. Routine Ops include EOD activity, avalanche control, and SAR. Along with those operations they have a number of contingency plans that include a whole host of natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, fires etc.). The main issues that came out were that the BCEO is also double hatted as the JTF (P) JEngr. However the high workload of the BCEO leaves little time for JEngr duties. Operations such as an earthquake that require both JEngr and BCE planning and action will be very challenging as the same Engrs support both the Base and the Comd JTF(P) The JEngr currently has a two man Geomatics team however one of those members is MMO and is going to be posted out with no replacement. A geo team of two people is small enough; a geo team of one can hardly be called a team and is very limited in its capability, it will be very difficult to maintain the current level of support.
From there we visited the Hydrographic survey which is a sub unit of MCE. This is a highly specialized unit which provide the Navy with updated navigational information. Very impressive was the 3D modelling and graphics that they were working on. Just like the fly overs that we have come to see from our Geo Teams for land base Ops we were shown the same product built to support underwater operations as well.
After that we met with a group of Fire Fighters who are currently serving in the RCN either on board ship or at the damage control school. Certainly the Fire Fighters who serve in the Navy face some challenges with the Navy and the way they do business. There is also the added unknown as the RCN is starting to strip Fire Fighters off of the ships. For this group the uncertainty of future postings and employment along with unfamiliarity with the Navy has made it very hard on morale.
The afternoon found us visiting with Base CE and the Pacific Navy Construction Troop (PNCT).
The PNCT is a small Troop made up of all of the various construction trades. The one problem that they face is that they have a far greater number of apprentices then they have journeyman to supervise them. This leads to some problems in terms of work but it would seem that the unit is managing the problem well and that everyone is getting their OJT done and their QL4 books completed. There were no complaints about delays in career courses because lack of supervision. The only frustration that the Col Cmdt heard from them was our insistence that a tradesman be QL5 (DP2) qualified before they can be deployed. This lends to complications to an already difficult situation with respect to supervision for the apprentices. The apprentices asked why they were not allowed to be deployed. If they could be supervised by a journeyman in Canada, could they not be supervised by a journeyman on deployment?
We then travelled to Comox were we visited with Base Construction Engineers the tradesmen in 191 Construction Engineer Flight (191 CEF) and the Wing Commander.
19 Wing Comox is the first base in Canada to transfer to the Real Property Ops Group under ADM(IE) transformation. Success at 19 Wing will help ensure that we have success across the country as we move forward with transformation and the final operating capability of the Real Ops Property Group.
BCE Comox is responsible for the main base as well as three other local sites and two satellite training sites.
Comox has approximately 238 M worth of projects on the books. The problem it faces is that as budgets get smaller horizon 2 projects are slipping 5-7 years. Several of these projects are critical to directly supporting operations such as the refueling tender garage which is now too small for the new fuel tenders that have been purchased.
The base also finds itself in a predicament with infrastructure. They have a project to revitalize the road and underground services on the base and this means tearing down a barrack block. As luck would have it this is the best barrack block on the base and once it is torn down is will leave the base with one barrack block which is condemned. Losing the barrack block not only impacts those single servicemen who want to live on base but more importantly it impact on operational effectiveness as it restricts the ability for extra crews and personnel to surge onto the base.
As a gapping measure some new single quarters have been built but there is not enough capacity to meet demand, especially at peak surge periods.
Other problems faced by BCE Comox are that any projects over 1.5 M have the same number of checks and balances as a 40 M project. This added process often causes delays to projects. Staffing of vacant positions is also an issue and only recently have they been allowed to try and fill them. They have a problem finding qualified people to fill the vacant jobs and they also have difficulties due to the pay discrepancies between the civilian job market and what DND is able to pay. All of their QL3 positions are filled but like the PNCT they have a problem of not having enough supervisors on the ground.
From Base CE we visited with the Fire Hall. The Col Cmdt and I met with Capt Paradis the Fire Chief and had a chance to talk to the Fire Fighters at the hall. The Fire Hall is a totally up to strength organization and had no major complaints. They have new trucks, new equipment and are well trained. We did discuss Fire Fighter training as it is currently programmed and the length of time that it now takes to become qualified. Most of the fire fighters felt that the time on course could be shortened and more training could be done in the local Fire Halls.
Our last stop in Comox was to 191 Construction Engineer Flight (191 CEF). This is a group of tradesmen who are deployable and bring a tremendous capability to the CAF. They have done a number of local projects around the base and in the community. The most noteworthy project is the construction of the bandstand at Filberg Park. This remarkable timber structure was built for the community and is enjoyed by many in the Comox valley who go to Filberg Park to enjoy outdoor concerts and plays.
191 CEF just completed the construction of a new timber frame structure at Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park during the summer of 2014. They completion consisted in the demolition of the old concrete stage and electrical wiring. After ground preparation, the Flight prepared forms for pouring new concrete. The construction required distribution of new electrical service as well as relocation of the electrical panel. After the footing was completed , 191 CEF tackled the construction of main timber frame structure. Two members from the flight had to take a month course long to be ready for the construction. Timber framing or "post-and-beam" construction are methods of building with heavy timbers rather than dimensional lumber such as 2"x4"s. Essentially, timber frame structure are carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs. With the help of a crane, 191 CEF lifted the heavy timbers and raised the massive 27,000 pounds structure. The construction of a roof as well as the electrical and wiring were the last steps to reach completion of the new timber frame stage.
From Comox we travelled to Vancouver to visit 6 Engineer Squadron of 39 CER. We were met by the OC Capt Piers at the armouries in North Vancouver. We had a great meeting with the leadership of the Sqn and talked about a whole host of issues affecting the reserves.
In respect to training we talked about the length of time that Reserves need to spend on training in order to become qualified. The goal of training Reserves to a Regular Force standard is laudable but unachievable and unrealistic. Again the conversation turned to actually defining what the Reserves are supposed to do and then giving them the trainingrequired allowing them to do it. Defining the mission and competencies will allow courses to be shortened and allow Reserves to be qualified sooner. We also talked about exporting some of the training down to the unit level allowing it to be taught on the Armoury floor again shortening time away from home and delivering the training at a more opportune time. We spoke with one Reservist who had done his recruit training and his basic Fd Engr training in all one summer. Now when a reservist enrols their recruit training is taught at the Bde level on weekends in the fall. This means that the reserve candidate will work almost every weekend between Labour Day and Christmas, a tall order for anyone. Other training concerns were the timing of the DP3 course. It is done in March and this currently makes it almost impossible for the reserves to generate a soldier qualified to be a WO. In essence the Reserves have about 4 to 5 years to get most of their training done. Typically they are students and once they have graduated from school and commence with their civilian careers they have no time left for long military courses or courses that don’t fall into holiday schedules. As a person starts out in a civilian career they are at the bottom of the corporate ladder and do not get a lot of holidays nor do they typically get their choice of time off. Combine this problem with personal aspects like time to raise a family, etc. and it can be very difficult for the Reservist to progress in their military career. It can become so difficult to balance life, work and Reserves that in fact this is the timeframe when the Reserves lose a lot of their trained pers.
As a side note to this at the last Director RCE Conference it was stated by the Comdt of the school that this has been a priority and that they believe they have come up with a workable solution for DP3 for reserves.
In the end we must adjust training because what we are doing now for the reserves is not working. It seems to be universally acknowledged that Reserves cannot be trained to the same standard as Regular Force. It is also recognized that there will be very few reserves on a Roto 0, therefore this will give Reserves time to complete any training delta that they need to complete before they commence pre deployment training prior to deployment.
The other major concern that came out of our discussions is the establishment of Regular Support Staff (RSS). 39 CER is now a regiment of 3 Sqns but they only have 1 RSS Offr and 3 RSS WOs. 1 RSS Offr to support a Regt of three Sqns spread across BC, with each Sqn doing its own training is not realistic or sufficient. Each Sqn should have an Offr and a WO. At one point in time each Sqn did have an Offr and a WO however that has changed somewhere along the line. The units have gotten bigger and the RSS staff posted to them to support their trg has gotten smaller. Although not specifically an Engr problem the Admin support has also seen the same sort of problems. A Sgt Admin Clk is an Orderly Room Supervisor and may be a good OR Supervisor however that Sgt is not a Chief Clerk and does not have the breadth of experience that a CC has.
Note (17 Feb 16): All links to external websites have been removed from this post. Most had become stale and were no longer reachible. Researchers interested in persuing any of these stories might be able to use the links embedded in the attached pdf file to assist.