Top Engineer Officers Speak to Future Leaders at Ex UBIQUE 2017

Colonel Commandant's Opening Remarks
Publication Date 
09 Mar 2017

By 2Lt Imad Sabri

5 CDSB GAGETOWN - The theme of the capstone training activity for Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering (CFSME) this year was “Mission Ready”. Over 150 sappers attended the Exercise UBIQUE 2017 from February 15-16 at 5 CDSB Gagetown. Intended to be a training venue for CEOC 1.2 (Construction Engineering Officer Course), BEOC 1.2 (Basic Engineering Officer Course), CE Superintendent Course and Combat Engineer Troop WO Course, the exercise provided a forum for discussions on current challenges and issues of the Canadian Military Engineers (CME). Command Teams from a number of units and a number of formations delivered presentations on their units, general advice for success as a leader, and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) strategic direction.

Mission: Ready (Day One)

Exercise organiser, Capt Gilbride, and the Senior Instructor of Tactics, Maj Lafave with the Commandant of CFSME, LCol Solomon, launched Ex UBIQUE with the first presentation by the Colonel Commandant, BGen Irwin (Ret’d). He spoke to the newly graduating classes and generated discussion regarding the current situation of the branch. The Col Cmdt emphasized the importance of our Canadian values and having diversity in the CAF, stating “We need everybody represented.” He also advised to the graduating classes “don’t be afraid to do the right thing”. He then spoke about our history and heritage and why it is beneficial to “understand and learn about them”.

MCE Contribution to Operations

LCol Bramma and CWO Simpkin briefed on some of the functions Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE) provide; including the collection, management, processing and dissemination of information. LCol Bramma concluded by explaining the mission of MCE, which she summarised as: “to provide timely and accurate Geospatial Information and Geomatics Support to the CAF, the Department of National Defence, and Other Governmental Departments in accordance with Canada’s national security objectives”.

The Role of 1 ESU in Support of Operations

LCol Baker began his brief with a statement That 1 ESU is “always ready” to provide Specialist engineering support to the CAF and other Government agencies. He and CWO Foster also briefed on some of the many tasks that 1 ESU conducts. He cited examples such as developing and maintaining expertise and best practices for engineer support to northern operations, and the development of new expertise for new energy efficient technology.

A Personal Example of Resilience

Sgt Downey briefed about his personal experience from an injury he sustained and the challenges he faced both during and after recovery. The 3rd of May 2010 was the “Monday that I will never forget” Sgt Downey said. That’s when he confronted a fateful IED. After staying in Germany for two weeks he refused to meet his family on a stretcher. When he arrived in Canada “I wanted to walk when I met my family”. Sgt Downey put special emphasis on his family and the chain of command support when he decided to stay in the CAF. “I am still part of the team” stated the Sgt. Sgt Downey started over, focusing on a healthy diet, physical training and community activities. Sgt Downey’s advice to the new Troop Commanders was to “listen to your member’s needs,” and to all classes “never give up.”

Engineer Support to the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)

WO Winstanley gave some insight to those who may not know about DART or its capabilities and showed the importance of making sure we are ready to deploy at any time. As he was with the DART for the deployment to Nepal after the earthquake in 2015 he provided some of his experiences. WO Winstanley emphasised the importance to “be ready” to deploy at any given time.

The Direction and Role of Construction Engineers

Director of Construction Engineers, Col Horgan, spoke about the RCAF culture, evolving role, opportunities, challenges, infrastructure transformation, the leadership of RCAF Construction Engineers, and Fire Fighters within the Branch. Col Horgan highlighted the benefit of “strong and effective personality” and the “importance of training”. Family plays a big role in the progress of a military member, and for that, the Col’s advice was to “find a balance between your career and your family”.

The Directions and Role of Army Engineers

Director of The Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, Col Basinger, began his presentation with a brief on the Canadian soldiers: well led, well trained and well equipped. Col Basinger highlighted the importance of prioritising effort and know your engineer's capability as a key access to the young generation of leaders. Also, he presented all the current operations the engineers are involved in and a general overview of the current capabilities of RCE. Colonel Basinger briefed on the new equipment that the RCE will receive; Enhanced C-IED Tools, Headquarter Shelter System, High-Risk Search Capability and Advanced Sub-Unit Water Purification.

Mission: Ready (Day Two)

Introduction of Chief Military Engineer

MGen Sirois welcomed the attendees and gave a brief on Mission Ready and how it can develop CAF members to serve effectively, stating it is important to stay “fit to carry your own gear and help your fellow soldier in the field”. He also emphasised the importance of our Canadian values: “you need to live by our Canadian values in and outside Canada”. Respect is a key to success between CAF members, all races, colours, religions and genders as he said, “we need to respect our diversity that makes us strong”. MGen Sirois’s advice to the graduating classes was to “remain open to new ideas at every time in your career and listen to your subordinates”.

Importance of Sr NCO and Officer Relationships

The Branch Advisor, Col Jayne, began his brief with advice to the new Troop Commanders “only you can command”. He stated commanders should understand their soldiers to best achieve the mission. CWO Swift addressed the NCOs stating that “it is our responsibility to make him/her lead”. Colonel Jayne and CWO Swift both put emphasis on leadership and how it is the duty of the command teams to lead every day under every condition.

Mission: Ready

Commander Combat Training Center (CTC), Colonel Aitchison, gave the last presentation on the importance of Mission Ready. Col Aitchison briefly explained the Road to “Mission Ready” and how we have to prepare for “a war” not “the war”. He highlighted the importance of readiness and resilience and how it is going “beyond the mental health continuum” to increase readiness by generating better prepared and more resilient soldiers. Mission ready will be implemented in three phases: phase one – Achieve quick results, phase two – Shift towards performance mentoring and coaching and phase three – Measure performance. All phases enable effective communications. Col Aitchison focused on how we do it by “coaching vs instructing and instructor development”. His key message was: awareness and communication of all programs and services are key. Finally, he encouraged all the attendees to visit the website