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Spotlight on RMCC Military & Academic Staff

Posted by rmcclub on 18th November 2012

College Military Staff: WO Jim Harper, Standards Warrant Officer

25366 Mike Shewfelt recently had the opportunity to put a few questions to WO Jim Harper, the College Standards Warrant Officer, who has become a familiar face around the peninsula.

e-Veritas: What is your background in the CF…? What is your trade…?

WO Harper: I have been interested in aviation since the age of nine. I received my private pilot licence when I was of seventeen thru RCAC and joined the RCAF three years later in 1979. As an Airframe Technician I was posted to CFB Trenton working Line Servicing and Snags on CC137, Boeings 707’s and CC130 Hercules aircraft. I had the opportunity to be on short deployments to such places as Thule Greenland for BOXTOP, Alert, Air to Air re-fuelling missions encompassing North America and northern Europe and of course Mobile Repair Parties.

I was posted to West Germany as a MCpl in 1986 to the position of the Training Coordinator, Flight Safety and General Safety NCM for 5 Air Movements Unit at CFB Lahr (in small units you wear a lot of hats). I returned to Canada in 1990 as the Aircraft Tradesman Advancement Training coordinator at 14 AMS Greenwood, then did the remainder of my tour as the 14 AMS Aircraft Component Shop Sgt for the CP 140. At that time I introduced the first RCAF in service Integral Fuel Cell Repair/Safety course. The course was based on techniques to repair integral fuel cells but more importantly it was the first time a confined space rescue course involving aircraft had been introduced within the RCAF.

In 1994 I was off to Comox to 19 AMS as the Component Shop Sgt supporting the CP140 Aurora, CT133 T-Bird, CH-133 Labrador and CH-115 Buffalo. Here again I was heavily involved in aircraft fuel cell repair and the confined space rescue course was “fined tuned” to the point that the course was certified by BC’s Workman’s Compensation Board. My last tour in Comox was as the Crew Chief WO in 407 MP Sqn with deployments to Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii for RIMPAC’s and Shemya Alaska for Driftnet operations. In 2003 I retired (I call it a sabbatical now) and in the fall of 2008 reenlisted as a Sgt and found myself in Trenton working on the CC130 H model Hercules fleet (back to where it all started). In Trenton I had the opportunity to deploy to Camp Mirage and KAF with CC130 Hercules Tactical Airlift Unit. With a promotion to WO in 2011, my wife Debbie and I packed our bags and came to RMCC.

e-Veritas: You are the Standards Warrant Officer at the College. What does that involve…?

WO Harper: The intent of the position is to insure the Training Plan for RMCC is adhered to. The position is also a Quality Assurance Cell insuring Officer Cadets are on the right track in their training progression. This past summer the big task was the auditing of well over 800 Cadet training files. Any discrepancies within a particular file were then brought to the attention of the College Chief Instructor. With the new Training Plan coming into effect I anticipate the position will evolve and I am expecting new challenges as each phase of the TP is implemented.

The Basic Military Officer Qualification course taught in part at Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean is a mainstay for me as the course has evolved, with 4 weeks of the 15 week course being taught to 1st year OCdts at RMCC. I liaison with my counter parts in St-Jean to insure we meet the training mandate for the portion of the course that we are responsible for here at RMCC. As the Fall Term starts, looming over the horizon the mentoring/training of the new FYOP (First Year Orientation Period) Cadet Staff becomes extremely important for our section. With assistance from the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean our FYOP Cadet Staff are familiarized and mentored in the subtleties of how to professionally execute their duties as “Staff” within the FYOP program. I must comment here that the 2012 Cadet Wing FYOP Staff under the direction of 25781 OCdt (IV) Ryan Courtney and his 2IC 25766 OCdt (IV) Rob Coho carried out an exceptional job and deserve a Bravo Zulu for their hard work and dedication.

e-Veritas: What expectations did you have on coming to the College…? How have those expectations compared with reality…?

WO Harper: My first thought when I found out we were being posted to RMCC was that I was going to a training establishment expecting it would be a Monday to Friday affair. I was looking forward to the change as I have been a shift worker for most of my career. Shortly after finding out Debbie and I were on our way to Kingston I made a few phone calls to the WO’s & PO’s at the College and soon found out the Monday to Friday job scenario was a figment of my imagination and be prepared for anything and on short notice! “OK” I said, “I can handle that”.

RMCC is the most distinctive training establishment within the Canadian Forces and you cannot appreciate the uniqueness until you have completed what I would phrase as a “full cycle”. The cycle can start anytime throughout the calendar year, but you have to be here on the ground for the entire 365 days to appreciate all the moving parts within RMCC. With that being said the most important aspect of my position is to look over the horizon and anticipate what is coming next and be prepared.

e-Veritas: In your role, do you interact much with the Cadets…? If so, in what circumstances…?

WO Harper: I’m very pleased to answer yes and saying that, I strive as much as I possibly can to assist anyone. When I first arrived to RMCC it was difficult to judge where in the big picture my position stood. Gradually I started meeting Cadets and with having a Cadet Wing Standards Officer who I work “with” I started to get a glimpse of what life was like within the Cadet Wing. More important was learning the role Cadets play within their unit.

After Action Reports are an important tool we have in the section to gauge how Cadets as decision-makers are reacting to situational awareness and their reactions to operational tempos when so tasked. One of my responsibilities is to facilitate Cadet Wing AAR’s after major operations such as FYOP. The first time I carried out an AAR last fall I did it totally wrong. After that AAR I realized when I looked at the data that most of the comments on the report looked as though I had written it. Looking back at the meeting I realized I was not getting much in the way of participation from the group; the AAR was not a true picture from the Cadets. Since then any AAR’s that I’m involved with, it’s the Cadets’ show and I take on the facilitator role, be it 1st to 4th year Cadets I’m with.

e-Veritas: What do you appreciate about working with the Cadets…?

WO Harper: The Cadets I deal with, be they Cadet Wing HQ, the 4 Divisions, Otter Squadron or Holding Platoon personnel, are all highly motivated individuals. It’s not an easy task to be an Officer Cadet at RMCC and it requires a steadfastness to accomplish all that is asked of them. Some individuals discover that the RMCC environment is not the path for them and that’s fine. Most of these individuals still desire a career in the Canadian Forces and the NCM professions are the paths they choose and I congratulate them on their determination to succeed.

e-Veritas: Any advice that you would have for the Cadets…?

WO Harper: Stay focused, I know sometimes all that is going on around you can become a blur;

Keep working as team, individualism in a group is the best way to fail;

Communicate your intent in person; a team works best when all are involved at the same time;

Seek ways to increase effectiveness and efficiency in your Div or Sqn but don’t reinvent the wheel, if doesn’t need fixing, don’t fix it and lastly;

As a leader “Responsibility” is the obligation to act; “Accountability” is the obligation to answer for the action.


College Academic Staff: Dr. Chantel Lavoie, Assistant Professor, College English Department

25366 Mike Shewfelt also had the chance to sit down with Dr. Chantel Lavoie, an 18th century literature specialist in the College English Department.

e-Veritas: Why did you decide to teach at the College…?

Dr. Lavoie: I taught several years in sessional (part-time) positions at the University of Toronto prior to coming to RMC. I was excited to encounter the advertisement from the English Department at RMC in the fall of 2009 for a specialist in 18th century literature, for which I applied and was hired in 2010. I had also always liked Kingston, and indeed find it a wonderful place to raise a family.

e-Veritas: What was your academic background before coming to RMCC…?

Dr. Lavoie: Although I grew up in Saskatchewan, I received both my BA and my MA at the University of Ottawa, and then did my PhD at the University of Toronto. While holding a postdoctoral position through the University of Alberta, I wrote my academic book, “Collecting Women: Poetry and Lives, 1700-1780.” This postdoc was made possible by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

e-Veritas:What are the highlights of your time at the College, both the good and the bad…?

Dr. Lavoie: The fatigue I witness in my students is startling here, and I don’t know if I will ever get used to that…. nor should I. Most of all I find it frustrating when students don’t have the time to accomplish what they otherwise could in the academic part of their lives here, but I understand it’s a very difficult balancing act.

There, I started with the bad, but there is so much good. I like this peninsula and my drive over the water to get to it. I like seeing so much exercise all around. I like the things I learn from the Cadets, both about life in the military and about them as individuals. You are really interesting, and have made a choice for which I have a great deal of admiration. Speaking of admiration, my colleagues at the English department are such fantastic people that I feel blessed every day to be working alongside them.

This past spring I published a book of verse titled “Where the Terror Lies.” One of the poems therein inspired by teaching at RMCC was this:


Arms and the boys I cannot help but sing

Of sticks, sabres of light and fists as well.

And though each one of these does terror bring

To mothers’ hearts, I understand their spell.

In answer to my “Love, that’s dangerous”

My son replied, at two, “Mommy, I know.”

My son was two. My eyes were opened thus.

We reap; we reap not only what we sow.

Now there are two of them and when they shove

Exultant cries announce new cries of pain.

Their love as deep as brothers yet did love,

Yet hate runs through it time and time again.

I find no answer to this paradox.

Each step I take with nurture, nature mocks.

e-Veritas: What do you like about working with the Cadets…?

Dr. Lavoie: I love the challenging range of perspectives I encounter among the Cadets about the world, and how different their geographical backgrounds are. The UTPNCM students, with their vast life experience, also bring something special to the alchemy of the place.

e-Veritas: What advice would you have for the Cadets…?

Dr. Lavoie: You get so much advice already, especially about time management. Everything I might say sounds like a platitude, but I will risk it by saying that you blink and you’ve missed it. Of all the things you are trying to do, try to enjoy this time. You will never be this age again, nor have quite these opportunities to think about and discuss ideas, ideals, and ideologies. University should be, I think, something like a long run: Yes, it’s good for you and much of it is enjoyable, but much is also uncomfortable and hard. If you weren’t the kind of person who welcomes challenge, would you be here?

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19706 LCol Patrick Lemyre, RMCC Director of Cadets / 19706 Le Lieutenant-colonel Patrick Lemyre, Directeur des éleves-officiers au CMRC

Posted by rmcclub on 12th November 2012

Now that incoming Director of Cadets 19706 LCol Patrick Lemyre has been in the job long enough for his busy transition period to have abated somewhat, he found time to answer a few questions with 25366 Mike Shewfelt. 

e-Veritas: What is your background in the CF…? How do you think your background has prepared you for the role of Director of Cadets…?

19706 LCol Patrick Lemyre: Since graduation from RMC St-Jean in 1995, I have spent most of my career as an Armoured Officer with the 12e Régiment Blindé du Canada, Valcartier, QC. At the Regiment, I started as a Troop leader and I assumed numerous other Junior Officer positions before deploying in 1999 to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Still as a young Officer, I also served at the Armour School in Gagetown, NB, as an Armoured tactics and gunnery instructor. Thinking back about that period, I realize that time simply flew by. I had so many things to learn as a Junior Officer (because the learning never stops!), and the Regiment was very busy during that period as it deployed numerous times on training exercises, domestic operations like a sovereignty op in the arctic, and Op VERGLAS in response to a major ice storm. Luckily as a young Officer, I had many good Officer mentors, but most importantly, my troop Warrant Officers were of an excellent caliber. They taught me the most important lesson; that I must always respect my subordinates, and pay attention to what they have to say.

Later in 2005, I also deployed to Egypt on Operation CALUMET, with the Multinational Forces and Observers (MFO), as the Senior Staff Officer Training for all the deployed forces. In 2006, I deployed to Syria on Operation GLADIUS, with the United Nations Disengagement and Observer Force (UNDOF). On those two deployments, both with international contigents, I came to another realization; soldiers are soldiers (but Canadian ones are better!), regardless of their nationality. They all expect the same things from their officers; respect and a good example to be inspired and follow. I took command of “Bravo” Squadron (Armoured Recce) at the 12eRBC in 2006, and of the Regiment’s Headquarters Squadron in 2007 while I concurrently assumed the duties of the Regimental Deputy Commanding Officer. This period at the Regiment was very different from when I first arrived in Valcartier as a young 2Lt. Being a Major at that time, I had to put myself into the boots of soldiers and young officers who had just returned from or were about to deploy to Afghanistan. Many of our 4th years will have to face that same reality when they will join their CF Units as young commissioned Officers. They will have to be able to listen to their subordinates’ needs and respect their experience.

In 2008, I was posted to Canada Command and subsequently to CEFCOM, Ottawa, where I coordinated domestic operations and the deployment of Canadian troops to numerous overseas missions as a Staff Officer. Although I enjoyed learning how to plan complex operations during this time as a Staff Officer, I realized that I was missing the contact with subordinates; when I graduated from RMC St-Jean, I wanted to be an Officer and command troops. Becoming the Director of Cadets was a golden opportunity for me to experience command again, but also to do it in an institution that I respect for many reasons, an important one being that it allowed me, to this point, to serve Canadians while pursuing such an exciting and gratifying career. So, to answer your question, I will say that the many contacts and experiences that I had with my troops have definitely prepared me well for this job.

e-Veritas: Quelle a été votre expérience comme un élève-officier…?

19706 LCol Patrick Lemyre: J’ai commencé ma carrière en tant qu’Élof au CMR St-Jean en 1990, suivant les traces de ma soeur qui graduait à ce moment de RMC. Les 5 années passées au Collège sont dans mes meilleures à ce jour. Les amitiés et la camaraderie, l’esprit de corps, le sentiment que je faisais maintenant parti d’une équipe, sont toutes des raisons qui ont simplement rendues l’expérience encore plus valable et mémorable. Porter les couleurs du CMR à chaque entraînement ou partie à travers ma participation dans les équipes représentatives de football et de hockey du CMR ont également renforcé ma fierté envers le Collège.

C’est la même chose pour les Élofs d’aujourd’hui; qu’ils soient membre d’équipes sportives, des Bands de musique, des Clubs, ou de toutes autres activités qui leur permettent de représenter RMC, ces opportunités resteront certainement leurs meilleurs souvenirs. En toute honnêteté, j’étais un étudiant très moyen sur le plan académique. C’était probablement parce que j’étais impliqué dans les sports, et un peu trop dans la vie sociale du CMR… Ce qui est certain, c’est que j’étais fier à la fin de chaque année de progresser un peu plus vers mon but de devenir un officier des FC, et que j’ai appris très tôt qu’il est important de garder une vie balancée.

e-Veritas: What were your expectations upon coming to the College as Director of Cadets (DCdts)…? How have those expectations compared to the reality of the last few months…? 

19706 LCol Patrick Lemyre: I certainly knew that the DCdts’ position was going to be busy; but I never expected ‘’that’’ level of busy… There is always something happening at RMC, the operational tempo never seems to slow down, and Officer Cadets (OCdts) always find ways to surprise me. The only way to understand that is to live in the same daily routine as the OCdts; one quickly realizes that what they accomplish on a daily basis is no easy feat. The four pillars are tough to tackle, especially if taking additional leadership roles, or studying in a demanding program, like many OCdts do.

In regards to my expectations versus my experience for the last few months, although it was very demanding and challenging, I enjoyed every minute of it simply because of the contacts I had with the OCdts on a daily basis; every time I hope I was able to encourage them to do better, not to let that chance slip of experiencing a rewarding career, or to just provide them with the example that they deserve.

e-Veritas: Qu’avez-vous apprécié de votre travail avec les élève-officiers…?

19706 LCol Patrick Lemyre: Leur énergie et leur désir d’apprendre. Ces deux qualités sont présentes chez les Élofs à un niveau difficile à trouver dans d’autres organisations. On a qu’à penser au FYOP et à l’effort requis par les premières années et leurs staffs; les recrues doivent posséder un fort désir d’apprendre pour passer à travers une telle épreuve, et les instructeurs doivent puiser dans toutes leurs ressources afin d’accomplir la tâche si difficile d’entraîner les nouveaux membres de l’Escadre. Je crois que le niveau d’énergie ressenti lors de la course à obstacles de cette année est un excellent indicateur de l’excellent travail qui avait été accompli par tous pour se rendre jusqu’à ce point, et aussi un autre exemple qui démontre que la vie à RMC est spéciale. La recrudescence des Skylarks bien faits, et plus récemment, le Gangnam RMC-style, sont d’autres bons exemples que la vie au Collège, bien qu’elle soit exigeante, peut aussi être amusante.

Pour ce qui est du désir d’apprendre, j’ai pu le voir à chaque fois que j’ai parlé à des Élofs sur leurs entraînements d’été, à des premières années pendant le FYOP, à des membres du Band ou d’équipes représentatives, ou simplement accompagné des Élofs lors de leurs entraînements matinaux.

Par leurs questions sur ‘’comment c’était dans mon temps?’’ ou sur “comment ça se passe une fois rendu au Régiment?”, je me motive toujours plus à les aider dans leur développement en tant que jeunes officiers en leur racontant mes “histoires de guerre”. J’espère seulement qu’ils profiteront au maximum des opportunités que je leur présente régulièment de discuter, de ma porte qui est toujours ouverte.

e-Veritas: What advice, if any, would you give the Cadets…?

19706 LCol Patrick Lemyre: Step up to the plate, and don’t be that grey man. There are many opportunities to get involved at RMC and to develop your Officers’ skills; whether it is through Clubs, Varsity, music, Intramurals, PAG, bar positions, military duties and training, or your participation in class, just to name a few, the College has something to offer to everyone that wants to take advantage of their RMC experience. It is by getting involved that I developed pride in my College, that I made it my own; I certainly hope that the RMC OCdts will also get involved, take ownership, and be proud of their first Unit. To that effect, I believe that an important change is already happening within the Cadet Wing; you are gradually taking charge, accepting more responsibilities for your Unit. The ball is rolling, with your efforts, let’s keep it going!

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Spotlight on College Military Staff: CPO1 Keith Davidson, RMCC Chief Warrant Officer

Posted by rmcclub on 4th November 2012

25366 Mike Shewfelt recently had the chance to sit down with CPO1 Keith Davidson, the incoming College Chief Warrant Officer (CCWO), and get his take on his transition onto the peninsula.

e-Veritas: What expectations did you have on coming to the College…?

CPO1 Keith Davidson: Immediately upon receiving my posting to the College, I was congratulated on having been selected for such a prestigious position. As I had no prior experience with RMCC and I hadn’t discussed it with other NCMs that had served here, I saw it as a training/education establishment not unlike any other school in the CF and I could not fully appreciate the congratulations bestowed upon me. Based on this, I had expectations that were no different than I had for any other of my assigned tasks and I therefore expected to contribute in the following manner:

1. I expected that I would have a significant responsibility in assuring that all RMCC staff, faculty, and students worked in a safe and respectful work place.

2. I expected that I would have a responsibility to ensure that upon completion of their education and training at the College, Cadets would leave with a comprehensive understanding of the capabilities and perspective of the CF NCM corps.

3. I expected that I would have a responsibility to the Cadet Wing for ensuring that the training and education they receive is of the highest standard and is relevant and comparable worldwide as RMCC is considered a centre of excellence for creating officers, well-educated.

4. I expected that my role as RMCC CWO was to ensure that the Commander’s intent was realized to the furthest extent possible while at the same time ensuring that the voice of the institution was heard when Commander’s intent may exceed the organization’s ability to deliver.

5. Lastly, I expected to continue to foster and respect the relationships that exist between the College and the RMCC Club, Foundation, the Old Brigade, CFB Kingston, and the City of Kingston.

e-Veritas: How have those expectations compared with reality…?

CPO1 Keith Davidson: I was not prepared for the layers of oversight by government, ex-Cadet organizations and interested Canadian citizens that exists here at RMCC. I am reminded daily that the College is under the microscope and that all facets of life here must pass significant scrutiny which far exceeds that of any other CF unit where I have been employed.

e-Veritas: What are you looking forward to about working with the Cadets…?

CPO1 Keith Davidson: The Military, Academic and Athletic wings of the College are comprised of highly capable staff and faculty and together they produce effective officers, well educated and they require very little input from the CCWO. As such, I found it difficult to comprehend how I would directly contribute or work with Cadets, as CF operational and strategic positions normally require indirect leadership capabilities in the fulfillment of the position.

As each day passes and I continue to develop my purpose in this place I have found that above all, I look forward to working with Cadets in areas that are not necessarily related to the training, education, dress, deportment and discipline requirements associated with life at the College. I offer the following analogy to describe what it is I look forward to when working with Cadets. Despite a fathers desire to assist his young adult children in making life’s roads a little less bumpy, our tool boxes, when opened, seem sparse of the tools required to see a fathers advice through to fruition. However, I feel my tool box as the RMCC CWO is adequately supplied with the appropriate tools to help Cadets through life’s bumpy roads, simply by virtue of my position, and if I can help just one overcome life’s challenges, then this is worth looking forward to each day.

e-Veritas: What advice would you have for the Cadets…?

CPO1 Keith Davidson: Speak plainly; your allegiance as a CF member shall always be to your country. Work hard, play harder. Never accept “I can’t”. The only perfectly reasonable response to the challenges that lay before you is “I can,” “I will” or “I will try”.

e-Veritas: What is there in your background within the CF that makes you suitable for the role of College Chief Warrant Officer…?

CPO1 Keith Davidson: I have been exposed to many facets of life in the CF, and for that reason I cannot put my finger on any one particular experience that would make me more suitable. The issues at the College are so incredibly varied that I believe it is the accumulation of experiences that I have gained over my career that is most likely responsible for some level of suitability. The CF Senior appointment and Key Position succession management and selection process, although in its infancy, addresses this issue and considers many factors in a members career to determine if the candidate is suitable or not, breath of experience being one of them.

e-Veritas: How do you see yourself fitting into a leadership role when so many layers of leadership already exist within the College…? For example, do you see yourself as the eyes/ears of the Commandant…?

CPO1 Keith Davidson: I don’t share the idea that many layers of leadership already exist with in the College Military Wing. On the contrary, I believe that the College is significantly undermanned and as such its military hierarchy is thin at best with a span of control that generally far exceeds that of any other CF unit I have experienced. Not withstanding the QR&O definition of command, I see my leadership role as a shared command leadership responsibility with the Commandant and I have no problem filling that role. One of my main responsibilities is to be the eyes and ears of the Commandant and to ensure that his intent is executed as commanded. With this said, the command team is conscience at all times of the effects the decisions will have on faculty, staff and students at RMCC and this, when possible, plays a significant role in shaping our decisions.

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Spotlight on Professors: Maj Andy Belyea, RMCC English Department

Posted by rmcclub on 29th October 2012

25366 Mike Shewfelt finally caught up with M737 Maj Andy Belyea this past week. A professor in the College English Department, Maj Belyea took the time to answer a few questions now that his Fall schedule has slowed down somewhat. 

e-Veritas: What were your expectations were upon coming to the College?

Maj Andy Belyea: I did my BA here between 1993-97 as a UTPNCM, so coming back in 2004 to start teaching as MILFAC was both strange and exciting. It was strange in that I found myself part of a faculty who had taught me just a few years earlier, and here I was poised to experience RMCC from the “other side of the fence,” so to speak. It was exciting because I would now be able to contribute to an institution within the broader CF family that I believe offers one of the most significant learning opportunities for young people in Canada, as well as teaching opportunities for faculty.

I know that sounds like propaganda, and in a sense I confess it is. But it’s well-informed: the small class sizes don’t just benefit students, for instance, but they benefit faculty too. We get to know our students and, whether or not we even stop to consciously think about it, by default that means we’re providing a more personalized, tailored learning experience. To me, that’s perfectly Socratic, as it stimulates more critical thinking. Moreover, “learning” here cross-pollenates: the self-discipline that students learn in the military training domain invariably spills over into their academic studies; ditto for the mental flexibility that is demanded, and developed, in learning a second language. For me, the whole learning atmosphere of RMCC is so much more comprehensive, organic, and complete than many other universities. This, of course, is in large part due to commitment on all sides: focused students who pull endless rabbits out of hats in terms of their ability to balance demands; faculty who go the extra mile; staff who contribute to creating the conditions for success in all aspects of College life. I felt this here as a student, and I most certainly knew I could expect it in returning in 2004.

e-Veritas: What have the highlights been during your time at the College (both the good and the bad)?

Maj Andy Belyea: The highs of RMCC for me always involve the students, first and foremost. Every year, I feel privileged to watch Fourth Year Cadets very well-educated enter their new careers as leaders in the profession of arms. I also get to watch wide-eyed First Years navigate the shock and awe that this place imposes on them, and not only survive but thrive. Additionally, wherever I’ve worked in my 28 years in the CF—Cold Lake, Greenwood, or Afghanistan, to name a few–people have always made the difference, and so my civilian and military colleagues here are also the source of endless highs. I can’t imagine professing anywhere else, because the commitment to excellence here is simply unparalleled.

The lows I’ve seen are probably pretty familiar to students, faculty, and staff alike. For instance, a new change in military leadership every two years comes with at least a short-term sense of instability. Constant budgetary constraint means we’re never quite confident that the programs–and the people who provide them–offered today will be available tomorrow. And hey: the wind off the Point in winter, the lack of a Timmy’s on campus, and marking that first batch of essays of the year are also pretty painful at times.

e-Veritas: What do you enjoy about working with Cadets? 

Maj Andy Belyea: In short: that they’re calculated risk-takers with a commitment not only to Canada or the CF but to themselves. Students don’t come here “just” to learn, “just” to become officers, “just” to leave the nest, or “just” to try something new. Those may all be valid reasons for joining, and I’m sure there are several more, but underneath all that is that is that they have rolled the dice a bit, because they suspect that embarking on the journey that is RMC and the CF has the potential to lead them to grow in inconceivable ways. I get to watch that growth—with its peaks and valleys–unfold over the course of four years, and I always, always hope that I’m contributing to it positively every time I engage with them. It goes without saying—but I will anyway—that as an academic and a leader, I continue to learn as much as I teach, and that’s something I cherish about working with Cadets.

e-Veritas: Do you have any advice for Cadets?

Maj Andy Belyea: I’ll answer this with a pitch for my program, because I feel many people in the CF, RMCC alumni or not, actually have little clue what we do in English (or French) literature. So my advice is don’t ever underestimate the value of what you learn in studying literature, consider taking a few courses beyond the mandatory ones while you’re here, and spread the word about their value after you leave this place. There persists in Western society at large, and certainly within the CF—trust me, I’ve answered the question endlessly for 20 years now since having started my B.A.—that studying literature involves sitting around emoting over Wordsworthian poetry, debating the merits of long-dead authors, and lamenting comma splices. It’s just not that simple.

In studying literature, we’re studying culture and people, and doing it in ways that matter to the CF. The study of literature today is richly theoretical and most certainly not just aesthetic but functional: it provides a lens through which we learn about, and can thus anticipate, common human motivations, desires, disappointments, and expectations. Studying literature is studying culture, and as such it creates a critical perspective that informs every overseas CF mission we have. Nowhere did this become more evident for me than during two tours in Afghanistan, where my academic background proved pivotal in outside-the-box thinking, thinking that enabled us to accomplish some pretty unique non-kinetic (non-violent) influence and persuasion objectives. So, again, my advice would be: keep an open mind and don’t assume.

e-Veritas: I understand you recently returned from Afghanistan. Talk about that, and how it has affected you as a teacher.

Maj Andy Belyea: I’ve done two tours—a ten-month tour in 09-10 and a second last year that was unfortunately cut short by illness—that both involved dealing directly with multinational forces, a wide array of civilian actors, and Afghans from all walks of life. My job in both tours generally involved what goes by the name of “non-kinetic influence activities,” activities that don’t rely on bullets or bombs (although both are necessary and effective and have a place in counterinsurgency warfare) but on words and ideas to persuade. Even though I had no formal CF training in influence, I, and of course the teams I worked with, were able to accomplish some meaningful work because of my background. I had no expertise in Afghanistan specifically, but I am something of an expert in being able to assess quickly and through numerous lenses the cultural, historical, and ethnographic (systems of meaning in people’s lives) nuances that motivate people to think and behave the way they do. People don’t just tell stories: we are stories. 

In Kandahar, this translated into my “reading” the human and cultural terrain better than most of my peers. My background allowed me to identify and articulate fundamental differences in perspective between our literate, fast-paced Western culture, bound to technology as it is, and an Afghan one defined by its powerful oral storytelling, mythological, religious, and largely agrarian traditions, where time and space are perceived in radically different terms. This was useful, for instance, both for enhancing communication with Afghans and for providing more robust cultural awareness training to our own troops. My background in literature likewise enabled me to deconstruct the unique fusion of Islamic religion and Pashtunwali cultural traditions that defines southern Afghanistan; this was useful for conducting more accurate information operations and for better countering insurgent propaganda. It also allowed me to understand the nature of the hold that the Taliban ideology has on the Afghan people, because we constantly study ideology—and what generates, sustains, and challenges it–in studying literature.

In Kabul, the level of my literacy and writing skills alone made me a unique asset. As part of a small multinational team that served as an interface among senior political figures in the Ministry of the Interior, ISAF, and the international diplomatic and development communities, my sheer ability to speak and write well translated into a clearer, more focused effort from all parties. Getting your arguments and ideas across clearly, succinctly and, most of all, with logical and rhetorical persuasion is paramount when working in a high-tempo environment characterized by competing and often divergent interests. It’s the bread and butter of English (and French) Lit, and yet another reason I was able to meaningfully contribute overseas.

My Afghan experiences as a whole transformed me, as surely as they transform every individual soldier or civilian who goes to war, in whatever capacity. As a uniformed professor, I am now able to bridge the worlds of the military and academia in new and important ways: I can add real-life context to thematic literary discussions of leadership, duty, cross-cultural exposure, or even the power of oral vs. written forms of persuasion. I can better foreground the importance of being exposed, even if imaginatively through a play or poem, a novel or short story, to linguistic, cultural, and geographic Others; doing so, after all, develops tangible military skill sets like anticipation, empathy, and strategizing. All are crucial for trying to quickly adapt to conflict in a strange and foreign land and for understanding not only insurgents or “enemies” but, in the case of Afghanistan, those who overtly or covertly, consciously or unconsciously, support them.

These are among the most valuable lessons for me coming out of Afghanistan and back into the classroom. I have always argued that the CF needs more scholars in literature, not less, because of the tangible assets our discipline develops, and Afghanistan was a way for me to put my own argument to the test. I’m pretty happy with the test results, even if the overall score of the mission might sometimes seem doubtful. Here, back in the classroom, blending real-life experience with the plethora of theoretical approaches to literature that we take in my discipline has certainly enriched me as an officer and a scholar; my hope is that it enriches RMCC as an institution a little bit, and the learning experience of my students even more.

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Focus on Training Wing Staff: MWO Wallace Rideout, Training Wing Sergeant Major

Posted by rmcclub on 21st October 2012

Now that the busyness of FYOP, the First Year Orientation Period, is past, 25366 Mike Shewfelt was able to sit down with MWO Wallace Rideout, the College’s new Training Wing Sergeant Major (TWSM). 

e-Veritas: What are your expectations upon being posted to the College…?

MWO Wallace Rideout: My expectations of this posting to RMCC are somewhat high. I am looking forward to coming back to a training intuition after spending the past two years working in a cubicle in Ottawa with the Close Combat Vehicle Project. With my past experience of training young officers at the Infantry school, I believe that each and every one of the NCM’s a young officer comes in contact with during his or her early development is very important.

e-Veritas: What are you looking forward to about working with the Cadets…?

MWO Wallace Rideout: I look forward to working with the Officer Cadets at RMCC and I expect nothing but professionalism and respect from them for the NCM’s assisting with the training provided. I would also like to see the Cadets respect each other.

e-Veritas: What advice would you give the Cadets…?

MWO Wallace Rideout: My advice for the young ladies and gentlemen willing to take the challenge to succeed and embark on their professional careers through RMCC is to work hard and pace themselves. It’s easy to take things too lightly and also overdue things which could have negative results either way. Cadets should and must seek advice from the chain of command and even from their family and friends because it’s difficult always trying to figure things out on your own. I see the role of the NCM’s and myself providing advice to Cadets on the relationship between Officers and NCM’s.

e-Veritas: What goals do you have for the position you are now in…?

MWO Wallace Rideout: My immediate goals for the position of TWSM are very simple. I want to learn the culture here at RMCC as quickly as I possible. I would like to be an important part of the Training Wing and I hope to influence the staff and the Cadets alike. I enjoy getting to know the young Cadets and admiring how talented they are. I am very impressed with them to this point.

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Focus On Training Wing Staff: Maj Robert Parent, RMCC Chief Instructor

Posted by rmcclub on 14th October 2012

After this past Wednesday’s Awards Parade, 25366 Mike Shewfelt had the chance to sit down with Maj Robert Parent, College Chief Instructor and the officer behind this year’s First Year Orientation Period (FYOP).

e-Veritas: There have been a number of positive changes in the First Year Orientation Period (FYOP) this year. Can you talk about how those changes came to be, and what specific improvements to FYOP were intended for this year over previous years…?

Maj Robert Parent: I think the first thing that must be absolutely made clear is that the success of FYOP this year is due to the growing professionalism and maturity of the FYOP Cadet staff and the overall senior Cadet Wing leadership. It has always been clear to me that RMCC is too big and too complicated an organization for any one individual (or officer) or even group of individuals (Training Wing) to effectively shape, align and influence without the complete buy in (or at least the critical mass / tipping point) of the Cadets themselves. I think this year’s FYOP has demonstrated this over the past 10+ weeks.

e-Veritas: Were there any “incidents” during this year’s FYOP…?

Maj Robert Parent: It wasn’t without incident but it was clear that the FYOP leadership were now seeing their collective leadership role in the context of the broader Canadian Forces mandate and governed by the professional precepts of the Canadian Forces. I think a clear indication of this was the response of the FYOP staff to some feedback the Commandant and Director of Cadets had received on some FYOP “legacy activities” which had taken place. I believe it was a testimony as to how far we as a military unit had come when the FYOP Cadets demonstrated both the integrity and trust in the Training Wing to come forward and self correct the situation.

e-Veritas: Obviously this result didn’t happen overnight.

Maj Robert Parent: The process of gaining that level of trust and buy in from Cadets has taken place over four years and has included engaging the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School (CFLRS) to provide basic instruction and training with our FYOP leadership actually being deployed to St Jean for instruction over the past two years. It was my intent and desire from the beginning to “professionalize” FYOP and create a strong and disciplined leadership cadre focused on delivering a well defined course of instruction which combined the best of both worlds; a synergy of the physically demanding and rigorous RMCC FYOP environment with the professionalism and discipline of the CF Regular Force unit (in my case the Battle School and Infantry Battalion).

e-Veritas: What were the challenges you faced in trying to “professionalize” FYOP…?

Read Much More…

Read the rest of this entry »

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Focus on Training Wing Staff: 18799 Capt Fiona Haines, 9 Sqn Comd

Posted by rmcclub on 8th October 2012

25366 Mike Shewfelt recently had a chance to sit down with 18799 Capt Fiona Haines, the new commander of 9 Sqn.

e-Veritas: What expectations did you have with respect to coming to the College…?

18799 Fiona Haines: In coming to RMCC, I had the expectation that I would need to “earn my way in” with the Training Wing, but mainly with the Cadets themselves. Respect for a person is not something you can command; you have to earn it. This takes time. I knew that some cadets in 9 Sqn had worked with 5 different Squadron Commanders in their 4 years here and that their “guard was up”. In addition, I expected to be challenged to my very core of who I was ethically, and that has certainly proved to be true. I needed to be prepared to be the example, not dictate what the example should look like.

e-Veritas: What do you most enjoy about working with the Cadets?

18799 Fiona Haines: Every day, I am amazed. Admittedly, sometimes I am amazed at the degree in which events can unfold and the variations of the events! However, I am mainly amazed by how capable and superb the Cadet Wing really is. Their energy, if harnessed, could power a large city! Moreover, the Cadets really value what you have to say, the experience you bring to the table and the mentorship you offer. In return, all they ask is that you take an interest in them and listen.

e-Veritas: Any advice that you would have for the Cadets?

18799 Fiona Haines: My advice to the Cadets would be to remain humble and treat all people as you wish to be treated. You can never go wrong with this principle. You are going to see all types of leadership styles while a Cadet at RMCC, both at the College and while on summer training. Some styles you will not like and some you will want to emulate. Instead of complaining about the forms of leadership you least prefer, you need to rise up and shadow the leadership style you respect most. Also, enjoy this invaluable experience. Don’t get bogged down by dwelling on the mistakes you have made in the past or things that you perceive as “unjust”. This is part of why you are here…to learn and grow, so that you are ready to be the ethically sound and resilient officers in the Canadian Forces. If you never fall on your face, you will never know how to get back up. Therefore, experiencing mistakes and set-backs is part of your RMCC experience.

e-Veritas: Any goals that you have for the position you are now in?

18799 Fiona Haines: I have many goals while at RMCC as the 9 Squadron Commander. One of my main goals is to ensure that the Cadets know that I take an invested interest in their life, not just with respect to the 4 Pillars but also in relation to “who they are” and “what they are about”. I requested to be posted to RMCC with the intent of paying forward what was gifted to me by the leadership I benefitted from while I was a cadet at RMC and RRMC. Also, my continuous goal is to be an effective mentor. I expect that things are not going to go perfectly 100% of the time. Again, this is all a part of learning and growing so that the Cadets feel prepared and are ready to graduate. When you care about and invest in people, they know it and they strive for excellence. Attempting to make a personal contribution to the future graduates of RMCC and to assist in producing solid, well-rounded officers that we can all be proud of….What better goal is there?

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Spotlight on Professors: Dr. Sean Maloney, War Studies Department

Posted by rmcclub on 16th September 2012

25366 Mike Shewfelt recently had the opportunity to have a brief chat with Dr. Sean Maloney, a history professor at RMC who is now the historical advisor to the Canadian Army for the war in Afghanistan. 

e-Veritas: How did you come into the position of historical advisor to the Canadian Army…?

Dr. Sean Maloney: After my first trips to Kandahar and Kabul in 2003 I assisted the Land Staff while they were planning Operation ATHENA, which was the Army commitment to the International Security Assistance Force. At that time ISAF consisted of a single multi-national brigade based in Kabul. Having also been briefed by the Americans on their early Provincial Reconstruction Team concepts, I was asked to take a look at how the German PRT in Konduz worked while we were planning on taking on the Kandahar PRT. So from 2004 to 2005 I looked at stabilization operations in Afghanistan from the PRT standpoint and got to know people in Kandahar, including some of the power-brokers.

There were indicators in late 2005 that the situation was going to deteriorate in southern Afghanistan, so I went back in the summer of 2006 while the first battles were being fought. Chief of the Land Staff LGen Andy Leslie asked that I be assigned from RMC to be his historical advisor. One of my tasks is to write a history of what the Canadian Army did in Afghanistan from 2001-2011. (Note that the Directorate of History and Heritage jealously guards the use of the term “official”, so this is an Army history of the war, not DHH’s “official” history).

e-Veritas: You have been to Afghanistan 10 times, and you are the first historian to be under fire since Korea. Talk about that.

Dr. Sean Maloney: There have been numerous occasions over there and I’ve started to lose track of them. My G-Wagon was hit by a suicide bomber driving a Mercedes; another time the LAV III in front of me hit a pressure plate IED; somebody tried to shoot me in downtown Kandahar; the CH-47 helicopter that dropped me off at a forward operating base was shot down minutes after; I ingested contaminated water…

A deliberate engagement was something else. It is one thing to read about battle and another to be in the middle of one. In one of my books, “Fighting for Afghanistan,” I detail my part in Operation ZAHAR, which was the first Canadian mechanized infantry battalion battle in decades, certainly more like a Second World War action than Cyprus in 1974 or Medak Pocket in 1993. I found that I had a combined sense of heightened apprehension, hyperalertness, and excitement which was tempered with the realization that living, breathing, loving human beings were being turned into human meat by our 25mm cannons before they could fire RPGs and machine guns and turn us into fried meat. It was slowly, slowly doused with fatigue and the realization that, shit, I could get killed and it’s all over. Done. I just focused on my job, which was to record what was happening while PKM bullets were going supersonic over our heads.

The other aspect of being in battle was that there was an element of spectacle, it was like watching a painting being painted, or sculpture being sculpted. It was art while it was in progress. I’d observed all of the planning, seen the intelligence, knew what the commander’s intent was, and then I got to see it played out in real time and experience the conditions, including the so-called ‘fog of war.’ Op ZAHAR was a difficult operation: it had three LAV III companies converging on a defended target on restricted avenues of approach and at night, to boot. I went in with “A” Company and it was almost 60 hours of fighting.

The pride in watching our soldiers fight in the way that their predecessors fought in both World Wars and Korea, and to realize that was what I was indeed observing, was overwhelming at times. Then of course, there was the feeling of survival when it was over. I was with all three company commanders at a hasty “O” group convened at night, in a cemetary of all places, when everybody looked at each other and realized they were in one piece and still alive. But then everybody had to mount up and do it again…..And again.

e-Veritas: Once your responsibilities as historical advisor are complete, do you intend to return to the classroom…?

Dr. Sean Maloney: Once I have completed the project, yes, I do.

e-Veritas: How will your experiences in Afghanistan change how you teach…?

Dr. Sean Maloney: One of the larger lessons I have drawn from our experiences in Afghanistan, mine included, is the need for a broader education at RMC. We currently do not have the horsepower we need in anthropology, for example, or philosophy. The history curriculum needs expansion so that we can provide our students with opportunities to gain background knowledge about the geographic areas and their demographics that they WILL be operating in (not MIGHT). The idea that we are somehow going to revert back to 19th or 20th Century modes of warfare as a default setting for the armed forces is dangerous.

We weren’t cynical enough in Afghanistan and we need to breed a healthy skepticism into our people so that they can operate in environments where our allies may have divergent agendas from Canada’s while we are engaging a variety of enemies in a series of proxy fights. A friend of mine with substantial Afghan experience told me he thought our officers were, on the whole, too credulous in dealing with some of the characters we had to deal with in that region of the world. How do we best prepare our future leaders for those kind of environments? I suggest that there is no rational, engineering solution set to problems like those our people encountered in, say, Arghandab district or when dealing with other government departments that lack a culture based on a rational approach to planning in a complex environment. Logic and rationality have their place, but so does experiential intuition, gut feel, intellectual perseverance in the face of apparent chaos, and intellectual curiosity.

My challenge will be imparting that to our future students. And, as usual, there will be opposition from those who, perhaps, have become too comfortable in their outlook on the world and how it functions. RMC’s purpose is not to generate nation builders for the British Empire any more. It is to produce leaders who can effectively implement Canadian policy on a global basis to protect Canadian interests.

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Spotlight on Training Wing Staff: Capt Zachary Gatehouse, 4 Sqn Commander

Posted by rmcclub on 9th September 2012

As part of an effort to get to know some of the many new faces around the peninsula, 25366 Mike Shewfelt recently sat down for a brief chat with 23935 Capt Zachary Gatehouse, the new commander of 4 Sqn. 

e-Veritas: Sir, what expectations do you have on coming back to the College…?

23935 Zachary Gatehouse: My expectations coming here were simple. I expected to be able to deal with motivated and interested people who wanted to be Officers in the CF. Being a former cadet I know full well the range of personalities that make up the Cadet Wing, but thus far I have been impressed. The College has changed significantly since I left it last, and I believe these changes to be for the better. There is a sense of focus, an intent, and most importantly an end state that stems further than just reaching the parade square in the spring of Fourth Year. As I speak to Cadets more and more, there is an understanding of the road beyond the arch and the responsibility they will have as they assume leadership roles over the men and women of the CF.

e-Veritas: What are you looking forward to about working with the Cadets…? And what advice would you give them…?

23935 Zachary Gatehouse: I am looking forward to simply being involved in the growth of junior officers and helping people define their leadership style so that it works for them. My advice to cadets is simply to try. Stay motivated throughout your time here because in the end, when you get to you Platoons, Troops, Ships, and Planes you will realize that RMC was something good. Stay close to friends as well because there is little time post grad to see people!

e-Veritas: What goals do you have for the position you are now in…?

23935 Zachary Gatehouse: I, like all officers, continue to learn every day. My goals are to continue that trend while pushing knowledge around to the Cadets and fellow Training Wing Staff so that we can all learn and make things work effectively.

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The Way it Was for Recruits in 1965: Then and Now

Posted by rmcclub on 3rd September 2012

Recruit Camp In 1965 (click to enlarge)

Fast Forward to FYOP 2012…

As the Class of 2016 settled into the routine of FYOP, the First Year Orientation Program, 25366 Mike Shewfelt got out to record the sights around the College.

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Spotlight on Professors: G1628 Maj John Grodzinski, RMCC History Department

Posted by rmcclub on 29th July 2012

25366 Mike Shewfelt recently had the opportunity to sit down with G1628 Maj John Grodzinski, Associate Professor in the College’s Department of History.

e-Veritas: Sir, what were your expectations upon coming to teach at the College…?

Maj John Grodzinski: I really didn’t know what to expect as I had never taught in an academic environment before. While teaching at the university level shares some similarities with instructing on a military course, the workload and expectations, from an academic perspective, are considerably different.

Although I was aware of the four pillars that Cadets were expected to complete, I had little idea of the challenges they imposed. Time is at a premium at the College, particularly for those students in some of the more demanding programmes, and I am often amazed and impressed by those cadets who can balance a busy academic schedule with military training, intramural or varsity sports, and, in some cases, bar positions.

e-Veritas: What are some of the highlights of your time at the College, both the good and the bad…?

Maj John Grodzinski: My experience at the College has been very good. Certainly there are times where a failure to complete their work on the part of my students or some annoying aspect of College administration bothers me; however, this is a great place to be, a wonderful unit to serve in. My favourite experiences have been on field trips, whether they are visits to museums, battlefield tours or at competitions with the varsity fencing team, that provide an opportunity to better know the cadets and to discuss coursework in a different environment.

e-Veritas: What do you like about working with the Cadets…?

Maj John Grodzinski: I enjoy the spontaneity and energy of the Cadets. They have such energy and they demonstrate a knack for getting themselves into unique problems. Following their progress as they mature through four years of their studies and training is rewarding. During that time, you witness the changes in a group of young adults, who, at one point, seemed incapable of doing anything right, and who now display a sense of confidence and a basic understanding of leadership that demonstrates they are ready for the first challenges of commissioned service.

As I was not a Cadet and my studies here were at the graduate level, I had a lot to learn about College culture. My wife, who is a College graduate, and some of my friends who attended the College, provided great help in understanding the nuances of Cadet life. However, my perspective has changed considerably when my son joined the Cadet Wing. Suddenly, FYOP, the obstacle course, the demands of the academic year, parades, parties, PT tests, varsity sports and summer training took on a new meaning. Since my wife and I encourage our son to bring his friends home with him on those rare weekends he can visit, I’ve also gained a better appreciation of Cadet life.

e-Veritas: Do you have any advice that you would share with the Cadets…?

Maj John Grodzinski: Enjoy your time at RMCC as your experience at the College will guide you through your life and career. Study hard, read often, think, develop your writing and speaking skills and challenge yourself always.

For a look at other professors that e-Veritas has highlighted in the past, click here

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Dr. John Amphlett: Faculty & Sports Leader Extraordinaire …

Posted by rmcclub on 29th July 2012

By 25782 OCdt Brandon Friesen

This past week, I had the honour and pleasure of interviewing someone who has had a considerable amount of time and influence at the Royal Military College of Canada. As a matter of fact, Dr. John Amphlett has around thirty-six years on me at this fine institution, due to the fact that I am in my fourth year of studies and he has taught, managed, and coached here longer than I have been alive. It was truly a rewarding experience to hear him recall his time at the College and the many roles he performed during his outstanding tenure.

Upon meeting Dr. Amphlett outside RMC’s Senior Staff Mess, I noticed that he had a small limp; he was recovering from a leg injury. “It’s the first time I’ve been slowed down,” he said jovially. After talking with him for the rest of the morning, I believed it, for he has taken every opportunity to find busy and meaningful ways to involve himself with the College.

Dr. John Amphlett arrived at RMC in 1967 to do a Post Doctoral Fellowship with Dr. Dacey, the Head of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and later the Principal of the College. In 1969 several permanent teaching positions opened up in this department, and Dr. Amphlett applied for one.

Since that choice, he has taught many courses to just about every type and year of student at RMC. He taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and, due to the fact that in those days everyone did a common 1st year program, he even lectured Arts students along with Engineering and the Sciences. Dr. Amphlett has seen quite a good sample of cadets at the college, and this is merely from the academic side.

When I asked him how working as a professor at RMC had changed over his forty years of teaching, he stated that the biggest change was mostly in the attitude of the classroom compared to how “regimental” it used to be. It had grown and still grows a little more laid-back over the passing years. I was surprised to hear that cadets used to be required to salute any civilian faculty on campus! Among other things, such as the introduction of women to the College, another large change that Dr. Amphlett mentioned was how technology has changed the way classes were taught. However, he told me he was still a “chalkboard type of guy.”

Dr. Amphlett was not only a professor; on top of that a coach for the varsity rugby team for eleven years from 1968-79. He remembered it as “a truly rewarding experience, getting to know the cadets outside the classroom, learning how many of them dealt with all the different aspects that they had to manage while trying to do their academics, military duties, and at the same time play competitive sports.” The team regularly took trips to the UK, courtesy of the British Military, to play the Sandhurst, Dartmouth, Cranwell, and Larkhill teams. These visits were an eye-opener for how other military schools were run, as well as a great incentive for the cadets to do well in their classes, since only students doing well in academics could go. To Dr. Amphlett’s knowledge, none of his players missed one of these very desirable trips, for they all had C or B averages.

The rugby team also played games against West Point and the US Naval Academy, whom they regularly trumped, and of course, Queen’s University. RMC’s rugby games against Queen’s carried the weight of the rivalry between the two schools, for these were the only varsity teams from either university to play each other due to the various leagues the other teams were in. Dr. Amphlett remembers one seasonin particular where his rugby team beat Queen’s four times, and each of those wins was by more than twenty points. It was one of the highlights from his extracurricular responsibilities at RMC.

All this turned out to be quite the workload, for he would regularly return home around seven or eight o’clock each night. Then there were rugby games on Saturday and Sunday, not to mention the trips to England and the United States. After his eleven years of coaching, Dr. Amphlett left his position of coach in order to spend some more time with his growing family. However, he was still interested in remaining involved with the cadets, so he became Chairman of the rugby team for the next eight years. On top of this, he was Chairman of the Recreation Club, the Athletic Awards Committee, and later the Hockey team. The Recreation Club, in those days, was responsible for providing finances for the equipment and extracurricular activities of the Rep teams and Clubs at the College.

I asked Dr. Amphlett if taking on these extracurricular responsibilities helped him relate to the workload of the cadets studying at RMC. He agreed and said that RMC definitely asked a lot more than any other university. The high participation in sports was something he could appreciate, seeing the cadets from both the academic and varsity point of view. He suggested, to his disappointment, that RMC has started to lean more heavily on the academics pillar than that of athletics. He suggested that sports compliment and improve academics, allowing people to clear their minds from their studies for a while and refresh.

Winding the interview down, I asked how Dr. Amphlett spends his time now that he is retired. He told me that while initially thinking that it would be dull and slow, it has been the opposite and now he is busier than before! He is still involved in research, even if not directly, and he travels for both research and recreation. China, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, and Japan he mentioned; he has seen over thirty countries so far. When he is back home in Kingston, he participates in two choirs: The Kingston Capital Men’s Chorus and the Kingston Senior Choristers. He had played quite a bit of golf until his recent leg injury; now he has taken up lawn bowling as a new pastime.

When I asked Dr. Amphlett to give a few final comments to the readers of E-Veritas, he wanted to stress that rugby is always a good sport for a military. It requires incredible teamwork as well as individuality. He said “a team can have the best fifteen athletes, but be swamped by a team with technique.” In parting, he added “teaching here was a good career move; I thoroughly enjoyed my time at RMC.”

Posted in h. Where are they now? | 2 Comments »

Focus on Military Staff: 21971 Capt Lesley Kerckhoff, Staff Officer to the Commandant

Posted by rmcclub on 22nd July 2012

25366 Mike Shewfelt recently had the chance to sit down with 21971 Capt Lesley Kerckhoff, Staff Officer to the Commandant at the College.

e-Veritas:What were your expectations upon coming to the College…?

21971 Capt Lesley Kerckhoff: My expectations, like many, were of an opportunity to go to university and not be in debt when I was finished as well as having a career to follow when I graduated. I had no military background so it was certainly a different world. Being in the military is always being part of a team, and having been part of many team sports and leader of other clubs, I adapted well into the team dynamic.

e-Veritas: What memories stand out for you from your time here, both good and bad…?

21971 Capt Lesley Kerckhoff: The highlights included being part of the first Women’s Basketball Team, which was just a club back in 1997. We still had to do a varsity sport or intramurals, but we would eat box lunches and practice at 8 p.m. just to be part of that team.

I was the class of 2001, and another highlight was that on Grad Parade, our march on was the theme to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The band really did a good job on that.

I was also a member of the Highland Band, which had the best away trips of any group at the College.

Another memory that stands out for me is that during my time here we lost a fellow Cadet to a terrible accident. What I remember was the pulling together and compassion of the Cadet Wing. Even those who did not know him at all reached out to those who did and tried to help in any way that they could. Like family.

e-Veritas: What do you like about working on the peninsula…?

21971 Capt Lesley Kerckhoff: Nothing is ever boring here. Everyday there are changes which result in learning something new and putting that experience into my toolbox for the future.

e-Veritas: What was it like being posted back to the College…?

21971 Capt Lesley Kerckhoff: Coming back as an officer has been interesting. As a Cadet, you don’t see how the College operates. As staff, I now know how much work and how many staff hours go into every pillar in order to graduate 250 officers each year.

e-Veritas: Can you describe your role as Staff Officer to the Commandant…?

21971 Capt Lesley Kerckhoff: As SO, I help to keep the Commandant’s schedule, ensure all paperwork is processed in a timely manner, assist with task follow-up and coordinate and mentor the Cadet Aide de Camps.

e-Veritas: What advice would you have for the Cadets….?

21971 Capt Lesley Kerckhoff: My one piece of advice is about respect. Respect others, and yourself. ALWAYS. If the Cadets can learn just that, it will take them far.


The following are the members of the College military staff that e-Veritas has recently brough into the spotlight. Feel free to enjoy the articles you may have missed.

LCol Sue Wigg; Maj Donnie Monroe; MWO Andy Skinner

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“A Poet and an Eccentric Prof” Dr. Michael Hurley, RMCC English Department

Posted by rmcclub on 22nd July 2012

25366 Mike Shewfelt recently had the chance to sit down with Dr. Michael Hurley, long-time member of the College’s Department of English. 

e-Veritas: Why did you decide to teach at the College…?

Dr. Michael Hurley: I didn’t. Fate did. The stars. Sauron. The Evil One. The Force. Who knows? “It is your DESTINY, Luke…” I’d been teaching at Queen’s for four years after getting a Ph.D. in English there—my line of country Canadian literature, still in the doghouse in that Dark Age— when I got a phone call outta the blue offering me a job teaching poetry to the military. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse—or believe.

The call came from someone maintaining he was the Head of the English Department at the Royal Military College of Canada. I said, “Is there such a thing?” I knew as much about this place as I do about electroencephalographic procedures in Outer Mongolia or a Dirac equation. But I did know I wasn’t going to work anywhere I couldn’t be my dysfunctional self or follow my calling, so the first thing I did, besides cultivate an attitude, was grow a big beard. My hair was already long, and would get considerably very longer over the years before Mother Nature intervened. Believing you should always bite the hand that feeds you lest you become another brick in the wall, I wanted to see if folks here had hair issues or cookie-cutter ambitions for me or Agent Smiths and Thought Police round every corner.

So, key point: I was invited to teach here, initially replacing someone on sick leave. Landing a job here, or anywhere for that matter, wasn’t on my agenda, my little radar. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” as John Lennon sings. I remain grateful to the Universe for upsetting my applecart and throwing me headfirst—once again—into the unknown. I couldn’t have landed in a better place pour moi, couldn’t have consciously chosen more wisely, little did I suspect at the time. So much for my better judgment, eh.

It’s been a wonderful journey since February 1988, one always reminding me, as Obi Wan counsels headstrong Luke, to “let go your conscious self and act on instinct.” For those in the military or academia where we enshrine a squeaky-clean rationality above all else, it may take awhile to give intuition and gut instinct their due. Einstein, not surprisingly, got it right: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Once through the Arch, I decided to remain teaching here to explore the implications of that statement and another of Einstein’s—“Imagination is more important than knowledge”—both personally as a poet and a lost soul and professionally as a professor of English.

e-Veritas: What are the highlights of your time at the College, both the good and the bad…?

Dr. Michael Hurley: The good started day one when I met those legendary avatars of the Department Tom Vincent and George Parker. Great guys and mentors who stewarded the realm efficiently and empathetically. Kudos! As every Queen’s grad employed as a sessional here is relieved to discover, the English Department is a most collegial place to pursue one’s calling. With the obvious exception of the deaths in Afghanistan of my students, the bad started this past year when Parties Unknown proceeded to gut the College as we know it by axing profs left and right, which will in our opinion affect how and what we teach here, upset the balance between the military and academic wings, and perhaps worse. It’s certainly already severely tarnished our reputation, bladed morale, and raised serious questions about governance and academic freedom, plus our continuing ability to educate cadets in critical thinking skills. Many of us fear that the College will regress, as RMC grad and historian Jack Granatstein laments, to the dark days of the Somalia era if we turn our backs on the genuine liberal arts education that study after study has stressed needs to be safeguarded here.

In the Glowing Highlights Department, I’d cite being in a position to help hire truly talented and promising professionals like Irwin Streight, Huw Osborne, Helen Luu, Chantel Lavoie and our current Head Laura Robinson. Add in awesome sessionals, folks already here or assigned to the Department—Sylvia, Erika, Heather, Marion, Steve, Andy, Brandon, Elaine and Viviane—and what a line–up! Welcoming my former student Andy Belyea as a colleague was a real joy. Since I knew some writers and artists and the usual suspects, early on I was asked to bring in guest speakers, everyone from Margaret Atwood and Timothy Findley to Jane Urquhart, plus a veritable Who’s Who of local writers, and English grads Casey Balden and John Ford. I was delighted when Principal Sokolsky started the Writer–in–Residence program with Irwin Streight’s sage guidance. More slam–dunk highlights: going on the amazing Battlefield Tour as poet–in–transit with The Three Wise Men: Boire, Delaney and Hennessey. Gold plaques should be put up celebrating these guys.

Other nuggets: helping RMC’s aboriginal Elder conduct sweat lodges. A surprise 60th birthday party! Getting email, phone calls, or visits from former students. Getting incredible support and thumbs up from cadets, profs, Majors and Lieutenant-Colonels after being arrested, jailed and shackled at the 2010 prison farms blockade for opposing what many see as injustice, idealogical bs, and democracy–bashing. Initiating a World Literature course that gives cadets a window into the cultures of Afghanistan, Iran, India, Nepal etc., places they might end up in and that I travelled to as a crazy, footloose nineteen-year-old escapee from the Matrix hitch–hiking around the planet and spreading joy.

And, of course, being the grateful recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award, being put on the Honour Roll years before that, and years after again being nominated, this last spearheaded by Bus. Admin students, although I politely declined to let my name stand, there being lots of deserving profs out there.

e-Veritas: What do you like about working with Cadets…?

Dr. Michael Hurley: What’s not to like? Wade Davis, National Geographic’s Explorer–in–Residence, a guy who’s been everywhere and done most everything, is currently writing a book about RMC grad Oliver Wheeler who mapped Everest, making climbs possible. I just invited Wade to speak here, and what I suspect he sees in Wheeler—a spirit of adventure, perseverance, a willingness to think outside the box, to move off the map and the grid, to keep mind and heart and imagination open, to be what songwriter Robbie Robertson calls “a communal individual” true to oneself while playing on a team—these are qualities I’ve encountered in a diverse group of people here over the decades. And that energizes me and keeps me in the game.

e-Veritas: What advice, if any, would you give to Cadets?

Dr. Michael Hurley: I’m willing to accept advice, if not always follow it, but with my track record as a sorry-ass human being who messes up on a regular basis, I’m reluctant to offer it. But not above it: think for yourself, feel for others, trust your gut instinct, listen for and heed your calling, follow your bliss but don’t cling to it or anything, live your life, consider practicing some form of meditation or mindfulness to focus and deepen attention to “be here now,” get into trouble, brush regularly… The sort of thing you might expect to hear from a poet and an eccentric prof, whose impeccable credentials for his day job include occasional stints (or stunts) as a stand-up comic, clown, cartoonist, yogi-wannabe, and spiritual runt at retreats led by Tibetan lamas, Buddhist monks and nuns, Hindu pujaris, Sufi whirling dervishes, Zen fools and wise First Nations Elders. How could I not end up teachin’ poetry to the military?

The following is a list of the professors at the College that e-Veritas has brought into the spotlight over the last year. Feel free to enjoy the articles you may have missed.   xxxxxx


Mr. Kommy Farahani; Dr. Allister MacIntyre; Dr. Billy Allan

Dr. Nicholas Vlachopoulos; Dr. Ron Weir; LCol Joy Klammer

Dr. Konstantin Kabin; Maj John de Boer; Dr. Laura Robinson

Maj Bertram Frandsen; Dr. Brandon Alakas; Dr. Yahia Antar & Dr. David Wehlau

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Focus on Military Staff: 14510 LCol Sue Wigg, Outgoing Director of Cadets

Posted by rmcclub on 8th July 2012

25366 Mike Shewfelt recently had the chance to sit down with 14510 LCol Sue Wigg, the outgoing Director of Cadets at the College. 

e-Veritas: What have you seen change since your arrival on the Peninsula and now…?

14510 LCol Sue Wigg: From my perspective the essence of both the DCdts responsibilities and College life has not changed since I graduated in 1984, but over the last two years they have been reinvigorated. We have renewed and evolved both the purpose and the actions behind the essence of what RMCC is designed to do…provide the CF with duty ready junior officers. Through transparency, clarity and focus on the Cadet Wing as a CF unit we now have a common context and means for unified effort from all involved. There is now a tangible, real “military” meaning to the experiences of an officer cadet.

e-Veritas: Have there been any memorable challenges in your time here…?

14510 LCol Sue Wigg: The most important challenge has been one that is shared by all organizations. To be truly effective an organization cannot be viewed as “outside of” or “different from” its intended environment. Yet, a certain uniqueness must be maintained or it suffers from naysayers that would purport its existence is not necessary because its product can be obtained elsewhere. Maintaining that balance of uniqueness vs being identifiably part of the Canadian Forces seems to be very hard for most. RMCC is a tough environment for Cadets, Faculty and Staff alike and I would point to having to maintain balance as one root cause. There is no time to specialize in only those things you like and still be successful. This translates into the single most important lesson – no matter what your age or experience – Know yourself, know your “know-how to succeed”. Always be on top of your game, be professional, be competent and be constructive when dealing with the subjects that are not your strong points.

e-Veritas: Since you graduated from the College in 1984, you have had many postings. Was there anything in those previous postings that helped you in this one…?

14510 LCol Sue Wigg: My past experiences helped me to be forward leaning, adaptable, agile and most importantly, not to stop looking until I could see the essence of the issue at hand (not the superficial or the “constructed reality”). One cannot cling to a decision because it was made, one must adapt to new information all the time. Also, Rome was not built in a day – one needs strategy and patience but should not be lulled into stagnation or accept prolonged resistance to evolution.

e-Veritas: There have been a number of changes on the peninsula in the last couple of years. Given that, do you feel you’ve been able to improve the College at all, and if so, how…?

14510 LCol Sue Wigg: If asked “what was improved” I would say the Officer Cadets are beginning to be more aware of the power of their experience at RMCC. They are taking the opportunity of evolving their CF unit systems to obtain meaningful self-identy and control of their environment while developing the real skills needed but not taught at their next unit. They have the size, the chain of authority, the responsibility and the longevity of four years to develop relevant experiences needed for a successful life faster than when they are immersed in the more narrow perpectives that will be their role as a specialized junior officer in their next unit. The next unit is about depth in their field; this unit is about how to be successful in that environment.

e-Veritas: What advice would you give to the Cadets as you leave RMCC…?

14510 LCol Sue Wigg: If I was asked for advice, I would say – know yourself honestly. Examine any lack of success closely to find out how you kept yourself from succeeding. The environment is not the enemy – our approach to it is the key to triumph. That starts with self identifying our internal barriers whether they are physical, mental, or emotional and finding our own way of removing those factors that hold us back. Conversely, invest in success – “know how” you succeeded and keep improving it.

e-Veritas: Any final thoughts for the College you leave behind…?

14510 LCol Sue Wigg: At the close of my tenure I would be remiss if I did not formally acknowledge the RMC Club of Canada, the Foundation and the Ex-Cadets that were ever present and supportive of the role of the Director of Cadets in their passion for keeping the College relevant and on course. Throughout the two years there was moral, ethical, financial and leadership help from all corners. It came to me without asking and at just the right occasion. Through this experience I have benefited from what we take for granted as we make our way through our careers – we are a family. Everyone relies on those that go before them, whether they admit it or not. A direct thank you to all those Ex-Cadets in the area that come out to the events and make the effort to keep connected to our young adults in a way that helps to bridge the generations. Your energy and wisdom is not replaceable. Thank you to those that came to welcome the arrival of my successor and bid me farewell. May I always be able to act in supporting the College, as you have given me the example, regardless of where I go this second time leaving the peninsula.

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