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BGen Sébastien Bouchard, Commandant RMC, on Leadership, the SSAV and the State of the College / Le Bgén Sébastien Bouchard, commandant du CMR, sur le leadership, la VAEM spéciale et la situation du Collège

BGen Sébastien Bouchard, Commandant RMC, on Leadership, the SSAV and the State of the College

By 27832 OCdt (III) P.R. Cardona

Brigadier-General Sébastien Bouchard

To say that BGen Bouchard, who became the Commandant of RMC late in the summer of 2017, is present in the day-to-day lives of his subordinates is an understatement. He and his wife can often be seen wandering around the dormitories, at sports events, or having their meals in the Cadet Dining Hall.

For example, my first real interaction with the Commandant occurred on Halloween night when he – dressed as the Paladin mascot – knocked on the door of my room in Fort Haldimand, gave me a handful of candy, and left without saying a word (as mascots cannot speak).

His approach toward command is not unique to RMC, and he has been just as involved and enthusiastic about interacting with his troops at all of his previous units. From his first posting as a RCEME troop leader after graduating from RMC to his time commanding a unit in Afghanistan, he has always placed the needs of his soldiers first and has strived to learn from others to improve his own leadership style.

“Leadership, commanding troops, is clearly a journey,” he said about his approach to command, “a journey that every day, every single little experience brings something more, so I’m a product of all my previous positions and the relationships that I’ve had with my officers, and NCOs, and civilian staff.”

Although some cadets may be afraid of being caught off guard, the Commandant assured me that when he is “walking around the College, it’s not to enforce rules; there’s a lot of people in the Training Wing who are paid to do this, so it has nothing to do with that.”

Instead, he hopes to build trust among cadets by taking the time to explain his perspectives and by listening to theirs. While he may not necessarily agree with everything that he hears, he makes sure to take notes and to always follow up on what he hears.

“Every time someone tells me something, I make sure to take action on it,” he said. “Even if it’s just having a discussion with the Director of Cadets or the Principal, I make sure that I’m doing something.”

It’s no secret that the past few years have been turbulent for RMC. With the challenges of adapting to a new generation, balancing tradition with progress, and remaining committed to producing Canada’s finest leaders, the institution has had to hit refresh over the past few months.

Before BGen Bouchard even knew that he would be taking over Command of RMC, major changes were already imminent. In October 2016, the Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Vance, ordered a Special Staff Assistance Visit to assess the overall climate at RMC and subsequently publish a report on the challenges facing the College in order to make recommendations to improve the overall quality of the RMC experience.

After several weeks of interviews with hundreds of cadets, staff, and faculty, followed by months of writing and edits, the SSAV report was released in April 2017. Based on the input from the interviewees, the report made 90 long and short term recommendations, with some being implemented immediately by the CDS himself.

While some recommendations, like implementing kye (evening snacks like granola bars, fruit, crackers and juice) were easy to initiate, others would take more time, deliberate planning, and careful oversight. The execution of this monumental task was entrusted to (then) Colonel Bouchard.

This past Fall semester has certainly been different than any other one in recent memory. From day one, dozens of changes were implemented with more coming down the pipeline seemingly every hour. Of course, frustration ensued among the Cadet Wing as the routine that many of us upper years had grown accustomed to was suddenly, and fundamentally, disrupted.

The growing pains of the first semester, however, were a necessary evil in achieving the Commandant’s end state. Instead of looking to implement a Band-Aid solution, BGen Bouchard is planning to fundamentally change the College’s culture for the better.

For fundamental change to succeed, RMC needs a leader like BGen Bouchard. His commitment to knowing his subordinates personally, understanding their concerns and then acting to solve them make him a dangerous leader for anyone willing to accept the status quo.

Cultural change, while certainly a challenging and unending process, is long overdue at RMC. An Auditor General report published in November 2017 determined “that the expectation that third- and fourth-year Officer Cadets would consistently demonstrate proper conduct, enforce military discipline, and instill Canadian military values in first- and second-year Officer Cadets was not well founded.”

Furthermore, the Report presented disturbing findings, including that “some Officer Cadets in leadership positions abused their authority by selectively enforcing rules” and that their reckless behaviour often led to injuries. Additionally, it noted that “Officer Cadets were cynical about RMC rules and practices” resulting in a culture of “chronic rule-breaking.”

In the face of these tremendous and fundamental challenges, the Commandant has thus far been unwavering in his commitment to the institution and the wellbeing of its people. He has been unafraid to implement dramatic changes in pursuit of his end state: a fundamental cultural shift to enable 141 year old institution to continue produce outstanding graduates.

“There are a lot of things that I’m changing now, that 25 years ago did not make sense to me as a an officer-cadet,” he said.

“If it’s just an internal culture thing that does not support any of the four pillars, or does not reflect anything that you will do for the rest of your career in the Canadian Forces,” like first years having to wear uniforms into Kingston, a decades old policy which he overturned, “then I’m asking people to challenge those things.”

For the Commandant, rectifying RMC’s culture is contingent on building a culture around ethical leadership and accountability. He believes that as the only institution in Canada, with RMC Saint-Jean, dedicated to educating officers, RMC needs to embrace an ethical climate in order for the CAF to have effective leaders.

“When I was in the College, I don’t remember talking about ethics at all,” said the RMC graduate, “but now as a general officer, I realize that it’s the most important thing we can talk about.”

Setting the tone at the beginning of the year, the Commandant reinforced the College’s strict adherence to the CAF’s rules and regulations. Under his tenure, breaches of conduct, including drug abuse, sexual harassment, and conduct unbecoming of a CAF member will not be tolerated.

While it is important to enforce strict rules to maintain discipline and morale, it is more important to do so with the goal of building an ethical culture in mind. As such, the Commandant’s strict policy on misconduct is fitting in accomplishing the end state of the SSAV report.

Another important change that was implemented as a result of the SSAV is enforced graduation requirements. An OCdt, in addition to the Academic component, must truly meet the standards in the Second Language, Athletic, and Military pillars before he/she can be commissioned.

In the past decade, cadets were commissioning with deficiencies in one or more of the pillars. Part of the CAF’s expectation of the College is to produce junior leaders who are fit, bilingual and have experience in leadership positions.

“This institution has a reputation,” he said. “When you go out there and it says that you graduated from RMC, they expect you to be in shape, bilingual and to have a degree and look at problems with an analytic way of thinking.”

For him, the four pillars are about ensuring lifelong success for a cadet. Although the new graduation requirements are stricter than in the past 15 years, he will do all in his power to enable cadets to succeed, provided they demonstrate the motivation and a good attitude.

One of the most important aspects of his plan to ensure a strong graduation rate is the creation of a student success center in the bottom floor of the Massey building. The RMC Success Center, which is slated to open early this semester, will be a space where cadets can go for academic help, health promotion services, and conflict resolution.

As the College’s highest ranking member, the Commandant is ultimately accountable for everything that happens on the peninsula, from overseeing academic research with the assistance of our Principal, Dr. Kowal,  to ensuring that cadets have the tools to meet the graduation requirements.

“My main responsibility here is quite simple,” he said. “It’s a question of accountability, so everything that we do at this College, from general administration to the success of our students to leading the institution, I’m accountable for that.”

Although his vision of RMC is ambitious and will require cooperation and effort from everyone, from the first years all the way up to the Director of Cadets and the Principal, BGen Bouchard has been clear that this is a “no fail” mission. Thus far, he has been impressed with the progress that’s been made.

“I’m happy and quite proud to see how serious our fourth years are about this,” he said. “They are a good example for this College, and that’s the way that it should be.”

So far, according to the Commandant, the CDS is pleased with the progress that’s been made in implementing the SSAV’s recommendations. More than half of the report’s recommendations have been actioned, with about 45% still in the planning process.

Despite this, he realizes that there is still more work to be done. Cultural change, in particular, cannot be accomplished overnight. In his opinion, it will take four years to change RMC’s culture.

Ambitious, almost to a fault, and undaunted, he remarked that, “I’m sometimes naïve. I think that I can change the College in a few months, but now I realize that it will take some more time than that, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

With two sons currently in Military College (one in Kingston, the other in St-Jean), and his daughter potentially on her way there, BGen Bouchard wants to build an institution where everyone is empowered to reach their full potential and learn to become analytical, capable, and ethical leaders.

“I look after this College in the same way as I look after my family,” he said. “The decisions that I make for OCdts here are the way that I would make decisions for my family. I don’t do what’s popular but what I think is best.”

***

Le Bgén Sébastien Bouchard, commandant du CMR, sur le leadership, la VAEM spéciale et la situation du Collège

Par l’Élof 27832 (III) P.R. Cardona

De dire que le Bgén Bouchard, qui est devenu le commandant du CMR à la fin de l’été 2017, est présent dans la vie de tous les jours de ses subalternes est peu dire. Il est possible de l’apercevoir avec sa femme se promener près des dortoirs, lors d’événements sportifs ou en train de prendre leur repas dans la salle à manger des cadets.

Ma première réelle interaction avec le commandant, par exemple, s’est déroulée le soir de l’Halloween, lorsque le commandant, habillé en mascotte de paladin, a cogné à la porte de ma chambre au Fort Haldimand, m’a donné une poignée de bonbons et a quitté les lieux sans dire un mot (parce que les mascottes ne peuvent pas parler).

Son approche du commandement n’est pas unique au CMR, et il a été tout aussi engagé et enthousiaste lors de ses interactions avec ses troupes de toutes ses unités précédentes. Depuis son affectation comme chef de troupe du GEMRC après avoir obtenu son diplôme du CMR jusqu’au moment de son commandement d’une unité en Afghanistan, il a toujours mis les besoins de ses soldats en premier et il a toujours souhaité apprendre des autres pour améliorer son propre style de leadership.

« Le leadership, au commandement des troupes, est clairement une aventure », a-t-il dit au sujet de son approche du commandement : « une aventure qui, chaque jour, à chaque petite expérience, apporte quelque chose de plus, donc je suis un produit de tous mes postes précédents et des relations que j’ai pu entretenir avec mes officiers, mes sous-officiers et mon personnel civil ».

Même si certains élèves-officiers ont peur de se faire prendre au dépourvu, le commandant m’a assuré que lorsqu’il marche autour du collège, « ce n’est pas pour faire appliquer les règles; il y a beaucoup de gens dans l’escadre d’instruction qui sont payés pour le faire, donc cela n’a aucun rapport ».

Plutôt, il espère inspirer la confiance parmi les élèves-officiers en prenant le temps de leur expliquer ses points de vue et en écoutant les leurs. Même s’il n’est pas nécessairement d’accord avec tout ce qu’il entend, il s’assure d’en prendre note et de toujours en faire le suivi.

« Chaque fois que quelqu’un me dit quelque chose, je m’assure de prendre les mesures nécessaires », dit-il. « Même s’il s’agit d’une simple discussion avec le Directeur des élèves-officiers ou le recteur, je m’assure de faire quelque chose ».

Il ne faut pas se cacher que les dernières années ont été tumultueuses pour le CMR. Avec les défis que posent l’adaptation à la nouvelle génération, l’équilibre entre la tradition et le progrès, et l’engagement pour produire les plus grands chefs du Canada, l’institution a été dans l’obligation de refaire ses classes au cours des derniers mois.

Avant que le Bgén Bouchard soit même informé qu’il allait prendre le commandement du CMR, des changements importants étaient déjà imminents. En octobre 2016, le chef d’état-major de la défense, le général Vance, a ordonné une visite d’aide d’état-major spéciale pour évaluer le climat général du CMR et par la suite la publication d’un rapport sur les défis qui attendent le collège afin de faire des recommandations pour améliorer la qualité générale de l’expérience au CMR.

Après plusieurs semaines d’entrevues avec des centaines de élof, l’état-major et la faculté, suivies par des mois de rédaction et de correction, le rapport des VAEM spéciales a été publié en avril 2017. Selon les informations recueillies lors des entrevues, le rapport formule 90 recommandations à long terme et à court terme, dont certaines sont mises en œuvre immédiatement par le CEMD lui-même.

Alors que certaines recommandations, comme la mise en œuvre des activités Kai (les collations de soir comme les barres de céréales, les fruits, les craquelins et le jus), ont été faciles à mettre en place, d’autres ont exigé plus de temps, une planification plus élaborée, et une supervision rigoureuse. L’exécution de cette tâche monumentale a été confiée au colonel Bouchard, à cette époque.

Le dernier semestre d’automne a certainement été différent de tous les semestres précédents dont on peut se souvenir. Dès le premier jour, des dizaines de changements ont été apportés, tellement qu’on aurait dit qu’il arrivait un changement toutes les heures. Bien sûr, la frustration s’est mise de la partie dans l’escadre d’élèves-officiers alors que la routine à laquelle nous, les anciens des années supérieures, avions été habitués venait d’être soudainement et catégoriquement bafouée.

              Les difficultés du premier semestre, par contre, ont été un mal nécessaire pour l’atteinte de l’état final souhaité par le commandant. Au lieu d’essayer de mettre en place une solution symbolique, le Bgén Bouchard envisage d’améliorer de façon fondamentale la culture du collège. 

              Pour qu’un changement fondamental se produise, le CMR a besoin d’un leader comme le Bgén Bouchard. Son engagement à connaître ses subalternes personnellement, à comprendre leurs préoccupations et puis à prendre des mesures pour trouver des solutions, fait de lui un leader dangereux pour tous ceux qui préfèrent le statu quo.

              Le changement de culture, bien qu’il constitue un processus exigeant et sans fin, se fait attendre depuis trop longtemps au CMR. Un rapport du vérificateur général publié en novembre 2017 indique que « l’attente voulant que les élèves-officiers de troisième et de quatrième année indiquent la bonne conduite, imposent la discipline militaire et inculquent les valeurs militaires canadiennes aux élèves-officiers de première et de deuxième année n’était pas bien fondée ».

              De plus, le rapport a présenté des faits troublants, notamment que « certains élèves-officiers occupant des postes de leadership ont abusé de leur pouvoir en appliquant des règles de façon aléatoire » et que leur comportement irresponsable a souvent mené à des blessures. Il est aussi indiqué que « des élèves-officiers ont fait preuve de cynisme au sujet des règles et des pratiques du CMR », entraînant ainsi une « culture chronique de violation des règles ».

              Face à ces difficultés considérables et fondamentales, le commandant a fait preuve d’un engagement inébranlable envers l’institution et le bien-être de ses personnes. Il n’a pas eu peur de mettre en place des changements radicaux pour atteindre son état final : un changement fondamental de culture pour permettre à l’institution de 141 ans de continuer de produire des diplômés hors pair.

              « Il y a beaucoup de choses que je change maintenant , qui ne faisaient aucun sens à mes yeux il y a 25 ans alors que j’étais élève-officier », a-t-il dit.

              « S’il ne s’agit que d’un concept de culture interne qui ne soutient pas l’un de nos quatre piliers ou qui ne reflète rien de ce que vous allez faire pendant votre carrière dans les Forces canadiennes », comme les membres des premières années qui doivent porter des uniformes à Kingston, une politique vieille de plusieurs décennies qu’il a éliminée, « alors je demande aux gens de remettre en question ces concepts. »

              Pour le commandant, corriger la culture du CMR va de pair avec développer une culture autour des principes de leadership éthique et de responsabilisation. Il croit que parce qu’elle est la seule institution au Canada, avec le CMR Saint-Jean, dédiée à la formation des officiers, le CMR doit instaurer un climat éthique afin de former des leaders efficaces au sein des FAC.

              « Lorsque j’étais au collège, je ne me souviens pas du tout d’avoir parlé d’éthique », a dit le diplômé du CMR, mais « aujourd’hui comme officier général, je réalise que c’est le sujet le plus important dont nous pouvons discuter ».

              En donnant le ton au début de l’année, le commandant a imposé le respect rigoureux du collège aux règlements des FAC. Sous sa direction, les écarts de conduite, comme la consommation de drogues, le harcèlement sexuel et la conduite malséante d’un membre des FAC ne seront pas tolérés.

              Alors qu’il est important d’imposer des règles rigoureuses afin de maintenir la discipline et le moral, il est plus important de le faire avec l’objectif de construire une culture éthique. Dans cette optique, la politique sévère du commandant sur les écarts de conduite cadre avec l’atteinte de l’état final du rapport des VAEM spéciales.

              Un autre changement important qui a été mis en place à la suite des VAEM spéciales est le respect des exigences d’obtention de diplôme. Un élof, en plus du volet académique, doit réellement atteindre les normes de langue seconde, de conditionnement physique et des piliers militaires avant d’être promu.

              Au cours de la dernière décennie, les élèves-officiers étaient promus avec des lacunes dans un ou plusieurs piliers. L’une des attentes des FAC en ce qui concerne le collège est de produire de jeunes leaders qui sont en bonne condition physique, bilingues et qui ont de l’expérience dans les postes de leadership.

              « L’institution a une réputation », a-t-il indiqué. « Lorsque vous vous retrouvez dans le monde et qu’on dit que vous êtes diplômé du CMR, on s’attend de voir quelqu’un en forme, bilingue, qui a un diplôme, et qui est en mesure d’évaluer les problèmes avec une façon de penser analytique ».

              Pour lui, les quatre piliers reposent sur l’assurance du succès de l’élève-officier pour toute sa carrière. Même si les nouvelles exigences de diplomation sont plus sévères qu’au cours des 15 dernières années, il fera tout en son possible pour permettre aux élèves-officiers de réussir, pourvu qu’ils démontrent de la motivation et une attitude exemplaire.

              L’un des aspects les plus importants de son plan pour s’assurer d’un taux de diplomation élevé est la création d’un centre de réussite au premier étage du bâtiment Massey. Le Centre de réussite du CMR, qui devrait ouvrir au début du semestre, sera un espace où les élèves-officiers pourront aller pour trouver de l’aide pédagogique, des services de promotion de la santé et des services de résolution des conflits.

              En tant que militaire le plus haut gradé du collège, le commandant est l’ultime responsable de tout ce qui se passe sur la péninsule, de la supervision de la recherche académique avec l’aide du recteur, le Dr Kowal, à la garantie que les élèves-officiers ont les outils pour atteindre les exigences en matière de diplomation.

              « Ma responsabilité première ici est très simple », dit-il. « Il s’agit d’une question de responsabilisation, de sorte que tout ce que nous faisons ici au collège, de l’administration générale au succès de nos étudiants à diriger l’institution, j’en assume la responsabilité ».

              Même si la vision du CMR est ambitieuse et qu’elle nécessite la coopération et l’effort de tous, des étudiants de première année jusqu’au directeur des élèves-officiers et du recteur, le Bgén Bouchard a été bien clair à savoir qu’il s’agit d’une « mission pour laquelle l’échec n’est pas permis ». Jusqu’à maintenant, il est impressionné par les progrès qui ont été réalisés.

              « Je suis heureux et assez fier de voir à quel point nos élèves de quatrième année sont sérieux à ce sujet », a-t-il indiqué. « Ils représentent de bons modèles pour ce collège, et c’est ainsi que ça devrait fonctionner ».

              À date, selon le commandant, le CEMD est satisfait des progrès qui ont été réalisés par la mise en œuvre des recommandations des VAEM spéciales. Plus de la moitié des recommandations du rapport ont été mises en œuvre, et environ 45 % sont au niveau du processus de planification.

              Malgré cela, il réalise qu’il y a encore du pain sur la planche. Le changement de culture, en particulier, ne se réalise pas du jour au lendemain. Selon lui, il faudra encore quatre ans pour changer la culture du CMR.

              Ambitieux, presque à l’excès, et inébranlable, il souligne que, « Parfois, je suis naïf. Je pense que je peux changer le collège en quelques mois, mais je réalise maintenant qu’il faudra plus de temps que cela, mais que nous allons dans la bonne direction ».

              Avec deux fils actuellement au collège militaire (un à Kingston et l’autre à St-Jean), et sa fille possiblement dans cette direction aussi, le Bgén Bouchard veut bâtir une institution où chacun trouve le moyen de réaliser son plein potentiel et apprend à devenir un leader éthique, analytique et capable.

              « Je prends soin de ce collège comme s’il s’agissait de ma famille », dit-il. « Les décisions que je prends pour les élof ici se prennent de la même façon que je prends des décisions pour ma famille. Je ne fais pas ce qui est populaire, mais ce que je crois être le plus approprié ».

12 Comments

  • Al Crosby (8899)

    February 4, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    The SSAV recommendations did not address how culture change should be done. It is not through mere implementation of recommendations. I think any “leader” should read the book PRINCIPLES by Ray Dalio which focuses on the “team” approach in meeting goals. Link: http://www.principles.com
    Being “the” leader doesn’t make you “a” leader. You actually need people who will disagree with you and a good team will do that. That is what RMC taught me. Obviously people will want to see Ray Dalio speak about this, so here is a TED talks video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC0Hm_9GnoU

  • Pierre Ducharme

    February 5, 2018 at 8:54 am

    As a member of the Board of Governors at CMR Saint-Jean, I was asked to lead a team of Governors tasked with studying the relevance of the SSAV to CMRSJ. I am therefore familiar with its contents and while I agree with many of the recommendations, I noted that the number of changes the report promoted was challenging and would require that the ethos of the institution and of the Armed Forces, along with the four pillars, be used as the guiding principle in selecting when and how changes would be implemented. OCDT Cardona’s article indicates that B.Gen. Bouchard is exactly the « man for the situation » and I applaud his resolve. As for the note from the Auditor General’s report, we must always remember that RMC is where we learn leardership, and like in any other case, we learn more from our mistakes than any other way. In my opinion, RMC must therefore remain an environment where it is safe to make mistakes.

    12046 Pierre Ducharme
    Past President, RMC Club

  • Ralph Michael Awrey

    February 5, 2018 at 10:18 am

    General Bouchard appears to understand the concept of real leadership and, furthermore, practices it! A refreshing change from the non-leadership provided by our current CDS who has left Vice-Admiral admiral Norman twisting in the wind for nearly one year.

  • Austen Cambon

    February 5, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    For me, this is all very fascinating. Following my post-graduation military and industry experiences I had the privilege of teaching in Faculties of Business in universities and colleges domestically and internationally for 20 years. I see BGen Bouchard leading a classic case study in “cultural change with military characteristics”. He clearly is gaining the prerequisite “up front and personal” knowledge that he needs to determine the path down which to travel to execute the change. Cultural change and change management are extremly difficult challenges wherever they are needed. Given time and space BGen Bouchard will get this done.

  • Tony O'Keeffe

    February 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    To the Editor,

    It is invigorating to read of the Commandant’s engagement within the Cadet Wing. I envy the opportunities and challenges ahead, belated congratulations to BGen Bouchard on his appointment. Given this article contains exerts from an extensive interview with the Commandant, I concede a plea of guilt in recognition of the high potential for misinterpretation on my part. As such, any and all errors contained below are mine alone.

    I have read the SSAV that was chaired by CDS. And I’ve had previous first hand experience with this focused energy on RMC culture and traditions. “He (Commandant) has been unafraid to implement dramatic changes in pursuit of his end state: a fundamental cultural shift to enable 141 year old institution to continue produce outstanding graduates.” I wish to offer caution for sober second thought before changing or removing these long standing traditions and cultures. There are opportunities within the culture and traditions of RMC that can and should be exploited as learning and teaching. Respectfully, in my opinion it is not the Cadet Wing culture and tradition that is failing or in need of fundamental change. As best I know, RMC’s mandate is not to produce outstanding graduates, but to produce outstanding junior officers ready for continued service in the CAF. Universities across Canada can produce outstanding graduates.

    “The Report presented disturbing findings, including that “some Officer Cadets in leadership positions abused their authority by selectively enforcing rules” and that their reckless behaviour often led to injuries. Additionally, it noted that “Officer Cadets were cynical about RMC rules and practices” resulting in a culture of “chronic rule-breaking.” Were I to receive this finding, I would take this as my personal failure in leading the Mil Wing Staff. The challenge ahead for RMC’s Commandant and Staff is to engage in and make RMC culture and traditions relevant to the CAF of 2018, and beyond. Like many, if not all units in the CAF, distinctive unit culture and tradition has it’s place in contributing to it’s future.

    Case in point: “If it’s just an internal culture thing that does not support any of the four pillars, or does not reflect anything that you will do for the rest of your career in the Canadian Forces,” like first years having to wear uniforms into Kingston, a decades old policy which he overturned, “then I’m asking people to challenge those things.”

    What is the transferable value in first years wearing their uniforms downtown during their first semester? This simple initiative gives the Mil Wing Staff and Cadet Wing an around-the-clock opportunity to demonstrate and nurture the themes of unit pride. This is an opportunity for RMC leadership to teach, monitor and mentor how to wear the uniform properly. This innocuous tradition allows for continuous exposure to the development of a desired outcome: personal sacrifice and service before self. Worst case scenario, we develop those strength of character attributes that teach “how to” be comfortable with personal discomfort. Regardless, RMC graduates will be required to wear the uniforms in public throughout their CAF careers.

    I find the following statement troubling: “Cultural change, while certainly a challenging and unending process, is long overdue at RMC. An Auditor General report published in November 2017 determined “that the expectation that third- and fourth-year Officer Cadets would consistently demonstrate proper conduct, enforce military discipline, and instill Canadian military values in first- and second-year Officer Cadets was not well founded.” I beg to differ. RMC is a teaching ground. 3rd and 4th years cadets are expected to demonstrate all of these things- commensurate with their training and education to date. There is no expectation without continued investment by Mil Wing Staff. Again, I wish to caution against the notion for lowering the expectations and responsibilities of the senior cadets. This is the very challenge that these young men and women seek when walking in to Recruiting Centers across Canada. They are expecting “more duty, more honour”.

    In closing, I will leave you with an experience from circa 2005 where the Commandant and his team, along with CDS approval in principle went about to change the culture and traditions at RMC. With the best of intentions, he ended up relieved of command. I’m happy to unpack that experience and the lessons learned; however, in the interest of your readers’ time I will sign off as,

    Respectfully yours.

    Tony O’Keeffe RCAF (LCol Rtd)
    Former DCdts (08-10)
    World Champion Triathlete

  • John Whitaker

    February 5, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    The Commandant shows excellent leadership in approaching a problem, not of his making. With the current political and social climate, it must be tough trying to drag a group of Millennials from their forgiving environment up to meet military standards. Having Treasury Board trying to impose their current finding that a military college is not needed to produce military officers, would, I think, make it even more difficult. Bravo Zulu General Bouchard.

  • Don Kennedy

    February 5, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Tony O’Keeffe
    Well stated.
    Drawn from my own RMC experiences: “morality” – knowing the difference between right and wrong…a very personal perspective developed at your parents knee onwards; “ethics” – having the courage to do what is right. At RMC in my day, we didn’t need to have long drawn out and emotional discussions about ethics; we simply practiced it. When I failed to make the ethically correct decision, I knew I had screwed up, and resolved to do better next time. I also knew that if I couldn’t live by that simple ethical creed, it was time to take the uniform off.
    So, like Tony, I recommend some cautious second sober thought about hasty (in this case ethics) makeovers at RMC. The Commandant need not invent anything new regarding ethical behaviour. But, he might want to look the cadets in the eye and remind them of the constant need to have the courage to do what is right. Keep it simple; it’s nothing new.
    In closing, it does seem to me that this Commandant is a good one. Best of luck to him in keeping the College on track.

  • Bruce McAlpine 9143

    February 6, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    As the Current President of the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada, I strongly endorse and support the efforts of BGen Bouchard. This is a unique time in the history of our Military College system, when there is both continuous scrutiny and critique from outside the military, and tremendous support (starting at the very top) from within. BGen Bouchard is taking aggressive and positive measures to implement the recommendations of the SSAV and the Auditor General’s report, as well as his own. He is correct that fundamental structural and culture change does not happen over night, but it will be worth it in the end. His hands-on leadership and his passionate commitment to stay the course is exactly what is needed at a time like this. The glorious future of our great institution is in good hands.

  • Jim Tremain

    February 11, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    The phrase “he has always placed the needs of his soldiers first and has strived to learn from others to improve his own leadership style,” impressed me the most. This is at the heart of leadership. This is the same language of my father, #1766 – Ken Tremain when he was overseas in 1940-41. It is an inspiration to hear it from Brig. Bouchard.