Coles Notes on the Workings of the armoured corps

ED Note: The following article by Captain John Kim is one of four armoured corps related articles which were all written during the Spring of 2014. They were originally scheduled to appear in the Summer edition of the Veritas magazine. Due to a large number of other submitted articles, space limitations became a problem. Consequently they have been reassigned to e-Veritas.

The articles are well done, still relevant and are aimed at the cadet readership. Others will certainly find them interesting too.

In an effort to prevent overload we have decided to spread these articles over five Issues.

A special thanks to Capt Kim and his four colleagues who we will identify with each new article.

Enjoy.

Coles Notes on the Workings of the armoured corps

Capt John Kim (23179)

In the Regular Force, there are three armoured units. By seniority, they are the following: Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), and 12e Régiment Blindé du Canada. An officer’s career progression within the Royal Canadian Armour Corps can vary between regiments and individuals, and while I will draw upon my personal experiences as a Strathcona officer, there are common themes that span all three great regiments. One common theme is the distinction between one’s Career Manager (CM) and one’s Commanding Officer (CO). The former resides in Ottawa and is assumed by a Major whose task is to inform and assist the CO in the management, posting, and education of the Corps so that the right people are placed in the right jobs, at the right time. With this view, the CM position is shared equivocally between the regiments and the Corps will assign a different officer to the position at the discretion of the Director of Armour, a Colonel position also shared equivocally between the regiments. While the CM can be an excellent source for information sharing, he/she will never replace the direct role that the CO has on an officer’s career progression.

The CO of a regiment is assumed by a Lieutenant-Colonel and it is ultimately he/she that decides one’s place within the unit or position at an ERE posting. The CM and the CO work in synch to maintain the health of the regiment, which in turn, has effects on the overall health of the Corps. Each of the regiments also has its own customs, Regimental-Colonels, Honouraries, and Colonels-of-the-Regiment that play a critical role in assisting the CO with the succession planning, morale, and welfare of regimental life; suffice to say that the Corps is a rather close-knit family and the health and well-being of one regiment has add-on effects on the others. So while it is desirable for one to seek affiliation with a particular armour regiment for its unique history and traditions, it is important to acknowledge the significance that all of them play towards the Corps as a whole.

When a young officer completes phase training and enters the regiment as a Tp Ldr, it is the CO who sets the tone and expectations of officership. The CO will employ his/her Second-in-Command (2IC) and Adjutant (Adjt) to indoctrinate the subalterns. As Lts Brittain and Burchell have informed, the NCOs within the troop play a critical role in moulding and refining the leadership attributes taught in RMCC and phase training; that is, they will help put into practice all the years of lectures and theories of leadership taught to the young officer in the learning institutions of the CAF. Leadership at the troop level is the first challenge an armour officer is expected to meet when one arrives at the regiment.

If one demonstrates that he/she can command and lead at the sub-sub-unit level, the developing officer is then sent away from the regiment to hone his/her abilities to apply their tactical and administrative knowledge at an ERE positing for typically 2-3 years. The aim is to give the officer an opportunity to learn about, and contribute to, the Army in a broader context. This is typically seen when post-Tp Ldrs are sent back to Gagetown to develop future armour officers, be posted to a Primary Reserve unit to mentor the militia, be posted to a higher level headquarters to learn staff duty skills, or get an overseas posting to gain operational experience.

One’s job performance during ERE and the completion of professional courses such as Army Operations Course and Second Language Training, as well as the rapport one has established with one’s chain-of-command (CoC) back at the regiment are all weighed by the CO to determine whether one should be posted back to the unit as a BC, and subsequently to Sqn 2IC, or not return to unit at all. The top three Captain positions at the regiment (also referred to as the Big 3) that will facilitate promotion to Major include Adjt, Operations Officer, and 2IC Headquarters Sqn. Mastering any one of these positions will demonstrate to the Corps that one has the potential to assume sub-unit command as an OC.

Maj Angell’s article will discuss in greater detail the particulars of sub-unit command. I will conclude by stating that the career an armour officer can have is as diverse as there are individuals in the Corps. One should merely seek to do one’s best for one’s CoC and one’s regiment, not do things with an expectation of a reward. In fact, always striving to do what is right in spite of what one might expect to receive is the trademark of a cavalry officer. It is not always easy to achieve, and at times, may seem like a hard pill to swallow, but when one demonstrates the motto of my Regiment, “Perseverance,” in one’s actions and one’s words, there is not a challenge too difficult or a task too daunting that the armour officer cannot overcome.

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Next Issue: RMCC to Battle Captain

5 Comments

  • John Kim

    August 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Mr. Terry Pyne: you are correct. RCACS stands for Royal Canadian “Armoured” Corps. Thanks for your keen observation.

  • Digger

    August 25, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Terry,
    Absolutely, but Mr Kim is still mistaken. There is no “Staff Duties” abbreviation RCACS.
    There is one for RCAC(S). The word is definitely “Armoured”.
    Like most of the CF at large, within the Corps the general employment fields are operations, staff and technical. There are jobs that combine any 2 of these (i.e. Tech-staff). The Captain positions within the Sqn are Battle Captain (Operational) and 2 I/C (Staff [Log & Adm]). Junior officers may request or be selected for Technical Training at Armoured Training Establishments abroad or perhaps engineering schools.
    Leadership development occurs in all training and employment; command is a function of operational positions. Employment opportunities at the Combat Arms School can be command/operational, staff (adm and log)or Tech-staff.
    I am sure that Mr Kim will learn over time about how promotion boards work and how officers are selected and appointed to command units.