Every year, the Cadet Wing spends their summers completing military training all across Canada. From completing Basic Training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean, Quebec, to army training at the Combat Training Center in Gagetown, to On-the-Job experiences at various bases. The summer provides the OCdts with the opportunity to learn about the military and what awaits after graduation.
To help prepare the cadets for what they will face over the course of the summer, the Training Wing, along with support from other training establishments across the country, plan an “Environmental Preparation” (EPT) week to give cadets a taste of what awaits them over the summer. Here are a few of those stories:
Basic Military Officer Qualification
OCdt (I) Pilgrim, 12 Squadron
As the winter term wraps up at the college, the cadets begin to prepare for their summer training. The athletic and military pillars become ever more important as the summertime approaches, as most cadets will depart to become further qualified as an officer in the various courses they take, which are often very physically and mentally demanding. To ensure the success of cadets this summer, the wing ran a week of EPT (Environmental Preparatory Training) to give us a refresher on some of the basic skills that we’ll need for whatever training we will embark on in the next few weeks. For first-year cadets, we go back to finish our Basic Military Officer Qualification (BMOQ), and this past week was focused on preparing us for success in this course.
BMOQ is held in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, and is separated into two halves, one of which we completed last summer. The first half was focused mainly on qualifications, for drill, athletics, weapons, first aid, and CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear) threats. This summer will see us spending more time in the field, learning more hands-on skills such as fieldcraft, navigation, and small part tasks.
Our EPT week was run by Capt. Stymiest, with PO2 Feetham and WOs Platz, Ansell, and Hooper to carry out the lectures and organization. The week started with a kit check on the parade square, which was to ensure we had all the gear required for our BMOQ, with time given later in the week to get anything we might be missing. After this, we went straight into lectures, first learning some basic navigation, orienteering, and map reading. We worked quite a bit on these basic skills, as it needs to be second nature for when we need to apply them under less hospitable conditions in the field.
One of the major qualifications we must get this summer is to effectively lead a small team of 8-12 personnel, called a section, in various tasks. We must learn to receive orders, analyze them, design a plan to complete the mission, and map out how your section will execute this plan in great detail. The majority of our week was spent on preparation for this, with opportunities given to practice every step of the process, from receiving orders to execution of your plan. Before this, I had no idea of the detail that went into giving orders, and I was quite surprised at the skill and experience needed to do everything quickly and accurately. I thought that our week was very well planned out in this manner, focusing mainly on the more difficult skills that we will learn in St-Jean.
Friday, turned out to be much different from the rest of the week, where instead of spending most of our time in a classroom, we did something a little more hands-on. We got to the new gym at 0800 to find 5 tables with a board game called ‘Diplomacy’ set up on each. True to its name, Diplomacy involves deals and betrayals, and simulates war in Europe in the early 20th century. Groups of five controlled a country set in this period, with the ultimate goal of conquering the greatest amount of land within the timeframe. My group controlled Germany, and after some initial successes, we were betrayed by Britain and wiped off the map. Though we lost, my team had lots of fun, it’s amazing how much complexity can go into a game with just a board and some pieces.
All in all, I learned a great deal from EPT week, and feel much better prepared for going back to St-Jean. The summer ahead will offer us all lots of challenges, but we’ll complete them all together and be back next year again with another stripe on our shoulders.
Basic Military Officer Qualification – Army
By OCdt (III) Cardona, 12 Sqn
The second phase of an army officer’s training is the Basic Military Officer Qualification – Army (BMOQ-A). This course lasts 11 weeks and is designed to equip candidates with the requisite skills to progress to more advanced training. It is mostly focused on fieldcraft, officer skills, and section level operations.
On the first day of EPT, the army cadets who are heading on BMOQ-A in a couple of weeks, and a few cadets heading on Second Language Training who will be doing the course next summer, formed up on the parade to draw weapons. We spent the entire morning refreshing our C7 handling drills, and then had afternoon lectures on battle procedure and orders format.
Tuesday (and every subsequent day) began bright and early with morning PT. Fitness is a vital part of army culture, so it is important to always conduct these activities. Throughout the rest of the day, we had classroom lessons on tactical movements and section attacks with a demonstration and time to practice what we had learned.
Wednesday saw the platoon continue with practical activities, which included some basic review of fieldcraft and navigation skills. The following day, we were introduced to recce patrols and had some time to run through some of the drills involved in conducting one.
BMOQ-A EPT ended on Friday with a morning game of tire flip football, more classes, and an AAR. Overall, EPT gave the candidates going on BMOQ-A time to refresh some of their military skills and an idea of the content covered on course.
NCdt (III) Moors, 5 Sqn
This past week, the Naval Cadets of the Royal Military College participated in Environmental Preparatory Training (EPT). The second year Naval Cadets were sent to visit CFB Halifax, where they received a tour of the Damage Control Training Facility Kootenay, the boarding party training facility, Fleet Dive Unit Atlantic, and other naval assets in the vicinity. On Thursday evening, the Naval Cadets attended the CFB Halifax Battle of the Atlantic Mess dinner, joining fellow sailors in celebrating the rich history of the RCN. Friday, the cadets got the opportunity to sail on a Halifax-Class Frigate HMCS Halifax, getting a taste of life at sea and the platforms that they will become intimately familiar with over the course of their careers.
For those remaining at RMC, EPT consisted of small boats training with HMCS Cataraqui, with Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Strickland instructing cadets on the operation of Cataraqui and RMC’s Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). Following this, the cadets watched the film The Cruel Sea, a 1953 British film that follows the lives of British sailors during the battle of the Atlantic, prompting discussion amongst the cadets on the actions of the crew and officers throughout the film. They also received instruction on the relationship between senior enlisted members and officers, and how to ensure a successful and healthy command team relationship. For the last two days, the cadets received instruction from Cdr. (Ret’d) Arvinder Aujla, who now works at Naval Officer Training Centre Venture, concerning damage control, navigation, the future of the navy, and various other topics.
Navy Halifax EPT
By OCdt (II) Robinson, 3 Squadron
This week second year naval cadets from RMC and ROTP cadets attending civilian university were given the incredible opportunity to travel to Halifax and taste different experiences they will be faced with in their future careers. The group was flown down to Halifax Monday evening, where they were given the schedule of the week and split into two groups, separated by trade.
Group #1 was the engineers, and group #2 was comprised of naval warfare officers, logistic officers, and an intelligence officer. The group stayed at Stadacona base, the centrepiece of naval activities in the maritimes.
On Tuesday morning, group #1 was divided even further into the two different trades of engineer: naval combat systems engineers and marine systems engineers. Both junior and senior engineering officers provided tours of their workplaces and described their assignments, as well as detailing the likely path for engineers after university and answering all questions.
After lunch group #1 has the opportunity to visit Irving Shipyard where the new class of Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships are being constructed. The group was given an amazing tour of the shipyard and was allowed to watch in real-time as these new additions to the RCN were being built before their very eyes.
The tour also touched on the complete model, the HMCS Harry DeWolfe, allowing the cadets to see the result of the shipyard’s hard work. This experience was invaluable to every cadet because they could see the ships that will be added to the fleet as the cadets are transitioning from their respective colleges to operational duty. It also served an informative role in highlighting the history of the RCN and Irving Shipyard, as well as the future plans for more ships to be constructed by Irving.
Tuesday was just as exciting for the second group of naval cadets. Group #2 had the opportunity to attend damage control school for the day. In the morning cadets were given small briefs in order to teach them the necessary knowledge required to perform damage control in regard to fires. Once they had been taught, the cadets were allowed to execute these new skills and trained with extinguishing fires using different types of fire extinguishers and using the high powered hose.
All members of the RCN are required to attend Battle Control School and are given refresher training over the course of their careers. In the afternoon Group #2 saw much of the same formula, but with flooding. First, they were taught the correct procedures in the events of different flood threats and how to patch these emergencies. Then, the cadets were split into three groups and challenged to test these newfound skills. The groups rotated between three activities. The first involved using a high powered nail gun to attach a slice of metal to, well, anything, but generally places that have a large gash or show structural integrity. The second activity tested the cadets’ ability to respond to a small, low pressure leak. There was a real pipe as one would find while at sea with many holes already bored into it. The cadets were provided with small straps of metal, rubber in order to stopper the holes, and specialized tools necessary to cinch the straps of metal to the rubber and halt the flow of water. Then the water turned on. The cadets had to locate a hole, attach their piece of rubber and cinch it closed with the metal. Although there were more than enough holes for the cadets to block, they all learned theoretical knowledge does not directly translate into practical ability. The final activity was the flood room. The small group of cadets were descended into a room designed to represent a room on board a ship. Without much preparation, jets of water began to stream out of many holes around the room, quickly covering the room. The cadets had to apply their classroom knowledge and do their best to positively affect the situation. This involved sounding the alarm, closing all hatches around the room, and using all available materials in order to block the streams of water. With the water level quickly rising, cadets were forced to work in small teams and limit the flow of water with strips of fabric and chunks of wood. The water was very deep once the instructors shut off the flow of water, in some places reaching up to the neck of some cadets. All in all cadets learned the danger of fires and floods, and had some fun in the process.
Tuesday night was given as free time in order to explore the historic city of Halifax and cadets enjoyed seafood dinners and other Halifax staples.
Wednesday switched the experiences for the two groups: Group #1 was sent to damage control school and run through the same challenges as group #2 the day before, and group #2 was split into specific trade groups and lead around by junior and senior members of their trade as well as receiving the same tour of Irving Shipyard.
Thursday saw the groups experiencing more niche parts of the Navy, the two groups rotated between three groups. The Fleet Diving Unit was the first stop for group #1, where they were given an in-depth brief in order to highlight the importance of the FDU, and then toured through the different abilities of the FDU, including allowing the cadets to control the advanced robots employed by the divers.
The next stop was Shearwater, the home of 423 squadron. Although not a navy unit, Shearwater holds the past helicopters used in naval operations, as well as the new ones recently introduced into the Air Force.
The cadets were given an in-depth bottom to top tour of the new helicopters as well as a tour of the base as a whole. The final stop for group #1 was the Maritime Tactical Operations Group. At MTOG cadets were allowed to experience some of the training MTOG would perform daily. The cadets partnered up and were run through a small simulation in which they had to enter a room, take charge and assess the situation: deciding whether or not to fire on two actors. This gave a very good opportunity for the cadets to apply their tactical training and review on rules of engagement and escalating levels of force.
Thursday concluded in a mess dinner for the Battle of the Atlantic.
The night was a tremendous success, with cadets integrating fully into the situation, surrounded by officers experienced and not so much so. Cadets were also allowed to participate in the traditional strict rules of the mess rules, some being forced by the President of the Mess Committee to sing, dance, tell jokes, and recount stories.
The evening concluded on the top floor of Juno towers and gave the cadets the opportunity to mingle with naval officers of all trade and experiences.
Finally, Friday morning found the cadets on a day sail with the HMCS Halifax. Whether due to the sway of the ship or the festivities of the night before, all cadets were provided with medication and a puke bag prior to disembarking from the dock.
During the daysail the cadets once again split into groups by trade and were allowed to shadow their future selves as the NWO, LOG, NCSE, and CSE officers guided the cadets in tours of the ship, focusing on their day to day activities and the challenges that can be demanded of them while at sea.
The XO’s delight involved sharp turns and a full stop of the ship, definitely not helping with the queasy stomachs of some cadets.
Unfortunately, the daysail came to an end and the cadets were bussed back to their rooms in order to collect their belongings before they boarded a plane in order to bring them back to Kingston or respective university.
All in all, every cadet was given an extremely valuable weekend and left with lessons learned about the navy, its culture, and how their specific trade fits into the overall picture of the RCN.
All cadets are extremely satisfied with this weekend, regretting only the week’s short duration and return to the life of an ROTP cadet.
Great thanks are extended to all the members contributing to this experience without whom this week would not have been possible.
Air Force preamble: While the army and navy cadets were doing their thing during EPT, the Air Force cadets spent the past 5 days on the golf course.
Not really. The following report is what actually happened.
Air Force EPT
OCdt (IV) Ashworth, 4 Squadron
For the Air Force OCdts of the Royal Military College of Canada, EPT was a mix of the classic powerpoint presentations and other activities.
The lectures covered a diverse range of subjects, including life on operations over Iraq and Syria on OP IMPACT, the role of 1 Wing’s Tactical Helicopters, search and rescue, and flight safety.
On Tuesday, we visited the Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. Although I personally have visited the museum several times, it served as the perfect opportunity for those who had not to learn about the history of Canadian aerospace.
Thursday was started with a brief presentation on the role and of DART by its CO, LCol Izatt. After this, we were split into syndicates to simulate the pre-deployment phase of any DART tasking, offering us a unique insight into the considerations and issues when working in a disaster zone.
As a fourth year, I recognise that in two weeks, myself and my peers will be potentially called to do this for real.
Overall, for us in the Air Force, EPT week was a welcome and informative change in pace between exams, and the upcoming sessions of marching up and down the square.