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2 different views – Rem Westland & Ed Puszkar: ‘RMC Commandant pulls no punches at Toronto Dinner’

Feature photo 8475 Rem Westland; Sorry (no photo available) for 9831 Ed Puszkar

In e-Veritas, Issue 17, we posted an article – RMC Commandant pulls no punches at Toronto Dinner .  8475 Rem Westland, has some strong views on the topic too.

In a previous contribution to this excellent magazine I shared a perspective that resonates well with what the Commandant and Ms. Alleslev are championing on behalf of the colleges. Our “bond” – to pick up on the word used to call us all to arms – is our shared values. Ben Sasse, a former university president and now US senator, observes that the teaching of shared values used to be at the core of structures ranging from families to schools and to governments. He worries that faltering economies break families apart, that American public institutions no longer dare to teach common values, and that private corporations never have.

In a Canada of multiple communities of beliefs and affections, what it means to be a Canadian must be taught. It continues to be taught in the Royal Military Colleges of Canada. I personally think that TDV are still the right values for our times. I agree with those who have observed that we often fall short and that we must always try harder. Not to try at all is not an option.

Because education is a provincial jurisdiction the federal government can play a direct role in the formation of young men and women, on a broad base of academic and practical instruction, only in the military colleges. In the past and in the future RMCC graduates have often played, and will play, roles critical for the country. Where else are large groups of young Canadians taught and trained to set aside personal differences to put one of their own over the top in the collective interest? What institutes of higher learning, other than the Royal Military Colleges, turn out graduates who know that their own success would not have been possible without the critical mass of colleagues and classmates they could count upon both personally and professionally?
It is awfully hard to advance this perspective at senior levels in Canada’s administration and military without sounding self-satisfied. I do not envy the role taken up by the Commandant. I especially admire the courage of Ms. Alleslev to speak publicly on our behalf. The more the message is trumpeted the greater the negative impact of a slip or fall at the college, or of contrary views propounded by disgruntled or skeptical ex-cadets. This presents great risk to politicians.
It might be an interesting question in the next RMCC survey to ask: “If you believe a background at one of Canada’s military colleges is important not only for the military but also for the country, what are the ways in which you think the message can best be shared with all Canadians?” For my part, my graduation ring has pride of place second only to my wedding band. No one ever asks me to explain the wedding band…

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The way that 9831 Ed Puszkar sees it.

I read this with great interest and with some consternation.

There is no doubt that: “In absolute terms there is no other Canadian academic institution that requires anything more than an academic pass.” If RMC were the only source of Officers for the Canadian Military, then I would be in full agreement with what has been stated. When RMC was formed, there was no other source of properly trained “Canadian” Officers to lead our Military. Times have changed — so must the System.

Unfortunately, RMC is no longer the sole source of Canadian Officers. By gross interpolation, given that almost half of our Officer intake are DEO (Auditor General’s Report Fall 2017), one can assume that approximately 50% of all Canadian Military Officers are not RMC grads. This begs the question as to why concentrate on only 50% of the Canadian Military Officer Corp?
There is the statement: “this is the primary differentiation between an officer trained in the summers coming from civilian university versus full immersion in a multi-faceted environment designed to produce high caliber officers.” Regardless of how it was meant, the implication is that those officers accepted into the Canadian Military that are not MilCol, are of ‘lesser’ value or ‘lesser’ standing within the Military Structure.

With what the General has stated, one could interpolate that there is a move to generate or to perpetuate a ‘caste’ system within the Canadian Military Officer Corps. The implication is that more money, time and effort is better spent on the MilCol Graduate than on the ‘Civvy U’ and DEO graduate and produces a ‘better’ officer. Are those individuals that are granted DEO, UTPNCM and ROTP – Civilian University, informed that when they graduate they are ‘lesser’ officers in the Canadian Military because they didn’t get the training that RMC cadets get?
According to the Auditor General’s 2017 Fall Report, “The higher costs were partly attributed to the higher standards that the Royal Military College of Canada set for its graduates. However, National Defence could not demonstrate that these standards resulted in more effective military officers.” It also stated: ” The study also observed that there was no evidence to show that RMC graduates had a stronger grasp of military leadership or proper conduct.” I have no doubt that the General is concerned about this last statement. Yet, according to this same report, it is more cost-effective to graduate officers from DEO and civvy U than from RMC, while still getting a comparable Military Officer. Isn’t that the aim of our recruitment – to get an acceptable individual, properly trained and (I shudder to say it) for the minimum cost?
I am not proposing that we do away with RMC. I understand the original military rationale behind RMC, but why, purposefully and with open bias, ‘hamstring’ approximately 50% of the Canadian Military Officers? Is the purpose of our Canadian Military Recruitment System to ‘differentiate’ between Officers of different educational background? This smacks of the days of ‘Ring Knockers’ and the stigma associated with that label.

Finally, I firmly support improving the military training of ALL our officer candidates, but it should be done across the educational board and without known or implied prejudice to any successful candidate. The System has a DUTY to be fair and a DUTY to be seen to be fair.

9831 Ed Puszkar (no photo available)

One Comment

  • Steven Poole 10472

    May 7, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    As mentioned before, one way to determine value of different intakes for officers is to look at the subsequent length of service, and ‘amortize’ the costs. One cannot underestimate the value of 24/7 active service over 4-5 years vs ROTP civvy u and DEO. There is a socialization that occurs at RMC/CMR that I believe invariably leads to longer careers, and potentially offsets the greater costs. I also think that some of these greater costs are because RRMC and CMR were closed in 1994 and staff were offered a move to RMC Kingston, which then had to augment the number of students to meet the new academic capacity. I was disappointed in the AG’s report as it did not look at ‘value’, and its many factors. For example, closing CMR St Jean was a disaster because the CF fundamentally lost its PQ intake for a decade. I was also disappointed that the report was so easily able to show the problems at RMC, that clearly should not have evolved. The new Cmdt is tasked to fix this part, not question the other intake streams. My 2 cents.