Always Ready: 10 Sqn Comd Capt Russell Ready
By 27832 OCdt (I) Pablo Cardona – 12 Squadron
Captain Russell Ready was born 35 years ago and spent most of his life living in the small Southwestern Ontario town of Appin. The proud history of the Canadian Armed Forces heavily influenced him during his childhood. His grandfather, who enlisted to fight in World War Two, proudly served for 28 years. Growing up, he heard endless tales of war and learned what it meant to be a member of the Canadian Armed Forces [CAF] family.
After finishing high school, Capt Ready attended College to become a firefighter. Although he did well in school, he learned that it was difficult to get a job as a firefighter and maintaining qualifications was both costly and time-consuming. Capt Ready had “always been taught that if you go to school and work hard, [and he always worked hard], you’d get a good job” but the bureaucracy of firefighting led him to realize “that’s not always the case.” After this, he spent two years travelling Europe, learning more about himself and the world. When he returned, he worked in landscaping, practiced martial arts and boxing. Eventually, he decided to seek a full time career and applied to the CAF.
Although Capt Ready initially applied as a firefighter Non-Commissioned Member [NCM], his academic record impressed the recruiter who urged him to consider becoming an officer. Capt Ready’s familial connection to the CAF sparked an interest in combat arms, leading him to apply to become an Armour Officer. He knew that he “wanted to be in the front, to be the pointy edge of the spear but also to share in the enduring of difficult events and training,” and combat arms provided those opportunities. Capt Ready’s love of martial arts also came into play, because like hand-to-hand fighting, “you’re face to face with your opponent […] and armour was the closest [he] was going to get to that face-to-face fight.”
It took two years for Capt Ready to complete the recruitment process. Although he considered attending RMC, he decided that his best option was to start university while the application was underway. He began attending the University of Western Ontario (Western) at age 26 and studied at Huron College (an affiliate of Western). Compared to most of the undergraduates at Western, Capt Ready “had a decent amount of life experience” and he “enjoyed the mentorship and helping them find their paths in life.” He enrolled in the CAF at the age of 27 and completed three years in the ROTP – Civilian University program.
Capt Ready graduated from Western with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Political Science and Global Studies. This degree helped him develop an awareness of why turmoil exists in the world. Similarly, it helped him learn about the power of both institutions and everyday people and their role in geopolitics. An officer in the profession of arms has “got to be well aware of all the players in conflict areas, the institutions, the people [and] the unofficial powers.” Capt Ready enjoyed his time at Huron College, stating that “going to civi U was a good fit for me because I worked hard and wanted to be successful.”
After finishing his armoured phase training, Capt Ready became a troop leader with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Canada’s most senior armoured regiment. While serving as troop leader, he was named designated assistant for the family of a soldier who passed away. Capt Ready was informed of the death two weeks after he completed the designated assistant course, on Remembrance Day no less. After overcoming the initial shock, he realized that he “had to be the strong one in that situation” to help a grieving family. At the same time, he displayed a great deal of compassion and became a shoulder to cry on. Helping a family overcome loss reminded him that “caring for people is a big part of this job.”
Afterwards, he was moved to Petawawa Brigade Headquarters where he was the executive assistant for the Second Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group commander, BGen (then Col) Peter Dawe. When considering his next posting, Capt Ready wished for an overseas tour, however his inexperience prevented him from going. Instead, he took a keen interest in RMC. While he completed his Armour Phase Training, he had encountered several RMC cadets who, “while being athletic and capable, did not possess an attitude conducive to learning.” Eager to address what may have caused these cadets to become frustrated with the CAF, Capt Ready accepted a posting at RMC as the 1 Squadron Commander. He was moved to 10 Squadron this year and has learned that “every squadron has their own society within the society of RMC.”
Capt Ready’s job as a squadron commander is a mix of mentoring cadets and administering on their behalf. One administrative duty that consumes much of his time are VOT-U applications. Capt Ready has always been more than happy to help cadets transfer to trades that are better fits for them. He’s had the chance to work with officers from different elements and has learned that each element has their own attitude to being in the CAF and that they can benefit from each other’s experience.
Working with cadets has changed Capt Ready’s perspective on RMC. He understands that cadets have a lot to balance and must overcome daily challenges. Through this, he’s come to admire the work ethic of the cadet wing. He’s seen people struggle to meet RMC’s standards but instead of writing them off, he’s willing to take “all the time in the world to help those people be successful.” He admires the determination of those who refuse to quit and “would rather see a cadet work their behind off to get 251 on the PPT and get their first pass than see a cadet come here who gets 400 easily.” Ultimately, those who endlessly strive to improve will be the “ones who won’t give up and who’ll look after their buddies” when the going gets tough.
“Cadets that do embrace this place and have the right attitude […] will leave this place well prepared” for a career in the CAF. While Civilian University was a good fit for Capt Ready, he does regret not having some of the opportunities available at RMC. Among these is the opportunity to learn French, a necessity in a bilingual military. Another advantage is having the opportunity to learn the administrative side of officership. Finally, cadets are in environment where they can learn from experienced CAF members as they develop their personal leadership style. Given this, Capt Ready believes that “RMC has the potential to far better prepare you for a career” than any other avenue of enrollment.
Capt Ready’s experience has taught him what it takes to be a successful officer. Physical fitness is key, not only to pass a PPT or run a marathon, but because fitness allows an individual to thrive in the toughest circumstances. Adopting a team mentality strengthens individuals during trying times. Capt Ready reminds us that one of our most fundamental duties is to look after each other. Ultimately, his best piece of advice is that “if you’re a good dude or dudette, and you work hard, this might be place for you.”
In his free time, Capt Ready still practices martial arts and admires Georges St-Pierre, “a true martial artist.” Recently, he’s taken an interest in hunting and bushcraft. He’d like “to actually experience what is to get food right from the source” because “in a globalized world we are all so far removed from the products we buy and the food we eat and [he] thinks that’s a big problem and a lot of us should want to be closer to that supply chain.”
In his short time as an officer, Capt Ready’s career has been dynamic and incredibly rewarding. This summer, he will leave RMC and return to the RCD in Gagetown where he will serve with C Squadron. His “career could go wide open, into a million different directions” and one day he hopes to be the OC of an armoured squadron and to be posted in Yellowknife to learn to live in a new environment. He’d also like the opportunity to travel to conflict areas and help Canada restore peace. If fate allows, he’d consider returning to RMC.