Brent Fisher: In Conversation With Commodore Truelove

24712 Brent Fisher (RMCC 2010) is a volunteer and regular contributor to e-Veritas. In addition to his high quality e-V contributions, Brent helps out in a number of other important areas within the RMC Club of Canada. Most notably, he assists with our quarterly club membership renewal drives, and completes other special assignments that have proven to be very helpful to our entire organization.

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“General Gosselin, Sir – I have the watch!”

Commodore Bill Truelove – Incoming RMCC commandant – 17 July 2009

By: 24712 Brent Fisher – exclusive to e-Veritas

With the recent changeover of the Director of Cadets position at the Royal Military College, we were quickly reminded that this time of year marks another important milestone for college leadership: The one year mark of Cmdre Truelove’s appointment as Commandant.

Yes, it was one year ago this past week that 15185 Commodore Bill Truelove (RRMC 1985) arrived in Kingston to become the 43rd Commandant of RMCC. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Cmdre Truelove on the subject of this occasion.

Q. First of all, do you consider this week as marking the half-way point of your tenure as Commandant, or do you take on a different perspective?

A. Well, I’d like to start off by thanking e-Veritas for the incredible role that they play at the college. One thing I’ve heard continuously throughout my first year from cadets, staff, alumni, and friends of RMCC is how much they value and appreciate the great work done by the e-Veritas team in keeping everyone connected with all that is going on at the college.

On the question of whether this week marks the “half-way” point, I’ve long ago stopped stating with any certainty how long any posting is. Brenda and I have been blessed with a tremendous career full of many great assignments. When I assumed command here last summer, it marked seven different jobs in seven years, so this summer is very unique in that we’re not loading up a moving van or adjusting to a new surrounding – something that we’re really enjoying.

I see this week as a chance to review the past year and prepare for the year ahead. It is that time of year when transition happens, and we’ve seen a bit of that over the past weeks – a normal part of the ‘battle rhythm’ of any CF unit.

Q. What were your initial thoughts upon arriving at RMCC, and how have these changed one year later?

A. Brenda and I were absolutely thrilled to arrive here at RMCC last summer and have enjoyed every minute of our first year at the college. It was clear upon our arrival that the college had been in great hands under MGen Lawson and that the quality of all the programs was high. With 134 years of history behind it, RMCC is well established and is providing excellent training and education for the cadets.

Over the past year we put emphasis on a couple of key areas: First, cadets in leadership. I think that it is very important that the cadets be given every opportunity to develop their leadership skills and I have been very pleased with how they have taken on the increased demands placed on them as barmen. As you’ve heard me say, I empower the cadets to lead the Wing and I hold them responsible and accountable for doing so under the guidance and mentorship of the terrific Mil Wing staff. We made tremendous progress in this area last year, and we will be expecting more of the same in the year ahead.

A second area of concern for me was the physical state of the infrastructure and specifically the accommodation blocks. Through tremendous work by a number of supporters across the CF, we are seeing rapid progress to address these issues. A walk around the college today will reveal the scope of work ongoing – all aimed at ensuring that the college is well positioned for the future and that the cadets are living in an environment that is safe and healthy.

Q. This spring marked the 25th anniversary since you marched off the parade square at Royal Roads as the Cadet Wing Commander. What have you found to be the greatest distinguishing features between RRMC and RMCC?

A. It’s hard to believe that 25 years has passed. I’m certainly looking forward to Reunion Weekend and to reconnecting with my classmates. I’m also very excited that we’ll be able to take home, to RRU in Sept, the original RRMC colours that have been in storage here at RMCC since Royal Roads closed.

Both RMCC and RRMC have a great history, and share a common mission – to train and educate leaders for the Canadian Forces. RRMC, like RMCC, did that very well, as has been confirmed by the success of many of its graduates. The most obvious distinguishing feature between the two colleges was their size. RRMC was a much smaller college and as a result, the cadets tended to know each other better.

Q. I have lived in the Kingston area for most of my life, and I’m fortunate to be staying even longer. What do you like most about living in Kingston?

A. Brenda, Ashley, and I love Kingston. We have enjoyed all aspects of the community and have been honoured to participate in a broad range of activities. Of course, over the past year we also had our exchange daughter, Tina, with us, so we were able to share Kingston and Canada with her. She left on 10 July full of fond memories.

We have also enjoyed the great privilege of living in the residence and sharing it with the cadets. Being close to the water has also allowed Brenda and I to get back out in the kayaks. So, there has been a lot to see and do here in Kingston, and we’re trying to maximize the experience.

Q. No doubt you have encountered several surprises at work throughout the past 12 months. Are there any particular moments that you would like to share with us?

A. I wouldn’t describe them as ‘surprises’ but I would say that I have been incredibly impressed by the deep commitment of the entire military and civilian team at RMCC to the success of the cadets. I always remind folks that our core mission is, and has always been, to produce well trained and educated young officers for the CF through the ROTP/RETP/UTPNCM programs. While over time many other programs have been added to the college, we can never lose sight of this fundamental mission.

Brenda and I have had the pleasure of participating in so many wonderful events with the cadets across all components of the college – cheering on the sports teams, attending the concerts, lectures, debates and socials, participating in West Point weekend and Sandhurst, and representing the college at a large number of events here in Kingston and across the country. We particularly enjoy every opportunity to “brag” about the college and all the wonderful cadets to anyone who will listen. The “College Mom” is particularly passionate about ensuring that her “kids” are being fully supported, and she holds me accountable for ensuring that the cadets are being well looked after and are living in a safe and healthy environment.

Q. There will be a great deal of staff changeover throughout the summer. How do you feel about this change, and how will seeing new faces affect your job?

A. Change is a normal part of life in every CF unit, and it keeps us fresh and moving forward. It is healthy for any organization, and I am really looking forward to working with the new members of the RMCC team. They are all incredibly experienced leaders who will bring new ideas as well as recent operational experience.

Q. On several occasions you have referred to RMCC as a “ship in the turn.” What are your thoughts on this change, and how do you envision the college one year from now?

A. As I mentioned above, one of my highest priorities since arriving is having cadets in leadership and taking responsibility for the Cadet Wing. I have been very pleased with the progress made over the past year but I still think that there is some work to be done, and this will continue to be a focus over the next year.

I will also remain focused on ensuring that the infrastructure challenges are being addressed to ensure the long term health of the college. We have already seen a great deal of activity start and I look forward to seeing work commence very soon on Champlain Block as well as having the first mod of Sawyer Girouard completed over the next year. In the longer term, I hope to continue preliminary work for a new College Library Complex, an artificial turf field with dome, as well as looking at other areas of the college.

Q. Besides the notable absence of the Class of 2010, what do you expect to be the greatest challenge throughout the upcoming year?

A. I am very proud of the Class of 2010. They are a great group of young leaders who I’m sure will do very well in their careers.

Brenda and I are looking forward to another great year ahead. As with any CF unit, there are the normal challenges related to personnel and budget, but overall, RMCC is doing pretty well. I think that the challenges ahead will be largely those of “dealing with progress.” By this I mean that the college will experience considerable disruption over the next year due to all the construction that is underway. This is the “price” of ensuring the college remains in great shape for the future. It will, however, require a bit of patience, flexibility, and cooperation, but I’m confident that everyone will work together to help us get this necessary work done.

Q. You are a firm believer in always expanding one’s knowledge through reading. I would like to know the books and magazines that are on your bedside table these days.

A. Thanks, and great questions – you have been listening!!! I have always been a big reader because I believe that it is essential both as a citizen and as a member of the CF to remain current and informed. I have a daily habit of scanning, online, the headlines from a large number of newspapers around the world. This allows me to get a sense of what’s important in the various regions of the globe. I also take time every morning to read the Globe and Devoir to get a Canadian perspective – in both official languages.

On the magazine side, I read the Economist weekly and look forward to my monthly editions of Runner’s World and periodic editions of Foreign Policy and Proceedings.

On the book front, I’ve recently read Greg Mortenson’s Stones and Schools, David Cloud and Greg Jaffe’s The Fourth Star, and Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. On the nightstand now I have Michael Reid’s Forgotten Continent – The Battle for Latin America’s Soul and Roger Barnett’s Navy Strategic Culture.

Q. I was pleased to read that recent graduate Ian Wookey was able to attend your latest brunch. Will there be other opportunities for ex-cadets recently taken off of rations (who have not yet perfected the art of cooking) to attend a brunch?

A. We would love to have you over again – as long as you clean your dishes before leaving.

Q. Sir, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Any final thoughts before we depart?

A. Thanks for taking the time. It’s been an incredible year in which I have probably learned more than anyone else at the college. Every promotion and new assignment brings new challenges and opportunities to learn. I have enjoyed all aspects of the position and I am incredibly grateful to the entire college team for the support, advice, and assistance that they provide every day. I try to never lose sight of the fact that everyone at RMCC is passionate about what they do and that human nature tends to make individuals think that their “part ship” is the most important – the key is to realize that all the “part ships” are important to ensure that the entire “ship” achieves mission success. I am very confident that this is fully understood amongst the senior leadership of the college and thus, I know that the college is well positioned for continued success in the year ahead.

Finally, thanks again to the e-Veritas team and indeed, to the RMC Club and Foundation for the vital support that they provide the college. I am most appreciative of their unwavering commitment to the success of the college and the cadets, and I thank the leadership and membership of both organizations for this support.

Photos by: Brad Lowe – Caption:  Commodore Bill Truelove taking the salute at the July 5, 2010 Change of Command parade for Director of Cadets.