Opinion – IT’S ABOUT TIME!

I was delighted to read Big Changes with RMC Selection Process, the interview with Registrar Lieutenant-Colonel McDonald, in the latest issue of eVeritas. When we carried out what has become known as the * Withers Report, way back in 1998, we identified the MOC selection process as a serious problem and our Recommendation 8j was:

“Ensure that officer cadets are matched with MOCs in a fashion which better meets the needs of the CF and the Individual.”

The comment below this recommendation reads:

“MOC selection must not be made at the recruiting centre. It should be an assignment based upon both preference and suitability and should not occur until after an officer cadet has been exposed to some training and a variety of MOCs. There should be an allocation of MOC slots to RMC each year which would accord with the developed projections for critical needs 3.5 years after the allocation date. The CF should preferentially allot MOC slots most likely to create full career tracks for the officers who fill them. RMC officer cadets would be selected for these allocated MOC slots on a competitive basis, in which both a candidate’s overall performance and a candidate’s suitability for a given MOC would influence the likelihood of getting his/her first choice.”
It looks like it has taken a decade for our recommendation to come to fruition; better late than never.

Back then we discovered that recruiting centres were ‘shading the truth’ by telling candidates that they could always make a change after arrival at the College. This practice continued post 1998. Two cases of personal interest are worthy of note.

A young man with extensive nautical experience, who I recommended, wanted Navy Operations but was assigned Infantry and told that there would be no problem to change later. After two successful academic years at the College he withdrew voluntarily when there was no change.

My granddaughter who had been the cadet leader of her Air Cadet Squadron, was a qualified glider pilot, had served on the staff of the Glider Pilot School and was a scholarship level high school graduate wanted an operational classification. She got a Health Administrator classification and, when she found that there was no possibility of change, withdrew voluntarily.

Once again, I note my delight that a wasteful and rather dishonest practice finally has been rectified.


H2951 Ramsey Withers

General (Ret’d)

* The Withers Report was commissioned by the Board of Governors of RMC and chaired by Gen (Ret’d) Ramsey Withers. Prepared within the environment of the post Somalia recommendations, the report was designed to address DND concerns that, at the time, called into question the very existence of RMC. As we now know, the Wither’s Report successfully demonstrated that RMC has an important contribution to make to the future of Canada’s forces and that the changes required to improve its utility were readily achievable.

General Withers is currently the Honourary President of the Royal Military Colleges of Canada and a regular and avid reader of e-Veritas.


  • Michael Oas - 19026

    October 14, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I’m very happy to see this is receiving visibility (NB I have not read the report). I believe CF recruiting is (perhaps) inadvertantly focused on gross numbers as their performance criteria, and not being required to focus on demonstrating value. I know of many (many) examples at RRMC where cadets were essentially lied to regarding their opportunity to change classifications. My wife was enrolled as an Artillery officer and told changing occupations would be “easy” once she completed basic training and that this was a mere formality to assign her to a default MOC. My younger brother was the same (glider instructor pre-CF), slotted as a MARS officer and this contributed to his decision to leave. I recall after arriving at RRMC that this was, in fact, false guidance.

    What is the cost to the CF and to taxpayers (which I now care about slightly more as a retired civi) in training resources for 2 years and then letting them go when they realize they have been misled? This same practice would never fly in the private sector. With tight budgets and a genuine desire to see our CF properly equiped and trained, I strongly believe CF can no longer afford to think this way… it needs to think smarter.

    For what it’s worth, I believe recruitment needs to circle back 5 years after an enrollment to determine performance value. This would confirm that recruitment is offering benefit in terms of who gets slotted where, and not on raw numbers.

  • François

    October 16, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Indeed, long overdue!

    It happened to me, I was told at the recruiting centre MOC choices were not final and one could change it at the College. At the College I submitted reclassification requests, the answer was: “do Phase II first”, then after the answer “do Phase III then we’ll see”. Finally in 4th year, I was told I could not change, I saw my choices as either going AWOL or doing my time.

    I left soon after the long years of mandatory service. It is hard to serve when you have been double-crossed by the system.

  • Mitch MacLeod

    January 23, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Francois’ comments above are all to familiar. Phase II MARS convinced me I wanted nothing to do with the Navy, but I was not allowed to even be considered for reclass until I completed Phase 3, ” because you don’t know what a naval officer really does, and in any event there are no reclasses out of MARS this year”, which was a whopper of a lie on the part of my Sqn Comd and the Naval SO. (How come MB and SC got their reclasses? So much for “truth”) So I busted my butt on Ph 3, got a B and then they said I was developing some aptitude for the training/classification. Guess what, I ended up on Phase 4 Common and then onto Phase 4. What a waste of training resources and my time.

    Finally six months after grad I got reclassed to what I had been requesting for over two years. It was more than two years after grad before I was fully trained in my new classification and I lost almost four months of seniority through no fault of my own.

    I took particular delight on running into the Sqn Comd some years later in the Trenton AMU en route back from my jump course(“Mitch what are you doing in the Army??!!!!), and after that when I jumped into Royal Roads as a member of the Skyhawks when he was on the staff there.

  • Michael

    April 14, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I have had the same experience as Francois and Mitch. I had a real desire to be in the military but honestly any motivation I had is gone. I was told at the recruiting centre the same thing, that the trade was not fixed and I could change trades. I have applied for a trade change every year I was at RMC culminating in my request for release in my 4th year. Just as Francois was told, wait til you do your next training, again in my 4th year I was told to wait until I had finished my training and was cemented in the trade.

    My degree is not as applicable to my current trade as it is to the one I want to switch to. It baffles me why the military would not want to utilize that skill set. I have recently phoned my career manager and was told, “We do not post based on talent.”

    As it stands, there is little to no chance of me staying past my mandatory service. I am still attempting to change my trade and if not I will try to buy myself out, again. Needless to say I’m disappointed.

  • John Stecyk 11841

    August 17, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    I experienced the same recruiting center run around described above. I wonder how many others have. What a shame. Thanks to General Withers, this is finally changing. Why on earth do good ideas take this long to come to fruition? Where is the Ombudsman? Is there an Ombudsman?

  • J. Allen Stewart, 12342

    September 21, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Unfortunately, the congratulations may be premature. After only one year of delaying the MOSID (formally MOC) assignment until the end of first year, recruiters are going back to the practice of assigning military occupations prior to enrollment. I have been a long time advocate of delaying this process until such time as the cadets have had a chance to become familiar with the various careers in the CF, and the CF has had a good opportunity to better assess each cadets’ particular strengths. As a long time professor and member of the senior academic leadership at RMC, I have only too well seen the problems caused by forcing young men and women into a premature choice about their careers in the armed forces. I was thrilled when those that control the enrollment process agreed to adopt the recommendations of the “Withers Report”. However, I am now dismayed that without a real chance to see if this new process would bear fruit it has been canceled and we are reverting back to the old ways.