ED Note: The following article by Capt James Anderson is one of four armoured corps related articles which were all written during the Spring of 2014. They were originally scheduled to appear in the Summer edition of the Veritas magazine. Due to a large number of other submitted articles, space limitations became a problem. Consequently they have been reassigned to e-Veritas.
The articles are well done, still relevant and are aimed at the cadet readership. Others will certainly find them interesting too.
In an effort to prevent overload we have decided to spread these articles over four Issues. If you missed the first installment by Capt John Kim it can be found here.
RMCC to Battle Captain
23105 Capt James Anderson
Following your time as a Tp Ldr and ERE you will likely be posted back to your Regiment. If you have displayed the skills and leadership necessary to show potential for advancement, and are extremely lucky, you will get to be a Battle Captain (BC) in a Tank or Reconnaissance Squadron (Sqn). A BC is a unique position in that you are a senior member of the Sqn’s leadership, but are still a pseudo-Tp Ldr for Sqn Headquarters (SHQ) Troop. You will still be responsible for the administration, employment, and training of the soldiers in SHQ while performing the tasks of a BC for the remainder of the Sqn.
As a BC, you will be responsible for all training, exercises, courses, vehicle maintenance schedules, and taskings for the Sqn. You will need to be well-versed in how to run Primary Combat Function (PCF) courses, ranges, Individual Battle Task Standards (IBTS) tasks, exercise planning, and managing soldiers to support courses or vehicle displays for a parade. Working with the other Sqns at your Regiment to de-conflict tasks, and how to offer and ask for help is one of the best skills to acquire. Fortunately, you are not alone in this task. Your primary teammate in this is the Sqn Operations (Ops) Sgt, which in a Tank Sqn is the OC’s Loader. The Ops Sgt is your main go-to and resolves many of the daily issues that would otherwise rob your time. There will undoubtedly be various reports and returns due, from IBTS trackers for a High Readiness Sqn, Vehicle States, Qualification Lists, Activity Trackers, Weekly Training Calendars and Nominal Rolls to name a few. A good Ops Sgt will help ease this burden, so it is important to cultivate a strong working relationship with them and establish trust.
One of the most important tasks you have as a BC is planning courses. This is critical to maintain the Sqn’s ability to be cross-trained to fill multiple roles and replace soldiers as they get posted, tasked out, and when in battle, killed in operations. Your Sqn Sergeant-Major (SSM) will play a crucial role in this as he or she will be best suited to provide names for who needs what courses in order to advance their career, or who is best suited to get a particular qualification in a competitive environment. As the most senior NCO in the Sqn, you should be seeking the SSM’s advice if you have any questions and take advantage of their years of experience as a professional soldier.
Another aspect of what makes being a BC unique is that it is the first time where you, as a junior officer, are mentoring other junior officers. The BC plays an important role in developing the Tp Ldrs within the Sqn and will undoubtedly add one’s own style and flavour of leadership to the OC’s, who is ultimately responsible for all things within the Sqn. Try to remember what you wanted to know as a Tp Ldr, and pass that on! Recall what type of BC you had as a subaltern and pick what parts you want to emulate.
So how does this affect you now? What do you learn during phase training or at RMCC to help you become a potential BC and what don’t you learn that you need? Phase training is geared towards teaching you how to be a Tp Ldr and give you a basic understanding of your trade and your first job at the Regiment. From there you will learn all about the administrative and disciplinary system that we all must work within. You must endeavour to continue to develop as a leader and as an armoured officer. While your CO and Career Manager have a major impact on your career, you cannot just sit back and idly wait. You must continue to strive for excellence and take your professional development as a personal goal and keep working to complete CAF Junior Officer Development, Army Junior Officer Staff Qualification, Army Tactical Officer Course, second language training, and physical fitness. If you have potential, you will eventually be course loaded onto Army Operations Course, which will set you up for success when you return to your beloved Regiment. Seize the opportunity!