E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) in conversation with 11330 LGen (ret) Angus Watt (CMR 1977), former member of the CMR Museum Club.
11330 Angus Watt: I spent 37 years in the Air Force and retired in 2009. During my military career, I trained as a pilot, flew Sea King helicopters and was a flight instructor. I served in many staff positions, mostly focused on coordinating and supervising current operations. I did a tour at NATO HQ in Brussels in the 1980s and I was the NORAD Director of Operations in Colorado Springs. I also commanded at numerous levels, including Op APOLLO in 2002 and Dep Comd of ISAF in Afghanistan in 2006. My last few years in uniform were spent as Chief of the Air Staff (Commander of Canada’s Air Force). After my military service, I taught strategic leadership at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto for several years. I was a Senior Mentor for the National Security Programme, essentially teaching Colonels how to be good Generals. It was a very rewarding experience to be able to help shape the next generation of senior military leaders.
e-Veritas: What was Cadet life like at CMR St Jean in the mid 1970s?
11330 Angus Watt: It was dynamic, disciplined, frustrating and exciting. Probably just like it is today. To be sure, some of the regulations and processes likely have changed over the last 40 years, but I am sure that it still holds true that if you throw a group of young, energetic, motivated and intelligent Canadians together for several years in the right framework like RMC/CMR, it will generate a transformational life experience.
e-Veritas: You were a member of the museum club at CMR which developed the Fort Saint-Jean Museum.
11330 Angus Watt: I really was a small bit player. 9540 Paul Jenkins (CMR 1973); 11690 Simon Macdowall (CMR 1978); and 11282 Ross Macfarlane (CMR 1977) were the ones that made things happen. I liked history and model making and this club fit those interests, but I was just one of the members. In fact, I still indulge in model making and I have a house full of models of wooden sailing ships that I have constructed over the years.
Some of the models I have built:
e-Veritas: In your office as Chief of the Air Staff, you displayed a poster which was designed at the outset of the Second World War with the St Edward’s Crown of England and the words of King George VI spoken at a moment of great stress for his countrymen – simply “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
11330 Angus Watt: Yes, I bought that poster before they became so widespread and popular in Canada. During my career, I came to appreciate the old saying that 90% of the outcome of a crisis depends on your reaction; only 10% depends on the crisis itself. That poster captured the essence of that thought so well, I had it installed in my office to remind my subordinates of how I like things to work.
e-Veritas: What are you up to these days?
11330 Angus Watt: In January 2012, I was appointed President and CEO of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA). With responsibility for screening operations at 89 airports across Canada, it keeps me busy and out of trouble!
e-Veritas: Outline the role of CATSA. Any tips?
11330 Angus Watt: After the events of 9/11, CATSA was created in 2002 as a Crown corporation to secure critical elements of the air transportation system in Canada – from passenger screening to baggage screening. A key tip for travelers is to come prepared. CATSA has a very detailed website which outlines what you can and cannot pack. Save yourself some trouble at the airport by planning ahead. (http://www.catsa.gc.ca/)