As I write this first blog from the RSMs desk, I am reflecting on what has happened over the past year. Who would have thought as we collectively “took a knee” to help flatten the curve that we would still be dealing with this pandemic a year later.
The COVID 19 mitigation measures that have been put in place have caused us to adjust how we have conducted training, at times transitioning from one type to another with little advance notice. But we are trained to adapt and overcome in challenging situations and we have risen to the challenge.
Last spring as the country was coming to grips on how to deal with the crisis, and with little understanding of what might be asked of them, we had 70 soldiers step up, set aside their careers or studies and volunteer to provide assistance to their communities. That’s 35% of our strength. A true example of our collective desire to support our fellow Canadians.
As the requirement for our support to the pandemic eased with local infrastructure being able to handle the situation again, we transitioned back to individual training that was paused mid March. We were able to get many of our soldiers qualified and prepared to return to in person training. Unfortunately, when we returned to Training in the fall, we could not all train at once in the same space and we adapted again to a hybrid model of in person training and online training, staggered arrival and dispersal times, contact tracing reporting and one day Field Exercises.
This restricted model of training affected not only the way we conducted training and exercises but how we conducted our ceremonies. The April Service of Remembrance parade to the Regimental Church, the change of RSM appointment and the Remembrance Day Parade had to be changed to online virtual ceremonies. Our social media team, led by Capt Lau, have done great work on these ceremonies to bring them to the Regiment and the association members so we can remain connected.
As I said at the start, we have just passed the one year anniversary of our initial pause in all training because of the pandemic. Lessons learned from that proved how vital it is to maintain what individual training we can so we don’t lose any ground on training new recruits and future leaders.
I’m happy to report that we are looking to send 23 candidates on their DP1 infantry, and 6 candidates on their Primary Leadership Courses this summer. Another 5 MCpls on their Rifle Section Commanders Course to qualify them to Sgt and we have one Sgt on their DP3B INF crse getting them closer to promotion to WO. Our training plan of running internal pre-course preparatory training for our personnel heading for career courses is proving to be a successful model with great success rates of those attending courses.
There is a large backlog of personnel needing DP1 and PLQ courses in 4Div. The focus of individual training this summer will be towards clearing this backlog. That means there will be a large need for instructors as well.
For those heading on to courses this summer, keep your ears open and learn from the experience. For those who may be teaching on courses, remember you have the Regiments and the Army’s future in your capable hands. Guide them and nurture them and it will all be worth it.
Stay healthy, stay safe. Keep being positive, but test negative and we will all come through this together.
Chief Warrant Officer
Regimental Sgt Major, 48th Highlanders of Canada
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Dileas Gu Brath