I served with distinction in the Royal Canadian Air Force from June 1988 until February 2013. I acquired a number of unique skills and experience in the course of a 25-year career that was steeped in leadership opportunities.
415 (MP) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force
January 1995 – August 2000
For example, imagine applying cosine-angle-off Doppler tracking techniques to find and track a submarine that does not want to be found, while flying 250 kts at 300 ft over the North Atlantic at sea state 3-4 in the dead of night. I had the privilege to fly on the Canadian CP140 Aurora (pictured below – it is the Canadian version of the US Navy P3) with 415 (Maritime Patrol) Squadron out of Greenwood, Nova Scotia. Our primary mission was operational anti-submarine warfare in the GIUK gap against Soviet-era nuclear and diesel submarines. As a crew of 10-13 we also flew fisheries patrols in the “Dumbbells” (the Grand Banks off Newfoundland) and the Davis Strait, open ocean surveillance, anti-pollution patrols, anti-narcotics surveillance, “duckbutts” (trailing Her Majesty the Queen in transit over the Atlantic Ocean), and search and rescue. Notable missions included: responding to the Griffin helicopter crash in November 1996, the Red River Flood in April 1997, and the Swiss Air 111 disaster in September 1998; “joining” with major US Navy carrier battle groups; tracking Russian submarines; flying a low approach over the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetzov; and visiting Iceland, Norway, The Netherlands, Germany, France, England, Scotland, Italy, and Portugal on exercise. I was employed in every navigator seat (Acoustic Sensor Operator, Navigator-Communicator, and Tactical Navigator – rare for a first-tour navigator), was both a Standards and a Training officer, and was the Lead Navigator on a crew in my final year. I was also very proud to be the Squadron’s Historian for most of my tour. This was a tremendous environment in which to both learn and provide leadership. Regrettably the “Swordfish” Squadron was disbanded shortly after I left. Ad Metam!
Canadian Forces College
September 2000 – August 2006
Following my tour as an operational navigator, I spent six intellectually rewarding years on the staff of the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. The mission of the Canadian Forces College is to prepare selected senior Canadian Armed Forces officers, international military, and public service and private sector leaders, for joint command and staff appointments for future strategic responsibilities within a complex global security environment (students can elect to graduate with a Masters of Defence Studies). In my program manager and strategic analyst roles I was heavily involved in executive education for senior military officers (ranks of Major to Brigadier-General) from all branches of service, various NATO nations, and other allies. Our group (the Department of Exercise and Simulation) developed and led two-week intensive strategic planning scenarios similar to planning the invasion of Iraq. The aim of these learning events is to teach the formal strategic planning process used throughout NATO, and to provide instruction in the art of operational design. I led teams of civilian simulation experts as strategic analysts in support of the students; we used simulation models as part of the student planning teams to analyze, evaluate, and recommend strategic courses of action. As a simulation expert and strategic analyst, I was frequently asked to support similar events in an educational capacity at the NATO School, Oberammergau, Germany, and the Fuhrungsakademie, Hamburg, Germany. This period fundamentally shaped my organizational research interests, and it was in this role (as a Modeling and Simulation Staff Officer) that I developed an interest in simulation techniques.
In a secondary role at the Canadian Forces College, I planned and led 10-day tours (staff rides) for 130+ staff and students to the major Canadian battlefields in France (Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, Juno Beach, Caen, Falaise, Beaumont Hamel) and Belgium (Mons, Hill 60, Ypres) from the Great War and World War II. We also had stops at various NATO and national strategic headquarters in Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Joint Task Force Central / Land Force Central Area HQ
September 2009 – July 2011
The Department of National Defence sponsored three years of my PhD at the Rotman School of Management from September 2006 – August 2009. After completing my comprehensive exams and a research project, I was asked to assume a senior strategic planning role at the Joint Task Force Central / Land Force Central Area Headquarters. That is a mouth-full. In short, I worked for the Canadian Army. More specifically, I analyzed the Army’s annual national strategic goals and resource allocations (within the overarching Canadian Forces strategy and budget), and those of our subordinate Army units (Regular Force and Reserve) throughout Ontario, to recommend a strategic plan and resource allocation to the one-star General, Commander Land Force Central Area.
Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre
August 2011 – February 2013
I was asked to put all of my previous experience and education to use within the recruiting system as the officer in charge of educational programs sponsored by the Canadian Forces at civilian universities and colleges. In this role I reviewed educational requirements and program curricula to ensure a match between Canadian Forces needs, and educational opportunities.
I put these next two sections in to round out my time in uniform, but put them last to reflect the fact that these periods were primarily concerned with my own education and training.
Royal Military College
June 1988 – May 1992
Chemical and Materials Engineering student, Cadet Squadron Training Officer, and member/captain of the varsity soccer team. Four incredible years of education in both engineering and leadership, which eventually led to me meeting my future wife.
Canadian Forces Air Navigation School
June 1992 – December 1994
I will use the dates above to maintain the chronology, however I did a number of things between graduation from RMC in May 1992, and the start of my Air Navigator training in December 1993. I had two interesting positions that exposed me to the machinery behind military operations as “on-the-job” training while I waited for my navigator course start. In the first, I built a database on an old Sun Microsystem for the career managers in charge of pilots and air navigators at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. That was followed by a job in the Air Command Operations Centre in Winnipeg. I also played a lot of very competitive soccer with the military teams in both Ottawa, and Winnipeg.
The year of navigator training at CFANS was fascinating. We learned air plot which is now a lost art that used dead-reckoning, a pencil, a ruler, and a protractor. We also learned to use a sextant for celestial navigation – the most ancient form of navigation, and one that unfortunately is no longer practiced. Our airplane was the CT-142 Dash-8, nick-named “Gonzo” because of the very long nose that houses its radar.
I retired in February 2013 after nearly 25 years of service to complete my PhD at the Rotman School of Management, and to pursue a career as an academic.