Division Commanders: Army Vision for the Future
Nov 15, 2014

1st Canadian Division

Major-General Dean J. Milner assumed command of the 1st Canadian Division on June 10, 2014. “At 1st Canadian Division, we are constantly training. Our division will maintain a high level of readiness so we can meet our mission requirements; a big focus for us then is training and working with other countries so we are prepared to deploy on very short notice. I have been working 1st Canadian Division soldiers quite hard and we have a number of exercises coming up,” states an enthusiastic MGen Milner.

Canadian Patrol Concentration. (2014 Photo: Cpl True-dee McCarthy)

His plans for the division include the participation in a multinational NATO exercise in September 2015. Working up to that, the division will collaborate with the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and participate in a series of divisional warfighting and battle procedure exercises called Exercise RED DEVIL. In addition, MGen Milner has taken on the added challenge of being in operational command (OPCOM) of 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group for Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE next year.

The 1st Canadian Division has been recognizing its centenary in 2014. “We have commemorated and celebrated our honourable history this year, our participation in World War I and World War II, and we continue to be proud of all we have done and we will respect the next 100 years of the division’s existence.”

MGen Milner considers the best aspect of his current role as the fortune of leading his troops. “I served with a lot of the soldiers here in the 1st Canadian Division, in Bosnia, Afghanistan and other places. When I look at the challenges that the world is faced with, the Army has to be ready to act. My troops are conducting individual training, weapons training, first aid training, and they are strong, they are capable, and this motivates me to be the best leader, after all I am incredibly lucky to be in my position.”

He considers his time in Afghanistan as the pinnacle of his military career so far. “I would say the highlight of my military career to date has been my year in Afghan­istan where I had a Joint Task Force, a US cavalry squadron and two Stryker battalions, the Van Doos, and the Royal Canadian Regiment under my command, and I served alongside a the great Afghan, General Ahmad Habibi. We were fighting. We were building roads and schools in a multinational environment. Canadians played a major role in assisting our fellow NATO countries and the Afghans. This is something all of Canada should be proud of.”

To his troops, he offers, “ You represent our country and help protect people, both at home and internationally. Strive to be the very best you can. Together, we will continue the tradition of serving Canada’s people and respecting the trust placed in us.”

2nd Canadian Division
Brigadier-General Stephane Lafaut
assumed command of the 2nd Canadian Division (2 Cdn Div) and Joint Task Force East (JTFE) on June 21, 2014.

August 2014 – Robert Nicholson, Minister of National Defence, poses with a Royal Canadian Dragoons LAV III crew that was participating in Exercise STALWART GUARDIAN held in the Niagara Region, Ontario. (2014 Photo: MCpl Dan Pop, 4 Cdn Div Public Affairs)

“When I assumed command of the 2nd Canadian Division, I realized the scope of activities involved in its management.” Combined with this responsibility is the additional duty of commanding the Joint Task Force East naval and air force troops. “The difference between what I do now and my previous role as Commander of the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade is significant,” says BGen Lafaut. As for the future of the 2 Cdn Div, he says, “Right now, our focus as the lead division for the next high readiness cycle is training troops for the validation of Task Force 1/15 and Task Force 2/15. Our focus for Joint Task Force East, as part of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, is the conduct, and participation in, Exercise DETERMINED DRAGON.”

3rd Canadian Division
After 30 years of service, Brigadier-General Wayne D. Eyre still vividly recalls the choices facing a new Royal Military College graduate. “I very much wanted to be an infantry officer, so my three choices on my application were infantry, infantry, and infantry. Of course those were thrown back at me so I chose pilot and chaplain, besides infantry. I knew they were not hiring pilots, and being Protestant, I knew they wouldn’t take me as a Roman Catholic chaplain.”

BGen Eyre’s progression to his current rank has featured many deployments and command positions, and in July of 2014, he assumed command of 3 Cdn Div and Joint Task Force West, based in Edmonton.

With just three months in his new role and a focus on the fundamentals of soldiering, BGen Eyre’s plans for the future of the division include the development and implementation of a professional development program. “Armies focus on developing their leaders and soldiers so they can be accomplished at handling the uncertainty that the next conflict will bring. As part of our high readiness training for Task Force 1/16 and 2/16 for next year, we are focusing on the fundamentals of soldiering to ensure that our soldiers have the right qualifications, individual and team training, and have had time to conduct some maintenance on their equipment.”

Another goal is to implement a resiliency program for his soldiers. “We need to ensure that our soldiers can withstand the stressors, not only of conflict, but the stressors that the military lifestyle in general brings. We want to protect them against those stressors and help them thrive and indeed grow in the various military environments to make them stronger individuals and team members. It’s all about performance optimization.”

He says the plan, which will be integrated with existing programs and support services, will focus on all aspects of a soldier’s life – physical, mental, spiritual, and family. “Resiliency is a command issue and not solely an issue for the specialists that are working in our existing programs. It has to be woven into the military lifestyle and we do so as commanders, so that it becomes second nature to everything that we do.”

Soldiers from The Royal Canadian Regiment cross a river obstacle during 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group's Exercise SPARTAN BEAR 2014 (2014 Photo: Corporal Daniel Salisbury, Garrison Imaging Petawawa)

With a strong vision of an integrated team of Regular Force, Reserve Force, and civilian members focused on the output of operational readiness, BGen Eyre paints a clear picture of what he hopes to achieve. “Our focus is on delivering operational readiness to win in an environment (either at home or abroad) that is uncertain, volatile, complex and constantly changing. This is my vision for 3rd Canadian Division.”

Operational readiness is underpinned by a number of factors, and perhaps the most important is “agility” says BGen Eyre, defining it as the ability of soldiers to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances, as well as the Army’s capacity to generate and sustain combat forces of varying sizes, “Our members must be capable of conducting the full spectrum of operations, anything from combat, delivering humanitarian aid or advising foreign forces abroad, to providing disaster relief at home. They can do it and the chain of command can get them ready to do it.”

Key to BGen Eyre’s readiness blueprint is engagement with 3 Cdn Div communities of interest, local community representatives, and also with Canadian Army allies. “Any conflict we enter into, the Canadian Army will be part of a coalition. We have to be interoperable. In my view, interoperability is based on trust and trust is predicated on personal relationships. We must develop strong relationships with our allies and partners, both at home and abroad.”

To his troops, BGen Eyre says “You belong to a great Army and it is only a matter of time before we are called into action again. You need to be proud of who you are, proud of your units, and proud of what you will be called to do. I have no doubt that you will go forward and do many great things.”

4th Canadian Division
In July, Brigadier-General Lowell Thomas was appointed as commander of 4th Canadian Division (4 Cdn Div), headquartered in Toronto. “My job is to make certain that I have well-trained, well-led, highly-disciplined and motivated troops ready to deploy anywhere that the Government of Canada wants them,” says BGen Thomas.

The division is spread across 46 Ontario communities, including the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which has personnel in 20 communities in remote coastal and inland regions in Northern Ontario. “It’s critical to maintain and enhance those linkages, dealing with the provincial and municipal authorities to ensure they understand our capabilities and what we bring to the table in case of an emergency.”

At 4 Cdn Div there are also Joint Task Force (Central), responding to domestic emergencies within the Province of Ontario. “That has to be one of the greatest feelings as a member of the forces, when you are working for the benefit of Canadians at home. It’s amazing to see how appreciative Canadians are for what we do. Our connection with Canadians and maintaining their confidence in what we are able and ready to do is essential.”

(2014 Photo: WO Jerry Kean)

Included in 4 Cdn Div is 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group whose soldiers completed Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE in May, 2014, the Army’s largest annual training exercise held in Wainwright, Alberta, which prepared them for high readiness and possible deployment.

“We are going through significant renewal within the Canadian Armed Forces, and the division is doing the same thing. We try to ensure that we are taking every training opportunity to its maximum effect, learning every time we go out there and maximizing the effect [and enhancing] our overall ability to respond to any operation.”

“We just completed our Reserve summer training concentration, all the individual training for Reserve soldiers across the Division. Exercise STALWART GUARDIAN 2014, in the Welland-Niagara Peninsula, saw approximately 2000 soldiers conducting full-spectrum operations.”

A platoon commander and his signaller from the 2nd battalion Royal Canadian Regiment (2RCR) giving directive using a Light Armour Vehicle 3(LAV 3) for protection during a demonstration of a battle group attack during exercise Common Ground II. (2014 Photo: Sgt Yves Proteau, Combat Training Centre, 5 Cdn Div)
5th Canadian Division
In July 2013, Brigadier-General Nicolas Eldaoud was appointed as the Commander, Land Force Atlantic Area, now referred to as the 5th Canadian Division (5 Cdn Div), in Atlantic Canada. When asked what his job as a Division Commander entails, he replied “I am part of the decision-making process of the Army. As such, in my current role, I deal with all Army-related activities and initiatives in Atlantic Canada through the building of capacity with federal, provincial and local governments across four provinces.”

His experiences and his personable attitude have prepared him well for his current role and his vision for the soldiers, Canadian Rangers and civilian personnel of 5 Cdn Div. “I like to believe that the people under my command don’t work for me, rather, I work for them as they serve the citizens of Canada and the communities they live in. It is my role to reinforce the respect and pride the regiment has within those various communities spanning through four provinces, but also to support a healthy measure of self-pride among my troops,” says BGen Eldaoud.

He supports his troops by ensuring they have the tools and resources required to succeed, the most recent examples being Exercise STRIDENT TRACER, a Division-level collective training event that attracted community and business leaders, and the annual Exercise NORTHERN SOJOURN, a winter warfare / Arctic survival exercise.

Well into his second year of command now, BGen Eldaoud says he is achieving his vision for the Division through direct interaction with key civilian decision makers and by building capacity with provincial and municipal authorities.

“Atlantic Canada is home to just under 20% of all our people in uniform in the military, while the population for the area is less than 9% of Canada. Right there is key evidence of the understanding these communities have in the importance of our military. Working and forming alliances with governing authorities, offers opportunities for people in the Primary Reserve to remain in Atlantic Canada and still earn a decent living,” he observes.
When asked what words of encouragement he would share with the members of 5 Cdn Div and the Army writ large, he divided them into two groups:

For the military members: “At the end of the day you work for the citizens of this country, and you need to remember this. When you present yourselves in public in uniform, you need to remember what this means. Be proud to be a soldier in the Canadian Army.”

For the chain of command and leaders within the Division: “Knowing that our soldiers work for the citizens of this country, you should be humbled to serve and support our regular and reserve units, along with our civilian employees.”

Nov 2014 – Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) hosts Excalibur firing tests conducted by the Department of Land Requirements (DLR) in the training area of CFB Suffield, Alberta. (2014 Photo: Cpl Alex Parenteau, Tactics School, 5 CDN DIV, Support Base Gagetown)

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