Gregg Centre – Combat Training Centre
Developing Soldiers: the Human Dimension
© 2016 FrontLine Defence (Vol 13, No 2)

Western militaries have traditionally possessed technological overmatch on their adversaries, particularly in operations over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Even in today’s uncertain world of proliferation of both high-end and low-cost technologies, the well-trained and prepared soldier remains the centre-point of the ability for armies to win future conflicts.  The soldier of the future must possess physical, intellectual, and social competencies incorporating elements like physical fitness, capacity for advanced reasoning and decision making skills as well as resiliency and the ability to cope with stress.  By focusing on the human performance of individuals and teams, soldiers will be better positioned to defeat future adversaries regardless of the security threat.

When discussing the human dimension of warfare, the question remains: How do we best prepare our people to incorporate these elements into their performance as soldiers? Over the course of the two-day 2016 Gregg Centre – Combat Training Centre (CTC) Professional Development Conference, 25 professionals, educators, and experts shared their ideas and experiences and provided the opportunity for over 100 other soldiers and educators to frame an answer on how to best benefit from the human dimension.

The theme for the 2016 conference concerned the human dimension of warfare in the past, present and future as it relates to the Canadian Army. The target audience for the conference included the leadership and instructors from CTC, key leadership from the 5th Canadian Division Support Group and its lodger units, as well as graduate students from the Gregg Centre who are undertaking military and strategic studies at the University of New Brunswick. Presentations consisted of a combination of military and academic speakers, in a series of panels, who presented their ideas on topics relevant to their experiences, research and employment.

“We appreciate that our partner, the Gregg Centre Professional Development Conference, is addressing an area of key interest to the Army,” said Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Commander Canadian Army. “The mental and physical health of our soldiers continues to be a priority. It is our goal to provide the best possible support for our soldiers so they can continue to maximize their potential.”

Canadian Armed Forces personnel, along with academics and graduate students from the University of New Brunswick (UNB), discuss the human dimension of warfare in the past, present, and future at the Annual Gregg Centre/Combat Training Centre Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick, 3-4 February 2016.

One of the highlights of the conference was a presentation by Brigadier-General Michael Rouleau, Commander Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) wherein he discussed how the Special Operations Forces address the issue of developing resiliency in their soldiers. His lecture drew on past experiences and current operational issues surrounding some of their successes as well as some of the challenges they regularly face.

Another notable speaker was Dr. Deanna Messervey, a researcher with the Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis. Her discussion of the psychological perspectives on the human dimensions of warfare focused specifically on morale as it relates to the development and application of values and ethics within the Canadian Army.

Since the Gregg Centre’s inception in 2006, CTC has partnered with the University of New Brunswick to provide a professional development venue for military professionals and academics to consider issues relevant to the study of war and the profession of arms within the context of training the soldiers and leaders of the Canadian Army. 

“This event is the culmination of an enormous collective effort which began a number of years ago to bring military personnel, academics, officials from partnered government departments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) together in one place to discuss defence issues of significance to Canada,” said Colonel Craig Aitchison, Commander CTC, and a UNB alumnus. “Through discussion and common understanding of such issues, leaders and academics alike can work toward closing the gap that separates theory and practice to find solutions to current and future challenges shared by both.”

More than 2000 Regular Force members, Primary Reservists and civilian employees contribute to making CTC a true learning organization, providing relevant, credible, realistic, demanding, and safe training that meets the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces. Among the key organizers of the Gregg Centre Conference is the Tactics School, one of the eight schools and two units that comprise CTC.

As part of the Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) simulation training, students are tested on their abilities in the simulation training room at the Army Learning Support Centre, 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, Oromocto, New Brunswick, Canada on June 15, 2015.

Due in large part to forums like the annual Gregg Centre – CTC Conference, ideas can one day become reality, and solutions to complex challenges can be explored and realized. Discussion begets understanding and understanding begets progress. How much greater can that progress be when we increase our own self-understanding?

The aim of this year's event was to:

  • Identify and assess the physical and mental challenges soldiers face in the evolving contemporary operating environment;
  • Compare training methods and capacities to adapt between that which has been done in the past, what is done today, and what other allies do; and
  • Identify how current training methods should be modified to optimize human performance with better trained, more versatile and more resilient soldiers and instructors.

The Combat Training Centre uses state-of-the-art technologies to enhance soldier and leadership training.These range in complexity from simulation systems to individual vehicle and weapon simulators.

The schools of the Combat Training Centre conduct over 600 course serials and host, on average, between 15 000 and 19 000 Regular and Reserve Force students annually.

Leopard Gunnery Skills Trainer (LGST) students train in the Army Simulation Centre at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, Oromocto, New Brunswick, Canada on January 30, 2015.

The Combat Training Centre, a formation of the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre, is headquartered at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown in Oromocto, New Brunswick, and is comprised of eight schools and two units:

  • Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School;
  • Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School;
  • Infantry School;
  • Tactics School;
  • Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering;
  • Canadian Army Trials and Evaluation Unit;
  • Combat Training Centre Headquarters;
  • Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Centre (Trenton, ON);
  • Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers School (Borden, ON); and
  • Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics (Kingston, ON).

More than 2000 Regular Force members, Primary Reservists and civilian employees contribute to making the Combat Training Centre a true learning organization, providing relevant, credible, realistic, demanding, and safe training that meets the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces.

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Captain Ian McIntyre is a DND Public Affairs Officer at the Combat Training Centre Headquarters. He can be reached at 506-422-3143