Looking back, and ahead

LINK - April 2017 / May 31, 2017

By CPO 1 David Arsenault, Naval Reserve Chief Petty Officer

As I write what will be my last article for the Link as the Naval Reserve Chief Petty Officer, I can't help but look back at all that has happened during the incredible three years I was honoured to serve in this position. When I took on this appointment, the Naval Reserve was being swept up in Naval Transformation and the organizational changes that placed the Naval Reserve under the pan-RCN force generation organization led by the Commander, Maritime Forces Pacific. The time since has seen tremendous change as the Naval Reserve became fully integrated into Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) governance and benefitted from the full weight of the RCN's Strategic Management initiatives such as the RCN Occupation Review, the Naval Reserve Establishment Review, and the Future Naval Training Strategy plan. At the same time, we fully embraced the new mission of augmenting the RCN wherever it deploys, with large numbers of reservists deploying in Halifax, Iroquois and Kingston-class ships on international operations, doing drug-interdiction missions on Operation CARRIBE, and participating in exercises preparing for the first Naval Security Team deployment to South Korea in summer of 2017. All of this resulted in great improvements to the way we manage our organization and integrate within the One-Navy concept, while generating incredible opportunities for Naval Reserve sailors to contribute directly to naval operations in the defence of Canada.

I'm extremely proud of how far Naval Reserve has come over the past three years. It is the result of a clear vision, impassioned leadership, and dedicated hard work on the part of a great many people. It started with the strong commitment to a strengthened Naval Reserve displayed by Admirals Truelove, Couturier and McDonald as Commander, Maritime Forces Pacific, supported by Formation Chief Petty Officers Chief Petty Officer 1st Class (CPO 1) Feltham and CPO 1 Grégoire. Commodores (Cmdre) Craig and Mulkins have steered the ship skillfully, while Deputy Commanders Captain (Navy) (Capt(N)) Marrack and Capt(N) Ross have driven the outstanding staff at Naval Reserve Headquarters through this tumultuous period of change - ably assisted by a trio of exceptional regular force Chiefs of Staff who held all of the moving parts together, another outstanding example of the One-Navy construct. The Regional Capt(N)s and CPO 1s, their regional staffs, and all of the staff at Naval Reserve Headquarter have all likewise demonstrated tremendous dedication and perseverance in enabling this successful transformation and should be commended for their work - as should many others.

As proud as I am of our collective accomplishments over the past three years, I am equally encouraged by the promising initiatives that are just now taking hold and will continue to transform the Naval Reserve over the next five years. The stand-up of the Naval Reserve Recruiting Group and its featured "Expedited Enrollment" program will fundamentally alter how the Naval Reserve attracts and enrolls recruits, hopefully allowing us to return to historic strength levels and meet future growth targets. Likewise, the return of recruit training to a significantly in-unit delivery method, supported by a shortened common residential phase, will better meet the availability of our recruits and help reinstate a strong sense of belonging to the home Naval Reserve Division (NRD) while maintaining a robust national standard of training. And finally, as the Naval Reserve Establishment Review Phase II project starts to share its initial findings, I am optimistic that our organization structure including rank and trade allocations, NRD compositions, and an increased focus on attracting former regular force members of all trades will result in a strong foundation on which to build the organization as the Naval Reserve enters its second century of service to Canada in 2023.

Turning my thoughts to the present, I would like to pass on congratulations to a few members of the Naval Reserve who have been recognized lately. Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Carmen Lapointe (Carleton) received the Commander RCN Commendation for her work in the construction of Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Carleton's new facility, as did CPO 1 Chris Radimer (Star) for his efforts in the initial stand up of Personal Coordination Center (Quebec). Leading Seaman (LS) Spencer Lee (Queen Charlotte) has just been selected to represent the Naval Reserve as one of the cenotaph sentries for the National Battle of the Atlantic ceremony in Ottawa, and LS Marc-Oliver Bélanger-Pagé (Donnacona), LS Luke Greenwood (Cabot), Able Seaman Ryan Romaniuk (Prevost), and Ordinary Seaman Lyne Bonhomme (Donnacona) have all been selected for the National Sentry Program this spring at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. And finally, LS Jennifer Donaldson of Naval Reserve Headquarter was recently announced as the Naval Reserve Sailor of the Year for 2016. LS Donaldson demonstrated outstanding dedication in her work at the Headquarter with Senior Staff Officer Personal and Personal Coordination Center (Quebec), in volunteering for ceremonial events and playing with the Montcalm band, and in her community as well. Bravo Zulu to all of these fine sailors, and the many others who have recently received Maritime Forces Pacific and Naval Reserve Bravo Zulu or unit awards.

In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge every member of the Naval Reserve for your passion and dedication to this outstanding organization. After almost 33 years of service to Naval Reserve, I am moving on to whatever my next challenge may be with a somewhat heavy heart, but with great optimism that the future of the Naval Reserve is a bright one. I want to close by offering heartfelt thanks to Cmdre Marta Mulkins and Capt(N) Chris Ross - it has been my absolute pleasure to serve on the Naval Reserve Command Triad with both of them these last two years. I also wish to congratulate CPO 1 Mike Giguère as he steps forward to take on the role of Naval Reserve CPO - he is a very worthy selection and he has my full confidence that the non-commissioned members corps of the Naval Reserve will be in good hands under his leadership. Best of luck to these three and to every other member of the Naval Reserve, and "fair winds and following seas" for the future!