Article written by Sergeant Juan D. Nino, RMR
Valcartier, Quebec – 27 July 2017: As a non-commissioned member in the Canadian Armed Forces, the first step towards becoming a designated leader is the Primary Leadership Qualification course. Over the last half-decade, this leadership initiation course has changed dramatically. For the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps in particular, this course has undergone some changes in both curriculum and reputation. The former course, known to many as “PLQ MOD 1 – 6”, was known to be a rite of passage of sorts for those who were expected to move up in rank and take on leadership duties upon the completion of the course. Fondly known as “Mod 6”, the final phase of this course was whispered around the Armory. As someone who attended the former course and then was fortunate enough to teach on the newer “PLQ MOD 1 – 4”, I can say that, although the changes seemed small from the outside, the result was quite different. PLQ for the Infantryman no longer evaluated and prepared these aspiring Master Corporals to be an Infantry Section commander within an Infantry platoon but rather as Section Second-in-Command, following a trajectory like those seen in other Combat Arms within our branch. Now, several years later, I find myself on yet another version of this very important career course. Enter the “Canadian Armed Forces Primary Leadership Qualification course MOD 1-3” (CAF PLQ). Unlike the previous versions, this course is now common to all branches of the Canadian military. On any serial, one may find personnel from both Support and Combat trades. While the CAF moves into this “one-size-fits-all” approach, the Army and the Infantry have each added an additional course, The Army Junior Leadership Course (AJLC) and the Infantry Junior Leadership Course (IJLC) respectively. This final course is separate from the CAF PLQ and completes the leadership portion towards receiving the appointment of Master Corporal.
Serial 1721 of CAF PLQ Mod 1-3 and IJLC, run out of 2 Div IC in CAFB Valcartier, are the first serial of their kind being run by the Canadian Army. It is a challenging course serial as it is run primarily in French with a third of the candidates being Anglophones. Our candidates are diverse in experience and background. To see these young Corporals, develop and grow over the course of the summer has been a great experience. As I told the candidates at the beginning of this season, PLQ is a life changing experience for many. It can give you a different perspective on your career and your life. “1721” is fortunate to find itself wealthy in knowledge and experience among the Directing Staff. Amid all the instructors, there are 10 Sergeants, many with fresh operational experience, having recently returned from operations in the Middle East.
The RMR’s own Sergeant F. Oidi, a highly trained and experienced NCO, works closely with many of the RMR Corporals. All candidates benefit greatly from his tutelage on leadership and soldiering. As the course continues into the field on FTX BELIER INTREPIDE, the candidates will be evaluated cumulatively on all they have been taught during the past nine weeks as they test their resiliency, flexibility, physical fitness and leadership abilities on the demanding 8-day-long exercise. With a work ratio of four hours of rest for every thirty-six hours of work, every member of the section will be challenged constantly on little sleep and they are expected to perform at a high level regardless of the demands placed on them. These is but a small fraction of the expectations placed on these future leaders.
After a rough start to this serial, the RMR now has seven Corporals striving to assume the mantle of leadership and wear the maple leaf above their current double-stacked chevrons. Taking the appointment of Master Corporal is a privilege and one that must be earned. Yet this journey is not over for them as they must continue their passage. They must go on to become masters of weaponry, sharpen their instructional techniques and learn how to be Range Safety Officers during the second phase of their Development Period 2, the Advanced Small Arms course. For the writer, it is an honour and a privilege to pass on knowledge and experience to the leaders of tomorrow. It is their time now. For some, this will be the pinnacle of their career. For others, the journey will continue as Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. In the Primary Reserve, only 1 in 80 soldiers will go on to become an Infantry Sergeant. Are you the one?