The Importance of Personal Soldier Skills

Article written by Officer Cadet Stelios Klapsis

Westmount, Quebec – 16 March 2016: In the Canadian Armed Forces ensuring that the personal soldier skills are as fresh as possible is a very important task. Throughout the training year, the Royal Montreal Regiment schedules mandated training for many weekends. Some of these are Individual Battle Task Standard (IBTS) weekends. These trainings are significant for soldiers at a personal level because they allow them to requalify and maintain currency on key skills that lead to a successful battle unit.

On February 13th – 14th The Royal Montreal Regiment (RMR) ran an IBTS weekend aimed at maintaining currency in skills related to reacting to Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats. To accomplish this the troops ran dry tests, training without the use of any gas, so that a uniform standard was met amongst the main body. This dry test was run on the 13th and included the correct sequence of actions when reacting to a gas or chemical threat by masking up within the required 9 seconds, wearing and working in the protective suit that accompanies the mask in CBRN environments, drinking while wearing the mask in a CBRN environment and conduct of the decontamination routine.

RMR soldiers checking their CBRN equipment outside of the gas hut on Exercise RENEWED VIGOR in 2013
RMR soldiers checking their CBRN equipment outside of the Farnham gas hut on Exercise RENEWED VIGOR in 2013

On February 14th we traveled to Farnham Garrison for the purpose of running the training in a «live» environment in order to requalify. To accomplish this a sealed building often called a gas hut is exposed to CS gas. CS gas is largely similar to tear gas and is not harmful, however, it does allow for a level of realism when training to respond to CBRN threats. The gas hut is then utilized to run the same training as the previous day, except that this time around the soldiers were exposed to actual gas as opposed to a simulation.

The importance of personal soldier skills can’t be understated. Training is designed to allow each and every soldier to remain current in these skills. Soldiers depend on each other to have the ability to execute these necessary skills. This type of training is also a great opportunity for soldiers to bond with the people they work with and build unit cohesion. Being able to function well as a team is just as important as being able to carry out a drill in a timely fashion. In the army you’re never alone and you’re always depending on the buddies to your left and to your right. Training is more than just the specific set of skills you’re working on at any one given time.

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