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Truth, Duty, Valour
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At RMC every Physics Student takes a course <br>in History and every History Student <br>takes a one in Physics.
At RMC every Physics Student takes a course
in History and every History Student
takes a one in Physics.

Truth, Duty, Valour

The reoriention of the Royal Military College of Canada to new Canadian and global realities provides a model for us all

What sort of education do you suppose it would take to create a top notch Canadian military officer or soldier?

During a four-hour visit to Royal Military College of Canada, my own answer to that question changed dramatically. At that time I had the privilege of meeting with Dr. John Scott Cowan, Principal of RMC. Dr. Cowan impressed me, more than any other Canadian educator that institution which he leads and defends, cares deeply about the quality of the human being which emerges from their convocation ceremony.

He first explained to me the unique environment, in which a Canadian soldier often operates. In most private sector industries an employee is expected to operate with a very narrow and specialized skill set. There is often no requirement to know the job skills of the person across the room and any decisions required outside the scope of their job can be referred to managers above them. If a person with specialized skills falls sick or becomes absent, the worst that can happen is that production, or decisions are delayed. Cowan went on to explain that the reality is very different for the Canadian Armed Forces. A Canadian soldier is usually called upon to operate in an uncontrolled, often hostile environment, where the required specialists may not be available due to combat injuries or other circumstance. Being without the right skills, at the right time, isn't just inconvenient, it jeopardizes the success of the mission and the very lives of the soldiers involved. For this reason cross training in a full range of skills is an essential part of any armed forces education.

Dr. Cowan went on to point out that Canada's foreign ambassadors were once required to interpret or even ˜make up™, Canadian foreign policy in isolation from Ottawa. Today, thanks to instant global communications, diplomatic personnel are expected to refer policy decisions directly to Ottawa. Canadian soldiers on the other hand are thrust into contact with foreign nationals in often-difficult circumstances, where they MAY be required to ˜make up™ Canadian foreign policy on the spot, and at the very least they are called upon to represent their country in a dynamic and complex environment. Failure to function effectively in these situations could have wide ranging negative implications for everyone.Again the training required for these responsibilities requires a depth of knowledge and a wide breadth of understanding of history, human relations and
political dynamics. In order to acquire this diversity of knowledge, each RMC student is required to take on a course-load that will provide them with some understanding of all the topics that will affect their professional lives. Dr. Cowan reflected, “At RMC every history student needs to take a course in physics and every electrical engineering student is required to take a course in history.

This program that Dr. Cowan cares so deeply about, and the vision that drives it, has come from a careful study of the role of played by the Canadian soldier and the unique opportunities that RMC has to provide training specifically tailored to support Canada's forces in carrying out their responsibilities.

This “careful study called the Withers Report was commissioned by the Board of Governors of RMC and chaired by Gen (Ret'd) Ramsey Withers. Prepared within the environment of the post Somalia recommendations, the report was designed to address DND concerns that, at the time, called into question the very existence of RMC. As we now know, the Wither's Report successfully demonstrated that RMC has an important contribution to make to the future of Canada's forces and that the changes required to improve its utility were readily achievable.

In the end the Somalia crisis and the Withers Report have provided RMC with an opportunity for rebirth including:

* strengthening of the communication between RMC and the Canadian Forces;
* improvement in their responsive to the real needs of the Canadian Forces;
* honing of the vision of the role being played by the college.

Previously RMC was a campus designed to educate 950 on campus students. They now operate an additional distance education program that serves more than 5000 armed forces personnel and their families. In addition to expansion into distance education they uphold the cultural integration of the forces by requiring that every student become bilingual, by billeting Anglophone and Francophone students together, and by encouraging racial and gender equality and acceptance throughout.

My discussion with a number of the faculty at RMC faculty proved to me that their motto Truth, Duty, Valour is not simply a public relation slogan but a commitment held in the heart. On departure I asked Dr. Cowan "Why do you care so much?" His answer ¦ Because this is an exercise in Nation Building¦ In the way that water transforms into ice by building around a single crystal, perhaps the new Canada could do worse than to build around the experiences and values of the new RMC.


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