PD and A Party - Black Hat Week 2011
By Lt Ryan Lee
Black Hat week is an important week at the Regiment. It briefs junior officers on the process of career progression, and reminds those with a little more time in of the importance of “getting all that PD done.” The Armour Officer Career Manager, Maj Christian Caron, left the crowd feeling a little overwhelmed when he ‘suggested’ that we each learn French, complete OPMEs/AJOSQ, and get two masters degrees. Thankfully the CO told us to relax about the masters degree and instead focus on the more pressing PD, allowing us to breathe an ever so small sigh of relief.
As the Black Hat week continued, many of the subbies were tasked as aides de camp as there were several high ranking Strathconas, such as the Colonel of the Regiment, MGen (Ret’d) Cam Ross, the senior serving Strathcona, BGen Craig Hilton, and the Regimental Colonel, Col Dave Rundle, visiting the Regiment. In addition, luminaries from throughout the Corps were present, including the Colonel Commandant, MGen (Ret’d) Clive Addy, the Senior Serving Army Black Hat, MGen Steve Bowes, the Director Armour, Col Mike Nixon, and the Commandant of the Armour School, LCol James Malejczuk. After three days of escorting these distinguished gentlemen around the base they were certain we subbies were anxious to be rid of them – however, I think it was the other way around; they were anxious to be rid of us constantly peering over their shoulders and offering, ‘More Drinks!’
Some of the Black Hat week PD saw groups of young subalterns working together to try to solve some of the problems our OCs had been working on for months. One of the groups tackled the problem of having a mixed fleet of tanks and how they could be incorporated into two squadrons, whether they would be identical or have a training and ops squadron separately. After a few hard hours and four or five coffees we may have felt the problems had been solved, but that was only until SSM HQ Sqn, MWO Tony Batty, walked in and told us that we had essentially forgotten about the entire echelon. Soon after that encounter we decided that not including the echelon in our plans would simply be an assumption. It was a valuable exercise in perseverance and exposed some of the newer officers to the types of problems dealt with at higher levels, and made some of us much less eager to take our bosses’ jobs.
The week culminated with the mess dinner Thursday evening and featured several presentations for retirees. Although many of the junior officers in the room didn’t know the retirees, we felt as though we had all along after the CO’s Mug Outs, which were accompanied with hilarious photo slide shows. After hearing stories throughout the night from MGen (Ret’d) Clive Addy and other generals and colonels most of us finally shut the night down. Capt Varun Vahal was an exception, as he barely made it home in time to shave before rushing to the airport, and who could forget Capt Tom Pett’s fancy red PT gear. Thankfully for all those who participated throughout the week, the Regiment was stood down Friday at 1200 hrs, a welcome gift for all after a very busy Black Hat week.