Adapting to better meet the needs of non-commissioned members

Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond, Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Armed Forces
Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond, Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Armed Forces. (Photo: DND/CAF)

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By Yves Bélanger – Servir

The new chief warrant officer of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), CWO Alain Guimond, would like to continue the work started by his predecessor, CWO (retired) Kevin West, at the Chief Warrant Officer Osside Profession of Arms Institute. He also wants the institute to adapt to its clientele in order to be even better at meeting the needs of non-commissioned members wishing to receive training.

In a meeting with Servir, the highest ranking non-commissioned member of the CAF explained the three goals that he would like to achieve over the course of his mandate. The first is to continue the work that CWO West began. “He worked very hard so that the rank of chief warrant officer would from now on be considered a leadership role rather than a technician role. We have been focused on making that a reality for three years, and I intend to ensure that the task is completed before I leave my position,” CWO Guimond said.

The second objective that CWO Guimond has set his sights on is to do everything possible to ensure personnel retention, saying, “Do we have to transfer personnel every two years? If some people are happy and fulfilled doing what they are doing, must they be transferred elsewhere in Canada, particularly if they do not really want to progress in rank?”

He explained that new members of the military do not necessarily have the same aspirations and needs as members did 20 or 30 years ago. “We absolutely must find a way to ensure that they do not leave us after a few years of service because their families risk falling apart if they have to undergo another transfer, or because we are depriving them of doing work that they love by sending them elsewhere to do other tasks,” he said.

He also finds it unfortunate that military spouses who are practising an occupation in one province cannot do it in another without going to get refresher training, saying, “We must make the transfers of our members and their families as easy as possible.”

CWO Guimond would like to use his position within the CAF to ensure better retention of military personnel. “What I say carries weight within the organization, and I would like to take advantage of that to move things forward,” he said.

His third objective is to identify the needs of NCOs who wish to advance to higher ranks. “When it comes to military education, we offer outstanding service at the Osside Institute. However, it is also necessary to determine what civilian university training would be best suited to the various ranks and positions that NCOs wish to one day hold. It is important to establish clear guidelines in that respect,” he said.

For CWO Guimond, it is important that the CAF remain abreast of the changes in the world over the coming decades. “In order to survive, we must adapt. Wars change and that means that leadership must change too,” he said.

Training non-commissioned members

The Chief Warrant Officer Robert Osside Institute is a part of the Royal Military College Saint-Jean, and it offers four professional development programs that provide non-commissioned members with opportunities to develop their knowledge and leadership at crucial moments in their career.

The Institute was renamed in 2014, to honour the memory of the very first Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer Robert Osside. The Osside Insitute trains between 1700 and 1800 non-commissioned members each year. Training is delivered partly in distance learning and partly in residence.

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