50 Years of Non-Commissioned Members Professional Military Education in the CAF –that’s something to celebrate!

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This year, the Chief Warrant Officer Robert Osside Profession of Arms Institute marks five years since it was named in honour of CWO Robert Osside.  After a storied career as an infantryman serving in multiple theatres including Korea, CWO Osside was named the first CAF CWO in 1978.  Today, the Osside Institute is the Centre of Excellence for Professional Military Education (PME) for Non-Commissioned Members (NCMs) in the CAF.

The Osside Institute draws its lineage from the Canadian Forces Warrant Officer School (CFWOS), a now-defunct unit, which was located in Borden, Ontario, and was formed fifty years ago in 1969.  The Osside Institute ensures that the CAF’s senior NCMs are provided with PME that is suitable to the realities and challenges faced by today’s military forces.

Since 2014, the Osside Institute has been located on Royal Military College Saint-Jean (RMC Saint-Jean) campus in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec. The Institute delivers four key career courses for NCMs: The Intermediate Leadership Programme (ILP), Advanced Leadership Programme (ALP), Senior Leadership Programme (SLP), and the Senior Appointments Programme (SAP).  The target audiences for these courses are the CAF’s Petty Officer 2nd Class/Sergeant, Petty Officer 1st Class/Warrant Officer, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class/Master Warrant Officer, and those Chief Petty Officer 1st Class/Chief Warrant Officer who will assume key positions within the organisation respectively.  On average, the Institute welcomes 1200 NCMs a year, and qualifies approximately 1800 personnel yearly across all four programmes.

These programmes are more than career courses.  They represent an exceptional opportunity for personnel of all four services to collaborate and exchange information about their services’ best practices.  For many, this may be the first opportunity they have to work in a joint environment and is often an eye-opening experience.  The Osside Institute has also welcomed students from other nations, such as the United States and Slovenia, and has been regularly called upon to provide guest lecturers or experts for PME in Georgia, Ukraine and other NATO nations.

The importance of these PME experiences for NCMs cannot be overestimated.  According to Major Daniel Legault, Director of the Osside Institute, “The Warrant Officer rank is the most important in the CAF.  They typically mentor junior officers and have key responsibilities in managing CAF personnel.  They are the guardians of the Forces’ traditions and also the driving force behind any cultural change within the organisation.”

The Osside Institute will continue to improve on PME for NCMs.  Its next goal is to implement a Certificate program targeted at WOs in which these NCMs would spend one year studying at RMC Saint-Jean prior to assuming a role as an instructor at the Institute.  This would ensure that the PME programmes remain current and relevant to today’s realities.

The Osside Institute celebrated its fifth anniversary on the evening of 30 May with a gala dinner highlighting the history of PME for NCMs within the CAF.  In attendance were two of CWO Osside’s children, previous Institute Directors, Chief Instructors, and personnel, as well as the senior NCMs currently attending the SAP.  The guest of honour, CWO (Ret’d) Kevin West, who served as both Osside Institute director and then CAFCWO, issued a challenge to these senior members to raise high the torch and continue to ensure the professionalism and excellence of CAF NCMs as they prepare to assume key leadership roles with the CAF.

In the most moving moment of the evening, CWO (Ret’d) West was honoured with a trophy bearing his name which recognises an individual or group of individuals having made a significant contribution to NCM PME while serving at the Institute.  This year, the award was presented to CPO2 Jocelyn Ramsay, Mr. Maxime Rondeau, and Mr. Jean-François Marcoux.

The Osside Institute, as part of the Canadian Defence academy, is now running the last of its courses until September..  It will resume giving residential courses in September with an SLP course just after the Labour Day weekend.

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