Leading new leaders: a summer of change

MS Mia Lynch discusses the leadership performance of NCdt Benjamin Mason

MS Mia Lynch discusses the leadership performance of NCdt Benjamin Mason of HMCS Scotian. NCdt Mason had just completed his tasking during the Leadership Potential Assessment Course during the Basic Military Officers Qualification, an 11-week course at Canadian Forces Fleet School Esquimalt.

The famous coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.”

Lombardi’s comment was in reference to football, but it holds true for the Canadian Armed Forces and the Naval Reserve.

If leaders are made then somewhere, someone is making them. That somewhere is the Basic Military Officer Qualification (BMOQ) course at Canadian Forces Fleet School Esquimalt, and those “someones” are MS Mia Lynch and PO2 Robert Templeman.

MS Lynch from HMCS Queen Charlotte in Charlottown, PEI, is in her second year instructing BMOQ. “It’s a lot of work,” she says, “But it is so rewarding seeing them on the parade square for their graduation and seeing the transformation.”

As the students practice drill in the distance MS Lynch adds, “At first the students don’t understand our insistence on the little things such as tucking in their shoe laces or not having threads hanging on their uniform. We’re helping them create a mindset of paying attention to details.”

A smile crosses her face as she says, “If you can’t handle the little things, you’re not going to be able to lead a group of subordinates in a mission.”

This is the first year instructing on BMOQ for PO2 Templeman. He is member of HMCS Nonsuch in Edmonton and is taking a break from his civilian job as an electrician. A 16-year veteran of the Naval Reserve, PO2 Templeman has served on ship and participated in domestic operations such as assisting Manitoba flood victims on Operation Lustre.

“Instructing young naval officers who are just beginning their careers is a definite change of pace,” he says. “You really have to lead by example. I wouldn’t expect or demand they do something I wouldn’t or couldn’t do myself. If I’m inspecting their uniform then mine better be flawless.”

Both naval reserve sailors agree the most fundamental aspect of their job is caring about the individuals in their charge.

“Most of these kids are students who have given up their entire summer to be here,” says MS Lynch. “They’ve sworn allegiance to Canada and are redirecting their lives. We owe them the best, our best.”

The BMOQ course can be physically and psychologically demanding, and recruits undergo tremendous physical and mental stress during the training. The course helps prepare future officers to effectively lead small teams in simple operations in both garrison and austere field conditions.

In 11 weeks, Naval Reserve Divisions across Canada will receive back the raw recruits they sent. The apprehensive civilian will return as a fit, knowledgeable, and capable officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.

MS Lynch, PO2 Templeman, and all the other BMOQ instructors who work so hard, and care so much, will have done their job. Their results will be measured in the lives they have changed. The unseen residuals of their efforts will continue. Vince Lombardi would definitely be proud of this team.

-SLt David Lewis, Contributor

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