Officer recruits train in Victoria

PO2 Thomas Templeman instructs student officers

PO2 Thomas Templeman instructs students of the Basic Military Officer Qualification course on the construction of roadblocks in the field using a sandbox diorama.

Huddled around a small, raised sand box at Rocky Point, naval cadets re-created a road block using plastic toy soldiers and cars.

Guiding their choices was PO2 Rob Templeman, an instructor with the Basic Military Officer Qualification course (BMOQ),
The sandbox diorama was part of the new recruits field training – dubbed Exercise Challenge – that also included establishing observations posts and orienteering in the Metchosin woods.

“This is where they get an introduction to in-the-field knowledge they need if they are ever deployed into a theatre of engagement,” says SLt David Lewis, Operations Officer for the BMOQ. “We do our best to provide the most accurate environment possible for the scenarios they’re being trained for.”

Once knowledgeable on the diorama, they set about setting up a roadblock on a small forest track using concertina wire, metal barrels, and fencing material.

The real test kicked in when truck loads of navy personnel dressed as foreign military attempt to pass through the roadblock. They were met with a vehicle search and pointed questions in order to determine if a threat existed.

“Actually having to act on their lessons helps provide a feeling of realism that lets their new skills shine through,” says SLt Lewis. “It’s one thing to sit down and learn it in a classroom, but it’s another to have to really use those skills. It adds that extra edge to the lesson.”

Exercise Challenge is only a portion of the BMOQ training. Recruits from 24 reserve units across Canada participate in the 11-week course for the qualifications that will net them a commission as an Acting Sub-lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Navy.

“Most of these recruits are students. They’re basically giving up their entire summer to come here and begin their careers in the navy,” explains SLt Lewis.

Naval Cadet and BMOQ student Iain Frame joined up at Naval Reserve Unit HMCS Chippawa in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 2012 following a lifelong interest in the military.

“I’ve always thought the military would be a great career, but I didn’t want to commit to the regular force,” he says. “I thought the reserves would be a perfect choice.”

The BMOQ course has been an exercise in reality for NCdt Frame, shining a light on some expectations of military life.

“Sleeping in a hooch tent in the woods and eating hard rations sucks,” he says. “I had a feeling it would be that way and I was definitely right, but it almost sucks in a good way. It shows you what the real thing is like, or at least as close as you can get.”

When it comes to the classroom portion of the program Frame says he didn’t expect such a strong focus on leadership.

“I knew it was important but I guess I didn’t understand just how much you had to know to be an effective leader,” he says. “I came into this course knowing little and I feel like my brain is full to bursting now.”

Following the completion of the BMOQ course, NCdt Frame will return to Winnipeg and his civilian job, but that doesn’t mean his military career comes to a halt.

“I have to return to my civilian job for now, but I’m still on the right track,” he says. “This course has given me an opportunity to fulfill one of my lifelong goals. I’m very grateful for that.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff writer

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