Annex D – Stressors

Definitions

Stress: Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary defines stress as "the result produced when a structure, system or organism is acted upon by forces that disrupt equilibrium or produce strain". In simpler terms, stress is the result of any emotional, physical, social, economic, or other factors that require a response or change. It is generally believed that some stress is okay (sometimes referred to as "challenge” or "positive stress") but when stress occurs in amounts that you cannot handle, both mental and physical changes may occur.Footnote 74 Stress can be external and related to the environment, but may also be created by internal perceptions that cause an individual to experience anxiety or other negative emotions surrounding a situation, such as pressure, discomfort, etc., which they then deem stressful.Footnote 75

Stressor: A stressor is defined as a physical, psychological, or social force that puts real or perceived demands on the body, emotions, mind, or spirit of an individual.Footnote 76

Areas of Assessment

  1. As per the VCDS mandate letter, the Royal Military College (RMC) Special Staff Assistance Visit (SSAV) Team was tasked to assess the climate, training environment, culture and program construct at RMC. In the specific area of Stressors, the SSAV Team had to answer the following questions:
    1. What are the significant stressors affecting the N/OCdts?
    2. How do the stressors affect the N/OCdts?
    3. Do the stressors affect any groups of N/OCdts to a greater or lesser degree?
    4. Are N/OCdts willing and able to identify and seek assistance to deal with the stressors?
  2. When assessing the stressors affecting N/OCdts at RMC, the only suitable way to glean a good understanding of the stressors felt by the N/OCdts was to study the actual comments and observations of the N/OCdts themselves. The interviews conducted by the SSAV Team were therefore key to understanding the stressors (real or perceived) affecting them. In addition, comments received from others who directly influence the culture and climate at RMC (Training Wing, Academic Wing, and miscellaneous (which includes civilians, military (other than Training Wing) and Athletics)) were also taken into account and they often supplemented or validated the overall stressors voiced by N/OCdts at RMC. This particular annex deals with overall “feel” and perception of the stressors experienced by N/OCdts, Staff and supporters of RMC. It lends itself to the culture of RMC but does not necessarily deal with the accuracy of their statements nor is it a determination of the root causes. If the perceptions are erroneous, this report will try to illuminate the facts whenever possible. Many of the recommendations to relieve or mitigate the negative stressors will be found throughout the report (mainly within the main body).

Analysis

  1. In the definition of stress (at the beginning of this annex), it was noted that stress can be positive or negative. The Senior Leadership Guide to Mental Health - September 2011Footnote 77, was produced as a mechanism to deal with mental health. It was produced to inform leaders (within the Canadian Army) on how to understand and deal with Mental Health issues, including their own. It also highlighted information on stress as it relates to performance. It goes on to say that there's a subtle relationship between pressure and performance. When your people experience the right amount of pressure, they do their best work. However, if there's too much or too little pressure, then performance can suffer. This relationship is explained by the Inverted-U Model (also known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law) which shows the relationship between pressure and performance and according to the model, there's a "perfect medium" of pressure where people perform at their best.Footnote 78 In the case of RMC, there is a concerted effort to include productive stress in the lives of the N/OCdts to ensure that they overcome adversity and strive to reach their potential. This is a balancing act, however, and when the stress is not monitored adequately or effectively understood, it can lead to negative stressors as detailed below.
  2. Observations: The RMC SSAV Team interviewed 412 people in total, representing 209 N/OCdts across all programs and academic years, 43 Training Wing Staff, 65 Academic Wing Personnel and 95 others (representing HQ, other military personnel external to RMC, and various support staff). The following list of stressors were identified by the N/OCdts themselves. They are in order of frequency of mention and are detailed with actual comments at Appendix 1. It should be noted that this actual number of mentions could be even higher as an interview with multiple persons will only be counted once for each interview.
  3. N/OCdt Stressors:
    1. Positive Stressors: Many N/OCdts have responded positively to stressors and identified the following as the most positive:
      1. First Year Orientation Period (FYOP), if well planned and executed, led to tremendous team and morale building;
      2. The leadership role models who used positive reinforcement coupled with solid leadership and mentoring practices;
      3. When the fitness programme is used as a stress reliever and the foundation of healthy living; and
      4. The Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP)-RMC programme as a goal to strive for and succeed in particularly when a N/OCdt’s overall goal is getting a degree;
    2. Leadership Issues: The top stressor affecting many N/OCdts dealt with leadership. More than half of the N/OCdts interviewed commented on difficulties they encountered with their leadership in the Training Wing. They cited inexperience, ineffectiveness, inaccessibility, disrespect and generally poor attitudes. It should be noted that good role models within the Training Wing was the second most positive stressor so these comments obviously do not apply to all within the Training Wing;
    3. Leadership Level Progression
      Model (LLPM)
      : The Leadership Level Progression Model is one of the biggest stressors amongst the N/OCdts. While most understand the intent to push and motivate the N/OCdts toward their maximum potential, it has actually had the opposite effect. Many are confused or demoralised. If one falls behind in one pillar, it is very difficult to catch up and at some point, most simply give up and concentrate on the one pillar that they cannot fail; academics;
    4. Professional Military Training: PMT is seen as a time-waster for the N/OCdts. To them, it does not have relevance or training merit, and is not well designed nor well implemented. It is often repetitive and with its current scheduling format it does not allow for much beyond PowerPoint briefings;
    5. Four Pillars/AFAN Qualification: There is a fundamental conflict between the four pillars (for time and focus). The AFAN Designation is not seen as holding any value beyond personal pride;
    6. Time Management/Lack of Coordination: Time related complaints ranged from a lack of time, or a lack of coordination which led to conflicting schedules and last minute stress. N/OCdts felt they have to sacrifice one important thing for another. There were concerns over an overloaded work schedule, unprotected study time and lack of effective time management skills;
    7. Dress Standards: The Dress Standards at RMC are a major bone of contention for the N/OCdts. The two main factors are “walking out dress” and the use of dress as a punishment. Enforcing these standards are causing some to stay within the confines of RMC in order to avoid being verbally harassed by people downtown;
    8. Cadet Wing Instructions (CADWINS): The N/OCdts consider that the rules in the CADWINS, while necessary, are too numerous and too prescriptive. Because of this, in some cases the Cadet Chain of Authority (CCoA) does not enforce them, or does not do so in a standardized way. The sanctions matrix, as one example, does not allow N/OCdts to use their judgement or exercise their leadership;
    9. Cadet Chain of Authority (CCoA): According to many N/OCdts, there is a lack of supervision of the CCoA by the Training Wing, which allows some to use their power/authority inappropriately and does not lend itself to a standardized application of rules and regulations;
    10. Lack of Autonomy / Authority / Trust in N/OCdts: Many N/OCdts feel like they are not given enough responsibility or trust. They would like more leadership opportunities so they can learn how to be an Officer, and make their mistakes in a training environment before they arrive at their first unit where the consequences are all too real;
    11. Bilingualism: According to the N/OCdts, RMC is not a practicing bilingual unit. Bilingualism does not seem to be a priority in the selection of Training Wing staff, nor in the execution and positive encouragement of using both Official Languages;
    12. Relaxation: N/OCdts have indicated that the walking out (off-duty) dress standards, coupled with infrastructure problems and poor time management have all contributed to a feeling of being isolated at RMC. The N/OCdts work and live at RMC, and they have expressed a desire for healthy separation of the two otherwise they are constantly “on duty” without respite;
    13. Punitive/Negative Culture: The N/OCdts spoke of a punitive culture at RMC. By their perception, the CADWINS seems to highlight the negative things as opposed to helping the N/OCdts strive for positive goals;
    14. Reluctance to Release: Many of the N/OCdts feel that mediocrity is acceptable because RMC does not seem able to remove those N/OCdts that have been identified as being poor candidates to lead effectively within the officer corps;
    15. Physical Performance Test (PPT): As evidenced by comments from the N/OCdts, the PPT is a real source of stress for many. They know that it is not a CAF standard and are questioning its validity and purpose. The push up portion of the test was the single most commented upon stressor when discussing the PPT;
    16. Infrastructure: RMC’s aging infrastructure is evident in the affect it has on N/OCdts. It requires better maintenance and attention. The lack of a suitable library or study hall is a huge dissatisfier for many;
    17. First Year Orientation Period (FYOP): Many N/OCdts understood the purpose and design of the FYOP, but took exception to how it was executed. Many did not like the fact that their peers were running it with little or no supervision from Training Wing. This seemed to lead to leadership practices where verbal abuse was evident;
    18. Alcohol/Drugs: Although there were not many comments related to drugs and alcohol, it appeared to the SSAV Team that alcohol was an area of concern to the N/OCdts themselves;
    19. Stigma on Mental Health: Most N/OCdts are well aware of the mental health and medical support options but some are still shying away from seeking help due to a perceived stigma attached to a mental health issue; and
    20. Miscellaneous others: Other stressors include the understaffed College Orderly room, inadequate messing facilities, the quality and quantity of food, quality control measures for recruiting of ROTP candidates, and concerns regarding how RMC is sometimes portrayed in the public eye.
  4. Training Wing view on N/OCdt Stressors: The RMC SSAV Team conducted 43 interviews with members of the Training Wing. Training Wing personnel interact with the N/OCdts to varying degrees of success and many would base their responses to the SSAV Team questions on the observations and conversations they have had with the N/OCdts themselves. Their views do support the list of real and perceived stressors voiced by the N/OCdts in their interviews as follows:
    1. Leadership Issues: The training wing made comments about the selection and employment of their own staff. They were very candid about the fact that there was not an effective selection process to be posted to RMC or that their respective Career Managers did not have a good understanding of the requirements to be posted there. Non-Commissioned Members (NCMs) have not been employed to their fullest capabilities and have been given the impression they were not to mentor the N/OCdts;
    2. 4 Pillars/AFAN Qualification: Many of the Training Wing staff questioned the validity and value of the 4 Pillars and AFAN qualification;
    3. Reluctance to Release: Many of the Training Wing staff are frustrated by the reluctance to release N/OCdts who are failing in multiple pillars. In their opinion, this devalues the College and its graduates. The extra time spent on this small percentage could be used to better advantage for the rest of the N/OCdts;
    4. CADWINS: According to some members of the Training Wing, there are too many rules in CADWINS and they are too prescriptive. It is not conducive for the CCoA to exercise its leadership;
    5. CCoA: Many in the Training Wing are at odds with the CCoA and do not feel that the leadership positions have enough experience to be able to enforce standards over their peers. This can lead to an uneven application of rules amongst the Squadrons;
    6. Time Management/Lack of Coordination: The lack of coordination between the Wings has led to many last minute changes which affect the N/OCdts’ morale;
    7. Wing Conflict (Academic vs Training): There are natural tensions between the Academic Wing and the Training Wing based on different emphasis within the ROTP-RMC programme. If these do not get resolved internally and that tension spills over to the N/OCdts, this becomes a negative stressor;
    8. Leadership Level Progression Model (LLPM): The LLPM is confusing to the Training Wing and is not achieving its aim in motivating the N/OCdts to achieve the Four Pillars;
    9. Dress Standard: Training Wing staff expressed concerns over having to enforce the walking out dress for the N/OCdts and the impact it has on their morale;
    10. Lack of Autonomy / Authority / Trust in N/OCdts: Some of the Training Wing staff stated that the N/OCdts were not treated like adults;
    11. Base Support Services: Access to base support services is sometimes limited and time-consuming; and
    12. Others: The stressors that received five or less remarks were: bilingualism, resiliency, generational differences, alcohol and other addictive behaviours, infrastructure, PPT, FYOP, lack of escape and/or relaxation, recruiting, and the negative media portrayal of RMC.
  5. Academic Wing view on N/OCdt Stressors: 65 academics staff were interviewed by the SSAV Team (42 interviews). It was noted overwhelmingly (by academic staff and N/OCdts alike) that the N/OCdts often used the members of the Academic Wing for mentoring and advice. As such, many of the professors felt that they had the N/OCdts’ ear and could confidently assess the main stressors affecting them.
    1. Time Management/Lack of Coordination: Lack of time for adequate learning is the number one stressor facing N/OCdts, according to the academic wing. Too many conflicting priorities and senseless use of time does not make for a conducive learning environment;
    2. Leadership Issues: Many in the Academic Wing cited problems with the selection and quality of candidates for Squadron Commander positions. They felt they should be selected carefully as the role models that they need to be;
    3. Wing Conflict (Academic vs Training): The negative tension between Training and Academic Wings is noticeable to all, including N/OCdts. This has caused some distrust and conflicts in achieving the overall goal of RMC;
    4. Infrastructure: Infrastructure and the Massey Library in particular are in significant need of attention and funding. The N/OCdts do not have a place to study together or do adequate research and often use the facilities of other academic institutions instead;
    5. PMT: Many academic staff questioned the validity and scheduling of military training while at RMC. They felt it was not relevant to what Officers ought to be learning;
    6. Resource Pressures and Administrative Challenges: Resource pressures and administrative approval processes have made it difficult for academic staff to organize academic programming and visits. Approval processes are cumbersome and have actually resulted in some events not being pursued;
    7. Reluctance to Release: Many academic staff also questioned the “no fail” mentality that seems to emanate when everyone is retained even if they are unable to achieve the required standard; and
    8. Miscellaneous: Academic staff made mention of a myriad of other topics that were raised in the other target groups. They included: lack of autonomy for N/OCdts, lack of opportunity for relaxation, PPT and fitness, CADWINS, Four Pillars and AFAN qualification, CCoA, FYOP, dress standard, bilingualism, pressures of social media, resiliency, Millennials (and Gen Z) and LLPM.
    The view of others on N/OCdt Stressors: The remainder of the data collected came from interviews with many of the military (who were external to RMC), civilians (contractors working on base and parents of N/OCdts), and former N/OCdts themselves. Although the latter don’t provide the specific and current stressors felt by the N/OCdts today, they did provide the SSAV Team with an historical perspective as well as confirming the lists of stressors provided by the N/OCdts, Training Wing and Academic Wings respectively.

Overall Assessment:

  1. In answer to the four questions from the mandate letter posed specifically regarding stressors:
    1. What are the significant stressors affecting the N/OCdts? The significant stressors affecting the N/OCdts can be categorized as poor leadership execution, an unsuccessful Leadership Model, dress standards that are perceived as too restrictive and ineffective or lack of time management by the College and the N/OCdts;
    2. How do the stressors affect the N/OCdts? The stressors affect the N/OCdts in various ways. When programmes are executed well, the N/OCdts respond positively, increasing pride and motivation levels. When they are executed poorly, the converse is true and the N/OCdts can turn to addictive substances or behaviours; or worse they can develop poor ethical standards that are in direct contravention of what RMC is trying to produce, which risks developing cynical and self-interested young officers instead of altruistically motivated leaders;
    3. Do the stressors affect any groups of N/OCdts to a greater or lesser degree? The First and Second Year N/OCdts are affected by the “shock” and adjustment of RMC life while the Third and Fourth Year N/OCdts are affected by the cumulative effect of the various stressors (leading many to cynical or apathetic views); and
    4. Are N/OCdts willing and able to identify and seek assistance to deal with the stressors? Overwhelmingly the N/OCdts can identify the many resources available to them to deal with stressors. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to those who seek or want to seek assistance, as many are concerned about being perceived as being weak or having a problem if they do so. If they have good self-confidence, they are more likely to reach out. If they have self-esteem, self-confidence or simple time management issues, then they are much less likely to do so.

Conclusion

  1. Although there may seem to be an exhaustive list of stressors identified for the N/OCdts, the list of recommendations in the main body of this report, if actioned, would greatly mitigate negative stressors affecting N/OCdts. The N/OCdts need to learn how to mitigate stress while carefully prioritizing their time in order to be ready for their first assignments as junior officers.

Appendix 1 to Annex D – Summary of Stressors

Table 1: N/OCdt Positive Stressors
N/OCdts - 116 interviews (comprising 209 N/OCdts):

Stressor: First Year Orientation Programme (FYOP)
Ranking: 1
Number of Comments: 18

Overall Assessment: Some N/OCdts found that a well planned and executed FYOP led to tremendous team and morale building.

  • “Well run FYOP as a team building exercise FYOP - does good things and made us work together and become closer but needs to be supervised”
  • “FYOP was difficult and although we were "dead tired" after it was over we all had a real sense of accomplishment”.

Stressor: Positive Leadership
Ranking: 2
Number of Comments: 13

Overall Assessment: There are some great examples of leadership with members of the Training Wing who used positive reinforcement coupled with solid leadership and mentoring practices when dealing with the N/OCdts. They all had “an open door policy” which was well received.

  • “Very caring and present - squadron commander and [Non Commissioned Officer(NCO)]”

“Squadron Commander has open door policy; Training NCM was initially focused just on [discipline, dress and deportment] but is now mentoring us.

Stressor: Fitness
Ranking: 3
Number of Comments: 9

Overall Assessment: Fitness is an important stress reliever and the foundation of healthy living.

  • “Physical Training is a stress reliever.”
  • “Foundation of fitness in first year.”

Stressor: AFAN
Ranking: 4
Number of Comments: 6

Overall Assessment: These N/OCdts felt that the Four pillars and AFAN designation were important and worthy of attaining.

  • “Four Pillars - System is not perfect but has excellent value. The standards are achievable with the right level of effort and motivation. AFAN has to mean something.”

Stressor: Academics
Ranking: 5
Number of Comments: 4

Overall Assessment: Academics can be a positive stressor as well.

  • “Academics is excellent (ratio of teachers to N/OCdts) - with exception of the library, excellent facilities
Table 2: N/OCdt Negative Stressors
N/OCdts - 116 interviews (comprising 209 N/OCdts):

Stressor: Leadership Issues
Ranking: 1
Number of Comments: 61

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): The top stressor affecting many N/OCdts was leadership. They commented 61 times out of 116 overall interviews (comprising 209 N/OCdts) on difficulties with their leadership in the Training Wing. As per example quotes below, they cited inexperience, ineffectiveness, inaccessibility, disrespect and generally poor attitudes. It should be noted that good role models within the Training Wing was the second most positive stressor so these comments do not apply to the whole cadre within Training Wing.

  • “Interaction with Squadron Commanders is rarely positive - they do paperwork and you see them when you are in trouble. Role of NCOs here is disciplinary - in St-Jean they were more involved as mentors.”
  • “Squadron Commander has a "closed door" policy. Must go through hoops to access. This is a bad example of how leadership should work.
  • “A proper selection for Training Wing Officers needs to be done, and they need prior training before taking the position (conduct, mentoring N/OCdts, Mental Health, Career concerns, etc.).”
  • “Because of classes, we have little time to interact with Squadron Commander and Training NCO. Suggestion - maybe they work scattered shifts so they are on site before beginning of classes and afterwards into the early evening.”
  • “RMC NCOs have a limited role and interaction with N/OCdts - not allowed to mentor us.”
  • “We should select Training Staff who want to be here, who are professional, and are the best of the best.”

Stressor: Leadership Level Progression Model (LLPM)
Ranking: 2
Number of Comments: 48

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): The Leadership Level Progression Model (LLPM, or LL, or LLM in comments below) is one of the biggest stressors amongst the N/OCdts. While most understand the intent to push and motivate the N/OCdts toward their maximum potential, it has actually produced the opposite result. Many are confused or demoralised. For a N/OCdt who falls behind in one pillar, it is very difficult to catch up and at some point, most simply give up and concentrate on the one pillar that they must not fail, their academics.

  • “LL model does not work. Understand rationale, but way it has played out for Fourth Years is that it removed privileges by placing everyone at 1st year standard and then gradually returning them to higher standards. LL model results in OCdts being held back in one pillar, even though succeeding in others. Has effect of shaming, creating perception that not succeeding in program as a whole.”
  • “This real issue is the LL model. If you succeed all pillars at First Year, you don't have problem with LL Model. If you miss a push up and fail PPT, the LL Model becomes a huge demoraliser.”
  • “Practical/hands on is the best way to develop leadership (meaning Bar positions). Those held back don't get the opportunities and are often those that need it the most. Maybe there is a reason: motivation or effort so we should either give them the opportunity to lead or weed them out through proper [Progress Review Boards (PRB)] leading to release where appropriate.”
  • “LLM - not an effective motivator - at some point people quit trying and those who are doing well wonder why they are working so hard. RMC must weed out the bottom 10% who lack the effort. The LLM must also allow those not passing PPT for valid reasons (illness or injury) to get their leadership opportunities.”
  • “RMC is supposed to be about learning how to be a good leader. The LLPM acts as a significant limiter to that objective for those who are otherwise meeting CAF standards, but are challenged in meeting the RMC-specific standards.”
  • “LL - I sort of agree with the original intent but it holds students back. I am held back because of an injury (short 1 push up) and I won't be able to be tested until next spring (two tests per year with one re-test). So I will do my whole year as an LL1.”

Stressor: Professional Military Training(PMT)
Ranking: 3
Number of Comments: 43

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): PMT is seen by the N/OCdts as a ‘time-waster.’ To them, it does not have relevance or training merit, and is not well designed nor implemented. It is often repetitive and being scheduled as it is does not allow for anything beyond PowerPoint briefings.

  • “The relevance of PMT is questionable, nothing like the video of RMC on YouTube. There is no real military training, more like administration training. Feels that PMT is like a four year-long basic training course.”
  • “PMT briefings can be repetitive (e.g. briefing about how RMC was standardizing its requirements; memo writing). Always tension between trying to add more military training (e.g., ruck “march) and academic requirements.”
  • “PMT needs to be more engaging, relevant and fun. In St-Jean we had full mornings every two weeks which gave more time for practical activities.”
  • “I did not expect PMT to be this dry - PowerPoint presentations.”
  • “PMT is not relevant. It's more like, "what can we do to fill this time"? There is no formal critiquing process like you would normally see on a course. This is needed to validate training.”
  • “PMT should include more Military Occupation Code (MOC) or environmental opportunities and should be conducted in smaller groups to get more interaction.”

Stressor: 4 Pillars/AFAN Qualification
Ranking: 4
Number of Comments: 37

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): There is a fundamental conflict between the four pillars (for time and focus). The perception is that the AFAN Designation doesn’t hold any value beyond personal pride.

  • “A ton of pressure to meet all pillars. There is conflict between the pillars with no real balance. Military training often clashes with (or steps on) other pillars (e.g. during mid-terms, Academic Wing asked for time for OCdts to study - Military Wing gave two weeks but that was not enough to accommodate all the midterms schedule.”
  • “AFAN designation - doesn't really mean anything - we all graduate regardless.”

Stressor: Time Management/Lack of Coordination
Ranking: 5
Number of Comments: 36

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): Time related complaints ranged from, lack of time, lack of coordination leading to conflicting schedules and last minute stress associated, having to sacrifice one important thing for another, overloaded work schedule, unprotected study time and lack of effective time management skills.

  • “Lack of Study Time: General complaint by ROTP N/OCdts that their "study time" is compromised by their need to fulfill the military mandate.”
  • “Number of requirements leads to lack of sleep, which can then create anxiety.”

Stressor: Dress Standard
Ranking: 6
Number of Comments: 34

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): The Dress Standards at RMC are a major bone of contention for the N/OCdts. The two main factors are “walking out dress” and the use of dress as a punishment (4’s and G’s: uniform dress order Number 4, with gaiters). Enforcing these standards are causing some to stay locked in their rooms or to be harassed from people downtown.

  • Wearing of uniform to the Mess and Mess Hall (some N/OCdts prefer to skip breakfast instead of wearing their uniform)
  • “Having to follow dress standards has some military value, but the value of wearing 4s or a suit to go off campus or buy groceries is unclear, and the anonymity of more casual dress is more relaxing (no longer under the microscope).”
  • “Dress not an issue because doesn't get followed.”
  • “Wearing of 4s and Gs is also a shaming device: serves as the "RMC dunce cap." These systems isolate N/OCdts from their peer group.”

Stressor: CADWINS
Ranking: 7
Number of Comments: 31

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): The CADWINS according to the N/OCdts are too numerous and prescriptive. There are so many, that the CCoA does not enforce them all, or do not do it in a unified or standardized way. The sanctions matrix, in contrast, does not allow them to use their judgement or exercise their leadership.

  • “If too many regulations then no-one applies them. Too often put in more regulations.”
  • “Discipline: implementation of matrix equates insubordination with parking infractions.”
  • “Disciplinary Matrix takes the "leadership" out of the punishment. We can't tailor our disciplinary measures based on the individual's values or morals in order to correct the behaviour.”
  • “Need to enforce the sanctions evenly, but for the right kinds of rules. Is a parking violation or dress infraction as severe a crime as insubordination? We need to enforce the rules that really matter (i.e. missing Professional Military Training or academic classes should be corrected).”
  • “Matrix takes away from leadership responsibilities because there is no discretion to adjust the punishment to fit the crime. It would be better to provide some flexibility/options. CADWINS also don't contain a system of rewards within N/OCdt authority (e.g., can't tell II year that he has IV-year privileges).”

Stressor: Cadet Chain of Authority (CCoA)
Ranking: 8
Number of Comments: 27

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): According to many N/OCdts, there is a lack of supervision of the CCoA by Training Wing, which allows some to abuse their power/authority and does not let itself to a standardized application of the rules.

  • “The 3rd and 4th year N/OCdts run our lives at RMC. How are they qualified to do this? Some are very good but some are very bad. They are only two years older than us, so do they have the proper leadership? The line between superior and peer is blurred.”
  • “There is not enough training or supervision of the Bar Cadets.”
  • “CCoA works on the "Don't blade your friends" philosophy (e.g. Senior N/OCdts may not enforce the walking out dress policy).”
  • “CCoA - there is disparity between Squadrons with reference to the application of discipline. It is very hard to discipline your own friends.”
  • “CCoA - works well if N/OCdts are allowed to lead and make mistakes - too much micro-management takes place right now.”

Stressor: Lack of Autonomy / Authority / Trust in N/OCdts
Ranking: 9
Number of Comments: 24

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): Many N/OCdts feel like they are not given enough responsibility or trust. They would like more leadership opportunities so they can learn how to be an Officer (and make mistakes) in a training environment before they arrive at their first unit where the consequences are all too real.

  • “Explanations on the reasons for doing things would help N/OCdts understand the importance of things and put the proper priority on those activities (e.g. socializing, building esprit de corps, etc.).”
  • “There is too much micro-management now (e.g., sanctions matrix). Would like to have it more like a unit. Should be able to make mistakes here, where consequences of doing so are not as serious. Having a matrix does not require you to demonstrate leadership by identifying what is required to deal with a deficiency. Understand that matrix was brought in to address inequities in how sanctions were being dealt with throughout wing, and that its removal would require more coordination with other bar positions to ensure consistency.”

Stressor: Bilingualism
Ranking: 10
Number of Comments: 24

Overall Assessment: According to the N/OCdts, RMC is not a practicing bilingual unit. Bilingualism does not seem to be a priority in the selection of Training Wing staff, nor the execution and positive encouragement of alternating both Official Languages.

Stressor: No Escape/Relaxation
Ranking: 11
Number of Comments: 23

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): The walking out (off-duty) dress standards, coupled with infrastructure problems and poor time management have all contributed to a feeling of being trapped at RMC. The N/OCdts work and live at RMC, and have expressed a desire to be able to separate the two.

  • “There is very little personal time to relax. Always under the gun/microscope.”
  • “Many forget that RMC is not just N/OCdt workplace, but also their home. Can't go home at end of day. No way of getting away.”

Stressor: Punitive/Negative Culture
Ranking: 12
Number of Comments: 21

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): The N/OCdts spoke of a punitive culture at RMC. By their perception, CADWINS seem to highlight the negative things as opposed to helping the N/OCdts strive for positive goals.

  • “Many of the aspects of RMC "M" pillar are oriented as punishment regimes. There is a lack of positive reinforcement other than end year/semester prizes. Need to be made more accessible and allow leaders (Chain of Command and Cadet Chain of Authority) to be able to reward positive behaviour and conduct quickly.”

Stressor: Reluctance to Release
Ranking: 13
Number of Comments: 16

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): Many of the N/OCdts are feeling that mediocrity is acceptable because RMC does not seem able to remove N/OCdts who are unable to meet the standards of the ROTP-RMC programme.

  • “Everyone deserves a chance but not everyone necessarily belongs here. To pass everyone is a discredit to the College and those who succeed.”
  • There is a general acceptance of mediocrity.There were rumours that Progress Review Boards would be ordered for those that missed two or more pillars but then we never heard of it again.Nothing changed, people are still here. Why?”

Stressor: Physical Performance Test (PPT)
Ranking: 15
Number of Comments: 14

Overall Assessment (specific comments are in italics): As evidenced by the N/OCdts’ comments, the PPT is a real source of stress for many. They know that it is not a CAF standard and are questioning its validity and purpose.
“Are PPT Standards defendable? PT Classes with PT Staff only once a week. No formal time to practice the PPT.”

Stressor: Infrastructure
Ranking: 16
Number of Comments: 12

Overall Assessment: RMC’s infrastructure requires better maintenance and attention. The lack of a suitable library or study hall is also of concern to many.

  • “Facilities at RMC are awful. We have buildings falling apart, black mold, no heating or air conditions at times. Not conducive to learning environment or good morale. Not fair to staff or students alike.”

Stressor: First Year Orientation Programme (FYOP)
Ranking: 17
Number of Comments: 11

Overall Assessment: Many N/OCdts understood the purpose and design of the FYOP, but took exception to how it was run. Many did not like the fact that their peers were running it with little or no supervision from Training Wing. This seemed to lead to some power-tripping, bullying and injuries (mental and physical).

Stressor: Alcohol/Drugs
Ranking: 18
Number of Comments: 9

Overall Assessment: Although there were not a lot of comments related to drugs and alcohol, it appeared to the RMC SSAV Team that alcohol was an area of concern to the N/OCdts themselves.

  • “A lot of N/OCdts see alcohol as a release.”

Stressor: Stigma on Mental Health
Ranking: 19
Number of Comments: 9

Overall Assessment: Most N/OCdts are well aware of the mental health and medical support options but are still shying away from seeking help due to the stigma attached. This is probably not unlike other CAF units, except that these members work and live together so the perception is probably enhanced.
“Stigma is still present: ‘you are weak if you consult.’ "

Stressor: Other
Ranking: 20
Number of Comments: 13

Overall Assessment: Other stressors identified here include understaffed College Orderly room, inadequate messing facilities, quality and quantity of food (no evening snack), quality control measures for recruiting of ROTP-RMC candidates, and concerns regarding negative media portrayal of RMC.

Table 3: Training Wing View of N/OCdt Stressors
Total Number of Interviews: 42

Stressor: Leadership Issues
Ranking: 1
Number of Comments: 26

Overall Assessment: The Training Wing made comments about the selection and employment of their own staff. They were very candid in the fact that there was not a selection process to be posted to RMC or that their respective Career Managers did not have a good understanding of the requirements to be posted there. Non-Commissioned Members have not been employed to their fullest capabilities and were actually told not to mentor the N/OCdts.

  • “RMC does not have a high enough priority to get the quality staff it needs. Need better defined Terms of Reference for NCMs. NCM employment should be centrally directed by Training Wing Sergeant Major.”
  • “Squadron Commanders are young and inexperienced. They need empathy and self-discipline. Senior NCOs not used to the extent of their capacity at the College. Roles are confusing.”
  • “Observed that CMR St Jean employs their NCOs differently. They are more involved in coaching and supervising the N/OCdts and the latter or more switched on.”

“We need to empower our NCMs and ensure we have internal [Terms of Reference (TORs)] to provide guidance so they can mentor the N/OCdts. Need to [review] the rank level of the NCMs in the Squadrons – [they] should all be Warrant Officers (ILP qualified) to ensure proper level of experience and maturity to mentor Jr Officers.”

Stressor: 4 Pillars/AFAN Qualification
Ranking: 2
Number of Comments: 25

Overall Assessment: Many of the Training Wing staff questioned the validity and value of the Four Pillars and AFAN qualification.
- “There is one pillar and three good ideas.”
- “AFAN; N/OCdts can only progress one level per semester, and thus if they run out of time to complete, they give up. No way to catch up with "remarkable" work. All N/OCdts now wear scarlets on grad parade and all "walk through the arch". This used to be a real incentive to sustaining effort and trying to achieve all four pillars. Need to reinforce the Four pillars as all they really need to concentrate on is academics pillar to graduate.”
- "RMC is in a middle ground. Either enforce the Four pillars, or don't bother."

  • “OCdts can get away with not succeeding all four pillars. This has a negative effect on the morale of N/OCdts.”

Stressor: Reluctance to Release
Ranking: 3
Number of Comments: 19

Overall Assessment: Many of the Training Wing staff were frustrated by the apparent reluctance to remove N/OCdts from the ROTP-RMC programme who are failing in multiple pillars. In their opinion, this devalues the college and its graduates. The extra time spent on this small percentage could be used to better advantage for coaching and mentoring the rest of the N/OCdts.
- “RMC graduates N/OCdts at all costs (i.e., passes anyone who can be passed). There are OCdts who should not be retained, because academic success alone will not necessarily allow them to be effective officers. Retention of OCdts subject to Progress Review Boards is a concern.”
- “Staff are frustrated at having to do "useless" Progress Review Board paperwork as it doesn't lead to any concrete actions or removals from training. Progress Review Boards are extra work for nothing. No value.”

Stressor: CADWINS
Ranking: 4
Number of Comments: 15

Overall Assessment: According to these members of Training Wing, there are too many rules in the CADWINS and they are too prescriptive. It is not conducive for the CCoA to exercise its leadership.
- “Many Squadron Commanders are disillusioned: why do I bother? The sanctions matrix in CADWINS is viewed as micro-management. Put in place to ensure consistency across the Wings, but remedial measures are not intended to be uniform. Imposed requirement to go out in appropriate dress. Need discretion to adopt measure tailored to situation (e.g., remedial measures vs. sanctions.)”
- “Code of Service Discipline vs CADWINS - CADWINS are now very prescriptive for discipline without flexibility for judgement.”

Stressor: Cadet Chain of Authority (CCoA)
Ranking: 5
Number of Comments: 13

Overall Assessment: Many in the Training Wing are at odds with the CCoA and do not feel that the leadership positions have enough experience to supervise their peers. This can lead to an uneven application of rules amongst the Squadrons.
- “Cadet Chain of Authority does not work, because N/OCdts can't separate friendship from work and they are not mature enough.”
- “Chain of Authority: feels it's too difficult for young N/OCdts to be "policing" their friends. Sometimes they can't do the "right thing" without repercussions (group; social dynamics).”

Stressor: Time Management/Lack of Coordination
Ranking: 6
Number of Comments: 12

Overall Assessment: The lack of coordination between the Wings has led to many last minute changes, affecting the N/OCdts’ morale.
- “Communication can be bad. Some of the info is last minute (e.g. drill competition this weekend)”
- “All N/OCdts at RMC have a full plate and there are lots of events that take away their time - perhaps a better balance is required.”
- “Lack of Planning at RMC. Too much last minute stuff.”

Stressor: Wing Conflict (Academic vs Training)
Ranking: 7
Number of Comments: 12

Overall Assessment: The tensions with Academic Wing are of major concern to Training Wing. They have very different philosophies and without effective communication on both sides, the N/OCdts suffer.
- “Relationship between the Academic Wing and Training Wing having a negative impact on the N/OCdts”
- “Tension between Academic and military aspects: both believe that they are in charge. In some cases, one issues direction and then the other does. In order to fix this place, necessary to establish who is in charge.”

Stressor: LLPM
Ranking: 8
Number of Comments: 10

Overall Assessment: The LLPM is confusing to the Training Wing and is not achieving its aim in motivating the N/OCdts to achieve the four pillars.
- “"Leadership Levels model is awful"! N/OCdts see it as unfair and feel it is not being applied across the Four Pillars.”
- “The LLPM model is the biggest single stressor, e.g., doing extra PT because [they] don't want to be LL2 while buddy is LL3. OCdts may also run out of time to achieve standards (e.g., junior and senior bar positions). At same time, OCdts know that they won't be kicked out.”

Stressor: Dress Standard
Ranking: 9
Number of Comments: 8

Overall Assessment: Training Wing staff expressed safety and morale concerns for the N/OCdts regarding walking out dress.
- “Dress Number 4 is a "'beautiful uniform" but when it is used as punishment, the OCdts start to hate their uniform. This is not right.”

Stressor: Lack of Autonomy / Authority / Trust in N/OCdts
Ranking: 10
Number of Comments: 6

Overall Assessment: Some of the Training Wing staff stated that the N/OCdts were not treated like adults.
- “Lack of responsiveness by the CoC (see approvals in C2) impacts on confidence N/OCdts have in CoC and on their morale. Moved from "frustration to acceptance.”
- "There are a lot of stressors on the N/OCdts. Maybe too much." Feels that there are too many distractions and that they aren't being treated as much like adults.

Stressor: Base Support Services
Ranking: 11
Number of Comments: 6

Overall Assessment: Access to Canadian Forces Base Kingston support services is sometimes limited and time-consuming.
- “Base services (including hospital, dental, and mental health) are very hard to access. Lose a lot of time and the Engineering students as an example do not have the time.”

Stressor: Others
Ranking: 12
Number of Comments: 5 or less each

Overall Assessment: The stressors that received five or less mentions were: bilingualism, resiliency, generation gaps, alcohol, infrastructure, PPT, FYOP, lack of escape and/or relaxation, infrastructure, recruiting, and the negative media portrayal of RMC.

Table 4: Academic Wing View of N/OCdt Stressors
Academic Wing (42 interviews representing 65 Academic Wing personnel):

Stressor: Time Management/Lack of Coordination
Ranking: 1
Number of Comments: 24

Overall Assessment: Lack of time for learning is the number one stressor facing N/OCdts, according to the academic wing.

  • “The Academic pillar is a full time job; period. When you start to add inspections, PPT, varsity, drill, parade practices, second language classes, etc.; something will suffer and that is usually study time.”
  • “Largest stressor on N/OCdts is the lack of study time. Period from 1900 - 2200 should be protected each night, but it is quickly eaten up by demands from other 3 pillars and college events.”
  • "There is time to teach, but no time to learn" at RMC. Worse than it has been before.”
  • “Time is not necessarily a unique stressor for RMC. Other universities have students with multiple jobs and study…but there is discourse.”

Stressor: Leadership Issues
Ranking: 2
Number of Comments: 18

Overall Assessment: Many in the Academic Wing cited problems within the selection and quality of candidates for Squadron Commander’s positions.

  • “Military Wing - Those are not valued positions in the CAF and we don't necessarily have the best people. Not sure all of them make good role models.”
  • “RMC Staff. Individual noted that the college needs good role models for the OCdts in terms of leadership. They need some 'superstars' but not all have to be. There is value in having a range of capacities as examples for the OCdts - they learn as much from good leaders as they do from poorer leaders.”

Stressor: Wing Conflict (Academic vs Training)
Ranking: 3
Number of Comments: 16

Overall Assessment: The negative tension between Training and Academic Wing is noticeable to all, including N/OCdts. This has caused mutual distrust and misunderstanding of the overall goal of RMC.

  • “Students feel the tension between Training and Academic Wings.”
  • “Relationship with academic and military wings is always characterized by a healthy tension. Works reasonably well as long as there's mutual respect (has not always been the case).”
  • “There is lots of governance at RMC, but no one knows what is going on…”
  • “Communications and mutual understanding between Training Wing (usually here for two years) and Academic Wing (here for a much longer period) is poor. Training Wing don't really have the pulse of what RMC is and what the N/OCdts' life is like.”

Stressor: Infrastructure
Ranking: 4
Number of Comments: 9

Overall Assessment: Infrastructure and the Massey Library in particular are in dire need of attention and funding. The N/OCdts do not have a place to study together or do adequate research and are often forced to use Queens’ facilities instead.

  • “Buildings and library are in poor condition, they are dirty. They are a shame. Library is deficient; RMC is dirty, not clean.”
  • “Library – There is no space for books, we are no longer able to buy periodicals/magazines, poor ventilation, etc.…”
  • “The Massey building is unliveable from early Jul until late Sep. There is ductwork for 1st and 2nd floor (which don't really work) and no ductwork for the 3rd and 4th floors. The elevator has been out of service since Jul, meaning that students and staff with injuries must use the stairs. The library space is very limited, and any replacement plans are in the 2037 timeframe.”

Stressor: Professional Military Training (PMT)
Ranking: 5
Number of Comments: 9

Overall Assessment: Many academic staff questioned the validity and scheduling of military training while at RMC.

  • “PMT: opinion is that a lot on policy but not taught 'officership' or 'what commission means'. Has PMT been validated? Execution appears haphazard. N/OCdts not sure what about.”
  • “PMT is frequently done at last minute. Repetitive, not thought through. Recommended that PMT be concentrated into one weekend a month and make it worth the OCdts time.”
  • “There is a need to re-assess the added value of some of the Military Training provided.”

Stressor: Budgetary Restraints and Event Requests
Ranking: 6
Number of Comments: 7

Overall Assessment: Budgetary restraints and bureaucratic red tape have made it difficult for academic staff to organize academic programming and visits. The Event requests approval is cumbersome and has actually made some give up.

  • “Lack of financial resources impacts ability to attend conferences. Event policy restricts opportunities for N/OCdts to attend events.”
  • “The level of bureaucracy in order to participate to an International Forum or Symposium is demoralising and complicated. (Due to event requests and travel authorities).”
  • “Amount of time required to get students to conferences and battlefield tours is significant, and the nature of what is required changes every two weeks. Those asked to organize model UNs, etc., for which the Foundation provides money are now throwing up their hands because it is difficult to do the paperwork, and it sits in Ottawa for weeks, or is returned to be done in a different way. In some cases, this has led to cancellation. Profs are now unwilling to organize. No one seems willing to get those roadblocks out of the way.”

Stressor: Reluctance to Release
Ranking: 7
Number of Comments: 7

Overall Assessment: Some academic staff questioned an apparent “no fail” mentality that is implied when N/OCdts are not removed.

  • “In some cases, RMC bends over backwards to ensure that OCdt has every possible means of graduating. This has unintended consequence of allowing the OCdt to struggle in the program for years at a time, imposing higher and higher stress on "high risk" OCdts. Need honourable off-ramps, where assist someone to depart when it is appropriate to do so.”
  • “Do we fail N/OCdts by holding them back or do we fail them by pushing them through?”
  • “Maybe need to recruit 10% more OCdts in order to be able to weed out the bottom 10% in the first couple of years.”

Stressor: Miscellaneous
Ranking: 8
Number of Comments: 6, less

Overall Assessment: The academic staff made mention of a myriad of other topics that were found in the other target groups. They included: lack of autonomy for N/OCdts, lack of escape or relaxation, PPT and fitness, CADWINS, Four Pillars and AFAN qualification, CCoA, FYOP, dress standard, bilingualism, social media, resiliency, generation gaps and LLPM.

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