RMC Context

An Institution for the Military Profession

  1. History. Since 1876, RMC has produced leaders who have made significant and lasting contributions not only in the service of Canada’s military, but in both the public and private sectors of the nation.Footnote 1 “Of the first 170 N/OCdts who entered RMC from 1876-1883 eight received knight ships for feats of leadership in many fields of endeavor on at least four continents.” Footnote 2 Graduates of RMC have gone on to be awarded Victoria Crosses, and become Olympians, astronauts, RCMP Commissioners, scientists, historians, lawyers, doctors, industry tycoons, and Senators. A few of the more notable ex-N/OCdts include General, the Honourable Harry Crerar, PC, CH, CB, DS, KStJ, CD; Hartland Molson, OC, OBE, DCL; Air Commodore Leonard Birchall, CM, OBE. DFC, CD (Saviour of Ceylon); General John de Chastelain, OC, CMM, CD, CH; Transport Minister the Honourable Marc Garneau, PC, MP, CC, CD, FCASI and, Colonel Chris Hadfield, CD. RMC has also produced a number of Rhodes Scholars.
  2. Similar to the already established military colleges in the United States, Great Britain and France, RMC was premised on the idea that the “conduct of war had become a recognized ‘profession’ and that all officers could benefit by education and training”Footnote 3 RMC was critical to the development of Canada by creating the basis for a professionalized Canadian officer corps. Established on Point Frederick in Kingston, the former site of a Royal Navy Dockyard pre-dating the War of 1812, the original entry class numbered just eighteen (the Old Eighteen) when RMC opened on 1 June 1876. Footnote 4

    In 1881 A House of Commons report describes "Kingston Military College and other Educational Experiments...The Government of the Dominion have also established, at Kingston, an institution where young men may receive a training to fit them for the military profession--an institution something on the model of West Point--the practical benefits of which, however, are not as yet appreciable in a country like this, which has no regular army, and cannot afford employment suitable for the peculiar studies necessarily followed in the Academy.Footnote 5

  3. From the original eighteen, RMC continued to grow, producing the nucleus of the Canadian Expeditionary Force officer corps in World War I.Footnote 6 Although RMC closed its doors during World War II, 1427 graduates served with distinction in that conflict, and 114 were killed.Footnote 7 Post World War II, RMC re-opened and expanded in size. It became officially tri-service in 1948, and in 1959 RMC gained the power to grant degrees in arts, science and engineering.Footnote 8 Two other Canadian Military Colleges were created in this period; Royal Roads Military College (RRMC) in 1940, and Collège Militaire Royale Saint-Jean (CMR SJ) in 1952. Women were first admitted to the RMC and CMR SJ in 1980. Cutbacks in defence spending in the 1990s resulted in the closure of both RRMC and CMR SJ in 1995.
  4. CMR SJ was re-opened in 2008 offering a CEGEP preparatory programme/first year for N/OCdts with RMC remaining the CAF’s only degree-granting institution. Today, the Canadian Military Colleges exist to meet a key component of the officer development needs for the CAF and are an important part of the strategic capability to educate, train, shape and define the professional officer corps.
  5. RMC Today. Although RMC is primarily known for the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) programme and the scarlet coated N/OCdts, the ROTP programme makes up only a portion of the overall RMC programme. In addition to the well-known ROTP programme, RMC delivers numerous Post-Graduate studies, Continuing Studies, the NCM Executive Professional Development Programme (NEPDP), Aboriginal Leadership Orientation Year (ALOY), Applied Military Science courses and shortly will also take on the Executive Development Programme for General/Flag Officers. RMC offers an academic programme that provides education, research and operational support that caters to CAF requirements. Some of the notable programmes that support the CAF directly include: materials sciences, cyber defence and security, aerospace engineering, nuclear sciences and Canadian military history.
  6. According to its website, the RMC’s mission is stated as follows:

    The mission of the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) is to produce officers with the mental, physical and linguistic capabilities and the ethical foundation required to lead with distinction in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). To accomplish this mission, RMC delivers undergraduate academic programmes, together with a range of complementary programmes. These programmes are offered in both official languages. As Canada’s military university, RMC also provides undergraduate and post-graduate programmes, and professional development education, both on campus and at a distance, to meet the needs of other members of the CAF and the Department of National Defence (DND). As a national institution, RMC endeavours to share its knowledge with civilians with interest in defence issues. RMC encourages research appropriate to a modern university and seeks out research opportunities that support the profession of arms.Footnote 9

  7. RMC is organized as a unit of the CAF, under the command of a Commanding Officer who holds the appointment of Commandant, with the Principal of RMC taking precedence next to the Commandant in all aspects other than command.Footnote 10 RMC includes a number of Wings and other components. Details of RMC’s organization and academic governance bodies are contained in Annex F – Command and Control. In brief, the current organization of RMC is as follows:
    1. Academic Wing. The Academic Wing is headed by the Principal, the senior academic appointed to DND and the academic head of the university. The Academic Wing is organized into faculties (Arts, Engineering, Science, Continuing Studies, Graduate Studies) each headed by a Dean with a Vice Principal for Research and one for Academics as well as a Registrar. The Academic Wing delivers the academic programme and includes full time faculty (193), Military Faculty (40), Sessional Instructors (134), Contract Researchers (150) and other staff (192).
    2. Training Wing. The Training Wing is commanded by the Director of N/OCdts who is responsible to the Commandant for the day to day exercise of command and control over the staff and students assigned to the Training Wing. The Training Wing is made up of officers, Non Commissioned Members (NCMs) and civilian staff. The Division Commanders, Squadron Commanders and Senior NCMs counsel and evaluate the N/OCdts in the Cadet Wing. The Cadet Wing falls under the command of the Director of Cadets. Details on the Cadet Wing are as follows:
      1. Cadet Wing. The Cadet Wing is led by the Cadet Wing Commander (CWC), a fourth year Cadet, and is comprised of Cadet Wing Headquarters and four divisions, each led by a fourth year Cadet Divisional Leader (CDL). Each division is comprised of three squadrons, each led by a fourth year Cadet Squadron Leader (CSL). Squadrons are comprised of a number of flights, each of which is led by a fourth year Cadet Flight Leader (CFL). Flights are comprised of a number of sections, each of which is led by a third year Cadet Section Commander (CSC). These leadership appointments are referred to as “bar positions” and form the Cadet Chain of Authority (CCoA). One of the squadrons (Otter Squadron) is a separate squadron comprised solely of individuals participating in the University Training Plan – NCM (UTPNCM). In addition, the Cadet Wing includes the Aboriginal Leadership Orientation Year (ALOY) candidates;
    3. Corporate Wing. The Corporate Wing is headed by the RMC Chief of Staff, a Lieutenant-Colonel and is responsible for security, chaplain support, Official Languages and Public Affairs;
    4. Support Services. RMC Support Services is headed by the Director of Support Services and is responsible for administration, logistics, information technology, infrastructure and Non-Public Funds;
    5. Athletic Department. The Athletic Department is headed by the Director of Athletics and is responsible for the fitness programme, health education, varsity and intramural teams and clubs;
    6. Plans and Strategy. There is a small cell headed by a Lieutenant-Colonel that has recently been stood up to provide RMC a long range planning capability and support for major initiatives;
    7. Commanding Officer Post-Graduate/Military Faculty. Responsible to the Commandant for the command, control and administration of attending Post-Graduate and Military Faculty officers and NCMs; and
    8. Comptroller. Responsible to the Commandant for comptroller services.
  8. Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) Programme. The Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) programme grew out of changes in recruiting and selection following World War II. The Reserve Entry Training Plan (RETP) programme is another entry plan for N/OCdts who pay their own way to follow the RMC programme of studies, but does not include obligatory service following graduation. In recent years, participation in the RETP programme has been dwindling and was zero-loaded in 2016.Footnote 11 ROTP involves enrolment into the CAF under different programmes, RMC being one of them. ROTP offers the opportunity of combining academic and career goals with obligatory service in the CAF following graduation and commissioning. To be selected for the ROTP programme, candidates must first meet enrolment requirements that demonstrate their military and academic potential. A Selection Committee considers the candidates in determining the institution to which they will be given an offer. For the purposes of this report, the programme that the N/OCdts are following at RMC will be termed as the ROTP-RMC programme.
  9. The ROTP-RMC programme is comprised of four components: Academic, Bilingualism, Military, and Athletic. The undergraduate programme offers Bachelor Degrees in Arts, Science and Engineering. All N/OCdts complete a core curriculum, which is designed to provide a balanced liberal arts, science, and military education. The Core Curriculum consists of Economics, Psychology, Mathematics, English, Calculus, Military History of Canada, Chemistry, Canadian History, Physics and Civics. All Core Curriculum courses are offered in both official languages. All N/OCdts partake in a Physical Education programme designed to underscore the importance of fitness in addition to playing either intramural sports, competing in varsity sports as part of the Ontario University Athletic Association, or participating in various competitive sports/clubs. N/OCdts must take second language training in one of the two official languages with the aim of attaining a functional level of proficiency before graduation. N/OCdts are organized within a Cadet Chain of Authority (CCoA) as described above. Senior N/OCdts are appointed to leadership appointments within the Cadet Wing to gain experience as leaders within the RMC environment and to help prepare them for their role as commissioned officers in the CAF.
  10. The ROTP-RMC programme is fully residential for N/OCdts who are required to take part in a demanding routine aimed to raise them to a high standard of academic achievement, military knowledge and skill, ethics, physical fitness and bilingualism. The military training environment aims to produce officers with a strong sense of duty, integrity, loyalty, courage, self-discipline, self-confidence, and esprit de corps. All N/OCdts entering the College must pass a number of milestones before being accepted as a full-fledged member of the Cadet Wing. The most visible milestone, the obstacle course, is normally run at the end of the First Year Orientation Period (FYOP) in late September. It is designed to prove to the First Year N/OCdts that while obstacles may seem insurmountable they can in fact be overcome through a combination of teamwork, fitness, stamina and determination.
  11. Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY). The 10-month ALOY programmeadmits an average of 18 to 20 young aboriginal students each year (24 in 2016).  Applications from across the country are chosen by a selection committee consisting of representatives of the Canadian Defence Academy, the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group, academic leaders from RMC, and Aboriginal advisors. Selection is based on academics and culture. ALOY gives participants a highly positive, productive, one-year educational and leadership experience. The programme includes sports, field trips, leadership development, military training, cultural support activities and individual learning plans. Through these learning plans, students take part in individual and small group tutorials for pre-university (non-credit) and first-year university courses (credit).Footnote 12 Although not a recruiting programme, some ALOY participants choose to transition to the ROTP programme.
  12. University Training Plan – Non-Commissioned Members (UTPNCM). The UTPNCM is a CAF officer production programme designed to develop selected Non-Commissioned Members (NCM), who have demonstrated excellent leadership attributes and who meet the academic credentials to succeed at RMC and other Canadian Universities, as officers in selected occupationsFootnote 13

Strategic Context

  1. The SSAV Team found that RMC has not been immune to the effects that broader strategic decisions and initiatives have had on the DND/CAF. It has shared many of the same challenges that universities across Canada have faced including issues such as mental health fitness, sexual misconduct and suicides. N/OCdts as students at RMC are also in many ways no different from their civilian counterparts in the transition they must make both as undergraduate students and as young adults during what is a critical formative period. However, N/OCdts are members of the CAF and the expectations and demands of the RMC programme, in terms of the combination of academics and military training are unique and can require significant adjustment during this phase of the students’ lives.
  2. Closures. In 1995 RRMC and CMR SJ were closed as part of Defence cutbacks. The closures resulted in the transfer of students, staff and programmes to RMC. In the short term the challenges included assimilation into RMC of the students/staff from the other colleges and accommodation of a much larger number of N/OCdts. In the medium term, the challenges became how to manage the broader programmatic impacts on RMC beyond the growth of the student body. The College experienced significant disruption arising from the construction of new dormitories and limited refurbishment of the existing infrastructure. In the longer term the increased overall size benefited the College by concentrating limited resources, but also exacerbated challenges in other areas such as its aging, albeit historic, infrastructure.
  3. Reductions. The DND Strategic Review and Deficit Reduction Action Plan (SR/DRAP) RMC identified seventy-three (73) indeterminate Public Service positions for elimination through Workforce Adjustment. These reductions came at the expense of RMC programme delivery in the areas of second-language training, cleaning services, Project Management Support for the Division of Continuing Studies, technical and clerical support in the Departments of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Business Administration, Politics and Economics, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.Footnote 14 In 2014 a review of Personnel Support Programs resulted in a directed reduction to personnel in the Athletic DepartmentFootnote 15
  4. Centralization. Some key services and support that was previously provided or delivered locally have been centralized. These include the centralization of all federal government information technology infrastructure under Shared Services Canada, the consolidation of DND/CAF real property management under the Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure and Environment), provision of civilian human resource support via Regionally-based Civilian Human Resource Service Centres and closure/relocation of on-site Medical and Dental Clinics at RMC to a Care Delivery Unit based out of the Medical Centre at CFB Kingston.
  5. Programme Growth. The ROTP-RMC programme today makes up only a portion of the RMC programmes.Footnote 16 As detailed in paragraph 21, the various RMC programmes are subscribed to by an average of 2,200 to 2,300 personnel, surging up to some 2,500 during peak periodsFootnote 17 This is supported by a military staff of 161 personnel and approximately 745 Full Time Employees (FTE) or equivalents. This growth range in programme offerings has increased the workload on both academic and military staff at the College at the same time as there have been reductions in the personnel resources available to deliver them.
  6. Busy and High Profile. The demands on RMC as an institution are many. In addition to a demanding in-house programme, RMC participates in numerous academic and varsity/competitive sports, is active in the community and routinely provides representation at major military/commemorative events. RMC is actively engaged in recruiting along with its higher headquarters and the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group. The alumni (ex-N/OCdts) take an active interest in ensuring that the traditions and history of the College are maintained in particular during Ex-Cadet Reunion Weekend and under the auspices of the RMC Foundation that fund a variety of activities at the College that could otherwise not be delivered. Many Staff and N/OCdts feel the pressures of such a high profile both in the myriad of taskings/events requiring support and by a media spotlight that at times seems focused on negative subject matter rather than positive aspects of the people and programmes at RMC. The SSAV Team learned that RMC typically organizes and manages N/OCdts participation in some 50 major events and activities each year.
  7. Generational Challenges. Each new generation of N/OCdts is characterized by a broad set of attributes based on the views and events that shaped them as they grew up. Those characteristics may, or may not, prove adaptable to the unique nature of a university learning environment, the structure/traditions of RMC or the military culture and as such require adjustments or wholesale changes in instructional approach, programme delivery and leadership style. The current cohort of N/OCdts at RMC is generally considered to be in the “Generation Z” age range. Some common characteristics generally associated with this generation include the following:
    1. Having a digital persona defined through technology;
    2. More prepared to challenge rationale for rules;
    3. Rarely experienced failure, rewarded for participation;
    4. Often significant parental involvement and oversight;
    5. More accepting of differences in ethnicity and sexual orientation; and
    6. Witnessed influence of illicit drugs, alcohol and sexualisation at an earlier age.
  1. Recent Events. Recent events at the College have focused a spotlight on issues of Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour, potential suicides, Mental Health, fitness, alcohol and drug abuse. While these are issues that all Canadian universities are struggling to address, the unique nature of the Royal Military College as both a military and a federal institution has drawn greater media and public commentary. These are summarized as follows:
    1. Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour. RMC leadership has been proactive in communicating and providing direction to address issues of sexual misconduct. The College was taking action to address this significant issue prior to the direction issued by the Chief of the Defence Staff under Operation HONOUR. The SSAV Team heard of a small number of allegations of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. Of these, one incident had not been previously reported and occurred several years earlier at a location other than RMC. In accordance with the VCDS mandate letter, the SSAV Team reported the incident to the appropriate authority at RMC;
    2. Deaths. The SSAV was not mandated to look into the recent deaths at RMC as these are the subject of ongoing Boards of Inquiry that will make specific recommendations on action required of both RMC and the CAF. It was apparent to the SSAV Team that on a campus as small as that of the RMC, the death of a N/OCdt or recent graduate has a significant emotional impact across the whole institution. From discussion of the subject of the deaths during interviews, it was evident that most N/OCdts, even if they did not know the individual well, felt the loss deeply. It was paramount to all of them that any significant event be communicated immediately in person by RMC leadership while respecting the constraints imposed by ongoing investigations and the Privacy Act;
    3. Mental Health. Mental Health and issues associated with it have gained greater attention in the past few years particularly on campuses across the country. The RMC is no different in this regard. The CAF continues to focus more resources to provide support to members with mental health issues and to break down the stigma traditionally associated with mental health. During the SSAV Team interviews students and staff spoke openly about the issue and were asked to comment on how these issues were being addressed and supported by RMC. Further details and analysis is contained in the Support Services section of the Areas of Assessment within this report, as well as in Annex H; and
    4. Unauthorized Drug Use. Amongst the issues that concern CAF leadership was whether there was unauthorized drug use among the N/OCdts. A Blind Drug Test was conducted at RMC and CMR SJ in November 2016 that returned results that indicated that while there were a small percentage of positive tests, there appears to be very limited use of unauthorized drugs at either RMC or CMR SJ. When questioned, N/OCdts did not feel that drug use was a widespread problem at the College.

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