The Profession of Arms in Profile – The Royal Canadian Logistics Service: LCol Amanda Aldous - Commanding Officer, 17 Mission Support Squadron, 17 Wing Winnipeg
March 15, 2021 - Defence Stories
LCol Amanda Aldous - Commanding Officer, 17 Mission Support Squadron, 17 Wing Winnipeg
As part of our commitment to share Defence stories beyond any particular day, The Maple Leaf will profile several women leaders across the CAF, specifically those in the Royal Canadian Logistics Service (RCLS). We will share their example, their experience and celebrate their tireless support to international and domestic operations, exercises, and the day-to-day business of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Read about others profiled in this series, including:
- Commander Selena Aral, Commanding Officer, Base Logistics HQ, CFB Halifax
- Commander Cynthia Smith – Commanding Officer, Base Logistics HQ, CFB Esquimalt
LCol Amanda Aldous joined the RCAF as a Logistics Officer, and specialized in Human Resources. Her love for organizing, planning, and working with people made the profession seem like a good fit – she could help people on their best day and their worst day.
“As logisticians, we’re enablers – the mission does not happen without logistics,” she says. “It doesn’t always seem like the coolest work, but every single person in my squadron can draw a direct line between their work and air operations. They’re a humble group and don’t seek praise, but really, they are making magic happen every day to support the mission and enable success.”
She adds that the COVID-19 pandemic has given logisticians an opportunity to demonstrate their full potential.
“It’s a great time to be a logistician,” she says eagerly. “The pandemic has highlighted how critical our work is… In the past three months, 17 MSS has been providing support to Op LASER and Northern Manitoba communities – we’re on our sixth community now that we’ve been supporting with 435 Squadron and CFB Shilo in a very joint effort… and we’re doing that concurrently with keeping the Wing running, and providing support to all the units in the Winnipeg area of responsibility. I’ve been really impressed with what my squadron has been able to do.”
Leading a squadron during the pandemic has been a significant challenge, one LCol Aldous notes is being shared by leaders everywhere.
“It’s really tough to be in command during COVID,” she acknowledges. “A lot of the folks in my squadron are essential workers, so they’re feeding the base, they’re putting fuel in aircraft, we’re keeping the Wing functioning.. In a time where people are isolated, and meetings are happening virtually, we can’t even get together for a morale activity or do PT together… the solution is really to empower our leaders, down to the Sgt/MCpl level, to check on the folks in their sections, to be kind. Doing those buddy checks in all directions –up, down and across the chain of command -, because this is a very isolating time.”
While reflecting on these challenges, LCol Aldous attributes a lot of her success in command – in addition to professional competence and being able to ‘speak operator’ – to her own lived experience. As a woman who attended an all-girls high school in Winnipeg, her background does not resemble that of most of her fellow officers; acknowledging that difference and making it authentically her own has paid dividends.
“That’s something we talk about, from a leadership perspective – if you’re not authentic and credible, your troops will see through that really quickly,” LCol Aldous says. “I had to create some space for myself to do it my way, and I think some of those attributes that made me feel like a bit of an outsider at the beginning of my career – emotional intelligence and compassion – have enabled me to have a firm but fair leadership style that has been a real asset in command.”
LCol Aldous notes that her experience in the RCLS has helped her develop that personal style. Women make up roughly 40% of the service, and have long occupied leadership positions at all levels. Currently, the vast majority of Mission Support Squadrons are commanded by women, something she feels honoured to be part of.
“This has been incredibly special for me,” she says. “These are women I’ve trained with and worked with over the years who have succeeded on their merit and hard work, and it makes me really proud to be one of them. We’re connected with each other, and we support each other, and we’re committed to being mentors for the women coming up through the ranks behind us.”
Ultimately, LCol Aldous hopes this same approach can be amplified beyond the RCLS, to benefit the CAF as a whole.
“When I was a Lieutenant in Shearwater, all my fellow Squadron Logistics Officers were women,” she notes. “My DCO was a woman, my CO was a woman, and I just thought that was normal. Now as a CO, I find I’m often in meetings where I am still the only woman.
“I think the RCLS has long acknowledged and celebrated what women bring to the table,” she adds. “And every time I interact with a junior officer or junior NCM, I’m blown away. The future is very bright with this next generation.”
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