Our duty to pursue self-development as military professionals

June 27, 2022 -  Defence Stories

Self-development and continuous learning are vital to the success of the profession of arms. We must continually hone our intellectual edge, through self-development, training and more formal professional development. We need to read — voraciously consuming different perspectives, new information and new ideas. We must nurture these habits and identify opportunities for ourselves, while encouraging and enabling others – it is our duty as military professionals.

Developing and sustaining a habit of continuous learning strengthens our overall professional body of knowledge and our capacity to meet the challenges of the current and future security environment. These habits will contribute to our awareness and understanding of the world around us. They will enhance our ability to scan the horizon for what’s coming up, so we more rapidly identify new trends and ideas, and maintain our ability to anticipate and adapt to change. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for the next challenge, not just the last one. Self-development is essential for continual growth as individuals and for our intuition.

That is why every member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is encouraged to take advantage of The Torch – the CAF’s self-development learning hub. The Torch provides CAF members with a range of materials and resources, including themed discussion portals for senior leaders, to enhance critical thinking skills and enable CAF members to take ownership of individual and collective learning. Sharing and discussing an article accessed through The Torch with your team is a great way to initiate collective learning.

Developed and maintained by the Canadian Defence Academy, The Torch is updated weekly with relevant content on topics and issues drawn from sources inside and outside Canada. Because The Torch can be accessed via the DWAN and the internet, I urge you to make it your digital go to site.

Self-development is one of the CAF’s four professional development pillars – the other three being education, training, and experience. Self-development is also the pillar which gives the most flexibility to CAF members seeking to improve their professional body of knowledge and supplement their formal education. While learning is an individual responsibility, senior leaders play a vital role by ensuring that their personnel are allowed the time to pursue individual and collective learning objectives, and are aware of and encouraged to use The Torch.

Learning occurs in a variety of forms and settings: formal settings such as schools and informal contexts such as experiential and self-directed. All too often we privilege the formal avenues of learning and ignore the informal because of the former’s credentialing capability. I invite everyone to perceive both avenues of learning as equally important, mutually enriching, and contributing to our storehouse of knowledge. Owing to limitations of space in formal schools, the CAF must lean heavily on informal learning avenues to impart knowledge that enhances military professionalism, readiness, and effectiveness. As a learning hub, The Torch enables members to supplement this knowledge.

The Torch will evolve over time, so your comments and ideas for improvements are welcome; see feedback links throughout the website. I invite all CAF members to take a few minutes to see exactly what The Torch provides, and how it will enable them to pursue their self-development.

General Wayne Eyre - Chief of the Defence Staff
The Torch Infographic

An infographic about The Torch, the Canadian Armed Forces Self-Development online learning hub. There is a yellow background with The Torch logo in the centre. The logo is an open book super-imposed with a maple leaf and a torch.

Along the bottom from left to right there is a QR code and pictures of various electronic devices. There is also a hyperlink for The Torch. It is https://cfc-ca.libguides.com/The-Torch. There is also the Twitter account handle for the Canada Defence Academy @CDACanadaACD

The Torch logo is surrounded by six boxes of texts describing the learning hub.

On the left hand side of the logo the boxes read as follows.

Continuous Learning - The Torch provides access to materials and ideas for professional development and other learning opportunities.

Help Your Subordinates - The Torch contains ideas and information that might help the people for whom you are responsible

Access From Anywhere / Anytime - Most content on The Torch is available via your smart phone with only limited need to use the DWAN.

On the right hand side of the logo the boxes read as follows

The World Around You Today - The Torch provides contemporary professional interest items in the defence and security sphere to help you stay informed.

Explore the eLibrary - The Torch provides ‘free’ access to thousands of books, journals, magazines and other resources through the CAF Virtual Library.

One Stop Shopping - Use The Torch as your go-to internet link to access numerous other websites and materials of professional interest.


The security environment is changing so rapidly that it is incumbent on us as military professionals to keep learning and to keep up to date on security issues and debates in order to be ready to lead and succeed in the most demanding of situations. Learn every day!

General Wayne Eyre
Chief of the Defence Staff

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