On October 12th, 2018 more than 50 individuals took their first step in becoming soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Army Reserve. They come from nearly every corner of Alberta from various military trades, with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. All volunteered to test their mental and physical fortitude in the army’s Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) course. BMQ is the basic training program for every military member in the CAF. One of many serials of the course taught throughout the CAF, this course provides the knowledge and skills common to all trades in the CAF, hones physical and mental capabilities while instilling the CAF’s fundamental values of Duty, Loyalty, Integrity and Courage.
Over consecutive weekends, candidates were taught various skills and knowledge, including drill, teamwork, navigation and marksmanship with the C7 service rifle. Many of the skills they learn especially, leadership, attention to detail, how to work in teams and mental resiliency are particularly useful in their civilian lives. As Reservists, candidates are required to focus on their training during the weekends and limit as much as possible entanglements with other facets of their lives. Due to the limits of weekend training, candidates must learn, practice and internalize the course material quickly as each successive weekend brings new material and a confirmation of knowledge tests and practical examinations to ensure candidates are learning the material. Appropriate remedial training is undertaken to improve candidates’ weaknesses under the supervision of staff, who have extensive experience in the military.
Once candidates have successfully passed all of the knowledge and practical tests in garrison, candidates are tested in the field to ensure they are able to demonstrate these skills in a combat environment. The course deploys to the field for two exercises. The first exercise involves candidates proving their marksmanship skills by meeting the minimum score on the CAF’s personal weapons handling test with the C7 rifle. For some candidates, it is their first experience in the field and they must quickly accommodate adverse conditions. During the shooting assessments, candidates follow their training on how to correct for windage and use their developed mental resilience to carry on with task. The subsequent navigation exercise is executed the weekend after, with candidates facing a new adversary: the Polar Vortex. Temperatures as low as -30oC test candidates moral, but the CAF ensures they have appropriate cold weather gear to withstand these brutal conditions and staff ensure candidates are hydrated and warm. Candidates abandon the accoutrements of the 21st century during their navigation assignments, like soldiers over a century before them navigate with only a map, protractor and compass to aid them in finding their objective. One by one, they shoot their bearings, trusting in their equipment and their training, each eventually finding their objective.
On February 10th, candidates who have successfully met the mental and physical demands of the course graduate. Their skills will be tested one last time on course with a parade, candidates led by their instructors, will march past a reviewing officer and be inspected. Throughout BMQ, the Course Warrant Officer and Course Officer watched over the candidates and staff, directing training and intervening when necessary. For both Course Warrant Officer and Officer it is a proud moment. Candidate’s families and friends watch the parade unfold with candidates marching in step as a platoon. The demands of the BMQ course are felt by candidates as well as their families and friends, who must make many sacrifices to support their loved ones on their path to success. This parade is as much for them as it is for the candidates. Awards are handed out, with the King’s Own Pte(R) Paisley winning top shot. All candidates feel a sense of relief and joy to have achieved the BMQ qualificatio
n and are elated to move on in their military careers. For soldiers in the King’s Own Calgary Regiment, the next milestone will be their BMQ-Land course, where they will train to be effective soldiers in the land environment. This will include rudimentary tactics, section roles, patrolling and additional weapons training. 11 King’s Own Calgary Regiment soldiers will be moving on to BMQ-Land.
Cpl M. Khan
2nd in Command, 2 Section
BMQ Serial 0563
King’s Own Calgary Regiment