By Natasha Tersigni, 38 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs
Winnipeg, Manitoba — When Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Superintendent Julie Baines came upon Sergeant Taylor Warren in his G-Wagon during Exercise ARMOURED BISON (Ex AB), she wasn’t quite sure she recognized him.
Although Sgt Warren, a member of the Fort Garry Horse armoured reconnaissance unit in Winnipeg, has worked for Ms. Baines for the last six years as a CBSA Border Officer at the Canadian-United States border crossing in Sprague, Manitoba, this was the first time she had seen him in full military fighting gear, complete with camouflage paint on his face.
As she walked closer to where Sgt Warren was giving orders to his troops, talking calmly and giving detailed instructions on their next task, Ms. Baines saw a new and impressive side of her employee, that of the citizen soldier. A citizen or part-time soldier is member of the Canadian Army Reserve who trains for military duty to be ready to defend Canada in times of emergency, either at home or overseas, in support of the Army’s Regular Force.
Ms. Baines joined 12 other employers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Colombia for the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (CFLC) ExecuTrek held on April 28 at Canadian Forces Detachment Dundurn during Ex AB.
The objective of CFLC’s ExecuTrek program is to give civilian employers, supervisors and human resources professionals a first-hand look of the quality of military training and the benefits that employers can gain from employing Reservists.
The exercise brought together 180 soldiers from across 3rd Canadian Division, a majority of whom are Army Reservists, to support armoured reconnaissance units training for tactical battle scenarios.
While Ms. Baines knew that Sgt Warren was an Army Reservist who would require time off in order to attend military courses and training, she didn’t fully understand what that entailed until that day.
“This has been a real eye opener to help me understand what the Army Reserve is all about. It has given me a greater appreciation for what Taylor chooses to do in his spare time, which is pretty impressive,” said Ms. Baines, who added she enjoyed experiencing firsthand what Sgt Warren was actually doing when he was taking ‘vacation days’ for Army activities.
For the ExecuTrek participants, which included representatives from Manitoba Hydro, Saskatchewan Government Insurance and Saskatchewan Medical Association, the day started with getting fitted for their field equipment and then they were loaded into a Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) and taken to the training area.
Once there, after a quick welcome briefing by the exercise’s Officer in Command, Major Gillian Dulle, the group toured the camp’s headquarters and then walked down to the staging area where armoured units were preparing for their upcoming exercise scenarios.
After meeting the soldiers and getting a brief description of the equipment, including the brand new Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles (TAPVs), the ExecuTrek participants marvelled at a demonstration of a Miniature Unmanned Aircraft System (MUAS) used for surveillance and saw the mounted .50 calibre machine gun fire.
For lunch, the group was treated to military rations and then observed two TAPVs on a reconnaissance mission. After that, they were introduced to 3rd Canadian Division Deputy Commander Brigadier-General Nic Stanton. The group finished off the day by observing G-Wagons firing on the range.
As for Ms. Baines, she left the exercise with a better understanding of what Sgt Warren does when he is out with his unit.
“I never really understood what it is he does with the Army and this was a great opportunity to learn. It was really interesting to see what he does and the equipment he uses,” said Ms. Baines.
Sgt Warren appreciated having his supervisor out with the military and glad he invited her to the ExecuTrek.
“Julie is currently the administrative superintendent and she handles a lot of the scheduling. She has done a lot of work ensuring I am capable of getting the time off that I need,” said Sgt Warren, who added his most recent leave from CBSA was to attend his troop leader course in 2017.
“Getting six weeks of vacation banked is hard and getting it all approved at the same time is even harder. Julie has done a lot to ensure that I can go on courses. The military is obscure and foreign to civilian employers so this allows my supervisor to have a better idea of why I need the time off when I need it.”