From Pinawa to Kingston & many stops in between
By: 27832 OCdt (I) Pablo Cardona – 12 Squadron
13987 Bryan Bailey grew up in the small town of Pinawa, Manitoba and entered Royal Roads Military College in 1979. He graduated from Royal Military College of Canada in 1983 with a degree in Political and Economic Science and was commissioned as an infantry officer with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI). Later in his career, he would earn a Masters Degree in Political Studies from Queens University in Kingston.
He retired in 2013, at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
The Pinawa native grew up with a deep appreciation for military service. His family’s military history can be traced back to his great grandfather served in the North West Mounted Police around the 1885 rebellion. Additionally, he had a great uncle who was killed in World War I and an uncle who was the former CO of the reserve artillery regiment in Vancouver. Furthermore, he “grew up loving the outdoors and greatly enjoyed Cubs and Scouts.” His first contact with military personnel (both retired and serving) was as a rifle shooter where one of his coaches was a retired Engineer Lieutenant-Colonel. This inspired him to join the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, where he was instructed by Patricias in the summer and become inspired to join said unit.
After finishing high school, Mr. Bailey was accepted into the ROTP to attend the University of Manitoba to study engineering. However, fate had a different plan. During his last week of Basic Training in Chilliwack, he was informed that he would be attending Royal Roads as an Arts student. Ironically, his father always threatened to send him to military school if he misbehaved, so his “grandmother was totally surprised to learn of [his] entry to military college as she assumed that this was nothing more than a standing joke.”
In his lengthy career, he was deployed on three different ‘out of country’ missions, including UNPRCFOR in Croatia (1992-93), MONUC in the DRC (2008-2009) and Op Attention in Afghanistan (2012-2013). He describes his time in Croatia as the “early and wild days of the UN mission.” His battalion was responsible for establishing a buffer between the two warring factions and he recalls their entry and presence in the region being violently contested. The former Infantry Officer was “exceptionally pleased with how well C Company weathered the storm, held the line, and repelled each and every attack.” He considers this a highlight of his career and “drew the greatest satisfaction from commanding.”
In the Congo, he was the Deputy Chief of Staff Operations and Plans for the Force HQ and was responsible for the planning and conduct of UN Force Operations. The long work days, complex environments and frustration of the United Nations bureaucracy easily made it one of the most challenging years of his career. Finally, in Afghanistan he was an acting Colonel and worked as the designated senior advisor to the Vice Chief of the Afghan National Army.
The retired Patricia advises future officers to read-in to their missions and understand the history, politics and culture of their host country. His love for reading, history and politics was useful in helping him develop an understanding of the mission. “As an officer, it was important to understand the dynamics of conflict and the bigger picture.”
Mr. Bailey credits much of his success as an officer to the lessons learned while at both RRMC and RMCC. The four components of officership (physical fitness, academics, bilingualism, military proficiency) are all important, but managing the demands of military college(s) helped him learn to juggle “many different balls simultaneously.” Furthermore, it taught him to manage his time, prioritize and develop and structured lifestyle. Based on his 30+ year career, he has good advice for aspiring officer. Truth Duty Valour should be a way of life, officers should have the courage to follow their “gut and serve with a clear conscience for having done the right thing.” He also recommends that officers learn from both acquiring experience and not being afraid to make mistakes. Having the ability to lead from the front will make one an effective leader and a person that soldiers will trust and want to follow.
Currently, Mr. Bailey services as the executive director of the RMC Club of Canada, the alumni association of Canada’s Military Colleges. He is responsible for the club’s day-to-day operations. He is also responsible for the finance of the club, advocacy on behalf of its members, event organization and he is the editor of the Veritas magazine. “The Club’s purpose is to promote camaraderie of its members and the advancement the welfare of our members, cadets, and colleges.”