26566 Brendan Hogan: leader of tomorrow shares his view on RMCC & leadership

26566 OCdt (IV) 1 Squadron – Cadet Flight Leader Alpha Brendan Hogan – MOC is artillery officer (00179); degree program is Honours History.

What were your inspiration & motivation to attend RMCC?

What is your most favourable memory of your time at RMCC?

What is your most disappointing memory of your time at RMCC?

What changes would you like to see at RMCC which would make it a better overall experience for those who will be following you?

What books influenced you most as a student and how?

Which senior cadet(s) and / or staff influenced you most as a I, II, III Year and how?

What– in your opinion– makes a good leader?

What does TDV mean to you?

What is your ultimate goal after leaving RMCC?

What inspires you to be the person you are today?

MORE…


What were your inspiration & motivation to attend RMCC?

I wanted to join the CAF from a very young age. A number of my family members have served in the British and Canadian militaries, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. When I was a child, I used to dress up in surplus uniforms and arm myself with my trusty hockey stick to fight imaginary battles in my back yard. Although I grew out of playing soldier, joining the military has been something that I always wanted to do. Whether it is first-year RMC cadets in their No. 4 uniforms or cadets marching into town on Cooper Sunday, you cannot avoid being exposed to RMCC growing up in Kingston. In addition, two of my cousins, Lieutenant-Colonel John Vass (19470) and Captain Nicholas LaRoy (24332), are graduates of RMCC. My cousin John graduated from RMCC in May 1994, a few months before I was born. However, I did have the chance to watch my cousin Nick run the obstacle course, get badged, and graduate. Both of them thoroughly enjoyed their time at RMCC and recommended, if I thought I was up to the challenge, giving it a shot. Since I wanted to join the army and attend university, RMCC seemed like a great option.

What is your most favourable memory of your time at RMCC?

I have been extremely fortunate and have had many great opportunities during my time at RMCC. I have visited both West Point and the United States Naval Academy with the pipes and drums band, climbed volcanoes with the expedition club in Guatemala, and toured Canadian First and Second World War battlefields in France and Belgium on the battlefield tour in February 2015. Although I enjoyed all of these opportunities, the battlefield tour, by far, is the greatest experience I have had at RMCC. I thoroughly enjoy studying military history, and the battlefield tour afforded me the opportunity to learn about the feats of arms and sacrifices of Canada’s soldiers on the battlefields of Europe during the world wars. By walking the terrain and visiting the cemeteries, I developed a greater understanding of the difficulties that the soldiers faced fighting the battles and an appreciation for the sacrifices that they made. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go on the tour, and I will cherish my memories of it for the rest of my life.

What is your most disappointing memory of your time at RMCC?

My most disappointing memory of my time at RMCC would probably be not being selected to go on exchange to Germany in third year. However, it was a blessing in disguise. Instead, I had the opportunity to be a section commander for the Aboriginal Leadership and Opportunity Year (ALOY) program. Working with the ALOY program is probably one of the greatest leadership opportunities at the College. For a full academic year, you get to lead, train, teach, and mentor participants in the ALOY program. You also get exposed to Canada’s rich native, Metis, and Inuit cultures. I cannot speak highly enough about the program.

What changes would you like to see at RMCC which would make it a better overall experience for those who will be following you?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at RMCC, and I have learned a fair bit. If I had to suggest improvements, I would like to see future cadets have greater responsibility for “running” the College and organizing events. Although bar positions do give us the opportunity to develop our leadership skills, I think cadets would benefit from having challenges that they need to work together to overcome and more opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.

What books influenced you most as a student and how?

Probably the most influential book I have read during my time at RMC is Field-Marshal Sir William Slim’s Defeat into Victory. Slim led the British Fourteen Army against the Imperial Japanese Army in Burma from 1942 until the end of the war. In 1942, Slim took command of a battered and demoralized force of Indian, British, and African troops. He knew how to lead soldiers and built a rapport with his troops by regularly inspecting, visiting, and talking to them. Slim also understood the necessity of having effective leaders. When 70 percent of his soldiers were sick with malaria, he noted “Good doctors are no use without good discipline. More than half the battle against disease is fought not by the doctors, but by the regimental officers.” Under his leadership, the Fourteenth Army became a formidable fighting formation that defended India and recaptured Burma from the Japanese. Slim proved you do not need super soldiers to win a battle. You need good leaders who take care of, train, and lead their soldiers. Three other books that have influenced me are Desmond Morton’s When Your Number’s Up: The Canadian Soldier in the First World War and Tim Cook’s At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1914-1916 and Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917-1918. I have always been fascinated by the First World War. Canadian troop started the war as amateurs and evolved into one of the best corps in the British Expeditionary Force by the end of the war. Effective leaders who innovated and learned from their mistakes played an instrumental role in this evolution.

Which senior cadet(s) and / or staff influenced you most as a I, II, III Year and how? 

During my time at RMCC, I have been influenced by many people. Amongst the most influential are two of my FYOP staff: Captain Jennifer McGregor (25565) an artillery officer in 1 RCHA and Lieutenant Emily Morgan (26173) an intelligence officer in 15 CRTS. Emily was also my CSL when I was in second year. Both of them set me, and the rest of my first year flight, up for success. They worked hard to instill the values and work ethic required to be successful in the ROTP program. They looked out for us, were very approachable, and always willing to give advice and guidance. Now that I am a senior cadet, I have tried to lead the same way that they did. Even though they have moved on from RMCC, they continue to check in with us from time to time to see how we are doing. Being an ALOY section commander, I had the opportunity to work with Warrant Officer (WO) Brian Highfield and Sergeant Grant Thoman, the ALOY WO and senior NCO respectively. They both gave me advice when I was uncertain and mentored me when I made mistakes. They are also great role models. I hope that I will have NCOs like them when I am a troop commander. Two of my DP1.1 Artillery Troop Commander course officers, Captains S.R. Paish and A.W. Jewer, are graduates of RMC. I struggled with the reconnaissance and deployment portion of the course and their mentorship greatly contributed to my success on the course. Amongst the faculty, I would be remiss if I did not mention Major (Ret’d) Michael Boire and Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret’d) Dr. Douglas Delaney (16080). Both Major Boire and Dr. Delaney have attempted to impart their extensive knowledge of military history, leadership, and officership on me. I will be taking their lessons to heart in my future career. Dr. Delaney is also the supervisor of my undergraduate thesis. It is now nearly complete, but I would not have been able to do it without his guidance and extensive editing.

What– in your opinion– makes a good leader?

I believe a leader is someone who inspires their troops and enables them to do what they did not believe they could do, thereby enabling them to accomplish the mission. A leader needs to know his/her weaknesses and constantly work on them. Obviously an officer needs to be technically competent, but they also need to know how to lead their troops. This can only be done by building a rapport with your troops, training them, building their confidence, and keeping their welfare in mind. Troops who believe that they are led by a leader who cares about their welfare, leads by example, and seems confident of success are a formidable weapon, as Field-Marshal Slim proved with the Fourteenth Army.

What does TDV mean to you?

I never really gave TDV any serious reflection before the battlefield tour. It seems to be thrown around quite a bit without much thought at the College. However, seeing “Truth Duty Valour” inscribed on the tombstones of some RMC graduates killed overseas during the world wars helped me realize its significance. These officers had integrity and led by example, gave their lives in service of their country, and had the courage to lead their troops in battle and make the ultimate sacrifice. That is what TDV means to me.

What is your ultimate goal after leaving RMCC?

My ultimate goal is to have a long and successful career in the CAF. In the meantime, I am looking forward to completing my DP1.2 Artillery Troop Commander course and being a troop commander in one of the three artillery regiments.

What inspires you to be the person you are today?

I do not think I can narrow this down to one particular person and thing. Amongst the people that inspire me are my family, my friends, and my superiors. My parents, in particular, have always encouraged me to work hard and apply myself to everything I do and to do it well. My friends are also a source of inspiration. They are always there for me when I need help, and I do my best to be there for them when they need help. I am eager to please my superiors and live up to their expectations for me. They set a good example for me, and I try to emulate them. Finally, my own expectations of myself also push me to be the best officer I can be.

 

2 Comments

  • Jenn McGregor (25565)

    March 9, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Awesome article Brendan. I’m so glad you got the opportunity to write this article and share your experiences with others. You’ve summed up well the great opportunities that RMCC offers to our future leaders of the CAF. I have no doubt that you’ll do great on your DP1.2 this summer and will fit right in at Regiment.

    P.S. 1 RCHA should be your first choice!

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