If you’ve dropped into the museum since we’ve reopened, you’ve seen uniformed personnel at the front entrance. The uniformed personnel are Personnel Awaiting Training (PATs) supplied by the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics (CFSCE) to help support the operations of the museum. They provide security, ensure everyone is aware of the mask policy and are wearing their mask properly, track the number of people entering, patrol the gallery, put up and take down the flags and signs outside as well as turn the lights on and off in the gallery, and represent the Canadian Armed Forces to the patrons of the Museum.
But who are they? They are CAF members who have completed Basic Training and are still in the first phase of their career with the CAF – awaiting occupation training (also known as members of the Basic Training List (BTL)). They have chosen to become members of the Communication and Electronic Branch and have come here to CFB Kingston to train for positions as Signals Intelligence Specialists, Signal Technicians, Signal Operators, Information Systems Technicians, Aerospace Communication and Information System Technicians, Line Technicians, and Cyber Operators.
CFSCE, like any school, has a limited capacity for students given the amount of instructional and support staff, equipment and classrooms. Additionally, many courses have pre-requisites that must be met before training may begin. For instance, the wait-time for a Signals Intelligence Specialist Security to gain the pre-requisite security clearance is a process that takes months to years. Work is ongoing to reduce the wait-times that these pre-requisites create.
Unfortunately the demand continues to exceed the capacity of CFSCE to train. The Commandant has undertaken a very deliberate approach to reducing the amount of training days actually required at CFSCE by reviewing the requirements of every single course; increasing the number of DP 1.0 instructors by reducing or eliminating other training; and paying closer attention to the needs of our Personnel Awaiting Training. Recently a committee has been formed with members of the BTL co-chairing committees to ensure that needs are heard and acted upon.
Most recently, COVID has had a huge impact on getting soldiers trained. If a PAT gets ill and misses too much of a course, they are medically removed from course and must start again. Some soldiers have had to start their courses over two or three times. Sometimes, soldiers change their mind about what they want to do for a trade and that means they have to wait to get accepted into their new profession. Sometimes, as noted already they must wait for their security clearance. And occasionally, a soldier will fail their coursework more than twice. So, they are required to undergo compulsory occupation transfer. This all takes time. Some PATs you see at the museum may have been in Kingston for over two years just waiting for a course or clearance.
What is a typical day for a PAT if you are not given a tasking like the museum? They get up early, do PT, eat breakfast, undergo inspection, march out for parade and are then released to go back to perform various e-learning courses, work on kit and quarters, or attend to a task detailed to them. Before you think,” Oh, they have it so easy!” PATs live in quarters, on base, with 4 people to a room. During Covid, they were confined to Base, and occasionally their building. It is truly remarkable that so many have been able to continue working within this very close and intimate environment with little privacy. For many others, we asked too much of them.
Recently we were very happy to show some appreciation to a few of the PATS who support us with a free Improbable Escapes game. It was an entirely new way for them to enjoy the Museum. It was an hour of adventuring through the Museum. A wonderful distraction to oppose the frequent boredom.
We hope you have enjoyed getting to know more about these key people who help our Museum to run efficiently. The next time you visit us at the Museum, please share a few kind words of support with them.
It’s wedding season! Are you getting married and looking to have bridal party gifts made? A guest looking for the perfect gift; maybe a nice personalized cutting board or matching wine glasses with the happy couple’s name and marriage date? How about a funny shirt?
The Mercury Shop offers custom engraving and sublimation on a variety of items that we have in stock. We can use your graphics, or work with you to try and create something. Have something of your own you’d like to get engraved? We can do that too! Reach out to us at email@example.com or call us at 613-541-5395
Don’t forget to come and play Improbable Escapes at the Museum. We have Camp X and Spymaster available 7 days a week in the summer.
Don’t forget we have a large catalogue of military crests for all your posting and promotion gift needs!
Leala Hampel, Acting Supervisor