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  • Ask Tom - Answers

    Answers will be posted shortly.

    I said this because coming here makes my heart hurt.

  • #2
    Question 1

    I applaud you for participating in this forum, Colonel. What's the difference between a Commanding Officer and a Base Commander? Also, I've heard Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Edmonton called Area Support Unit (ASU) Edmonton and Edmonton Garrison. Which one is most correct? Finally, how does the current crop of junior officers (captain and below) compare to those with whom you graduated in 1990?

    Dear Sabre, thank you for your question. The term Base Commander is the official title of my appointment under the Canadian Forces Organization Order and the National Defence Act. However, the Army has also changed the way we organize and appoint people to the job, and in order to reflect the traditional field unit structure we now use the term Commanding Officer. In every day conversation the military tends to freely switch between the two titles.

    As for Base itself, internally we are Area Support Unit Edmonton and are the landlords for a number of Department of National Defence sites from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories to Lethbridge, Alberta to Chilliwack, British Columbia.

    Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to stick with the bumper sticker name that everyone knows and call it Canadian Forces Base Edmonton in my everyday conversation.

    On the subject of our new men and women entering the Canadian Forces and at the risk of inflating our junior officers’ egos, admit that they are very good at their jobs. Everyone coming out of the pipeline today realizes the demands and challenges they will face. They appreciate the risks, but also the rewards that their service provides. As supervisors we also see this level of motivation and indeed observations of this current crop of junior personnel is universally positive. They are arriving well trained and highly motivated to complete the job they willingly signed up for. More we can’t really expect.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


    • #3
      Question 2

      In your opinion, how well does the Garrison integrate into the local civilian population? How could your staff, troops, and families be better integrated?

      Thank you for addressing one of my favourite topics. The level of support and integration that we as military members receive in the Capital Region is bar none the best in Canada. I can say this, because my peers from other bases admit that they cannot compare themselves to the level of support that we as the military, and our families, get from the entire community. But as someone who moved here in 1996 with the Army’s big shift of personnel, I do know that this close level of cooperation is only the result of years of hard work by many people, and like any good marriage it’s something that cannot be taken for granted.

      From a practical perspective, we really have no choice but to be good neighbours. The city and surrounding counties continue to grow around us bringing people and businesses literally to our doorstep. When completed, the Anthony Henday, will provide quick and simple access for people to get on and off the Base to anywhere in the region and as Base Commander I will have to face the reality that increasingly new developments will grow around the Base. We are going to have to start catering for this. Next year will see significant changes to the road infrastructure accessing the Base and what the impacts of this will be on us is something I will have to look at with our partners in the region to ensure that we continue to support the growth and operational requirements of all sides.

      For my part, I believe there is more outreach we can do to continue integrating this Base, and its associated infrastructure throughout the region, into the wider community. My predecessor, Lt. Col Gary Blenkinsop started a project to revitalize our Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Park and make it a gathering place for people for both celebration and remembrance.

      This year’s Canada Day celebrations in the park were a tremendous success. I intend to build on these successes and hope that people from Edmonton and the surrounding communities will choose to come to the Base and share in events like this with our military personnel and their families.
      Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


      • #4
        Question 3

        I had the pleasure of working with Col. Blenkinsop on the redevelopment of "Sir Winston Churchill Park" and several other projects and look forward to meeting with you in the near future.

        For the members of the forum could you briefly describe the "Sir Winston Churchill Park" redevelopment project and how it fits with Edmonton Garrison's improving the public's awareness of our Military neighbor to our North.

        Although I have touched on the importance of Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Park in my previous answer let me give you a couple of additional points. In keeping with the increasing access that the regions development will bring, we intend on developing the park into a gathering place for all members of the community. In that spirit, we already hold our Aboriginal Awareness Week celebrations there and will continue to host our Canada Day festivities in the park.

        The redevelopment plan for the park is ambitious and will need to be managed to ensure that we do this right. Once completed the park will contain displays from the Air Force, Navy and, of course, the Army. Our first piece is already on the ground. Earlier this month an M109 howitzer was placed at the western edge of the park and was on display in time for the Change of Command ceremony.

        Many other components have been identified including the naval gun at HMCS NONSUCH and Lt. Col Blenkinsop was working hard on securing a Hercules aircraft for the site as well. Once these pieces are added to the collection, our park will reflect the heritage of the three services based in Edmonton.

        In addition, the Friends of Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Park are at work on an outdoor memorial chamber inspired by the original that resides in the Peace Tower in Ottawa.

        Once we complete the design phase of this plan I would be happy to provide that information to interested parties.
        Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


        • #5
          Question 4

          Does the plan to close the City Centre Airport pose any challenges to CFB Edmonton?

          Edmontonians made amazing contributions during both world wars, but I think most people are unaware of them. In our schools, we tend to ignore military history, perhaps out of fear of seeming to glamourize war. How important is it to remember battles such as Ortona, for example? How do we teach our children about the heroism of our soldiers while also making the point that war is miserable?

          The City Centre’s Airport and its role in World War II's Lend Lease Ferry Programme is something that once was a significant piece of Canada’s military infrastructure, but as the city and military requirements changed, so did our needs for the airport. In its current form, the airport supports some of our operations, but even then we cannot do everything at the Muni due to runway limitations. As with other users, when the Muni is unable to support those operations we will adjust to take advantage of the other airfields available to us in the region.

          On your question of teaching military history, I could not agree more from my personal perspective. We as Canadians have much to be proud of, and our military heritage is a great part of this but its also one that is more than the highly publicized efforts during war and peacekeeping operations. Regionally, the military’s activities which supported the construction of the Alaska Highway and the mapping and subsequent opening of our North were part of that national effort which resulted in Edmonton becoming the gateway to this important region.

          As soldiers we are proud of that heritage, and try to live up to this reputation in our activities. My experience in speaking with students is that there is great interest in understanding the history of our efforts. But I have also seen that our educational system is producing wise young men and women who appreciate the impact of this international engagement.

          When provided the facts, the average Canadian is smart enough to understand the implications and form their own conclusions. They might not all agree with each other, but then discourse is an important part of formulating public policy.
          Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


          • #6
            Question 5

            I do not know if you can answer this or not but are you concerned about recent reports of incursions on our Arctic sovereignty by nations such as Russia? What role would Edmonton as the Gateway to the North play in that discussion?

            As people concerned with the security of Canadians and our territory, we continue to watch the development’s in our nation’s North. As an immense region that we are beginning to realize is rich in resources, all Canadians ought to be concerned about ensuring that this region and its fragile ecosystem is protected against all threats, be they territorial or environmental.

            From a Base perspective the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, one of this City’s Reserve Force Regiments, will be establishing the first element of what will become a Reserve unit footprint in Yellowknife. As part of the Canada First Defence Strategy, this effort is the first step in reinvigorating the military presence in our North.

            From a personal perspective, the Base here in Edmonton is responsible for real estate management for this new facility to accommodate this new force and the Cadet Movement Summer Camp in Whitehorse. I guess you could say that in this way the Base continues to live up to its motto: To the North
            Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


            • #7
              Question 6

              Has there been any consideration given to reopening either of the runways at the base for military uses? The NE portion of Anthony Henday Drive is scheduled to be completed by 2015, what impacts or benefits does the military see from this project, in relation to operations inolving our other bases, CFB Wainwright, CFB Cold Lake, as well as transfers to the airport?
              Finally what brought you to C2E so expediously considering the other items that must be clamoring for your attention?

              The short answer to your question is yes – sort of. The Canadian Forces is looking at the possibility of using the runway here at CFB Edmonton for fixed-wing aircraft strictly on a limited basis to support training under austere conditions. This will not return the runway to full-time serviceability for fixed wing aircraft but will rather give us a capability to exercise in a manner similar to how we operate internationally.

              408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, of course, continues to use a portion of the airfield for their rotary-wing aircraft operations with the Griffons.

              Any use of the runway for fixed-wing aircraft would be as a contingency or for training pilots and support personnel on the use of a runway under austere or less than perfect conditions. For that reason we have maintained the old air corridors and continue to work with the Province of Alberta to integrate the design of the Anthony Henday so that we are able to maintain those corridors.

              We will continue to utilize the regions airports to support our other flying operations.
              Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


              • #8
                Question 7

                My question isn't a direct question. I am hoping you could comment on how CFB Edmonton fits into the larger landscape of the Canadian Forces. What role does CFB Edmonton play in our national defense system, what are our primary strengths (vs. CFB Wainwright, for instance), and is Edmonton a well-known/performing base in the Canadian system. Where do you see CFB Edmonton and its operations in, say, 10 years? Growing or maintaining the status quo?

                As the Army’s Home in the West, CFB Edmonton plays a major role in within the larger landscape of the Canadian Forces. With 5900 military personnel on the Base, supported by several hundred civilian employees, we represent one of the largest concentrations of Department of National Defence personnel. With its mix of Regular and Reserve formations, the Base supports operations both here at home and abroad. CFB Edmonton is also home to one of Canada’s two major supply centres providing support to smaller Bases and infrastructure across western Canada.

                As for the future role for CFB Edmonton? If I were to summarize that I would say, busy. With a coming deployment to Afghanistan this Fall, and later operations to support the security effort for the Winter Olympics, all people on the Garrison will be very busy in the coming months. Perhaps after that sprint I’ll be able to settle down for the marathon and give you a better understanding of the Base’s future over the next decade.
                Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


                • #9
                  Question 8

                  Normally the Admin does not ask questions, but I would like to direct your attention to the following thread (posted today).

         click on the link.

                  In this thread, there seems to be a concern with Red Friday being "a fun day." The question would be is Red Friday a day where people can have "fun", or is it a more respectful or formal event?

                  Can they both co-exist and now does the military overall perceive Red Friday events?

                  Red Friday is a community-based event organized by the Edmonton Salutes Committee with the support of the City of Edmonton. It is an opportunity for the people here in the city to express their thanks to our people in uniform for the sacrifices made in the defence of Canada and to celebrate the tremendous relationship that exists between the people of Edmonton and its military community – and to do so in a way that is not so formal and so sombre. We do that on November 11 and every time a fallen soldier returns home.

                  We will never forget our comrades who have been injured or have fallen while serving their country, however, I don’t believe that Canadians saying thank you to those who continue to serve in a well organized, positive and upbeat way erodes any of the respect due to our soldiers, sailors and airmen and women in any way.
                  Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


                  • #10
                    Question 9

                    We seem to be subject to an ongoing persistent call to “support the troops”, a call that takes various forms. In your view, in the view of your command, what exactly does the slogan “support the troops” mean? Might you offer qualified support examples that you & your command recognize/respect?

                    Many critique the slogan because they believe it draws attention away from the policy side behind war/engagement… as the slogan diverts attention away from the crux of the debate concerning Canada’s role and participation in global conflicts. How would you answer critics who have difficulty separating “supporting the troops” from “supporting the mission”?

                    It’s important to remember that the Canadian Forces don’t make policy – we simply follow the direction set out by our elected representatives. That could take the form of direct military action as is the case in Afghanistan; it could take the form of a United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Africa; or it could take the form of aiding our own country men and women here at home in times of natural disasters.

                    In all these things our soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, both full-time Regular Force and our part-time Reservists, have answered the call to help others in need and to ensure that ultimately those in need have access to help.

                    For those reasons alone many Canadians have expressed a desire to say thank you to these men and women. The Red Friday celebrations scheduled for the airport and the cities of Edmonton and St. Albert are examples of grassroots movements coming together offer people the opportunity to say thank you to the men and women in uniform, and their families, for the great work they do.
                    Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


                    • #11
                      Question 10

                      To further add to Jeff's question.... (Question 9 above)

                      Do you worry that the constant "rah rah rah support the troops rah rah rah" stuff (like the previously mentioned red day, ribbons on cars, ribbons on trees, presence at sporting events, presence at public events etc etc etc) creates a situation where your average Joe becomes desensitized to the support/tribute/respect "campaign"?

                      I take a positive approach to these initiatives. The outpouring of support we have seen over the past couple of years is a reflection of the community values that are strong in our region. This spirit of community and volunteerism is part of what makes the Edmonton region one of the best places to live. It’s also something that isn’t seen as widely in other parts of this country and something that I think we should take pride in. Our relationship is unique, but that’s OK, Albertans have always supported their policemen, firefighters, doctors, nurses and soldiers. I’m pleased that my children are growing up in a society that respects, and encourages, community service.
                      Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


                      • #12
                        Question 11

                        As a question, do you have an opinion that you could share on the advantages - or the disadvantages - of fulfilling the numerous and varied roles our armed forces are tasked with as a "unified" service as opposed to "individual" services? Is it something you feel adds to the requisite "esprit de corp" your roles require or is it more difficult to nurture that cameraderie without the added competition of individual uniforms and areas of expertise? Can you comment as well as on whether it makes any difference at either the command level or field level in "joint commands" or task forces made up of other forces that are segregated rather than integrated?

                        Ken, I am embarrassed to admit that the popular debate on the benefits/folly of unifying the services is older than I am. The reality of the current situation within the Canadian Forces is that for those of us serving, we have known no other model. However, I will also admit that all of us are still very proud of our Regimental and Service traditions and history.

                        But what the men and women who serve do know is that when we deploy on operations we deploy as a single team focused on our individual jobs and working towards the same goal. It simply doesn’t matter if the person driving the truck is an Air Force corporal or a Leading Seaman or whether the individual beside you in the LAV is a Reservist or a member of the Regular Force – the entire team has trained together for the mission and we succeed or fail as a team.

                        During my most recent tour of duty in Kandahar, my team had Navy Clearance Divers from both coasts, an Air Force pilot from Edmonton and a Maritime Engineer from the East Coast. All of them were outstanding in their jobs, regardless of service, and focussed on mission success.

                        We do respect the history and traditions of the three Branches of service in the Canadian Forces, but we’re mission-focused as an organization and that is the glue that unifies us all.
                        Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton


                        • #13
                          Question 12

                          Welcome to Edmonton and congratulations on your new posting. I applaud you for engaging the Edmonton community so quickly and effectively through C2E.
                          Here are my questions:

                          1. What are the three things you would most like to communicate to the residents of Greater Edmonton about Edmonton Garrison?

                          2. What is the latest economic impact estimate of Edmonton Garrison to the Edmonton region?

                          3. Has a decision yet been made to assign the recently ordered Chinook helicopters to Edmonton Garrison? or Wainwright? How many helicopters would we possibly be receiving? and how many new jobs would these helicopters potential create locally?

                          4. The Edmonton Salutes' Committee has done a lot of great work to build relationships between Edmonton Garrison and the greater community. Are there any other military communities in Canada that have comparable programs to Edmonton Salutes? Or are we heads-and-shoulders above what any other community is doing?

                          5. Would you consider having an open house at Edmonton Garrison one day a year?, ideally on Canada Day?

                          I recognize that there would be some logistical issues, but there would also be many invaluable community /public relations benefits. As well, personnel issues could be mitigated by utilizing vets, cadets and Edmonton's "army' of volunteers.

                          The three things I would most like to communicate about CFB Edmonton to the people of Edmonton and area are:
                          • We are a community within the communities that make up this part of the province;
                          • The men and women that serve face the same challenges many people face in their day-to-day lives – things like paying bills, raising families – all while training to deploy on operations or supporting people on operations overseas;
                          • Lastly I want ensure everyone that as a community here in the Edmonton region we will continue to take an active role pitching in to make this one of the best places to live in Canada and we look forward to continue working cooperatively with our neighbours to that end.
                          CFB Edmonton is a major economic contributor to the local economy. We have over 5,900 military personnel on the Base along with an additional 600 civilian employees. Between those salaries and the goods and services purchased to support our ongoing operations and training, we represent a large economic contributor to the overall wealth of this region.

                          CFB Edmonton is also receiving a major influx of new capital spending starting later this year as work begins on a 97-unit Yukon Lodge that will provide quarters for visiting soldiers, sailors and airmen and women. Construction on that project is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

                          There has been no decision to date on where the Chinook helicopters will be based. I know there has been tremendous work done by some folks here in Edmonton to lobby for the new Squadron to be located here. I would be happy to welcome the new helicopters here to Edmonton, however, in the end the decision will be made by National Defence Headquarters based on where these helicopters can best be utilized.

                          Finally, we have begun a process of making the Base more accessible through events like our Canada Day festivities in Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Park. We will continue our efforts to make sure people from across Canada and abroad are welcome here at CFB Edmonton and, of course, we welcome the opportunity to work with volunteers to that end should the offers for assistance be forthcoming.
                          Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Bradley, Commander CFB/Area Support Unit Edmonton