• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

First Stripes - BMQ Documentary

PuckChaser

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Mentor
Reaction score
1,724
Points
1,060
Someone shared this on their Facebook wall, thought it would be a good look for anyone thinking about the CAF or departing for BMQ. It's an hour and a half so I haven't completely watched it yet. It follows a Francophone platoon, but its completely subtitled in English. There's no narrator so the instructors and candidates themselves tell the story.

If there's someone that can parlez de francais better than me, perhaps someone can throw a post in that area of the forum linking here?

https://www.nfb.ca/film/first-stripes/?hp_en=feature_1&feature_type=w_free-film
 

BeyondTheNow

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Mentor
Reaction score
6
Points
530
I just scanned through it quickly. I’m curious if there’s something in English floating around, as film crews were following an English pl around when I was there—One of my acquaintances was on that pl. No one heard anything more after they graduated, so many just figured it was scrapped.

A helpful watch for newcomers, for sure. The course is shorter and laid out differently now, but still excellent for seeing what to expect. Thanks for sharing.
 

RocketScientist

Jr. Member
Reaction score
0
Points
60
Just watched the entire thing. Very informative. Thank you for sharing.
The difference with the hundreds of US Forces (Navy, AF, Marines) documentaries on YouTube is stark. Not least of all, the yelling and amount of PT looked very different. Is it really different, or just underplayed in the documentary?
 

PuckChaser

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Mentor
Reaction score
1,724
Points
1,060
We have a very different system. I don't think Canadians would tolerate a US style BMQ, as they very much seem to break individuals down and turn them into Sailors/Soldiers/Marines/Airmen.
 

BeyondTheNow

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Mentor
Reaction score
6
Points
530
ACE_Engineer said:
Just watched the entire thing. Very informative. Thank you for sharing.
The difference with the hundreds of US Forces (Navy, AF, Marines) documentaries on YouTube is stark. Not least of all, the yelling and amount of PT looked very different. Is it really different, or just underplayed in the documentary?

After initially scanning it earlier, I ended up eventually watching the entire thing also. ‘Brings back memories and the Sgt featured in it at a few points was a Sgt of mine also.

What you’re seeing there is watered down. A lot. It’s meant to be informative, not to potentially turn anyone off, so there are elements not shown. It high-lights the main environments, the tasks/skills that will be acquired and the main components of the course. I was at CFLRS for quite some time due to injury and was on 3 platoons. (2 active courses and TRP—Training Reintegration Pl—Basically PAT pl for injured and/or otherwise recoursed recruits.)

The biggest thing to understand is that all platoons are not created equal. Their syllabus/training plans are the same, the end-game is the same. But the intensity, and the way they’re managed can be very different. My initial platoon (approx 60 pers) was comprised primarily of 2/3s support trades, and 1/3 combat arms recruits. The average age was probably mid to late 20s into early 30s. It was what recruits refer to as “a Hollywood platoon.” Meaning, seemingly much more relaxed than others, fewer jackings, staff were typically a bit more laid back, less punishment, perhaps more mentoring, etc.

My second platoon (approx 60 pers again) was probably comprised of 3/4s combat arms and 1/4 support trades. I was the oldest at 37 at the time, the second oldest was 27 and everyone else was probably 19-23. It was an entirely different dynamic. The physical demand placed on the recruits was substantially greater. For example: We had more punishment PT—although it’s not referred to as that anymore—in my first Saturday than we’d had in 7wks on my first pl. That is not an exaggeration. PT classes were much more strenuous/challenging and encompassed elements that hadn’t been introduced in the first pl yet. (Log PT during first week, much longer runs, very intense pool PT, greater incorporation of weights and conditioning during circuits, etc. There were more pushups, more stairs, tighter timings right off the bat, increased stress during exercises meant to build platoon cohesion, etc. Also, the psychological element of staff treatment towards recruits was intensified also. There was a lot of yelling. There were a lot of jackings. There were a lot of swipes. (Every recruit has a swipe card. They use a swipe card system for tracking mess/meals, counsellings and such. You’ll understand when you get there.) The staff and overall tone of the platoon is probably more of what one might expect when thinking of basic training. (I can’t speak to any US training, as I’m not that familiar, so really can’t compare.) They were tough. But I liked them—in some ways more so than the relaxed staff of my first pl.

But outside of the staff/recruit dynamic, it’s the platoon dynamic that can cause the greatest challenge. The video touched on it a little bit with the one female recruit, but getting along with your pl mates and figuring out how to get everything done together is by far the most difficult to achieve. Everyone has different personalities, some of which clash greatly. Throw into the mix the over-tired, under-fed and emotionally fatigued 50-60 grumpy pers and it can be a mess sometimes. It comes together eventually, but how quickly depends on the platoon. Each one is different. Staff can see the problem areas though, and they have methods for smoothing things out when necessary—usually not enjoyable. There can be a lot of shenanigans

Anyway, it’s a bit of the luck of the draw, I guess—In terms of what platoon you land on. But honestly, despite the tough moments, there are some great times during course, some great people and some really great staff. The video portrays everything on a relatively even spectrum, not showing the extreme highs or extreme lows sometimes experienced.

Since I was there, the course is 10 weeks instead of 12 now, and some of the formatting has changed in terms of how certain course components are laid out and/or executed. A couple of new elements have been added and/or removed from the theory and group activity end of things as well.
 

Jarnhamar

Army.ca Myth
Reaction score
3,667
Points
1,060
[quote author=BeyondTheNow]

The biggest thing to understand is that all platoons are not created equal. Their syllabus/training plans are the same, the end-game is the same. But the intensity, and the way they’re managed can be very different. My initial platoon (approx 60 pers) was comprised primarily of 2/3s support trades, and 1/3 combat arms recruits. The average age was probably mid to late 20s into early 30s. It was what recruits refer to as “a Hollywood platoon.” Meaning, seemingly much more relaxed than others, fewer jackings, staff were typically a bit more laid back, less punishment, perhaps more mentoring, etc.

My second platoon (approx 60 pers again) was probably comprised of 3/4s combat arms and 1/4 support trades. I was the oldest at 37 at the time, the second oldest was 27 and everyone else was probably 19-23. It was an entirely different dynamic. The physical demand placed on the recruits was substantially greater. For example: We had more punishment PT—although it’s not referred to as that anymore—in my first Saturday than we’d had in 7wks on my first pl. That is not an exaggeration. PT classes were much more strenuous/challenging and encompassed elements that hadn’t been introduced in the first pl yet. (Log PT during first week, much longer runs, very intense pool PT, greater incorporation of weights and conditioning during circuits, etc. There were more pushups, more stairs, tighter timings right off the bat, increased stress during exercises meant to build platoon cohesion, etc. Also, the psychological element of staff treatment towards recruits was intensified also. There was a lot of yelling. There were a lot of jackings. There were a lot of swipes. (Every recruit has a swipe card. They use a swipe card system for tracking mess/meals, counsellings and such. You’ll understand when you get there.) The staff and overall tone of the platoon is probably more of what one might expect when thinking of basic training. (I can’t speak to any US training, as I’m not that familiar, so really can’t compare.) They were tough. But I liked them—in some ways more so than the relaxed staff of my first pl.
[/quote]

From a clinical perspective which approach to platoon training do you think best prepares recruits for life as a member of the military?
 

DeweyDecimal

Guest
Reaction score
7
Points
180
BeyondTheNow said:
What you’re seeing there is watered down. A lot. It’s meant to be informative, not to potentially turn anyone off, so there are elements not shown.

It's actually interesting to note that the choice of what is shown (and what is not shown) were entirely made by the the director who insisted the CAF should have no say on the final cut of the film.
 

BeyondTheNow

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Mentor
Reaction score
6
Points
530
Jarnhamar said:
From a clinical perspective which approach to platoon training do you think best prepares recruits for life as a member of the military?

Well, I don't really know how "clinical" this will be, and I know I'm talking to a staunch Infantryman. But I'll offer my insight, even though both sides have been debated in other threads.

Firstly, I want to preface this by saying (as also discussed recently in another thread) that I strongly feel the FORCE eval should be conducted prior to RegF recruits attending CFLRS; just like PRes applicants need to complete it successfully before enrollment. As well, I also think the MMPI II (or a similarly in-depth psychological eval) needs to be conducted in order to better ascertain one's overall mental/emotional suitability for the job. It's used in other public service disciplines, and while I understand why the powers-that-be of CAF aren't as strict with entry standards as say, policing, the fact remains that CAF could stand to have a better hand on denying entry to a few who perhaps would be better suited elsewhere--Not just for the CAF's sake, but also for the sake of the individual's personal safety; physically and psychologically.

But CAF needs the numbers (even without a substantial psych eval), and there'd need to be the volume of properly qualified individuals available to adequately review/interpret results (unless outsourced to private sector), which could also prolong the recruitment process even more. I know it wouldn't be foolproof, but there are those who have legitimately suffered due to simply not being able to adapt to the atmosphere, even at its most fundamental levels--i.e. BMQ. Then continue pushing those same individuals who are clearly struggling through their contracts, or possibly a deployment? Some can VR, some tough it out and learn how to sustain the pressures. But I'm referring primarily to those who end up needing long-term MH services or other medical treatment, which is a drain on CAF resources and causes additional undue stress to the individual and/or their loved ones, which ultimately could have possible been avoided. The percentage of those specific cases isn't high, as I understand it, but they're out there. In the end, everyone suffers.

Anyway, I digress, and I'm off topic. But after what I've witnessed in my career so far, especially during my time in Quebec, I can see where areas of difficulty could be relieved for all involved.

So, back to your question.

Overall? The manner in which my 2nd pl was managed (the Inf pl), that's the way to go, IMO. Like I mentioned in my earlier post, there are aspects of that platoon dynamic that I enjoyed more, even though it was more demanding in all ways. The staff seemed to be much more organized, and they were all about results--They got them--And we worked for it. Also, there were a few occasions when they were just...human, not doing the job...and it was interesting seeing the other side for a little while. That could've simply been the internal dynamic between the staff also, though--That they just got along well together. That isn't always the case, and there may have been (I can't say for sure--I'm just going by a few observed instances) some contention between staff of my initial pl.

That being said, there were times where the less intense tone of my 1st pl was very welcomed. And the above is perfect for Combat Arms trades, right? They need to be able to handle stress, they need to be in top-notch shape in order to better perform unit/job elements with a lower risk of injury, their job requires a very specific skill set.

The question remains--and it'll probably continue to be debated much longer after you and I are gone--Does a 5' 110lbs cook, clerk, supply, dental tech, SWO, etc. need to be able to complete the same (type of) duties as infm, CE, artillery? Well, no, and that's the bare-bones of it. In an ideal world, it would be fantastic for every single member of CAF, regardless of their trade, to be in peak, physical condition (bracketed by their age, of course), but that's just not realistic. We need to work with what we have, and it's simply not feasible to require all pers to be able to perform equally and under identical conditions. The bottom line is we're not all made to be combat arms, nor should we be. It takes all combinations of personality, skill and strength to fill the variety of positions required by the military.

So what do we do? While I preferred the tone of my 2nd pl...and I probably would've enjoyed it much more had I not been dealing with injury...I see the functionality and necessity for less intense platoons in order to shape and make use of the people we'll need for all positions.

This leads me back to the FORCE eval being conducted during the recruitment process. I 100% stand by much older posts of mine where I expressed that there's no excuse anyone should not pass the FORCE (provided extenuating circumstances such as injury during, or being ill haven't occurred); with the caveat that some very tiny frames have struggled with the drag and have needed practice, but were eventually able to complete it. (I witnessed this on multiple occasions. When one has no leverage or weight to put in front of it to begin with, it can be quite tough.)

I wasn't in peak shape when I joined. I wasn't in bad shape, but I know I could've done much better. My cardio wasn't the issue, it was overall strength. I passed my FORCE, but I absolutely needed to be stronger in all areas. I don't believe I would've sustained injury (at least not to the same degree) during training had I obtained a higher level of strength prior. (And of course, there are those who have been in excellent shape who managed to get hurt. It happens.) But those who aren't able to complete the FORCE upon entry shouldn't be at BMQ. It's not fair to staff, to other recruits, or ultimately, to themselves. And if one is in better physical shape, then they're more equipped to handle the psychological toll of training also. Again though, it's a conundrum in this day and age, because I don't feel it's necessary (or feasible) for every single recruit to be expected to respond to identical methods of training given that their roll within CAF isn't even comparable in some instances.   

DeweyDecimal said:
It's actually interesting to note that the choice of what is shown (and what is not shown) were entirely made by the the director who insisted the CAF should have no say on the final cut of the film.

I don't see any problem with that, and for the most part, I liked what it featured. I think there could've been a few more instances of some heavy-handedness and the chaos that occurs with certain exercises, but at the same time a film crew would've easily just been in the way.
 

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Relic
Reaction score
11,333
Points
1,160
BeyondTheNow said:
So what do we do? While I preferred the tone of my 2nd pl...and I probably would've enjoyed it much more had I not been dealing with injury...I see the functionality and necessity for less intense platoons in order to shape and make use of the people we'll need for all positions.

I'm impressed that your second platoon got through so much in only 10 weeks. I'm also somewhat shocked that there seemed to be little consistency between the first and second platoons' experiences.

Does anyone know if that is always the case?
 

BeyondTheNow

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Mentor
Reaction score
6
Points
530
daftandbarmy said:
I'm impressed that your second platoon got through so much in only 10 weeks. I'm also somewhat shocked that there seemed to be little consistency between the first and second platoons' experiences.

Does anyone know if that is always the case?

I personally can’t comment on going through the course in 10 weeks, as oppose to a longer duration, because I haven’t done it. (I can only compare via what’s on the DIN, which is the full training plan and everything broken down in very good detail.) But I have a few friends who can—those who were recoursed from a 12 week duration and graduated off a 10wk one. By those accounts, all the main components are the same. Drill, weapons, field, range, gas hut, cohesion elements, inspections, PT, crucial theory, etc.) It appears several admin periods were axed though, and time spent on certain aspects were condensed.

When the course was 12 wks, it should also be noted that the entire last week was practically all drill/prep for grad. There was a lot of down time during that week. It was probably fairly easy to cut that out with minor maneuvering.

Wrt your other question, there’ve been posts here and there, but I cant direct you to them off the top of my head. But the 3 main divs at CFLRS are A,B & C. Each div has its individual reputation. C div pls were typically easiest. A div were the toughest, and B was a combination. That being said, accounts from any div included stories about how so-and-so’s pl was a breeze for various reasons. (There were many conversations among recruits discussing how, yes, everyone graduated off the same pde square and from the same course, but the road getting there certainly varied. It was a tough pill to swallow at times.)

It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but all accounts I’ve been made aware of through the years indicate that the differences in pl difficulty still very much exists.

Edit to add: I’ve mentioned this previously also. The sector plays a roll in a few things too. (Green sector is featured in the video.) Green sector is far more conducive to platoon cohesion and that was a factor I could’ve included for a reason I liked my 1st pl. I developed closer bonds with those pl mates also, but despite those reasons, I prefer the results that my second pl staff was able to drive out of the recruits.
 

K1tesurf

Guest
Reaction score
0
Points
10
What are those guys at 1:11:45 doing? It looks like they walk into the same pod with just towels on and then take their towels off and start dancing in front of someone.
 
Top