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The Rifle Section Commander Course




The Rifle Section Commander Course
By Captain Christopher Hartwick — Infantry School (PPCLI)

What is the Rifles Section Commander Course (RSCC)? What brought it about? What is this course going to deliver to the Infantry Corps and how is it going to benefit our future Section Commanders? Why is there an additional career course being added to the individual training (IT) system for Infantry noncommissioned officers (NCOs), especially during a time of fiscal constraint? These are only a few questions that are being discussed across the tables in messes across the country.

The idea of the RSCC originated in August 2009, when Land Force Development and Training System (LFDTS), now Canadian Army Development and Training Center (CADTC) initiated the realignment of the Development Period (DP) 1 to 3 for Infantry non-commissioned members (NCMs) and NCOs. The idea was to realign the training so soldiers were receiving it in a more logical sequence and at a more appropriate time in their careers. The training to be a Section Commander was being delivered on Primary Leadership Qualification (PLQ), and was identified as being delivered too early in a soldier’s career. It was believed that since soldiers were receiving this training so early, for some, it might be several years before they would be in the position of Section Commander where they would then have to call upon this knowledge. By then skill fade would have taken its effect. Even if soldiers were participating in collective training (CT) at their home units and witnessing, or conducting, Section Commander duties, there was no way of knowing whether all soldiers were receiving the same type of
experiences and practice. Furthermore, the next stage of formal leadership training would not occur until DP3B, after they had been a Section Commander. Therefore a gap in the training progression plan was identified (See figure 1). To generate a gradual and comprehensive progression, the Infantry Corps, through EX BAYONET and with the support of LFDTS (now CADTC) decided to run a RSCC as the bridge between PLQ and DP3B.

Once the concept of the realignment was approved by CADTC and Directorate of Army Training Individual Training Infantry (DAT IT INF), the Infantry School conducted a year-long review, identifying IT efficiencies and assessing the order in which IT was being delivered. The review culminated with a project proposal that was approved by Comd CADTC on 22 March 2011. To summarize the outcome of the realignment: DP 1 Infantryman remained principally unchanged, except for the addition of 9mm pistol training. The Infantry Platoon Support Weapons
Qualification (IPSWQ) was updated to reflect the current platoon support weapons and renamed the Weapons Detachment Member Course (WDMC). PLQ Infantry was reduced to 22 days from 43.7 days, and its aim was refocused on instructing Corporals (Cpl) to be Section Second-In-Commands (2IC) instead of being assessed as Section Commanders. DP3A be-came the Advanced Small Arms (ASA) course, and shifted to qualifying senior Cpl to be conventional Range Safety Officers (RSO) and small arms coaches instead of qualifying them to be Section Commanders. The RSCC acted like a magnet by collecting all the harvested training days and Performance Objectives (PO) that were removed from the legacy courses. Lastly, DP3B remained unchanged, as it had just undergone a series of changes prior to the realignment. What is interesting to note, is that CADTC initially authorized an increase of up to 19 extra IT training days to achieve this curriculum change; however, the Infantry School was able to achieve the task without the addition of any IT days. In fact, the legacy training continuum saw a
soldier go from Private (Pte) to Warrant Officer (WO) in 222.8 IT days. Within the new realignment system it now takes 214.5 days, resulting in a savings of 8.3 days (See figure 2).

The RSCC will be a section level course conducted within a platoon context. The course is designed to take selected MCpl and train them to be Rifle Section Commanders in 20 days. The course is broken down in two parts, a five day Distant Learning (DL) portion followed by a 15 day residency portion. The DL portion is meant to replace all classroom instruction and give the candidates a firm knowledge base for the practical
assessments during residency. Upon arriving to Gagetown, candidates will undergo a battle school where they will be assessed on their understanding of Defensive and Enabling Operations. Once the battle school is complete the course will transition to the field where they will be assessed as section commanders in all phases of war in a platoon context.

The RSCC will be a challenging and rewarding course. It will seek to develop our Section Commanders to their fullest potential and ensure our NCOs are better prepared for Rifle Section Command. As de-tailed above, the RSCC will not bring any additional strain to the IT system. The course will deliver key section command training to our soldiers when it is most critically required in their careers.
The pilot course will be starting this fall ran in Gagetown by the Infantry School.
Having done the old school ISCC (14 weeks I think) and then watching the PLQ take its many forms over the years has been interesting.

Originally, my understanding was that the CPL was trained to be both a Sect 2IC and Sect Comd, due to likely attrition in a battle scenario. It is very conceivable to see a MCPL stepping up to become a Sect Comd on operations when his sect comd is killed or injured (afghanistan reminds us that no one is safe).

This goal mentions about "skill fade" by the time the CPL was promoted to MCPL and then SGT. Huh? When I first became a MCPL, my first job was section commander because all the SGTs were tasked out or simply did not exist. I was able to practice those sect comd skills if you will immediately (forced to). Infact I was a year as a MCPL before I was finally employed as a sect 2IC on a QL3 Infantry course. Go figure.

Seriously, the Sect 2IC duties are not that mentally hard to figure out but a good Sect 2IC should be busy as Fook. A good sect 2IC (in my unit typically a senior CPL ready to go on or just off of PLQ) keeps the troops ready, rides them when required, basically has the ship ready to go. A sect comd is very busy with battle procedure and does not have the time to get a sect ready. The sect comd then focuses on "driving the bus" once the mission executes.

I will admit, the old ISCC/JNCO(INF) did very limited instruction and development on Battle procedure (specifically the combat estimate). Most BP development was done during the reconnaissance patrolling. At the time I did it, we had to command a section level deliberate attack during the last week in the field and even then it was difficult to fully grasps the concept of developing your potential CoAs for your mission. The essential field task we had to complete when I did the course in the nineties was command 2 x point reconnaissance patrols, 2 x section hasty attacks, 1 x section occupation, 1 x section withdrawal and 1 x section deliberate attack (all under PO 401).

So I guess I can see the value of teaching the experienced MCPLs how to properly conduct BP at a section level (assuming they are going to teach it?). I did note that it was section operations within a platoon context (Platoon hasty attacks, fighting patrols, defensive opes, etc?).

I would like to see how this course impacts the Infantry over the years to come.

As I have no experience witht he Army, it seems odd to me that we are only giving 4 weeks (and one is DL at that) of training on how to lead a section in combat. Shouldn't there be more than that?
You learn the basics of how to lead a section on the PLQ Infantry course which you take prior to this course.  The RSCC take a candidate with the basics (and hopefully some experience in a BN) and refines them so that they are working in a Platoon context and at a higher level.
Lumber said:
As I have no experience witht he Army, it seems odd to me that we are only giving 4 weeks (and one is DL at that) of training on how to lead a section in combat. Shouldn't there be more than that?

There's a body of knowledge that students acquire through previous training and experience before they reach the RSCC - their DP1 infantry, small arms course, PLQ...  Courses can't be examined in isolation; they are part of a larger progression.  Training design needs to understand that; there may be a requirement for some minor refresher training or threshold knowledge, but padding courses to retrain things people should already know is a waste of time and money.