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.
DP1 TO 3 REALIGNMENT
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.