A historical milestone for 2CER
Sean Chase/Daily Observer 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2CMBG) commander Col. Michael Wright (centre) presides over the change of command for 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2CER) as Lt.-Col. Jim Smith hands the unit over to Lt.-Col. Chantal Tetreault. Looking on is 2CMBG brigade sergeant-major Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Mercer and 2CER regimental sergeant-major Chief Warrant Officer Stacey Merriam.
GARRISON PETAWAWA – The sappers of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2CER) witnessed a truly historical milestone last week.
In a rare change of command ceremony on the Mattawa Plains, Lt.-Col. Chantal Tetreault took over 2CER from Lt.-Col. Jim Smith becoming the unit's first female commanding officer. Flanked by the powerful equipment that these combat engineers take into battle, the regiment smartly awaited inspection from Brig.-Gen. Mark Misener, the former Garrison Petawawa commander who now leads the Joint Personnel Support Unit, and 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group commander Col. Michael Wright.
After leading his troops in a march past, paying respects to Brig.-Gen. Misener, the senior engineer on parade and, himself, a former CO of 2CER, Lt.-Col. Smith said that he's proud of the work his unit has done noting that service as a combat engineer is meaningful.
“We have had to train to be agile,” said the outgoing commanding officer. “We are the army's best combat engineers, reliable and expert at our jobs. Inspired and motivated, we have a winning spirit and embody pride, initiative and teamwork. We are confident negotiating the unknown in an uncertain environment.”
Lt.-Col. Smith enrolled in the military in 1996, graduating with a degree in computer engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada in 2000. Posted to 2 CER in 1997, he has served missions in Bosnia and Afghanistan and will be assigned to the 1st Canadian Division in Kingston.
“The Ottawa Valley and the Neder Rijn Engineer Park have always been dear to me,” concluded Lt.-Col. Smith. “I have been happy to call this place home. I am better man for my experiences in 2CER.”
In his remarks to the unit, Col. Wright said 2CER has given up much of the senior leadership and soldiers to support missions in Latvia, Iraq, Kuwait and the Ukraine. He lauded Lt.-Col. Smith and the combat engineers for responding to engineer tasks, rebuilding skills and committing support to the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering.
“Thank you for all your hardwork over the course of the year and thank you for being excellent ambassadors for 2CER, for 2CMBG and for the Canadian Army wherever you go,” said Col. Wright. “To the families and friends, thank you for supporting these warriors. You contribute directly to their excellence on operations.”
The commander also had words of advice for Lt.-Col. Tetreault, who joined the military in 1998 and was posted to 2CER following officer phase training.
“Although I know you want to be recognized first as an engineering officer, I do want to point out that you will be the first woman to command 2CER,” added Col. Wright. “Over the next year, you will need to continue to rebuild the unit's engineer skills and prepare the unit for the Road to High Readiness.”
A graduate of Royal Military College with a degree in chemical and materials engineering, Lt.-Col. Tetreault served on operational deployments in Afghanistan and in Haiti with the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). She has served staff positions with the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command and Canadian Army Headquarters. Lt.-Col. Tetreault holds a masters in defence studies and a master's degree in emergency and disaster management. She and her husband, Chris, have three children, Tristan, Kianna and Alicia.
“It is a great privilege to be standing here today as I am about to rejoin 2CER. I look forward to the next two years as your commanding officer,” said Lt.-Col. Tetreault addressing the unit for the first time. “It is an honour to be here today to take command of the finest combat engineer regiment. For my family and I, this is home sweet home.”