New top soldier takes command at CFB Petawawa
PETAWAWA, ONT. -- There is new leadership at CFB Petawawa as a change of command ceremony took place on the base for the first time in four years.
Col. Jay MacKeen has taken charge of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) and the roughly 4,700 soldiers within it.
"It's pretty special actually," said MacKeen immediately following the ceremony. "I'm very excited to be coming here."
MacKeen has served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years. He has been deployed overseas six times and twice domestically, including the 1998 ice storm in Ottawa.
Chief Warrant Officer Donovan Crawford will serve by his side as second in command to 2 CMBG.
"My primary role is to be his advisor," Crawford told CTV News. "Col. MacKeen himself is very experienced operationally. So I have no concerns whatsoever."
The change in command is comparable to when an NHL team brings in a new coach. The goal is to constantly improve, but the philosophy and methods behind training may change.
"It's really about readiness and being focussed on our readiness, both individually and collectively," says MacKeen, who is set to meet and hear from his units over the next month. "And ensuring that when the call comes we can answer on short notice to move."
"You'll see the leadership change within the brigade," says Brigitte Van Hende, the public affairs officer with 2 CMBG. "It doesn't change what we do and how we operate, or how we train and deploy in these instances."
The change in command comes at a critical time for 2 CMBG. During MacKeen's tenure over the next two years, 2 CMBG will enter what is called the contingency and committed phases.
The contingency phase requires soldiers at CFB Petawawa to be on standby, and if the Canadian government calls with a request, they could be deployed.
2 CMBG will enter the committed phase in 2023, where soldiers will be sent to aid with planned operations in the field.
"It's pretty volatile out there; it's complex, ambiguous, and uncertain for sure," said MacKeen when asked about the current climate his soldiers will be faced with.
"We don't know when the next call is going to come, whether that's going to be for a natural disaster, an armed adversary, or something else, a pandemic as an example. So we have to be prepared for all of those."