Candidate’s Perspective: Infantry Junior Leadership Course

Article written by Corporal C.B. Randall-Coss, RMR

Valcartier, Quebec – 26 July 2017: The Infantry Junior Leadership Course (IJLC) is the second step towards becoming a Junior NCO. This step is very important, as it teaches candidates how to effectively lead subordinates in both administrative and combat related tasks. Various skills and abilities pertaining to effectively leading an infantry section as a section commander and second-in-command are acquired and honed throughout the duration of this course. Some of the skills and abilities taught are: Controlling Machine Gun Fire in a support role, planning and leading reconnaissance patrols, leading hasty section attacks, and, one of the most favoured portions of the course, Urban Operations. Knowing how to properly conduct Operations in Built-up Areas, while understanding how to properly lead a detachment in these situations is extremely important considering the type of warfare that is seen on the modern battlefield.

Close Quarter Battle drills in CAFB Valcartier, July 2017

We spent an entire day with a former JTF2 Assaulter as well as some of the school’s CQB instructors learning the many sequences, formations, and techniques associated with room clearing. Although nearly all members of the platoon had at least some training pertinent to this, we still started from the beginning, going back to the basics and ensuring we were all met the standard. A refresher on tactical and emergency reloading of our weapons was given, which was followed up by conducting an approach on a building. We then worked our way up from 2 man entries to 4 man entries and eventually ended the day clearing multiple rooms filled with obstacles and enemy combatants. The pace was fast and furious as we worked with speed, violence, and aggression. Working with a former JTF2 Assaulter was extremely beneficial to me considering the level of aptitude he demonstrated and the experience he was able to share. This knowledge was tested when we were evaluated to command our section in operations focused on fighting in built-up areas.

During the evaluation for commanding a section in an urban environment, candidates were faced with the unique challenges provided by this setting. Urban operations and Close Quarter Battle (CQB) are known for requiring flexibility from both soldiers and leaders. The detailed plan rarely survives past the first door. As such, soldiers and leaders alike must take the basic knowledge and skills they have learned and apply them based on the situation they are faced with once inside each new room. For example, during my evaluation, we had a whole plan established to clear a small building in a town. However, as we approached the objective, we noticed a trip wire and had to quickly adapt our plan to deal with the possible IED threat. The situation was completely altered and slowed down the momentum of the approach to the objective. Leading these operations demands that commanders quickly analyze a situation, form a plan, then effectively pass this plan to the other members of the section then supervise its execution. Although we had a lot of material to learn during such a small period of time, we all left with an immense level of training and experience to take back and pass on to fellow members of our units.

The next portion of the course will put all the previously learnt materials together in an 8 day field exercise to test us on our ability to adapt to continuously changing situations, overcome challenges, and lead subordinates under duress. The exercise will test us on our abilities in Defensive Operations, Reconnaissance Patrols, Section Attacks, and Offensive Operations.