On October 11, 2017, our guest speaker was Lieutenant-Colonel Gary McQueen, the present Commanding Officer of the 11th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, with Batteries in Guelph and Hamilton.  Lieutenant Colonel McQueen has deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.  He was deployed as part of the middle east stabilization force and served an eight month tour of duty from July 2016 to February 2017.  He was deployed as the senior planning officer for the joint conventional forces.  He holds a a BASc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto and an MBA from McMaster University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario.

Gary gave a speech to the club today entitled ‘The Fight Against ISIL.’  He discussed his personal experiences, Canada’s role in Iraq during his deployment and Canada’s Role in Iraq and Syria today.

Gary travelled to Kuwait in July 2016 by C17 Cargo plane.  During his deployment the temperature varied from 32 Celcius to 54 Celcius.  Soldiers’ accommodations were Spartan and comprised of trailers and tents housing eight soldiers per tent.  During his tour, Gary spent the majority of his time between his one bedroom trailer and central Command.  The environment was not hospitable and he and his command encountered foxes, snakes, scorpions and sand fleas.  His mission was to provide relief in place, mission transition services, contingency planning, and special projects.

Canada’s role at the time of his deployment was to provide Royal Canadian Air Force resources which included CF-18 mission support, intelligence and reconnaissance patrols using Aurora aircraft, and in-flight refueling capabilities for the fighter jets of the 26 country coalition fighting ISIL in Iraq and Syria.  Gary noted that the Canadian deployment was well respected for their talents and capabilities and that a Canadian Colonial (Andersen) gave the televised United States briefings on the war in Iraq.  Canada also provided medical support for the coalition, starting in November 2016. Gary noted that Canada supplied a diverse group of units for the fight against ISIL in Iraq and that these units successfully contributed to a vast reduction of territory held by ISIL in both Iraq and Syria which culminated in the liberation of Mosul of which the operation commenced in October 2016 and ended 9 July, 2017; and the new mission of the deployment, which is counterinsurgency.  This length of this operation has been extended until 31 March, 2019.  To complete the new mandate, Canada is supplying Air Cargo, engineers, and in-air refueling tankers, special operations forces (of which there are approximately 300 in Iraq), intelligence, medical, and liaison teams.  He noted that Canada and the coalition is presently committed to the eradication of ISIL.  Gary’s Artillery unit is jointly located in Hamilton and Guelph, Ontario.