RETIREMENT – COLONEL D. MCKINNEY, CD, 00341 – SIGS

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Retirement Date: 03/07/2023

 

1. AFTER 25 YEARS OF LOYAL AND DEDICATED SERVICE TO CANADA, COLONEL DAN MCKINNEY WILL BE RETIRING FROM THE CANADIAN ARMED FORCES (CAF) ON 3 JULY 2023.  HIS MILITARY CAREER HAS BEEN THE GREATEST OF ADVENTURES AND EVEN THE LONGEST RETIREMENT MESSAGE WOULD NOT FULLY CAPTURE HOW IT HAS IMPACTED HIM AS A PERSON AND THE GRATITUDE HE FEELS TOWARDS THE CAF, THE CANADIAN ARMY (CA), AND MOST OF ALL, THOSE HE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF SHARING THE ADVENTURE WITH.

2. DAN DID NOT WANT TO HAVE A DWD BUT AFTER SOME URGING FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS HE HAS AGREED TO HOLD A SPECIAL GATHERING AT 1300 HRS, 30 JUNE 2023, AT THE THREE BREWERS, 565 KANATA AVE, WHICH MAY TURN OUT TO LOOK A LOT LIKE A DWD.  FAREWELL MESSAGES CAN BE SENT TO LCOL BAHIR ALI WHO WILL ACT AS MC FOR THE GATHERING.

– OK, SO THAT WAS VERSION 1.0, BUT AFTER SENDING IT FOR REVIEW, PEOPLE GOT UPSET WITH ME, CALLED ME ALL KINDS OF NAMES, AND TOLD ME THAT AS THE DIRECTOR OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN CORPS OF SIGNALS (RCCS) I SHOULD TAKE THE TIME TO WRITE MY STORY.  SO IF YOU WANT THE FULL STORY, READ ON.  OR DON’T, I WILL NOT TAKE OFFENCE! –

3. WHEN THE RECRUITER CALLED IN LATE SPRING 1998, DAN ALMOST REFUSED THE OFFER TO JOIN THE CAF BECAUSE HIS FIRST OCCUPATIONAL CHOICE, AEROSPACE ENGINEER, AND HIS DEGREE CHOICE, COMPUTER ENGINEERING, WERE NOT OPEN TO HIM FOR VARIOUS REASONS HE WOULD PREFER NOT TO WRITE ABOUT.  THE RECRUITER INSTEAD OFFERED A CAREER IN THE ARTILLERY AND ADMISSION TO RMC AS AN ARTS STUDENT.  LUCKILY THE NEXT DAY, JUST BEFORE HE WAS ABOUT TO CALL TO DECLINE, THE VARSITY HOCKEY RECRUITER CALLED AND TOLD HIM HE WOULD HAVE A GOOD CHANCE TO PLAY FOR THE RMC PALLADINS, AND THAT WAS SETTLED.  TO BE CLEAR, TODAY DAN WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS DECISION-MAKING METHODOLOGY.  SELECTING A LIFE-CHANGING CAREER PATH – ESPECIALLY ONE THAT COULD GET YOU KILLED – FOR HOCKEY, IS A LITTLE CRAZY.  YET IT TURNED OUT TO BE THE SINGLE BEST DECISION OF HIS PROFESSIONAL LIFE, AND MOST TRANSFORMATIVE DECISION OF HIS PERSONAL LIFE, TOO.

4. UPON ARRIVING AT RMC, DAN RELENTLESSLY PESTERED PROFESSORS, INCLUDING THE DEANS OF BOTH THE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING DEPARTMENTS, AND WAS EVENTUALLY GIVEN A CHANCE TO PURSUE A COMPUTER (SOFTWARE) ENGINEERING DEGREE.  AS FOR HIS OCCUPATION AS AN ARTILLERY OFFICER, DAN LOVED THIS TRADE, DRANK THE KOOL-AID AND READ ALL THE BOOKS.  BUT AT A COURSE GRADUATION PARTY HE RAN INTO A FEW BITTER SENIOR ARTILLERY OFFICERS (WHO HAD A BIT TOO MUCH TO DRINK) WHO WERE VENTING ABOUT WHAT THEY PERCEIVED TO BE THE UPCOMING PREDOMINANCE OF AIR POWER AND SUBSEQUENT EROSION OF FIELD ARTILLERY AS THE PREFERRED DELIVERY MECHANISM FOR FIRE SUPPORT.  ONE ACTUALLY CALLED THE FIELD ARTILLERY A QUOTE DEAD END TRADE ENDQUOTE.  THIS STATEMENT – THAT HISTORY CLEARLY PROVED WRONG – DIRECTLY RESULTED IN DAN’S REQUEST FOR A VOLUNTARY OCCUPATION TRANSFER TO SIGNALS, A FEW WEEKS LATER.  ARTILLERY WOULD ALWAYS REMAIN PART OF HIS PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY HOWEVER.  THOSE WHO CONSIDER HIM A DECENT SIGNAL OFFICER WOULD BE JUSTIFIED TO GIVE SOME CREDIT TO THE GUNNER MINDSET HE LEARNED IN THE ARTILLERY AND THE FACT THAT HE ALWAYS SAW THE SIGNAL CRAFT AS A MEANS TO AN END: TO ENSURE OUR SIDE WOULD ALWAYS WIN BECAUSE WE COULD FIND AND DROP BOMBS ON THE ADVERSARY FASTER AND MORE ACCURATELY THAN THE ADVERSARY COULD FIND AND DROP BOMBS ON US!  AS A GUNNER WOULD SAY: NO COMMS NO BOMBS.

5. DAN’S RCCS CAREER BEGAN AT THE CANADIAN FORCES JOINT SIGNAL REGIMENT (CFJSR) IN 2002, WHERE HE WAS PRIVILEGED TO COMMAND THREE DIFFERENT TROOPS AND DEPLOY TO AFGHANISTAN AS THE COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS (CIS) TROOP COMMANDER TO PREPARE KANDAHAR AIRFIELD AND CAMP NATHAN SMITH FOR FOLLOW ON FORCES.  HE WAS THEN POSTED TO VALCARTIER AS THE BASE TELECOMMUNICATIONS OFFICER AND LATER, OPERATIONS OFFICER OF THE SIGNAL SERVICES SQUADRON.  IN 2007, HE VOLUNTEERED TO AUGMENT THE UK-LED REGIONAL COMMAND (SOUTH) HEADQUARTERS, KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN, AS THE CIS (CJ6) OPERATIONS OFFICER.  THIS IS WHERE HE LEARNED FROM BRITISH OFFICER MENTORSHIP, HOW TO WRITE LONG-WINDED MESSAGES LIKE THIS ONE – WITH OR WITHOUT A FOUNTAIN PEN.

6. UPON RETURN FROM TOUR, DAN JUMPED ON THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE THE ARTILLERY COMMUNITY DIRECTLY, IN THIS CASE IN THE DIRECTORATE OF ARMOURED VEHICLES PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, AS THE COMMAND, CONTROL AND COMMUNICATIONS (C3) SYSTEMS ENGINEER FOR GROUND-BASED AIR DEFENCE SYSTEMS AND AEROSPACE COORDINATION CENTRES, WHERE HE LEARNED ALL ABOUT TACTICAL DATALINKS AND AIR-LAND INTEGRATION.  IN 2009, HE JOINED JOINT TASK FORCE 2 AS THE OPERATIONS OFFICER AND SECOND-IN-COMMAND OF THE HEADQUARTERS AND SIGNAL SQUADRON.  UPON PROMOTION HE WAS ABLE TO REMAIN AT THE UNIT TO BUILD UP THE C4ISR CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM AS PART OF THE NEW FUTURE CAPABILITIES AND INTEGRATION TEAM.  IT IS DURING THIS TIME THAT HE LEARNED TO EMBRACE THE MOTTO QUOTE WE WILL FIND A WAY ENDQUOTE, WHICH SHAPED HOW HE TACKLED PROBLEMS FOR THE REMAINDER OF HIS CAREER, TO THE PROBABLE MIX OF APPRECIATION AND ANNOYANCE OF MANY.

7. IN 2013, HE WAS POSTED TO CANADIAN ARMY HEADQUARTERS, SERVING AS G6 OPERATIONS AND ACTING DEPUTY G6, BEFORE MOVING ON TO COMMAND 5 CANADIAN MECHANIZED BRIGADE GROUP HEADQUARTERS AND SIGNAL SQUADRON (QGET 5 GBMC).  THERE, HE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF WORKING WITH SOME OF THE MOST INNOVATIVE AND RESOURCEFUL SOLDIERS HE HAD EVER SEEN, AS THE TEAM RE-LEARNED HOW TO TACTICALLY MOVE COMMAND SUPPORT GROUPINGS AFTER A DECADE OF STATIC COMMAND POSTS IN AFGHANISTAN.  AFTER COMPLETING HIS JOINT COMMAND AND STAFF PROGRAM IN TORONTO, HE RETURNED TO THE SPECIAL FORCES, THIS TIME AS EXECUTIVE STAFF OFFICER TO COMMANDER, CANADIAN SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES COMMAND (CANSOFCOM).

8. PROMOTED TO LIEUTENANT-COLONEL IN EARLY 2017, HE WAS POSTED TO THE MATERIEL GROUP AS THE LEAD FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS AND IN-SERVICE SUPPORT FOR THE INTELLIGENCE, SURVEILLANCE, TARGET-ACQUISITION AND RECONNAISSANCE (ISTAR) CAPABILITY PORTFOLIO, WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE ARTILLERY COMMUNITY ONCE MORE.  IN SUMMER 2019 HE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF RETURNING TO THE UNIT WHERE HE STARTED HIS CAREER, THE CFJSR, A.K.A. THE REGIMENT, AS COMMANDING OFFICER.  AFTER GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START (IN HIS OPINION), COVID 19 HIT AND HE AND HIS TEAM HAD TO NAVIGATE THE CHALLENGES OF RUNNING A HIGHLY OPERATIONAL UNIT THAT JUST COULDN’T TAKE A PAUSE AS MUCH OF THE WORLD DID.  DUE TO ITS HIGH-READINESS MANDATE, THE UNIT WAS ALSO TASKED TO FORM THE NUCLEUS OF A STRATEGIC RESERVE, READY TO DEPLOY AT 48-HOURS NOTICE-TO-MOVE TO HELP SUPPORT CANADIANS IN CASE OF A PANDEMIC-RELATED EMERGENCY.

9. THE LAST TWO YEARS OF DAN’S CAREER WERE FOCUSSED ON TRYING TO SOLVE WHAT HE PERCEIVED TO BE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FACING THE CANADIAN ARMY: ITS SOMEWHAT DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ONE THING THAT IS INCREASINGLY BECOMING, AFTER THE WILL TO FIGHT ITSELF, THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT DETERMINANT OF OUTCOMES IN MODERN MILITARY CONFLICT: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY.  SUPPORTED BY SENIOR LEADERSHIP, HE GATHERED LIKE-MINDED LEADERS FROM MANY PARTS OF THE ARMY, FORMING A DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION TIGER TEAM WHO DRAFTED AND PUBLISHED THE CA’S DIGITAL STRATEGY A SHORT TIME LATER.  UPON PROMOTION TO COLONEL AND APPOINTMENT AS DIRECTOR LAND COMMAND AND INFORMATION (DLCI) AS WELL AS DIRECTOR RCCS, HE FOCUSSED HIS EFFORTS ON BUILDING THE CANADIAN ARMY’S FIRST NEW DIRECTORATE IN OVER TWO DECADES, CALLED THE DIRECTORATE OF DIGITAL AND ARMY COMBAT SYSTEMS INTEGRATION (DDACSI) – THE CENTRAL HUB THAT WILL ORCHESTRATE THE CA’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION, NOW ACCEPTED AS THE VITAL GROUND OF OVERALL CA MODERNIZATION.  WHILE HE IS PROUD OF HIS TEAM’S PART IN THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT, HIS TRUE PRIDE IS IN THE CANADIAN ARMY ITSELF FOR HAVING RECOGNIZED THE NEED, MADE DIFFICULT AND BOLD CHOICES TO TACKLE THE CHALLENGE, AND CROSS THE LINE OF DEPARTURE TO SEIZE THIS VITAL GROUND.

10. DAN LOVES THE CAF AND THE ARMY.  HIS DECISION TO RELEASE IS BASED ON EMERGING FAMILY DYNAMICS THAT HAVE BECOME INCOMPATIBLE WITH A FULSOME COMMITMENT TO MILITARY SERVICE.  WHILE HE IS GRATEFUL FOR EVERY EXPERIENCE THE MILITARY HAS PRESENTED HIM WITH, ONE OF THOSE EXPERIENCES STANDS OUT: MEETING AND FALLING IN LOVE WITH HIS AMAZING WIFE, MAJ (RET’D) ANDRÉANNE PICARD, R22R.  IF IT WASN’T FOR THE MILITARY, HE WOULD NOT HAVE MET HER, NOR TOGETHER HAVE HAD THE CHANCE TO RAISE FIVE WONDERFUL CHILDREN, WHICH ULTIMATELY LED TO THE CHOICE TO RELEASE AT THE PRIME OF HIS CAREER.  IF THAT ISN’T BEAUTIFUL IRONY, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.

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