In a Change of Command Ceremony held on June 28, 2018, at the Edmonton Garrison Officers’ Mess, 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) guests witnessed Colonel (Col.) R.T. Ritchie take over as the Commander of 1 CMBG from Brigadier-General (Brig.-Gen.) W.H. Fletcher, who commanded the Brigade since 2016.
After a heartfelt thank you to senior officers, dignitaries, and elected officials for attending the ceremony, Brig.-Gen. Fletcher welcomed Col. Ritchie home to 1 CMBG by noting, “You, my friend… an officer of your caliber, and your compassion, the Brigade is lucky to have you. As we embark on the road to high readiness, I look forward to hearing about the great things the Brigade will accomplish under your guidance. To each and every one of you Semper vigilans.”
Vigilans, a Latin military motto, means, always watchful.
Col. Ritchie went on to thank the leadership of the Canadian Army for the opportunity in leading the “Army of the West” as the Commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.
He also thanked the outgoing Commander, Brig.-Gen. Fletcher, by saying at the ceremony, “1 Brigade has excelled under your watch, achieving a rare standard of professional excellence, thanks for your wise counsel, your exceptional hand-over, and for cultivating the warrior spirit within this formation.”
Col. Ritchie continued by saying he is looking forward to the coming year, telling his comrades, “You have repeatedly answered the nations call with great distinction, both at home and abroad. Chief Warrant Officer Hessel and I are extremely honoured to serve alongside this world-class team, and we look forward to training together, as we embark on the road to high readiness.”
Col. Ritchie joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1994, and was posted to the First Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) in 1998. He served in Kosovo on Operation KINETIC as a platoon commander and served twice in Afghanistan. First on Operation ARCHER in the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team and secondly, on Operation ATHENA as a sub-unit commander with the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team. As a graduate of the National Security Programme, Col. Ritchie holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and a Masters in Defence Studies.
Brig.-Gen Fletcher attended College Militaire Royal de St Jean, QC from 1990-1993, graduating from the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON in 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. He also attended the Joint Command and Staff Programme at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, ON in 2007-2008, graduating with a Masters in Defence Studies.
Headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta 1 Combat Mechanized Brigade Group is an Army Regular Force formation of 3rd Canadian Division. The brigade includes the following units: 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, Lord Strathcona’ Horse (Royal Canadians), 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, 1 Service Battalion and 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signal Squadron.