2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Commander Colonel Michael Wright took over the brigade in the summer. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

New Brigade Commander looking forward to High Readiness year ahead

By: Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday, October 5, 2017

Colonel Michael Wright may have just taken over the position of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Commander in June, but he already is proud of the hard work of his personnel as they entered high readiness.

They will be deploying primarily on four missions; two Rotos of Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine and two of Operation REASSURANCE in Latvia. Soldiers of the Brigade are also supporting other overseas missions including Operation IMPACT in Iraq and Kuwait and Operation CALUMET in the Sinai Peninsula.

“It is what you expect in your high readiness window and why the Brigade did so much training last year,” said Col Wright.

There are some challenges to commanding 2 CMBG that cannot be planned for, regardless of whether it is in high readiness or not.

“We always need to be ready to react rapidly,” he said. “It is not only those missions, but there is also the domestic Immediate Response Unit.”

The soldiers must always be ready to do what is required of them. Recently, the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD), with the IRU, went to Cornwall, Ont. at a moment’s notice to help set up temporary accommodations for Haitian asylum seekers. 

He must also coordinate the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), currently on alert to respond to the aftermath hurricanes that devastated the Caribbean and hit the United States.

Leading such a busy and prepared Brigade can be difficult. Col Wright believes in mission command, which means to state his intent and vision and then assign the correct people and the right resources to make it happen. It has served him well in previous leadership roles and he firmly believes that the commanders that are currently in position will help him move the Brigade forward.

His leadership philosophy was shaped by several inspirational figures along the way, notably Major-General Omer Lavoie who led him in Afghanistan. 

Being in command has always been something he has worked towards, but he has never really looked beyond the next step. Instead, he dedicates himself to the role he is given. Now that he is commander of 2 CMBG, his focus is on that job, and he is really looking forward to seeing firsthand what the troops can do.

“The opportunity to get out and interact with soldiers and be a soldier again is awesome,” said Col Wright.

He finds strength in his command team partner Brigade Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Mercer. While many units undergo a change of command team, his CWO has remained, and he draws from his experience and wisdom to help orient himself to new surroundings. 

It is Col Wright’s first time working and living at Garrison Petawawa, but he has trained on its grounds. From a work perspective, he finds it a fantastic place to be. There are so many advantages to having all but one of the units in one place. 

From a family perspective, there is so much to do in Petawawa and Pembroke. The support from, and partnership with 4th Canadian Division Support Group (4 CDSG), the Royal Canadian Air Force and Special Operations Forces are also unique. He truly appreciates the work they all do together.

Together, they have “good synergy”.

“I’m just really happy and honoured to be here, to be part of a brigade with such a storied history and be part of the Petawawa community,” said Col Wright.

Though he is a successful leader now, he hasn’t always wanted to be in the military.

Col Wright has no family history of service and was unsure what career path to take. He did have family in the Kingston area, so he decided to attend the Royal Military College of Canada and never looked back.

He credits his parents for raising him with some of the attitudes necessary to succeed such as being respectful of authority and rules. But he has also taken inspiration from other Canadian Armed Forces members, particularly those who go above and beyond the call of duty, as well as from the families of the fallen.

While he was in Afghanistan, six soldiers were killed and Col Wright remains close to their loved ones.

“It is inspiring,” he said. “There are more families than just those six that I know. And every family is different but there are so many that you can draw inspiration from.”

His own family is incredibly important to him.

When he isn’t wearing the uniform, he spends as much time as possible with them. His sons are 13 and 14 years old, so they are more independent now, but he still relishes the moments spent watching their football and hockey games.