New Brunswick

Gagetown troops headed to Latvia, new commanding officer says

Hundreds came out to the swearing in ceremony of the new commanding officer for the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, the first time in recent memory the event was hosted in downtown Fredericton.

Planned deployment announced as new commanding officer assumes command of 2nd Battalion

The 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment hosted a parade for the swearing-in ceremony of new commanding officer, Lt.-Col. Sean French, in downtown Fredericton. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Hundreds of people gathered for the swearing-in ceremony of a new commanding officer for the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment on Thursday, the first time in recent memory an event like this was hosted in downtown Fredericton. 

But as Lt.-Col. Sean French assumed command from outgoing commanding officer Lt.-Col. Shane Murphy, it was announced that many soldiers in attendance would be deployed to Latvia next year.

"We knew that was a possibility, but that was the first time I've officially been told that we are going to Latvia in January," said French, moments after assuming command. "Our troops just took over there. So we expect in six to seven months that we will be over there to replace them." 

Lt.-Col. Sean French assumes command of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
The first Canadian troops landed in Latvia last weekend as part of Canada's military promise to help deter Russian aggression as part of The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's [NATO] defense mission.

"With the first battle group being over there, we are learning a lot from them," said French. "So we will learn as we go with them and take what they learned [and] make some best practices out of it." 

French has commanded overseas before, leading a platoon in Bosnia, as well as completing assignments as an operational mentor in Afghanistan. 

"Two years ago I served with the UN [United Nations] in the Congo," said French. "I've pretty much been most places but South America." 

Public Awareness

The husband and father of two daughters assumed command in Fredericton, instead of a traditional venue in Oromocto. 

The decision to host the event for the passing public was made by the outgoing commanding officer, as a means to engage citizens with soldiers.

Maj. Matt Rolls says the decision to host the ceremony in Fredericton, as opposed to Oromocto, was to give the public a chance to meet and speak with soldiers. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"Events like this let us get out there and show people what we're like and gives people a chance to see, meet, and talk to a solider and understand what we're all about," said Maj. Matt Rolls.