CO's Address - January 2018


Over the past year the regiment has seen a significant increase in personnel.  With the improvements in the army recruiting process we will continue to see this unprecedented growth and expect to see the regiment at full strength within 2 years.  As well, with the new addition to our vehicle platforms, the TAPV, arriving as early as next spring, this is exciting news.  These two key factors will allow us the flexibility to train with multiple sub-sub units as well as the ability to have personnel deploy with our regular force counterparts in the same platforms, with the same skills.  The draw on our NCO cadre, however, will be tremendous.  The responsibility to train our soldiers falls on our NCOs.  I have great confidence in their steadfast commitment to this regiment and the soldiers and I fully expect their continued reliability and professionalism to get the job done!  This group of superior soldiers will continue to carry the majority of the burden on behalf of all the entire regiment. 

 

We will also see over the next years and beyond a more unified working partnership with our regular force colleagues, specifically the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, as we look to integrate our training, drawing on their experience and providing our capabilities.  I have no doubt this regiment will build on the successes it saw under the leadership of my predecessor, LCol Troy Steele and continue to be the go to regiment - “Alberta’s Regiment”.

 

LCol Shawn Thirlwell - Semper Alacer!  


Commanding Officer

Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Shawn Thirlwell, CD Commanding Officer (CO)

LCol Thirlwell grew up in Sherwood Park, AB where he started his military career in the Army Cadet Program in 1976. In 1978 while waiting to carry on his secondary schooling he joined the Canadian Armed Forces Militia as a trooper as one of the first of seven recruits to form the detached “B” Squadron of the South Alberta Light Horse in Edmonton. In 1980 he was enrolled on the first Combat Leader’s Course offered to reserve personnel and later posted to the Area Training Detachment. Then late in 1980 he transferred to the Supplementary Reserve List to focus on his studies in Engineering at the University of Alberta.

After a 15 year sabbatical from the military, LCol Thirlwell applied in 1995 and was accepted into the Direct Entry Officer program, where he was enrolled as a 2nd Lieutenant in the same B squadron which had now been rerolled into a tank squadron. After his Armoured “tank” Troop Leader Training, he was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned command of a “Saber” troop.

Through the late 1990s LCol Thirlwell was introduced early to the world of protocol as he was appointed as an Aide De Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. The learning curve was extremely steep for a 2nd Lieutenant.

In 1997, he went over to England as part of an Officer Exchange Program with the South Hampton Officer Training Corps to observe their general military training program as well as to observer their Cambrian Patrol training efforts. Later that year in October he was tasked to lead a dismounted Reconnaissance patrol in the high level international Cambrian Patrol Competition held each year in the United Kingdom. Although LCol Thirlwell’s team was a composite (armoured, infantry and artillery personnel) group of young reserve soldiers with only a couple of years experience, they competed at an equal level with elite regular units from around the world. His team not only completed the competition but they achieved a Bronze Level and each member received the Army Commander's Commendation.

In 1999 he was promoted to Captain and over the next 5 year he moved through the various squadron headquarter rolls such as the Battle Captain and Squadron 2ic and then in 2005 he assumed command of “B” Sqn and the field sqn (C sqn). After attending the Canadian Land Forces Command Staff College in Kingston he was promoted major in January 2010. In Sept 2014, LCol Thirlwell was finally taken out of the field and the squadron and moved into regimental headquarters as Regimental Second in Command.  On the 9 September 2017, he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and assumed command of “Alberta’s Regiment”.

LCol Thirlwell spent 33 years with the Canada Post Corporation as his civilian career, starting as letter carrier in 1983 and retiring as the Manager of Production Control and Reporting where he was responsible for the operational planning and costs management for the Edmonton Mail Processing Plant. He is married to Maureen and is the father of two children, Lucy and Peter. He and Maureen currently reside on a small acreage north of Camrose where if he is not out with the regiment you’ll find him elbow deep in some kind of a historical vehicle.

The Regimental Sergeant-Major

Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) G.D. Olsen, CD Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM)
 
CWO Gerry Olsen joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1981 as a Reservist private in C Coy Canadian Scottish Regiment in Comox BC. After 2 years of enjoying his time with this fine unit, he transferred to the Regular Army, as a crewman. Upon completion of Basic Training in Cornwallis, he went on to CFB Petawawa and joined the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) where he completed QL3 and AVGP gunner and driver courses in his first year. The following year saw him competing in the Rams Head competition, and completing the Basic Para Course and the Leopard Gunner course.

In 1985, immediately after RV85, he was posted to the Royal Canadian Dragoons in 4CMBG Lahr W Germany. After spending only one year on tanks, he saw the light and requested a transfer to Recce Sqn RCD. He spent the next 4 years as a competitor on The Boeselager Competition and several other NATO recce competitions, for which he received the Commander Canadian Forces Europe Commendation. Leaving Lahr as a newly qualified Tactical Helicopter Observer, he was posted to CFB Edmonton and joined 408 Sqn, where he was promoted to Sgt.

With the loss of the Kiowa helicopter, Sgt Olsen was posted back to his home unit, as a member of Recce Sqn RCD. He stayed with the RCD for tours of Bosnia and Kosovo, and qualified as an Advanced Driver/Maintenance Instructor and Advanced Armoured Recce specialist. Then WO Olsen attended the yearlong French course followed by a posting to LFCA HQ in Toronto.


A posting to Wainwright to LFWA TC in 2006 saw WO Olsen assuming the role of the Operations and Training WO for the school, where he remained for 4 years. Upon promotion to MWO he was posted to CMTC as Company Sgt Major of COEFOR, where he spent a year travelling North America and Europe with his soldiers, providing training with his OPFOR team.

After a year as an OCT, he was posted back to the RCD in Petawawa as Sgt Maj of a Brigade Recce Sqn in 2012. One year later he was posted back to Wainwright to rejoin his family.

In 2014 MWO Olsen retired from the Regular Army and joined the Primary Reserve as an MWO in the South Alberta Light Horse. He remained the TQMS for the SALH for 4 years, although he did squeeze in a one year exchange position in Australia, which he claims was both the most exciting and the fasted year of his career.


In 2018 he was promoted to CWO, and took over as RSM SALH in Oct 2018.

CWO Olsen is divorced, but has 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren who all reside in Alberta. He enjoys hunting and fishing, but most of all he values the time he spends with his grandchildren.