Looking back, I didn’t have a clue what being Special Operations actually meant. I started my career in the Canadian Forces as a combat engineer. Out of all the careers I could have chosen, I chose to enlist as a human mine detector. Frankly, I settled for this trade because infantry seemed too hardcore at the time and, supposedly, I could be eligible for faster promotion in the engineers if I showed an aptitude in mathematics. Of course, neither of these hold much truth, but I’m nonetheless happy with my initial career choice.

Believe it or not, it was at basic training that I first heard about the existence of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), which includes Joint Task Force 2, CSOR, CJIRU, and 427 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. One of my coursemates aspired to go that route and had a CANSOFCOM recruiting poster in his room for motivation. I didn’t ask him much about it at the time. But the very next day, while sitting in the mess hall during one of our “five-minute” lunches, I watched a news broadcaster announce the formation of a new Special Forces unit: the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR — pronounced “see-soar” in the community). I still didn’t know what being “Special Forces” really meant, but my curiosity had been peaked.

It wouldn’t be until two years later that I would have the opportunity to apply to CSOR (which falls under CANSOF Command). I was serving my first tour in Afghanistan with the Canadian Battle Group in Kandahar province, taking part in the great game of “tactical-whack-a-mole”. With limited resources, we had a wide area of responsibility to cover. As soon as we had suppressed the insurgents in one area, they would pop up in another. I am sure you know the drill.

I found out that several of my fellow soldiers were planning to apply to CSOR while on tour. The selection phase was set to occur shortly after we arrived back in Canada. It would give us just enough time to enjoy some post-tour leave before selection began. At first, I thought I would wait until the next year to allow myself some more time to train, but after talking to some of the guys, this seemed like an opportunity I shouldn’t wait a year for. Luckily for me, we were fortunate enough to have a company 2I/C in charge of us who was planning to apply as well; and he went out of his way to have our applications processed before we returned home.