Someone new has taken over the helm at 4 Wing Cold Lake.
On Wednesday, July 10, former Wing Commander Col. Paul Doyle bid farewell to the air force base he described as "the best posting of my career."
During a change of command ceremony, 4 Wing welcomed their new commander, Col. Dave Moar, who has spent collectively 15 years in the area so far.
For outgoing commander Doyle, the moment was a bittersweet.
"It's impossible to reflect on how privileged I have been to work with this amazing team over the last three years, but I haven't been alone on this journey," Doyle said during his speech.
After serving three years as wing commander, Doyle accepted a position in London, England, where he will act as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Air Advisor with the Canadian Defence Liaison staff, and as a Canadian Defence Attaché to Iceland.
Cold Lake's hangar one was filled with colleagues, friends, and family, prepared to send Doyle off.
"I'm extremely fortunate to have been associated with this team throughout my career, and especially this last assignment. I've benefited from your energy and it's been an honour for me to be here over the last three years," Doyle expressed.
He continued, "This is a wing that's on the cusp of incredible change. Future fighter, future fighter lead training, and tactical control radar replacement, this is going to be an exciting period for 4 Wing under the leadership of Dave Moar, and I know that this base will make sure that it continues to deliver air power throughout the 21st century."
With Doyle's sentiments still fresh in his mind, Moar described the advice the former wing commander gave him as he prepares for his next chapter.
"He said, 'There's a lot of challenges here, but the nice thing about the fighter force is that even our problems are cool,'" detailed Moar. "You do have to remember that this is a very exiting and fast-paced job that we do. Sometimes it's easy to get mired down in the details and the meetings, and you forget to get out and talk to people, you forget sometimes to enjoy what you're doing, and remember that what you're doing is operating a fleet of aircraft, providing support for the people who ensure those aircraft are ready to operate, and that it's a fantastic and exciting operation."
Moar joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1992, and has since underwent various training and positions, including his role as an instructor with both the NATO Flying Training in Canada Phase Three and Flying Instructor School.
He was originally posted in Cold Lake in 2003, and also spent time in Toronto, where he studied at the Royal Military College's Joint Command and Staff Programme and National Security Programme, as well as in Ottawa.
Through his various positions and ranks over the years, Moar has worked alongside a variety of people.
"What I'm looking forward to most (as wing commander) is getting to work with all of the people on this base. I've been a commander in the unit of this base a number of times. I've worked at lower ranked levels, but as wing commander, the thing I get to do is interact with everybody on the base. I get to represent everybody and align what we're doing, coordinate all of those things, so when I see a certain squadron is trying to do something and I know that another squadron is interested in doing the same thing, I'm the connecting piece that's able to put that together," he described. "The thing I'm looking forward to most is working with more people who I haven't had a chance to in the past."
The colonel, who will serve as 4 Wing's 30th commander, has participated in numerous CF-188 operations, including Operation Northern Denial and Operation Podium.
Through Operation Unified Protector, Moar was deployed to Italy in 2011, where he participated in combat sorties over Libya.
Most recently, in 2014, he conducted six months of combat missions over Iraq and Syria through Operation Impact.
Moar said his family of four, which includes his wife Michelle and their three children Cameron, Ethan, and Emily, has been lucky to live in the area for so many years.
"We have a lot of history here, when you look at it from a military perspective, we've been very fortunate to remain at one location for quite a long time over the course of my career; doing various jobs around the wing at various rank levels," Moar expressed.
When asked what he loved most about Cold Lake as a region and base, he said it was "the way this community comes together on issues and on improving itself, is absolutely amazing."
"The base, the city, the MD, all of the industry partners and economic drivers in this area, and our local first nations, they all seem to come together. We align a vision and we get impressive things done."
Since his first visit to Cold Lake in 1987, Moar noted the area has grown substantially.
"Although the base hasn't necessarily grown in size, I think our role in the community has really improved over the last couple of decades," he outlined. "We work hand-in-glove with the city now, we work with the local first nations, and industry partners on many of our decisions and initiatives the base is trying to achieve for our benefit, we're always looking for ways to include local community partners to their benefit as well. That's a real... evolution in mindset that I think has increased the importance of the base in the community."
Looking ahead, he plans on continuing to put the focus on those that keep 4 Wing running: the people.
"When I look at it graphically, and what our mission is based on, the foundation of our mission is our people. Although that's something commonly heard in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), it really takes a determined and deliberate effort to make sure that the people are properly supported," explained Moar. "Each member should feel, individually, that they're health and well-being is being looked after, that their careers are being looked after, it takes a lot of effort to ensure each member individually feels they're supported, their family's supported, and that they're healthy and ready to do the things that we ask them. We ask a tremendous amount of our people here at 4 Wing."
He added, "They're often asked to work very long hours, sometimes very unpredictable hours. With our NORAD mission, we're always ready to respond, but with responsiveness comes unpredictability. On very short notice, we could ask our people to fly somewhere or come into work and do some things that we need them to do. That's hard on families, on people and their health, so we need to invest in those things up front to ensure that when we do ask the hard things of people they're ready to respond."
As a NORAD base, Moar stressed the importance of 4 Wing.
He explained how "we're here to protect the sovereignty of Canada and North America."
"When you look at the world and the geopolitical situations in the world, if you look at increasing instability in certain regions, conflicts that are difficult to predict, and potential challenges to Canada's sovereignty over the next decade or two, the role of 4 Wing is only going to become more important," Moar detailed, adding with the addition of new fighter jets and training, the local base will only become more vital.
"I only see Cold Lake's importance increasing both from the current missions that we do, the importance of those missions, and the complexity of those missions."