Change of Command Ceremony
For years, the Seaforth Highlanders’ commanding officer kept his cellphone with him at all times in case a member of the volunteer reserve regiment was killed in Afghanistan.
Fortunately, Lt.-Col. Paul Ursich never received that call, and as Canada’s mission in Afghanistan ended, so too did his leadership of the 102-year-old regiment.
On Sunday afternoon, Seaforth’s command passed from Ursich to his longtime friend and former cadet trainer, Lt.-Col. Scott Raesler during a ceremony at the regiment’s armoury on Burrard Street in front of about 200 people, including other military personnel, cadets and members of the public.
The change of command was marked by the symbolic passing of the commanding officer’s colours and sword from Ursich to Raesler.
Raesler’s mandate will be different now that the war is over, said Rod Hoffmeister, Seaforth’s honorary major.
The focus turns to “civil defence,” Hoffmeister said. “When the phone rings now, it won’t be someone from Kabul saying you’ve lost a soldier.”
Raesler will also need to ensure there is new blood in the regiment, he said.
The regiment has augmented the Canadian Forces for decades, providing volunteer on-call soldiers and peacekeepers, and fighting natural disasters closer to home.