Lieutenant-Colonel Carl Gravel
In the case of Lieutenant-Colonel Carl Gravel, Deputy Wing Commander, it was a case of like mother, like son— at least when it comes to a choice of careers.
LCol Gravel assumed his new position in August of this year after being employed at 1 Canadian Air Division as the A5/Chief CAOC Strategy Division and deputy CAOC Director.
“The reason I joined the military was because my mother, a single parent, went from a low paying job in her 20s and early 30s to joining the CAF,” LCol Gravel said during an interview in his second floor office at 17 Wing HQ. “She’s a good example for me. Through her I saw that the CAF was a meaningful career opportunity and a good adventure that I wanted to be part of.” Now that’s a good parental role model.
LCol Gravel grew up in Quebec City and enrolled in the CAF in 2004 as an Engineering Officer following a short stint as a technologist in the private sector, notes his official bio. Beginning his career with 10 Field Engineering Squadron (now 35 Combat Engineer Regiment), he was employed as a troop commander, squadron ops officer, and squadron 2IC. In 2008, he moved on to the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering (CFSME) to work as an instructor and standards officer. In 2010, he transferred occupation to Construction Engineering Officer while being employed at CFSME until he was posted to 17 Wing Winnipeg in 2012 as the Requirements Officer at Wg CE.
Promoted to Major in 2013 and promptly posted to Ottawa, he deployed to Afghanistan under Op Attention as the Task Force Engineer for Roto 3 and the mission closure team.
Upon his return, he worked as a project manager for capital construction projects and then as a member of the Defence Renewal Team. In 2015, he was posted to 3 Wg Bagotville where he was employed as the Wing Constr Engr Officer and subsequently RP Ops Det OC following ADM (IE) centralization until 2018.
Following one year at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto where he obtained a Masters Degree in Defence Studies, LCol Gavel returned to Winnipeg, this time at 1 CAD HQ where he was worked until this summer.
LCol Gravel, who also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics from Laval University in QC, points to the almost 11 months he spent in Afghanistan as one of the key moments in his adult life.
“You get to see a significant perspective about the way the world works,” he said. “In Canada, we take a lot of things for granted about the way society works— the role of public institutions, private business, political parties, the way the world works, but the way many Afghanis perceive the world is so different,” he adds. “They’re just trying to find their place and survive and thrive,” LCol Gravel said. LCol Gravel is married with three young children.
“It opened my mind. People acted differently because they live in a different reality. Not because they’re bad guys. We had a good opportunity to provide some help— build stronger institutions to help them go from survive to thrive. At the time, it was a big experience. There was always a bit of danger, but it’s relative. It gave me an appreciation for what we have here and not to take things for granted.”
Although, he’s had other opportunities, he’s in the CAF because, as he emphasizes, “I want to be here. The values and ethos speak to me,” LCol Gravel said. “I believe we are a force for good in what we do. I’ve been thriving in the jobs I do, and work with some amazing people. I like getting to meet and know new people. They are outstanding people to serve alongside of. I’m a teamwork person and this is an organization that thinks like that. We have a great team here at 17 Wing.”