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This article was published 16/6/2011 (3776 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CFB SHILO -- As Canada's military role in Afghanistan shifts into a lower gear, it's "back to the basics" for 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry troops, Lt.-Col. Mike Wright said moments after taking command of the battalion.
The change of command ceremony held Thursday at CFB Shilo's Kapyong Parade Square paid tribute, through military pomp and circumstance and time-honoured tradition, to outgoing battalion commanding officer Lt.-Col. Shane Schreiber and welcomed a new era of leadership under 2PPCLI veteran Wright.
For Wright, who has previously served nine years of his military career based in Manitoba -- most recently with 2PPCLI at CFB Shilo from 2004 to 2008 -- the day felt like a homecoming.
"Although I was born and raised in southern Ontario, the second battalion is where I grew up and today very much feels like I've come back home," Wright told the crowd of more than 300 military personnel, family and friends.
After joining the Canadian Forces in 1990 and following graduation from the Royal Military College in 1994, Wright was first posted to 2PPCLI in Winnipeg, where until 1999 he served as a rifle and anti-armour platoon commander and rifle company second-in-command.
Prior to his promotion to lieutenant-colonel in 2010, Wright served as brigade chief of staff at the headquarters of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Edmonton.
He was recently awarded the Medal of Military Valour and the Meritorious Service Medal following his tour with A Company as part of the 1 Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in 2006-07.
From those early days as a soldier, Wright says he has always felt a special loyalty to 2PPCLI and is proud to tackle the challenges the "best job in the army" will bring.
"It's a bit like coming full-circle," Wright told the Sun. "Every officer when he arrives at the battalion looks at the (commanding officer) and wonders if he can do that. I think it will be a challenge for sure, but I'm very much looking forward to it."
Although Wright admits he has some big combat boots to fill -- 2PPCLI has had 28 leaders in the past 59 years -- he said he's intent on continuing along the path commanding officer Schreiber started.
"He really focused on getting the battalion back to the basics of soldiering and they've made huge leaps over the last couple of years. They are exceptionally well-trained," Wright said. "We proved our skills in Afghanistan and now because the tempo is what it has been for the past couple of years, we're just trying to get back to the basics and make sure the guys get the time on the rifle range and driving the vehicles."
Wright's wife Hilary and their two young sons will live in Brandon during his time as battalion commanding officer. He says his family is thrilled to be back in familiar territory and looking forward to cheering on the Wheat Kings and taking in some NHL action in Winnipeg this winter.
Meanwhile, outgoing commanding officer Schreiber leaves what he calls "the best base in Canada" to return to Edmonton to be part of Land Force Western Area headquarters.
"I'm forever proud be associated with your heroic and selfless accomplishments -- don't ever change," he told the battalion in his final address.
A bit about Battalion
Raised specifically for service in Korea when conflict broke out in 1950, 2PPCLI is the first and only Canadian unit to win a United States Presidential Unit Citation for its stand against the Chinese in Kapyong on April 25, 1951.
The battalion recently recognized the 60th anniversary of Kapyong.
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