Canadian NORAD Region
If there’s one word that describes the Combined Aerospace Operations Centre (CAOC) at 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters—effectively the operational nerve centre of the Royal Canadian Air Force—that word would be “busy.” With a finger on the pulse of every global RCAF operation happening around the world, the tempo at the CAOC is high year-round.
To recognize the team members who keep those operations running smoothly, USAF Brigadier-General Ed “Hertz” Vaughan implemented a new award for the CAOC, called the GRIT Award. The term grit represents the heart and soul to relentlessly execute. To capture that spirit, Vaughan asked the staff to identify those attributes they most admire in their teammates. Accordingly, GRIT is an acronym that captures the qualities for which CAOC team members are nominated for the award:
GENEROUS (a selfless team member, lends a hand and shares credit for accomplishments)
RELENTLESS (pursues excellence and solutions to problems)
INNOVATIVE (looks for new approaches to problem solving, not afraid of taking manageable risk)
TOUGH (mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually resilient)
Brig.-Gen. Vaughan is not only the Deputy Commander of the Canadian NORAD Region, but is also the Deputy Combined/Joint Forces Air Component Commander, meaning he often oversees all RCAF operations at home and abroad, which is a unique responsibility for a USAF officer in Canada. As such, he has a clear understanding of the level of dedication his team shows each and every day.
“Recognizing our people for performance leading to outcomes isn’t just a good management practice, it is an operational requirement,” said Brig.-Gen. Vaughan. “If we don’t appreciate that dedication, we risk losing it. The members of our CAOC give 110 per cent all day, every day supporting RCAF and NORAD operations.The GRIT award is a small way we can honour our members’ outstanding service in front of their peers.”
As it turns out, the GRIT acronym even works in French, Canada’s other official language, in which is translates as FORT, the French word for “strong.”
The award is given out each month, and Brig.-Gen. Vaughan has already bestowed the award on three members of the CAOC. First was Squadron Leader Colin Massy, head of the CAOC’s Combat Plans section, which is responsible for taking operational plans and working with current ops to implement them. Squadron Leader Massy is a British Royal Air Force officer on exchange with the RCAF. The second and third recipients, who shared the award in November, were Major Audrey Bourassa, a lead planner who led the internal reorganization of A5/7, and Captain Michal Luczynski, an aerospace engineering officer with CAOC Mission Support, whose mandate is to coordinate logistical and systems support for operations.
As an added bonus, along with the honour of receiving the award, the recipient also gets an added privilege—the use of Brig.-Gen. Vaughan’s executive parking spot, which is a real advantage during the cold winter months in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where the headquarters is located.
“It’s pretty simple—without tough, committed people, there are no operations,” said Brig.-Gen. Vaughan. “The GRIT Award is one way to let our members know how much we appreciate their hard work, day-in and day-out.”