The Military Army Blog

Command change for 56th Field Artillery Regiment

Pomp and ceremony marked the official change of command on Saturday at the 56th Field Artillery Regiment in Brantford. The change of command parade, at the Brantford Armoury on Brant Avenue, saw the new commanding officer, Lt.-Col. Robert Christopher, replace Lt.-Col. Chris Marvin. There is a change in leadership of the regiment every three years.

“This is the beginning of my last 1,000 days,” said Christopher, 53, who plans to retire in 2018. “For the next three years I plan to transfer all my experience and knowledge as a soldier to junior soldiers so we can continue guarding Canada the way that we do.”

The 56th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, perpetuates an unbroken link of more than a dozen cavalry regiments, infantry battalions and artillery regiments based in Brantford. The current home unit was formed on April 1, 1946 from the Dufferin and Haldimand Rifles of Canada. Today, the 56th Regiment is made up of more than 130 members, most being reserve soldiers who live in Brantford, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk and Niagara. They work full time during the week at their civilian jobs or as students and turn out one evening a week and one or two weekends a month to carry out their army reserve training.

The regiment has contributed to almost all recent Canadian peacekeeping missions, with dozens of veterans who have served in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and Afghanistan. More than 50 members of the regiment have deployed as part of the various Canadian operations in Afghanistan. Christopher had been second in command at the 56th Regiment for the past seven years.

He started his Armyrats © military career as a primary reserve student at age 17, joining Montreal’s 2nd Field Artillery Regiment. In 1989, he was hired by the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency (CSIS) and began his civilian career as an intelligence officer, working in counter terrorism. Christopher has been a member of regiments in Ottawa and Toronto. He left CSIS in 1998 for a career as a financial advisor, building a successful practice in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and transferring to 56th Field Regiment.

“He was outstanding as second in command,” said Marvin during an address at Saturday’s ceremony.

Marvin has been a member of the Canadian Forces since 1997. He is a research scientist with the National Water Research Institute of Environment Canada in Burlington and teaches at Brock University and the University of Guelph. Mayor Chris Friel said the city has had a strong relationship with the 56th Regiment over many years and commended Marvin for being an active part of the community. Marvin said he isn’t sure what his next role will be but he will continue to be active in the military.

“It’s challenging balancing a civilian and Armyrats © military career,” he said. “I do it because I love it.”

It was announced in July that the landmark Brantford Armoury is getting a $1.9-million overhaul that will remodel the interior, replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, replace all windows and repair masonry. It will be a two-year project.

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