IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
CAPTAIN ANDREW McCUISH: I’m Captain Andrew McCuish from Port Morien, Nova Scotia. I’m an Armour Officer serving with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, currently posted at CFB Gagetown.
CAPTAIN VARUN VAHAL: And I’m Captain Varun Vahal from Toronto, Ontario, and I’m an Armour Officer and tank troop leader with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians, in Edmonton, Alberta.
VAHAL: In Canada’s Armoured regiments, our highly motivated teams of soldiers and fleets of high-tech, battle-tested vehicles are ready to take on any mission, anywhere, any time.
VAHAL: Whether it’s reconnaissance in hostile territory, or direct engagement with the enemy in a Leopard II tank, our core values are – and always will be – Mobility, Firepower, and Protection.
VAHAL: Armour is aggressive, it’s, from an officer’s perspective, it’s all about command and control – moving the pieces on the ground and defeating the enemy. The Armoured corps is at the tip of any attack.
McCUISH: In reconnaissance, you can possibly identify the enemy. You start to paint the picture, identify what enemy is in that location. It’s kind of sneak and peek, you’re really trying to use the ground to the best of your abilities so the enemy can’t see you.
VAHAL: Once that information comes down the pipeline, that’s when the tanks roll. And they use that information to close with and destroy the enemy. And we do that in a combined arms way, so we’ll have infantry and engineers with us, as well as artillery and the Air Force supporting us with their assets. Once you have all that, rolling across country in a beast like that, it’s awesome.
McCUISH: Right from the start of your career as an Armour Officer, you command as many as eight vehicles – and more than twenty troops – not from a desk, not from a laptop, but inside the belly of some of the world’s most sophisticated and agile fighting machines, like this Coyote armoured reconnaissance vehicle. We’re talking up to a hundred kilometres an hour, a 25mm cannon, machine guns and grenade launchers up top, and eight-wheel drive comes standard!
VAHAL: Whether you join the Regular Force or the Reserves, serving Canada as an Armour Officer is a unique opportunity to push yourself to the limit, in some of the coolest rides on any road.
VAHAL: Being on the attack is always the best thing. Coming over that crest line with all your tanks lying abreast, and as soon as you come over the crest line, you see the enemy position and the guns start firing. It’s very exciting. So it’s very fast-paced. No video game in the world can compare to it.
MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job
McCUISH: Coolest part of the job for me is working in that team environment. Every day, even out here training, something new happens every day. There’s lots of laughs. Since I’ve joined the Army, I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in my life. It is hard work, it is rewarding, but as well, we do have quite a bit of fun with it too, which makes it worthwhile.
VAHAL: From an officer’s perspective, I can say it’s having the privilege of leading men. There’s no better responsibility than that. And of course, the camaraderie that comes with that. The relationship you build with your men and your peers, your fellow officers, that kind of friendship, you can’t replace with anything.
MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training
VAHAL: Here’s what to expect if you decide to enroll as an Armour Officer. After your Basic Officer Training, you’ll report to the Combat Training Centre at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.
McCUISH: Your training at Gagetown will be divided into three phases. You’ll start at the Infantry School with a course that all new land officers go through. Then it’s on to the Armour School for two additional phases of training.
McCUISH: You’ll start off learning about our armoured fighting vehicles, operate its communications equipment, fire its weapons, deploy it in battle and direct its crew.
McCUISH: In the final phase of your training at Gagetown, you will lead a reconnaissance or tank troop, learning and developing the skills required to properly plan and control the manoeuvre of up to eight combat vehicles in operations.
MODULE 4 – Your First Posting
VAHAL: When you leave Gagetown, you’ll be assigned to one of Canada’s three historic Armoured regiments: the Royal Canadian Dragoons at Petawawa, Ontario; Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians at Edmonton, or the Douzième Régiment Blindé du Canada at Valcartier, Quebec.
VAHAL: Coming in as a new officer – definitely intimidating in the beginning. But your second-in-command, your Warrant Officer, or whoever it may be, will – he’ll definitely take you under his wing, and your men will definitely give you all the help you need. And as long as you set them up for success, they will always bring you through.
McCUISH: From there, there’s always progression. You’re not going to be one job a lengthy amount of time. There’s exercises, there’s field deployments, there’s operational missions. There’s a wide variety of experiences you can encounter as an Armoured Officer.
MODULE 5 – Testimonials
McCUISH: My greatest adventure has been my deployment to Afghanistan. When we first got there, there was a lot of enemy in the area. By the time we left, it was slowly building it up to where you need to be. The point where kids can start going to school, the local population could just travel the roads without worrying about hitting an IED. That was something we, as a recce squadron, locked down. We kept the roads safe, we provided that security, not only for ourselves, but for the people of Afghanistan.
VAHAL: The results that you generate as a troop is extremely rewarding. And that really is your reward for doing a good job – is you will see your men become successful, and by extension, yourself become successful.
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES