IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
CORPORAL CHRISTOPHER SYKES: I’m Corporal Chris Sykes from Stouffville, Ontario. I’m an Armoured crewman part of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians, Edmonton, Alberta.
CORPORAL BRYDEN KLEIN: And I’m Corporal Bryden Klein from Kitchener, Ontario, and I’m an Armoured Soldier with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, posted to CFB Petawawa.
KLEIN: Canada’s Armoured Regiments are the vanguard of our modern fighting force – tearing up the track at up to a hundred clicks an hour with the sheer intimidation of man, metal, and machine guns.
SYKES: We’re proud to be part of the Combat Arms team, working together with the Infantry, Artillery, and Combat Engineers to achieve mission success.
SYKES: Armoured Soldiers are proud to drive, maintain, and operate the weapons and communications systems of some of the fastest and best-armoured fighting machines in the world.
SYKES: We do different roles – we have one as reconnaissance where your goal is to gather information and then after that, then the commanders make up their plan and then we roll in with the tanks and get the plan done.
SYKES: This is our go-to recce vehicle -- the Coyote.
KLEIN: It’s an 8 by 8, 15-tonne armoured vehicle that we use to gather all our information. We have cameras and night sights – we can see as far as you can see with your eye, and far past that. Without armoured reconnaissance, really, you’re gonna be walking an entire combat team in blindly. They’re not gonna know what they’re coming up against, they’re not gonna know what’s out there, they’re not gonna know which ways to go. When we can’t get there with our vehicle, we take our surveillance equipment or even a set of binoculars and we will walk into the bush as far as we have to to get that information.
SYKES: And this is my ride – the Leopard tank – the recce crews find the bad guys, and we take care of the rest.
SYKES: My job as the tank gunner: I operate the turret, scan for anything that looks suspicious and shoot targets if necessary. The tank is used to intimidate and also used for protection if the infantry need to hide behind the tank and then there’s also just the aggressive nature and the firepower capability that it has. Being able to take out targets 2 to 3 kilometres away – it’s definitely an interesting experience.
SYKES: Whether you choose one of the three historic Armoured Regiments of the Regular Force, or the sixteen Reserve Armoured Regiments across Canada, you’ll learn from the best, and you’ll roll with the best.
MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job
KLEIN: It’s definitely an adrenaline rush. Especially when you’re overseas. You’re going fast-paced, and you have to definitely be up for the challenge and up for some long days.
SYKES: The first time you go overseas, that’s what you trained for your whole life, that’s why you got in the military. Being able to do your job is – in a real environment – is actually one of the best feelings.
KLEIN: Anytime you’re driving through a village and you see the children able to run up to you and, with open arms, hoping to see you, giving you thumbs up and smiling – that’s the best day for me.
MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training
SYKES: After basic training, Armoured Soldiers head to Gagetown, New Brunswick and the Army’s Combat Training Centre. You’ll work on advanced soldier skills and learn all the tools of an Armoured Crewman’s trade – both the reconnaissance and direct-fire components of the job, and how they impact overall mission success.
KLEIN: The skills you’ll master include driving and maintaining the Leopards, Coyotes and LAVs – operating the communications gear and laser and radar-detection gear, and, of course, learning how to identify Canadian and foreign equipment, vehicles, and aircraft.
SYKES: And you’ll learn how to load, fire, and maintain the guns and grenade launchers that are the deal-clinchers of Canada’s mobile arsenal.
MODULE 4 – Your First Posting
SYKES: When you successfully complete your training at Gagetown, you’ll be assigned to one of Canada’s three historic Armoured regiments: the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians in Edmonton, the Douzième Régiment Blindé du Canada in Valcartier, Quebec; or the Royal Canadian Dragoons, based in Petawawa, Ontario.
KLEIN: As soon as I got into the regiment, I was thrust into the mix and that was the best way to get into it. You’re obviously the new guy. And you know that, but you learn quick, and there’s lots of people there that you make friends with and mentor you all along the way. They’ll show you the ropes.
SYKES: You’ll spend time as a driver, learning your machine inside and out. Then, you move on to a surveillance operator’s course, learning how to deploy your radar and optical surveillance suite. After that, you could move into the gunner’s role, and learn to master the amazing firepower the Armoured corps brings to the battle.
KLEIN: Throughout your military career, you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade and refine your skills – whether it’s as a gunner, a communicator, a vehicle specialist, or even as a reconnaissance team leader.
MODULE 5 – Testimonials
KLEIN: It’s a fast-paced and a hard job. But there’s a lot of respect. And there’s a lot of honour in it. And if you put everything you have into it, you’ll get everything you want out of it.
SYKES: I left when I was 18 from my parents’ house. So that allowed me to be more independent. You just grow up a little bit faster, and take another challenging experience.
KLEIN: Proudest moment on the job would definitely have to have been – the day you come home from Afghanistan. The people smiling and cheering, welcoming you back, there’s nothing like that feeling.
SYKES: The best part is working with a bunch of guys, having a good time, getting the job done. You’re serving your country, which is a good feeling in itself. I love my job, I love what I do – that’s what I’m probably gonna do, maybe for the rest of my life.
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES