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Army

Combat Engineer

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

Combat Engineers ensure that troops can live, move and fight on the battlefield. They also perform construction and maintenance tasks, operate vehicles and equipment in support of engineer operations, and maintain field installations and facilities.

Combat Engineers have the following responsibilities:

  • Construct and maintain roads, airfields, heliports, bridges, causeways, rafts, permanent and temporary buildings
  • Construct field defences and obstacles
  • Provide drinking water by testing, purifying and filtering local supplies and by constructing local distribution systems
  • Detect and dispose of mines and bulk explosives
  • Demolish roads and bridges, and lay minefields to prevent enemy movement
  • Maintain and operate engineering equipment, including weapons, vehicles, heavy equipment and supplies
  • Provide engineer communications on the battlefield

Work environment

Combat Engineers experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with work in the field. Qualified Combat Engineers may apply to Combat Diver Training.

Career Overview

Transcript

CORPORAL MUHAMMAD ANWAR:

I’m Corporal Muhammad Anwar from Mississauga, Ontario. I’m a Combat Engineer with 4 Engineer Support Regiment at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.

Combat engineers work closely with the Infantry and Armoured Corps in deployed operations. Engineers are the first on the ground to set up forward operating bases, where military members live and work to complete the mission at hand. When it’s time to move, combat engineers clear the road of improvised explosive devices and mines to make travel safer.

CORPORAL MUHAMMAD ANWAR: You definitely need a tough skin and you need a strong back. It’s very physically demanding and mentally draining but the rewards are definitely worth it. Combat Engineers are masters at problem-solving in both technical tasks and military tactics. When friendly troops are fighting in urban centres, combat engineers are often called upon to execute Tactical Explosive Breaching tasks. Using precise amounts of explosives, well-planned tactics and procedures, combat engineers knock down doors to allow the surprise entry of friendly forces. Combat
Engineers can also be called upon to build combat bridges that allow fighting forces to cross gaps, rivers and streams.
When disaster strikes, here at home or overseas, combat engineers are the first out the door. They build roads and airfields and create safe drinking water where it’s needed most.

CORPORAL MUHAMMAD ANWAR: My job in particular is I’m on disaster relief — on call in case anything happens around the world and the government decides to send our troops there, and also for anything that happens domestically, for example the floods, like in the spring down in Saint John, and around New Brunswick. We were there helping out.
When it comes to combat missions, combat engineers operate heavy equipment, weapons and vehicles. Explosive ordnance disposal and bomb disposal are also part of the job for combat engineers.

CORPORAL MUHAMMAD ANWAR: Combat engineers are jacks-of-all-trades. We do a little bit of everything and we do it really well.

CORPORAL MUHAMMAD ANWAR: The coolest part has to be… It has to be blowing things up. We get to take an object, be it a bridge, a door, a wall — and blow it up. Pretty cool once you get used to it, and you see the mechanics behind it — and movies don’t do it justice. It’s a lot cooler in person.

After trade training is completed, combat engineers are posted to one of several Combat Engineer or Engineer Support regiments stationed across Canada. They are assigned to a troop where they continue developing their skillset, and learn how to drive various engineer vehicles.

CORPORAL MUHAMMAD ANWAR: You’re not thrown into the mix and just told to use what you learn. You’re mentored, and it carries through throughout your career. As you progress into senior leadership, then somebody who’s even more senior than you is teaching you, takes you under their wing and teaches you the ways.
Combat engineers are fit, self-motivated problem solvers that are confident in handling explosives and dangerous equipment or tools. The job offers many opportunities to specialize in different areas, such as combat diving and heavy equipment operations.

CORPORAL MUHAMMAD ANWAR: Joining the military, in general, it was the best decision I ever made because it helped me not only progress my skillset but also, me as a person, it helped give me discipline, it helped give me focus in my life. It really opened my eyes to a broader world. Best job I ever had!

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Highway Construction Foreman
  • Heavy Equipment Operator
  • Rough Carpenter
  • Construction Engineering Technician
  • Civil Engineering Technician

Training

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

After Basic Training, Army recruits go to a Military Training centre for the Basic Military Qualification – Land Course for approximately one month, which covers the following topics:

  • Army physical fitness
  • Dismounted offensive and defensive operations
  • Reconnaissance patrolling
  • Individual field craft

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Combat Engineers attend the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics in Borden, Ontario, for two weeks of driver training. They are then required to attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering at Gagetown, New Brunswick for 20 weeks of training in the following subjects:

  • Construction of field defences and obstacles
  • Construction of roads, airfields and helicopter landing sites
  • Construction of rafts and bridges
  • Radio communications for combat arms operations
  • Mathematics, military writing, basic military organization, and military history
  • Personal camouflage and camouflage of section positions
  • Operation of troop weapons and section defensive tasks and procedures
  • Basic procedures of rigging and firing of explosive charges, mine laying and booby-trapping
  • Use and care of section tools and safety equipment

Combat Engineers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Combat diver
  • Soils analyst
  • Explosive ordnance disposal
  • Instructional techniques

As they progress in their career, Combat Engineers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Radio communications — field operations
  • Water supply — advanced
  • Power boat operator
  • Heavy equipment operator

Entry plans

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

Part time options

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Army Base or armoury in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Combat Engineers serve with the Canadian Army. They perform construction and maintenance tasks, operate vehicles and equipment in support of engineer operations, and maintain field installations and facilities. When they are employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis, they usually serve at a CAF unit located within Canada.

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, Canadian Army recruits train for the Soldier qualification for approximately one month. Combat Engineers then attend the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics in Borden, Ontario, for two weeks of driver training and the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering at Gagetown, New Brunswick for 20 weeks, to achieve their qualification.

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.