ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERING OFFICER
CAPTAIN MALLORY LITJENS: I’m Captain Mallory Litjens, from Ottawa, Ontario, a RCEME Officer posted with the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Petawawa.
CAPTAIN NICK GOULET: And I’m Captain Nick Goulet, from Ottawa, Ontario, a Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Officer, posted to CFB Borden.
NARRATOR: Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Officers, or RCEME Officers, are leaders in the field, commanding groups of vehicle, weapons, electronic-optronic and materials technicians who are responsible for maintaining military equipment.
LITJENS: The Regiment needs its equipment to be maintained, and that equipment has four different types of technicians who are working to solve that problem, to make sure that the Regiment has what it needs to deploy and be operational. I’m that piece that links all those technician trades together.
GOULET: There’s kind of two aspects to the job: one job is the management and the leadership of a group of extremely smart, innovative technicians who love problem-solving. The second part, there’s elements of the job where you’ll help with the procurement, the design and the management of the lifecycle of a vehicle or of any piece of equipment. For RCEME Officers it’s very important to be a solid, concrete leader, who has the ability to take a problem and find a good way of resolving that problem and then communicating that to your technicians.
LITJENS: I cannot repair an M777. I don’t know how to do that. I can’t go fix a transmission on an HLVW, that’s not something I’ve ever learned. So, I rely heavily on the techs to do that job for me.
GOULET: Our technicians are very smart, they’re innovative, they’re problem solvers, they want to solve that problem and working with them every day is a… it’s a blessing.
GOULET: The coolest part of the job for me so far has been deploying in operations in Afghanistan where I got to support, you know, equipment doing an actual overseas operation. And also, I got to go to various exercises in Germany, Venezuela, Australia, some other countries. Got a lot of travel, going to different bases across Canada and across the world, helping to support those equipment fleets and working in conjunction with other militaries.
LITJENS: I was fortunate to deploy as a Lieutenant as the Logistics DART Platoon Commander. I deployed to Nepal after the earthquakes. It was very intimidating going over to a country not only that just suffered a disaster, but having to go there to help them as well as try to manage a job that I was very new to. However, this deployment was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
NARRATOR: Once they’ve completed their training, RCEME Officers are posted to one of the many Canadian Armed Forces bases across the country – generally to a large workshop, where they will lead a group of up to 40 technicians who maintain a wide range of equipment. They act as technical advisors to their commanders. They may even have the opportunity to work with Canadian Special Operations Forces.
LITJENS: When you first get posted, you are automatically involved with troops, you’re in charge of people who have significantly more experience than you in the army. You have Sergeants, you have Warrants, who you are now, all of a sudden, responsible for and it is very intimidating.
GOULET: And some of those people will be as old as your parents. But once you realize that everyone’s on your side and everyone wants to solve those problems, that fear factor goes away.
LITJENS: You learn how to use your Senior NCOs’ experience, you learn how to use your Corporals’ knowledge and you end up finding a balance of how that makes you a better officer. You learn how to incorporate their skills and use them to help you do your job.
NARRATOR: RCEME Officers can also be employed in other technical or logistical staff officer roles and at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, where they can expect to work on procurements or engineering projects at the strategic level, influencing and making decisions on the equipment that the Canadian Armed Forces will use for years to come.
LITJENS: It’s not every day that you get to be shipped off to a different country and you get to interact and learn what this population needs, what they have suffered, how you can help them. And being able to actually say you went over somewhere and helped other people, to me that’s amazing.
GOULET: When you go on operations, now instead of supporting training, you’re supporting soldiers that are going out and putting their lives on the line for Canada and for our national interest. Working in operations was an excellent opportunity, an excellent learning opportunity, an excellent chance to work closely, day in, day out, with a bunch of motivated individuals, solving problems that actually mattered.
LITJENS: At the age of 21, I was in charge of 45 people. You’re going to tell me that in a civilian role, you can have that equivalence? I don't think so. The relationships that you build in the military versus civilian world, you count on people; you rely on these people to do a good job.
GOULET: The most rewarding part to me is seeing those young technically proficient technicians and soldiers, seeing that they have a great idea and supporting them in the implementation of that idea.
LITJENS: I pinch myself every day. It’s not every day that you can sincerely say that you love the job you’re doing, and I love the job I’m doing. I love the lifestyle I’m leading and it’s all because I joined the military and because I’m a RCEME Officer, and – I can’t imagine doing anything else.