ELECTRONIC-OPTRONIC TECHNICIAN - LAND
CORPORAL EDGAR SYLVESTRE: I’m Corporal Edgar Sylvestre from Pembroke, Ontario, an Electronics-Optronics Technician posted to 2 Service Battalion in Petawawa.
MASTER CORPORAL CHRISTOPHER STEWARD: And I’m Master Corporal Christopher Steward from London, Ontario. I’m an Electronic-Optronic Technician with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, at Garrison Petawawa.
NARRATOR: Electronic-Optronic Technicians, or EO Techs, provide essential support in today’s high-tech Army environment. They play a critical role in artillery, armoured, and infantry operations. It starts with fire control – making sure that ammunition gets to its intended target. It’s complex, detailed, high-precision work – repairing and aligning laser gun sights, maintaining fibre-optic cables, and keeping lenses and sensors clean, down to the microscopic level. A minor calibration error in an electronically controlled weapon system can be the difference between hitting the target and missing.
SYLVESTRE: Any weapon that uses an optical sight to get the rounds on target is within our responsibility.
STEWARD: The M777 Howitzer is an aggressively long-range piece of artillery. It can sling rounds out to in excess of 35 kilometres.
SYLVESTRE: If you don’t have a piece of equipment working properly, whatever that weapon is dispensing will not land exactly where the operator wants it to be and that could put people’s lives in danger.
NARRATOR: Even the most highly sophisticated equipment can break down, but EO Techs are there to keep things running – thermal imaging systems, night-vision scopes and goggles, control systems for missiles, chemical and nuclear weapons detection, satellite navigation for our vehicles in the field. They also work on generators and electrical power generation.
SYLVESTRE: It’s a lot of fun, for me at least, to learn more about electronics. I like troubleshooting generators in particular because of the way that our power distribution system works. It’s very difficult to find exactly what the cause of the problem is, so you end up doing a lot of detective work.
NARRATOR: Whatever the mission, EO Techs have a great impact. It can be very rewarding to fix something crucial to an operation, and to be able to do it anywhere it breaks down. There’s always new equipment that needs to be looked after. EO Techs are now maintaining the latest remote weapon systems and remotely piloted aircraft.
STEWARD: The most attractive part of this job is you get to work with the latest and greatest in technology that comes to the CF. What you’re looking at here is the new TAP-V, the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle. An EO Tech’s responsibility is primarily with the motors – to make sure that it spins in all directions, thermographics, the laser range finder, the day camera, to ensure that it all works in harmony.
SYLVESTRE: When I was in the Infantry, I didn't really know exactly what EO Techs did, but I did know that I could bring them something broken and get it back fixed. So, as an EO Tech now, it really does change my perspective in the sense that I know that these guys respect and are happy about the work that we do.
NARRATOR: Once they complete their training, EO Techs are posted to one of the many Canadian Armed Forces bases across the country. They are a critical part of the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and they work closely with Weapons Technicians, Vehicle Technicians and Materials Technicians to keep the Army’s equipment in top shape.
SYLVESTRE: One day we can be doing power distribution for a large exercise, and the next we can be bore sighting a large weapon on an armoured vehicle.
NARRATOR: This is a job that requires laboratory precision, in sometimes less than laboratory conditions.
SYLVESTRE: In the field your actual work will change quite drastically – from repairing things where you have a clean room and a lot of tools at your disposal, and a lot of space at your disposal, to working in confined areas and often trying to just find something that will work to complete the task at the moment.
NARRATOR: Arte et Marte – “By Skill and by Fighting” – is the motto of the RCEME Corps. Electronic-Optronic Technicians are soldiers first and foremost, and they receive the same basic combat training as all other Army soldiers. They also have the opportunity to pursue further combat training such as parachuting, combat first aid, winter warfare, and driving armoured vehicles.
SYLVESTRE: There’s a lot of opportunity in the Canadian Armed Forces for travelling on different types of taskings and also on operations, where you may go overseas.
STEWARD: They’re always asking for people to go places. I’ve deployed to Kandahar twice, Poland once, and Kandahar has to have been the greatest adventure. It’s given me a brand new lease on life.
SYLVESTRE: With my deployment to Afghanistan I really had an opportunity to change lives in a region that was in crisis, firsthand, and that’s probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve been able to experience as a Canadian Armed Forces member. I’m sure there’s going to be other opportunities for that in the future and that’s one of the driving forces that keeps me in the Forces.