MODULE 1 – Overview of the trade
CAPTAIN KURT GRIMSRUD: I’m Captain Kurt Grimsrud from Regina, Saskatchewan. I’m an Engineer Officer serving at 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in Edmonton, Alberta.
LIEUTENANT SEAN DAVIES: And I’m Lieutenant Sean Davies from Oromocto, New Brunswick, an Engineer Officer serving at 2 Combat Engineer Regiment in CFB Petawawa.
DAVIES: Wherever and whenever the Canadian Army is needed, there’s not a task my engineers can’t tackle. I’m the one in charge to make sure that the job gets done right, whether it’s building a bridge… or blowing one up.
GRIMSRUD: The role of the Engineers in the Army is to help the other combat arms live, move and fight while denying the same to the enemy. And our secondary duty is to fight as infantry when called upon. At the troop level, a combat engineer troop will be integrated with usually an infantry section and they’ll be providing close support engineering. The troop commander is generally an adviser to the infantry company commander and what he provides is information on the roads, mobility, how we can move around, how the engineers can best support the battle.
DAVIES: Examples of this could be : we come across a minefield and an anti-tank ditch. Well, how do we get through those? It takes engineers to breach those obstacles and I’m there to provide advice and also provide troops on the ground so that they can move towards their objective.
GRIMSRUD: Engineering is a core component of every military mission. When a flood threatens Canada’s homes, towns and farms, my troops are out there filling sandbags and shoring up the dykes. After a tragedy overseas, you’ll find us helping to rebuild shattered communities. And we’re always ready to fulfill our primary and historic role on the battlefield.
GRIMSRUD: The role of the officer within the Combat Engineers – obviously we aren’t driving the equipment and doing all the hands-on work. We coordinate to make sure that what is happening with the troops and what is happening with the resources under our command is meeting the commander’s intent.
DAVIES: Whether you choose the Regular Force or a part-time role as a member of the Reserve, serving Canada as an Engineer Officer will teach you skills and take you places you may never have thought you’d reach.
MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job
DAVIES: At a civilian engineering firm, you’re going to come out of university and be the new guy at the bottom. But in the Forces, you’re commanding thirty or forty people right from your first posting.
GRIMSRUD: As an Engineer Officer, you build up a resume of skills and experiences that you just wouldn’t get anywhere else. At a very young age, we get a lot more responsibility than you’d get on the civilian side and a lot of experience in project management with a lot of various different types of projects, which make you very employable when you’re done your service with the Canadian Forces.
DAVIES: You show up to a job site and there’s nothing there. And then, you’re like “Okay, I’m gonna build a bridge here” and you do your engineer calculations and design where this bridge is gonna go, and exactly what needs to be there for the bridge. And then 6 hours later, you have a bridge there. It’s something that is pretty unbelievable. It’s challenging but the hard work pays off and the rewarding feeling you get at the end of the day is well worth it.
MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training
GRIMSRUD: Here’s what to expect if you decide to enroll as an Engineer Officer. After your Basic Officer Training, you’ll report to the Combat Training Centre at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.
DAVIES: Your training at Gagetown will be divided into three phases. You’ll start at the Infantry School with a phase that all new Army officers go through. Then it’s on to the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering for two additional phases of training.
GRIMSRUD: First comes about two and a half months of basic battlefield engineering, focusing on defensive fortification – skills you’ll need to be ready to use, whatever the next mission brings.
DAVIES: Then comes the really intensive part: nine months of troop leadership training in all the tasks that an engineer troop can be called upon to perform, under hostile fire, in every imaginable topographical or climatic condition from mountain passes to desert wastelands to city streets.
GRIMSRUD: You’ll learn all about obstacle clearance, demolitions, bridge construction, minefield breaching and much more. The course includes a really demanding four-week field exercise, where your ability to size up a situation and mold a cohesive, focused unit of Combat Engineers really gets put to the test.
MODULE 4 – Your First Posting
DAVIES: When your training is complete, you’ll join one of the four Combat Engineer or Engineer Support Regiments across Canada.
GRIMSRUD: You’ll begin as a Troop Commander, leading about forty combat engineers, known as sappers, equipped with several armoured vehicles.
GRIMSRUD: Depending on the mission, your troop may be composed of soldiers trained as field engineers, armoured engineers or heavy equipment operators, able and ready to fulfill numerous military tasks.
DAVIES: You’ll be the principal planner and supervisor for all tasks assigned to you by your Squadron Commander. With a focus on combat readiness, you’ll have your team prepared for whatever the next mission may bring – anywhere in the world you need to go.
GRIMSRUD: Personally, I try to lead by example. I like to be involved with the troops. I like to be out doing the same things that they are and be involved in their day-to-day activities as much as I can, so that I understand their capabilities and can properly employ them.
DAVIES: You have to be able to have the technical knowledge, but you also have to be a people-person as well. If you have one without the other, you’re not gonna be able to lead your troops in the field, whether it’s on operation or just on a training exercise.
MODULE 5 – Testimonials
DAVIES: The goals that I set out when I first joined the military was to come to 2 CER and to be a field troop commander. So far, I’ve lucked in, and I’ve met both those objectives. I don’t know where my career is heading next, but I hope that I experience the same challenges and rewards that I’ve had thus far.
GRIMSRUD: Everybody joins the Army and trains hard so that they can get on deployments. So going to Afghanistan was definitely an exciting time. A lot of what we did was responding to IED, either incidents that had happened or finds of explosive devices in the roads. And at the end of that tour, we had done an enormous amount of work and had taken care of and protected a lot of people by getting those bombs out of the roads and making the country a little bit safer for everybody that’s there.