BOMBARDIER JEREMY FIRMIN: I’m Bombardier Jeremy Firmin from Toronto, Ontario. And I’m an Artillery Soldier with the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Shilo, Manitoba.
BOMBARDIER SHARDAE JOHNSON: And I’m Bombardier Shardae Johnson from Vernon, British Collumbia. I’m an Artillery Soldier from the 1st Regiment of Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, posted in Shilo, Manitoba.
JOHNSON: In the Canadian Army, the big guns are the responsibility of small teams of tightly focused, expertly trained men and women. With our long-range howitzers like the M-Triple-Seven, we can engage the enemy up to 40 kilometres away.
FIRMIN: For the minute you roll into a position, it’s go-go-go. You’re out the back of that truck and bringing that gun into action immediately. Everybody has their job, everybody knows exactly what they want to do. The infantry and the armoured definitely lead the way but the artillery is there pounding enemy well in advance of their position to ensure that they can safely travel through to the objective.
FIRMIN: Modern gunnery is high-intensity and very high-tech– we’re talking satellite guidance and more firepower and battlefield enablers than almost any another combat arm in the battlespace.
JOHNSON: We can strike the enemy long before he can get close enough to threaten our troops – using unmanned aircraft and various visual and sound-ranging sensors that can pinpoint his guns even when they’re still beyond the horizon.
FIRMIN: Gunners do a wide variety of things, whether it be working as a forward observer, calling in fire for the guns, being the man on the end of the gun there, pulling the lanyard, making sure that round goes downrange, prepping that ammo, or working in the target acquisition side of things - sound-ranging, mortar detection, as well as UAV flight paths and things of that nature.
JOHNSON: You’re never doing the same thing, you know, and you’re always doing a different job or in a different position, or driving a new vehicle, or working on a different gun. There’s so many paths you can take in the artillery. And you never stop learning, ever.
FIRMIN: As part of the Combat Arms team, Artillery Soldiers serve Canada in the Regular Force, and in 19 Reserve Units across the country.
JOHNSON: Serving Canada as an Artillery Soldier is a great career choice for anyone who wants to be a part of the action.
JOHNSON: Obviously, firing the gun is a blast, getting to pull that lanyard and feel that Howitzer underneath you. Feel the concussion, getting to see the rounds land – everything kinda comes together and it’s a pretty cool job.
MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job
FIRMIN: The best part about being a gunner has gotta be the experiences and the sights that you see. It’s not everybody who gets to go out and have all this fun out here in the field or go on various different deployments available all over the world, as well as working closely with all the other trades.
JOHNSON: Honestly, my best experience in the Army so far has been my deployment to Afghanistan. Your existence in the military is to train for war, you know, that’s our job. And when you finally get to put everything into play and all your training comes into play, there’s no better feeling than being over there, with everybody that you’ve worked so hard with. You’re finally put into a situation where you really have to shine.
FIRMIN: There’s not one of us that would ever give up the opportunity to reload and fire a big triple-7 or an LG-1, that’s for sure.
MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training
FIRMIN: Becoming an Artillery Soldier requires weeks of specialized training in everything from operating radios to driving wheeled and tracked vehicles to handling high explosives. The Forces will give you the knowledge you need.
JOHNSON: After your Basic Military Training, you’ll come to the Royal Canadian Artillery School in Gagetown, New Brunswick, one of the best of its kind in the world.
JOHNSON: You’ll spend about eight weeks learning your howitzer from the inside out, plus the communications, maintenance and camouflage aspects of your trade.
JOHNSON: And you’ll train intensively in the most important skill of all: how to work together when there are lives on the line. Because no matter what weapon you fire and what you’re aiming at, being an Artillery Soldier is definitely a team enterprise.
MODULE 4 – Your First Posting
FIRMIN: Your first posting as a gunner will be with one of the Artillery Regiments that are stationed across Canada. You could be firing howitzers, serving as a radio operator in a Forward Operating party with the infantry that is calling in jet-fighter and helicopter support, or controlling fire in the forward battlespace as a Command Post communicator.
FIRMIN: As you gain experience, you’ll have the chance to upgrade your skills with specialized training in sound-ranging and radar operations.
JOHNSON: Like other members of the Combat Arms team, gunners can be deployed anywhere in the world that the Forces need us.
JOHNSON: You get opportunities to go to so many places. You never stop learning. Just when you think you’ve finished learning one thing, you know, you’re off doing something else, learning a whole new job. And to me, there’s nothing better than constantly changing things up and moving on with my career.
MODULE 5 – Testimonials
FIRMIN: I can remember numerous stories when we’d first kicked up in Afghanistan about : “We couldn’t have done it without you” and the expression comes back: “Thank God for the guns”.
JOHNSON: We had many times where we had guys coming in from patrols, you know, and they would come over and personally shake our hands and thank us for getting them out of sticky situations. There’s no better feeling than knowing that you saved your buddies’ lives. And they couldn’t have done their jobs without us.
FIRMIN: It’s unlike any other experience you’ll ever have, to be there boots on the ground and making a difference. It’s far exceeded anything I could have possibly anticipated for it.
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES