IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
I’m Captain Alfa Diakite originally from Montreal, Quebec. I’m a Signals Officer working at 5 Headquarters and Signals Squadron in Valcartier, Quebec.
And I’m Captain Reuben Yadav from Mississauga, Ontario, Signals Officer with 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group here at CFB Petawawa.
YADAV: To a modern fighting force, information is as essential as ammunition. That’s why we fill one of the most important roles of all. Signals Officers are leaders in the four Cs that the military relies on: command, control, computers and communication.
Command and control is what wins the battle. Without that command and control, the soldiers will not have the information they need to do their job effectively.
DIAKITE: And that encompasses a variety of technologies from radio to satellite communications and providing the information systems required for a commander to be able to command and control his troops.
Signals Officers develop, plan and manage all of these high tech systems.
So we need to have an understanding of the tools that are available and it’s up to us to find a way to best support Operations.
YADAV: As an operations officer right now, my influence goes across the entire squadron. I’m responsible for their training, I’m responsible for getting the assets that they need to exercise properly, to train properly and I’m also responsible for ensuring that they’re ready to deploy on a moment’s notice to anywhere the government calls us to go.
DIAKITE: Our mission is to lead teams of Communication and Information Systems Specialists and other skilled personnel at headquarters, at command centres in Canada and overseas and at remote bases in the field.
Battle orders, surveillance and reconnaissance, target acquisition for our artillery and Air Force – all of them depend on a secure, fail-safe network delivering real-time data, day or night.
We’re typically the first people on the ground. When we arrive, often there’s nothing more than grass and crickets and by the time we finished our setup, we have a fully functioning command post that’s connected to national computer networks and projecting communications to all the elements within the deployed environment. And then once the job is done, we’re the last guys to leave, so even though our jobs is more of a support function, we all have that satisfaction that if we weren’t there, things wouldn’t be running as efficiently as they do.
DIAKITE: I would say the challenge, it’s a job that constantly requires you to push the limits and you’re constantly discovering what you can do. You’re surrounded by individuals who are dedicated and committed to their jobs, so there’s a spirit of camaraderie that comes with that and you get to do things that you wouldn’t normally do in a setting outside of the military environment.
YADAV: I worked in the civilian world prior to joining the military. The mendacity of it was not to my liking. I wanted to be outdoors, I wanted to see the world, I wanted to have a different job on a regular basis and yet maintain a decent career.
DIAKITE: The first big adventure was a deployment to Afghanistan. I spent 9 months in Kandahar. Following that, I deployed to the Arctic for 3 months and following that, I was deployed to Port-au-Prince in Haiti, so those were the most memorable adventures I’ve had as a member of the Canadian Forces.
DIAKITE: A career as a Signals Officer starts with Basic Officer Training and then it’s off to the Basic Signals Officer Course at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario. That’s where you’ll apply your classroom knowledge of computing and communications to the administration and leadership of a section of technicians in the field.
From Kingston, you’ll move to a Signal Troop or Platoon for the next stage of instruction in operational communications and command support.
YADAV: Most Signals Officers are assigned to an operational Army unit in Canada for their first 4-year posting.
Well, coming out of the school environment where you learn your trade, you’re given guidelines on how to lead your soldiers.
DIAKITE: You need to be somebody who leads by example and if you’re a person that is able to convey that consistently, then your troops will have full confidence within your abilities and will be willing to follow your leadership.
As you gain experience, you can expect to be deployed overseas in a leadership role and you’ll be eligible for subsidized post-graduate education and professional development within the Forces.
YADAV: My time in Afghanistan with the Operational Mentor Liaison Team was rewarding in the sense that all your training and everything that you’ve learned to date in your career has come to a culmination point and you get to exercise that, see how the big picture works for the military in general and have that feeling when you come home of national pride. It’s truly a great feeling when you come home and you meet strangers in the Tim Horton’s and they shake your hand or they buy you a coffee and thank you for a job well done.
DIAKITE: The scope of the destruction that we saw in Haiti was something that none of us had ever seen before. When we were in Canada and we were seeing this on television, it was a little bit frustrating to see the need and not be able to do anything, but once we were on the ground, we were able to help these guys out, so that was extremely rewarding and being a member of the Forces enables us to do this in a very real and tangible way.
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES