LEADING SEAMAN ALEXA LAFRENIERE: I’m Leading Seaman Alexa Lafreniere, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Supply Technician and currently posted at Naval Replenishment Unit Asterix.
MASTER CORPORAL KAREEM ISHMAEL: And I’m Master Corporal Kareem Ishmael, from Châteauguay, Québec, a Supply Technician at Canadian Armed Forces Base Kingston.
NARRATOR: Supply Technicians manage all supplies and services necessary for Canadian Armed Forces operations, be they foreign or domestic. They are responsible for acquiring state-of-the-art equipment, its care, custody, control and delivery anywhere, anytime and in any climate. They issue everything from life-saving personal protection systems to mission-specific kit.
LAFRENIERE: We provide everything from ammunition, to weapons, to clothing, to food, to parts for the helicopters, to parts for ships. We do everything and in-between.
ISHMAEL: We have a huge responsibility to ensure that everything is taken care of according to the rules and regulations. And that the soldiers have what they need when they need it.
LAFRENIERE: In the supply trade, you’re going to come across so many different items and so many different things, that unusual just becomes normal and you learn to roll with it, which makes it really quite exciting as well.
NARRATOR: In this trade, adaptability is invaluable because Supply Techs have to react and provide support to various situations, ranging from small-scale material management to large-scale bulk distribution. They need to be highly organized as well, responsible for maintaining a state of readiness to ensure that the right supplies in the right quantities are ready and delivered to the right location in support of operational needs.
LAFRENIERE: It’s a huge team effort. Not just from the unit, but from the base supply, from maybe the aircraft mechanics. It’s a huge, huge interconnecting web of Supply Techs working together to better provide for the customer.
NARRATOR: Supply Technicians can be deployed anywhere the Canadian Armed Forces operate. They serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force and even Special Operations Forces.
ISHMAEL: It’s really important to understand what the end-user needs, and why they need it. I think you get the best of both worlds: you get to be a soldier, but you also get to work in the office and develop some life skills that will help you later on in life.
LAFRENIERE: The coolest part about my job as a naval Supply Tech in my experience, has been sailing. We did a lot of exercises with foreign nations, specifically the Americans. It took me up and down the Coast. It was really, really fun to see what other nations – how they play.
NARRATOR: Once at sea, Supply Technicians often coordinate efforts to have supplies delivered to the ship at various locations around the world. They may be tasked with secondary responsibilities such as firefighting and casualty clearing, naval boarding party or ship’s diving team.
ISHMAEL: The entire job, I think is very cool. You get to train, you get to work out, you get to stay physically fit, you get to try out new things that the average office worker wouldn’t even get to try. Next week we’re going on the rappel tower. You get to deploy, you get to see the world and meet interesting people; practise your craft all over the planet.
NARRATOR: Once you’ve completed your training, you’re ready for your first posting, which could be to any Canadian Armed Forces base, wing, ship or operational unit across the country.
LAFRENIERE: I started in Shearwater in the clothing stores and I started learning clothing store functions. However, at the same time, you’re going to be given a package to learn some on-the-job training: computer functions, warehousing work, clothing stores if you’re not posted there. And then from there, if you were lucky like me, I actually got posted to a ship, the HMCS Athabaskan, and I did shipboard work, which is a completely other kettle-of-fish altogether. It’s really fun, you get to know everybody in your unit because you’re the stores person. They’re going to come to you with a request for something. So it’s really great to get to know other people and even get to know other trades and see what dynamic they’re into. And it gives you an understanding as to why it is that you need to provide these items for them.
NARRATOR: One of the more unique roles of this trade is to become a parachute rigger. Supply Techs provide the Canadian Armed Forces with parachute packing and maintenance services including the major repair of parachutes.
NARRATOR: Supply Technicians manage large warehouses and inventories using proven supply chain management and best business practices. They receive advanced logistics training, including the leading SAP inventory management system.
They may have the opportunity to receive Hazmat qualification. If assigned to an army unit, they will train as soldiers, and operate specialized rough terrain and communication equipment in addition to carrying out their regular duties.
They may also have the opportunity to further develop their administrative abilities by attending courses in contract management, budgeting and internal audit procedures.
How far you take your career is ultimately up to you.
ISHMAEL: You’re put into leadership positions very early. And they’re always trying to develop your leadership potential. You’re always being coached by your supervisor. When I was a Corporal, I was being coached, and now that I’m a Master Corporal, I’m coaching my subordinates and I’m being coached by my superiors as well.
LAFRENIERE: If you’re highly organized, you like to work with your hands, you enjoy interacting with other people and working with other people, Supply is definitely the trade for you.
ISHMAEL: I think most of the guys on the pointy end do appreciate what we do and how we do it, and the effort we put into making sure that they get the items they need.
LAFRENIERE: I’m looking forward to see where my trade goes. It’s a very large trade, there’s a lot of dynamics. I’d like to definitely get a couple of deployments under my belt and see the different aspects of Supply overseas and what that entails. The sky’s the limit in this trade and I’m looking forward to testing that limit.