MASTER CORPORAL REESE PATON: I’m Master Corporal Reese Paton from London, Ontario. I’m a Traffic Technician posted at 450 Squadron at CFB Petawawa.
Traffic Technicians play a key support role in the Canadian Armed Forces, organizing the transport of materiel, equipment and personnel around the world using every mode of transport.
PATON: Let’s say you have a parcel you want to deliver. So what you do is you’ll write up all the paperwork – what’s inside, where it needs to go – then you’ll present it to us. That’s when the Traff Techs step in. The Traff Techs are going to do up the waybills, they’re going to do all the customs paperwork, the dangerous goods paperwork, they’re going to make sure it goes to where it needs to be – either by road, or by air, sea, or by train.
These technicians help to move everyone and everything – be it helicopters, vehicles, ammunition, humanitarian relief supplies, or people. They are responsible for the safe processing of dangerous commodities and handle all customs documentation and liaison.
PATON: There’s a lot of office work and there’s a lot of physical work involved. When you’re in the office, you’re doing the paperwork, you’re making sure everything’s legal, there’s customs, dangerous goods. When you start working with your hands, that’s when you’re loading stuff on an aircraft palette, loading stuff on the back of a truck, loading stuff on the back of a train.
Traffic Technicians work across Canada and internationally to coordinate the movement of materials and people back and forth. That could mean shipping a Leopard tank by rail, packing weapons on a helicopter, or sending troops by air to their destination.
They operate military vehicles and specialized loading equipment. They often travel to exotic locations around the world in support of military operations, and are typically among the first ones on the ground to set up a military operation with supplies and equipment.
PATON: At 450 Squadron, I’m employed as a loadmaster. My job is to deal with passengers, to deal with internal cargo, to deal with paperwork, customs – also responsible for checking slung loads. Slung loads is what we use underneath the aircraft, so if we lift up a C-can, or we lift up a big artillery gun.
Traffic Techs carefully plan and coordinate each mission to ensure the Canadian Armed Forces can operate anywhere in the world.
PATON: The best part of the job – we get to do stuff that civilians normally don’t get to do. For example, for me, being a Chinook loadmaster, doing door gunnery, being able to shoot a weapon from a moving aircraft, probably the best part of my job.
The other part of the job I love is being able to travel the world, see interesting people, interesting cultures, and all being paid by the Queen.
On completion of their training, Traffic Technicians are posted to an operational unit to directly support the Royal Canadian Navy, the army or the Royal Canadian Air Force. As they gain experience, Traffic Techs can pursue advanced training in dangerous cargo handling, helicopter operations, tactical airlift support, as well as ship loading and stowage among other specialized skills.
Traffic Techs are also employed as loadmasters on military transport aircraft. This specialty qualification enables Traffic Techs to fly as aircrew on aircraft like the CC-177 Globemaster and the CH-147F Chinook helicopter.
PATON: Being a Traff Tech, you need to be knowledgeable, and you need to be able to work on your feet. You also need to be able to adapt and overcome certain scenarios that pop up that’ll change everything.
PATON: If I were to tell you why you should become a Traff Tech: 1- you get to travel the world. 2- you get to travel the world with unique and fun friends. Third: you get to travel on the back of military aircraft, you get to do deployments here and there, you get tours here and there. I have tons and tons of stories with day-to-day events and with being on deployments that I get to carry and pass on to my grandchildren. And at the end of the day, we get to be a part of history, not necessarily just at home, but abroad.