Armour Officer

Job description

Armour Officers provide reconnaissance and direct-fire support in battle from armoured fighting vehicles such as the Leopard main battle tank, the Coyote surveillance vehicle, and a variant of the wheeled Light Utility Vehicle. Along with members of the Artillery, Infantry and Combat Engineering regiments, they are members of the Combat Arms. 

An Armour Officer is the leader of armoured vehicles in a Reconnaissance Squadron, a Tank Troup or Direct-Fire Support Troop. They are responsible for soldiers’ training, morale, discipline and combat efficiency, and for the operational readiness of their equipment. 

As a Reconnaissance Troop Leader, they employ stealth, flexibility and innovation on the battlefield, using advanced sensors and equipment, to locate the enemy and identify high-value targets for the commander. 

As a Tank Troop Leader or Direct-Fire Support Troop Leader, they employ mobility, flexibility and shock action on the battlefield to use armoured direct-fire systems to destroy enemy targets.

Transcript

ARMOUR OFFICER

MODULE 1 – Overview of the trade

TITLE:

ARMOUR OFFICER

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

CAPTAIN ANDREW McCUISH:  I’m Captain Andrew McCuish from Port Morien, Nova Scotia. I’m an Armour Officer serving with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, currently posted at CFB Gagetown.

CAPTAIN VARUN VAHAL: And I’m Captain Varun Vahal from Toronto, Ontario, and I’m an Armour Officer and tank troop leader with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians, in Edmonton, Alberta.

VAHAL: In Canada’s Armoured regiments, our highly motivated teams of soldiers and fleets of high-tech, battle-tested vehicles are ready to take on any mission, anywhere, any time.

VAHAL: Whether it’s reconnaissance in hostile territory, or direct engagement with the enemy in a Leopard II tank, our core values are – and always will be – Mobility, Firepower, and Protection.

VAHAL: Armour is aggressive, it’s, from an officer’s perspective, it’s all about command and control – moving the pieces on the ground and defeating the enemy.  The Armoured corps is at the tip of any attack.

McCUISH: In reconnaissance, you can possibly identify the enemy.  You start to paint the picture, identify what enemy is in that location.  It’s kind of sneak and peek, you’re really trying to use the ground to the best of your abilities so the enemy can’t see you.

VAHAL: Once that information comes down the pipeline, that’s when the tanks roll.  And they use that information to close with and destroy the enemy.  And we do that in a combined arms way, so we’ll have infantry and engineers with us, as well as artillery and the Air Force supporting us with their assets.  Once you have all that, rolling across country in a beast like that, it’s awesome.

McCUISH: Right from the start of your career as an Armour Officer, you command as many as eight vehicles – and more than twenty troops – not from a desk, not from a laptop, but inside the belly of some of the world’s most sophisticated and agile fighting machines, like this Coyote armoured reconnaissance vehicle. We’re talking up to a hundred kilometres an hour, a 25mm cannon, machine guns and grenade launchers up top, and eight-wheel drive comes standard!

VAHAL: Whether you join the Regular Force or the Reserves, serving Canada as an Armour Officer is a unique opportunity to push yourself to the limit, in some of the coolest rides on any road.

VAHAL: Being on the attack is always the best thing. Coming over that crest line with all your tanks lying abreast, and as soon as you come over the crest line, you see the enemy position and the guns start firing.  It’s very exciting.  So it’s very fast-paced.  No video game in the world can compare to it.

MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job

McCUISH:  Coolest part of the job for me is working in that team environment.  Every day, even out here training, something new happens every day.  There’s lots of laughs.  Since I’ve joined the Army, I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in my life.  It is hard work, it is rewarding, but as well, we do have quite a bit of fun with it too, which makes it worthwhile.

VAHAL: From an officer’s perspective, I can say it’s having the privilege of leading men.  There’s no better responsibility than that.  And of course, the camaraderie that comes with that.  The relationship you build with your men and your peers, your fellow officers, that kind of friendship, you can’t replace with anything.

MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training

VAHAL: Here’s what to expect if you decide to enroll as an Armour Officer.  After your Basic Officer Training, you’ll report to the Combat Training Centre at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.

McCUISH:  Your training at Gagetown will be divided into three phases.  You’ll start at the Infantry School with a course that all new land officers go through.  Then it’s on to the Armour School for two additional phases of training.

McCUISH: You’ll start off learning about our armoured fighting vehicles, operate its communications equipment, fire its weapons, deploy it in battle and direct its crew.

McCUISH: In the final phase of your training at Gagetown, you will lead a reconnaissance or tank troop, learning and developing the skills required to properly plan and control the manoeuvre of up to eight combat vehicles in operations.

MODULE 4 – Your First Posting

VAHAL: When you leave Gagetown, you’ll be assigned to one of Canada’s three historic Armoured regiments: the Royal Canadian Dragoons at Petawawa, Ontario; Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians at Edmonton, or the Douzième Régiment Blindé du Canada at Valcartier, Quebec.

VAHAL: Coming in as a new officer – definitely intimidating in the beginning.  But your second-in-command, your Warrant Officer, or whoever it may be, will – he’ll definitely take you under his wing, and your men will definitely give you all the help you need.  And as long as you set them up for success, they will always bring you through.

McCUISH: From there, there’s always progression.  You’re not going to be one job a lengthy amount of time.  There’s exercises, there’s field deployments, there’s operational missions.  There’s a wide variety of experiences you can encounter as an Armoured Officer.

MODULE 5 – Testimonials

McCUISH: My greatest adventure has been my deployment to Afghanistan. When we first got there, there was a lot of enemy in the area.  By the time we left, it was slowly building it up to where you need to be.  The point where kids can start going to school, the local population could just travel the roads without worrying about hitting an IED.  That was something we, as a recce squadron, locked down.  We kept the roads safe, we provided that security, not only for ourselves, but for the people of Afghanistan.

VAHAL: The results that you generate as a troop is extremely rewarding.  And that really is your reward for doing a good job – is you will see your men become successful, and by extension, yourself become successful.

TITLE:

ARMOUR OFFICER

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

Overview

Working environment

Armour Officers serve in any kind of terrain — Arctic tundra, tropical jungle, desert, mountains, urban complex — and any kind of climate. They may be deployed abroad on operational missions or in Canada in support of civil authorities in cases of national emergency. Initially, they are posted to one of three Armour regiments:

  • The Royal Canadian Dragoons, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, Petawawa, Ontario
  • Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, Edmonton, Alberta
  • 12e Régiment blindé du Canada, 5e Groupe-brigade du Canada, Valcartier, Quebec

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Armour Officer is $51,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Captain, their salary is approximately $74,000 per year. Armour Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Initially, Armour Officers command 15 to 23 soldiers and four tanks as the Troop Leader in an Armoured Squadron, or eight armoured reconnaissance vehicles in a Reconnaissance Squadron. Once promoted to the rank of Captain, Armour Officers perform the duties of Battle Captain in either a Reconnaissance or Armoured Squadron, and may be called upon to plan operations and training for the squadron’s soldiers and officers. An Armour Officer may eventually become a Squadron Commander and continue on to become the Commanding Officer of a Regiment.

Related civilian occupations

Although this occupation has no direct related civilian job, the management, leadership and instructing skills developed in this position are highly valued by employers.

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Training

Basic military officer qualification

After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Common Army phase

After basic training, you will go to the Infantry School at the Combat Training Centre in Gagetown, New Brunswick. You will build upon the leadership training you received in basic officer training in addition to learning the skills required of all Combat Arms Soldiers, including more advanced weapons-handling, field-craft, and section-level tactics.

Professional training

Armour Officers attend Armour School at the Combat Training Centre where you will develop your skills in Crew Commanding. Training includes the following topics:

  • Driving an armoured fighting vehicle
  • Operating communications equipment
  • Weapons firing
  • Vehicle deployment in battle
  • Crew commanding techniques

Next you will bring together all the knowledge and skills you have learned and specialize in Troop Leading. Training begins with the primary duties of a Reconnaissance Troop Leader, where you will learn to plan and command aspects of Armour operations including surveillance, reconnaissance, counter-reconnaissance and direct-fire support.  After this training, you may be posted to a regiment as a Reconnaissance Troop Leader.

However, you may also be selected for Direct-Fire Training, where you will receive instruction in 105-mm gunnery techniques and an introduction to direct-fire tactics and operations. Upon completion of direct-fire training, you will be posted to a regiment as a Tank Troop Leader or Direct-Fire Support Troop Leader.

Specialty training

Armour Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training.

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Entry plans

Direct entry

If you already have a university degree, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

Paid education

Regular Officer Training Plan

Because this position requires a university degree, the Forces will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program at a Canadian university. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time.

Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In some instances, the CAF is able to pay for Officer Cadets to attend other Canadian universities in a relevant degree program. Officer Cadets who attend other Canadian universities typically attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months.   If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the Canadian university of your choice. For more information, see Paid education.

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Part-time option

Serve with the Reserve Force

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part-time employment

Armour Officers serve with the Canadian Army. The Armour, Infantry, Artillery and Combat Engineers form the Combat Arms team. Armour Officers are the leaders of armoured vehicles and are responsible for soldiers’ training, morale, discipline and combat efficiency, and for the operational readiness of their equipment. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis they usually serve with Armour units at CAF locations within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic officer training, the home unit will arrange for additional training for specialized skills. Armour Officers achieve their qualification in three phases at the Combat Training Centre at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.

Working environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

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