The Canadian Military Engineers (CME) are true to our motto "UBIQUE"; CME units and personnel are located throughout the entire Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Engineer officers and soldiers serve primarily in the Canadian Army (CA) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), however, engineers also support the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Joint Operations Command and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.
Looking at the CME in a Canadian Armed Forces context you will see that it spans a wide spectrum of capabilities, trades and specialist qualifications. Broadly, the CME can be broken down into Combat Engineers, Construction Engineers, Geomatics and other Engineer specialists.
Combat Engineers are responsible for close support to manoeuvre units within the CA. Each of the three manoeuvre brigades has an affiliated Combat Engineer Regiment (CER) to allow them to live, move and fight on the battlefield. Additionally, there is an Engineer Support Regiment (ESR) to support divisional level activities if Canada were to be called on to deploy in such a strength. Both types of units have varying numbers/sizes of Field Engineer Squadrons, Construction Squadron, EOD Squadron, and Administration Support Squadron. Above this there is a Regimental HQ to assist in running and coordinating the engineer activities at the brigade level.
The following specialty qualifications exist within combat engineering:
- Advanced combat engineer search;
- Explosive ordnance disposal;
- Route clearance;
- Combat diving;
- Water supply;
- Heavy equipment operations; and
- Armoured engineering.
Construction Engineers are responsible for the construction and sustainment of deployed force infrastructure for CAF operations. In addition, Construction Engineers support the construction, operation and maintenance of the permanent infrastructure at Canada's military bases. In addition to Construction Engineer Officers (who are members of the RCAF), there are 8 construction engineering trades in the CAF, broken down as follows:
- Construction Technician;
- Plumbing and Heating Technician;
- Electrical Distribution Technician;
- Water, Fuels and Environment Technician
- Electrical Generation Systems Technician;
- Refrigeration and Mechanical Technician; and
- Drafting Survey Technician;
- Construction Engineer Superintendent.
The RCAF also has military firefighters to provide aircraft rescue firefighting and structural fire suppression to main and deployed operating bases.
Geomatics officers and technicians support every facet of the CAF with their ability to collect, collate, analyse and disseminate geospatial information in support of operations in the air, land and sea environments. Geomatics Officers are either Engineer or Construction Engineer Officers who have attained a post-graduate degree in geomatics or geospatial engineering. Geomatics Technicians are selected and trained specifically for the technical aspects of their trade and can serve in any facet of the service from a stationary HQ in Canada, to a CER/ESR in garrison or deployed in support of operations.
Although there are numerous areas where specialist military engineers serve throughout the CAF, one important capability that should be mentioned is 1 Engineer Support Unit. This unit has numerous Engineer and Construction Engineer officers with post-graduate engineering degrees, not to mention specially trained non-commissioned members (combat engineers and construction engineering trades) to provide advanced technical engineering support both domestically and on operations. The unit is relied upon for technical expertise during theatre opening and activation, and is equally used as a specialist design reach-back from operational theatres.
Of course in addition to all the areas where Engineers can be found within the CAF, the soldiers and officers require a place to be trained for their jobs. The Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada offers Bachelor and post-graduate degrees in engineering and applied sciences that are invaluable to the development of future Engineer and Construction Engineer Officers. Additionally, the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering is the CAF's "Engineering Schoolhouse" for all combat and construction engineer soldiers and officers' military engineering trade training and education. The School of Military Mapping provides trades training for Geomatics Technicians; likewise, the Canadian Forces Fire and CBRN Academy prepares military Firefighters for their roles and responsibilities.
Text from the NATO Military Engineering Centre of Excellence