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Combat Engineer or Infantry



Hey guys,

I enlisted for the 3 Field Engineer ( reserves )   but due to a minor surgery my application has been put on hold, and I'm now told that I will have to do some of my testing again.   However that's beyond the point... I am seriously thinking of joining the Reg forces...   The only decision I'm having difficulty making is wether i want to join as a Combat Engineer or Infintry.   I saw some postings on here regarding the diffrences... but it was mostly stuff for the reserves.   I'm wondering if anyone could shed some light on either one of those professions so that I can finally make the right decisions.   I like to make decisions on facts not on what I suppose, so i would trust your experience can help me make that decision.   Thank you for your time. :salute:
Ah yes the good ole Infantry ;D

I thought the role for Inf and Engr was the same for both full and part time soldats? Am I wrong?

I was not meaning that the role was diffrent... Training full time and part time is diffrent... and therefore there is a diffrence... at least i would think there is.
Well if I had a choice I'd go engineer but my views are probably biased being a sapper in the militia.  It all depends what you want to do, maybe post some more specific questions about the trades.   And both reserve and reg force do the same thing it just takes longer to get formally trained in everything while in the reserves but you get alot of OJT in the militia.
Here are the DND sites for the two trades:
Engineer: http://www.recruiting.forces.gc.ca/engraph/career/tradeinfo_e.aspx?id=141
Infantry: http://www.recruiting.forces.gc.ca/engraph/career/tradeinfo_e.aspx?id=1031
Well I would definitely like to be on the frontlines.  If you could tell me what kind of tasks you perform as a combat engineer and if you know the answers for Infintry as well.  I know it's on the DND website but I checked out some other sites and saw some Combat Eng.  pretty much being firefighters.  So i'm sure not all is being said about the work that you do.  Also... can you tell me why they changed your tittle from Field Engineer to Combat Engineer?  I was told it's because they plan on using you more in combat and are striving to make Eng.  more combat efficient.???  Can you shed some light on the topic for me.
Well the name change doesn't really change what we do.   The text book engineer role goes something like this: Help friendly forces live, move and fight on the battlefield, and deny the same abilities to enemy troops. Basically build bridges, build or repair roads, or destroy obstacles hindering the movement of friendlies.   Then on the flip side, destroying bridges, cratering roads or airfields and building different obstacles to piss the enemy off.   Also, engineers do alot of demining and building of defences.   Don't really know about the firefighting, I guess any soldier could be called upon to do it.   Can't really comment on what infantry do as well as some of the other posters on here, so I'll leave it to them.
    Although I'm an infantryman I'd say that the engineers are a better way to go for a reg NCM. Having lost mortars and assault pioneers the chance to do interesting things has gone down a bit in the infantry. I believe the engineers still have combat divers, a full suite of armoured vehicles and of course explosives. On operations the sappers always seemed busy which has to be a good way to spend a tour. My guess is that a sapper can get more opportunities to go on operations than most troops. As well the engineers will give you useable skills for when you get out. Good luck.
Michael Shannon said:
    Although I'm an infantryman I'd say that the engineers are a better way to go for a reg NCM. Having lost mortars and assault pioneers the chance to do interesting things has gone down a bit in the infantry.

Quite correct as far as Cbt Spt positions go (and TOW/ADP will be Black Hatted [real Black not Pat's in Black hats] soon enough anyway)

OP Tempo is much higher in Engineer units as well - due to limited number and the demand for them on tours (we like them to find mines rather than us find them... ;))
Any of you know the extent of infintry training for Combat Engineers?  I'm also wondering what's a typical day for a REG soldier once he's finished Occupational training?  I know it might sound like a stupid question, but most info i've seen is on becoming an Engineer or Infintry or whatever... but not much info on what happens once you are one.  Can you give me an idea on what's life like as a Combat Engineer or Infintry... even Armoured.  I just would like an idea of what my life would be like as a soldier when you are not on tour.  Thanks for your time guys... I really appreciate it.  You guys are really helping me in my decision making.  Thanks again.
mellow_minded said:
I'm also wondering what's a typical day for a REG soldier once he's finished Occupational training?  

Depends on the trade and unit.

Also, its Infantry, not infintry.

Do a search on the combat arms trades, lots of threads on their training an what life is like at the unit when your done training.

My own experience in a field unit is as an Armoured officer, but I'll try and give you an impression of life in the Army (not on tour).  A typical day could look like this:

0730 to 0830 hrs - Physical Training (PT) running, circuit training etc
0830 to 0930 - shower, coffee
0930 to 1130 - work/training (there may be a short Tp/Pl parade at the start of work)
1130 to 1230 - lunch
1230 to 1600 - work/training

The content of the "work/training" periods will vary between units and from day to day.  You might spend a week or two going through refresher training on basic soldier skills (wpns, comms, first aid etc).  You might spend the whole time doing vehicle maintenance if you are in a mech unit.  You might attend lectures on stuff you haven't learned on course yet.  Before an exercise you will spend the time getting ready for the exercise, and afterwards you will be cleaning stuff up and putting it away.

Once a week you will most likely have a "sports afternoon" where you go to the gym/rink and play sports against other Sqns/Coys in your unit.  Once a week you will also probably have a "stables" morning that sees the whole unit conducting maintenance.  There will be various Sqn/Coy parades where the OC and SSM/CSM will pass on info.  You will also see "Troop Leader's Hours" where you all down tools and go to a quiet spot for an hour with your Troop Leader and Tp WO to discuss how things are going.

In garrison your evenings and weekends will generally be free, although you will have "duties" from time to time.  These duties will require you to stay at the unit duty centre all night and look after things.  Before an exercise, however, you might work late in the evening getting things ready.  There is no such thing as overtime.  In the field your times belongs to the Army 100%.

In a "typical" training year you could expect two or three field exercises and several weapon ranges.  A year might look like this:

Aug - individual refresher training
Sep/Oct - one month of field training with workups and post-ex drills (perhaps in two or three blocks).  You could be home on weekends or you could be away for a month
Nov - an additional exercise at a higher level, plus some maintenance
Dec - write off for the silly season.  Lots of parties and sporting events
Jan/Feb - winter warfare and perhaps some unit run courses
Mar - heavy weapons gun camp
Apr/May - field training (probably building on the Fall exercises)
Jun/Jul/ - support to reserve training/block leave/posting season

If there is a deployment coming up then pre-deployment training will kick in. 

Hope this helps.


So what would be the upsides of being Infantry???  and what would be the upsides of being a Combat Engineer?  How are the possibilities for advancement in each profession?  

Also if anyone can tell me more about Combat Divers... I would really apreciate it.

Also I read that in order to advance to the higher ranks as an Engineer you need good mathematical skills... Can anyone just give me an idea of just how much math i would need... i haven't done math since High School.
Thanks alot 2Bravo... that really helped.  I just wanted an idea of what my life would be like as a full time soldier, and you've just answered that for me.  Thank you very much... You've helped me make one decision... I'm definitely going in Reg. Forces. 

Thanks again.  If you have any further advice or helpful info please let me know.  And could you tell me about the Armour side of the Army?
No problem.  As for life in the Armoured there are some threads on this but I'll give you a quick rundown (maybe some guys closer to the hangar floor can sort me out/help me out here.

In the Armoured Corps you will be a Crewman, and we have a "crew" system.  A vehicle crew is a fairly tight bunch and relations in a crew between ranks is perhaps less formal than in other arms.  If you come to the Dragoons then you will be in Reconnaissance.  Reconnaissance will tend to be out front obtaining information for the commander, and on operations you will out of the camp for most of the tour. 

You should arrive at the Regt from the School with the Coyote driving qualification.  You'll be placed in a Squadron, who in turn will place you in a Troop, Patrol, Crew and finally your position.  A Coyote crew has four soldiers:

  a.  crew commander (anyone from a qualified MCpl to a Maj, but usually a Sgt/WO)
  b.  gunner
  c.  surveillance operator (sits in the back of the vehicle and operates the surveillance gear)
  d.  driver

Most guys are at least dual-qualified, meaning that while they are the Surv Op they can also drive or gun or all three.  As a new arrival at the unit you might be placed in the crew of an experienced NCO to further your development.  You might receive either a gunner course or a surv op course soon after your arrival, but this will depend on the tempo at the unit and whether you are deploying overseas anytime soon. 

Your crew will belong to a Patrol, which is two vehicles and eight people.  A Patrol is also a pretty tight group and the Patrol is the basic movement element in Recce.  You'll get to know the guys in your Patrol very well.  Recce guys tend to be independent and work well in small groups.  Recce is mostly "sneak and peak" with lots of Observation Post (OP) work as well.  Recce tasks and associated training are extremely varied.

After a couple of years "in the Troops" you might find yourself in the Troop Leader's vehicle or in the Squadron HQ.  You could also go the echelon with the SSM.  In these types of jobs you are expected to work with little supervision, since your crew commander has other things to worry about than telling you to adjust tire pressure.

That's probably enough for now.  There are some other threads that give more insight, and some of the guys in the Troops might be able to give you a better perspective than I can from my desk in Kingston.

Best of luck,


thanks alot 2Bravo... you've sorted added to my confusion cause i'm now somewhat interested in Armoured as well... ;D But i will keep on getting informed before making a decision.  Thanks again :salute:
Can any Sapper tell me about the combat portion of the job?  Are we along side Infantry or are we more following them?  Do we as sappers participate in Combat at all?
As quoted from the recruiting website...

"Combat Engineers are members of the Military Engineer branch of can live, move and fight on the battlefield, and deny the same abilities to enemy troops. They also perform duties in aid of the civil power and civil authority; participate in peace-support operations; perform construction and maintenance tasks in support of the CF and other government organizations; drive and operate vehicles and equipment in support of Engineer Operations; and maintain field installations and facilities.

It's called RESEARCH...

I know that is the text book answer, but i was wondering in terms of experience... Has there been sappers that have gone out on missions and actually had to fire their weapons?  I ask specifically about the COMBAT portion of the Sapper's job.  I want to know to what extent are they involved in Combat situations.
An important thing to consider is retirement.

If you have QL5 and some other training done with the sappers, as well as a certain amount of time in, you can apply for license from the Ontario Association of Certified Technologists and Technicians to be a Civil Engineering Technologist.  Usually a 3 year college diploma is required to apply for this.
Wow the information in this thread just makes my decision in what interests me the most so much more difficult too. Everything just sounds so interesting in the combat arms.