ARCHIVED - EO Techs: laser precision in an ever-changing environment

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Image Gallery

Article / February 17, 2015 / Project number: 14-0209

Ottawa, Ontario — Electronic-Optronic Technicians (EO Techs) are talented professionals who keep their eye on all electronic and optronic related equipment and fire control systems in the Canadian Army. It is their job, among other priorities, to ensure that our troops can successfully sight on and effectively deliver rounds to their targets.

Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Rose is the Assistant Occupational Advisor (AOA) for the Electronic-Optronic Technician Trade. He first joined the Royal Regiment of Canada in Toronto as an infantry reservist, and later joined the Regular Force, entering the trade based on his strong interest in science in general and physics in particular.

“It’s a very diversified trade. We are responsible for maintaining a wide range of equipment:  from generators and field wiring right up to fire control systems used in tanks and armoured vehicles,” explains CWO Rose “If we were to match our trade to that of one US Army trade, it would be difficult.  As their technicians are more specialized in certain fields, we would probably have to combine up to 70-odd US military trades to create an equivalent to our one.”

Having served throughout Canada and internationally in the Golan Heights, Somalia, Afghanistan and the First Gulf War, CWO Rose continues to find his work intriguing and engaging. As the AOA for the trade, each day has its own unique challenges.  Constantly engaging in trade-related issues, he is deeply involved in providing technical advice to ongoing projects.  He also advises the EO Technician in the field units performing complex, high-precision maintenance on items such as laser range finders, thermal night vision scopes and goggles, missile control systems, chemical agent detection equipment, portable hand-held and vehicle mounted satellite navigation gear for our vehicles in the field.

EO Techs play a major support role in artillery, armoured and infantry operations. According to CWO Rose, usually at a first-line unit, there would be two to three technicians who go out in the field and repair equipment to the best of their ability with the tools and spare parts on hand. If the item cannot be repaired in less than four hours, it will be sent back to a second-line supporting unit. At a second-line workshop, usually run by a Warrant Officer, there could be up to 12 technicians or more ranging from Craftsmen (Privates) to Sergeants.

“What I like about it most is that I can see that the equipment we fix ultimately being used by the soldiers,” says CWO Rose. “It’s satisfying knowing that what we do contributes to the success of operations.”

He notes one of the more challenging aspects is keeping pace with the technology.

“It’s always a learning curve. There will always be new equipment coming on line and the technicians that support it have to stay up to date.  To do so, there will always be formal course, ongoing instructor cadre training, sometimes it’s Train-the-Trainer and even in some cases it’s self-taught.”

An ideal candidate for an EO Tech would be someone who can work independently and is technically inclined, he said.

“If I had to do it again I would. Same trade – the passage was great.”

Here are some quick facts about EO Tech work:

  • There are usually two or more EO Techs at every Army Operational Unit within the Canadian Armed Forces working in workshops using state-of-the-art equipment.
  • During field training and on operations, depending on the unit that they support, EO techs generally work in temporary or improvised workshops or outdoors. In some cases, they would work in transportable workshop shelters.  Some of these are designed to create and maintain a clean working environment for performing maintenance on dust and static sensitive optronic and electronic equipment.
  • EO Techs belong to and are part of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Corps.
  • The primary responsibilities of the Electronic-Optronic Technician is to inspect, test, identify faults in, adjust, repair, recondition and modify electrical,  electronic, optronic, optical instruments, and fire control systems for various land weapon platforms.
  • EO techs repair and maintain a variety of equipment such as thermal observation and surveillance systems; hand-held or vehicle-mounted satellite navigation systems; fibre-optic and laser systems; optical, electrical and electronic equipment; portable and trailer-mounted power-generating systems using specialized tools and test equipment. 
  • They must be trained and qualified to drive a variety of military-pattern vehicles.
  • EO techs are dedicated to the Army, but they may be called upon to support Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy operations.
  • Like all military occupations, the training starts with Basic Military Qualification followed by three years of concentrated classroom and on-the-job education. EO Techs spend up to 40 weeks at the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers School at Canadian Forces Base Borden, near Barrie, Ontario. When they are done, they are posted to a centre that specializes in on-the-job training that is similar to an apprenticeship program.

    By Samantha Bayard, Army Public Affairs
Date modified: