The Canadian Army has decided to reactivate the Assault Pioneers in an attempt to increase the lethality of its infantry units.

Known for their specialized training, different grooming standards (they are allowed to wear well-groomed beards), and their axes, Assault Pioneers are a mix of an infantryman and a combat engineer. Aside from the normal infantry tasks, they are trained in explosive breaching and other combat engineer skill sets.

Lieutenant General Paul Wynnyk, a former commander of the Canadian Army, said, “The new version of the Assault Pioneers will assist in maintaining mobility in complex terrain. So that means in mountains and, particularly now, in urban environments where skills like breaching come into play. Right now, that task is solely held by the engineers. They have to do things like fortify buildings, clear roadways, move obstructions, and all sorts of other stuff. They don’t have the personnel to augment the infantry.”

The reintroduction of the Assault Pioneers will make infantry units less reliant on outside support and consequently more effective and lethal on the battlefield. Urban warfare has been and will continue to be one of the most demanding warfare scenarios. Having the ability to maneuver in, between, and around buildings is essential in city-based fighting.