Surveillance footage of the Combat Engineer's primary and secondary combat functions
While few Soviet citizens would be inclined to openly admit it, not everyone born under the Union's banner has the physical strength and coordination necessary to serve in a frontline military capacity. Fortunately, some of these individuals make up for this ineptitude with an overabundance of intelligence. Year after year, the Union's Science and Information Ministers do an excellent job of identifying such people and encouraging them to join the ranks of the combat engineers. While Soviet combat engineers cannot be depended upon to fight firsthand, their technical aptitude and variety of useful battlefield skills makes them a cornerstone of the Union's military engagements.
Pictured above: Self-Portrait (Combat Engineer S. Chesnokov).
The Union's combat engineers possess more than enough mental prowess to offset
their lack of physical training. Besides, if they were physically strong, they'd be on the front lines.
Combat engineers hail from all walks of life: They are the Union's bookkeepers, professors, curators, symphony conductors, mechanics, shipwrights, and, of course, its civilian architects and engineers. Once drafted, combat engineers receive on-the-job training in control systems, computers, sabotage, and even basic marksmanship for self-defense. Because they are not frontline fighters to be thrown straight into harm's way, they are expected to work longer hours than the average conscript, and for a lower stipend and less in the way of rations, shelter, and amenities. Combat engineers therefore have little spare time to rationalize their trade-off, which Science and Information Ministers explain away as a "noble sacrifice for the good of our Land."
rrespective of their work conditions, combat engineers are undeniably skilled at what they do, and even seem to take some pride in their work. They can capture enemy installations with remarkable ease, or restore Soviet facilities to a (relatively) pristine state in short order. Notably, the number of catastrophic accidents involving Soviet super-reactors continues to drop year upon year after a stern memorandum from the Ministry of Experimental Science ordered combat engineers to focus on maintaining the Union's facilities rather than competing with one another to set new monthly records in Allied military structures captured. Indeed, if combat engineers have any sort of endemic problem in their ranks apart from their generally poor physical conditioning, it must be their dismissive attitudes toward their responsibilities. Many of these men are somewhat insubordinate, and known to walk a very thin line between sharing meals with conscripts like proper soldiers, and smelting flak pellets in the gulag.
The Ministry of Experimental Science believes its combat engineers to be among the most well-taken-care-of members of the Red Army. They are issued knapsacks large enough to carry most of their worldly possessions, as well as hats to protect against weather. They are even rewarded with ceremonial shovels once their mandatory training is complete, as well as rubberized inflatable sputterboats that they can use for amphibious operations or the occasional day of rest. Apart from their worldly possessions, combat engineers had none of these other things under earlier regimes, points out the Ministry. Only men tend to be selected for combat engineering work, out of respect for traditional labor boundaries. Because combat engineers, by default, are unsuitable in conventional military roles, these men typically skew older as well as wiser than the average Soviet combatant.
Battlefield reconnaissance has revealed at least these facts about Combat Engineers: