Barrie David Carton, of West Avenue, Donnington, was sentenced after admitting three counts each of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, distributing indecent images and creating indecent images.
The offences took place between 2015 and 2019, the court heard.
Carton, 45, was a restaurant manager and cocaine user, who viewed images of children being abused, sent them to others and spoke in an online chat about “sneaking in” to a child’s bedroom himself, although he did not physically abuse any children himself.
He formerly worked for the Ministry of Defence for more than a decade.
Police raided his home last year after his IP address was linked to illegal activity.
They seized a phone and Macbook, finding almost 3,000 images and videos, which included children being abused.
The children in the images ranged in age from 15 years old to newborn babies, prosecutor Mr Tim Ashmole told Shrewsbury Crown Court on Tuesday.
Carton also sent images to others and had discussions with three other people about sexual activity with children.
In one of the WhatsApp chats he said he would “sneak in” to the bedroom of the recipient’s three-year-old brother and abuse him.
He pleaded guilty to all nine offences last month.
Mitigating for Carton, Mr Ranjit Sandhu reminded Judge Anthony Lowe that Carton had not met or physically abused any children himself.
However, Judge Lowe said he believed Carton would have sexually abused a child, had he been given the opportunity.
Mr Sandhu said: “He understands that he has a problem. He understands he needs help.”
Judge Lowe imposed a prison sentence of five years and four months.
He also ordered an extended license period of three years because of the risk Carton posed to children.
The order means Carton will be eligible for release two-thirds of the way into his sentence, dependent on what risk experts believe he poses at that time.
He will also be on licence restrictions once released.
The judge told Carton that he could not be “cured” of his sexual interest in children but that he would have to learn to control it.
Anyone who suspects someone may be in possession of child abuse images online can file an anonymous statement via report.iwf.org.uk/en