This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri November 1st 2017. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
This week we are visiting another Army job, which a veteran leaving the Army, with that training and experience, can take off the uniform one day and go to work in a civilian job the next, doing the same thing, at a very good salary. The job title is Allied Trades Specialist, Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 91E. This Army job was formerly two different MOS’s, Machinist and Welder. A few years ago, the Army combined the two into one, and within the past couple of years moved the School from Maryland to Fort Lee, Virginia, into all new training facilities and barracks.
After basic training, probably at Fort Leonard Wood, the 91E candidate is moved to the Ordnance School at Fort Lee, which is located next to Petersburg, south of Richmond, Virginia. The Army web sites list 91E AIT (Advanced Individual Training) as 13 weeks, but it’s actually 19 weeks.
The first eight weeks are Machine Shop Fundamentals and Safety, Precision Measuring Tools, Metal Identification, Precision Layout, Operate Hand and Machine drills, Hand Threading Operations, Thread repair, Countersinking, Counter boring, and Reaming, Riveting Operations, Lathe Operations and Vertical Milling Machine Operations. They use Computer numerical control (CNC) machining, which is a machining process in which a computer controls the movements of the lathe or milling machine using a program made up of numerical code called “G Code”. CNC technology allows the machinist to manufacture single or multiple parts with speed and accuracy that is not possible on any manual machine. They use Haas Automation, Inc., toolroom lathes (TL-1’s) and toolroom mills (TM-1’s). These machines are equipped with Haas Intuitive Programming System (IPS), which can create parts programs with very little effort, and allows programs to be uploaded from separate computers.
The second eight week phase is Modern welding Fundamentals, Welding Prints and Symbols, Oxy-fuel Cutting, Oxy-fuel Welding, Plasma Arc Operations, Exothermic Cutting, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) and Shielding Metal Arc Welding (SMAW). They use Miller XMT 350 and Dynasty 200 welders, which are multi-process welding machines for SMAW, GTAW, and GMAW operations. They learn GMAW pulse, GTAW pulse, and flux core welding, and metal cutting ranging from thermal arc cutting to CNC plasma cutting.
The last three weeks are Army Combat and Tactical Equipment, Titanium Welding, Depleted Uranium, Introduction to Battle Damage Assessment and Repair Operations, TAMMS (The Army Maintenance Management System), ETMs (Electronic Technical Manuals) and PMCS Procedures (Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services) and Department of the Army Forms. They learn to set up and use the Army metal working and machine shop set (MWMSS). The MWMSS consists of two expandable mobile containers. One contains a CNC toolroom lathe (TL-1), a Miller XMT 350 and a Dynasty 200 welder, thermal cutting equipment, air-arc gouging capability, an air compressor, a generator for shop power, an environmental control unit (ECU), and an assortment of hand tools. The other contains a CNC toolroom mill (TM-1), a CNC plasma cutting table, an ECU, and more hand tools. Together they create a field metalworking repair complex. The MWMSS also contains a laptop computer with CAD/CAM software (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing), which allows the Allied Trades Specialist to create a part design or download it from a manufacturer, upload it to the CNC machine and manufacture the part, in the field.
Before graduating from 91E AIT, students are tested and receive the following national certifications. Certified Welder from the American Welding Society (AWS), and from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), CNC Milling and CNC Turning: Operations I, and Programming, Setup & Operations I, Drill Press I and II, Job Planning, Benchwork & Layout I, Measurement, Materials & Safety I, Milling I, Turning Between Centers I, and Turning II.
Trade schools that give credit for military training give between 17 and 24 semester hours to 91E soldiers, so a 91E is almost half way to a General Education Associate Degree when he or she completes training.
The type of work these soldiers perform is about the same, where ever they are assigned, but the amount and intensity of work does depend on the type of unit. The most satisfied comments I found from 91E’s were from those working in Forward Support Companies. Almost every type of battalion that goes to the field, Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Cavalry, Engineer, and Aviation has a Forward Support Company attached. Those working in Forward Support Companies said that they were actually doing what they were trained to do, whereas some of those working in base or rear support units sometimes said that either they didn’t have that much to do or they were primarily a welder.
How does a person enlist for MOS 91E and have a pretty good chance of being assigned to a Forward Support Company or at least to a Brigade Support Battalion, which is next best? Go Airborne! Even a light infantry division like the 82nd Airborne has hundreds of trucks, trailers, Humvees, artillery pieces and weapons that wear out or break and need parts. These are the soldiers who, in Iraq and Afghanistan started fabricating steel plates to “armor up” Humvees and trucks, before the Army started having them manufactured.
In response to a young man’s (age 22) question to soldiers about possible army jobs that would give him some experience in the civilian job market, a soldier responded with the following comment. “I’m Army active duty, and my MOS is 91E – allied trades specialist. In other words, a metalworker. I do welding and machining on a daily basis. If you like working with your hands, it’s a pretty good gig. And of course, it translates EXTREMELY well on the outside. As metalworkers, we have a unique position. Our job allows us to use creativity to fabricate tools, equipment, or anything involving sheet metal repair. There aren’t set procedures for any one job. You have to use your noodle and engineer or craft something that will work. The hands-on experience with welding and machining is truly irreplaceable. I love the trade, and the shop environment. Burning and fusing metal together with gobs of lethal electricity and intense heat is truly fascinating. Working with my hands and getting dirty. It’s great.”
When a person enlists in the Army, there are various options available, such as location. A person can enlist for Fort Leonard Wood and be guaranteed at least a year at Fort Leonard Wood. The training that person attends, and the job to which assigned, would be whatever the Army needs at Fort Leonard Wood. Another option is training, the enlistee would contract for training for a specific job, such as MOS 91E allied trades specialist. While in AIT, trainees go online and list three locations, in order, of where they want to be assigned, and within the past few years the US Army Human Resource Command has been really making a dedicated effort to assign new soldiers according to their desires, but the bottom line is where the Army needs that person. There are also a couple options along with training, such as airborne or ranger. A person enlisting for MOS 91E, with the airborne option, would, after AIT at Fort Lee, Virginia, go to Fort Benning, Georgia for three weeks of Airborne School, and learn how to parachute out of an airplane. Then their assignment would probably be to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, probably to the 82nd Airborne Division. Nothing wrong with that. Elite unit, good leaders and high speed, and the absolute best Army Post, on which to be assigned.

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