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An Army Public Affairs Mass Communications Specialist, MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 46S is a news reporter.
This is an update of an article from a little over a year ago, because there have been some significant changes in the Army training for this job.
I have often said that this one of the best jobs in the Army. From the time a new Army Private 46S gets to his or her first unit they will have more autonomy in their job than most soldiers. For presentation of awards, promotions or changes of command, a military formation will be standing at attention with sweat rolling down their backs and feet sore, but one soldier will be walking around, taking a knee or moving to the shade to get the best angle for pictures. That would be the Public Affairs Mass Communication Specialist, because his or her job is to record the event and publish a story.
The mission of Army Public Affairs offices and people, is to tell the Army story to the rest of the military and to the world. They are the story writers, the photographers, the video developers, and the radio and TV broadcasters on Armed Forces Radio and Television Stations worldwide.
Until a couple years ago, the Army divided those jobs between two MOS’s, 46Q Public Affairs Specialist and 46R Public Affairs Broadcast Specialist. The 46Q’s were the photo journalists and the 46R’s the radio and TV broadcasters. They have been combined into one job, MOS 46S Public Affairs Mass Communications Specialist.
There was a time when the Army only took enlistees with a bachelor’s degree for this job, then at least a couple years of college was required. A fully qualified high school graduate can now enlist for MOS 46S.
Army MOS 46S AIT (Advanced Individual Training) is now the Mass Communications Foundation Course at the Defense Information School (DINFOS), at Fort Meade, Maryland (Washington, DC). It is 26 weeks long, attended by all of the military services and civilians.
“The Mass Communication Foundations course teaches concepts and skills needed in both public affairs and visual information specialties. Students learn and apply design thinking principles to question effectively, identify problems and provide a solution-based approach within a communications framework, applying the fundamentals of journalistic writing, still photography, videography, digital graphic design, and interactive multimedia. Students are introduced to and apply the fundamentals of English and journalism to news and narrative stories, captions, and video scripts for use in both internal and external communication products. Instruction includes public affairs internal and external communications, media and community engagement, and preparing information for public release in accordance with Department of Defense directives. Students learn and apply basic photography fundamentals, including optics, light and color theory, composition, exposure and lighting, studio photography, and use a digital single-lens reflex camera to capture both still and motion imagery of controlled and uncontrolled action in support of DoD themes and messages and for historical documentation. Students learn digital audio capture methods and editing techniques, then use recording tools to capture audio they integrate into video sequences and digital media products. Applying video and editing techniques, students create video products to support military operations, training, and public affairs missions.
Additionally, students study integrated multimedia best practices and apply design and layout fundamentals, including color theory and typography, in the creation of all products. Each student will create vector-based products and raster-based graphics, and incorporate these and elements of previous projects into interactive multimedia packages for use in multiple print and browser-based platforms. The course culminates with both individual and group capstone exercises, where each student will demonstrate the ability to integrate and apply the diverse knowledge and skills attained throughout the entire course.”
DINFOS is fully accredited with the Counsel on Occupational Education (COE) and the American Council on Education (ACE). I found one college that awards more than 60 semester hours for that course, so you’re half way to a degree when you complete 46S AIT. DINFOS has a facebook page, which anyone can see.
This is a great opportunity for a high school senior who has had at least two years of language arts and is articulate with English, both speaking and writing, and is aggressive and not intimidated by senior people. Working on the high school yearbook, public speaking and serving as student advisor to the school board are activities that help develop a news or TV reporter.
Army recruiters say this is not a large field, therefore it is not always available. It is not a terribly large field, but is also not tiny. Every brigade sized unit has a public affairs staff of three to five 46S’s, starting with a Sergeant First Class. The brigade, plus the division headquarters PAO section, headed by a Master Sergeant, makes about 25 in a division. Corps PAO sections have a sergeant major. Then there are four Mobile Public Affairs Detachments, each with 15 46S’s. The problem with availability is that it has a very high reenlistment rate. They appear to love what they do, and stay in the Army, so if you really want this job, you may have to wait for an opening.
Sergeant First Class (SFC) Kissta Digregorio is the NCOIC (Non-commissioned Officer in Charge) of the Public Affairs office of the 1st Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She enlisted after high school to be a public affairs specialist, with the airborne option. She was Kissta Feldner before she married. Her stories and pictures have been all over the military for the past 10 years. I first saw her picture as a little blond Private First Class, wearing a maroon airborne beret, having her hand kissed by a World War II veteran at a liberation ceremony at Nijmegan. The Netherlands. She was in the Public Affairs office of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, there with the 82nd contingent. She wrote about jumping at night with her camera safely bubble wrapped in the center of her rucksack, and moving out with her rifle and camera, with an infantry platoon on a three day exercise. After receiving some “camera girl” hazing and keeping up with them for a couple days, she was finally accepted as just another paratrooper. She got to travel covering brigade events, taking photos from horseback in Little Big Horn, Montana, and interviewing Queen Elizabeth’s guards, while in Holland. She covered her brigade’s humanitarian mission to Haiti in 2010. She taught photo journalism to the Iraqi army in 2011. She is now married to another soldier, and has a new baby. She supervises the privates, specialists, and sergeants telling the Army story about the Green Berets.
On the surface, the requirements to enlist for this job do not appear to be high. Have an ASVAB test GT (General Technical) score of 107 or above. To be accepted for this job, right out of high school, your GT score should be in the high 120’s, preferably in the high 130’s. The GT score is the composite of three tests out of the nine ASVAB tests; Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Arithmetic Reasoning. Word Knowledge test your ability to understand the meaning of words through synonyms and antonyms. On Paragraph Comprehension, you read a few paragraphs (usually a few hundred words), then answer questions based on what you read. Arithmetic Reasoning is word problems that require simple calculations. I also suggest that you pay attention to the Mathematics Knowledge test, which is high school math, algebra and geometry. Those four tests comprise the Clerical (CL) score, which you want to be high, plus they also comprise the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) score.
This is a great Army job, with a very high re-enlistment rate. After all, they spend 20 years in the Army, get promoted up the ranks, and retire when still young, as an experienced journalist.