What is the US Army?

Haley, how did you get to jump with the Golden Knights?

Sergeant walked in and said; “We have two slots to tandem with the Golden Knights.  Who wants to go?

I was quickest.

82nd Airborne Division Rock Band “Riser Burn”.

U.S. Army Sgt. Daniela Archbold, a culinary specialist, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, prepares the ingredients for the main entrée for the chef competition during All American Week XXIX May 21, 2018, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Four teams, one from each Brigade is tasked with cooking a three-course meal for a panel of judges. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Gallagher)

A career cook/chef this Sergeant Dining Facility Manager was accepted for training to be a CID (Criminal Investigation Division) investigator.

When you got the power.

MG Christopher LaNeve is at 82nd Airborne Division.January 20 at 1:42 PM  · 


There’s no better way to end the week than by highlighting one of our Paratroopers.

SPC Cristine Steele of @hatchetstrike has consistently worked above and beyond her job as the Computer / Detection Systems Repairer (94F). As a SPC, she prepared her shop for ORS inspections, scoring a 100% on the inspection. She has also served as the @2504pir JBCP subject matter expert, working on keeping communications equipment fully mission capable.

82nd Airborne Division “All American Chorus”

Sergeant Major of the Army attending the 173rd Airborne Brigade Ball in Italy.

And your mother said you couldn’t fly. HA!

Photo by Master Sgt Alexander Burnett Paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division carry bags of baby supplies to families in need during an infant needs drive at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 26, 2021.  The drive was hosted by the 82nd Abn. Div. chaplain’s office who procured baby formula, diapers, juice, baby food and crackers for distribution to Afghan families who are evacuating the country.  The supplies are meant to help sustain the families on their journey.  (U.S. Army photos by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett, 82nd Airborne Division)

            Life in the Army is not a harder life than civilian life, it is just different.  You wear a uniform, you stand in formations, you are called by your rank, and you salute higher ranking officers.  First some acronyms.  The Army speaks in acronyms.

MOS –  Military Occupational Specialty, i.e., job.  Some examples; 11B=Light Weapons Infantryman.  42A=Human Resource Specialist.  46S=Public Affairs Mass Communications Specialist.  92Y=Unit Supply Specialist.

AIT –  Advanced Individual Training.  The job school right after basic training.

AFCT – Army Combat Fitness Test (physical test)

NCO – Non-Commissioned Officer.  This is how the army refers to sergeants

NCOIC – Non-Commissioned Officer in charge.

CSM – Command Sergeant Major.  The senior enlisted soldier in a command – pay grade E-9.

PT  –  Physical Training  (physical exercise)

The Army Blue uniform is eventually being designated for formal wear only.

These three were the first female graduates of 13F Joint Fire Support Specialist (Forward Observer) AIT in February 2017, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

The new Army Green (called pinks and greens) uniform will become the standard Class A uniform.

The standard work uniform is OCP’s (Operational Camouflage Pattern).  This group is from Company C (the medical company – called “Charlie Med”), 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.  They had just won their EFMB (Expert Field Medical Badge), which is a grueling several day long test for medical personnel.  The EFMB is one of three peace-time “test-out” badges, which can be worn on all uniforms.  There is also the EIB (Expert Infantryman’s Badge), and the new ESB (Expert Soldier Badge).

You get up in the morning, put on your PT clothes and form up in a formation outside.  That formation is usually 6:00 AM to 6:30, depends on the unit. If you are married, you drive into your company area and join that formation for physical exercise.  Everyone in the Army does physical training five days a week.  Regardless of rank, generals and sergeants major, on down, do physical conditioning every weekday. The Army is absolutely serious about personal physical condition.  Every brigade (about 4,000 soldiers, commanded by a full colonel) now has a high-ranking civilian (GS-13) holistic health and fitness director, under whom is a staff of civilian and military Athletic Trainers, Strength Coaches, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Dietitians, as well as Master Fitness trained sergeants, to develop, guide, assist, and monitor the health, wellness, and physical fitness of every single soldier.  This is a cultural change of the life of a soldier, from that of not too many years ago.  The Army calls its Holistic Health and Fitness Program the H2F program.  Not only physical conditioning, but also diet and sleep are monitored.   PT may be outside or in the gym and will usually last an hour to an hour and a half.

PT formation outside.

Always running.

PT inside.

These are cooks doing PT on their own, because of shift work.

After PT, the barracks people go back to their room, married people go home, clean up, get in uniform and get some breakfast.

Enlisted dorms in the 82nd Airborne Division

The 82nd Airborne Division enlisted barracks are not like college dorms, they are better.  They are more like nice two-bedroom apartments.  Soldiers in rank of private through specialist share a “suite”, which is two private bedrooms and a common kitchen and bath.  Sergeants don’t have a suite mate.

Soldiers may arrange and decorate their suite however this wish.  This specialist decorated her kitchen area.

This is the private bedroom of a specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division.  He said that someone higher only looks at their rooms once a month, and then just for cleanliness.

Same guys’ kitchen.

A female paratroopers’ bedroom.  This is the link to her video about her room.  She was a Specialist in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg.

Barracks folks eat free in a dining facility (DFAC) or prepare breakfast in their kitchen in their suite.  Unit dieticians advise on foods and meals.  They can also jump in their car and run to an on post Burger King for a sausage and egg biscuit (might be against the dieticians’ advice).  Married soldiers may eat at home or eat in a DFAC, they are currently paying $4.30 for breakfast, because married soldiers, who do not live in the barracks, are paid a meal allowance.

They don’t normally serve in the dining facility (DFAC), but that was Valentine Day.

Soldiers in combat units, infantry, armor, field artillery, air defense artillery, and combat engineers normally have a work formation to start the day.  That formation is anywhere from 8:30 to 9:00 AM.  They then go to whatever training is on for the day.  Soldiers in these units don’t have a “job”, training (playing army) is their job.

            Most support soldiers, supply, personnel, computer, medical, maintenance, etc., report to their work area (office, motor pool, shop, whatever) around 8:30 to 9:00 AM.

Lunch is an hour, around noon.  Combat units, training in the field, may have hot meals delivered to them, or eat MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat).  Soldiers may eat in a DFAC (free for barracks folks, $6.85 for non-barracks), or go back to their suite and fix lunch, or run to a fast-food place.  Married soldiers, living in on-post family housing, or very close off post, often go home for lunch.

            In most units, the workday ends at 4:30 to 5:00 PM, and they are off until PT formation the next morning.  Fridays, they are off until Monday morning.

Enlisted on post family housing.

Things to do, when off duty, depends on where you’re assigned.  All forts have a main Post Exchange (PX), that’s the Army Air Force Exchange System (AAFES), called the PX, which is like a Walmart supercenter, without the groceries. The groceries are at the Commissary, which is like a giant international supermarket.  There are usually several PX Shoppette’s around the fort.  AAFES (the PX) is a profit making organization.  The profits, from the PX, go to the MWR (Morale Welfare Recreation).  MWR runs all the recreation activities for the post.  The bigger the fort, the more things to do on post.

The fort is like a city, everything you need is there.  The bigger the fort, the more things to do.

            Where you get assigned is a big deal.  It can mean a fun 3 or 4 years, or not.  For example; Fort Leonard Wood is an average medium sized post, about 11,000 active soldiers.  It is a primarily a training post.  For things to do off-duty, it has one indoor and one outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a gym, a bowling alley, a gaming lounge, several baseball/softball fields, several volley/basketball courts, a Golf Course, a recreation area at Lake of the Ozarks, and one Auto Skills Shop (a large garage, with lifts, and all tools which soldiers may use).  For those who want to spend their off-duty time hunting and/or fishing, it is a paradise.

            The biggest and best army post is Fort Bragg (Liberty), North Carolina, the home of the Airborne.  Fort Bragg has around 55,000 soldiers, 70,000 family members living on post, and about 15,000 civilians working on post.  It is an hour from Carolina Beach, two hours from Myrtle Beach, and four hours from mountain ski slopes.  It has two indoor pools, three outdoor pools, multiple gyms and fitness centers, two bowling centers, two large main PX/Commissary complexes, two 18 hole Golf Courses, two large Auto Skills Shops, 4 different running trails or tracks, Smith Lake Recreation Area, and McKeller’s Lodge, which has two rifle/shotgun/pistol ranges, and an archery range, and a lounge, which is a popular lunch spot.  The adjoining city, Fayetteville has one of the largest retired military communities in the country.  Time magazine once called Fayetteville NC the most pro-military town in the country.  The downtown, which used to be bars, has been turned into a walking mall, and the Airborne and Special Operations Museum occupies about two city blocks in downtown Fayetteville.  The bars and strip joints are still there, but they are out on the boulevard.  Stay away from them.

            Even with COVID, there were things to do on weekends.

Female soldiers on Mott Lake on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, July 3rd, 2020. (Haley Shanks and friend)

Things for soldiers to do when off-duty, has always been a concern.  The Army has the BOSS program (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers), on all posts.  It is an organized program to come up with activities for lower ranking single enlisted soldiers, run by lower ranking single enlisted soldiers.  They organize trips to the beach, athletic team competition, parties, community service projects, plus many more activities.  When COVID-19 hit, it put a damper on many of those activities.

This is Sergeant Danielle Shortt, a facebook friend of mine.  This picture was clipped from a youtube video of the 82nd Airborne Division Chorus, in which she was the lead singer of “I can’t help falling in love”, which was a tribute to the spouses of the 82nd.

Danielle was the division coordinator for the 82nd’s BOSS program, during her last couple years in the army.

ARMY JOBS:  The Army advertises that it has over 150 different jobs. That’s true, but some are real jobs and some are not. When two soldiers, who have never met, and aren’t in uniform, strike up a conversation, one asks, “What do you do?” The other answers, “I’m an eleven bravo.” The other comes back with, “I’m a thirteen fox, work with you guys all the time.” Each now knows exactly what the other does, but neither has a real “job”, as in going to work at it every day. A “job” in the Army is an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). The first answer, eleven bravo, means 11B Light Weapons Infantryman, the second, thirteen fox, is 13F Joint Fire Support Specialist, which is a forward observer for artillery.

Combat Arms, which is infantry, artillery, armor, combat engineers, and air defense artillery, don’t go to their “job” in the morning, after physical training (PT). They go to training. Whatever that may be that day. The combat arms trains for combat. Infantrymen can study reaction to an ambush, but they can’t train for it until they get ambushed, in the field (in training), they can study company in the attack, but they can’t train for it until they are in the field, facing thick under brush, trying to figure how to be quiet and get in position.  Artillery soldiers may be running crew drills to improve their set and shoot times, for the big guns.  Combat engineers may be building things or blowing things up.

Below is the complete list of army jobs.

MOS/job list.

                                        INFANTRY – Training and schools at Fort Benning, Georgia

11B Infantryman

11C Indirect Fire Infantryman

11X Infantry Recruit

                                    ENGINEERS – Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri                             

12B Combat Engineer

12C Bridge Crewmember

12D Diver

12K Plumber

12M Firefighter

12N Horizontal Construction Engineer

12R Interior Electrician

12T Technical Engineer

12W Carpentry & Masonry Specialist

12Y Geospatial Engineer

                                    FIELD ARTILLERY – Fort Sill, Oklahoma

13B Cannon Crewmember

13D Field Artillery Automated Tactical Data System Specialist

13F Joint Fire Support Specialist 

13J Fire Control Specialist

13M Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)/High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Crewmember

13P Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Operational Fire Direction Specialist

13R Field Artillery Firefinder Radar Operator

13T Field Artillery Surveyor/Meteorological Crewmember

13X Field Artillery Computer Systems Specialist

                                    AIR DEFENSE ARTILLERY – Fort Sill, Oklahoma

14E Patriot Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

14G Air Defense Battle Management System Operator

14H Air Defense Enhanced Early Warning Operator

14P Air & Missile Defense (AMD) Crewmember

14S Avenger Crewmember

14T Patriot Launching Station Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

14X Space and Missile Defense Operation

                                    AVIATION MAINTENANCE – Fort Eustis, Virginia except 15H

15B Aircraft Powerplant Repairer

15C MQ-1 Operator (Effective 202010)

15D Aircraft Powertrain Repairer

15E Unmanned Aircraft Systems Repairer

15F Aircraft Electrician

15G Aircraft Structural Repairer

15H Aircraft Pneudraulics Repairer – Fort Rucker, Alabama

15J OH-58D Armament/Electrical/Avionics Systems Repairer

15M MQ-1 Repairer (Effective 202010)

15N Avionic Mechanic

15P Aviation Operations Specialist

15Q Air Traffic Control Operator

15R AH-64 Attack Helicopter Repairer

15S OH-58D Helicopter Repairer

15T UH-60 Helicopter Repairer

15U CH-47 Helicopter Repairer

15W Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator

15Y AH-64D Armament/Electrical/Avionic Systems Repairer

                                    CYBER OPERATIONS – Fort Gordon, Georgia

17C Cyber Operations Specialist  (These are the super Top Secret Computer Hackers)

17E Electronic Warfare Specialist

                                    SPECIAL FORCES (Green Berets) – Fort Bragg, North Carolina

18B Special Forces Weapons Sergeant

18C Special Forces Engineer Sergeant

18D Special Forces Medical Sergeant

18E Special Forces Communications Sergeant

18F Special Forces Assistant Operations & Intelligence Sergeant

18X Special Forces Recruit 

                                    ARMOR – Fort Benning, Georgia

19D Cavalry Scout

19K M1 Armor Crewman

                                    SIGNAL CORPS – Fort Gordon, Georgia

25B Information Technology Specialist 

25H Network Communications Specialist

25S Satellite Communication Systems Operator- Maintainer

25U Signal Support Specialist

                                    JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL’S CORPS (JAG) – Fort Lee, Virginia

27D Paralegal Specialist

                                    MILITARY POLICE – Fort Leonard Wood, MIssouri

31B Military Police

31D CID Special Agent

31E Internment/Resettlement Specialist

31K Military Working Dog (MWD) Handler

                                    MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CORPS – Fort Huachuca, Arizona

35F Intelligence Analyst

35G Geospatial Intelligence Imagery Analyst

35L Counter Intelligence Agent

35M Human Intelligence Collector

35N Signals Intelligence Analyst

35P Cryptologic Linguist

35Q Cryptologic Network Warfare Specialist

35S Signals Collector/Analyst

35T Military Intelligence Systems Maintainer/Integrator

                                    FINANCE CORPS – Fort Jackson, South Carolina

36B Financial Management Technician

                                    ADJUTANT GENERAL’S CORPS – Fort Jackson, South Carolina

42A Human Resources Specialist

                                    US Army MUSIC SCHOOL – Fort Story – Virginia Beach, Virginia

42R Musician

                        DEFENSE INFORMATION SCHOOL (DINFOS) – Fort George G Meade, Maryland

46S Public Affairs Mass Communications Specialist    (Washington, DC)

                        CHAPLAIN CENTER and SCHOOL – Fort Jackson, South Carolina

56M Religious Affairs Specialist  (Chaplain Assistant)

                        MEDICAL CENTER AND SCHOOL – Fort Sam Houston, Texas 

            Some of these are few in numbers, so you would have to wait for a job.  

68A Biomedical Equipment Specialist

68B Orthopedic Specialist

68C Practical Nursing Specialist

68D Operating Room Specialist

68E Dental Specialist

68F Physical Therapy Specialist

68G Patient Administration Specialist

68H Optical Laboratory Specialist

68J Medical Logistics Specialist

68K Medical Laboratory Specialist

68L Occupational Therapy Specialist

68M Nutrition Care Specialist

68N Cardiovascular Specialist

68P Radiology Specialist

68Q Pharmacy Specialist

68R Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist

68S Preventive Medicine Specialist

68T Animal Care Specialist

68U Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) Specialist

68V Respiratory Specialist

68W Combat Medic Specialist

68X Behavioral Health Specialist

68Y Eye Specialist

                        CBRN CENTER AND SCHOOL – Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

74D Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) Specialist

                                    TRANSPORTATION CORPS – Different places

88H Cargo Specialist – Fort Eustis, VA

88K Watercraft Operator – Fort Eustis, VA

88L Watercraft Engineer – Fort Eustis, VA

88M Motor Transport Operator – (Truck Driver) – Fort Leonard Wood, MO

88N Transportation Management Coordinator – Fort Eustis, VA

                        ORDNANCE CORPS AND SCHOOL – Fort Lee, Virginia except 89A

89A Ammunition Stock Control & Accounting Specialist – Fort Sill, Oklahoma

89B Ammunition Specialist

89D Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist

                        ORDNANCE CORPS AND SCHOOL – Fort Lee, Virginia -Except 91A, 91L, 91M

91A M1 Abrams Tank System Maintainer – Fort Benning, Georgia

91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic

91C Utilities Equipment Repairer

91D Tactical Power Generation Specialist

91E Allied Trades Specialist

91F Small Arms/Towed Artillery Repairer

91G Fire Control Repairer

91H Track Vehicle Repairer

91J Quartermaster & Chemical Equipment Repairer

91L Construction Equipment Repairer – Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

91M Bradley Fighting Vehicle System Maintainer – Fort Benning, Georgia

91P Artillery Mechanic

91S Stryker Systems Maintainer

                        QUARTERMASTER CORPS – Fort Lee, Virginia

92A Automated Logistical Specialist

92F Petroleum Supply Specialist

92G Culinary Specialist

92L Petroleum Laboratory Specialist

92M Mortuary Affairs Specialist

92R Parachute Rigger

92S Shower & Laundry Specialist (S&L SPC)

92W Water Treatment Specialist

92Y Unit Supply Specialist

                                    ELECTRONICS AND MISSILE REPAIR – See below

            Some of these are few in numbers, and long AIT’s 20 to 30 weeks.  Not always available.

94A Land Combat Electronic Missile System Repairer – Fort Lee

94D Air Traffic Control Equipment Repairer – Fort Lee

94E Radio Equipment Repairer – Fort Gordon

94F Computer Detection Systems Repairer – Fort Gordon

94H Test, Measurement, & Diagnostic Equipment (TMDE) Maintenance Support Specialist – Ft Lee

94M Radar Repairer – Ft Lee

94P Multiple Launch Rocket System Repairer – Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

94R Avionic & Survivability Equipment Repairer – Fort Gordon

94S Patriot System Repairer  – Half at Fort Lee – Half at Fort Sill

94T Short Range Air Defense System Repairer  – Ft Lee

MOS 46S – Public Affairs Mass Communication Specialist.  I’ve long considered this to be one of the best jobs in the Army, for the folks who can do it.  Your English grammar (language arts), must be near perfect, as well as speaking ability.  It takes an outgoing, aggressive personality.  They film and interview, infantry grunts in the field, Colonels in their office, and Generals on the field.  A lot of work on their own, with freedom of movement.  The AIT for 46S is the 26 week Mass Communications Foundations Course at the Defense Information School (DINFOS), at Fort Meade, Maryland (Washington, DC).  It is attended by all the uniformed services and civilians.  Perdue University (Perdue Global) is awarding almost 60 semester hours for that course, so their already half way to a bachelor’s degree, when they finish AIT.  It requires a 5 year enlistment.  Anyone, in this job, should be able to complete at least a bachelor’s degree in that 5 years.

Army Public Affairs Mass Communications Specialist MOS 46S (photojournalist) filming training.  To get the story, you have to be there.

  It has a high reenlistment rate, and why not – be a journalist for 20 years, retire at 38 as an experienced journalist. That is exactly what Teresa Coble has done.  Teresa Coble enlisted in the army in 2001, at age 18, to be a Public Affairs Specialist, with the airborne option.  She has had assignments all over the airborne community at Fort Bragg, taught at the Defense Information School (DINFOS), was First Sergeant of the Armed Forces Network Japan in Tokyo, and has just retired from the army, as a Sergeant Major E-9, with a degree in journalism, and 20 years experience, and has a very good job.

Sergeant Major Teresa Coble

Sergeant Major (Retired) Teresa Coble.

This picture of Kissta Feldner got my attention.  She graduated from high school in 2009 and enlisted to be a Public Affairs Specialist, with the airborne option.  She was assigned to the Public Affairs Office, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.  She made parachute jumps with the infantry troops, with her camera, writing about their training exercises.  She took photos, from horseback, at Little Big Horn, Montana.  She interviewed Queen Elizabeth’s Guards, while in Holland, covered her Brigade’s humanitarian mission to Haiti after a devastating earthquake in 2010, and taught photo journalism to the Iraqi army in 2011. 

Vince and Kissta DiGregorio

She met and married another soldier, and today she is Sergeant First Class Kissta DiGregorio, NCOIC of the Public Affairs Office of the 1st Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg.  Also, a mother, with a family.

MOS 25B – Information Technology Specialist.  These are the computer people. They setup and maintain computer networks and systems. Help people with computer problems, including swapping components, such as drives and motherboards, and routers, and keep all the computer systems operating.   This is, without doubt, one of the best Army jobs that transfers directly to lucrative civilian jobs, because the Army will turn you into an IT professional.  The AIT is 20 weeks long at the Signal School at Fort Gordon, Georgia.  It requires a Secret Security Clearance, and 5 year, plus training, enlistment.  Five years, plus 10 weeks basic, plus 20 weeks AIT = 5 years, 30 weeks enlistment contract.  Grads of the course say that if you’re a computer person before enlisting, it is easier.  Said some who weren’t struggled.  Again these people should have at least a bachelor’s degree and a stack of IT certifications, at the end of their enlistment.

About civilian education; Civilian education is pushed hard in the Army.  Every semester hour is worth two promotion points to sergeant and staff sergeant.  Every post has an Education Center.  The Ed Center will help convert AIT classes to semester hours, and you can CLEP test out on several subjects, for free, at the Ed Ctr, plus they provide study material, before you take the test.  Army Tuition Assistance will pay for 15 semester hours per year for evening or online classes toward a bachelor’s or masters degree.   With the new accelerated online degree programs, a soldier, whose job allows him or her the time, can have a bachelor’s degree, by the end of a three or four year enlistment.  Just depends on how hard they want to work, to get it.

MOS 91E Allied Trades Specialist.  This job combines the jobs of welder and machinist.  The AIT is 19 weeks at Fort Lee, Virginia.  The first 8 weeks are learning all the CNC (computerized numerical control) machining devises and operations.  The second 8 weeks is all types of welding.  The last three weeks are Army Combat and Tactical Equipment, Titanium Welding, Depleted Uranium, and Introduction to Battle Damage Assessment and Repair Operations.  Before leaving AIT, they are tested and become Nationally Certified Welders, plus about a dozen CNC machining operation certifications.  Grads say those going to combat units get more real experience in repairing and making parts, tools, and weird devises somebody dreams up.  There are 91E’s in every forward support company with the combat battalions.  It takes a 5 year enlistment.

A 91E in his shop in the 82nd Airborne Division.

A 91E fabricating something?

MOS 91B Wheeled Vehicle Repairer.  To sit for the test to become an ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) Certified Automotive Technician, two years of tech school plus two years of experience is required.  An Army 91B who has completed the 13 week AIT and has two years performance as a 91B may sit for the test.  However, comments from former soldiers indicate that a lot of extra study is required to pass the test.  The AIT is 13 weeks at Fort Lee, Virginia.  It takes a 3 year, plus training enlistment.  About 3 years, 23 weeks.  A 91B Staff Sergeant with six years in the army may apply to become a Warrant Officer, and be in charge of a motor pool.  That is currently Jace Gieck’s goal.

Mechanics MOS 91B at work.  These guys are in B Company 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.  They call themselves the “Weasels”.

MOS 12Y Geospatial Engineer.  Geospatial technologies is a term used to describe the range of modern tools used in geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and its population.  In the Army, Geospatial Engineers are trained and become experts in GIS (geographic information systems).  One of the primary tools is a computer program called ArcGIS, through which geographic information is collected from satellite imagery, drones, the National Geospatial Agency, the Army Geospatial Center, photos and videos from troops in the field, and many other sources to produce very detailed 2D and 3D geographic maps to help commanders visualize the battlefield.  They also support civilian operations for disaster relief and Homeland Security.  These people can walk straight into a very good paying civilian job.  There is a huge government geospatial center in St Louis.  The AIT is 18 weeks at Fort Leonard Wood, and requires a 4 year enlistment.

Army geospatial engineer MOS 12Y at work.

MOS 88M Motor Transport Operator. These are truck drivers of 5 ton trucks and above.  Unit soldiers drive the smaller stuff. There are a gazillion truck drivers, it is almost always available, for someone who wants to get in the Army immediately.  If you get the airborne option, you’ll go to Fort Bragg, Italy or Alaska.  In those assignments, you work hard and spend some overtime doing driver maintenance, preventive maintenance checks and paperwork on your truck.  It can be a boring job in some small posts.  The AIT is 7 weeks at Fort Leonard Wood.  They do learn to drive a semi tractor-trailer in AIT.  When leaving the army, the soldier only needs his or her company commander’s signature, and they get a Missouri Class A CDL, with only taking the written test, not the driving.

M1083 5 ton truck

M915 semi tractor with 40 foot container

These are M1120 HEMTT’s (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) in the 82nd Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, with load handling systems.

MOS 92G Culinary Specialist.  If you enjoy cooking and think you would like to cook for a living, be a chef in a restaurant, or manage a restaurant, becoming an Army Cook might be of benefit to you.  There was a time when I would never have recommended this, but now they can receive civilian certification as a chef.  They wear black trousers and a white chef jacket, while on duty.  They have competitions for chef of the quarter, and large army posts have annual installation culinary competitions.  Then there is the annual Military Culinary Arts Competition at Fort Lee, Virginia, which has competitors from all the services, National Guard and Reserves.  The Pentagon has its own TV channel for military personnel.  The cooking show “The Grill Sergeants” with military chefs, is one the most popular shows.  There are no more “mess halls”, now there are Dining Facilities (DFAC).  These are large, consolidated facilities, with the latest equipment and technology, and offer a wide variety in their menus, because soldiers are no longer bound to eat in “their” DFAC, they can eat in any DFAC, which has created a competition between DFAC’s on the same post.  College graduates are enlisting specifically to be a cook, because they want the training and experience in preparing and feeding in large volumes, and they want the Culinary Chef Certification. The AIT is eight weeks and two days at Fort Lee, Virginia, and takes a three year enlistment.

These don’t necessarily translate to civilian jobs but they are good jobs in the army.

MOS 42A Human Resource Specialist.  This is a desk job.  Like all soldiers, they still do PT in the morning, they take the ACFT once or twice a year, qualify with their rifle once a year, and go through a gas chamber once a year, and if they are airborne they get to go jump out of airplanes, at least once every three months.  If they are in a combat battalion, they will probably jump more, but their job is behind a desk and a computer.  This is not advertised as a brainy job, but it is.  In print, the regulations covering this job are several feet high and the Integrated Pay and Personnel System – Army (IPPS-A), to which the army is currently converting, is a huge complicated system to learn. They are the face to face people for every personnel action affecting individual soldiers.  Promotion, assignments, awards, schools, emergency leave, whatever.  Every piece of paper in their in-box may, at that point in time, be the most important thing in some soldier’s life.  This is not a fast promotion job, probably four years to sergeant, but they do have the time to accumulate college hours, which translates to promotion points.  However, it is a good job, they work in S-1 (the Admin staff section) shops close to the commander and the CSM, and they solve problems for both soldiers and commanders.  It is also a good army career field.  The AIT is 8 weeks at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Human Resource Specialist MOS 42A Sergeant Isabel Giron at work at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany.

When a 42A goes to the field, they are still behind a desk and a computer.

MOS 92Y Unit Supply Specialist.  This is one of the most under rated jobs in the Army, because it is one of the most important.  The mundane title “Unit Supply Specialist”, doesn’t hack it – these are the Army material managers, responsible for ordering, stocking, issuing, and maintaining control of all material and equipment.  They are the logisticians.  This is a large army career field.  It doesn’t translate directly to many civilian jobs, but the government and the reserves hire many civilians, who have this training and experience.  For career soldiers who complete their education before they retire from the army, it does translate to good jobs in the logistics field. It is not necessarily an easy job, but it is a highly respected one.  When company commanders change, there is an inventory of everything in that company that doesn’t breath and eat.  If something is missing, the outgoing commander may have to pay for it, at the very least.  The Supply Sergeant and his or her assistant are the controllers of all that stuff, which makes the Supply Sergeant an extremely important position.  People in this job need to be 100% honest, smart and hard working.

The video below is Sergeant Penny Boyle who made the video of her barracks room.  Her youtube handle is “itspennyduh”.  She is pro youtuber.  She enlisted to be a Unit Supply Specialist, MOS 92Y.  Her initial assignment, after AIT, was to Korea.  While there she was promoted to specialist.  When she checked online where she was scheduled to go on her next assignment (every soldier can do that), she was scheduled to go to a post in Texas.  She didn’t want that, so she volunteered for airborne school.  She was sent to the 3 week airborne school then to the 82nd Airborne Division.  That is when she made the dorm room video.  She was assigned as the supply assistant in a Cavalry Troop.  Her unit deployed to Kuwait (Iraq).  Her Supply Sergeant left (don’t know why or how), so she was strapped with doing the job, which she apparently did very well. She had been in the army three years when she was promoted to Sergeant and made the unit Supply Sergeant. The position actually calls for one rank higher – Staff Sergeant.

MOS 27D Paralegal.  This is also a solid desk job.  It is a good army job, but not like a civilian paralegal.  It is strictly military law.  They prepare administrative punishments, courts martial, etc, and advise commanders on military law, the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice).

An Army Paralegal MOS 27D hard at work.

MOS 74D CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) Specialist.   –  This can be a fast promotion to Sergeant.  Trains at Fort Leonard Wood, and every company, in the Army, is authorized a sergeant 74D to maintain the NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) Room.  National Hazmat Certification in AIT.  They maintain and use radiation and chemical detection equipment, and the Personal Protective Equipment (gas masks, space suits, & rubber boots), and train their units on how to protect themselves.  I have mixed feelings about this job.  In a chemical company or a combat unit, this person will probably be doing actual CBRN training, in a non-combat unit – maybe not.  My advice would be to definitely go airborne, which gives a much better chance of doing the actual work.  The AIT is 11 weeks at Fort Wood, and brainy, grads say study, study.

MOS 35F Army Intelligence Analyst.  This is also a fairly fast promotion to Sergeant, normally a desk job, gathering information, and putting together briefings and analyst reports.  The AIT is 16 weeks at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  It is a very relaxed AIT, army discipline wise, but brainy.  Graduates caution anyone going that you have to study.  Surprisingly, there are civilian jobs for these people.  FBI, CIA, DEA, ATF, Border Patrol, Homeland Security and others, plus state and large city police use intelligence analysts.  This is a very unique skill.  These soldiers tend to associate with themselves, probably because most of what they work on is classified, so they can’t talk about it around anyone else. This is a desk job in the intel staff sections of headquarters.

I have to end with my favorite – the INFANTRY. MOS 11X.  I started out in the infantry, then started getting “good” jobs.  As I went up in rank, I kept going back to the infantry.

The infantry has no relationship to the civilian world but if you want to have an experience that no other soldier can have, because they all support the infantry, then the infantry is the place. It is the physically the hardest, most strenuous, foot sore, back aching, greatest bad ass job in the world. You have to have endurance, and you never quit.  There is also another issue, you have to be honest with yourself and everyone else.  If you’re not, you will be soon.  An infantry platoon of 40 soldiers, will spend days, sometimes weeks, and during deployment, months sharing foxholes, MRE’s, water, canteens. razors, socks, ammo, and stories.  They support they guy who feeling down, razz the guy who screws up, and pull pranks on the guy who is too proud of himself.  And will put their life on the line to cover your back.  Any BS a new platoon member brings with him soon dissolves.  Everybody is just who they are.  Maybe that’s why I and thousands of other former grunts and current grunts love the infantry, you learn things about each other that no one else knows, including family.  You share the worst of times and the best of times.

Military pay is established, by law, every year in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is passed each fall to fund the Department of Defense.  The pay charts change every January 1st, with raises (or not) calculated by the increase in the Employment Cost Index (ECI), which is published quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to reflect changes in total employment compensation.  Traditionally, in August the President proposes military pay increases either based on the ECI or not, with justification, if different.  Congress has the final say, and for the past several years, military pay raises have adhered to the ECI, regardless of which party was in power.  This year saw a 4.6% pay raise on January 1st, last year it was 2.7%.

The military pays only by direct deposit, twice monthly.  Half on the 1st and half on the 15th, unless those dates fall on a weekend or holiday, then it is paid the day prior.

Pay grade E-1 has two rates.  One less than four months, and one over.  When a person is processing into the Army, at the reception unit, he or she is given a debit card with $350 on it.  That is to purchase items necessary in basic training.  That is an advanced pay.  It will be deducted from the first deposit to the soldiers’ account.

During in processing SGLI, Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, will be started.  It costs 6 cents per thousand, up to $400,000, which is $25. (24 + 1).  The soldier can take less in increments of $50,000.  This is for a single person.

Base pay E-1 under 4 months = $1,773.00  ½ = $886.50

                        Deductions:   Social Security       –     54.96

                                                Medicare                –     12.85

                                                Federal Income Tax-    31.00

                                                Missouri Income Tax-     8.00

                                                SGLI (200,000)     –      13.00

                                    Net Deposit  =            766.69

The first deposit is screwed up, because people rarely enlist on the first day of a month, plus the $350, for the debit card, will be withdrawn.  After that, this is about the amount deposited in the trainee’s checking account twice monthly.

After 60 days in the military, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) kicks in.  It is like a 401K or an IRA.  The army contributes 1% of a soldiers base pay monthly to his or her TSP.  The soldier can contribute as much as 5% of their base pay, monthly.  If they do, then then the government matches it, so 10% of your base pay is going into your TSP, monthly.  This is a great thing, it is aside from retired pay.  If a soldier retires after 20 years in service, they immediately start drawing 40% of their base, as retired pay.  After 30 years, it is 60%, plus they still have their TSP.  Soldiers are taught how and get to manage their own TSP accounts.  There are 5 or 6 different plans, in which to invest their money.  Some are very safe, but with very little gain. A couple are risky, with the possibility of greater gain. One plan invests in the stock market in large and medium sized companies, and it has consistently produced an average gain of around 10%, for the past 30 years.  Civil Service government workers have had TSP for many years.  Using today’s figures, a soldier enlisting in the army, and maintaining the best plan in his or her TSP, and retiring in pay grade E-9 after 30 years, could have close to one million dollars in that TSP.  This is a great thing, plus for those who don’t stay in the military, it can be rolled into an IRA or a 401K, when they leave the service.

After 4 months, soldiers are automatically advanced to the over 4 month E-1 pay grade.  That is usually the first week or two of AIT (Advanced Individual Training) i.e., job training.  There is practically no opportunity to spend money in basic training, so the soldier should have over $4,000 in his or her checking account upon graduating from basic.  Depending on what training and where, but there are usually plenty of opportunities to spend money in AIT, but you don’t have to.

 E-1 over 4 months $1,917.60  ½ =    958.80

Deductions:   Social Security           –   59.45

                        Medicare                    –   13.90

                        Fed Income Tax         –   39.00

                        MO Income Tax         –   11.00

                        SGLI                           –   13.00

                        TSP                           –   47.94

   Net Deposit               =                   774.51   twice monthly

            After another two months, soldiers are automatically advanced to pay grade E-2, which is                 $2,149.20       ½  =                   $1,074.60

              Deductions:           Social Security            –      66.62

                                                Medicare                     –      15.58

                                                Fed Income Tax          –      51.00

                                                MO Income tax         –      17.00

                                                SGLI                            –      13.00

                                                TSP                              –       53.73   

                      Net Deposit              =                            857.67  twice monthly

            If you count, you will see that around $8,500 will have been deposited in a soldiers’ checking account, during that probably six months in training, without much opportunity to spend it.  Also, at six months soldiers are eligible to be promoted to E-3.  Normal time is one year, but exceptions can be made back to six months

            So, now let’s do a person, who has completed training including airborne (jump) school, and is a PFC E-3, on jump status, at a permanent station, in his or her own room, with their car outside in the parking lot.

                                    Base Pay =  $2,259.90  

Parachute Pay is an extra                 150.00

                                                           2,409.90       ½   =      1,204.95

Deductions:                     Social Security                      –     74.71                    

                                                Medicare                                  –     17.47

                                                Fed Income Tax                    –     66.00

                                                MO Income tax                     –     24.00

                                                SGLI                                        –     13.00

                                                TSP                                      –      56.50  (TSP base pay )

                                    Net Deposit                                            953.27     twice monthly

                                                 =    $1,906.54 monthly – room free, meals free

            $1,906.54 X 12 = $22,878.48 / 52 = $439.97  That’s an average of $440 a week take home pay.  Plus, no rent, all meals in the Dining Facility are free, free health care, plus 15 free semester hours of college, per year, if you want to take classes.

Just for kicks, lets look at someone, just out of high school, starting work at Quaker or the Distribution Center at $14.00 per hour on a 40 hour week.

                                                40 hours @ $14.00 = $560.00

                                                Social Security        –      34.72

                                                Medicare                 –        8.12

                                                Fed Income Tax      –      31.00

                                                Missouri Income Tax –    11.00

                                                Health Insurance      –     25.00

                                                IRA (3%)                  –      16.80

                                                Net pay check         =    433.36

Promotion to Specialist E-4 can be at two years, but can be at 18 months.  Most good, hard working soldiers make it around 18 – 20 months.  This is a Specialist E-4 over two years in service –  base pay =  $2,503.50

                   Parachute   pay =       150.00

                   Total    =                  2,653.50  ½ =   1,326.75

Deductions:                     Social Security        –     82.26

                                                Medicare                  –     19.24

                                                Fed Income Tax     –      82.00

                                                MO Income Tax     –      29.00

                                                SGLI                       –      13.00

                                                TSP                         –       62.59       

                                       Net Deposit                      1,038.66     x 2 = 2,077.32 monthly.

            2,077.32 x 12 = 24,927.84 / 52 = $479.38 average weekly take home pay.

            Let’s say, in that two years, the civilian is up to $15 an hour;

            40 hours @ 15.00   =         $600.00

                    Social Security        –      37.20

                  Medicare                  –        8.70

                   Fed Income Tax      –      36.00

                   Missouri Income Tax –  13.00

                   Health Insurance      –     25.00

                  IRA (3%)                  –      18.00

                  Net pay check         =    462.10

            Promotion to Sergeant E-5 is different with different jobs, but someone working diligently toward the promotion to Sergeant, can usually make it in just over three years.  In some support jobs, that means accumulating as many college semester hours as they can, plus high rifle marksmanship scores, and high ACFT scores.  Sergeant E-5 with over three years service base pay =         $3,055.20

                                        Parachute pay =       150.00

                                         Total                =   3,205.20  ½ =  1,602.60

                                                Social Security                      –     99.36

                                                Medicare                                  –     23.24

                                                Fed Income Tax                     –   113.00 

                                                MO Income Tax                   –      43.00

                                                SGLI                                       –      13.00

                                                TSP                                        –      76.38

                                                Net Deposit                             1,234.62

$1,234.62 X 2 = $2,469.24 X 12 = $29,630.88 / 52 = $569.82 average take home pay per week. 


Now let’s say this sergeant has over four years in, is married and living off post.

                             Base Pay           =   $3,199.20                                                                                                  Parachute pay                  150.00                                                                                                           =         3,349.20 / 2 = 1,674.60

                                                   Social Security                      –    103.83

                                                   Medicare                                   –     24.28

(Now married filing joint)Fed Income Tax                 –     52.00 

                                                  MO Income Tax                   –         18.00

                                                  SGLI                                      –           13.00

                                                  TSP                                            –      79.98

                                                                        Net                         1,383.51

                                                            Plus ½ BAS                         226.28

                                                            Plus ½ BAH                        765.00

                                                     Net pay twice monthly =2,374.79                                    That’s $4,749.58 monthly or $56,994.96 annual take home pay, which with free health care for the family, puts this sergeant, with four years in the army, at about the same pay as a civilian with an $80,000 to $85,000 salary


            Some people enlist in the Army and literally fall in love with it.  They are proud of what they do and they are good at it, but being a smart person, they see things that they would do differently, if they had the influence to change them.  They would like to be an officer.  Officers are the managers, enlisted soldiers are the worker-bees.

            The Army actually takes active-duty soldiers into the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point.  They cannot have reached their 23rd birthday by the time classes start their freshman year.  All the same things count, such as ACT score, as if applying from high school, but if they weren’t in the top 10% of their class, weren’t a star athlete, nor a class leader, but they have been an outstanding soldier for a couple years, they may very well be selected, if they apply.

            Another route toward a commission as an officer is the Army’s “Green to Gold” program.  They must have over two years in service, in pay grade E-4 or above, have at least two years college (only two years left).  There are three variations to the program, but basically they leave active duty, go to college, take ROTC, finish, get commissioned, and come back on active duty as a Second Lieutenant.

            There is also Officer Candidate School (OCS).  A person with a bachelor’s degree (any degree) can enlist for OCS.  They go through basic, then three months of OCS and are commissioned.  An enlisted soldier, who has obtained a bachelor’s degree (any), and has been in the army less than six years, can apply for OCS.

            A Warrant Officer is a technician in his or her field.  The normal route for non-pilot warrants is, Staff Sergeants with 6 to 8 years in their field, apply and if accepted, attend a school before they are warranted in their field.


            I – Study the ASVAB.  I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the ASVAB.  It is the military IQ test and stays in a soldier’s records forever.   Here are some examples of ASVAB score requirements for various jobs;

            12Y Geospatial Engineer –                                           GT 100         ST 100

            42A Human Resource Specialist –                                GT 107

            46S Public Affairs Mass Communications Specialist – GT 107

            92Y Unit Supply Specialist –                                         CL 90

            GT – is General Technical.  It a composite of the following tests; Arithmetic Reasoning, – Paragraph Comprehension, – Word Knowledge.

            CL – is Clerical and comprises the same tests, plus Mathematics Knowledge.

Those four tests, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge, (English and Math) should be reviewed and practiced over and over and over.  They also make up the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test), which places enlistees in categories, by score.

            ST – is Skilled Technical, which is; General Science, – Mathematics Knowledge, – Mechanical Comprehension, – Paragraph Comprehension, – Word Knowledge.

            To be really competitive, in the Army, the GT and CL scores should be in the high 120’s to mid-130’s.  There are several sites with practice ASVAB tests. A good simple one is ASVAB Practice Test – 2021 Update | 100% FREE Practice ASVAB Tests (asvabpracticetestonline.com).   

            DO NOT EVEN TAKE A PRACTICE ASVAB TEST IN A RECRUITER’S OFFICE, UNITL YOU HAVE STUDIED IT.  On the very first visit to a recruiter’s office, after the questions about high school, trouble with the law, and drugs, you will be asked to take a simple practice ASVAB test there in their office.  How you do on that practice determines how they talk to you, from then on.  If you score really high, they will be all smiles, with questions like; “What would you like to do, in the army?  You can get about anything you want that is available.”  People who don’t do well on that practice test will be guided and encouraged to take the only jobs, for which they qualify.

II.  Get in shape.  Start running.  Start slow with a shuffle, but going through the motions of a jog.  Speed will come over time.  Build until you have a rhythm, in which you can run for hours.  Get a pair of current army boots, and start walking – a lot.  Then carry a rucksack.  Keep increasing the rucksack weight until you are carrying about 40 pounds for about 3 hours.  A big problem for women in basic training is foot blisters, and stress fractures of the feet and legs, because they are not used to the prolonged walking, in boots, while carrying heavy loads.  Pushups, situps, pullups all you can do.  Build – don’t hurt yourself, at the start.

III.  If you’re not used to shooting a rifle, it would help to do some.  The drill sergeants will teach proper rifle handling and marksmanship, but some familiarity would help.  I was the Senior Drill Sergeant of a basic training company.  We had a girl who could not zero (that’s a 25-meter range) her rifle.  The rifle was OK, and she appeared to be doing everything correctly, but she was all over the target.  Finally, I laid down in front of her.  The second before she pulled the trigger, she closed both eyes.  Squeeze the trigger, don’t jerk or anticipate the rifle firing.


            AtMEPS, (Military Entrance Processing Station) you take a physical exam (make sure you remind them that you are going airborne, because it requires an extra part of the exam), you take the ASVAB test that counts, after the test you are interviewed by a counselor, who will go over your enlistment contract.  At that point the counselor may offer you a different job (they may have just received a requirement for a particular job, for which you qualify), stick to the job you have researched, and decided upon.

            When you agree with the contract, right job, airborne option included, there is a swearing-in ceremony, which family and friends may attend.  They can’t be with you throughout MEPS, but they can attend the swearing-in ceremony. You then sign your contract.  Mom will cry, Dad will try to suppress the tear in his eye, and your emotion will be split between the sadness of leaving home, and the excitement of the upcoming adventure.  The excitement of the adventure usually wins.

At that point, you are on your own.  You have left home, and you are self-supporting.  You’re going to have people telling you what to do for awhile but you are on your own. 

The trip to the Army will be either by bus or plane, depends on where you are going for basic training.  The first stop is 4 to 7 days at reception.  Your records are prepared, pay arranged to your checking account, eyes checked, teeth checked, shots, uniforms.  Make sure the boots you are issued fit.  There is a local story of a girl who was issued a pair of boots, size 7.  Both boots were marked size 7, but one was much larger than the other.  Not knowing anything about the army, she was afraid to tell anyone, and went through a lot of misery in basic training.  Any drill sergeant I ever knew, would have done whatever was necessary to get her boots corrected.  The time at reception is necessary, not fun.

The day you arrive at your basic training company, there is no longer a hoard of screaming drill sergeants in your face.  You go through a couple team building exercises, do a couple of ACFT exercises, and watch a demonstration of what you will be able to do at the end of basic.  The first couple weeks, you are issued field gear, which must be cleaned and turned in at the end of basic, you have a lot of classes, you learn how to stand, turn, march, etc.  Then you go to the confidence course and go rappelling off of a 40-foot tower.  Your platoon all knows each other by then and you start having fun.  Some have said that basic training was the time of their lives.  Don’t misunderstand, it is still physically hard, it is 12 to 14 hour days, six days a week, but you will get stronger throughout basic. 

Graduation from basic is a big deal, you are then a soldier.  You don’t know anything yet, but you’re a soldier.  Some AIT’s are like college in uniform, according to some, while others are said to be better than basic, but you still know that you are a trainee.


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