Category Archives: Army Jobs

CBRN – Enlist and be a SERGEANT in two years.

Make Sergeant in two years, Staff Sergeant in just over four. Other than the infantry, there is one job, where that has been happening for the past couple years. If you are considering the Army, but you are not a “kid” anymore, and you don’t want to forever become an equal with the “youngsters”, there is one support job where you can rapidly rise through the ranks.

That job has a fairly high number of soldiers, and a very high requirement for Sergeants. That is CBRN Specialist (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear), MOS (Military Occupational Specialty)74D. AIT (Advanced Individual Training) is 11 weeks, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. This is an update of an article I posted a couple of years ago, titled “Chemical”, so you don’t have to read both.
A Chemical Corps Lieutenant Colonel recently described the job like this; “Most 74Ds are the CBRN Specialist for a company, any company. They usually have more senior CBRN NCOs/Officers at BN, BDE, and DIV (battalion, brigade, and division). USR (Unit Status Report) is a monthly requirement in which they crunch many of the numbers. They maintain all the CBRN equipment in a unit and provide training to the unit on CBRN tasks and equipment like detection of agents, personal decon, protection, unmasking procedures and deliberate decon. The vast majority are in other than CBRN units. Chemical Companies are usually the big three: recon, decon, smoke. They conduct chemical reconnaissance with the M93 Fox and similar systems. They provide the expertise and equipment for a deliberate decon of a unit (pax and vehicles). They provide battle field obscurants, most commonly smoke. They lay smoke in support of maneuver units. Recently WMD Response teams have popped up in the Guard and Reserve side that have chemical soldiers along with radiation specialists and EOD.
There are nine countries known to have nuclear weapons, including China, Russia, and North Korea, also India and Pakistan who share a border and a dislike for each other. There about 20 countries that have or are suspected to have chemical weapons, and eight to ten that are strongly suspected to have biological weapons (anthrax, plague, etc). Since 2011 Chlorine Gas has been used in Syria an estimated 100 times. Chlorine is not illegal it is a disinfectant. It is used to treat drinking water and swimming pool water. It is used in paints, textiles, insecticides and PVC to name a few products, making it is very easy to obtain. Using it as a weapon is internationally illegal. When released, as a gas, it produces a green cloud, and when breathed it breaks down the mucus membranes in the airways creating fluid. A person can drown in his own fluids. There is no antidote, just stop breathing and get away from the cloud, but the damage is permanent. In April 2017 another gas attack was used in Syria. That time it was Sarin or nerve gas. It is colorless and odorless, and even at low concentrations death can occur within one to ten minutes if the antidote “Atropine” is not injected. Symptoms of nerve gas are convulsions, foaming mouths, blurry vision, difficulty breathing, – death. All soldiers, in line units, are issued a spring-loaded atropine syringe along with their protective mask. Just stick it against your leg and it injects atropine.
According to South Korean intelligence, North Korea has been building chemical weapons since 1980, and is estimated to have between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of different chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax, smallpox, and the plague. Much of which can be delivered with artillery, which is hidden in tunnels and caves very close to the DMZ. Twenty-five million people live in the vicinity of Seoul, South Korea, within range of that artillery. Japanese intelligence believes that North Korea has developed missiles capable of delivering nerve gas. War in Korea would be chemical. Many CBRN soldiers think that a mission of the Chemical Branch, at US Army Human Resource Command, is to try to get all CBRN soldier to Korea, for at least one tour. I know several career CBRN soldiers who have not been to Korea, but most have.
In their initial entry training, (basic training or officer basic) every soldier in the Army goes through a gas chamber filled with CS gas (riot tear gas). They enter the chamber while wearing their gas mask, then on command they remove their mask and state their name, rank, date of birth or anything else the chamber operator dreams up to make sure they get a good dose of the gas, then they exit the chamber and blow their nose, maybe throw up, and flush their eyes with water but do not touch the eyes (that makes it worse). Every soldier in the Army does that at least once a year. The purpose is to give them confidence in their protective (gas) mask. Soldiers are trained to get their mask on within nine seconds. Every company in the Army has a CBRN NCO (non-commissioned officer) (sergeant), and a CBRN Room, which stores, not only a protective mask for every soldier, but a complete MOPP suit. That is an acronym for Mission Oriented Protective Posture. The CBRN Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST). Top with hood, bottom, boots, and gloves all attached together to keep unseen things from getting to your skin. It’s lightweight, but it is still hot! Training in PPE gear in the winter is not too bad, it just tires you out soon, in the summer it can be hell. CBRN officers and sergeants are careful to incorporate rest periods in full PPE training.

CBRN (Dragon) soldiers of the 21st Chemical Company at Fort Bragg, North Carolina conduct PPE training to the 248th Medical Detachment, prior to the 248th’s deployment.

The CBRN Room also stores chemical and radiological detection and decontamination equipment. The CBRN NCO, not only maintains the room and equipment, but participates in training planning, in order to incorporate CBRN into training. Then conducts or supervises CBRN training. The position calls for a Sergeant E-5, at company level. There is a Staff Sergeant E-6 in the operations section of battalion headquarters, and a Sergeant First Class E-7 at brigade headquarters, along with a Chemical Corps Captain.
Soldiers in the US Army Chemical Corps are called “Dragon Soldiers”. The Dragon, a legendary creature, symbolizes the fire and destruction of chemical warfare.

Chemical Corps Regimental Crest

Fort Leonard Wood is the home of the Chemical Center, School and Museum. Chemical Corps officers and enlisted personnel take their basic and advanced courses there, plus special courses, so career 74D’s keep returning to Fort Leonard Wood for, not only specialty courses, but required military education. The standards are a little higher for 74D, an ASVAB score of 100 in ST (skilled technical), which is composed of the following ASVAB tests, GS – General Science, VE – Verbal Expression, MK – Mathematics Knowledge, and MC – Mechanical Comprehension. The course is also intellectually challenging. Comments from 74D graduates are stay awake, pay attention in class, take notes, and apply yourself. The 84th Chemical Battalion, which runs 74D AIT has the newest facility in the Army. Battalion and Company offices and class rooms downstairs, and classrooms and student dorms upstairs in a giant five story complex. Like living in a hotel and going downstairs for your conference. After physical training of course. Students learn CBRN Room Operations (supply, maintenance, training, etc), and biological agents, chemical agents, radiation detection and response, hazardous materials/toxic industrial chemicals, operational decontamination, thorough decontamination, mass casualty decontamination, and basic chemical/biological detection. They really learn how to decontaminate (wash) a vehicle, while wearing a spaceman suit. A lot of time is spent, in MOPP gear, doing hands on in the Chemical Defense Training Facility on Leonard Wood, and there is a field training exercise (FTX). One former student wrote that during a class on some real kinky stuff, the instructor stopped and said; “If you ever really see this, something in the world has gone terribly wrong”. Students get National Hazmat Certification before they graduate from AIT. Students get to keep cell phones, ipads and computers, just not during the day in class. A 74D Specialist, who is now a company CBRN NCO, recently made a youtube video, in which she said that she failed a couple areas and was recycled to another AIT class, making her AIT 13 weeks. Study.

74D AIT students under going an ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test)
74D AIT students in hazmat classroom training.
74D AIT students in “hands on” hazmat training.
74D AIT student in Radiation Detection training.
74D AIT Graduation

A Sergeant First Class 74D, who was recently a Drill Sergeant at the Chemical School, had this to say; “You will learn the basics of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Operation. What that entails, is learning Decon, Recon, Smoke. Detection, protection, and effects of agents. You will also learn CBRN Room operations and how to maintain all the equipment. One of the most critical tasks you will do in AIT is the Chemical Defense Training Facility (CDTF) where you will be operating in a live Chemical environment. The cadre will deliberately contaminate area with VX nerve agent. You will actually see him/her place a live roach on a vehicle and the roach will die. Then you will employ the portable decon systems (whatever is in the Army’s inventory) to the vehicles in the facility. Once training is complete, the soldier will have to diff chemical protection gear using the exiting procedures. The last item to be removed will be the mask once you make it to the clear side. You will be in the buff with your mask on taking a shower. Then you will be moved to an area and given “all clear” to remove mask and get dressed. You will also conduct a convoy live fire and advance range learning the small arms I.e. .50 cal and MK 19. You will conduct two FTXs (Field Training Exercise) during AIT in which the last FTX you will conduct as a chemical platoon with primary focus on decon ops and force protection. That’s it in a nutshell. Plenty of opportunities post military. Focus on obtaining a specialty if possible. Tech Escort will open a lot of doors. Smoke has been turned over to the Engineer Corps.”
Two types of assignments can come after 74D AIT at Fort Leonard, Missouri, to a chemical unit, or to a non-chemical unit. Assignment to a chemical unit means you’re with CBRN soldiers doing CBRN work, but most are assigned to non-chemical units, which usually means that they are the only CBRN specialist in the company. My wild guess calculation is that a 74D AIT graduate has about a 75% plus, probability of being assigned to a non-chemical unit. They walk into a company, as a slick sleeve private, and are expected to be a CBRN expert. That makes AIT doubly important.
I found several negative comments from former 74D’s, that they were used as clerks, or drivers, or as the First Sergeant’s “gofer”. Those were usually from new 74D’s in support units, that did not frequently train with their CBRN equipment. I personally saw that happen in support units, but not in combat units. By the same token, I found comments from 74D’s who enjoyed learning other skills. The smart, hard workers, who took whatever task they were assigned as their mission, and performed every job to the best of their ability, with a positive attitude, ended up being promoted and placed in charge of a CBRN room.
If you become the First Sergeant’s “gofer”, become the best gofer possible. As a First Sergeant, you learn the gofers on whom you can depend to get things done, when you need help. Those are the soldiers, the First Sergeant will go out of his way to help, when the soldier needs help. The greatest reward for old sergeants, is seeing young soldiers, they’ve mentored, rise up through the ranks and succeed. Besides maintaining a positive attitude and being a hard worker, the 74D who is aggressive in pushing for CBRN training, usually establishes himself or herself as a key member of the company headquarters.
Below is the Company Headquarters of an Airborne Infantry Company;
Title Rank/Grade Branch/MOS
Company Commander Captain 0-3 Infantry
Executive Officer First Lieutenant 0-2 Infantry
First Sergeant First Sergeant E-8 11B5P
Supply Sergeant Staff Sergeant E-6 92Y3P
Senior Radio Operator Sergeant E-5 11B2P
CBRN NCO Sergeant E-5 74D2P
Armorer Specialist E-4 92Y1P
Radio Operator Private First Class E-3 11B1P
So, what can you do, when enlisting, to try to insure that you don’t get assigned to a support company somewhere, that only does CBRN training once a year at the gas chamber? Get the airborne option. Jumping out of airplanes. The largest unit to which a new airborne qualified 74D would be assigned, would be the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The 82nd does have many support companies, as well as the combat units, but I guarantee you, no company in the 82nd Airborne Division does half-assed training. There have been many 74D’s assigned as company CBRN NCO’s straight out of AIT, most have succeeded and were promoted to sergeant in a couple years.
This is a true 74D story. In 2008, when the economy took a nose dive (recession), a 32 year old man, married with their first child due soon, was working at a pharmacy, when he met an Army Recruiter. A guaranteed paycheck and free health care sounded good, plus his family had a record of military service, but he had never been around the military. He enlisted in July 2008. Basic Combat Training and 74D AIT was at Fort Leonard Wood, from there he was assigned to the 62nd Chemical Company at Fort Lewis, Washington. The 62nd deployed to Kuwait, for a year, where he trained Kuwait National Guard in CBRN hazard detection, mitigation, and decontamination. Upon returning from deployment, in 2010, now a Sergeant and 36 years old, he volunteered for airborne school, he attended the CBRN Dismounted Reconnaissance Course at Fort Leonard Wood, and was assigned to the 82nd Chemical Reconnaissance Detachment (CRD), which was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colorado.
Every Special Forces Group has a 28 man CRD attached. The CRD is broken down into 4 man teams. Team Leader – Sergeant First Class, Assistant Team Leader – Staff Sergeant, and two Sergeant CBRN NCO’s. The teams are often split to two men and attached to Special Forces Operational Detachment Alphas (ODA). In other words, an A-Team. They don’t go through special forces training, and they don’t wear a green beret, they wear a maroon beret, but they go with an A-Team doing what it does. Comments from Green Berets about their attached 74D’s are usually; “They hang with us or they can’t hang. We soon find out.” This 74D sergeant trained in document and media exploitation and analysis, biometric collection, and unknown substance identification. In 2013, he set up and operated an Exploitation Analysis Center (forensic lab) in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and another in support of French Special Operations Forces in Burkina Faso. In 2015, he went back to Africa, moved everything, and worked with Combat Applications Group (Delta), FBI, and NSA. There was big news in 2017 about four green berets ambushed and killed in Africa. Two of those killed, weren’t actually green berets, but were 74D’s from the CRD, attached to that Special Forces A-Team. One was posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class, and awarded the Silver Star.

A Soldier from the 56th Chemical Reconnaissance Detachment, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), enter a shipping container during a portion of the 1st SFC Validation Exercise on February 03, 2020, at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Iman Broady-Chin, 5th SFG(A) Public Affairs)

In 2016, he was selected to come back to Fort Leonard Wood and be an instructor at the CBRN Advanced Leaders Course, which he did through 2019. He says that training and mentoring the young sergeants, for higher positions was one of the most satisfying jobs, so far, of his career.

SFC Jeffrey Escott teaching an Advanced Leaders Class.
SFC Escott with an ALC class.
More ALC class instruction.

His official resume lists the following Army schools; Basic Leaders Course, CBRN Advanced Leaders Course, CBRN Senior Leaders Course, Combat Lifesaver Course, Combatives Level 1, Training/Operations NCO Course, Basic Radiology Safety, Hazardous Materials Technician, Technical Escort (that is really how to fight terrorists while escorting VIP’s), CBRN Dismounted Reconnaissance, Exploitation Analysis Center, SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) (that’s a tough one), Basic Airborne, Air Assault, Anti-terrorism Officer, Equal Opportunity Leaders Course, Small Group Instruction Course, Foundation Instructor Facilitator Course, Master Resilience Training, and Army Recruiter Course. He is currently working on a bachelor’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management with American Military University.

SFC Escott with the little Escott’s.
Army Recruiter SFC Jeff Escott at a local high school.

That has been the adventure, so far, of Sergeant First Class Jeff Escott, an Army Recruiter, at the Rolla, Missouri Army Recruiting Office. If this sounds interesting, talk to SFC Jeff Escott.

Sergeant First Class Jeffrey E. Escott, US Army Recruiter, Rolla, Missouri.


That is an attention getting title for a story about Unit Supply Specialist, MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 92Y. Even the web page BELOW for MOS 92Y sounds kind of mundane.


The unit supply specialist is primarily responsible for supervising or performing tasks involving the general upkeep and maintenance of all Army supplies and equipment.
• Receive, inspect, inventory, load/unload, store, issue and deliver supplies and equipment
• Maintain automated supply system for accounting of organizational and installation supplies and equipment
• Issue and receive small arms. Secure and control weapons and ammunition in security areas
• Schedule and perform preventive and organizational maintenance on weapons
• Operate unit level computers
Those who want to serve must first take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a series of tests that helps you better understand your strengths and identify which Army jobs are best for you.
Job training for a unit supply specialist requires 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and eight weeks of Advanced Individual Training with on-the-job instructions. Part of this time is spent in the classroom and part in the field, including practice in handling and storing stock.
Some of the skills you’ll learn are:
• Procedures for shipping, receiving, storing and issuing stock
• Stock control and accounting procedures
• Procedures for handling medical and food supplies
• Movement, storage and maintenance of ammunition
• Interest in mathematics, bookkeeping, accounting, business administration and/or typing
• Ability to keep accurate records
• Enjoy physical work
• Interest in operating forklifts and other warehouse equipment
Clerical (CL): 90″

The Clerical score is from the word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning, and mathematics knowledge tests. English and math, and 90 is not a very high score, and eight weeks (actually eight weeks and two days, so count on nine weeks) AIT (Advanced Individual Training) is a short AIT. One might think that this would be an easy clerk job, counting wigits. Nothing could be further from reality.
My story titled “Supply” describes the AIT, and my story titled “Enlisted Quartermaster Corps” also talks about MOS 92Y.

92Y AIT students undergoing the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test).
Checking temperature of 92Y AIT students in the Dining Facility

This is one of the most important, sensitive, and demanding jobs in the Army. It may not sound like a brainy job, but it is. The AIT covers basic procedures, but a 92Y is a 92Y and can be assigned to an infantry company, or aviation, or signal, or chemical, or medical, or anything, anywhere from a basic training battalion at Fort Leonard Wood to a Special Forces company where ever they may be, to a Garrison company at Fort Meade, Maryland (Washington, DC). Learning to be a supply specialist just starts with AIT. Everything in the Army that doesn’t breath, flows through the supply system. Everything! Socks, boots, hand grenades, tanks, helicopters, rifles, bolts, nuts and bacon. It has to be stored, requested, issued, and returned. The volume and the value of all that “stuff” is mind boggling.
Property accountability is one of the most sensitive subjects in the Army. Funding the military is a big deal and whether the item is a 9 million dollar tank or a 6 million dollar helicopter or a $200 set of tools, it represents money. Every non expendable item “owned” by a company is recorded in that unit’s property book (now automated). Army Company Commanders are personally responsible for everything “owned” by that company. When company commanders change, a complete physical inventory of the items listed in the company property book is conducted jointly by the incoming and outgoing commanders. Everything is accounted for before the incoming commander signs for the company. The person in that company directly responsible for property accountability is the company Supply Sergeant, MOS 92Y, who normally has a private or specialist assistant.

Staff Sergeant Adrian Santamaria, Supply Sergeant for Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Some senior commanders require that incoming commanders make a pre-inventory visit, with the supply sergeant, that the change of command inventory is not just officer business.

Laying out “everything” for a change of command inventory.

Before anyone gets anything from the company supply room, whether it be a tool or a vehicle, they sign for it, and that transaction is entered into the system in the company property book. The Supply Sergeant and his or her assistant requests what the company needs, receives it, and issues it. When the supply sergeant orders an item, he is spending money.
Unfortunately, handling valuable items sometimes becomes a temptation, but especially now with everything digitally stored, you can’t get away with it. There is a recent story of a former Chief Warrant Officer, Property Book Officer, now serving 25 months in prison for stealing fore than 40 high-tech night vision goggles, valued at over $500,000 from his unit, with plans to sell them to a local military surplus store. He had simply deleted the items from the Property Book, but with GCSS-Army they were still in the system.
In the past five years, the Army has gone from a multitude of supply procedures to the Global Combat Support System – Army (GCSS-Army). It is one program that allows everyone in the system to “see” everything, items and money, from factory to foxhole. To do that, the Army has gone to commercial SAP software. SAP is a huge and, can be, complicated system. There have been instances where large civilian companies, implementing SAP, have had to completely cease operations, during the implementation process, because they didn’t anticipate the time and learning curve necessary to implement SAP. The Army has accomplished this incrementally, over the past five years.
For someone who is looking at the Army as a possible career, this is one of the most fulfilling and respected support jobs. I’ll go through a probable career cycle of an enlisted 92Y soldier. Basic Combat Training is 10 weeks, but with reception and processing, that eats up three months. Basic training is physically hard, but according to most people going through now, it is also fun. That would probably be at Fort Leonard Missouri, or Fort Jackson, South Carolina. AIT at Fort Lee, Virginia will consume 9 weeks. If you take the airborne option, which I highly recommend, because airborne units are more elite and just better, you would go to jump school for three weeks at Fort Benning, Georgia. Then, after about six months since leaving home, you are assigned to a permanent unit. The lowest level to which a newly arriving 92Y is assigned is to a company. Using an airborne infantry unit as an example, the company Supply Sergeant is a staff sergeant with a specialist assistant. New privates are sometimes assigned to a company, where there is a vacancy, with a good Supply Sergeant. According to the official table of organization, the supply assistant is also the company armorer. That is followed in most support units, that don’t frequently use their weapons, but not in combat units, where there is always arms room activity. In most of those units, someone is pulled from the line to be the armorer, so the 92Y can stay in the supply room. That is not a complete desk job, supplies have to picked up, loaded, unloaded, stored, and issued.

Promotion to PFC E-3 (Private First Class) usually comes after a month or two at the permanent unit. The smart 92Y would first concentrate on learning the job, and performing at the best of his or her ability.
Base pay for a PFC, with less than two years service, is $2,042.70. A single soldier living in the barracks (dorm with own room), free meals in the Dining Facility, after all deductions, including (full SGLI Servicemans Group Life Insurance, and 5% Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), take home pay will be about $1,570 per month.
Other positions where the 92Y, may be assigned could be at Battalion Headquarters in the S-4 (Supply/Logistics) staff section. The Battalion S-4 section looks like this;
S-4 Captain
NCOIC (Non-commissioned Officer in Charge) Sergeant First Class 92Y
Assistant Supply Sergeant Sergeant 92Y
Supply Specialist Specialist 92Y
Supply Specialist Specialist 92Y

A new 92Y could also be assigned to the Brigade Headquarters, S-4 Section, which looks like this;
S-4 Major
Assistant S-4 Captain
Property Book Officer CW2 (Chief Warrant Officer)
NCOIC Master Sergeant 92Y
Supply Sergeant Staff Sergeant 92Y
Property Book NCO Sergeant 92Y
Supply Specialist Private First Class 92Y
Supply Specialist Private First Class 92Y

A new private could be assigned to the Brigade Headquarters, and after proving himself or herself to be smart, dedicated, and hard working, be assigned to a company, around the time they would make specialist, which would be about 18 months in the Army. I would definitely try to get the company experience, because that is the end of the supply chain, where supplies are consumed. That is also where everyone wants to be friends with the supply clerk, because you have what they need.
When someone makes Specialist, and they like the Army and are thinking that they might stay, they will start looking at the requirements for promotion to Sergeant. Civilian education is a big deal, in the Army. If they don’t have a bachelor’s degree, they should start aiming for one. Soldiers can “test out”, for free, on 38 different subjects, at the post Education Centers. Just like civilian CLEP (College Level Examination Program). Many online colleges are now offering accelerated bachelor’s programs. Many get through in three years, I did find a few, who claimed they did it in two years. Depends on how much time you can put into it. There are three big items considered in promotion to Sergeant and Staff Sergeant, weapons qualification score, ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test) score, and civilian education. Attendance at an on-post, four week, Basic Leadership Course (BLC) is required, prior to being promoted to Sergeant E-5. Promotion to Sergeant E-5 is currently running at three years and under, for 92Y’s.
Sergeants must return to Fort Lee for an eight week Advanced Leaders Course (ALC), before being considered for promotion to Staff Sergeant E-6. A Sergeant, over three years, married, living with his or her family in family housing on post, which includes utilities and maintenance, will bring home about $2,470 per month, after deductions. (That’s with the free house).
The soldier may desire to become an officer. The requirements to apply for OCS (Officer Candidate School) are, have a bachelor’s degree (any degree), and not have over six years of service. Three months in OCS and they are commissioned a second lieutenant. That Second Lieutenant’s base pay is $4,136.40 per month.
Another career move, which many make, is to Warrant Officer. The requirements are be a staff sergeant or a sergeant on the staff sergeant promotion list, and worked as a 92Y at least five years of the past eight.

Chief Warrant Officer Twana Chapman is the military liaison officer for the Defense Logistics Agency Technical Support Directorate at Fort Belvoir, Virginia

If accepted, they attend a five week Warrant Officer Candidate Course, then an eight week Warrant Officer Basic Course.
Promotion to Staff Sergeant could be anywhere between five and eight years, depends on how hard they work, on things like civilian education, and other schools. Most Company Supply Sergeants are Staff Sergeants, although Sergeants occasionally fill those positions. A Staff Sergeant, with over eight years of service, married, living off post (bought a house with no down payment VA loan), after all deductions, has take home pay of about $4,150 per month (remember free health care). A Warrant Officer makes about $1,000 a month more than a Staff Sergeant.
Staff Sergeants must go back to Fort Lee to attend the 10 week Seniors Leaders Course, before being considered for promotion to Sergeant First Class (SFC) E-7. Promotion to SFC can come anywhere between eight and 10 to 12 years, depending on the individual. The higher the rank, the more important is civilian education.
SFC’s must attend a two week Master Leader Course, before being considered for promotion to Master Sergeant E-8. 92Y E-8’s may be assigned to staff jobs or as First Sergeants of Quartermaster Companies. Promotion to E-8, if it comes, will happen between 15 and 18 years, depending on the individual.
Master/First Sergeants selected for promotion to Sergeant Major E-9, will first attend the 10 month long US Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. Promotion to Sergeant Major, again – if it comes, will be around the 20 to 22 year mark. Sergeant Major 92Y’s head the G-4 sections in division level (two star command) and above.
A Master Sergeant, retiring after 27 years of service, starts drawing $3,500 a month retirement. A Sergeant Major, retiring after 30 years of service, will start drawing $4,600 per month in retirement. Both should have hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Thrift Savings Plan.
I said Logistician, by the time a 92Y soldier becomes a master sergeant he or she will be a logistician. This is not always an eight hour a day job, especially when units are deploying. In 2012, Sergeant First Class Gidget Borst was assigned as a battalion S-4 (supply) Sergeant at Fort Bliss, Texas. Upon arrival at her unit, she found things not in good order and a supply inspection on the horizon. She had to put some evening and weekend work to bring the battalion supply program back up to par, and then established herself as a key member of the battalion.

SFC Gidget Borst being praised by her Battalion Command Sergeant Major
SFC Borst being lauded by her Regimental Commander

SFC Borst’s Battalion Commander said; “We heavily rely on her efforts to forecast the needs of not only our battalion, but also to meet the needs of the elements that are deploying into harm’s way.” She really is now a logistician.

Supply Sergeant doing key inventory.


     This is a follow up to my story on MOS 25B, army IT specialist “BE AN ARMY COMPUTER GUY OR GAL”. This is about the signal corps in general.

     Signal Soldiers are, or soon will be; Information Technology Specialist – MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 25B, Signal Support Specialist – MOS 25U, Network Communications Systems Specialist – MOS 25H, and Satellite Communications Systems Operator/Maintainer – MOS 25S. These are some of the most civilian marketable army jobs. They currently require a four year enlistment and a SECRET security clearance.

     The US Army Signal Corps is currently undergoing a massive and rapid evolution. In the “old Army”, with the inclusion of satellites in the military communications systems, enlisted signal jobs ranged from a radio operator/maintainer, with an AIT (Advanced Individual Training) of about eight weeks, to satellite and microwave system operators and maintainers, and multi-channel communication center maintainers, with AIT’s of sometimes over 30 weeks. Those were highly specialized, technical jobs. In the 20 years between 1980 and 2000, the world switched to communicating via computer. The Army Signal Corps struggled to keep up, it trained soldiers to be computer savvy communicators, but they were still highly specialized. As a result, when Iraq and Afghanistan exploded, the Army had qualified communications soldiers, but it took four or five communications specialists, each trained in a narrowly defined task, to do what could be efficiently performed by one civilian contractor. The military hired civilian contractors, and the signal people complained that they weren’t being used.

     In the past eight to ten years, Army leadership – the three and four stars – who came up the ranks with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, having to deal with logistics, casualties, and communications, while dealing with an enemy combatant, have been changing the Army more rapidly than it has changed since World War II. The US Army Signal Corps is now in the midst of change.

     In April 2016, the Department of Defense (DOD) started moving from the Command Cyber Readiness Inspection (CCRI) to the Command Cyber Operations Readiness Inspection (CCORI). The new CCORI was to not only test a system for compliance with all DOD directives, but to challenge the security of that system. Then in November 2018, Colonel Joseph Pishock, Commander of the 1st Signal Brigade in Korea, together with Major James Torrence, Operations officer of the 41st Signal Battalion of the 1st Signal Brigade, wrote a scathing article in “Small Wars Journal” about the US Army Signal Corps.      Their point was that the Signal Corps had become so addicted to rigidly complying with cyber standards that it was afraid to take risks. In other words, not allowing the addicted computer geek specialists and sergeants to try anything outside specific guidelines, to defeat a cyber threat. They said the culture of the Signal Corps had to change. In the Signal Corps of the old days of radios, it worked or it didn’t work. In the cyber world of today, it works but someone is trying to get our data, which is the number of troop movements, logistics, ammunition, operations orders – everything. In the civilian world the computer geek at the keyboard is the first line of defense. The Army also has computer geeks, it just hasn’t been allowing them to take risks and try new things.

     In an interview in August 2019, Brigadier General (BG) Christopher Eubanks, Chief of Signal and Commandant of the Signal School, at that time, said that the Signal Corps is consolidating from 17 MOS’s to 7. It is revamping all signal AIT’s to the new consolidated MOS’s, to produce better trained and more versatile signal soldiers. The signal jobs (MOS’s) for which an individual may enlist are being reduced from 13 to 6, and finally, I believe, to 4.
This is a transition currently in process and won’t be completed for another two to four years. Some MOS consolidations are scheduled to be completed October 1st 2022.

                           Brigadier General Christopher Eubank and

                            Command Sergeant Major Richard Knott   

 The US Army Signal School is located at the Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, Georgia (Augusta).

     Throughout the dozens of comments, I found from current and former signal soldiers, the one subject that came up in almost all, was that they did a lot of cross-training, because they were often not assigned to a job consistent with their MOS. 25B’s working in 25N positions and vice versa, 25U’s working in both. It appears that the overall attitude of the Army has been, a signal soldier is a signal soldier.

     Current MOS 25C Radio Operator/Maintainer is being merged into MOS 25U Signal Support Systems Specialist. The current AIT for 25U is 16 weeks. Retired Signal Sergeant Virgin Houston said this; “I think this is the hardest signal MOS because you are alone in an infantry or other type unit. If something uses electricity, you will be expected to make it work and fix it. Very high pressure, but rewarding. This is the black sheep of Signal. You are jack of all trades and master of none. I don’t think these folks are given enough training.” Hopefully the training is being fixed with this revamping. The 25U is not only a computer guy or gal, he or she is the commo expert in an infantry, artillery, armor, combat engineer, or other “line” unit. High Frequency (HF) radios are used in combat units, because many things from enemy hacking to a thunder storm can shut down satellite communications.

                              AN/PRC-163 Multi-Channel Handheld Radio

          AN/PRC-158 Multi-Channel High Frequency Manpack Radio

                  RF=300H Wideband HF Manpack Radio – Allows Secure High                                               Frequency Wideband data transfer       

Army standardized tactical computer allows Commanders to actually “see” the battlefield from their command vehicle.

Current MOS 25Q Multichannel Transmission Systems Operator/Maintainer and MOS 25N Nodal Network Systems Operator/Maintainer are being consolidated in new MOS 25H Network Communications System Specialist, effective October 1st 2022. Currently, 25Q’s install, operate, and maintain multi-channel line of sight and tropospheric scatter communications systems, antennas, and associated equipment. The AIT for 25Q is 15 weeks long. MOS 25N’s are the tactical network people. That AIT is currently 21 weeks. One 25N said this; “25N is a fantastic job full of certification and plentiful networking with civilian contractors and field service representatives. It is difficult but rewarding. You’ll work in truck-mounted, airconditioned switch shelters. You are as marketable as they come, if you decide not to reenlist.” Another said to over maintain your generator. Oil it, grease it, love it, and fuel it constantly. Without the generator, you’re just another lowly radio operator. Virgil Houston, said this is a good one for transference to civilian jobs. He also said that 25Q is good for transferring to civilian jobs. He also said that both were often done by civilian contractors.
Current MOS 25P Microwave Systems Operator/Maintainer is being merged with MOS 25S Satellite Communications Systems Operator/Maintainer. MOS 25P AIT is currently 11 weeks, and MOS 25S AIT is 18 weeks.

        The Army Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T)   

                                                   WIN-T Equipped 

Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division leverage Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), the Army’s tactical communications network backbone, to enable mission command and advanced network communications in the brigade main command post on September 23, 2015, during Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 16.1, at Fort Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T Public Affairs)

WIN-T Tactical Communications Node-Lite (TCN-L) and Network Operations Security Center-Lite (NOSC-L) are now being fielded to light infantry units after a successful operational test at the Network Integration Evaluation at Fort Bliss, Texas, in July 2017. (Photo by Jen Judson/Defense News Staff)

     There are three other signal MOS’s, soon to be consolidated to two, that are also part of the Signal Corps. MOS 25M Multimedia Illustrator, is being consolidated into MOS 25V Combat Documentation/Production Specialist. There is also MOS 25V’s partner MOS 25R Visual Information Equipment Operator/Maintainer. These jobs are not part of the Signal Corps community.    Their AIT is at the Defense Information School, at Fort Meade, Maryland, along with the MOS 46S Mass Communication Public Affairs Specialists AIT. The signal corps recommended that these be transferred to Public Affairs, but there appears to be some resistance from Public Affairs. I feel that they will eventually be transferred to Public Affairs.

     The enlistment requirements for all these signal MOS’s are ASVAB scores of 100 in EL and 102 in ST. The EL (Electronics) score is a combination of four sub tests, Electronics Information, General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge. The ST (Skilled Technical) is also from four sub tests, General Science and Mathematics Knowledge, plus Verbal Expression (English) and Mechanical Comprehension. All require a SECRET security clearance, which entails a National Agency check, including financial history, and interviews, if deemed necessary. At present, most require a four-year enlistment. That could change, as MOS’s and AIT schools are consolidated.
Signal AIT is being completely restructured. The goal is to train an all-around signal soldier. All MOS’s will be together for about the first month of AIT. In that “Foundational Training”, there will be a day and a half of Orientation and pre-assessment, four days of Computer Literacy, two days of Operating Systems/Printers, and about 10 days of Networking/Security. After the Foundational Training, AIT students will separate into their MOS specific training. After the MOS training is complete, all will return for a joint four-day field exercise, with all practicing their combined skills in a tactical environment. I feel that after this has been fully implemented, all signal AIT will be around 20 to 25 weeks. If it goes to 25 weeks, or more, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the enlistment requirement go to five years.

     Reports from current and former AIT students at Fort Gordon are mixed about academics and general life as an AIT student. Academically, the 25B’s and 25N’s said that it was easy, if they were already a computer person, if not it was hard – study, study, study. As far as life outside the classroom, freedom of movement appears to differ from company to company. All complained about multiple daily formations, including weekends. This seems to be a symptom of what Colonel Pishock and Major Torrence called a fear of commitment and risk taking within the Signal Corps. Decisions being made at high levels, relieves junior officers and sergeants of responsibility, thereby detracting from their inclination to make leadership decisions. The result comes through to enlisted soldiers, as a lack of trust. Although, that appears to get better further into the course. There are surprise inspections for alcohol and drugs and other infractions of rules.

     Some cautioned not to let your physical condition deteriorate, during AIT. They said that regular PT is not enough to keep you in shape for the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test), and that a couple failures can result in a discharge. The entire Army is completely serious about personal physical condition.

     Where are signal soldiers assigned? Everywhere there are soldiers. Including the Airborne Option in the enlistment contract, will probably point the new enlistee to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, although there are a few airborne signal soldiers scattered with Special Forces Groups. They don’t become Green Berets’, they are in signal units that support Special Forces. One of the Special Forces MOS’s, 18E, is Communications. Being a signal soldier would be a good basic education for someone desiring to become a communications Green Beret. I saw SF commo guys, in Vietnam, throw a wire up in a tree, pull their little radio out of their ruck and talk to the world.

     These are high tech, brainy jobs which are also good paying civilian jobs.


     The soldier whose job is to 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, is Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 25B Information Technology Specialist. These are the Army IT professionals. I have written before (see my article COMPUTER HACKER) about MOS 17C Cyber Operations Specialist, those are Top Secret people hidden away doing Top Secret stuff. The 25B’s are the everyday, every unit, computer professionals, who keep the systems up and running.

                                             25B Installing a motherboard.

     This is, with doubt, one of the best Army jobs that transfers directly to lucrative civilian jobs, and because the Army will turn you into an IT professional, it requires a five year enlistment The Army now communicates just like the rest of the world communicates, by computer, so it has a lot of IT professionals to keep it communicating, securely. Shoot, move, and communicate is what the Army does. That puts 25B in the Signal Corps. The AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for 25B is currently 20 weeks long at the Army Signal School at Fort Gordon, Georgia. This story is specifically about MOS 25B IT Specialist, I will follow it with another about other signal jobs, because the Signal Corps is currently undergoing a major overhaul.
First, this MOS requires a SECRET security clearance, because of the information to which they are exposed, so a person needs to be squeaky clean, other than minor traffic tickets. Getting a SECRET security clearance means a background check, which includes a national agency check, public and financial records search, and depending what that reveals, maybe personal interviews.
What a 25B IT Specialist does.
     Install, operate, and perform unit maintenance on multi-functional/multi user information processing systems, peripheral equipment and auxiliary devices. Perform input/output data control and bulk data storage operations. Transfer data between information processing equipment and systems. Perform Battlefield Information Services (BIS) consisting of printing services, publication management, files, form management, reproduction services, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Privacy Act (PA), unit distribution/official mail, correspondence management and classified document control. Troubleshoot automation equipment and systems to the degree required for isolation of malfunctions to specific hardware or software. Restore equipment to operation by replacement of line replaceable unit (LRU). Perform system administration functions for the tactical DMS. Install, operate, performs strapping, re-strapping, PMCS and unit level maintenance on COMSEC devices. Assist in the design, preparation, editing, and testing of computer programs. Draft associated technical documentation for program reference and maintenance purposes. Modify existing application packages using application, and operating system software, appropriate computer language commands and files.
     That includes helping non-computer literate people, and going back in after work to install something for a commander or a section that is working late on a big project. You may be a hero, and you may be just that invisible computer person that makes it work. To be that successful IT Specialist, that gets out of the Army and directly goes to work at three times the salary, you also have to do more on your own. Ten years ago, a 25B, preparing to leave the Army, wrote that he had been accepted by Homeland Security at $85,000 a year. Certifications must be obtained on your own, and they are necessary both in the Army and required in the civilian market. A+ N+ Sec + are stepping stones, then CCNA.

                                                 25B Troubleshooting.

                    25B setting up a VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal)

                              25B Quick set up training in the field on a VSAT.

Where are 25B’s assigned. Anywhere and everywhere in the world there are US Army soldiers. That includes any type of unit, signal units, medical units, and combat units. There are 25B’s in every Brigade Combat Team, Rangers, and Special Forces (they are not Green Berets, but they assigned to Special Forces Groups).
     Understand this, Army IT Specialists are soldiers, first. Just as every soldier is a soldier first. Basic Combat Training is as intense and thorough now, as it has ever been. It is 12 to 14 hours days, six days a week for 10 weeks, converting people from civilian to soldier. Every soldier in the Army, regardless of job, must pass the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) once annually, and qualify with their rifle and go through the gas chamber once annually. Two big things that help soldiers get promoted are their ACFT score and weapons qualification score. You can be the smartest computer geek in your unit, but if your PT (Physical Training) score starts going down, you will see dumb guys being promoted ahead of you. The Army is absolutely serious about physical conditioning. The ACFT has one scoring system, no compensation for sex or age. Just, is this soldier fit to perform in combat.
     Some comments from 25B’s. One 25B Staff Sergeant, with seven years in the Army, wrote this; “It is a very rewarding job personally, but don’t expect to be seen or awarded for doing your job or going above and beyond within the field. You’re barely noticed because if you keep updates and software up to date, then you will never see users unless they need a password reset of their account is locked out.” He also said this; “Try to broaden your opportunities from the start and you will surpass your peers. This is a hard MOS to get promoted in, but I made staff Sergeant in 6 years by being certified, working hard, and going above and beyond to learn things I have never touched before.” Another said; “If you’re the most knowledgeable guy in your section, you’ll get 0 classes because they don’t want you to not be there. You’ll never PCS (Permanent Change of Station), because your unit doesn’t want you to leave. You’ll get calls to come back in because the commander needs some random stuff installed.” Another said that units seem to put a death grip on good 25B’s.
     The requirements to enlist for this MOS are meet the requirements to enlist in the Army, and be able to get a secret security clearance, and score above 95 on the ST (Skilled Technical) part of the ASVAB. The ST consists of the following tests; General Science, Verbal Expression, Mathematics Knowledge, and Mechanical Comprehension. A score of 95 is not very high. A person that will succeed in 25B should have GT and ST scores in the 120’s. Completion of high school algebra is also required, plus normal color vision. Other attributes you should also have to succeed in this MOS. You should be a computer person. Not just someone who uses a computer and thinks this would be a lucrative career, but a person fascinated with the computer and its operating system, someone familiar with TCP/IP who can setup a network with a router and multiple computers and printers. Comments from current and former 25B’s concerning AIT are that being a computer person before enlisting in the Army is a big plus in AIT. Some said that the Army teaches you everything you need to know in AIT, which is true, but if you’re not already computer literate, AIT is much harder. One 25B suggested buying 2 PC’s, some networking hardware (cisco) (2 routers and 2 switches) and start learning how they all work. Another said; “Don’t do that, download GNS3. If you’re smart enough to get the OS for the routers, you can set it up. Gives you access to multiple vendors, lets you emulate big hardware to do things like string together MPLS backbones, BGP peering, lets you generate traffic to send across the virtual devices and it has a great community.” Another said that may be true, but there’s nothing like handling the actual equipment. All said, study, study, and study in AIT.
     AIT for 25B will probably be more than 20 weeks for civilians reading this. About half of MOS 25L Cable Systems Operator/Maintainer is being consolidated into 25B. Those are the guys sitting next to a terminal placing a thousand little multi-colored wires in their proper place. My guess is that it is going to be 23 or 24 weeks. AIT at Fort Gordon appears to be somewhat more restrictive that AIT’s at other posts. Much more freedom than in basic, but almost no free time during the week. Several said that there are multiple (four to five) accountability formations a day, and to definitely be early to each. Three people to a room, with three bunks and wall lockers, but one desk and chair, and one bathroom. Everything has to be locked up during the day, so don’t bring an old desktop PC. Happy AIT students are those who like sitting in their room playing games or working on their computer. Another wrote about AIT; “I worked with computers before I came here so it was fairly easy for me, but there is a high failure rate here. My class started with 25 and only 12 made it to graduation on time. (Failing a block gets the student recycled back to another class.) It’s basic computer knowledge but if you don’t have experience with computers people have a hard time unless they bust their tail. Simplest advice I can give you is, keep your head down, stay on top of your security clearance and orders so that you will leave on time. I’m going to be a holdover for a while because I thought my staff sergeant would handle things without me bugging him, but they deal with a lot of people, so start reminding them from day one, need security clearance, orders and a sponsor to leave on time.”
     In the IT world, certifications and knowledge appear to be valued more that degrees, although for some government jobs, a bachelors degree is required. In the Army, certifications and knowledge are also highly valued in the 25B world, but to get promoted, the Army wants civilian education. Several said that they got 18 to 20 semester hours awarded for 25B AIT, but Purdue Global indicates, on their site, that they award 57 credits (1.5 quarter credits = 1 semester hour) for 25B AIT, which translates to about 38 semester hours. They require 90 quarter credits for an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology degree.

                                  Sample 25B resume from a few years ago.

     My personal suggestion for 25B’s or anyone enlisting in the Army is take the airborne option, if you can get it, even if you have to wait a few weeks. Jumping out of airplanes is not only one of the biggest thrills in life, it puts you in an airborne unit, like the 82nd Airborne Division, or the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy, or the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division in Alaska, or in a Special Forces Group, or in other airborne units at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Airborne units are the most elite units to which you can be assigned after just going through regular training, plus the three week airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia. Overall, combat units have better leaders, higher morale, and are better organized.
     MOS 25B is not always available, you may have to wait several weeks to get it. There are thousands of 25B’s in the Army, but many slots are taken up by high school seniors, who start their processing long before high school graduation. A person enlisting for MOS 25B, spending five years in the Army, and then getting out, should have a stack of IT professional certifications and at least a bachelors degree in computer information systems. If not, they were lazy.

                             25B AIT student learning to set up a main router.



     If you are solid with your faith in God, and the military interests you, you haven’t reached your 35th birthday and are qualified to enlist in the military, this may be a job to consider. You can serve God and the military as an Army Chaplain Assistant. Army Religious Affairs Specialist, MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 56M, is a Chaplain Assistant.
     I’ve written before about Religion in the Army, but this is more in depth, specifically about becoming a Chaplain Assistant.
     Every unit in the army, in the size of battalion on up, has a Chaplain and a Chaplain’s Assistant. They are the “Unit Ministry Team”. The official army description of a Chaplain Assistant says that he or she is an assistant to the Chaplain, not an assistant Chaplain, but in reality, the Chaplain Assistant does much more than that.
     To become a Chaplain in the Army, a master’s degree in theology is required plus two years as a preacher, and have the recommendation of his dioceses, church, or denomination hierarchy. The Army has Protestant Chaplains of every denomination (Southern Baptist are the most numerous). There are Catholic Chaplains, Jewish Chaplains, and Muslim Chaplains. When ask if there would be humanist/atheist chaplains, an Army Chief of Chaplains replied, never. Humanism/atheism is regarded as a philosophy, not a religion. Same for Wiccans, which is not a recognized religious structure.
To become a Chaplain Assistant in the Army, you must meet the enlistment requirements, plus have two courses or one year in computer keyboard or pass a typing test at 25 words per minute, have a valid state drivers license, and be able to get a secret security clearance. Some other traits and qualities you should have; First, you should have a strong desire to help other people. In fact, that is almost a must, because that is what you will be doing. You should be firm in your belief in God, I never met a Chaplains Assistant who wasn’t, but I read a comment from one who wasn’t religious and didn’t like the job. You should be an outgoing people person who enjoys being around any and all people, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, a soldier is a soldier is a soldier. You should be a self-starter, comfortable working on your own, with little guidance from higher.
     The Chaplains’ job is to administer to the spiritual and emotional needs of soldiers and their families. At battalion level, the Chaplain is a captain and the assistant a sergeant, at brigade level, the Chaplain is a major and the assistant a staff sergeant. The Unit Ministry Team is part of the command group, the commander, deputy commander and command sergeant major, which means the Chaplain answers only to the commander. The Chaplain and the assistant set their own schedule. There is no job in the Army with more autonomy than a Chaplain Assistant.

Enlisted collar insignia for Army Chaplain Assistants.  They and the Chaplains are their own ‘Corps’.

     Chaplains are non-combatants, they don’t carry weapons. Chaplain’s Assistants are combatants and do carry weapons, because one of their jobs is to protect the Chaplain in combat areas.
     The job of a Chaplain Assistant in simple terms is to take care of his or her Chaplain. They take care of the Chaplains correspondence, maintain the office, and sign for all equipment, which in many units includes a vehicle which they must maintain. They control the budget for the Unit Ministry Team, schedule and coordinate the Chaplains activities and travel. They don’t always accompany the Chaplain. Chaplain Assistants do their own mingling with the troops. Every soldier in the battalion eventually knows who the Chaplain’s Assistant is, and most consider him or her someone to whom they can talk about personal matters, because when someone goes to see the Chaplain, they see the assistant first, so the assistant becomes a de facto counselor. Most Chaplain Assistants try to fit in anywhere in their unit. They do everything from participating in various training events to just hanging out with the buys. In most units, not only the Chaplain, but also the Commander and Command Sergeant Major rely on the Chaplain Assistant for input about unit morale or problems.
     Chaplain Assistants are the only soldiers authorized to receive and account for Chapel offerings. One Chaplain Assistant said that in his unit, he had church duty one weekend a month. One of his jobs is to set up religious services, which includes running weekend chapel services. Chaplain Assistants are not required to lead Bible study groups or prayer groups, but some do.

Sergeant William J. Jones, Chaplain Assistant for Headquarters Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, gives invocation at a Non-commissioned officer induction ceremony at Kandahar Airfield in 2012.

     Any soldier can go see the Chaplain anytime. They don’t have to give a reason, just say, “I want to see the Chaplain”, and they are released to do so. Whatever a soldier or family member tells a Chaplain Assistant is in strict confidence, and the assistant may tell only his Chaplain. If a soldier tells a Chaplain Assistant, “I’m going to shoot the First Sergeant at the range tomorrow.”, he or she may only tell the Chaplain, or at the most, tell the First Sergeant that he better not go to the range tomorrow. The Chaplain makes his or her own judgement call on what to do with information they receive, and all I ever knew were pretty common sense individuals. When I was the Senior Drill of a coed basic training company, I was in the process of commanding right face, forward march to move to a range, when a Drill Sergeant walked up to me and said; “I’ve done fell in love with female trainee. I’m going to see the Chaplain”. No time to do anything but march the company to the range, but fortunately the Chaplain immediately notified the battalion commander, who relieved the Sergeant from drill duty, and got him away from the trainees.
There have been circumstances where there was just a Chaplains Assistant, and no Chaplain. I don’t think that situation is ever purposely created, but Chaplains go on leave, they go to schools, and they may get reassigned before a replacement arrives. One Chaplain Assistant, who was in that situation, was asked if he ever overheard any “Oh NO’s” during a confession. First, Chaplain Assistants don’t hear confessions. His answer was;
“Not overheard, this was directly to me. PFC, infantry type comes in and starts spilling his guts about his wife’s manic depression and princess complex, how she was going kill herself and their unborn child if he didn’t start coming home sooner (poor guy was just a private on the line, his time was out of his control). Wife refused to go to behavioral health, chaplain, or anybody because “there’s nothing wrong with me, you just don’t love me enough to be home”. At the time it was just me, no chaplain, so I just kind of handled it as best I could, and got him set up to go with her to her next OB/GYN checkup so he could drop subtle hints to the doc about her mental health issues. It was touch and go, but eventually she got onto some anti-psychotic drug once the baby was born. He came and found me later, once things calmed down, and was the most grateful guy I’ve ever seen. Thankful that his family was going to be alright.”

                          Chaplain Assistants setting up church services.

     A private in the infantry has a sergeant fire team leader, a staff sergeant squad leader, a sergeant first class platoon sergeant, a platoon leader, a first sergeant, and a company commander, all of whom have attended classes on how to spot soldiers with problems, and how to deal with different soldier personal problems, and several have probably had to deal with similar circumstances in the past, but sometimes young soldiers won’t tell their chain of command that they have problems. That’s when they go to see the Chaplain.
     Chaplain Assistants don’t get to pick the religion or denomination of their Chaplain. They may be assigned to a Southern Baptist, a Catholic, or a Jew, and there are a few Muslim Chaplains. The Chaplain could be a man or a woman. There are now many female Chaplains. There are also two types of Chaplains to which an Assistant may be assigned. One with no military experience, prior to becoming a Chaplain, and attending the three month Chaplain Basic Officer Course, and the other is one who has had prior military experience. If assigned to a Chaplain with no prior military experience, the assistant has an even bigger job in teaching the Chaplain “army stuff”, and making sure that the Chaplain has the proper army equipment and material to participate in whatever activity occurs.
     There are many Chaplains with prior military experience. I ran into a couple who were ex infantry officers, who served their initial commitment, left the Army, and came back as Chaplains. Some served as a Chaplain’s Assistants, left the Army, became qualified and came back in as Chaplains. One assistant said; “You can’t pull the wool over their eyes, because they know your job”.
     Chaplain Assistants may attend most army schools that other soldiers attend. Airborne, Jump Master, Air Assault, and some have completed Ranger School. Chaplains also may attend those schools. There have been several Chaplains who completed Ranger School. To combat soldiers, on the line, a Chaplain with a Ranger Tab is “one of us”. There have been several Chaplains who have gone through the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course and the Special Forces Qualification Course, earning a Green Beret, so they would be more readily accepted by the Green Berets to whom they would minister.
     Someone wanting to become an Army Chaplain Assistant would first attend the 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training. A few years ago, army basic training was as easy as it had ever been, it is now as hard as it has ever been. I’ve written a few stories about army basic training. Be prepared before you jump in. The AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for Religious Affairs Specialist MOS 56M is seven weeks long at the Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. It is one of the easiest AITs, no overnight field exercises. That doesn’t mean no PT. Everybody in the Army does PT (physical training). In AIT they study English grammar, spelling and punctuation, typing and clerical skills, preparing forms and correspondence in Army style, roles and responsibilities of Army Chaplains, and religious history and background. They learn how to set up religious services, coordinate the Chaplains travels with the ongoing operation, how to safeguard privileged communications, and how to perform in crisis management. They learn how to use advanced digital equipment, maintain reports, files, and administrative data for religious operations, also how to receive and safeguard Chapel Tithes and Offering Funds.
     You may have to wait for this MOS to become available. Not only is it a small field, but current soldiers can reclassify into 56M. People discover God in many different ways. As previously mentioned, I’ve met Chaplains who were former infantry officers, and a couple who were former enlisted men. Then there is the story of Jeff Struecker. If you haven’t heard of Jeff Struecker, google him, there’s lots of info. The book and movie “Black Hawk Down”, is about the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia in October 1993. Jeff was a sergeant, squad leader in the 150 man Ranger Company that went into the city, 140 were wounded with 18 killed, the fire was so intense, from so many directions, Jeff said that he thought he was going to die. He started talking to God. God answered. Jeff and a ranger buddy went on to win Best Ranger competition in 1996. He left the Army, completed divinity school, and returned as a Chaplin.

                                 Ranger Sergeant First Class Jeff Struecker

                                 Ranger Chaplain (Captain) Jeff Struecker

US Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina



     Soldiers who purposely engage the enemy in combat, those who close with the enemy to kill or capture him by fire and maneuver, get shot at, and return fire, try to overcome fear, try to accomplish an objective and keep people from getting killed, are first the infantry. The infantry enlistment MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) is 11X, then in training they become a 11B Light Weapons Infantryman or a 11C Heavy Weapons Infantryman (mortars). Then there is Armor, MOS 19K, who rides in practically indestructible tanks, the Artillery, MOS 13B, is a long way from the fighting, and Cavalry Scouts’, MOS 19D, job is not to engage, but find what the enemy is doing and report it, but there are other soldiers who travel with the infantry when the infantry goes into combat, those are the COMBAT ENGINEERS, MOS 12B.
     Combat Engineers are as close to being Infantry as you can get, and not be Infantry. Combat Engineers are trained at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Fort Leonard Wood is the home of the US Army Engineer Center and School, plus the Engineer Museum, which contains the Engineer Regimental Room. Infantry soldiers are trained at Fort Benning, Georgia. Both are trained in OSUT (One Station Unit Training) companies, meaning trainees stay in the same company for basic combat training (BCT) and advanced individual training (AIT). Engineer OSUT is 14 weeks long. Infantry OSUT is 22 weeks. Airborne and light infantry squads and engineer squads have identical organizations, two 4 man teams each led by a Sergeant, with a Staff Sergeant Squad Leader. The secondary mission of combat engineers is to perform as infantry, if necessary. The first eight weeks, of engineer OSUT, is basic training, which is normally ten weeks, but OSUT companies don’t clean and turn in weapons and equipment, practice and have graduation, and process out. They have a simple one day completion ceremony, after the end of the Forge exercise, and then continue on with their MOS training. Infantry soldiers’ study and practice infantry tactics and weapons, whereas combat engineer soldiers’ study and practice constructing defensive positions like concertina wire, log and rock obstacles, and tank traps. Then they learn how breach those things, how to blow holes in defensive positions, buildings and doors. They learn how to build fixed and floating bridges, and how to blow them up, and if boats are used they also fall under the engineers. They spend a lot of time on explosives, how to set charges in various conditions. Then they study and practice one of the primary uses of combat engineers in Iraq and Afghanistan – route clearance, in other words, how to find and eliminate IED’s (improvised explosive devices).

Combat Engineers attach a time fuse to a detonating-cord firing system to practice detonating a bomb remotely.

     Combat Engineer soldiers who stay in the Army will return to Fort Leonard Wood for various PME (Professional Military Education) schools. Sergeants, return to attend an eight week Advanced Leaders Course, Staff Sergeants, return again for a 10 week Senior Leaders Course. Officers who are commissioned into the Corps of Engineers attend a three month basic officer leadership course at Fort Leonard Wood, then after about four years of service they return on a permanent change of station (PCS) to attend a six month Captains Career Course. Combat Engineer sergeants and officers may return to attend the very tough 28 day (continuous) Sapper Leaders Course. It is considered to be the engineer’s version of Ranger School, although engineers also attend Ranger School. Graduates of the Sapper Leaders Course get a “Sapper” tab on the left shoulder of their uniform, just like Rangers. A “Sapper” is a combat engineer soldier who is with the front line infantry troops. In Vietnam we had enemy sappers that could sneak through the perimeter wire and leave charges (bombs). We now train soldiers to do just that.

            Combat Engineer placing a breaching charge in concertina wire.

     I occasionally had an Engineer Squad attached to my Rifle Platoon, usually it was for them to blow something up, like bridges, buildings or obstacles. On a training exercise on the Salisbury Plain in England we were to dig foxholes and set up a defense. Immediately under the grass, on Salisbury Plain in England, is chalk, it was like trying to dig in concrete, with a fold out entrenching tool. Our engineers brought in a backhoe and scoped out foxholes. Then it rained for two days and the holes became lakes. Every Brigade Combat Team now has an Engineer Battalion, which consists of a Headquarters Company, two Engineer Companies, one of which is usually a “Sapper” company, a Signal Company, a Military Intelligence Company, and a Chemical detachment. There are also separate engineer battalions and brigades, and Ranger battalions have a few combat engineers. Two of the ten sergeants on a Special Forces A Detachment are combat engineers, but they go through a lot more kinky training to become a Green Beret.
     Combat Engineers carry things into combat and field training exercises that the infantry doesn’t, such as lots of C4 explosive, lots of det cord, blasting caps, duct tape, and even IV bags, which are used to make a water impulse explosive, to open a door. Engineers will blow holes in an enemy’s defensive perimeter so the infantry can run through and attack. They will also put up concertina wire and help the infantry construct defensive positions. If necessary, the engineers can call in help, such as backhoes and bulldozers, and temporary bridges. The engineers may build a better defensive position than the infantry, but the infantry will utilize it better, although they overlap, each are experts in different attributes of engaging the enemy.

                                               Some happy infantrymen.

     After the 14 week engineer OSUT, 12B’s go directly to a combat engineer unit. Hopefully, they go to airborne school first and go to an airborne combat engineer unit. The 82nd Airborne Division has three engineer battalions, one in each Brigade Combat Team (BCT), plus there is the airborne 27th Engineer Battalion on Fort Bragg, under XVIII Airborne Corps. There is one battalion in the 173rd Airborne Brigade at Vicenza, Italy, and one in the 4th BCT (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at Anchorage, Alaska.
     Combat Engineers are combat troops, they do not have a “job” to go to after PT in the morning. A typical day for a 12B, in garrison, is PT (physical training) first, then personal hygiene, get in uniform, eat breakfast, then be in formation around 8:45 to 9:00 AM. Then to what ever training is on for the day. Combat Engineers, infantry, armor, and artillery train. Combat Engineers get to blow up a lot of stuff.
     Advancement in rank in Combat Engineers is not quite as fast as in the infantry, but pretty good. A hard worker should make Sergeant within around three years.
     Belle, Missouri’s own, Jeremy Compton has made a career of being an Army Engineer, and is now at the pinnacle of rank, in the Army. He is currently the Command Sergeant Major of the 46th Engineer Battalion at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Command Sergeant Major Jeremy Compton checking training from a helicopter.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is a proud and respected corps.

                                            Combat engineers breaching.


    I’m starting this series on specific jobs in the army, with some support jobs.
The most “in the know” job in the Army is Human Resource Specialist, MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 42A in the Adjutant Generals Corps. It is physically one of the easiest jobs in the Army. It is a solid desk job, and is continually rated high by the people doing it. The big jobs website “Glassdoor” has workers rate companies on a scale of 1 to 10, and they have workers rate how they like their job on a scale of 1 to 5. In 2015, Glassdoor surveyed soldiers to have them rate their jobs. The top rated job in the Army, by people doing it was Human Resource Specialist, 42A’s gave their job a 4.3 out of five rating.

    If you want to do a lot of shooting, blowing up things, and kicking down doors, this is not your job. If you can’t stand being inside all the time, this is not your job.

Sergeant Isabel Giron a 42A at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany

     They qualify with their rifle, go through the gas chamber, and take a PT test once a year, and they do PT (Physical Training) every weekday morning just like every other soldier, but their working day is behind that desk and computer. If they go to the field whether they are in a tent or a mobile shelter, they are behind a desk and a computer. If they deploy they rarely go outside the wire, because their job is behind a desk and a computer.

    A Human Resource Specialist in the field using the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT)

     If they are airborne they will probably jump once every three months, to keep up jump pay. Promotions are in line with most support jobs, and they are the ultimate POG’s (Person Other than Grunt), but they do get a lot of satisfaction in performing their work, because their job is taking care of soldiers. Every personnel action that affects a soldier is handled by a Human Resource Specialist, including awards, promotions, schools, and assignments. HR Specialists know more about assignments, advanced schools, and promotions than any other soldier, because that is their job, from battalion to the Human Resource Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where there are a gazillion HR Specialists determining all soldiers’ assignments.
     In answer to a question from a future enlistee considering 42A, one 42A said this; “You will be at your desk for majority of your time. You network a lot being a 42A, whether it’s in your own battalion or around your brigade. If you learn your job, news will travel fast and you will get the respect of guys in your unit. That goes from the joes on the line to the CSM (Command Sergeant Major). Day to day, it’s not bad. You stay busy and learn a great deal about the Army. Of course you’ll have crappy days, but what job doesn’t have those? One piece of advice that I’ll share with a future 42A – No matter what you’re working on, take care of the Soldiers and treat their paperwork as your own. To you, it’ll just be another action, promotion, leave form or whatever. It’s just another piece of paper in your stack of stuff to do for the day, but that piece of paper might be the whole world to the Soldier at the time. That promotion they’ve been waiting on for months, the leave form to fly home to see their family or the packet to get their family overseas with them. Complete your mission so these guys can focus on their mission.”
Specialist Travis Campbell a 42A in a battalion S-1 office at Fort Carson, Colorado likes knowing what he does everyday makes a difference for individuals or for the organization.

   MOS 42A Human Resource Specialist encompasses a large area. The Army used to have an MOS for Personnel Specialist, one for Administrative Specialist, and one for Postal Specialist. They were all consolidated into 42A. To be qualified to work in an actual Army Post Office, there is an additional five week school after AIT, for those who want to go that route. MOS 42A requires a Secret Security Clearance, you will be investigated, so reveal everything, even a minor parking ticket. The ASVAB scores required to get this job are not high, but I personally think that they should be higher. To qualify for 42A, ASVAB scores of 100 in General Technical (GT) and 90 in Clerical (CL) are required. GT is Verbal Expression and Arithmetic Reasoning, CL is also Verbal Expression and Arithmetic Reasoning, plus Mathematics Knowledge. In other words – English (Language Arts) and math. If your ASVAB GT and CL scores are not at least 120 you may want to consider another job. This job may not appear to be a brainy job, but it is. The Army Regulations that governs and guides the work that 42A’s perform are several feet thick, when in print. Army Regulation (AR) 614-200 on enlisted personnel management is about 3 inches thick, AR 635-200 on enlisted separations is about the same. I once knew a man who could quote paragraph for paragraph from either. He made Master Sergeant E8 in eight years, can’t be done today.
     The AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for MOS 42A is nine weeks long at the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Summers are just as hot in South Carolina as in Missouri, but the winters are not nearly as cold. A recent graduate described 42A AIT as really easy. The dorms are three people to a room with one double bunk and one single, three desks, three closets and a bath/shower. Class is Monday through Friday. A typical day is 5:00 AM wake up, clean area, PT at 6:30 then shower, get dressed and breakfast and be in formation at 8:45. March to class, lunch is in a nearby DFAC (Dining Facility) and released at 5:00 PM. They keep cell phones, ipads, computers, etc just not during duty hours. Civilian clothes when off duty. During the eight weeks and two days of the course, six weeks are spent in class and two weeks in the field. Class sizes are small, usually about 30 people. A platoon is a class.
     The study includes; Researching Human Resource Publications; Prepare Office Documents Using Office Software; Prepare Correspondence, Identify Human Resource Systems; Maintain Records; Interpret the Enlisted Record Brief & Officer Record Brief; Create Ad Hoc Query; Perform Forms Content Management Program Functions; Prepare Suspension of Favorable Action; Prepare a request for Soldier Applications; Process a DFR (Dropped from the rolls) packet; Process Recommendation for Award; Process Personnel Strength Accountability Updates; Perform Unit Strength Reconciliation; Conduct a Personnel Asset Inventory (PAI); Issue a Common Access Card (ID Card); Maintain Emergency Notification Data; Prepare a Casualty Report; Create a Manifest; Employ the Deployed Theater Accountability Software (DTAS); Prepare strength accounting reports; Process a Request for Leave, Pass, and Permissive TDY (Temporary Duty); Perform Personnel Office Computations; Review a Completed Officer and Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report (NCOER); Process Enlisted Advancements for Private through Specialist; Process Semi-Centralized Promotions; Research Finance Actions; Determine Entitlements to Pay and Allowances; and Employ the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) System.

                                  Social distancing at 42A AIT Graduation April 17th, 2020

     Army Human Resource Specialists are literally on every US Army post in the world, so they can be assigned anywhere in any type of unit. I always push going airborne, jumping out of airplanes, it’s a blast. Plus enlisting as a 42A with the airborne option, will put that person in an airborne unit, probably in a battalion headquarters, the lowest level at which 42A’s are used. Those are the best units in the Army, the best leaders and the highest morale, plus that is where Human Resource Specialists really learn their job. They deal with soldiers face to face on a daily basis, it pays to be a people person. In the S1 (Administration) Section of a battalion is an Adjutant Generals Corps Captain, and a 42A Sergeant First Class NCOIC (Non-commissioned Officer in charge), plus a Staff Sergeant, two Sergeants, a Specialist, and three Privates First Class. So, for the new enlistee who happens to be in the almost 20 percent of enlistees who will retire from the Army 20 years later, that is where he or she would want to start.

Specialist Aaron Beirels a 42A at Camp Arifjan Kuwait amending nearly 8,000 Temporary Change of Station (TCS) orders.


     This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri March 3rd 2020. 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.
     Building trades students. Do you like construction? Think that’s what you want to do? The Gehlert family has been educating builders at Belle High School for decades, and most of you can get a job, with a company building or remodeling houses, after you graduate. But, how would you like to be in charge? Surveying the site, deciding if the ground will really support construction, produce plans that adhere to either local codes or some set of specifications, and supervising the project until completion? That means a four year degree in civil engineering, unless you are able to enlist in the Army for Technical Engineer MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 12T.

                                          Army 12T checking construction

     The US Army has dozens of enlisted jobs, where the enlisted soldiers are performing the same job as civilian college graduates. Some may think, “Well, those soldiers are not as well trained as the college grads.” Horse hockey, many of those are admitted, by their industry, to be even better trained than their civilian counter parts, such as Geospatial Engineer. Army courses of instruction don’t include, history, socially, psychology, basket weaving, or any other elective included in most bachelor’s degrees, deemed as necessary to “round out your education”. The Army teaches the core functions of the job, purely and intensely. It produces construction engineers in four and one half months.
     Army engineers are constantly building things. Training air strips, training buildings, permanent buildings, and training structures of various types. You will see bulldozers and earth movers moving earth, electricians stringing wire in a framed structure, and off to the side is a single soldier, maybe with a small table with a drawing, watching. You might think that is the engineer, probably an officer with a degree in mechanical or civil engineering. You would be wrong, that is the Technical Engineer, MOS 12T. And whatever his or her rank, Private First Class, Specialist or Sergeant, that person, although not officially, is in effect, in charge of the project, making sure that it is being completed according to plan.

                                  Army Technical Engineer in Afghanistan

     Before carpenters can start framing, or electricians wiring, plumbers laying lines, or a road grader can start leveling an airstrip, the site must be surveyed and the soil tested to determine its capability for supporting construction. Once the survey and testing is complete, and the final site determined, elevation drawings and utility drawings must be completed, then foundation drawings, floor plans, building elevation drawings, sectional drawings, and framing, wiring, and plumbing drawings.
     Let’s say that an Army Engineer Battalion is given the mission of constructing a fair size building, with a couple class rooms, a large room for a sand table, and two latrines (restrooms), out in the woods on a training site. The 12T, whoever or whatever rank he or she is, goes to the site and does a site survey, and does soil tests, to determine, in place soil density, compaction, and moisture content. An Army 12T no longer has the work “dirt” in his vocabulary, that stuff is now “soil”. He then sits down with Auto Cad and designs the building, producing several sets of drawings to include, floor plan, foundation drawing, building elevation drawing, sectional view drawing, and utility plan drawing. After his boss, the colonel, approves and signs off on the plan, it is back to the site, where he places survey stakes, and checks earth work. He checks slump when receiving concrete, and takes samples on which he conducts break tests. During construction he is constantly checking material and checking construction against plans. He produces separate drawings for carpenters, electricians, and plumbers.
     If our 12T Engineer Technician leaves the Army, after his or her enlistment, he doesn’t have to look far for a job, his skills are highly desired by many civilian construction companies. One 12T graduate said this; “It’s a pretty stellar MOS… Not many of us around. I was part of a Reserve Component out of NEPA. AIT consisted of hand drafting, Auto CAD, surveying with GPS and theodolite and, my fav, soils n materials testing! I used that MOS to go on to earn an AAS in Construction Management and worked for a local company, moving up thru the ranks from laborer/traffic control to construction admin to grade foreman to safety director… Wouldn’t trade my MOS for anything!”
This is a great job for construction people, but you might have to wait for it. It is a small field, but if you think that is what you want to do in life, it may well be worth the wait. The requirements are, have an ASVAB ST (Skilled Technical) score of at least 101, but to be competitive for this job, that score needs to be, at least, up in the 120’s. ST consists of the general science, verbal expression, mathematical knowledge and mechanical comprehension tests. The Army will also check your transcript to make sure that you have credit for two years of math, including algebra and general science.
     Everybody who enlists in the Army goes through 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training (BCT). BCT is as tough now as it has been since World War II, but no it is not the same. Gone is the unnecessary physical and mental harassment, replaced by demanding, intense, professional training. Anyone who is physically and mentally capable, and does not “give up”, will make it through basic training. On the first day of basic training, new arrivals may think that the Drill Sergeants job is to eliminate the weak, their job is to convert trainees into soldiers and GET THEM THROUGH BASIC TRAINING.
     Army MOS 12T AIT (Advanced Individual Training) is 18 weeks long at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. It is divided into four phases. Phase I is a four week cram course on Auto Cad. Auto Cad is the world’s primary computer aided design program, used to design everything from simple buildings to jet airplanes and rockets. 12T’s will be near experts in Auto Cad, by the time they complete AIT. The second phase is six weeks of surveying. You learn every element of surveying, and become a qualified surveyor. The third phase is four weeks of soils. That is where dirt leaves your vocabulary. You learn to perform every soil and concrete test. The final four weeks is advanced surveying, using Trimble 8 satellite receiver systems, with survey equipment, to tie government Global GPS into digitally accurate surveying. Some time is also spent specifically on airfield surveying.

          Army Technical Engineers conducting GPS Airfield surveying.

     After AIT, 12T’s can be assigned anywhere in the world, where Army engineer battalions are located, which is just about everywhere. Taking the airborne option will give you a good chance of being assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

                    Army STEM  Science Technology Engineering Math


     This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri, on February 26th 2020. 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.
     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.

                             Radio DJ on Armed Forces Radio and Television

     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.    

                                            To get the story, you have to be there.

     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.
Course Description:
     “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.”

                                              Defense Information School

     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.
Go Airborne!



This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri, on October 23rd 2020. 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.
      If you are familiar with the terms, HTML, Javascript, SQL, PHP, Perl, C, C++, Python, Ruby, Java, Lisp, and Assembly Language, or maybe you are not familiar with those terms, but would like to get into computer science, engineering, or technology at a fairly high level, and you don’t want to spend four years in college just to get a beginner job, this is something you may want to consider. Basic computer operation is the electronic storing of information by the presence of ones and zeros, something is there or it is not, but the technology has and is still advancing on a level almost incomprehensible to most of us. The Army needs computer hackers, and it is creating them.

       From the end of World War II until a couple years ago, the military was turtle slow in making any change or in obtaining new things. The Army is filled with really smart, good people, and its leadership the past few years has turned around that slow process mentality. Cyber war is here – now. The United States started creating cyber operations units 10 years ago, and has since been cyber attacked by foreign countries and we have conducted our own offensive operations. Two years ago, the Department of Defense created the United States Cyber Command. It is an independent four star unified command collocated with the National Security Agency (NSA). Its’ commander is also the Director of the NSA. Its official mission statement is; To direct, synchronize, and coordinate cyberspace planning and operations to defend and advance national interests in collaboration with domestic and international partners. In other words, not only stop hacking attempts, but go on the offensive in cyberspace. The US Army Cyber Command, the US Army Intelligence and Security Command, the Navy Fleet Cyber Command, the Naval Network Warfare Command, the Air Force Cyber Command, and the Marine Corps Cyberspace Command all fall under the US Cyber Command.
In May 2018 I wrote about new Army MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialties) 17C Cyber Operations Specialist and 17E Electronic Warfare Specialist, and in April 2019 I posted it on Things are changing – fast.

                                          Cyber fighters on the offensive

       Around four years ago, the Army created MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 17C – Cyber Operations Specialist, and up until a couple years ago only active duty soldiers in the ranks of Specialist through Master Sergeant, could apply for that MOS. They had to have a Top Secret security clearance and be very computer savvy. For the past couple years, the Army has been recruiting enlistees for MOS 17C.
       If you are in high school or already out and a computer junky, and not yet reached the age of 34, but college is not in your immediate future, consider enlisting for this MOS. It requires a five year enlistment, it also requires a Top Secret security clearance, which means your background must be squeaky clean, minus a minor traffic ticket.
      First, for any job in the Army, is basic combat training (BCT). BCT is the most radical environmental change many young people will experience. No telephone, no access to telephones until after a few weeks. Communication with family and friends is by letter. It is 10 weeks long, it is physically hard, stressful, and in the words of many graduates, a lot of fun and a great experience.
       Up until a few months ago, the 17C candidate attended Phase I, which was the six month long Navy Joint Cyber Analysis Course (JCAC) at Corry Station (Pensacola), Florida. After JCAC the 17C candidate then attended Phase II, a 20 week Army Cyber Operations Specialist Course at Fort Gordon, Georgia. JCAC was attended by all services, then like the Army, the Air Force and the Marines taught their own courses. The Army needs computer hackers now, so the Army Digital Defense Service hired an outside firm, General Assembly, which is a worldwide high tech education company that, much like the Army, teaches basic, corps technology – no electives or ‘nice to have’ classes, to set up and conduct the Army’s own Phase I 17C course. The pilot course, with 10 students, ran from January to April 2019, twelve weeks, not six months. Those 10 were placed alongside JCAC graduates for Phase II, with no noticeable difference in knowledge or performance. The Army 17C AIT now totals about six months long and is all at Fort Gordon.

       A couple weeks ago, October 2019, there was a ground breaking ceremony on Fort Gordon to construct a new ultra-modern cyber training facility. Some buildings will be demolished, four new constructed and seven renovated. The first facility will be a classified building, that is scheduled to open in fiscal year 2022. The Commanding General of the Cyber Center at Fort Gordon said; “The networks that go into it will allow us to do training at a level that is just far and above what we do today, and in a domain that is so dynamic like cyber, being able to train in that environment is absolutely critical.”
As far as security is concerned, this job is on a level above that of special operations. There is no enlistment bonus for this MOS. Everything about it is Top Secret. Who enlists for 17C, who is in training, and who is in the operational units is classified. So, the Specialist or Sergeant 17C does not get to come home and tell what he or she does in the Army. These are cyberspace shadow warriors. Some 17C assignments qualify for up to $300 per month special pay. Promotion to Sergeant is very fast. Very good operators are making Sergeant in 24 to 30 months.

                                                   Life as a Cyber Warrior

       University of West Florida grants 30 semester hours toward a bachelor’s degree in computer science to graduates of JCAC. Universities and colleges represented at Fort Gordon have not yet advertised the credit they give for the 17C AIT course, because it is new, but I would expect about the same credits. Enlist for five years for 17C, and by the time you are finished with training, you have a year of college. Anyone, in this job, should be able to complete their bachelors by the end of a five year enlistment.