Category Archives: Army Jobs



     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.



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.

            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.  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.

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

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.”

            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. 

Specialist Travis Campbell, a 42A in a battalion S-1 shop at Fort Carson, Colorado, likes knowing that what he does everyday makes a difference for individuals and for the unit.

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 4:50 AM wake up, clean area, accountability and PT (physical training) formation at 5:20.  PT usually lasts to about 7:00, 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. 

42A AIT class graduating

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. 

Specialist Aaron Beirels at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, amending nearly 8,000 temporary change of station (TCS) orders.

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. 

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

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.


     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 February 5th 2020. 

            In over three years of Life in the Army articles, I’ve written about many jobs.  This is about my favorite – Infantry. The Queen of Battle. 

Expert Infantryman Badge – top, Combat Infantryman Badge – bottom. Two of the most prestigious badges worn on a military uniform.

The mission of the Infantry is to close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver in order to destroy or capture him, or to repel his assault with fire, close combat, and counterattack. FM (Field Manual) 3-21.8 THE INFANTRY PLATOON AND SQUAD.  That means COMBAT.

Every other job in the military exists to support the infantry, because no matter how far advanced military technology becomes, there must be soldiers on the ground to hold territory.  It is the hardest, most demanding, most frustrating, most challenging, greatest badass job in the world. Here are some comments from real grunts;

“It is the worst, most terrible, difficult, strenuous, testing job there is. It is also the best. Hands down. Bar none. I absolutely love it, and many others do as well. So, stop smoking weed and wasting your life, and learn it for yourself.”

“I freaking love it. Because one day when I have to work till six at some dumb civilian job and I’m all butthurt, I can think to myself well at least it’s not the middle of a brigade exercise, day three of straight rain, and I just got done digging a foxhole with overhead protection with proper camouflage, and oh what’s that? Roger sergeant I’ll be ready to move out in ten so bravo company can move into my just built home and I can stay up all night digging another foxhole 2 kilometers to the east. Then I’ll smile and wonder why I chose a job that the only transferable skill is landscaping. But it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Some of the smartest and greatest people I’ve ever met have been infantry. The bond you make with the guy to the left and right of you is something most people will never know, and when you cement those bonds with the amount of bs and hardship you make something near unbreakable. It’ll also teach you a lot about yourself. Plus, it’s freaking badass.”

            “I couldn’t imagine being any other MOS, I get paid to hang out with my best friends and shoot stuff all the time.”

            “Honestly, if you enjoy pushing yourself (on sleep, physically, mentally) it’s an amazing job. It’s really hard work, but you get through it with your boys and you all form a cohesive bond. The camaraderie of infantrymen is something I’ve never seen anywhere else; true ‘ride or die’ dudes that will go over the edge for you, no questions asked. I will never experience anything as scary, intense, frustrating, or rewarding as my time in the infantry ever again, and it genuinely makes me sad. When you get out you realize how remarkably tame life is back home.”

82nd Airborne Division Infantry Battalion Awards formation.

There are requirements to enlist in the military.  You must meet those requirements, for some medical and discipline issues, waivers are granted.  Here are my ideas of other aptitudes you should have before enlisting for the infantry.  First you have to have that desire, that inner hunger for something more.  More exciting, more challenging, more rewarding, and more pride.  A desire to be the best at what you do.  You have to be fairly smart – of average intelligence.  That old tale that all the dumb guys get sent to the infantry, is not true.  Some of the smartest soldiers I served with were in the infantry.  Infantrymen have to think on their feet, fast.  When the shooting starts, there is chaos and the infantrymen have to very quickly figure out either how to put the bad guy out of business, or how to get out of Dodge if there are way more of them than you.  You have to have a good body.  Not a muscle builder body, just a good body, with no weak areas.  I have had infantrymen in my platoons who were 5’ 5” and weighed 140 pounds, but they could hump a 65 or 70 pound rucksack all day, every day, and they could run 7 to 8 minute miles all day.  You have to have endurance, and you never quit.  There is also another issue, you have to be honest with yourself and everyone else.  If you’re not, you will be soon.  An infantry platoon of 40 soldiers, will spend days, sometimes weeks, and during deployment, months sharing foxholes, MRE’s, water, canteens. razors, socks, ammo, and stories.  They support they guy who feeling down, razz the guy who screws up, and pull pranks on the guy who is too proud of himself.  And will put their life on the line to cover your back.  Any BS a new platoon member brings with him soon dissolves.  Everybody is just who they are.  Maybe that’s why I and thousands of other former grunts and current grunts love the infantry, you learn things about each other that no one else knows, including family.  You share the worst of times and the best of times.

An 82nd Airborne Division infantry platoon in a live fire exercise August 2019.
Private First Class Noah Young, Soldier of the Quarter, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, MOS 11B

            There are two MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialty) in the infantry, MOS 11B Light Weapons Infantryman, and MOS 11C Heavy Weapons Infantryman (mortars).  A person enlisting for the infantry, enlists for MOS 11X, then whether the soldier becomes a 11B or a 11C is determined, by the Army, while that soldier is in training.  There are way more 11B’s than 11C’s.

All Army infantry training is on Sand Hill at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Infantry and Armor Center and School.  Infantry training is conducted in OSUT (One Station Unit Training) companies, meaning both basic combat training and advanced infantry training is in one company – straight through.  Until about a year ago, Infantry OSUT was 14 weeks long, 10 weeks of basic and 4 weeks of infantry familiarization.  Major Army Commanders complained that infantry trainees weren’t being thoroughly trained.  Infantry OSUT is now 22 weeks long, 10 weeks of basic and 12 weeks of infantry training.  Those who graduate now (not all do), really are well trained infantry soldiers, ready to step into a squad and perform. 

            The Squad is the basic maneuverable unit in the infantry.  There are nine soldiers in a squad, led by a Staff Sergeant.  It takes between five and seven years to make Staff Sergeant in the infantry.  The Squad is composed of two four man teams, each led by a Sergeant.  It takes, on the average, around 3 to 4 years to make Sergeant.  There are three rifle squads and a weapons squad in a Platoon.  The weapons squad has two machine guns and two anti-tank weapons.  Those are all MOS 11B. There are three platoons in a company, plus a mortar section.  The mortar section is MOS 11C.

            There are three basic types of infantry units.  Light Infantry, Mechanized Infantry, and Stryker Infantry.  Stryker is the newest, built around the Stryker vehicle, which is a heavily armored, eight wheeled, fast moving, (62 MPH) vehicle carrying a nine man infantry squad.  It comes with various weapons systems from machine guns to 105mm tank guns, to hellfire missiles.  Mechanized Infantry rides in Bradley Fighting Vehicles.  The Bradley is a lightly armored, tracked vehicle, with a 25mm cannon, designed to transport an infantry squad, and keep up with Abrams tanks.  A plain infantryman can end up in any of these types of units, however if the soldier has the airborne option, he will be in an airborne unit, which are all light infantry.  There are five airborne Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), three in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 173rd Airborne Brigade at Vicenza, Italy, and the 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson (Anchorage), Alaska.  The 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York is light infantry, with two BCT’s, and the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky is light infantry, with three BCT’s.  The 101st is called an Air Assault Division, because they ride in helicopters, but they are basically light infantry. 

            For the past few years, the Army has been trying to increase its size and particularly the number of infantrymen.  When this was originally published in February 2020, MOS 11X was in the top tier of enlistment bonuses, getting $40,000 for a six year enlistment.  However, bonuses change as MOS requirements change.  Currently a three year enlistment for MOS 11X gets an enlistment bonus of $4,000, four years gets $7,000, five years – $8,000, and six years gets a $9,000 enlistment bonus.

            The Mechanized and Stryker grunts get to ride some, but they also have to maintain that steel monster in the motor pool, and they still walk about as much as light infantry.  I prefer light.  Go Airborne!!!

050320-N-9588P-027.JPG US Army’s 123 Infantry “Alpha Company” Stryker Unit team members deploy out of the back of the Stryker to provide suppressive fire on the enemy during a simulated convoy attack during Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration/Foal Eagle exercises (RSO&I/Foal Eagle). RSO&I is a complex multi-phase exercise conducted annually, tailored to train, test, and demonstrate United States and Republic of Korea (ROK) Force projection and deployment capabilities. Foal Eagle exercise runs simultaneously and trains in all aspects of Combined Forces Command’s mission. U.S. Navy photo by JO2 John J. Pistone
U.S. Soldiers of Alpha Company, 3rd Combined Arms Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division exit a M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle to mark a cleared road while conducting movement to contact training during exercise Combined Resolve IV at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, May 25, 2015. Combined Resolve IV is an Army Europe directed exercise training a multinational brigade and enhancing interoperability with allies and partner nations. Combined Resolve trains on unified land operations against a complex threat while improving the combat readiness of all participants. The Combined Resolve series of exercises incorporates the U.S. Army’s Regionally Aligned Force with the European Activity Set to train with European Allies and partners. The 7th Army JMTC is the only training command outside the continental United States, providing realistic and relevant training to U.S. Army, Joint Service, NATO, allied and multinational units, and is a regular venue for some of the largest training exercises for U.S. and European Forces. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Cress Jr./Not Reviewed)
Airborne Infantry boarding their ride to the battlefield.
Airborne Infantry arriving on location.


This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri, on November 13th 2019. 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.

The Army is trying to produce better trained soldiers in their initial training. Infantry training has increased from 14 weeks, including basic training to 22 weeks, including basic training. Armor and Combat Engineers are expected to follow. However, many Army schools will continue to only familiarize new soldiers with most elements of a job, because the positions in which the soldiers may find themselves, are so varied and the required knowledge so vast it would not be cost effective to keep an individual in training that long.
The Quartermaster Corps is one of those areas. There are nine different MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialty) in that corps, seven are very specific and they do learn most of the required skills in AIT (Advanced Individual Training). They are 92F Petroleum Supply Specialist – they store and transport petroleum, 92L Petroleum Laboratory Specialist – the lab workers who test fuel, 92G Culinary Specialist – cooks, 92M Mortuary Affairs Specialist, 92R Parachute Rigger – pack parachutes, 92S Shower/Laundry and Clothing Repair Specialist, and 92W Water Treatment Specialist. However, the other two, 92A Automated Logistical Specialist, and 92Y Unit Supply Specialist only scratch the surface of knowledge required in those two areas, especially MOS 92Y Unit Supply Specialist.
MOS 92Y Unit Supply Specialist is the basic corps job in army logistics, which is the Army’s life blood to keep operating. Every type of company in the Army, whether infantry, medical, administrative, whatever, has a 92Y Company Supply sergeant and an assistant. Every battalion has a logistics section (S4 Section), with a higher ranking 92Y Supply Sergeant. Every Brigade has an S4 Section with a Master Sergeant E8 92Y Supply Sergeant, and every division has a G4 Section with a Sergeant Major E9 Supply Sergeant.

Staff Sergeant Krystal Johnson, Company Supply Sergeant

MOS 92A Automated Logistical Specialist is more of a computerized warehouse soldier. At the lower level they unpack, and store supplies and enter items into a data base and issue the supplies to units. They are assigned to company level in some units to maintain stock records and other documents such as inventory, materiel control, accounting and supply reports. They also maintain warehouses in forward support companies.
The 92A is oriented toward maintaining stores of supplies, whereas the 92Y deals with individual soldiers in issuing material and maintaining accurate property accountability.

                                           92A’s working in a warehouse.

Their AIT course subjects, both at the Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, Virginia, reveal the differences in jobs. In AIT, the 92Y gets 111 hours of Basic Supply Principles, while the 92A only gets 16.5 hours in basic supply. The 92Y gets 79 hours on the Army Global Combat Support System (GCSS – Army). The 92A gets 163.5 hours on Warehouse Operations, which includes instruction on GCSS – Army. The 92A gets 26 hours on Food Subsistence because they are involved in the transportation, storing, and issuing of rations. The 92Y gets 80 hours on Small Arms Maintenance Procedures. That does not include weapons maintenance, but the proper maintaining of a unit arms room. In 21 years, I never saw a 92Y working as a company armorer. Every army post has an armorer school, where someone else is trained to be the company armorer. A school trained 92Y is too valuable to put in the arms room, he or she becomes the assistant to the Supply Sergeant. However, the Company Supply Sergeant is also responsible for weapons accountability, so he or she must have that knowledge. AIT for 92A is 9 weeks 2 days, 92Y is 8 weeks 2 days. Both MOS’s require an ASVAB clerical (CL) score of 90, which consists of word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning, and mathematics knowledge.
AIT at Fort Lee, Virginia is not like basic training. There are drill sergeants, but some AIT trainees have described it as, like college in uniform. Three people to a room, wake up is usually 05:00 (5 AM), PT (physical training), eat breakfast, clean your room, fall in formation at 08:30 for class. Lunch is 12 to 1 PM (13:00), then back in class until 17:00 (5 PM). AIT trainees are off until 21:30 (9:30 PM) bed check, they can use their phone, computer, pad, etc, and can normally go anywhere on post. Off post passes are sometimes granted toward the end of AIT.
Assignment locations for these jobs are practically unlimited, especially for 92Y, which is in every company (a unit of 100 to 200 soldiers) in the army. If you want to be assigned close to home, which I do not recommend, the closest posts are Forts Leonard Wood, Leavenworth and Riley, Kansas, Knox and Campbell, Kentucky. Fort Campbell has the most positions, Riley second, then Leavenworth, Knox and Leonard Wood probably have about the same. I don’t recommend being assigned close to home because it is a different life and being too close to home can be a distraction from doing your job well. If you think that you would be terribly home sick, don’t join the army.

The 92A is basically a warehouse soldier, dealing with material. Bringing it in, accounting for it, and sending it out. The 92Y deals with supply for individuals and units. Everyone in a company wants to be friends with the supply people, because they have things. The supply specialist has to make sure that their unit has everything it is supposed to have, and that they have a receipt for everything that is issued. Supply regulations are voluminous and the study and learning is continuous. Many enlisted supply people switch to warrant officer, which is a logistics technician, around mid-career.

Automated Logistical Specialist 92A stocking and entering data in a warehouse.

An option in enlisting for either of these jobs is the airborne option. Jumping out of airplanes. I highly recommend it for men and women. Airborne units normally have higher morale and esprit de corps. The 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina is the army crown jewel, “the tip of the spear”. It is the United States military global response force, ready to board airplanes for anywhere they are needed. The 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy (one of the most requested assignments in the army) is the rapid response force for Europe. Two battalions of the 173rd are stationed at Grafenwoehr, Germany, also one of the most requested assignments in the army. The 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division in Anchorage, Alaska is the rapid response force for the northern pacific.

92A soldiers can get several national civilian certifications in warehouse and supply chain management and inventory control. 92Y soldiers can get some of the same certifications, plus logistics technician and supply management.
Life as a 92Y Private and Specialist can, at times, feel more like labor, because those are the ranks issuing equipment, getting signatures for that equipment, and entering the transactions into a computer, but after promotion to Sergeant life changes from worker-bee to supervisor. Then, those couple of years in the trenches begins to payoff, because of the knowledge gained at the bottom level. Promotion to Sergeant is currently fairly fast for 92Y’s, a little slower for 92A’s. Very good Unit Supply Specialists are currently being promoted to Sergeant in 2 to 3 years, and promotion to Staff Sergeant is faster than many other support MOS’s, because most of the company supply sergeant positions call for a Staff Sergeant. “Very good” means someone who has studied and learned the supply regulations and procedures, and has a solid grasp of the operations of his or her company. The supply sergeant is a highly respected position in the Army.
The Enlisted Quartermaster Branch at the Human Resource Command is, in my opinion, one of the best enlisted branches. On facebook, they are always posting upcoming positions that are going to be available worldwide, in case someone wants those jobs, before they have to start selecting people to fill them. When they do select someone to move to another assignment, there is a lot of communication with the individual before actual orders are issued.
In summary, 92Y’s are where the supply rubber meets the road, 92A’s work in the warehouse.

92Y Supply Sergeant Jerliz Meadows shows her supply room in competing for the Supply Excellence Award.


This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri May29th 2019. 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.
In the Army the infantry is called the Queen of Battle, the artillery is called the King of Battle. The infantry color is blue and the artillery color is red. The infantry engages the enemy. The artillery puts high explosives on top of the enemy when asked to by the infantry. When an infantry unit discovers a larger enemy force it may have the artillery forward observer (FO) that travels with the infantry “call for fire”. When an infantry unit is discovered by a larger enemy force the “call for fire” becomes more frantic, and if the FO uses the term “danger close”, it means ‘they are almost on top of us please be very accurate’.

                                  M109 155mm Self Propelled Paladin firing
Life in the artillery is very different from life in the infantry. The artillery does not walk, they ride in a truck towing their big gun, or on the big gun when it is self-propelled. Artillery is hard work, big shells are heavy. The artillery is an essential element of combat arms, but its work is performed far to the rear of the battle. The artillery, good naturedly called “cannon cockers” or “gun bunnies”, is a proud corps, it and tankers are second only to the infantry.
A company sized unit in the artillery, commanded by a captain, is called a Battery. A typical Artillery Battery has a battery headquarters section with the commander, executive officer who also performs as the Firing Battery Commander (or platoon leader), first sergeant, supply sergeant, CBRN sergeant, a Sergeant First Class Chief of Firing Battery who supervises the six howitzer sections and also serves as the Firing Battery Platoon Sergeant (locally referred to as the “Chief of Smoke”), and another Sergeant First Class Gunnery Sergeant, who is concerned primarily with the handling, accountability, transportation, and distribution of ammunition. There is an Ammunition Section of 4 or 5, headed by a staff sergeant, whose job is artillery ammunition. Depending on its composition, high explosive, chemical, smoke, illumination, a 105mm artillery shell weighs around 45 pounds, and a 155mm shell 100 pounds. The Fire Direction Center is headed by a lieutenant – Fire Direction Officer, and a staff sergeant, Chief Fire Direction Computer. It has another sergeant, a specialist or two, and 3 or 4 privates. These are basically computer people who operate very sophisticated software in very sophisticated computers. They get the “call for fire” information from the FO’s and translate it to gun settings for the gun crews, direction, elevation, ammunition type, and shell charge settings. Then there are six howitzer gun sections, each headed by a staff sergeant, Howitzer Section Chief, with a sergeant Gunner, and a specialist Assistant Gunner, A sergeant Ammunition Team Chief, with 2 or 3 privates, and a specialist Driver.

                                           M119 105mm Cannon Live Fire
All artillery training is at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, next to Lawton, about 90 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. There are five enlisted military occupational specialties (MOS) in the artillery. MOS 13B is Cannon Crewmember. Those soldiers are the gun crews on 105mm, 155m, and 175mm howitzers. They maintain the gun, they load, fire, and unload it. They clean it and handle its ammunition. The 13B AIT (Advanced Individual Training) is 5 weeks, 4 days long. Forward Observers travel with the infantry and tell the artillery when and where to shoot. One of the best jobs in the Army according to those doing it. That is MOS 13F Fire Support Specialist, whose AIT is 8 weeks 4 days long. The Fire Direction Center soldiers, who control the artillery fire, are MOS 13J Fire Control Specialist. That AIT is 7 weeks long and comments from soldiers in that job indicate that only the basic information is covered in AIT, that there is a lot of necessary learning when they get to their first assignment. The job of setting up the Fire Direction Center normally goes to newly assigned privates. Setting up the tent, generator, computers, etc, but first “setting up the OE”. That is artillery slang for erecting the OE-254 Antenna System, which is a high frequency, omni directional radio antenna. The OE, carried in a four foot long canvas bag, is a sectional 30 foot high pole, with 8 foot long antennas on the top. When properly staked down, it is supposed to be able to withstand 90 mile per hour winds.

                                                          MLRS firing
There is another element in the artillery arsenal, the Multiple Launched Rocket System (MLRS). The MLRS is a self-propelled rocket launcher that can launch up to 12 rockets within 60 seconds. It is a very effective weapon. During the Iraq War, elements of the Iraqi Army had withstood artillery attacks and bombings from B-52s, but when the MLRS was unleashed on them they came out with their hands over their heads. Praying “no more steel rain”. Soldiers who man the MLRS are in MOS 13M, whose AIT is 6 weeks long.
The other artillery MOS trained at Fort Sill is 13R Field Artillery Firefinder Radar Operator, whose AIT is 10 weeks long and requires a secret security clearance. That job is not with the firing batteries, but is in the artillery battalion headquarters in the S2 (intelligence) section and is known as “Counter Battery Radar”. The operators of these radar systems can “see” the entire battle area of operations and can identify, with pinpoint accuracy, the location of any weapon fired from a .50 caliber, to mortars, to the largest artillery, and can instantly digitally transmit that information to any element involved in the operation from the artillery guns, to navy and air force jets, to patrols on the ground. There was an instance in Iraq when ISIS was firing mortars from civilian houses within a city. The counter radar folks found them and a patrol in the area caught the ISIS mortar crew before it could get out of the building. This technology has been around for a few years, so we assume that our potential enemies also have it, which has created an artillery tactic called “shoot and scoot”.
In training, artillery crews are constantly practicing how fast they can set up and shoot then break down and move, shoot and scoot. In the 82nd Airborne Division, the division standard for an artillery crew to be set up and fire a round is 15 minutes from the time they and their big gun leave the airplane. Many come very close.
All jobs in the Army are now open to women including artillery. Katherine Beatty’s husband Charles was an infantry sergeant in the Florida National Guard. In 2015 they had a two year old daughter and Katherine decided to enlist for signal intelligence, but by the time she finished basic training, for whatever reason, that option dissolved. While Katherine and the Army were trying to decide her future, all jobs were opened to women, and MOS 13B was immediately available, she took it. She was the only woman in her AIT class, so the AIT cadre and instructors were very careful to not show her any special attention, and it was good that they didn’t, because being the first woman cannon crewmember candidate she was tracked and photographed throughout AIT. She beat every man in the company in every task from physical to technical, making her the Distinguished Honor Graduate. She said the most difficult task was loading and unloading 15, 100 pound, 155mm shells in 15 minutes, but she did it.

                                                    PFC Katherine Beatty
I didn’t spend much time around the artillery, but I did get to know some of their officers. Max Thurman commanded the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery when I worked in the division command section, was a nice guy and an extremely capable officer. As a two star, he rejuvenated the recruiting command, and as a four star he directed the invasion of Panama. Vernon Bolt Lewis was a cigar smoking, cursing, bold division artillery commander who when selected for promotion to Brigadier General, told me that he wasn’t ready to be a general that he was just getting used to being a Colonel. He disagreed with something the Army was doing and retired as a two star. Once saw one of them walk up to a junior officer, reach up and pull his hand down, as if pulling a gun lanyard. The junior officer answered; “Boom Sir”!
Go Artillery! Also called; “Red Legs”.

Photo Credit: Spc. Ariel Solomon
Soldiers serving with Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, shoot a round down range from their M777A2 howitzer on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. The round was part of a shoot to register, or zero, the howitzers, which had just arrived on Kandahar Airfield from Forward Operating Base Pasab. The shoot also provided training for a fire support team from 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.


This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri June 20th 2018. 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.
America’s worst day! We have had Hurricane’s Katrina and Sandy and some really bad ones before them. We have had terrible tornados, the devastating fires in Oklahoma and Kansas, and erupting volcanoes in Hawaii. What could possibly be worse? If you were a victim in one of those you’re probably thinking – not much. What if a nuclear bomb exploded in a major city in the United States? Tens of thousands of casualties, devastation, no utilities, and local/state authorities out of commission or overwhelmed.
The scenario is this; A 20-kiloton nuclear bomb exploded in Bothell, Washington, a suburb outside of Seattle. The death toll is estimated at 20,000 people and rising to an unknown figure. A guess that at least 50,000 need treatment, and there are only 6,000 hospital beds available in the Washington area. Plus it was a “dirty” bomb (= radiation). Debris everywhere, some buildings totally destroyed, some standing with blown out windows and doors with bed sheets hanging asking for assistance, demolished vehicles, smoke pouring out of buildings, power lines and poles on the ground, bodies everywhere, and dazed hungry thirsty people stumbling around like zombies begging for help, and part of the city is flooded. Except this past April, the bodies were mannequins and the people alive were role players, and just that scene was played out at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC), a complete city built just to practice responding to that kind of disaster, located outside Butlerville, Indiana.
Every year since 2000 a combination of task forces, of over 5,000 people from 80 units from the Army, the Army Reserve and the National Guard from all across the continental United States, plus elements from the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines come together in a giant rapid response exercise of over 40 mission scenarios to practice responding to just such a disaster. The exercise is called Vibrant Response/Guardian Response.
First there must be an organization cocked and primed ready to immediately respond to such a disaster. The response and support to the people in the event of such a disaster must be pre-planned, organized, coordinated, controlled, and practiced, because saving lives is the mission, so speed in getting to the disaster area is a number one priority. All the divisions, corps, and combat commands train and prepare for combat – war. In 1998 Congress passed the Defense against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act. Which basically directed the United States government to get ready to respond to acts of terrorism. In response to that law, in 1999 the Department of Defense (DOD) created the Joint Task Force-Civil Support (JTF-CS) at Fort Eustis, Virginia, as a subordinate command of the United States Northern Command. It is commanded by a two star general with a staff to anticipate, plan and prepare for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) attacks within the United States.
The US Army Reserve 76th Operational Response Command, located at Salt Lake City, Utah is the Army Reserve’s Center for Defense Support of Civil Authorities. It exists to respond to just that type of disaster. It is commanded by a Major General (two stars) with a full staff. It has two Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) brigades, two augmentation units, twelve Army Reserve Elements, 10 Regional Emergency Preparedness Liaison Office (EPLO) Teams, and 53 State EPLO Teams. The units are disbursed throughout the 48 continental United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The mission and skill sets of the units and Soldiers are as diverse as their locations. Units practice their skills, plus they practice being called up. They practice loading their equipment and driving away, but they also practice coordination with the Air Force to have planes on call, in case they have to get too far to drive, such as from the East coast to the West coast.
At the center of a nuclear disaster or a chemical weapons attack or a biological attack would be the CBRN people. They are prepared to suit-up and work in a toxic environment to decontaminate people and things. All National Guard, Army Reserve, and active Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force CBRN Specialists are trained at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. It is the Army’s CBRN Center and School that trains both enlisted and officers. The 11 week enlisted CBRN Specialist course is known as an intellectually challenging course.
In April, in response to Guardian/Vibrant Response-18, the South Carolina Army National Guard sent its 218th MEB (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) with Chemical Companies, Engineers with firefighters and search and rescue professionals, medics with Area Support Medical Companies, plus engineers attached from the Indiana Army National Guard. Firefighters and search and rescue from the Army Reserve 468th Engineer Detachment from Danvers, Massachusetts were also there, as was the Army Reserve 409th Area Support Medical Company from Madison, Wisconsin. Active Army units came from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Military Police from the 16th Military Police Brigade, medics, technicians, doctors and equipment from the 44th Medical Brigade, and the 21st Chemical Company from the 82nd Airborne Division.
The Guardian Response part of the giant training exercise is the physical response, with units from all over the nation descending on Camp Atterbury to be given missions of casualty decontamination, casualty air/ground evacuation, temporary hospitalization support, medical augmentations, veterinary support, patient staging and evacuation, medical logistics, alternate medical facilities, and exposure monitoring. Units are given specific missions, as described by Staff Sergeant Ian Kurtinitis of the 468th Engineer Detachment; “Our specific mission is urban search and rescue and specifically, today, to search and rescue a contaminated environment. There’s a subway station that we’re working at and there are people trapped inside. Our mission is to gain access, extract patients and to assist anyone that is ambulatory and to extricate those who are non-ambulatory. But, we are coming into this (scenario) as we’re assisting overwhelmed local entities who have been at this for several days.”
Vibrant Response was more of a command post exercise to practice the administration and logistics of the overall response. It featured realistic situations with hundreds of civilian role-players, as well as sophisticated computer simulations. Some of those participants actually went to Washington, others to Camp Atterbury, and some worked from a computer screen dealing with the innumerable things that can go wrong after people and equipment get involved, such as the airplane transporting the number one search and rescue engineer detachment has a complete electrical malfunction just prior to takeoff. Is there another aircraft at that location? No. How long to get another? Is there another search and rescue detachment ready? If so, where is it, and how long to get it to the scene.
The Commanding General of the US Army Reserve said that Vibrant Response is all about readiness. The 76th Operational Response Command CG, Major General Roper said; “This exercise is really a team sport with many different military and civilian entities coming together to provide realistic and challenging training for our chemical response forces to improve and enhance both the unit and individual Soldiers skill sets.”
Colonel Chris Briand, Chief of Staff of the Army Reserve 78th Training Division and chief of operations for Guardian Response 18, said; “We (the Army) are not in charge at an event. It’s the state incident commander who is in charge.”
Colonel Doug Mills, the 76th ORC Chief of Staff said; “We conduct this training with either actual interagency players that we coordinate and synchronize our operations with or role-players for those agencies.
In a statement about Vibrant Response, US Army North said; “This exercise and all of its processes are crucial to ensuring that the U.S. Army and Department of Defense maintain a trained and ready force that can effectively respond to a national crisis, likely in support of a lead federal agency, in order to save lives and minimize human suffering.”


This was just published in The Belle Banner, Belle, Missouri, on May 15th 2019. I want to get this information to as many as possible while the bonus is still current.
If you’ve ever heard the saying “He’s just a lowly grunt”, discard it, there is no such thing. The infantry soldier is at the top of the heap – the pinnacle of soldiering. The infantry moto is “Follow Me”. Every element of the military supports the infantry. Infantrymen are the combat soldiers, whose job is to close with and kill or capture the enemy. They are the warriors.
Upon successful completion of infantry training, the soldier is awarded a blue infantry cord to wear on the right shoulder of dress uniforms and blue backgrounds for lapel insignia, one of which is the crossed rifles of the infantry. That is the “Turning Blue Ceremony”. In permanent units infantry soldiers may voluntarily participate in a week and a half long, rigorous test of all infantry skills. Those who successfully complete all tasks in the time allotted are awarded the Expert Infantryman’s Badge (EIB), a rifle on a blue background, to be worn on all uniforms. Infantrymen who see combat are awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge (CIB), which is the same badge, but with a wreath around the rifle. The CIB is the most prestigious badge worn on a military uniform.

Turning blueExpert and Combat Infantryman Badges

Army infantrymen, and women, are trained in OSUT (One Station Unit Training) companies on Sand Hill at Fort Benning, Georgia (Columbus). OSUT companies conduct basic and advanced training all in one company. About half of the women who have started infantry training have made it through. Some are now in infantry units and this past year a few in the 82nd Airborne Division won EIB’s. Women must do the same physical tests and activities as the men. Not many women want to be infantry grunts, but some do and some make it through.
The Army is trying to increase its size, but the current Army leadership has seen, in the past, the bad results of lowering standards to get more recruits. Standards are not being lowered and training is being increased. Infantry OSUT is being expanded from 14 to 22 weeks. A pilot 22 week class graduated in December, and the program of instruction is being finalized to be fully implemented by this coming October. The commanders and drill sergeants who conducted that pilot class said that they didn’t try to come up with many new tasks, but were able to spend more time on the basics and produce a better trained soldier. They spent more time in live fire and produced more expert riflemen, they had 100 percent successfully complete the land navigation tests, our enemies have digital technology so infantrymen must be able to navigate with a paper map and compass, the class completed the combat lifesaver course, they spent much more time in hand to hand combat training, and the extra two months produced graduates in better physical condition. The Infantry Training Brigade commander said, “If we do our job right these troops will be able to out PT their team leader and out shoot their squad leader, and be as good or better than their combat life savers.”

Land navigation with map and compass

More live fire

The infantry works harder, the infantry goes to combat, there is more pride in the infantry, and the infantry gets promoted faster.
The enlistment bonus is $20,000 for a 3 year enlistment, $25,000 for 4 years, $30,000 for 5, and $40,000 for a 6 year enlistment. The soldier would be paid $10,000 after successfully completing infantry training, and the remaining divided by years of enlistment and paid annually. That is for someone enlisting for MOS (military occupational specialty) 11X which is infantry training. The infantry MOS’s are 11B Light Weapons Infantryman and 11C Heavy Weapons Infantryman (mortars). The Army decides which a recruit is trained for while he is in training. There are a whole lot more 11B’s that 11C’s. There are also two different types of infantry units. Mechanized, where infantrymen ride on or in some type of vehicle, and Light Infantry where they walk more than ride. Infantry soldiers may serve in either.
Infantry OSUT is no walk in the park. Basic Combat Training, which is the first 10 weeks, is tougher and more demanding now than it has been since World War II. Then the 12 weeks of infantry training is the most physically demanding MOS training in the Army. So my advice to anyone considering this, man or woman, is to get in shape, pushups, pullups, situps, running, and a lot of walking in boots (army boots if you can get them) carrying a rucksack. There are road marches of 3, 6, 9, 12 and finally 15 miles carrying a 60 pound rucksack. People who enlist for Rangers or Special Forces go to infantry OSUT first. I do not recommend that anyone who is not already very familiar with the Army enlist for Rangers or Special Forces. Enlist for Airborne Infantry, then when you’ve been in the Army long enough to know what those units actually do and their requirements, make your decision. The first three weeks are “Total Control”, trainees don’t make a move that is not guided by a Drill Sergeant. That is when they learn how to march, stand, turn, salute, and act like a soldier. After that the control is a little different, but the intensity isn’t. An infantry OSUT company commander recently posted on facebook for families not to expect many phone calls, communicate by mail.
The infantry unit with the highest morale (happiest) in the military is the 82nd Airborne Division. The 82nd also works the hardest, because one the 82nd’s three brigades is always on alert to get the entire 5,000 man brigade with all vehicles and equipment, rigged for a parachute drop somewhere in the world, in the air within 18 hours of notification. Because the 82nd is America’s Fire Brigade, it is always fully funded, conducts realistic and exciting training, and has the best leadership the Army has to offer. There is a saying that when the President calls 911 the phone is answered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There are actually two unofficial separate armies within the US Army. There is the Airborne Army and the non-airborne army. Young airborne troops, paratroopers, un-affectionately call the non-airborne army “legs”. A person who enlists for 11X with the airborne option will probably go to the 82nd, or possibly the 173rd Airborne Brigade (The Sky Soldiers) in Vicenza, Italy. Vicenza is currently, by survey, the most desired assignment location in the Army. Our own Command Sergeant Major Jeremy Compton is there now. There is also the 4th Brigade (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division at Anchorage, Alaska.
Airborne infantry is light infantry, but their method of delivery to the battlefield causes them to train differently than non-airborne. Non-airborne infantry gets to the battlefield on a vehicle or a helicopter, airborne jumps from an airplane onto the battlefield. Adverse weather or enemy anti-aircraft fire can cause airplanes to drop paratroops not at their planned location. Individual paratroops can become widely scattered during a jump. I can tell you what happens when paratroops are dropped in 35 mile an hour winds. Made national news that time. Because of that possible scenario airborne troops are briefed down to the last Private on the entire mission and objectives. That started in World War II and continues today. When time permits the entire platoon gets to see aerial photographs and mock-ups. The airborne has a term LGOPS (Little Groups of Paratroopers). If a paratrooper can’t find his leaders, he just finds other paratroopers and goes on with the mission. The first combat parachute jump was in Sicily in July 1943. Due to winds and enemy fire the paratroops were scattered over many miles in places they didn’t plan to be. Little groups got together and cut every telephone line they found, they ambushed vehicles and attacked troops causing the German commanders to think they were facing a much larger force than was actually there.

82nd Airborne 60mm mortar crew

Infantry Private First Class Noah Young 2nd BCT 82nd Airborne Division Trooper of the Quarter

This bonus won’t last long. Go Infantry – Go Airborne $$$$!


This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri January 30th 2019. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
This story about the Army is from a different approach. This is for the person who already has a skill and becomes interested in service. People become interested in the military for a variety of reasons, patriotism, adventure, steady paycheck, security, etc. There is the Army Civilian Acquired Skills Program (ACASP), under which people may enlist at a higher rank and attend less training to become MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) qualified. Truck drivers, mechanics, EMT are some that fall within the ACASP.
This is directed at one group – welders. I was recently told by an Army recruiter that a person who has completed a welding school, is an AWS (American Welding Society) certified welder, and has two years’ experience, may enlist in pay grade E-4 Specialist. I know a couple people who fit that description, and welders are paid well so I ran some numbers. The 2019 base pay for grade E-4, with under two years of service is $2,194.50 per month. The military pays twice monthly, on the 1st and the 15th, by direct deposit. So with $1,097.25 per pay period and deductions of Social Security – 68.03, Medicare – 15.91, Federal tax – 43.00, MO state tax – 29.00 (claiming married – 1), and SGLI (Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance) of 200,000 instead of the max 400,000 – 7.50 equals a net pay of $933.81, but this welder is married, so having taken his marriage certificate, wife’s and children birth certificates and social security cards with him during processing into the Army, he also draws BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing). BAH for this area for an E-4 is 876.00 per month and BAH is not taxed. Add half of the BAH and he will have $1,371.81 deposited in his bank account twice monthly, while he is in training. Plus his family has free medical and dental care.
Training would consist of 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training, it is not easy. It is tough, it is hard, it is exhilarating, and it is fun but still physically hard. After basic training he would transfer to the Army Ordnance School at Fort Lee, Virginia (Petersburg), for training as a machinist/welder. He would get to skip the welder part. That is Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 91E Allied Trades Specialist. The normal AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for that MOS is 19 weeks, 2 days long, but this person would skip the welding part of 8 weeks. What he would study is Machine Shop Fundamentals and Safety, Precision Measuring Tools, Metal Identification, Precision Layout, Operate Hand and Machine drills, Hand Threading Operations, Thread repair, Countersinking, Counter boring, and Reaming, Riveting Operations, Lathe Operations and Vertical Milling Machine Operations. They use Computer numerical control (CNC) machining, which is a machining process in which a computer controls the movements of the lathe or milling machine using a program made up of numerical code called “G Code”. CNC technology allows the machinist to manufacture single or multiple parts with speed and accuracy that is not possible on any manual machine. They use Haas Automation, Inc., toolroom lathes (TL-1’s) and toolroom mills (TM-1’s). These machines are equipped with Haas Intuitive Programming System (IPS), which can create parts programs with very little effort, and allows programs to be uploaded from separate computers. Included are 23 hours of introduction to machining, 52 hours of bench layout operations, 192 hours of lathe operations and 82 hours of milling operations.

The course ends with three weeks of Army Combat and Tactical Equipment, Titanium Welding, Depleted Uranium, Introduction to Battle Damage Assessment and Repair Operations, TAMMS (The Army Maintenance Management System), ETMs (Electronic Technical Manuals) and PMCS Procedures (Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services) and Department of the Army Forms. He learns to set up and use the Army metal working and machine shop set (MWMSS). The MWMSS consists of two expandable mobile containers. One contains a CNC toolroom lathe (TL-1), a Miller XMT 350 and a Dynasty 200 welder, thermal cutting equipment, air-arc gouging capability, an air compressor, a generator for shop power, an environmental control unit (ECU), and an assortment of hand tools. The other contains a CNC toolroom mill (TM-1), a CNC plasma cutting table, an ECU, and more hand tools. Together they create a field metalworking repair complex. The MWMSS also contains a laptop computer with CAD/CAM software (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing), which allows the Allied Trades Specialist to create a part design or download it from a manufacturer, upload it to the CNC machine and manufacture the part, in the field.

Already being a certified welder, before leaving 91E AIT this person would be tested and receive NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills) certifications in CNC Milling and CNC Turning: Operations I, and Programming, Setup & Operations I, Drill Press I and II, Job Planning, Benchwork & Layout I, Measurement, Materials & Safety I, Milling I, Turning Between Centers I, and Turning II.
Army 91E’s describe themselves as jacks of all trades. What is similar to civilian shops is – they fix metal things that are broken, and they make metal things. Can you fix this? Can you make a tool to do that. Can you make a rack that will hold these but will also turn around, stand up and open on its own? Sometimes it takes some noggin work. A Chief Warrant Officer Allied Trades Technician, with 19 years in the Army said; “It is difficult for me to state specifically what Army welders do, because we do a little bit of everything. I say we solve problems. I have repaired radiators, weldments on tracked vehicle hulls, and a plethora of other random items. Anyone with a little bit of skill can replace a transmission, yet only someone with great attention to detail can drill, tap, and insert 17 holes stripped in an aluminum transmission housing, all while it is attached to the vehicle and the person is lying in the sand in the desert of California. I have repaired and fabricated more parts and equipment than I can remember. Each time, I learned something new and gained invaluable experience. I’m still sometimes surprised by the metal components Soldiers manage to break or the special tools I am frequently asked to fabricate.”
After training and assignment to a permanent unit, this person could get family housing on post, which I would highly recommend. He would lose the BAH, which would go to pay for the house and utilities, but gain BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) (meals) of $369.39 per month. After 60 days in the Army soldiers may contribute up to 3 percent of their base pay to the Army Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is matched by the government. The TSP can be rolled into an IRA after service. So take away the BAH and TSP and add the BAS leaves a take home pay of $1,085.56 per pay period or $2,171.12 per month. The monthly times 12 divided by 52 equals just over $500.00 per week take home pay. Some may look at that and say “That’s not much”, but he has no rent, no utilities, no trash pickup, and no health insurance cost. Family health is monitored by a Family Practitioner at the on post hospital. They live in a nice well maintained house in a nice secure neighborhood (on post) and someone else even mows the lawn.
Where would that person be assigned? About anywhere, but primarily to the posts & locations that have combat units. Every combat battalion has a forward support company which includes 91E’s. My recommendation is always go airborne, jump out of airplanes, which 91E’s probably do every three months. That would probably mean the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The best unit and the largest and best post.
Army life is not harder than civilian life, it is different. You get up in the morning, go into your unit at around 6:00 – 6:30, and do PT (physical training), exercises and run or gym or athletics for a good hour – it’s good for you. Go back home, clean up, eat breakfast, put on a uniform and go to work at 8:30 to 9:00. If you’re a 91E, you go to your shop and work on whatever is the current project. If your unit is going to the field for just a couple days you may take a Shop Equipment Welding (SEW) trailer, which is just a trailer with a portable welder, torches, and other portable tools. If it is a long big exercise you may take an MWMSS. If you’re in garrison, and live on post, you may run home for lunch, or eat in a Dining Facility or a snack bar. You’re off at 5:00 PM normally. You are off weekends. In many ways it is an easier life than civilian life. You don’t worry about your job or making a living, you don’t worry about health and dental care, and if you live on post you don’t worry about the druggies next door or down the street – there are not any.

Eagle Point family housing on Fort Leonard Wood

Fort Knox family housing

Family duplex on Fort Bragg