Category Archives: Army Jobs

CYBER WAR

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri May 23rd 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 tcnpub3@gmail.com, 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.
Computer technology is the most rapidly changing and advancing endeavor in which humans are engaged today. Put that rapidly changing system against the military’s agonizingly slow procurement process and you find a big problem. Systems are outdated before the military can get them in their system.
When the current Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark Milley, was appointed in August 2015, the Army had been trying to decide on a new pistol for almost a decade. Prototypes had been being tested for two years at a cost of 17 million dollars. General Milley was appalled, he said; “We’re not figuring out the next lunar landing. This is a pistol. Two years to test? At $17 million?” Milley said to an audience at a Washington, D.C., think tank on March 10th 2016. “You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine with a pistol for $17 million. And I’ll get a discount on a bulk buy.”
First the need must be established, which requires a study. What is our current stuff not doing that new stuff will? Then there is a funding request, which usually requires action by congress. Once the funding is approved, then bids with prototypes are requested from several manufacturers. Then the thing or the stuff is evaluated, tested. After a final decision is made, then there is manufacturing/production time to get it to the troops. That whole process usually takes years.
In 2002, the Army created the “Rapid Equipping Force”. It was created because of requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is basically an organization that can bypass the normal procurement process and get equipment and/or material, “off the shelf” if necessary, into the hands of troops immediately. It works.
With commercial business computer hacking and foreign governments also getting into devious computer warfare, military leadership realized that the military had to get up to speed fast, in the arena of computer knowledge and ability. Around 2010 all the services started the process of creating “Cyber Commands”. The Army created the Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, Georgia (Augusta), and started soliciting soldiers from within the Army, who were already computer experts. The Secretary of the Army, at that time, discussed trying to recruit civilian computer people into the Army up to the rank of Colonel. Congress never considered it, because they found that most computer people in upper level management, with around 20 years of experience, are paid far more than Army colonels. Then it started developing training to create its own computer guru’s. Initially the training was only for current soldiers who had been accepted into the training. Now people can enlist to be a computer hacker.
As an update to this story congress finally did pass a defense bill which allows the services to take people into the military up to the rank of colonel. The services haven’t yet turned that law into regulations.
In August 2016 the Army created a “Rapid Capabilities Office” specifically to get the latest technology in cyber and electronic warfare to the Army fast. It has partnered with industry to keep the Army on the cutting edge of cyber warfare.
This month, May 2018, the United States Cyber Command was designated as a standalone, four star, unified command. General Paul Nakasone was promoted to four stars and moved from the Army Cyber Command to Command the US Cyber Command, under which supervises the cyber commands of all services.
Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 17C Cyber Operations Specialist. This Army job requires a Top Secret security clearance, which takes a little time to process because the persons’ friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, teachers and preacher will be interviewed. The ASVAB requirements are high, scoring 112 in ST (skilled technical), which is comprised of the following tests; word knowledge, paragraph comprehension (English), general science, (earth science, biology, chemistry, physics), mechanical comprehension, and mathematics knowledge (algebra), and 110 in GT (General technical) which consists of word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, and arithmetic reasoning. However, if a person really wants to get into this they need to score in the high 120’s or 130’s in both of those areas.
After ten weeks of basic training, the prospective 17C goes to a total of 48 weeks of training. The first phase is the 24 week Joint Cyber Analysis Course, taught by the Navy, at Corry Station, Florida. The subjects taught there are; Discrete Structures, Programming Fundamentals, Computer Organization and Architecture, Operating Systems, Networking Concepts & Protocols, Windows, Unix, Programming, Enterprise Level Networking, Protocol Analysis, Wireless Technologies, Target Research/SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) Analysis, Active Exploitation, Computer Network Defense, and Forensics Methodologies & Malware Analysis. That is the same as an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science crammed into six months. Upon completion of phase one, the soldier moves to Fort Gordon, Georgia for 24 weeks of phase two. The subjects taught there are not published.
For the person who doesn’t want to be chained to a computer screen, but likes to get out in the field occasionally, there is another job which doesn’t require as long a training period, and gets out into the field. Army MOS 29E is currently being changed to 17E and brought under the Cyber Command, is Electronic Warfare Specialist. How would you like to be able stop a tank dead still, without firing a shot, or deactivate an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) without getting close to it, or cause enemy radar to see a clear sky where your aircraft are flying? One night in 2007 Israel bombed a nuclear site inside Syria. Prior to and during the operation (Orchard) their electronic warfare people took control of Syrian radar and showed the Syrians a clear sky.
When the 82nd Airborne Division wants to insure that it is well trained on a piece of equipment or a procedure, it has a competition. Tests are designed and all the units in the division of that specialty compete to see who is the best, and who will have bragging rights for a year, as being the best at what they do. This month is the first annual 82nd Airborne Division Electronic Warfare Competition. Each Brigade Combat Team in the Division has a CEMA Cell (Cyber Electromagnetic Activities). Their equipment is carried on their back, about the size of a full rucksack, with antennas sticking out. They can detect and jam enemy signals, defeat unmanned aerial systems and disable IED’s. They can pinpoint troops and vehicles both moving and stopped in rough terrain (Afghanistan).
The current Army MOS for Electronic Warfare Specialist is 29E. That training nine weeks at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, after basic training. The ASVAB requirements are 100 in SC (Surveillance and Communications) which consists of Verbal Expression (VE), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Auto & Shop (AS), and Mechanical Comprehension (MC), and 100 in ST Skilled Technical which consists of Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, General Science, Mechanical Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge. This job is basically that of an equipment operator, albeit fairly high tech, whereas the Cyber Operations Specialists operates in the shadow world of recognizing cyber signatures, tracking them, and causing them to do what the Cyber Operations Specialists wants them to do, not what the original operator intended for them.
In the computer science/engineering world experience is the biggest asset. Where a person went to school, to get their degree, may help them get their first job, but after that it is what they know and what they can do that lands the next higher paying job. A soldier leaving the Army after a few years as a 17C, who has hopefully completed a bachelor’s degree, will be looked at by prospective employers as a very experienced IT person, especially in the area of cyber defense.,

BECOME AN ARMY AUTOMOTIVE TECHNICIAN

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri, October 31st 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 tcnpub3@gmail.com, 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.
When I was 16 my friend Doug Rector had an old straight six Chevrolet with a bad motor. Doug got another motor from Vic Butlers’ junk yard and got the motor to my house. One evening after school we threw a chain over the front door beam of Dads’ Quonset shed, pulled the old motor, and installed the good one and Doug drove away before morning. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t do to or with a car, and we weren’t exceptions. Some boys built hot rods, and some built customs. The popular term was “shad tree mechanic”, because often the work was done under a big tree with a limb large enough to support a car engine. Often the knowledge was gained by taking it apart to see how it worked. We learned how to adjust valves and set points by how the engine sounded, but times have changed. Aside from a few diesel pickup addicts’ young people now are not as interested in “building their own” ride. Now a Certified Automotive Technician must not only know the basic functions of engines, transmissions and differentials but must also understand how the sometimes hundreds of sensors and microchips, in a vehicle, function in relation to each other into the main computer of the vehicle.
I enlisted in the Army 15 years after the end of World War II, and at that time the Army seemed to have forgotten the value of mechanics, and Vietnam didn’t change things much. Mechanics were guys in the motor pool who kept the vehicle running. It was often a mundane job with a lot of preventive maintenance (busy work) and not much excitement. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan changed things. The vehicles were more complicated and they were essential, they had to be kept running.
In November 2007 the Army News Service published an article from Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. The mechanics had been working since 4:00 AM, just got to sleep and at 10:00 PM were awakened to go back to their shop. A unit had brought in a Hummv with the front drive not working. In the rough Afghanistan terrain four wheel drive is essential, and this vehicle had to be back on the road by morning. The front differential had to be replaced, a good four to five hour job. Using parts from other damaged vehicles, it was ready to roll before daylight. Private First Class Carson Beaver said; “This is a very important job, keeping units coming through here on their feet. When they come to us needing something fixed, they know were reliable and they’ll be able to continue on their mission.”
The Army has 14 different mechanic MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialties). Tank Mechanic, Stryker Vehicle Mechanic, Bradley Vehicle Mechanic, and Artillery Mechanic are a few, but to become an automobile mechanic the MOS is 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic.
A few years ago the Army started trying to bring all training and jobs that have similar civilian jobs up to the civilian standard and help the soldier get civilian credentials for that occupation. Ten years ago the comments from Army mechanics were something like; The only thing you learn in AIT (Advanced Individual Training) is how to read Technical Manuals, or You don’t learn anything in AIT, you learn it all at your unit. It was around that time the US Army Ordnance Corps began discussing it’s training of Army Mechanics. Wheeled Vehicle Mechanics were being trained in four different posts scattered around the country, and military vehicles and civilian automobiles took a giant leap forward in technology. A new training facility and barracks was constructed and all training consolidated at the Army Ordnance Center at Fort Lee, Virginia (Petersburg). The curriculum for the 91B course was completely changed, and during the current 13 week AIT there is classroom/computer work plus plenty of “lab” work in a giant, spotless maintenance facility where the students work on everything from big diesels to small gasoline engines, plus all learn and get hands on work on all vehicle systems.
To sit for the test to become an ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) Certified Automotive Technician, two years of tech school plus two years of experience is required. An Army 91B who has completed the 13 week AIT and has two years performance as a 91B may sit for the test. However, comments from former soldiers indicate that a lot of study is required to pass the test.
Comments from 91B’s in the Army now are generally positive. They get to turn a lot of wrenches and are generally satisfied with their jobs, although there are sometimes long hours, especially on deployments. The guys who take wreckers and recovery vehicles out and pick up broken or damaged vehicles have an additional skill identified (ASI) on their MOS of H8, which is an extra two week course. All who commented highly recommended that any 91B take that course whenever they can. Most Army units now have “Mechanic of the Quarter” competitions, and some have unit against unit mechanic competitions.
Every Army Brigade Combat Team has a Brigade Support Battalion (BSB). One company in that battalion is a Maintenance Company, there is also a Supply Company and a Medical Company, and also in that battalion are Forward Support Companies, attached to each combat battalion, which have a large Maintenance Platoon and a Recovery Section. I always recommend that anyone considering the Army get the airborne option in their contract, if possible. The more elite the unit, the higher the morale in that unit. The 82nd Airborne Division has three Brigade Combat Teams, each has a Brigade Support Battalion. One in particular has captured my fascination.
The 407th BSB is part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. The 2nd Brigade is the Falcon Brigade, built around the 325th Infantry, whose mascot is the Falcon. The 1st Battalion 325th is the Red Falcons, the 2nd the White Falcons, and the 1st Squadron 73rd Cavalry the Blue Falcons. But the 407th BSB, whose motto is “Supply is Strength”, call themselves “The Golden Griffins”. A “Griffin” is a mythical character with the body of a Lion and the head and wings of an Eagle. The Golden Griffins take on their roll of support with a gusto not seen is most support units. Company B is the Maintenance Company, the mechanics, they call themselves the “Weasels”.

                                           407th Brigade Support Battalion

                                          B Company 407th BSB

The men and women of the Golden Griffins and the Weasels are paratroopers, they jump out of airplanes at least once every three months, usually more often. Weekdays, if not in the field or deployed, they start their day at 6:30 AM with an hour of good airborne physical training (PT) and a good long run. They take a PT test for record at least once a year, they also fire their rifles for qualification and go through the gas chamber annually. But primarily the Weasels are mechanics, who are very proud of keeping everything rolling, and they are family.

                                           Weasel Recovery Operation

                                         A Weasel re-enlisting on top of his recovery vehicle

Weasel family gathering

Weasels at work

 

US ARMY ARMOR – BE A TANKER

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri August 15th 2018.
When I finished basic training, with the 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the leadership naturally tried to interest us in Armor. There was an M-60 tank, which was fairly new then, on display. We were invited to climb on it and get in to check it over. I took one look down into that tank and decided I would rather walk.
If you want to be in the Army in combat arms that takes it to the enemy, but you don’t want to walk, that pretty well leaves you with Armor, i.e. tanks. That is the M1A2 Abrams Tank.


The M1A2 Abrams is a 12-foot-wide, 8 foot tall, 32 foot long, 68 ton, 9 million dollar hunk of steel with a protective armament of depleted uranium. It is also the most technologically sophisticated and lethal tank on the planet. An Army Lieutenant Colonel said that it is like a giant computer inside a steel box. From the pin point laser range finder and automatic computerized gun adjustment to guarantee first round hits to the Inter-vehicle information system (IVIS) which links all the tanks on the battlefield together so each Tank Commander can see where all the other tanks are located and share enemy information while encrypting it from enemy view. It can hit up to six targets a minute up to two and one half miles away. The main gun is 120 mm cannon which fires different types of rounds, including a kinetic-energy anti-tank depleted-uranium, sabot-wrapped penetrator built to totally liquefy heavy armor over vast distances. There are also two 7.62 mm machineguns and a 12.7 mm machinegun mounted. The specifications say it has a top speed of 45 miles per hour. That is because the 1,500 horse power engine that runs so quiet it has been called “whispering death” has governors set for that speed. Sergeants testing it in the 1970’s said it will run twice that fast, and is as nimble footed as a four wheeler. During the Iraq war Abrams tanks were scoring kills of the top Russian tanks at 2,500 meters. The Russian tank guns had a maximum range of 2,000 meters, so they were being hit before the US tanks came within their range. The Abrams has a crew of four. A Tank Commander, a Gunner, a loader, and a driver.
All but the driver work inside the tank turret. The lowest ranking job on a tank crew, the first job, is loader. The loader rides on the left side of the turret, toward the back. His job is to pull rounds from the ammunition compartment and load the 120 mm main gun. The gunner rides on the right side in the front area of the turret. The gunner pinpoints targets using the laser range finder and computerized firing system and fires the main gun. He tells the loader which round to load. When the main gun fires it recoils inside the turret. Inattention during live fire is extremely dangerous. The Tank Commander rides on the right side toward the back of the turret. The Tank Commander is in charge of the tank’s operation, he has several periscopes and a joystick controlled night vision viewer. He can monitor the tank’s various systems and its position on the integrated display. While the gunner is firing, the Tank Commander can be scanning for more targets. He communicates with other Tank Commanders and his leaders, as well as his crew.
The driver sits in the front section of the hull, directly under the main gun. It is a small space so the driver is leaned back in a form-fitting bucket seat. One driver said it is like riding in a recliner, very comfortable. The driver steers with a motorcycle style handlebar and accelerates using a twist grip throttle. Brakes are pedals on the floor like a car. The tank dash board is in front of the driver, called the driver’s integrated display (DID). The drivers has three periscopes called vision blocks, he can also use a night vision sensor at night. The Tank Commander tells the driver where to go and what to do. The Tank Commander is up higher and can see more than the driver.
So, what is life like in an armor unit? I said once that the Air Force’s primary interest is airplanes, the Navy’s is ships and planes, and the Marines and the Army’s primary interest is people. Well, if you’re in an armor unit, the primary interest is that tank. Everything revolves around your tank. If you are not riding in it, you are working on it. In light infantry, like airborne, if you don’t have anything on the training schedule for a particular day (very rare), that day may turn into Squad training or area maintenance, in armor – you go to the motor pool. If your tank is not conducting training it is in the motor pool, which means you are in the motor pool working on your tank. Tanks get very rough treatment, they break. Plus there is preventive maintenance – all the time. Greasing, adjusting, cleaning, painting, filling out forms swearing that you have done all those things. And yes Sergeant and Staff Sergeant Tank Commanders also work on their tanks, but tankers don’t walk and tankers don’t sleep in the rain, and many live for the days they get to live fire. Some call it the Army’s super sniper rifle. One person said; “Tanker’s really have no skills for the outside world, but it is damn fun. I got out for 6 months after serving 4 years and now I am going back in. I miss the crap out of it. 70 tons +50mph + 120mm gun = lots of excitement.”


Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 19K Armor Crewman requires an ASVAB score of 87 in area CO (Combat Operations). Area CO is a composite score of four tests, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, automotive and shop information and mechanical comprehension. All army jobs are now open to women, and there are a few (only a handful) of women 19K’s. It is a combat job so the physical requirements are tougher than for support jobs. Armor crewmen are trained in OSUT (one station unit training) companies at Fort Benning, Georgia. That is basic combat training and armor crewman training combined in one company. The training is 15 weeks long. The first four days to a week are spent in the reception battalion processing into the Army, medical, dental, administrative and uniforms. The first eight weeks in the company is regular basic combat training. The first week in the OSUT company trainees learn how to stand, turn, salute, march and talk. They also get their rifle that first week and learn to keep it with them. The second is first aid, land navigation and the gas chamber. The third week is hand-to-hand combat, the obstacle course, and the confidence tower (rappelling). Week four is all about the rifle, the M4 carbine. Trainees dissemble, assemble and clean the rifle, they also learn marksmanship techniques, position, sight picture, breathing, and trigger control. Week five is spent on the firing ranges. Qualification range then moving targets and response firing. Week six is more weapons. Familiarization and firing the M2 .50 cal machinegun, the M-240 machinegun, the M-249 squad automatic weapon and the AT-4 anit-tank weapon. Week seven is tactical movement, throwing live hand grenades, and combat in cities. Week eight is a 10 mile road march to a 4 day field training exercise called “the forge”, and convoy live firing from moving vehicles. The week ends with a beret donning ceremony, ending the basic portion of training. Week nine the trainee starts learning about the M1A2 Abrams tank. How to get in and out of the drivers station, where the instruments and controls are located and what they do, and how to react to a fire. Week ten is about the loaders station. How to load and maintain the main gun, how to operate the tanks radios, how to identify different types of ammunition. Trainees have 15 seconds, experienced loaders can load in 2 to 3 seconds. Week eleven is spent driving in tank simulators in all kinds of terrain and conditions. Week twelve is learning night vision devices and driving Hummv’s on and off road. Week thirteen is driving the tank, also how to maintain it and refuel it. Week fourteen is in the field, driving tanks through various terrain conditions, also firing the main gun and the machineguns in day and night. Week fifteen is a 15 kilometer road march back to garrison, a rite of passage ceremony from basic soldier to tanker, awarding of the Armor Branch insignia, then clean up, out-process and graduate.
New Armor Crewmen are assigned where ever the Army needs them, which could be Fort Benning (Columbus) or Fort Stewart (Liberty) Georgia, Fort Hood (Killeen) or Fort Bliss (El Paso) Texas, Fort Riley (Manhattan) Kansas, Fort Carson (Colorado Springs) Colorado, or Korea. During the cold war, Germany was thick with US Armor and Poland has recently offered to pay the United States the cost of permanently stationing a Brigade in Poland. If we do I would suspect that there will be tanks.

CARDIOVASCULAR SPECIALIST

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri July 4th 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 tcnpub3@gmail.com, 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.
Heart trouble. The first step usually, when heart trouble is suspected, is an EKG. An Electrocardiogram that records the electrical activity of your heart. It is usually administered by a trained Electrophysiology Technician, who has tested and been certified as a Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist (RCES). The next step may be a sonogram of your heart, called an echo. That will probably be administered by a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS). If you need a stint (a balloon), then that is a trip to the Cath Lab, or even outpatient surgery for a pacemaker, those procedures will be supervised by your heart doctor, but probably actually performed by a Cardiovascular Invasive Technician, a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS). The national medium income for these technicians is around $60,000 per year. The low end is out here in the country but pushing six figures in the big hospitals in the city. There are several schools that teach these courses, none in Missouri. It takes an Associate’s Degree or be a graduate of a medical tech school, to take the RCIS test. Many larger hospitals prefer a four year Bachelor’s Degree. Unless, the job applicant has military experience. Army cardiovascular specialists are highly sought after in the civilian job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees a 10 percent increase in these jobs over the next 10 years.
I have written previously about how the medical community, in the Army, is different. Our primary care doctor spent eight years as an army doctor. When asked about his service he laughs and says; “But I wasn’t in the real army, I was in the Medical Corps.” They are definitely different. Over the years there have always been complaints that the medical people were not as “Army” as other soldiers. Appearance wise medical people are closer to “real Army” now than they have been, but their job is not to take the fight to the enemy, it is to save lives and maintain the health of the Army, and they are very competent and professional at doing that.
Army Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 68N Cardiovascular Specialist. After basic training the advanced individual training (AIT) for this MOS totals 56 weeks. Phase one is 21 weeks at the huge army medical school at Fort Sam Houston, Texas (San Antonio). The Navy and the Air Force also send their cardiovascular techs to that school. Phase two is 35 weeks of onsite training and supervision at one of the Army Medical Centers. Upon graduation they are given the RCIS test and are nationally registered. They also have over 50 college semester hours, recognized by most medical tech schools. Comments from many currently working in this field, in civilian hospitals, are that the army training is far superior to any of the civilian schools. The Army crams most of the hard core cardiology, radiography, and pharmacology subjects of a Bachelor of Science degree in cardiovascular technology into the space of just over a year. It is not an easy school. There is no English or history or other electives, just hard core anatomy, physiology of the coronary and pulmonary system, radiography, pathophysiology of cardiopulmonary disease, pharmacology, noninvasive cardiology, and invasive cardiology, taught eight hours a day, five days a week for 21 weeks. Soldiers who survive this stuffed education with frequent cram tests move on to the 35 weeks of supervised internship as a cardiovascular technician. It is considered, by many in army medicine, to be the most rigorous course in the medical field. But the success rate in the school is actually very high, because of small classes. This is a small field with maybe 70 soldiers in MOS 68N, army wide, which makes AIT classes very small, around 10 to 15 students per class. One AIT class only had 8 students. One student said it was like regular college but with a lot of formations and PT (Physical Training) every weekday.
Most of these people work in Cath Labs in the big army hospitals either as invasive cardiac techs (surgical) or echo techs (ultrasound). One soldier said it’s a pretty cool super rare medical MOS that leads to a high paying job in the civilian world.
With civilian hospitals looking for these people, you might think that the Army would have a hard time keeping them. It does. The army jobs for which enlistment bonuses are paid changes almost weekly. When the Army has trouble attracting people to a particular job, it increases the enlistment bonus for that job. A few months ago people enlisting for MOS 68N were receiving a $30,000 sign up bonus for a five year enlistment, which is the minimum for 68N. For a six year enlistment they were paid a $40,000 bonus. The Army got its desired number of recruits and removed the enlistment bonus. The requirements to be considered for this job are first be otherwise qualified to enlist in the Army, have one year each of Algebra, Chemistry, and Physics with a grade of C (75 percent) or better in each, and score 101 in ST (skilled technical) and 107 in GT (General Technical) on the ASVAB tests. To get these soldiers to stay, the Army is offering sizeable re-enlistment bonuses. If a 68N gets assigned to a Combat Support Hospital, that does not deploy, they don’t get as much experience as those assigned to a regular army hospital. Some, who were assigned to Combat Support Hospital’s, said that, with permission of their commander, they moonlighted at local civilian hospitals to practice their skills. But those assigned to regular hospitals get a tremendous amount of experience. These soldiers have to enlist for five years to get MOS 68N, which means after training they will be working in a hospital for over three and a half years. With the Army paying Tuition Assistance of $250.00 per semester hour, up to $4,500 per year, and the GI Bill picking up the rest of the tab for active duty soldiers taking classes, about anyone should be able to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Cardiovascular Technology within that five years, especially starting with 50 semester hours in the core subjects.
I found comments from some who spent as much as 10 years in the Army before leaving for a civilian job. Because of their credentials and experience, the civilian salary was simply too much not to accept. In the past, if soldiers left the service prior to retirement, they left with nothing. Looking from now to 10 years into the future a soldier could leave the service with a sizeable Thrift Savings Plan retirement account.

MORE MEDICAL FIELD

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri April 25th 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 tcnpub3@gmail.com, 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 is more about the Army Medical Field. Most of these jobs are in hospitals or clinics and transfer directly to a civilian hospital job. Many of these MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialties) (jobs) receive national certification in their training, a few have to test and be certified after training, but can be accomplished prior to leaving the service. Having high school biology, physiology, or anatomy classes will help. Those interested in these jobs should have no aversion to blood, and should enjoy helping sick or injured people.
Orthopedic Specialist, Army MOS 68B, works in orthopedic clinics. They assist orthopedic doctors with patients, such as removing stitches, sutures or staples. They set up sterile and non-sterile procedures, they help with surgery pre-op, and they assist in orthopedic surgery. Larger civilian hospitals have similar positions. The ASVAB score requirements are; 101 in ST (Skilled Technical), which consists of VE, verbal expression which is word knowledge and paragraph comprehension, GS, general science, MC mechanical comprehension, and MK, mathematics knowledge, plus a 107 GT (General Technical) score, which also consists of the VE tests plus AR, arithmetic reasoning. After basic training, the Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for 68B is 14 weeks at Fort Sam Houston, Texas (San Antonio).
Operating Room Specialist, Army MOS 68D. For this job a person should have absolutely no aversion to blood, because they work in the operating room. They don’t do surgery, but they hand the instruments to the surgeon. The 68D’s help prepare patients for surgery, such as shaving. They operate the Centralized Material Service (CMS), which is preparing and maintaining sterile medical supplies and equipment. The 68D receives, cleans, decontaminates, and sterilizes, stores and issues supplies and equipment used during surgery. They also clean and sterilize the operating room. In civilian hospitals this is an OR tech. The ASVAB requirement is a score 91 in Skilled Technical (ST), which consists of VE (Verbal Expression), word knowledge and paragraph comprehension, GS (General Science), MC (Mechanical Comprehension), and MK (Mathematics Knowledge). After basic training, Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for MOS 68D is 19 weeks, nine weeks at Fort Sam Houston, then ten weeks residency at a major army hospital. That could be anywhere, wherever there is a position available.
Dental Specialist, Army MOS 68E works in dental clinics. A few may work in dental laboratories. In the Army these people do what the dentist’s assistants do in your local dentist’s office. Some of the things they study in their training is preventive dentistry, dental office procedures, radiology (X-ray) techniques, and dental hygiene procedures. They prepare patients such as taking vital signs, blood pressure and pulse. They assist the dentist during exams, they prepare impression material, and they do X-rays. Under the supervision of a dentist, they perform oral hygiene procedures, plus they give oral hygiene instruction to patients. They may also receive and seat patients, schedule appointments and maintain dental records. They may also maintain dental supplies and clean the dental clinic. In combat units they may also set up dental services in the field. The ASVAB requirement for 68E is also a score of 91 in ST (Skilled Technical). The AIT is eight weeks at Fort Sam Houston.
Physical Therapy Specialist, Army MOS 68F. To work as a physical therapy assistant in the civilian world a person must pass the CAPTE (Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education) Physical Therapy Assistant Exam and be licensed. To sit for the exam a person must have at least an Associate Degree in Physical Therapy from a school with an accredited Physical Therapy Program. That takes two years and costs what colleges cost. Physical Therapy Assistants salaries run from $43,000 to $63,000, average about $53,000 a year. A Physical Therapist is a doctor who designs programs for patients. The assistant does the work and helps the patient with exercises. It’s the same in the Army. The doctor, the Physical Therapist will meet the patient and after evaluating the patient’s situation will set up a program and go over it with the patient and the 68F. The 68F conducts the program with the patient. The ASVAB requirements are 101 in ST and 107 GT. The AIT is a total of 28 weeks. Eighteen weeks at Fort Sam Houston and 10 weeks residency at an Army Hospital. A veteran civilian physical therapy assistant said that the army training and experience is second to none. He said that having been a PT specialist in the Army he was far ahead of his peers in knowledge and experience.
Patient Administration Specialist, Army MOS 68G. These are the administrative clerks in army hospitals and clinics. They are also in medical units in the field. They maintain medical records and the overall administration for the hospital or clinic. The ASVAB requirement is 90 in CL (Clerical), which consists of the VE, AR, and MK tests. The AIT is seven weeks at Fort Sam Houston.
Optical Laboratory Specialist, Army MOS 68H. These are the lab techs who make glasses. They work exclusively in optical labs in hospitals, clinics, and field units. The ASVAB requirement is 98 in GM (General Maintenance), which is comprised of the following tests; GS, General Science, AS, Automotive and Shop Information, MK, Mathematics Knowledge, and EI, Electronics Information. The AIT is 24 weeks at the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, Virginia.
Medical Logistics Specialist, Army MOS 68J. These are the supply people for the medical community. They request, receive, store, inventory, and issue all supplies and equipment for hospitals, clinics, and combat medical units. The ASVAB requirement is also 90 in CL, and the AIT is six weeks at Fort Sam Houston.
Medical Laboratory Specialist, Army MOS 68K. This is a biggy if you’re wanting to learn a skill for civilian employment. These are the lab techs. The AIT is a year-long. Like their civilian counterparts, these soldiers perform a range of lab procedures, including blood banking, clinical laboratory procedures in hematology, clinical chemistry, serology, bacteriology, and urinalysis. They collect patient blood specimens, and pack, inspect and distribute blood and blood products (such as donated plasma), and maintain laboratory equipment. This is a job for someone interested in medical procedures who enjoys examining bacteria and parasites under a microscope. The ASVAB requirement is 106 in ST Skilled Technical, and a person must have completed high school chemistry and algebra. The AIT is in two phases. Phase I is six months at Fort Sam Houston, during which the Army crams two years of college. This is NOT an easy course. Phase II is at an Army Hospital, which could be anywhere they have an opening. It is residency in a lab, under the supervision of senior lab specialists.
Occupational Therapy Specialist, Army MOS 68L. Again not an easy course, but again one that pays well in the civilian world. Upon completion of training soldiers may take the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Test and be nationally certified. The national average salary for an OTA is around $47,000. Physical therapy is helping patients regain strength, dexterity or physical function. Occupational therapy is helping patients do the things they must do and want to do in life, such as wounded soldiers learning to walk again, or to feed themselves, or dress themselves. Much of the civilian work is with children with disabilities. The ASVAB requirements are 101 in ST (Skilled Technical) and 107 GT (General Technical). The AIT for MOS 68L is 34 weeks long at Fort Sam Houston. It is in two phases, Phase I is 18 weeks of academics. Some have written that some prior knowledge of anatomy and physiology is a great help, because for many that is the hardest part of the course. Students also attend the cadaver lab during that phase. Phase II is instruction in and working in clinics with actual patients.
Nutrition Care Specialist, Army MOS 68M. I found a few old comments from soldiers with this MOS who said that they were just a cook in a hospital, and in some situations that may still be true. Until a couple years ago, a soldier who enlisted for this MOS was first sent to the eight week Culinary Specialist (cook) school at Fort Lee, Virginia, then to a seven week nutrition specialist course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Now it is just seven weeks at Fort Sam Houston, with the indication that they only prepare food in small quantities. Civilians actually do most of the cooking in the large Army hospitals. The 68M’s interview patients after a dietician has established a special diet and ensure that the patient gets the proper food. They also teach proper nutrition and diet, and they do nutrition assessment screening for the dieticians.

THE MEDICAL FIELD

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri February 28th 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 tcnpub3@gmail.com, 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.
There is another Army about which I have not written, until now. It is like a separate Army within the Army. It is the largest professional component of the US Army. Over twenty percent of active duty soldiers are in that command/department. It has dozens of military jobs for which an individual can enlist, be trained and perform, then leave the Army and do the same thing in a civilian setting at a good salary. One of the greatest dangers in that command is becoming overweight and out of shape.
The US Army Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Nadja Y. West, is the head of the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) and also the Commander of the US Army Medical Command (MEDCOM). MEDCOM supervises through four Regional Health Commands, worldwide, 8 Army Medical Centers, 13 Army Community Hospitals (like the one at Fort Leonard Wood), 29 Army Health Clinics, 81 Primary Care Clinics, 8 Occupational Health Clinics, 99 Dental Clinics, 42 Veterinary Facilities, 33 Research and Development Laboratories, 5 Laboratory Support Activities, 10 Combat Support Hospitals, 16 Forward Support Surgical Teams, and six active Medical Brigades, plus other smaller units. All wear the same shoulder patch, all are part of MEDCOM.
MEDCOM says that on an average day, worldwide they will have 55,000 outpatient visits, fill 57,000 pharmacy prescriptions, do 85,000 lab procedures, give 9,400 shots, do 25,000 dental procedures, 13,000 radiology procedures, admit 253 patients to the hospital, and deliver 71 babies.
Medical Doctors, MD’s and DO’s, are in the Army Medical Corps, Nurses are in the Army Nurse Corps, Dentists are in the Dental Corps, Doctors of Veterinary Medicine are in the Veterinary Corps. The Medical Service Corps includes psychologists, social workers, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, and audiologists. Officers in the Medical Service Corps also serve in many hospital administrative, logistical, and research positions. The Medical Specialist Corps has clinical dieticians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physician’s assistants. Medical doctors are separately identified into one or more of 41 specialties from family practice to orthopedic surgery to neuro surgery.
There are 23 enlisted military occupational specialties (MOS’s) in the medical field; 68A Biomedical Equipment Specialist, 68B Orthopedic Specialist, 68C Practical Nursing Specialist, 68D Operating Room Specialist, 68E Dental Specialist, 68F Physical Therapy Specialist, 68G Patient Administration Specialist, 68H Optical Laboratory Specialist, 68J Medical Logistics Specialist, 68K Medical Laboratory Specialist, 68L Occupational Therapy Specialist, 68M Nutrition Care Specialist, 68N Cardiovascular Specialist, 68P Radiology Specialist, 68Q Pharmacy Specialist, 68R Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist, 68S Preventive Medicine Specialist, 68T Animal Care Specialist, 68U Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Specialist, 68V Respiratory Specialist, 68W Healthcare Specialist (Combat Medic), 68X Behavioral Health Specialist, and 68Y Eye Specialist. Plus 68Z is a Chief Medical NCO (Non-commissioned Officer) (sergeant). And outside the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) is the Special Forces Medical Sergeant, MOS 18D.
Most of those MOS’s are employed in hospitals or clinics in the Medical Command. Dental people are of course in Dental Clinics and the Animal care folks are in the post Vet Clinics. Every post has a vet clinic to care for pets. The Healthcare Specialist, the 68W (68 Whiskey) can be assigned to a hospital or to a combat unit. Every infantry rifle platoon has a medic attached when in the field. I never had a bad medic. Airborne infantry is light infantry, it rarely gets to ride. Our medics carried everything that the grunts carried plus a 50 pound medical bag, and they were always with us. So far, the Army has avoided sending female medics with infantry units. However, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars blurred the lines of where combat could be found, as with the case of Monica Brown.
The current comments from soldiers working in Army hospitals are; ”It’s like working in a civilian hospital but wearing a uniform.” Or one said; “It’s like being in the Air Force but wearing an Army uniform.” Hospital work is hospital work civilian or military. It is shift work with rotating shifts. Those sections rarely have organized PT (physical training). The individual soldier works out on his or her own or risks getting out of shape or overweight. Either condition draws attention and grief. Over the years medical people have worn their hair too long, their uniforms not as neat, and not acted as “military” as the rest of the Army, but always end up being tolerated and accepted because of what they do. They are different and they are special.
The biggest difference between a civilian and a military hospital is that it is military, the bosses have rank and more authority than a civilian boss, so they are normally more disciplined and tightly operated.
I’m going to start with the enlisted jobs then move on to how doctors and nurses are procured. I’m starting at the top with MOS 68A Biomedical Equipment Specialist. This is a great school and job in the Army that translates directly to a good civilian job, starting at around $30 an hour. I found one recent veteran of this MOS who started work immediately, in St Louis, at $70,000 a year. These people take care of all the medical equipment used by medical personnel, from mechanical and hydraulic to electronic and digital. They install medical equipment and perform preventive maintenance checks, including lubricating, adjusting and cleaning. They also troubleshoot and check equipment for any malfunctions or defects and submit reports on all equipment inspected. Most of the positions are in hospitals. Work in a hospital consists of conducting inspections and verifying that units are properly calibrated about 65 percent of the time, and spending the rest of the time on repair work-orders, troubleshooting, identifying broken components, replacing boards, etc. Hospitals are where 68A’s really get to do their job. In field units, medical logistics, or combat support hospitals 68A’s apparently do more “just army stuff” than their real job, and they complain that in Brigade Support Battalions they rarely get to do their job, although some say that promotions seem to come faster in the combat units.
The requirements to enlist for this job are first, be qualified for enlistment, have at least one year of high school algebra with a grade of C or better, have normal color vision, and score at least 107 in the EL (electronics) area of the ASVAB, which consists of these tests, General Science (GS), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Electronics Information (EI). It also requires a four year enlistment, because the school is almost a year long, and most leave the army after their initial enlistment, for a lucrative civilian job. Many have said that they meet so many people in the field, military and civilian contractors, during that four years, that they have a job waiting for them when they leave the service. The Army school is considered by many the best in the country. The person who is lucky enough to get this MOS will probably have to wait for a slot to come open. MOS 68A is not currently on the list for an enlistment bonus, although that list changes with the wind it is an indication of whether the Army needs that MOS or not. The AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for MOS 68A is 41 weeks long at Fort Sam Houston, Texas (San Antonio). That means, since it is longer than 21 weeks, the Army will move a soldier’s family to Fort Sam immediately after basic training. Discipline and soldier control wise it is very laid back. There are often specialists and sergeants, who have reenlisted for MOS 68A, or reclassified into it, attending the course. There is still PT (Physical Training) every weekday. Mentally it is tough for many. Several suggested a lot of study or even setting up study groups outside the classroom. The school consists of 12 courses of 17 days each. 1 and 2 are the hardest for a lot of people, but they are meant to weed people out. 1 is math about circuits, dimensional analysis and conversions. 2 is circuit theory and learning components. You have to know how a transistor works. The other courses are on specific items of equipment.
They leave AIT with enough college credit to finish an associates degree in biomed tech in about three classes. It is hospital work, but without dealing with patients, they work on equipment that keeps the patients alive. Also, there is often the opportunity to train with industry, when new equipment is introduced.

ENLIST IN THE ARMY AND BECOME A NURSE

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri March 7th 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 tcnpub3@gmail.com, 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 is how to enlist in the Army, immediately after graduating from high school, and within about six years be a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a commissioned officer in the Army.
Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 68C Practical Nursing Specialist. After basic training, the course is 55 weeks long. All students must pass the NCLEX-PN test (National Council Licensure Examination for Licensed Practical Nurses) to complete the course, making them an LPN. This is a hospital job.
The requirements to enlist for this job are; be medically and physically qualified to enlist in the military, plus most of the medical jobs require that the enlistee have normal color vision, no aversion to blood, no history of alcoholism or drug use, and no history of violent activity, or sexual misconduct. The ASVAB score requirements are; 101 in ST (Skilled Technical), which consists of VE, verbal expression which is word knowledge and paragraph comprehension, GS, general science, MC mechanical comprehension, and MK, mathematics knowledge, plus a 107 GT (General Technical) score, which also consists of the VE tests plus AR, arithmetic reasoning.
Those are the book requirements. There is competition for that job, plus a person may have to wait a couple months for the MOS to be available. To be competitive for this job a person should blow the ASVAB test away, they should study for it like their very future depends on it. It does. They should be of squeaky clean good moral character and be athletically physically fit. If they are not currently a runner they should start. Running is the best and cheapest cardiorespiratory fitness exercise. The 68C course is tough, not physically but academically, and running keeps good oxygen going to the brain. High school classes in anatomy, biology and physiology will help in the training.
Someone enlisting from here will probably go through basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, that’s about 10 weeks. Then the 68C candidate is transferred to Fort Sam Houston, Texas (San Antonio) for Phase I of the 68C course. Phase I is text books, classes and studying of anatomy and physiology. Phase I is 11 weeks, three days long. In phase I living conditions resemble basic training. Get up at 0400 or 0430, clean barracks, PT (physical training), breakfast, march to class at 0830. Personal freedoms increase as the class progresses. There isn’t an “easy” part of the 68C course. Civilian LPN courses are two years long, the Army does it in one. The fail rate fluctuates from class to class. The Army does not like high fail rates in long expensive courses. For those who struggle there will be remedial classes and individual tutoring. Tests are given each week after that block of instruction. You cannot fail a test. If a student fails a test he or she is allowed to retest, if they pass that time (above 76%) OK, but if they fail the second time they may be recycled back to a newer class or dropped and reclassified to another MOS.
After completing phase I, students are transferred to Phase II at one of five locations; Brooke Army Medical Center right there at Fort Sam Houston, William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas (El Paso), Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Washington (between Tacoma and Seattle), Dwight D Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, Georgia (Augusta), and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Washington, DC. That is a permanent change of station (PCS) so the Army will move a family to accompany a Phase II student, and some have said that a car practically a necessity, depending on the location. The first five weeks of Phase II are classes five days a week. It has been described as being academically brutal. PT is at 5:00 AM, clean up, get dressed, eat breakfast and be in a mandatory study hall at 7:00 AM until 8:00 AM when regular classes begin. Class 8:00 to noon, then 1:00PM to 5:00 PM. Tests are every two weeks in Phase II. After those first five weeks of Phase II, classes are only on Monday and Tuesday, while Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are spent on a ward in the hospital working under the close supervision of an instructor. There they get to interact with patients and deal with different illnesses, injuries and treatments. On those days PT is often in the afternoon in the gym. A grade point average of 84 percent must be maintained, if a student falls to 80 percent they are placed on academic probation, and must apply extra study hours and keep a log of their study time.
Finally in the last few weeks of Phase II, sometimes called Phase III, the student is paired with an LPN in the hospital and works a regular shift. The final exam is the NCLEX-PN test, making them a Licensed Practical Nurse. One recent graduating class said that they started with 65 students and 13 months, 29 tests and 798 clinical hours later they graduated with 51. That’s a 78 percent success rate.
When this person arrives at their first duty station (hospital), they will have been in the Army around 16 to 17 months. They will probably be promoted to Specialist E4 shortly after establishing themselves in their job.
Now for the Registered Nurse part. The Army get its registered nurses through Army ROTC Nurse Programs, some are direct commissioned into the Army, although that is very competitive, and some are grown from within. The Army has many male nurses, but most are women. Upon being commissioned a Second Lieutenant, nurses are obligated to serve in the Army for three and four years. Many leave the Army after their initial obligation, after all they are registered nurses. Many large civilian hospitals offer sign-on bonuses for nurses. The Army assumes that it has a much better opportunity to retain a nurse, possibly for a career, if that nurse comes from within the Army. So the Army Medical Department (AMEDD), has its own “Enlisted Commissioning Program”. The requirements are; have been in the Army for at least three years, but not more than twelve, be a Specialist E4 or above, have enough college to complete a Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) program within two years, and be accepted at a college or university to do just that. Those selected, are not discharged, they are assigned to the ROTC department of the school that has accepted them. They continue to draw full pay and allowances, and the army pays full tuition plus $1,000 a year for books. When they receive their degree and complete the ROTC program they are commissioned, they then owe the army four years as a nurse.
The graduating 68C, who is at that time an LPN, has close to 60 college semester hours, maybe only a couple classes short of an Associate’s Degree. Those hours have to be accepted by a civilian school and schools have different requirements, but find a school that will accept all or most all of those hours, and has a bachelor of science in nursing program, and an Army ROTC program. Central Missouri at Warrensburg appears to be a military friendly school that fits that scenario.
A registered nurse in the Army is an officer, and in the Army an officer is an officer, whether that person is a nurse or an airborne ranger infantry officer. A new Army registered nurse is commissioned as a Second Lieutenant (2LT). After the nurse officer basic leadership course, a 2LT nurse will typically work a shift on a hospital ward as their first job. At 18 months from their commissioning they are promoted to First Lieutenant (1LT). A 1LT nurse may be the charge nurse on a shift. At about four years from their commissioning they are promoted to Captain. At about that same time, if they are staying in the army, they will return to Fort Sam for the AMEDD Captains Career Course. Also around that time the army will be encouraging them to get a masters degree, and for some, the army will send them to grad school. At around the ten year time they will probably be promoted to Major and sent to attend the year-long Command and General Staff College, with officers from all army branches. Promotion to Lieutenant Colonel may come around the 15 to 16 year time frame, and if they are promoted to full Colonel that will probably be around the 20 year mark. Army nurses not only work in hospitals, they command companies, clinics and hospitals. One of the recent commanders of the hospital at Fort Leonard Wood was a female nurse (Colonel), not a doctor. And the Commander of the US Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) and Surgeon General of the Army, who retired prior to the current commander, was Lieutenant General (3 stars) Patricia Horoho, a nurse.

FLYING IN THE ARMY

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri September 19th 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 tcnpub3@gmail.com, 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.
You can enlist to be a pilot. I do not recommend anyone just graduating from high school even attempt it. Ninety nine percent of Army pilots come from the enlisted ranks within the Army.
For almost 50 years the Army has had a program called “High School to Flight School”. It was used a lot during the Vietnam War and some did enlist under that program during the height of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. The Army has three helicopters, the CH-47D Chinook, the UH-60A/L Blackhawk, and the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter. Until a couple years ago the Army also had the OH-58D Kiowa Light Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, but with defense budget cuts of the last administration, they all went to an aircraft graveyard in Arizona. The Army now wishes it had a light armed reconnaissance helicopter.

Boeing CH-47D Chinook
Boeing CH-47D Chinook

Blackhawks unloading troops

Apache on ground
The application process to enlist for flight school is long, it usually takes a year or more. Before a person can enlist for Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT) they must have an application for WOFT approved. Applicants must be between 18 and 33, score 110 or better on the General Technical area of the ASVAB, plus a score of 90 or better on the Flight Aptitude Selection Test, pass a flight physical, have normal color vision and vision no worse than 20/50 before correction in each eye, plus meet all the other requirements for enlistment. Being selected for WOFT is highly competitive. Considerations are prior aviation experience, college, age, maturity, physical condition and general life experience.
The application for WOFT for active duty soldiers is the same as for a civilian. Most pilots come from aviation units, aircraft mechanics, crew chiefs, and flight engineers. Many of them can already fly a helicopter. The second group most sought after for pilots is Infantry. Helicopter pilots and crews exist to support combat soldiers. They are delivering them into or picking them up from battle, they are delivering supplies or they are picking up wounded soldiers. A pilot who is a former infantryman has a good understanding of what is happening on the ground.
But, a person graduating from high school can enlist to be a helicopter mechanic. The general aviation maintenance jobs are; MOS 15B Aircraft Powerplant Repairer, 15D Powertrain Repairer, 15F Aircraft Electrician, 15G Structural Repairer, 15H Pneudraulics Repairer, 15N Avionic Mechanic, 15R AH-64 Attack Helicopter Repairer, 15T UH-60 Helicopter Repairer, and 15U CH-47 Helicopter Repairer. The last three are the actual helicopter mechanics. AH-64 Apaches have crew chiefs who are responsible for a particular bird, but they don’t fly because the AH-64 is a two seat aircraft that has two pilots. The UH-60 Blackhawk has two pilots and an onboard Crew Chief, who is a 15T. The CH-47 Chinook has two pilots, a Crew Chief 15U, and a Flight Engineer 15U.
Crew chief’s, Flight Engineers, and Flight Engineer Instructors start as aircraft repairers. In the military people are placed in positions by virtue of rank. The senior person holds the senior job. That is not followed in Army Aviation. In the aviation community people are placed in positions regardless of rank. The Crew Chief of a Chinook may be a Sergeant and the Flight Engineer a Specialist, but the Flight Engineer is in charge of the aircraft. Crew Chiefs conduct preflight and post flight inspections, they make sure their aircraft is maintained, safe, fueled and everything ready to fly. Flight engineers have a much more in depth knowledge of the Chinook systems, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, etc, because the Chinook is so much larger and more complicated.
All Army aviation schooling is at the Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama. The AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for 15U Chinook and 15R Apache is each 17 weeks, 15T Blackhawk is 15 weeks. Like most schools they teach the basics, and the real learning is found in the units.
Supervisors in aviation maintenance units keep checklists of the skills each mechanic has mastered, which helps them to determine who is ready to become a crew chief and who is not. A Specialist Flight Engineer said; “A lot of it has to do with your work ethic. What we look for are the Chinook mechanics out on the line with us, asking us, ‘Do you need any help?’ They come up to us and ask us about flight. The guys who show us they like to work, they like to learn about the aircraft, and usually those who are more squared away than their peers.” Becoming an excellent mechanic is not the only challenge a potential crew chief might face. Crew chiefs often arrive before and leave well after the pilots to ensure the safety of all aboard. Crew members are limited to a 12-hour duty day. In a typical duty day, a crew chief has about two hours to get the aircraft ready, including inspecting the aircraft, gathering gear and maintaining the logbook. If it takes longer than that, the aircraft may not meet its take-off time. After a flight, the crew chiefs must do a post-flight inspection, put away gear, make entries into the logbook and prepare the bird for its next flight. Crew Chiefs generally perform crew-level minor maintenance, basic “keep it flying” maintenance. Big things go back to the Maintenance Company. The Flight Engineer has a much more in depth knowledge of the aircraft systems than a Crew Chief is required to know. One Command Pilot said of Crew Chiefs and Flight Engineers; “These guys are the consummate professionals. We couldn’t do our mission without them”.

Specialist Bayley Deputy the Crew Chief of a UH-60 Blackhawk in the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina says; “Being a Crew Chief is ‘Can you do the job, and can you continue to do the job?’ We repair the helicopter, it’s a very humbling job. You have go above your duties. When you’re in the air it’s not about you anymore, it’s about the pilot and the rest of the crew and the passengers. We also man the machineguns, one on each side. If something happens and we have to put the aircraft down and we have to evade, we’re trained for that. The 82nd Airborne is very serious, but I like that because I want to be with a unit that takes things seriously. We have fun, but we work hard, we make sure that our aircraft is ready to go whenever duty calls.”

Specialist Baley Deputy
The AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter is just that. The troops in Afghanistan say that Apaches make the Taliban disappear. It has been called a flying tank. It can carry 16 Hellfire missiles, 70 “2.756 inch” rockets, and 1,200 rounds for its 30mm Chain Gun. It can fly 175 MPH, it can do loops, vertical banks, and rollovers. It can hover along inches off the ground and jump over walls and rocks and back around obstacles. It is the most lethal helicopter in the world.
The UH-60 Blackhawk is the tactical workhorse for transporting troops. When deployed, it flies with two Crew Chiefs who each man a machinegun. It can carry 11 combat troops and has a cargo lift capacity of 8,000 pounds. I can cruise at 174 MPH.
The CH-47D Chinook can carry 55 combat troops and can carry inside or sling load up to 26,000 pounds. Assumed by many to be a big cumbersome, slow moving machine, is just the opposite. It is actually the fastest at 195 MPH. When the war heated up in Afghanistan, the Blackhawks had trouble in the extreme high altitudes of the mountains. The more powerful Chinook became the workhorse moving troops, equipment and supplies around the rough terrain.

Chinook on cabin
My first experience with Army aviation was in Vietnam. I was a Staff Sergeant when I went through “P training”, the in-country introductory course in the 101st Airborne Division. I went through with another Staff Sergeant named Krag Bullis who was a helicopter mechanic. We became friends and when we finished P training we went to our units. He was a maintenance platoon sergeant in the 17th Cavalry. Huey helicopters. We were only one camp apart so we got to visit occasionally. He said that he didn’t know how many hours he had unofficially occupied the left seat of a huey, because the unit was short pilots. He could fly as well as any pilot. He arranged for me to hitch hike a couple times on his birds. That was his fourth tour in Vietnam, he didn’t make it back from that one.
I’ve have known a few Medal of Honor winners, and those I knew did what had to be done at the time, but helicopters pilots, as a group, were some of the gutsiest people I saw. There were medivac pilots in the 101st in Vietnam, who would go in and pick up casualties while being shot up while they did it. Medivac birds weren’t armed. If you see the movie “We Were Soldiers” with Mel Gibson and Sam Elliot, it is a very real portrayal of the “Battle of Ia Drang Valley” in November 1965. Two helicopter pilots received Medals of Honor for repeatedly flying ammunition in and casualties out of that battle, while getting their birds shot to pieces.

A GOOD ARMY JOB

A good job in the Army is one that the soldier enjoys. He or she likes to get up in the morning and go to work. A bad job in the Army could be that very same job, but the soldier hates it, what works for some doesn’t work for everyone. I had a lot of different jobs in the Army. Soldiers can’t move around with ease like that now. So anyone considering enlisting should do a lot of research. There are hundreds of testimonials online pro and con about most Army jobs. Read both and consider the language and the manner in which the soldiers presented their story. Having done that, be real honest with yourself. What are your likes and dislikes.
My personal favorite is the infantry. I always went back to the infantry. I’ve walked until I had blood in my boots and strap sores on my shoulders, I’ve been shot at and mortared, I’ve slept in the mud and the snow and waded through swamps, but it was always together with brothers. Everything else in the military supports the infantry, it is the Army. However, if that sounds to you like misery, then you probably wouldn’t like the infantry.
One of the physically easiest jobs in the Army is a solid desk job, and is continually rated high by the people doing it. That is Human Resource Specialist, in the Adjutant Generals Corps. Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 42A. 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 not fast 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. 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. 9-5s only happen if your shop is on point. There have been times when the whole unit gets released at 1300 (1:00 PM) but we know to head back to the shop because stuff needs to get done before we go home. The latest I’ve worked was 2300 (11:00 PM). Working late usually happens when your shop needs to get its stuff together. Sucks, but it’s necessary. 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.
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. The AIT is not that strict. 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. 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; 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; Perform Personnel Office Computations; Review a Completed Officer and Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report (NCOER); Process Enlisted Advancements for PV1 – SPC; Process Semi-Centralized Promotions; Research Finance Actions; Determine Entitlements to Pay and Allowances; and Employ the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) System.
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 17 percent of enlistees who will retire from the Army 20 years later, that is where he or she would want to start.

GREEN BERETS

Green Beret 5th Group
Green Beret 5th Group

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri October 11th and 18th 2017. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email tcnpub3@gmail.com, 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.
Green Berets, US Army Special Forces, the “quiet Professionals”. Who are they and how did they become “Green Berets”? The core of Special Forces is the A-Detachment, yes the “A Team”. The twelve man A Detachment consists of 10 NCO’s (non-commissioned officers) (sergeants), a Captain Commander, and a Warrant Officer Assistant Commander. The Warrant Officer is a former Special Forces Sergeant who has spent a minimum of three years (preferably more) on an A Detachment, applied to be a Warrant Officer, was accepted, attended a 20 week Warrant Officer’s Course, and then promoted to Warrant Officer. The specialties of the sergeants are weapons, engineers, medics, and communications. The success rate of soldiers from the very start of the year and a half to two year training to becoming Green Berets is about 25 percent. A big part of the day to day training within an A Detachment is cross training. Teaching each other their particular skills.
The Captain, who is usually the youngest member of the team, gets to spend about two years as an A Detachment Commander, then he moves on. Other than the Captain, an A-Detachment will usually stay together for years. Most A Detachments become one large extended family. They train together and they socialize, with their families, together. They know the names and birthdates of each others children, and when higher ups or “regular army” are not around they use first names. The Special Forces A Detachment’s bond with each other is stronger than in any other organization.
A retired Command Sergeant Major (CSM) of the US Army Special Forces Command said; ”The Hollywood version of the Special Forces soldier is far from reality. In movies, they mostly look like bodybuilders and seem to talk in macho catch-phrases, but the reality is, if you met a Green Beret out of uniform, you probably wouldn’t know it.” Retired CSM Frank McFadden, who at one time was in charge of the grueling 19 continuous day Special Forces Assessment and Selection course (SFAS), which is used to determine who will be accepted into the actual Special Forces Qualification Courses (SFQC), said; “I would find the biggest guy in the class and the smallest guy, stand them up, and tell the class, ‘This guy has just as much of a chance as this guy right here, and it has nothing to do with physical ability. It all has to do with your head, heart, and guts. SFAS is physically and mentally challenging beyond the abilities of most, and it’s meant to be that way. It’s a thinking man’s game. My job is to get you into a drop zone, and your job is to figure out how to train a battalion of guerillas. You figure out the rest. You might ask for 15,000 rounds of ammo to train them, but here’s 500 rounds. You have to figure out to accomplish the mission.”
One Green Beret recalled some memorable missions to South and Central America. “We were part of a MEDRETE to Honduras.” (A MEDRETE (Medical Readiness, Education and Training Exercise) is a medical mission to provide acute, primary, and preventative medicine services, that is otherwise not available, to populations in foreign (third world) countries.) “The US sent in doctors, veterinarians, and dentists to a remote region to promote goodwill between the people and the host nation government. About 750 – 1,000 villagers were expected, due to the word getting out, close to 10,000 showed up. Many had never seen a doctor or a dentist, and they brought their horses and donkey’s for the vets to look over. A couple of days were spent pulling teeth, under the watchful eyes of our dentists. Another was working with the vets, inoculating animals with a shot that would rid them of ticks.” “During a six month deployment to Bolivia to train counter-narcotics troops, we were planning for 10 days off during Christmas, but the American Ambassador ask for our help, so we spent it completely rebuilding a school. Our medics in Chimore were the only doctors for miles. Many women trekked for miles across mountainous terrain to have their babies born in the ‘gringo hospital’, which was our medical dispensary at the camp we shared with a Bolivian counter-narcotics battalion and DEA agents.”
Green Berets were the first to organize Afghan people to drive the Taliban out of town in Afghanistan. Some of you may recall those early Green Beret pictures. They looked like tribesmen on horseback. On January 23rd, 2002, Master Sergeant (MSG) Anthony Pryor’s A Detachment received orders, from US Central Command, to conduct a night raid on a suspected al-Qaeda compound in a remote area of southern Afghanistan. Their mission was to take over an old school house while the enemy fighters slept. But almost as soon as they entered the compound, their position was compromised, and they found themselves under intense gunfire, some less than 25 meters away. MSG Pryor and a teammate, Sergeant First Class (SFC) Scott Neil, pushed forward under fire. As they turned to enter a room, an enemy fighter charged through the doorway. MSG Pryor shot that fighter and moved into the room alone while SFC Neil was engaging another fighter outside. MSG Pryor later recalled, “I went in, and there were some windows that they were trying to get their guns out of to shoot at our guys that hadn’t caught up yet. So I went from left to right indexed down and shot those guys up. I realized that I was well halfway through my magazine, so I started to change magazines. Then I felt something behind me, and I thought it was Neil, that’s when things started going downhill.” Something hard struck Pryor on the back, breaking his clavicle and dislocating his shoulder. He went to the floor. “He jumped on my back, broke my night-vision goggles off and started getting his fingers in my eyeballs,” Pryor recalled. “I pulled him over, and when I hit down on the ground, it popped my shoulder back in.” Back on his feet, Pryor squared off with his attacker. Then, using only his hands, he killed him. But the fight wasn’t over. “I was trying to feel around in the dark for my night-vision goggles, and that’s when the guys I’d already killed decided that they weren’t dead yet.” Pryor raced to bring his rifle up while the two wounded men did the same. Moments later, Pryor emerged from the room, leaving four dead enemy soldiers in his wake. “As soon as he left the room, he came running up to me and wanted to know if everybody was okay,” Neil recalled. “He never mentioned anything about what went on … and during the whole objective and as the firefight continued, he never stopped.” When it was over, 21 enemy soldiers had been killed and all of the Americans were alive. Five years later, when the story could be told, MSG Pryor was awarded the Silver Star.
Special Forces values brains over brawn. Special Forces soldiers, are, as a group, the smartest group of people with whom I have ever been associated, and that includes university and college faculties. Most now have college degrees. Education and intelligence are not necessarily related. College doesn’t make you smarter, it teaches skills. Granted, a person has to be fairly smart to complete highly technical courses, such as medicine, engineering and computer science. Although, my son-in-law who is fairly high up on the food chain in computer science, says that some dumb guys do manage to get through that course.
In my research for this article, since my experience with these folks was 50 years ago, I found an in depth, three month psychiatric study of an A Detachment in Vietnam in 1966. They were called “A Camps” because the A team and a South Vietnamese SF A team, plus locals they had trained, constructed camps in remote isolated areas to train and influence the local population and to see to their medical needs. The doctor who published the study had three people live at the A Camp for three months, observing and conducting informal interviews. They reported things like – they all had big egos, each protected his own little area from the others, and the commander didn’t know what he was doing. I was there then, and I never heard of an A Camp like that. As I reread and studied that report, and thought back to my time there, I realized what had happened. A Camp’s were always under the threat of attack, and they did get attacked, a lot. More than one got completely overrun, which kept the stress level fairly high, so when you had a chance to have some fun you did it. That Special Forces A team performed a, well played, three month act in psyching the psych’s. Probably the most fun they had that year.
Green Berets – Who is attracted to Special Forces? Some apply to SF for the popular reasons, adventure, where the action is, and the Green Beret. The Sergeant who is probably going to be accepted, and go through training with very few problems, is a very intelligent, very mature Sergeant or Staff Sergeant who is a self-starter, and who has looked at Special Forces and seen them operating by themselves or in small groups, with great freedom of movement, and decided that he would rather do that than be in a regular unit. In a regular army division, to maintain control of 15,000 young soldiers, there has to be lots of rules. The Special Forces soldier, must be able to handle a considerable amount of stress, both physical and mental, he should also be comfortable with sorting through often large amounts of conflicting information, and deciding on a course of action, and he must have the maturity and self-confidence to make the right decision.
Since 9 – 11, the Army has allowed civilians to enlist for Special Forces. That contract only guarantees that the person get to attend the Special Forces Preparatory Course (SFPC). The requirements to enlist for Special Forces are, be at least 20 years old, but not yet 30, be in excellent physical condition, have a squeaky clean record, except perhaps a minor traffic ticket (you must have a secret security clearance initially and eventually a top secret), score high on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), and preferably have at least one year of college. The enlistee who is accepted to contract for the 18X option will contract for five years, because they must have three years remaining at the completion of Special Forces training. He first attends 22 weeks of infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He is trained as a light weapons infantryman, MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 11B. He then attends the three week basic airborne course also at Fort Benning. He is then moved to the US Army John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina to attend the four week Special Forces Preparatory Course (SFPC), which was designed specifically to prepare the 18X enlistees for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course (SFAS). The 18X program had a rocky start, and was nearly dropped, only pressure for more Green Berets kept it going. The Command Sergeant Major of the Special Warfare School reported that of the first 798 18X enlistees, only 14 made it through SFAS to actually start training. About 20 percent were dropped in Infantry training, 10 percent in Airborne School, 30 Percent in the preparatory course, and 40 percent of those remaining were dropped in SFAS. I have seen indications that the success rate is now somewhat better. When an 18X enlistee is dropped from the program he is an 11B (light weapons infantryman) assigned according to the needs of the Army. If he is lucky, he will go to the 82nd Airborne Division right there at Fort Bragg, if he is not so lucky, he could be maintaining a Bradley Fighting Vehicle at Fort Bliss, Texas or Fort Riley, Kansas. Neither of those may be a bad assignment, but if you were planning to be a Green Beret, it would be quite disappointing. That’s why I don’t recommend a civilian enlisting for Special Forces, although some have made it and became Green Berets.
In a the regular Army a Captain commands a company of 100 to 200 soldiers, he has a First Lieutenant Executive Officer and a First Sergeant E-8 to help run the company. In Special Forces, a Captain commands a team of 12 men, including himself. He has a warrant officer as an assistant, and a Master Sergeant E-8 to run the team. The Master Sergeant is the Operations Sergeant, the “Team” Sergeant, then there is a Sergeant First Class E-7 Intelligence Sergeant. These are the “big four” who run the team. The remaining eight members of the team include, two Weapons Specialists, a Sergeant First Class (SFC) E-7 and a Staff Sergeant (SSG) E-6, two Engineers, an SFC and a SSG, two Medics, an SFC and a SSG, and two Communications Specialists, an SFC and a SSG. That is the composition of the A Team (Operationally Detachment Alpha). Internally referred to as “ODA-111 (the number of the team). In the last decade, Green Berets have deployed into 135 of the 195 recognized countries in the world. Successes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, the Philippines, the Andean Ridge, the Caribbean, and Central America have resulted in an increasing demand for US Army Special Forces around the globe.
Every day, Special Forces Soldiers remain deployed around the world, living up to their motto: “De Oppresso Liber” — To Free the Oppressed
There are six A Detachments in a company, which is called a B detachment (SFOD-B). The B Detachment (company) is commanded by a Major, and there are three companies in a Battalion, commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, and four Battalions in a Group, which is commanded by a Colonel with a Command Sergeant Major and a full staff. There are about 1,500 soldiers in a Special Forces Group. There are presently five active SF Groups and two National Guard.
The 1st Special Forces Group is headquartered at Joint Base Lewis McCord (Fort Lewis), Washington. Its area of responsibility is the Pacific. The 1st Battalion of the 1st Group is forward deployed to Okinawa, Japan.
The 3rd Special Forces Group is at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Its area of responsibility is sub-Saharan Africa.
The 5th Special Forces Group is at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Its area of responsibility is Middle East, Persian Gulf, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa.
The 7th Special Forces Group is located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Its area of responsibility is South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The 10th Special Forces Group is at Fort Carson, Colorado. Its area of responsibility is Europe. The 1st Battalion of the 10th Group is forward deployed to Stuttgart, Germany.
The 19th National Guard Special Forces Group is located at Draper, Utah and is oriented to South East Asia and the Pacific.
The 20th National Guard Special Forces Group is in Birmingham, Alabama and is oriented to South American, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Special Forces soldiers have to have a good body, not a weight lifter body, just a good body in top physical condition. They are more likely to resemble a long distance runner that a weight lifter. They have to be able to throw a hundred pounds on their back, walk up a mountain and just keep going and going and going. Endurance is most important.
After an enlisted man, in the rank of Specialist through Sergeant First Class, or an officer with the rank of Captain, volunteers and is accepted, or an SF enlistee who has made it through SFPC, the first step to becoming a Green Beret is the 19 day Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course (SFAS) course. All rank is removed, nobody knows anyone’s rank. It is harder than ranger school, it is harder than anything. It is a “weed out” course. It is 19 continuous days of little sleep, brutally hard training, with heavy rucksacks carried always. There is no training schedule. Events are not known until just before they happen. Complex training problems are given to teams. Individuals go through long distance, multiple point, timed land navigation courses. It is designed to create physical and mental stress. Several batteries of psychological tests are given, often asking the same question four or five different ways, after you haven’t slept for three days. Physical training (PT) is just short of breaking the individual, which includes a mile long, 30 event obstacle course, and runs are not regulated by distance or time, but by how much time is available. That can be hours. Historically about 35 percent successfully complete SFAS and are accepted for training. Those who can’t complete the course because of physical reasons, such as an injury or trench foot, are usually allowed to return and try again. Those who voluntarily withdraw (quit) are not allowed to return. Some will complete the course, but not be accepted because of psychological evaluations.
Those who are accepted into SF training first attend a six week Introduction to Unconventional Warfare (Phase I).
Phase II is 13 weeks of small unit tactics, advanced marksmanship, SF common tasks, urban operations, mission analysis, advanced special operations, sensitive-site exploitation, and military decision making process. Phase III then ends with the SERE course (Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape). You try not to get caught by an enemy force, you get caught, you resist answering questions, and then you get water boarded.
Phase III is MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) training. Within the past year, under pressure to produce more Special Forces soldiers, all MOS training, except medics have been realigned to 14 weeks.
Officers attend the Detachment Officers Course on how to command and lead a Special Forces A Detachment.
Weapons Sergeant, MOS 18B, covers functional operation, assembly, disassembly, maintenance and firing of most all of the world’s small and heavy weapons.
Engineer Sergeant, MOS 18C, is heavy on explosives, both use and creation, plus construction using locally available materials.
Medical Sergeant, MOS 18D attends the 36 week Special Operations Combat Medic Course, and an orientation to performing as an SF Medical Sergeant.
Communications Sergeant, MOS 18E, studies communications/IT foundations, tactical systems, field applications and performance.
Phase IV is a four week field exercise called “Robin Sage”, where students are organized into A-Teams and inserted into a fictional country in North Carolina with professional players, plus the participation of a large part of the local population, to put their SF skills into practice.
Phase V is 24 weeks of language and culture of the area to which the SF soldier will be assigned. That is classroom study and practice, so it is also during that phase that Special Forces Combatives is taught and practiced. That is pure mixed martial arts. In other words, down and dirty street fighting, but the goal is not to win by points.
Phase VI is graduation week, processing, regimental ceremonies, awarding of the Special Forces Tab, and initial donning of the Green Beret.
When you see the very rare pictures of Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan, they usually have a full beard, wearing dark sun glasses, and no name tags or rank. The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS fear and loath our Green Berets. The enemy pays big bounties for Special Forces, plus, if identified, their families back in the United States could be in danger. They are our shadow warriors, behind the scenes.