According to an article published by the Army Times on July 29th, the Army is short 5,000 junior enlisted infantry (11B) soldiers. And they’re willing to pay $40K to recruit them.
Is infantry the right job for your soldier?
As someone who served as an 11B with 1st Ranger Battalion, I can honestly say that it was by far one of the best jobs I ever had. Demanding? Yes, but it was well worth it. But is it the right move for your soldier?
My Day to Day Life as an Infantryman
My time as an infantry soldier is likely to be different than what your soldier will experience, to a certain extent, as my time was spent in a special operations unit. So read this with that in mind.
During my time as an infantryman assigned to 1st Ranger Battalion, we would primarily work on improving basic infantry skills such as marksmanship, close-quarter combat (CQB) skills, and movement drills.
During a typical training cycle, the company as a whole would train together in order to allow everyone involved the opportunity to learn about the other functions within the company.
Within each company, there are 3 infantry platoons and a headquarters platoon.
Crosstraining within the Regiment is instrumental in ensuring the mission always comes first and you are always able to perform the task of the person to your right and left.
Because of this, I believed signing up for infantry as an 11B was the right move for me. Looking back, I wish I had thought more about what my future would be with these skills.
Thinking About the Future
When I talk to people about joining the Army, I always ask what it is that they want to do. This is an important question for people when making a life-altering occupational change.
For many, this is the first “real” job they will have as an adult and choosing the right career path is essential.
The next question I ask is if they are planning to make a career out of the Army.
At 18 years old, he may not know what his plans are next week, much less in 20 years.
But the amount of time you are planning to commit to the military does impact the type of career path you choose within the Army.
If the plan is to do four years and be done, it may be more important to use that time to gain experience and skills in an area of interest that easily translates to the civilian world. This could include, but not be limited to, medic/medicine, intel, mechanic, or cyber.
For a four to eight-year stint, perhaps he would be more likely to stay away from jobs that need to be translated to the civilian world instead of a clear path – like infantry.
In my opinion, this is where the Army is having the most trouble attracting young infantry personnel.
Hindsight being 20/20, if I were able to go back in time knowing what I know now, I would have chosen a MOS that would translate easier into civilian life.
That being said, I do not regret making the decision to become an infantryman because it helped mold the man, husband, and father that I am today.
And when I signed on the dotted line, I was planning to be a lifer in the Army. There was no way to predict I’d be medically retired four short years later.
How Infantry Translates to the Civilian World
Let’s be honest, the skills that an infantryman learns while in the Army don’t translate well to the real world. There aren’t many companies out there looking for employees who have experience shooting guns and blowing stuff up for a living.
My wife always tells others I struggled to find a job using the skills I gained in the Army after I was medically retired.
Her favorite way to describe it is by saying there are not too many jobs out there that allow you to fast-rope out of helicopters and knock down doors hunting terrorists.
That adrenaline rush doesn’t exist in the civilian world unless you’re doing contract work over in the same places you deployed to when you are were active duty.
I believe that’s why you’ll find law enforcement (local, state or federal), fire, and EMS departments with a lot of prior military. It’s as close as you’ll get to the military environment and still be stateside.
Civilian Employers Fail to Realize the Other Skills Learned
What many employers fail to realize about the infantry is they learn much more than how to shoot a weapon and go out on missions in foreign lands.
It is ingrained in our psyche the importance of working as a team and how to lead through incredibly difficult and stressful situations. Decisions need to be made quickly while taking in all of the available information.
You must learn to operate with emotions in check while relying solely on your training. And clear, concise communication is an absolute must. There is no room for error.
These skills are important to any employer; though they may not always enjoy the more direct communication style of those who were trained in the military.
By the nature of the job itself, the Army provides many situations where leadership and communication skills can be learned, refined and applied. Many times, soldiers are placed in roles that will force them to become leaders in order to complete the mission at hand.
In addition, infantrymen will be required to know several different job skills in order to ensure the squad/platoon can complete any given mission.
This ranges from first aid and other minor medical treatments to communications manipulation and familiarization, breaching techniques, and minor vehicle maintenance.
There are few jobs in the military where you don’t have exposure to any other role or the ability to acquire those skills. The key is if you can successfully translate that in a one-page resume to someone who isn’t familiar with the military at all.
Benefits of Signing Up For Infantry
As we said in the beginning, the Army is willing to open its pocketbook to fill these jobs. For new soldiers, the bonus is up to $40,000. For existing soldiers who reclass, they can get up to $41,000.
Keep in mind they’re looking for junior enlisted for these roles (E-4 and below).
Be sure and take notice of the “up to” and know whatever is in the contract is what he will get, regardless of what’s been published in this article or elsewhere.
Up to $40,000 is not insignificant money. And it goes to show that the Army is struggling in recruiting these soldiers with a bonus this large.
While the enlistment bonus can be enticing, this is not a decision to be made because of a bonus.
If your soldier is considering a job in the Army or possibly contemplating reclassing to 11B, think about the endgame and whether or not this is the right choice.
The chosen MOS is generally a commitment for the entire time in the Army. It needs to be something he will enjoy and love.
While it’s possible to reclass, it’s not always easy. And it’s not something he will continually be able to do every time he tires of his current job.
The Spouse’s Perspective
Hi everyone, it’s Stacey. I wanted to chime in on what it’s like when your husband is infantry.
For infantry. basic and AIT are combined into one school referred to as OSUT (One Station Unit Training). In 2018, this was expanded from 14 weeks to 22 weeks in order to incorporate more in-depth training.
There will be a family day around the time of when basic training graduation would have happened if basic and AIT were separate – generally sometime around the 10-week mark.
At the completion of OSUT, he will have a turning blue ceremony the day before graduation. This is where he will be presented his blue infantry cord. If you’re in attendance, you can present it to him.
Day to Day Life for Infantry From My Perspective
When he was stateside, the job itself didn’t impact me one way or the other. Regardless of what job he was in, he would still be going to work every day, working the same amount of hours as everyone else, and attending training away from home.
The kicker for me was when he was deployed.
Now, let’s be real. Any time anyone goes to a war zone, they’re not going on a vacation, regardless of their job. There’s a certain level of danger associated with any job he may have when he’s deployed to these places.
With infantry, I knew what he was trained to do. I knew that meant he would be the one going out on missions every night.
And the missions weren’t to make friends. They were hunting terrorists, plain and simple.
I was never allowed to know the details of what he was doing or even specifically where he was (I only knew the country) since he was in special operations. So I had the extra level of stress of imagining it in my head without having the exact information.
I think we can all agree that makes it worse. Or at least it does when you’re the lucky owner of a very active imagination. 😉
I’m not sure I would have been less worried if he had been in a different job, but I was definitely concerned for his safety with the one he was in, as well as the unit.
That was especially the case when we started getting phone calls every week about injuries.
Beyond that, the type of job he had didn’t impact me as much. It was much more about making sure he was doing something he loved and enjoyed, as that obviously makes his time in the Army better.
When we’re both happy in our jobs and what we’re spending the majority of our day doing, everything is just better.
So my best advice is to encourage him to investigate the different jobs available. Talk to others who are doing that job. And choose a job he will enjoy, regardless of bonus potential. The money will eventually run out, but the job will still be his job.
If you have questions about infantry or Ranger Regiment, whether it’s from the soldier’s or the spouse’s point of view, we’re here to help. Comment below and we’ll help in any way we can.