Combat Specialty Occupations

Each job description is preceded by an indication of which branches of the service the job is available in, as not all branches of the service offer the same careers. For additional information beyond what we offer here, you can also visit: careersinthemilitary.com and todaysmilitary.com/careers.

Artillery Crew Members

Army
Navy
Marine Corps
Coast Guard

Artillery includes weapons that fire large shells or missiles. The military uses artillery to support infantry and tank units in combat. Artillery is also used to protect land and sea forces from air attack. Artillery crew members position, direct, and fire artillery guns, cannons, howitzers, missiles, and rockets to destroy enemy positions and aircraft. They normally specialize by type of artillery.

What They Do

Artillery crew members in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Determine target location using computers or manual calculations
  • Set up and load artillery weapons
  • Prepare ammunition, fuses, and powder for firing
  • Fire artillery weapons according to instructions from artillery officers
  • Clean and maintain artillery weapons
  • Drive trucks and self-propelled artillery

Where They Work

Artillery crew members work outdoors when on land maneuvers. Some work in sheltered fire-control stations. At sea, they mainly work below deck.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Although the job of artillery crew member has no equivalent in civilian life, the close teamwork, discipline, and leadership experiences it provides are helpful in many civilian jobs.

Physical Requirements

Artillery crew members must have physical stamina to perform strenuous activities for long periods without rest. They are also required to have normal color vision to identify color-coded ammunition and to read maps and charts.

Combat Engineers

Army
Navy
Marine Corps

Combat situations often require rapid travel across difficult terrain and swift-flowing rivers. A combination of combat ability and building skill is necessary to carry out field construction for fighting forces.

What They Do

Combat engineers perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Construct trails, roads, and field fortifications, such as shelters, bunkers, and gun emplacements
  • Erect floating or prefabricated bridges
  • Lay and clear minefields and booby traps
  • Place and detonate explosives, as needed
  • Erect camouflage and other protective barriers for artillery and troop positions
  • Load, unload, and move supplies and equipment, using planes, helicopters, trucks, and amphibious vehicles
  • Construct airfields and perform ground traffic-control duties
  • Participate in combat operations as infantrymen

Where They Work

Because combat engineers must be prepared to support operations anywhere in the world, they work and train for long hours under all kinds of weather conditions and in all climates. Combat engineers work, eat, and sleep outdoors during training exercises and in real combat situations. Most of the time, combat engineers are assigned to military bases.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Although the job of combat engineer has no direct equivalent in civilian life, experience as a combat engineer is related to occupations in several civilian fields including the logging, mining, construction, shipping, and landscaping industries. Civilians in these jobs are called forestry aides, loggers, blasters, and construction workers.

Physical Requirements

Combat engineers must meet very demanding physical requirements. They need agility and balance and must be able to perform strenuous physical activities over long periods of time. Combat engineers lift and move heavy objects. Some specialties require good swimming abilities.

Infantrymen

Army
Marine Corps

The infantry is the main land combat force of the military. In peacetime, the infantry’s role is to stay ready to defend our country. In combat, the role of the infantry is to capture or destroy enemy ground forces and repel enemy attacks. Infantrymen operate weapons and equipment to engage and destroy enemy ground forces.

What They Do

Infantrymen perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Operate, clean, and store automatic weapons, such as rifles and machine guns
  • Parachute from troop transport airplanes while carrying weapons and supplies
  • Fire armor-piercing missiles from hand-held antitank missile launchers
  • Carry out scouting missions to spot enemy troop movements and gun locations
  • Operate two-way radios and signal equipment to relay battle orders
  • Drive vehicles mounted with machine guns or small missiles
  • Perform hand-to-hand combat drills that involve martial arts tactics
  • Set firing angles and fire mortar shells at targets
  • Dig foxholes, trenches, and bunkers for protection against attacks

Physical Requirements

The infantry has very demanding physical requirements. Infantrymen must perform strenuous physical activities, such as marching while carrying equipment, digging foxholes, and climbing over obstacles. Infantrymen need good hearing and clear speech to use two-way radios, and good night vision and depth perception to see targets and signals.

Where They Work

Because infantrymen must be prepared to go anywhere in the world they are needed, they work and train in all climates and weather conditions. During training exercises, as in real combat, infantrymen work, eat, and sleep outdoors. Most of the time, however, infantrymen work on military bases.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Although the job of infantrymen has no equivalent in civilian life, the close teamwork, discipline, and leadership experiences it provides are helpful in many civilian jobs.

Special Operations Forces

Army
Navy
Air Force
Marine Corps

When the military has difficult and dangerous missions to perform, they call upon special operations teams. These elite combat forces stay in a constant state of readiness to strike anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. Special operations forces team members conduct offensive raids, demolitions, intelligence, search and rescue, and other missions from aboard aircraft, helicopters, ships, or submarines. Because of the wide variety of missions, special operations forces team members are trained swimmers, parachutists, and survival experts, in addition to being combat trained.

What They Do

Special operations team members in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Go behind enemy lines to recruit, train, and equip friendly forces for guerrilla raids
  • Carry out demolition raids against enemy military targets, such as bridges, railroads, and fuel depots
  • Clear mine fields, both underwater and on land
  • Conduct missions to gather intelligence information on enemy military forces
  • Conduct offensive raids or invasions of enemy territories
  • Destroy enemy ships in coastal areas, using underwater explosives

Where They Work

Because special operations teams must be prepared to go anywhere in the world they are needed, team members train and work in all climates, weather conditions, and settings. They may dive from submarines or small underwater craft. Special forces team members may also be exposed to harsh temperatures, often without protection, during missions in enemy-controlled areas. Most of the time, however, they work and train on military bases or ships and submarines.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Although the job of special operations team member has no equivalent in civilian life, training in explosives, bomb disposal, scuba diving, and swimming may be helpful in such civilian jobs as blaster, police bomb disposal specialist, diver, or swimming instructor. The discipline and dependability of special operations forces are assets in many civilian occupations.

Physical Requirements

The special operations forces have very demanding physical requirements. Good eyesight, night vision, and physical conditioning are required to reach mission objectives by parachute, overland, or under water. Also required is excellent hand-eye coordination to detonate or deactivate explosives. In most instances, special operations team members are required to be qualified divers, parachutists, and endurance runners.

Tank Crew Members

Army
Marine Corps

In peacetime, the role of tank and armor units is to stay ready to defend our country anywhere in the world. In combat, their role is to operate tanks and amphibious assault vehicles to engage and destroy the enemy. Tanks also conduct scouting missions and support infantry units during combat. Tank crew members work as a team to operate armored equipment and fire weapons to destroy enemy positions. Tank crew members normally specialize by type of armor, such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles.

What They Do

Tank crew members in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Drive tanks or amphibious assault vehicles in combat formations over roadways, rough terrain, and in heavy surf
  • Operate target-sighting equipment to aim guns
  • Load and fire guns
  • Operate two-way radios and signaling equipment to receive and relay battle orders
  • Gather and report information about the terrain, enemy strength, and target location
  • Perform preventive maintenance on tanks, guns, and equipment
  • Read maps, compasses, and battle plans

Where They Work

Tank crew members, like other combat troops, work in all climates and weather conditions. During training exercises, as in real combat conditions, tank crew members work, eat, and sleep outdoors and in tanks.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Although the job of tank crew member has no equivalent in civilian life, the close teamwork, discipline, and leadership experiences it provides are helpful in many civilian jobs.

Physical Requirements

Tank crew members must be in good physical condition and have exceptional stamina. They must be able to work inside the confined area of a tank for long periods of time. Good vision and normal color vision are required in order to read maps, drive vehicles around obstacles, and locate targets.