Career Field: Combat Operations (Enlisted)
Combat Operations enlisted personnel stand ready to defend our country by land, air or sea. Service members in this field engage and repel the enemy with artillery, infantry and assault vehicles. While this field makes up only a fairly small percentage of jobs in the Service, they are what most people envision when they think of the Military.
- Useful Fields of Study
- Physical Education and Mechanics
- Helpful Attributes
- Willingness to accept a challenge and face danger, Ability to work as a team member, Ability to stay in top physical condition, Interest in using and maintaining weaponry
Combat Operations enlisted personnel stand ready to defend our country by land, air or sea. Service members in this field engage and repel the enemy with artillery, infantry and assault vehicles.
Possible Military Careers
Amphibious Assault Vehicle Crew Chief, Armored Assault Vehicle Crew Member, Special Forces, Artillery and Missile Crew Member, Combat Controller, Infantry, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Navy SEAL, Army Green Beret
- Carry out scouting missions
- Operate, clean and store weapons
- Perform hand-to-hand combat drills
- Gather and report information about enemy strength and location
- Drive armored assault vehicles
- Conduct raids or invasions in enemy territory
- Clear minefields on land and underwater
Classroom instruction and field training is provided for Combat Operations personnel. Sample courses include:
- Vehicle Operations
- Artillery Tactics
- Ammunition Handling Procedures
- Physical Conditioning
- Explosives Handling and Disposal
When he was growing up in Texas, Robert Settle heard about his grandfather's experiences as a sergeant in the Marine Corps. Right after the events of 9/11, Robert decided that joining the Marine Corps and following his grandfather's path would be the best way to serve his country.
"The Marine Corps is a brotherhood, and that's what it really is. There's a misconception through movies that the Marine Corps is this beast, where you're going to come in and you're going to get yelled at all the time. It's not just that. It's a job, but at the same time they teach you how to be a man."
After going to a Military Entrance Processing Station and enlisting in the Delayed Entry Program, Robert shipped to Recruit Training and went to school for air traffic control. While fulfilling his commitment in this position, he realized he wanted to change his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) so he could work with amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs). He asked a career retention specialist about entering a new field, and the Marine Corps accommodated his new career goals.
"Once you re-enlist, you're allowed to 'laterally move' into a different MOS, as long as there is space for new Marines in that MOS."
The Marine Corps is a brotherhood.
Now an AAV crew chief, Robert is in charge of a three-man team. This team operates a 26-ton vehicle, which can hold around 22 service members. The AAV can travel from water to land in order to drop infantry onto a hostile shore, and it can cover almost any terrain, from sand to mountains.
Robert has many responsibilities in this role. He works with a complex vehicle, and he must help keep the other service members in the AAV safe. But he welcomes the challenge of maintaining the AAV and training others to do the same.
"There's one thing my colonel says to me: Horse, saddle, self. You take care of the thing you ride - your vehicle. Then you take care of the gear that you carry with you, and then you take care of yourself because, if you don't take care of the gear, it's not going to take care of you in battle."
Robert, who is based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, has deployed twice - once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he helped train members of the Afghan National Army (ANA). During this time, Robert also lived next door to members of the ANA, and he got to know his Afghan counterparts.
"While I was training the Afghan army, I got close to a couple of the sergeants that were older than me. ... We would go have dinner with them and just hang out with them. They're people just like us. They just like to have fun."
While in Afghanistan, Robert helped deliver humanitarian assistance to children. Since Afghanistan can become extremely cold, children needed blankets, clothing, shoes and coats. Robert also distributed backpacks and pens to children who needed them for school.
"They cherish pens. Every time I go through a town, they're asking me for a pen. 'Mister, pen! Mister!' I'll pull out a pen and hand it to a kid, and then a whole mob of kids will come over. And it makes me happy. I just hand out all the pens I've got. I run out of stuff to give away, eventually."
Robert is proud of the abilities he has gained in the Marine Corps. After he fulfills his service commitment, he plans to combine these skills with his passion - cars. He is already planning to go back to school, enter the business world and launch a career in auto restoration and customization.
"The things the Marine Corps has taught me that could allow me to run a business would definitely have to be leadership, organization, attention to detail and, overall, how to be a responsible person."
No doubt Robert will work toward his latest career goals with the same amount of leadership, organization and attention to detail that he has shown while serving in the Marine Corps.
Jacob Poulliot grew up near San Antonio as part of an Air Force family. He went to Lackland Air Force Base regularly and watched combat controllers in training. When Jacob saw them, he was intrigued and thought that might be the right job for him. Before he went to Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Jacob began researching and training for a combat control career.
"Knowing that I was going into the combat control career field, I wanted to be in the best shape I could ever be in. I talked to people who knew how to exercise, and who knew how to stay in shape. I also talked to some guys who are actually in the career field, and they helped me out."
After Basic Training, Jacob entered the combat control pipeline. The pipeline involves several different types of schools: Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape (SERE); underwater egress; air traffic control; airborne and combat control. During this time, Jacob began learning how to jump out of planes.
It's always changing, and there's always something else to do. So I plan on staying with the Air Force for a while.
"Up in the aircraft for the first time ... you realize, 'I'm really going to jump out.' It's kind of nerve-wracking at that point. The adrenaline's pumping, and you almost don't want to do it, but you know it's going to be cool. It's just a rush of emotions."
Combat controllers go through so much training because they help to clear and secure air fields in hazardous conditions or behind enemy lines. Once they establish an air field, they also act as air traffic controllers, and they guide the planes to a safe landing. Combat controllers are often attached to Army Special Forces teams, Navy SEAL teams or Marine Special Operations Command teams, and they provide additional air power for these teams during battle.
After his training, Jacob was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, for two years. He has participated in exercises in Australia, Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines, and he has been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Throughout this time, he has maintained his training regimen so he can be ready for anything.
"We go through a very rigorous training process, which basically prepares us for any type of situation that we could encounter ... It makes us better operators working in every type of environment."
Although Jacob has reached his goal of being a combat controller, he isn't stopping there. He wants to advance in his career, and he is earning his airway science degree so he can be even better at his job.
"It's always changing, and there's always something else to do. So I plan on staying with the Air Force for a while."
Possible Military Careers
Possible Civilian Careers
While there are no direct civilian equivalents for this field, the leadership and administrative skills it provides are valued in emergency care and law enforcement, especially in groups such as bomb squads and SWAT teams.
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