Breaking the code…

If you spend any time around soldiers, you’ll hear them refer to their “MOS.” They rattle off some numbers and letters and you have no idea what that means. Help is at hand.

I started out as an 11B. That is actaully the Military Occupational Specialty Code for a Light Weapons Infantryman (when people talk about their MOS what they really mean is their MOSC). Each MOSC consists of a two digit number and a letter.

Obviously, in an organization as large as the Army, there is a lot of specialization. Not everybody is handed a rifle and told to march to the sound of the guns. Most things people do in the Army require a good deal of specialized training. For instance, the people who repair the sights and computers on tanks. That’s not something they teach in shop class at the local high school.

There are roughly 200 different jobs in the Army. These are broken down into Career Management Fields (CMF). For instance, the Infantry Career Management Field is numbered 11. Inside this field are a couple of different specialties- 11B (Infantryman), 11C (Indirect Fire Infantryman) and 11Z (Infantry Senior Sergeant -or First Sergeant). There used to be a couple of others, such as 11M (Bradley Infantrymany) and 11H (Anti-Armor Specialist), but these have been consolidated into the 11B job.

Artillerymen are in the 13 series of MOS’s. Tankers are in the 19 series.

Since the start of the new century, the Army has worked to consolidate many specialties and career management fields in order to reduce the number of schools it has to run and provide greater flexibility in its personnel managment. This has lead to the renumbering of a lot of career fields. For instance, the 91 series of MOS was always the medical field. But now, all medics are 68Ws.

In addition to the two digit number and letter, additional numbers and letters can show the skill level and any additional qualificaitons that a soldier has. For instance, an 11M24R was a Bradley Infantryman Sergeant who was also qualifiedd as a recruiter. Other number/letter “identifiers” can indicate if someone is a parachutist or has some other special skill.

Wikipedia has a pretty clear post on the current MOS codes.

5 thoughts on “Breaking the code…”

  1. Good job. Big Army is trying to cut the number of MOS’s but as always new weapon systems and changes in career fields. As of March 2008 all 14R’s had to reclass or get reassigend a new MOS.

    I am re-classing to 14E. At AIT we are called “MOS-T” or “transitions”. That means we are transitioning jobs. We get the same privileges as permanent party. There is a new move to integrate us into the IET (initial entry training) units.

    We’d be squad leads with soldiers under us. Cadre trains them, with us helping out.

  2. There is always a tension between the cost of maintaining a large number of MOS’s and the need to ensure that jobs are filled with properly trained troops. Much of this is driven by the technical needs of equipment, but a large part is driven by the needs of the personnel management system.

    When we had 18 divisions, it was pretty easy to keep the 11B and 11M career tracks separate. With only 10 divisions, and the introduction of the Stryker brigades, it made more sense to combine them.

    While I’m pretty sure you would rather be treated like permanent party than going to basic again, I think that would be a pretty good use of experienced folks like you, that is, as student leadership.

  3. Yep, it would be fun, except I would not breed from some of the new generation of recruits…

  4. Interesting. I read the Wiki article only to discover my MOS doesn’t exist anymore. 98C apparently is now 35N.

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