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Switching to Civil Affairs brings fast promotion, big bucks

Jun. 1, 2014 - 10:50AM   |  
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Want to reclassify and become a Civil Affairs specialist? Here’s what you need to know about the 38B military occupational specialty.

Fast promotions. For soldiers interested in reclassifying, the current In/Out Calls chart shows 38B is open to people in over-strength and balanced MOSs.

The May 1 cut-off scores for promotions, for example, were unusually low for mid-grade ranks, meaning a shot at promotion is virtually guaranteed for soldiers accepted into 38B. For staff sergeants, they were 14 for the primary zone and 15 for the secondary zone, compared to 414 and 415 for infantry.

The MOS is a “Star MOS” for critically understrength jobs. Sergeants who have reclassified into the MOS will be promoted almost immediately.

Big bonuses. The selective reenlistment bonus program offers 38Bs some of the highest bonus money available for mid-career soldiers. Bonuses range from $10,000 to $72,000 based on a soldier’s range and time in the Army.

The highest payments are available to soldiers proficient in these languages: Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Czech, Hungarian, Korean, Farsi, Polish, Pashto, Russian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish and Urdu.

Under the Critical Skill Retention Bonus Program, soldiers at sergeant first class, master sergeant and sergeant major rank who reenlist as 38Bs at or near retirement eligibility can receive $20,000 to $75,000 for service extensions of three to six years.

Requirements. To transfer, soldiers must complete Civil Affairs assessment and selection, and the qualification course. They will have a 36-month service obligation.

Applicants must have a physical profile rating of 111221; score at least 100 in aptitude area ST of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test; hold a top secret security clearance; be a U.S. citizen; be a high school graduate; have no court-martial or civil court convictions, other than for minor traffic violations.

Specialists must have between one and four years time in service. Sergeants must have between two and six years time in service and staff sergeants must have between three and eight years time in service. All must have fewer than three years time in grade.

For new recruits, skills should include the ability to analyze and organize information, writing, an interest in working with foreign militaries or government and the ability to learn a foreign language and culture.

Officer board. Opportunities are also available for junior officers. The application deadline for the annual special operations officer accession board has passed for this year. Officers should look for next year’s announcement.

■ Jobs for women. While the rest of special operations remains closed to women, the 38B MOS offers women many “limitless” opportunities, said Civil Affairs branch commandant Col. James Wolff.

“We’ll certainly have female battalion commanders at our next board,” he said.

Women sometimes can do things and go places men cannot. At the tactical level, in places like Afghanistan, women have access to female villagers, who can be more forthcoming than men.

“You would go into villages, [women] would hide and take the kids with them, and anyone knows the people who know the most in a village are the kids,” said Maj. Jamie Kelley, commander of Delta Company, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion. “It’s just getting the foot in the door.”

Education opportunities.

Officers go through the Captain’s Career Course. NCOs are assigned to a language class based on their aptitude and the regiment’s requirements) and regional studies classes with the Special Warfare Education Group.

From there, troops take the civil affairs qualification course, which focuses on population and resource control, humanitarian assistance, civil information management, national assistance and support to civil administration. Civil affairs NCOs may earn master’s degrees at National Defense University or the Naval Postgraduate School.

For medics, there is the qualification course, the Special Operations Combat Medic Course and the special forces medical sergeant’s course. With the training, they could perform public health planning for a community or treat its pack animals.

“A lot of places your cow is more valuable than your children,” Wolff said. “You hate to say it, but if your cow dies, your whole family dies.”

Troops may attend the Special Operations Combat Medic Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape; defensive driving and advanced off-road training; advanced negotiation and mediation training; Mobile Force Protection training; as well as strategic and joint planning courses.

An officer would enter a regionally aligned battalion, serving as an entry-level team leader position for two years. They might serve on the battalion’s staff and develop an expertise in the region that would serve them in future positions.

After the Army. Civil Affairs troops will receive training that can greatly improve their job prospects as they enter civilian life.

The members of four-person Civil Affairs teams have language training. The team leader officer gets trained in crisis management and conflict management; others may have training as a medical technician, or have skills in engineering and group organization.

Civil Affairs troops may go on to work as a teacher, business manager, business owner, medical technician, historian, caseworker, educational specialist, intelligence research specialist or ambassador, said 95th Civil Affairs Brigade spokesman Gerald Green. They may work for construction companies, intelligence agencies, educational institutions, government, social services and commercial businesses, or hold foreign language positions in the State Department or elsewhere.

So, who’s interested? To apply, contact the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, at 910-432-9697 or visit for a packet.

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