Better combat performance. Higher quality operator-level maintenance. More focused infantrymen.

These are some of the impacts that the Army’s armor chief, Brig. Gen. Mike Simmering, hopes that the service’s recent creation of a specialized career field for Bradley crews will have on the force. Simmering spoke with Army Times on Wednesday to answer questions about the new military occupational specialty, or MOS.

The Army first announced the new field Jan. 30, opening it to infantrymen, combat engineers, fire support specialists and cavalry scouts with recent experience or formal training with the fighting vehicle. Over time, the service will change all Bradley driver, gunner and commander slots between the grades of E-1 and E-7 to the 19C MOS.

The Bradley, a tracked fighting vehicle featuring an automatic 25mm cannon and antitank missiles, forms the backbone of heavy infantry formations within armor brigades.

The Army eliminated a previous Bradley-specific infantry career field, known as 11M, in 2001. Since then, more generalized 11B infantrymen have typically filled both the crew and passenger compartments.

Simmering said one motivation for the move was the platform’s “steep” learning curve. Under the existing model, heavy infantry units would often receive noncommissioned officers who lacked experience in Bradley tactics or maintenance to fill section leadership roles. New infantrymen straight out of Fort Moore, Georgia, would, if assigned to Bradley crew roles, risk missing out on critical on-the-job training in infantry tactics as well.

“We’re asking a lot of those soldiers — who may or may not have Bradley experience — to produce expert results immediately upon arrival to the formation,” Simmering said. He believes the new “19C MOS … allows infantry soldiers to continue to focus their efforts on becoming expert infantry soldiers.”

Simmering also addressed the argument that the Army was shortsighted in eliminating the old infantry-aligned Bradley MOS in 2001. The one-star general said the global war on terror required the Army to adopt “modularity” in its infantry forces, meaning that the service needed versatile infantry soldiers prepared to deploy and fight as a member of an armored, Stryker or light infantry brigade.

The Army also hopes that making the new 19C field part of the armor career family will foster a culture of expertise among its soldiers, similar to that embraced among 19K M1 Abrams tankers. In Simmering’s eyes, creating dedicated Bradley crew members will enhance crews’ ability to maintain their vehicles and employ its weaponry with deadly efficiency.

As the transition to the new MOS continues, Simmering said, the Army will soon launch an initial entry course to train new 19Cs. The first one-station unit training class for the field will begin at Fort Moore this summer. Because the Army already had several Bradley-focused courses, the general explained, creating the curriculum for the new specialty “was a matter of reprogramming [resources] and putting them in the right places.”

The one-star general said he thinks the increased crew knowledge will gradually improve day-to-day life in Bradley formations as well.

“[We’ll have] folks who aren’t wrestling with what kind of lubricant goes in this vehicle, or folks who aren’t wrestling with [having] never done gunnery skills testing on a Bradley before,” Simmering said. “That will help alleviate stress in the formation.”

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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