Well, I was in the marines, not the army but I imagine the answers are similiar. Also, I was enlisted not an officer. Yes, your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) can have an effect on promotional opportunities. If there are too many people at a certain rank in your MOS they may even freeze promotions for that rank all together.
Combat engineers lay and detect mines and build and destroy obstacles such as barbed wire, amongst other things. Here’s a more complete description (for marines):
MOS 1371, Combat Engineer (MGySgt to Pvt)
a. Summary. Combat engineers construct, alter, repair, and maintain buildings and structures; lift and move heavy objects and equipment by setting up, bracing, and utilizing rigging devices and equipment; and perform various duties incidental to the use of demolitions in construction projects and destruction of objects. Personnel assigned this MOS are taught carpentry and other construction skills as well as demolitions, specialized demolitions for urban breaching and land mine warfare.
I have found this site useful for answering questions about the duties of the various specialties:
Within the Nav, there are two general catagories of officer: Line, and Restricted Line. Line Officers can command warships and combat units, as well as non-combat speciallists. Restricted Line Officers can only command within their limited specialty, and generally have slower promotion rates. I’d imagine it’s similar within the Army.
The Army Corps of Engineers are a quasi-military corps of civil engineers, and have only the most superfical connection to combat engineers.
“The Army Corps of Engineers are a quasi-military corps of civil engineers, and have only the most superfical connection to combat engineers.”
There is nothing “quasi” about the army officers in the Corps of Engineers, even if what they do has little relationship to combat and even if a lot of the people in the Corps of Engineers are civilians. Either you’re in the Army or you’re not in the Army; an individual can’t be “quasi-military.”
Army Engineers can and are stationed all over the world. Traditionally there’s an Engineer Company assigned to every Combat Arms Battallion that’s deployed. At least with respect to Mechanized Infantry and Armor.
Hmmm… then explain all the civilians in the Army Corps of Engineers that shared office space with my Recruiting District in Jacksonville. Only one uniformed member in that office, and he wasn’t even the head honcho.
I can’t speak to the present promotion list, but in the bad old days of Vietnam there was a single general promotion list that included officers in almost all arms and branches of the U.S. Army. It is my recollection that the Medical Corps had a separate promotion list which tended to move their people up the pole some faster than other branches so as to get doctors better pay and encourage them to stay in the service. I think that doctors came on active duty as captains and got a kick up to major in about two years. A major’s pay with credit for time in school as time in service, plus “professional pay” and fringe benefits made for a pretty decent pay package. It the doctor had finished his residency he would come on active duty as a major with a kick up to lieutenant colonel in a fairly short time. It would take an officer on the general list about 20 years to work up from second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel, and then only after completing educational requirements.
Strangely, or maybe not, medical administrators in the Medical Service Corps, and the Army’s lawyers in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, were on the general promotion list. Lawyers did have the advantage of receiving service credit for time in law school and came on active duty as first lieutenants with a kick to captain in short order.
Some of this involved the difference between rank/grade held in the Army of the United States as opposed to the United States Army. AUS rank was temporary and provisional. USA rank was permanent.
In general all officers other than Medical Corps officers were on the same promotion list. Officers in the combat arms, to include Engineers, and support services, like Quartermasters, Finance, Signal, Military Inteligence, MSC, JAGC, were all on the same promotion list.
Tranquilis, there is nothing “quasi” about the army officers in the Corps of Engineers, even if what they do has little relationship to combat and even if a lot of the people in the Corps of Engineers are civilians. Either you’re in the Army or you’re not in the Army; an individual can’t be “quasi-military.”
It doesn’t make any difference that the civilians outnumber the military people in the Corps of Engineers. This is true at many military bases as well. Yet the military people at those bases are still in the military. They are not quasi-military. And the fact that a civilian was the head honcho in the Army Corps of Engineers office that shared office space with your Recruiting District in Jacksonville doesn’t make any difference. The head honcho of the DoD is a civilian and that doesn’t make all the soldiers, sailors and airmen under him “quasi-military.”
Certainly, the indivual people in the Corps of Engineers are either fully military or fully civilian, but I think that the point that Tranquilis was making was that the Corps as a whole was quasi-military, since so many (but not all) of the members were civilians.
Oookayy… knowing there ARE active-duty Army Engineer Batallions… this seems to tell me that the “Army Corps of Engineers” is a specific agency within the Army – whose military members are part of and wear the lapel insignia of the Army’s Combat Engineer “Corps” (i.e. Engineering branch, the same way as “Medical Corps”=medical branch, “Signal Corps”=communications branch) but most soldiers in the Engineering branch are Combat Engineers and NOT part of the specific agency called “Army Corps of Engineers”. Combat Engineers are field units, likely to see battle.
I will take the WAG that the reason the USACE hasn’t gone the way of the Public Health Service (i.e. spun off from the military altogether) is because (a) keeping the navigable waterways open IS damn strategic (that’s the real reason for all them dams and levees and channel dredgings) and (b) they are, after all, the people in charge of major military-base building projects and of cleaning up after closings.
Going back to the rest of the OP: Putting aside the direct-commissioned specialized professionals, for career-building in the Army or Marines, Combat Arms and Intelligence are usually considered tops. More opportunities to impress on the all-important “leadership” part of the evaluation; and serving in “frontline” units (including the intelligence front) scores big points.
mongrel_8, if you’re really interested Here’s part of the West Point website where there is information on the various branches so the students can decide which one they want to choose. The Engineer branch even describes unit locations both inside and outside the U.S.
“I will take the WAG that the reason the USACE hasn’t gone the way of the Public Health Service (i.e. spun off from the military altogether) is…”
The US Public Health Service never was part of the military. It, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is one of the United States’ UNIFORMED services but neither it nor the NOAA are ARMED services.
There is a long story behind this, just like there is a long story behind the fact that the Coast Guard is part of the Dept or Transportation rather than Department of Defense, that the Army does what the Army Corps of Engineers does, and that the Marines exist at all.