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The military distinguishes between enlisted and officer careers. Enlisted personnel make up about 83 percent of the Armed Forces and carry out military operations. The remaining 17 percent are officersleaders of the military who manage both activities and enlisted personnel.
Enlisted personnel typically do the following:
Participate in, or support, combat and other military operations, such as humanitarian or disaster relief
Operate, maintain, and repair equipment
Perform technical and support activities
Supervise junior enlisted personnel
Officers typically do the following:
Plan, organize, and lead troops and activities in military operations
Manage enlisted personnel
Operate and command aircraft, ships, or armored vehicles
Provide military personnel with professional services in medical, legal, engineering, and other fields
Types of Enlisted Personnel
The following are examples of types of occupations for enlisted personnel:
Administrative personnel maintain data and files on personnel, equipment, funds, and other military-related activities. They work in a support area, such as finance, accounting, legal affairs, maintenance, supply, or transportation.
Combat specialty personnel train and work as members of combat units, such as the infantry, artillery, or Special Forces. For example, infantry specialists conduct ground combat operations; armored vehicle specialists operate battle tanks; and seamanship specialists maintain ships. Combat specialty personnel may maneuver against enemy forces and positions and fire artillery, guns, mortars, or missiles to destroy those positions. They may also operate various types of combat vehicles, such as amphibious assault vehicles, tanks, or small boats. Members of elite Special Operations teams are trained to perform specialized missions anywhere in the world on a moments notice.
Construction personnel in the military build or repair buildings, airfields, bridges, and other structures. They also may operate heavy equipment, such as bulldozers or cranes. They work with engineers and other building specialists as part of military construction teams. Some construction personnel specialize in areas such as plumbing, electrical wiring, or water purification.
Electronic and electrical equipment repair personnel maintain and repair electronic equipment used by the military. Repairers specialize in an area, such as aircraft electrical systems, computers, optical equipment, communications, or weapons systems. For example, weapons electronic maintenance technicians maintain and repair electronic components and systems that help locate targets and help aim and fire weapons.
Engineering, science, and technical personnel perform a variety of tasks, such as operating technical equipment, solving problems, and collecting and interpreting information. They typically perform technical tasks in information technology, environmental health and safety, or intelligence:
Environmental health and safety specialists inspect military facilities and food supplies to ensure that they are safe for use.
Information technology specialists manage and maintain computer and network systems.
Intelligence specialists gather information and prepare reports for military planning and operations.
Healthcare personnel provide medical services to military personnel and their family members. They may work as part of a patient-service team with doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals. Some specialize in providing emergency medical treatment in combat or remote areas. Others specialize in laboratory testing of tissue and blood samples; maintaining pharmacy supplies or patients records; assisting with dental procedures; operating diagnostic tools, such as x-ray and ultrasound machines; or other healthcare tasks.
Human resources development personnel recruit qualified people into the military, place them in suitable occupations, and provide training programs:
Personnel specialists maintain information about military personnel and their training, job assignments, promotions, and health.
Recruiting specialists provide information about military careers; explain pay, benefits, and service life; and recruit individuals into the military.
Training specialists and instructors teach military personnel how to perform their jobs.
Machine operator and production personnel operate industrial equipment and machinery to fabricate and repair parts for a variety of equipment and structures. They may operate engines, nuclear reactors, or water pumps, usually performing a specific job. Welders and metalworkers, for example, work with various types of metals to repair or form the structural parts of ships, buildings, or other equipment. Survival equipment specialists inspect, maintain, and repair survival equipment, such as parachutes and aircraft life support equipment.
Media and public affairs personnel prepare and present information about military activities to the military and the public. They take photographs, make video programs, present news and music programs, or conduct interviews.
Protective service personnel enforce military laws and regulations and provide emergency responses to disasters:
Firefighters prevent and extinguish fires in buildings, on aircraft, and aboard ships.
Military police responsibilities include controlling traffic, preventing crime, and responding to emergencies.
Other law enforcement and security specialists investigate crimes committed on military property and guard inmates in military correctional facilities.
Support service personnel provide services that support the morale and well-being of military personnel and their families:
Food service specialists prepare food in dining halls, hospitals, and ships.
Religious program specialists assist chaplains with religious services, religious education programs, and related administrative duties.
Transportation and material-handling personnel transport military personnel and cargo. Most personnel within this occupational group are classified according to the mode of transportation, such as aircraft, motor vehicle, or ship:
Aircrew members operate equipment on aircraft.
Cargo specialists load and unload military supplies, using forklifts and cranes.
Quartermasters and boat operators navigate and pilot many types of small watercraft, including tugboats, gunboats, and barges.
Vehicle drivers operate various military vehicles, including fuel or water tank trucks.
Vehicle and machinery mechanical personnel conduct preventive and corrective maintenance on aircraft, automotive and heavy equipment, and powerhouse station equipment. These workers typically specialize by the type of equipment that they maintain:
Aircraft mechanics inspect and service various types of aircraft.
Automotive and heavy equipment mechanics maintain and repair vehicles, such as Humvees, trucks, tanks, and other combat vehicles. They also repair bulldozers and other construction equipment.
Heating and cooling mechanics install and repair air-conditioning, refrigeration, and heating equipment.
Marine engine mechanics repair and maintain engines on ships, boats, and other watercraft.
Powerhouse mechanics install, maintain, and repair electrical and mechanical equipment in power-generating stations.