The following information is UNCLASSIFIED and RUDE BUT ACCURATE. May contain swear words and/or material unsafe for b***hes.
For anyone who is thinking about going into the Army as a Combat Engineer, today I wrote a handful of posts on what to expect before you ship off to Fort Leonard Wood. For one, Fort Leonard Wood is spelled like "Leotard". I kept fucking that one up. Just saying. Anyhow, here is my answer to "what should I know about Engineer OSUT?"
First off, OSUT is One-Station Unit Training. Other MOS's get softer, less rigid training. It's a tampon commercial compared to ours. Your basic training and advanced individual training (AIT) are combined, and you'll have Drill Sergeants the whole time. MPs training across the street get to have ice cream, reduced supervision, and free time to blow each other when they're done with basic. Engineers don't need that shit, after basic training we're just getting warmed up to this new set of massive testicles the Army issued us. Literally warmed up. There's a bonfire before you enter black phase.
It is natural at some point, to feel you have no respect for the PERSON that outranks you. This is okay, however keep in mind that you may be very surprised as you become a soldier, and eventually a leader yourself, how absurd and excessive leadership styles might have been very relevant and were NOT the individual power tripping and/or being egotistical. The occasions that a leader is TRULY being a cock knuckle are honestly kind of rare, the occasions that a leader APPEARS to be a cock knuckle are decidedly more frequent. Most of the time, shut the fuck up because you are most likely dealing with someone smarter than they seem.
For this reason as well as the system's reliance on YOUR discipline and respect, you will ALWAYS respect the rank, even if you do not respect the person wearing it. Enforce this in your fellow soldiers, accept nothing less and teach it starting day one. ONLY blatantly unlawful orders that you know damn well are unlawful can be questioned by you. There is a time and a place for everything, and there should be someone in your chain of command with an open-door policy. Let the system work, and you become a part of it working.
Remember this, too: Basic Training is a mind game. Apply yourself fully. Try to understand that many times when you TRULY feel ashamed or incompetent, this is normal, and at some point you are supposed to. Overcome. Drive on. Always.
OSUT is hard core, and you are entering a job that requires you to be HARD and to OPERATE EFFICIENTLY UNDER PRESSURE. You're gonna arm explosives under fire if they tell you to, so you gotta march with purpose and sound off with purpose even if your feelings, feet, and motivation are hurt. Engineers are like submarines, the whole underlying point of an engineer is that he's built to withstand pressure because if he doesn't or he fails, everyone's fucked. It takes a variety of experiences to have steel nerves, and you're gonna get them.
Stay motivated and NEVER hang your head low, engineers don't fucking mope. Be proud! Highly motivated soldiers who hold their head high and sound off even when the group is lacking in morale are NATURAL leaders, and you should always strive for that.
The popular ones, the cool ones, they don't hold half the influence that you can if you refuse to break down. Most likely in EVERY group of basic training soldiers there will be ones that do the wrong thing, maybe a group of them, and they'll seem like the people who rock. Do not let peer pressure coerce you to violate integrity, duty, or respect. Basic Training is nothing like a real unit, but living the Army Values starts now.
Engineers are the fucking best, be motivated and be strong.
Essayons! It means,"Let Us Try!"
A sapper I served with used to say, "If everyone else says it can't be done, the engineers do it just for fun." That's the spirit of an Engineer. What's that, you say? Build a bridge to the moon and blow an American-Made crater bigger than all the others? With nothing but 550 cord?
Essayons, Let Us Try!
That's. The. Spirit. All the damn time. Doesn't matter how much that Drill Sergeant is humiliating you, do as he says but never look like a b***h. Eyes straight forward, mouth closed, stand like you're getting a medal pinned on you without looking cocky, even if you're getting spit in your face and told that you're worthless.
I advise you immediately familiarize yourself with Rank structure. I advise you do not call a fucking Drill Sergeant "Sir" at any time.
Every Sergeant from Sergeant (E5) up to First Sergeant is simply SERGEANT, despite their rank's title. So it's always, "YES SERGEANT", or most likely for you "YES DRILL SERGEANT." Drill Sergeants have the Drill Hat outdoors and will have the black badge on their left chest pocket in uniform, usually they've have reflective vests if you are in the PT uniform.
Sergeants Major including Command and Sergeant Major of the Army will be "YES, SERGEANT MAJOR". A First Sergeant is a Master Sergeant in charge of a company, and you will say First Sergeant in that case.
Only officers/warrant officers are "Sir", and most warrant officers prefer "Chief". Commissioned Officers are ALWAYS "Sir". These three groups of rank (Enlisted, Warrant Officer, Commissioned Officer) are considered to be dominant in that order. All officers outrank all enlisted personnel. Sound flawed? It IS flawed, that's how it works and everyone knows it.
Respect and authority are hand-in-hand, so combine them to forge the chain of command. Authority is structure. Keep in mind that respect is a bit more complicated, I'm sure any Second Lieutenant who actually pulled rank on a grizzled old Sergeant Major would be having a talk with his Colonel very quickly, then probably get punched in the soul several times. But don't expect that Sergeant Major to tell 2LT Westpointdouche anything disrespectful at all... right place, right time, chain of command. Sergeants Major are beacons of discipline. Pick up that cigarette butt, you.
Also: Don't ever forgot to use a person's title/rank when talking to OR talking about them. Especially if that person happens to be an officer or NCO. ESPECIALLY your drills.
For example, Drill Sergeant Smith tells you to do something with another soldier, and you go find that soldier somewhere else chillaxing then casually you say, "Yo, Smith wants us to go do this task"...
DRILL SERGEANT Smith is gonna come install a combat boot in your colon after it breaches your ass. "Smith" isn't something you get to call him, even if you're whispering under your breath at night in the bathroom. "God, Smith is a douchebag"
"BEAT THE FUCKING GROUND, Private. DRILL SERGEANT Smith is a douchebag. Roger?!"
Now let's get down to your Engineer tasks, warriors.
The proper answer to "What do engineers do" is answered best with what aspects of the battle we are responsible for. They are officially, Mobility, Counter Mobility, and Survivability. That means we make it so our guys move along the roads fast, the enemy is not so fortunate (see: "Area Denial") and our guys aren't gonna take casualties from IEDs, land-mines, or other terrain-based obstacles/weapons. We put up the barbed wire, we blow giant holes in the roads we don't want used, we build bridges a little and blow bridges up.
You know what, I say we're a big part of morale too. Engineers are the crazy psychopaths that they set loose on the creepiest, most nerve-wracking problems and situations. With a thunderous BOOM and an unbreakable spirit, we're a massive force for Espirit De Corps! You, future Combat Engineer, are a Godsend to a stuck tank battalion being torn up by landmines and impassable terrain. Never forget you could die to be their salvation. I'm damn proud of that.
We are the preferred MOS to perform Route Clearance, and this means it SHOULD be us who get in heavily armored wheeled vehicles and drive up and down the roads at 5-10mph even for 24+ hours on end, to identify, interrogate (is it an IED or is it not?), and potentially clear (detonate in place) IEDs. I reiterate: If the road is too dangerous for any US forces to use, Engineers are gonna go make it safe. You may be the gunner, driver, TC (Truck/Track Commander, riding shotgun) or a dismount (personnel riding along) in a Route Clearance vehicle, or another patrol vehicle.
What specific vehicle, you ask? Well, potentially a Bradley, which is sort of a light tank and an Armored Personnel Carrier, but is officially classified as an Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Most likely you'll be in an MRAP. (You say it like Em-rap) Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected is what MRAP stands for, and there are a handful of different MRAPs, but they're all very similar. 6+ wheels, HEAVILY armored, diesel-powered with a gunner's turret for any machine gun or perhaps an automatic grenade launcher (The Mark 19) and built to withstand bombs as well as small arms fire.
There is also the Buffalo, a huge vehicle similar to an MRAP with even heavier armor, and a bigass robot arm the TC operates to check out anything that might be an IED. Finally, there is the Husky, which may also have a smaller, shittier and weaker version of the Buffalo Arm, and is a single-person operated tractor looking thing. It can tow more than any of the previously mentioned vehicles and is a bigass mine detector.
Maybe you'll learn the ACE, a military and heavily armored Bulldozer. ACEs specialize in earthmoving and leaking hydraulic fluid, these vehicles have a special class on Ft. Leonard Wood often directly after you graduate OSUT for their operators. Yeah, you'll drive a HMMWV, but we don't use them too much in theater except as runarounds.
What toys are you gonna master? Ooh... a fucking lot, hero.
The AN/PSS is the Army Navy Personal Search System. There's two or three variants of these hand-held metal/mine detectors, Combat Engineers the preferred choice to operate these and will be trained in OSUT on their use. Other equipment you'll be specializing with is the M4 Carbine or the M16, the M249 SAW 5.56mm machine gun, the M240 7.62mm machine gun, the M2.50 Caliber Machine gun, the M203 or M320 under-barrel 40mm grenade launcher, the Mark 19 Automatic 40mm Grenade Launcher, the Mossberg 500 12-gauge pump action Shotgun with special ceramic breaching rounds, all kinds of explosives, detonation systems, tools to manually breach doors, barbed wire and fence posts as well as the fence post pounder, razor wire affectionately known as "Tina", all types of US or Non-US Landmines, the Talon robot (little tracked thing with an arm), the Combat Bridgelayer vehicle, and don't forget the MICLIC. (Mick Lick) It's a trailer that shoots a rocket that pulls out a long, long rope with a shitload of explosives in order to clear roads with the power of boom. There are countless other things as well.
PRO-TIPS: The M249 is the SAW, and you sound like a retard if you say "em-two-fourty-nine"... call it the SAW or "two-four-nine". This is the Squad Automatic Weapon, and a soldier may be carrying it instead of an M4/M16. It uses a 100 or 200 round 5.56mm drum, and can even be loaded with an M4/M16 magazine in a pinch.
Don't confuse it with the similar M240, which is the larger, heavier, and more powerful machine gun that fires 7.62 rounds and can only fire belted rounds. It will very rarely be fired standing. The weapon cannot reasonably be fired without being on a bipod, a tripod, or some other form of mount and would ideally have a gunner and an assistant gunner, both of whom ALSO carry an M4/M16.
Don't get confused about these two: The 7.62mm NATO round... and the Russian AK-47 round, also called 7.62mm.
7.62mm means it's roughly.30 caliber in diameter, and several more than even these two "7.62" rounds exist, but the US Army uses 7.62 x 51mm or "7.62 NATO". If you need to be specific, call it "7.62 NATO."
The 51mm there refers to that cartridge's length, 51 millimeters. An AK-47 is using a much smaller 7.62 x 39m round and the two are NOT very similar.
Except for one modified M4 variant that you'll probably never see, the US Army DOES NOT in ANY WEAPON SYSTEM use the Russian 7.62 x 39 round found in AK-47s.
7.62 NATO is basically a.308, and is used in the M14, M240, and some long range rifles. 7.62 NATO rounds on an ammo belt for use in the M240 are not necessarily different, they're just clipped onto an ammo belt.
Though you likely won't ever see them in the Army, there's also a 7.62 x 25mm round, which is a pistol round. There's also a 7.62 x 54R round, used in high-powered rifles such as the Mosin Nagant. Both of these are Russian.
Being a gun nut comes with the territory, know your shit. Back to what engineers do.
As Engineers, we are also responsible for mine field clearance and circumvention, along with road or bridge recon. You'll answer these questions: Is this supply route a good idea? Can the terrain, bridge and conditions support heavy vehicles? How heavy can the vehicles be? What ambush points are there? What bottlenecks? The list goes on...
We are also be in charge of emplacing or removing obstacles. Securing the castle, or breaching the enemy's castle. Sometimes it's less of a castle than we'd like.
Next, some really fun shit! Engineers are responsible for manually or explosively breaching buildings. A locked door is an open invitation for some boom power. You may even use a Mossberg Shotgun with special rounds to blow out the door hinges, or kick the fucker right in. You may then also be responsible for finding smaller, hidden anti-personnel IEDs/booby traps in the building you are breaching, and this is at the squad level, so you're as much a rifleman as infantry on top of that. You are just as hardcore with a rifle as infantry, you need to be able to keep up with them and get ahead of them.
Conventional warfare is where front lines are. Asymmetrical Warfare means the "enemy is everywhere" according to my basic training smartbook. No front line. That is what we're dealing with right now, and it means all kinds of MOS's are doing ALL kinds of jobs, even if it's not necessarily theirs. Tankers, Artillery, and all kinds of others are doing route clearance. However, Combat Engineers are gonna be doing the danger zone if anybody is. We're the ultimate front line. We're ahead of the front line. We're clearing the way TO the front line. "Engineers Lead the Way!"
Additionally, Engineers do EVERYTHING. EVERY damn thing. Maybe you're attached to a unit with a non-engineer in charge. He's gonna make you do literally anything from repairing vehicles to repairing the roof or fixing his radios, because the word "Engineer" sounds like you can do anything. True story, engineers are extremely reliable and there isn't a task in the planet that you cannot do. Nothing's below you either, fucker. Unclog toilets and mop the mud puddles until they're clean? Hell yes, do it twice just to be sure.
Some people make fun of the engineers, especially some Infantry or Rangers tend to be cocky. Your pride doesn't need their approval, and even when there's no front line, I can't count the times those two groups had convoys asking my permission to pass my route clearance patrol when we were going 5mph stopping constantly to check rock piles. We do lead the way, and that's not up for debate.
Oh and MPs hate you but even they know they're jealous b***hes.
Hey, seriously though, one team one fight. Leave the pissing contests outside the job, because these guys trust you with their lives when they travel on your route. You need them too... sometimes. At least pretend you do, it's part of espirit de corps.
Welcome to Hell, the Drill Sergeants are your best friends. They're gonna try to MAKE you give up half the time, because the ones that do give up just don't belong on the battlefield. Simply do not give up and DO WHAT YOU'RE TOLD, and your Drill Sergeant will take care of the rest. He's been trained very well to make any of you into a Combat Engineer, and he'll stop at nothing to do it. He also works insanely hard, sleeps less than you ever will, and he's got one of the toughest jobs in the Army. He earns your respect.
Group punishment is used a LOT, so don't be the one who falls out during a run. Just don't. If there are females in the basic training unit, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. "Doing your own thing" is derogatory, you are part of a team at all times. Embarassing one's self is no big deal, but hesitating is unacceptable. Lead the cadence? Jump off this tower? Go salute that four-star General? DO IT NOW!