army combat engineer - mos 12b
Army

Army Combat Engineer (MOS 12B)

Combat Engineers (MOS 12B) are important to the daily operations of the U.S. Army.

An Army Combat Engineer serves, assists, or supervises a team while dealing with rough terrain and generally in combat situations.

MOS 12B Army Engineers are experts in mobility, counter-mobility, engineering, and survival.

It would be nearly impossible for the U.S. Army to function properly without the assistance of MOS 12B.

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Education, Qualifications, and Training

combat engineer army
Combat Engineers (MOS 12B) are part infantryman, part engineer. Image: Army.com

Army Combat Engineers are part fighter, part builder of defense systems.

The purpose is to create an easier method for your fellow soldiers to engage the enemy while also becoming a destroyer of enemy defense positions and obstacles.

As a result, there are several important qualifications and training you need to become MOS 12B.

Education

You are allowed to pick your military occupation specialty (MOS) in the Army.

Field 12 is the overarching category for Army engineers.

MOS 12B is a blend of combat fighter and engineer.

If you are interested in becoming MOS 12B you need to get a score of 87 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

Qualifications

Though it is not mandatory it is a good idea to already know how to use a variety of hand and power tools.

Combat Engineers spend a lot of time performing under strenuous conditions, sometimes over prolonged periods of time.

It helps to have a combination of an engineering-type of mind, as well as love for action and working outdoors.

Training

Once you pass the ASVAB it is time for basic training.

Combat Engineers must complete the standard 14 weeks of One Station Unit Training (OSUT) which is a combination of Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

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Army Engineers have the choice between specializing in combat engineering (12B), general engineering, or geo-spatial engineer operations.

Training is a combination of classroom lessons and practical work out in the field.

MOS 12B receive their engineering training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

Skills you will acquire include understanding of basic demolitions, basic explosive hazards, basic urban operations, fixing bridges, constructing wire obstacles, and operating heavy equipment.

What does an Army Combat Engineer Do?

12b mos army job
Combat Engineers can tackle a variety of train with a variety of different machinery. Image: Army.com

The Army Combat Engineer (MOS 12B) is part of a larger squad and is assigned specific duties.

Combat engineers are experts on certain functions of the U.S. Army.

They are excellent at building infrastructure, understanding prime firing positions, detecting mines, building or detonating explosives, and handling rough terrain.

They are more or less modern-day Army “MacGyvers”.

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Engineering

MOS 12B are first and foremost engineers.

Consequently, Army Combat Engineers are outstanding at constructing just about everything from places of military engagement, to building structures, to creating defense mechanisms.

MOS 12B are the very definition of an engineer which is “the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.”

You can expect to design and build everything from infrastructure to explosives.

Explosives

Combat Engineers (MOS 12B) are experts with explosives of all types.

They are able to not only successfully build them from scratch, but also have an understanding of where to tactically place them in the field.

As a result, MOS 12B are tasked in a larger squad with handling and supervising the placement of explosives.

Engineers are experts in a variety of combat situations and know the right defensive systems to install based on the location and demands of the mission.

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Terrain

One overlooked aspect of the job duties of Army Combat Engineers is the ability to deal with terrain.

Combat Engineers are experts with managing difficult obstacles and climates.

They are able to conduct operations that clear routes for the rest of the squad.

These include troubling places to cross like rivers where the ability to construct a quick bridge is mandatory to the success of an operation.

Sometimes obstacles must also be cleared in order to make way with the use of explosives or other machinery.

MOS 12B are heavy equipment operations that know how to handle a variety of machinery.

Safety

Another important thing to note about MOS 12B is there immense responsibility toward keeping the rest of the squad safe.

As a result, Combat Engineers are tasked with detecting mines – either visually or with a mine detectors.

It is the reason why MOS 12B are sometimes nicknamed for being individuals that “Clear the Way” in combat.

The important of Army Snappers, or MOS 12B, has only increased with the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan where bomb clearing is essential.

Secondary Infantry

Though Army Combat Engineers (12B) are most well known for engineering they also have combat skills.

MOS 12B can support front-line infantry when necessary.

Combat Engineers are trained soldiers that have the ability to operate firearms though they primarily specialize in explosives.

A Soldier must be a Graduate of the Sapper Leader Course, a 28-day course designed to train leaders in small unit tactics, leadership skills, and skills required to perform as part of a combined arms team, to become a Sapper and wear the Sapper Tab.

What does an Army Combat Engineer make?

combat engineer mos
Combat Engineers are in high demand following the most recent combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Image: Army.com

Army personnel are paid the same regardless of job.

The amount of pay depends on years of service as well as Army rank (see table, below).

Combat Engineers (MOS 12B) begin with a base salary around $18,000 for E-1 Army Privates.

InsigniaPay GradeRankAbbreviationAvg. Monthly Pay
E-1PrivatePVT$1,681
E-2Private Second ClassPV2$1,884
army e 3 insignia - pfcE-3Private First ClassPFC$1,981
army e 4 insignia - specialistE-4SpecialistSPC$2,195
army e 4 insignia - corporalE-4CorporalCPL$2,195
E-5SergeantSGT$2,394
E-6Staff SergeantSSG$2,613
E-7Sergeant First ClassSFC$3,021
army e 8 insignia - master sergeantE-8Master SergeantMSG$4,345
E-8First Sergeant1SG$4,345
E-9Sergeant MajorSGM$5,308
E-9Command Sergeant MajorCSM$5,308
e 9 sergeant major of the army insigniaE-9Sergeant Major of the ArmySMA$5,308

Benefits

Though pay is not outstanding, especially for E-1, there are several other benefits provided by the U.S. Army:

  • Medical Insurance
  • Vacation Time
  • Retirement
  • Special Pay
  • Housing: Allowances for living expenses, utilities, and maintenance.
  • Food: Allowance for the on-base dining hall and access to tax-free department and grocery stores.
  • Education: Army members can earn full-tuition, merit-based scholarships, allowances for books and fees, plus annual stipend for living expenses.

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Job Reviews

The general consensus is working MOS 12B is one of the more fulfilling careers in the Army.

Here’s a few Army Combat Engineer job reviews we’ve come across:

mos 12b review
Source: Indeed.com
combat engineer review
Source: Indeed.com

Engineers are in high demand both in the U.S. Army and after military service with civilian jobs (see more, below).

MOS 12B combines the ability to use your brain to design and build infrastructure, as well as the thrill and adrenaline of live combat.

However, Combat Engineers can expect to get deployed to dangerous locations such as Afghanistan and the Middle East where bomb clearing is vital to the success of military operations.

Civilian Job Opportunities

Since MOS 12B are engineers they can attain civilian engineering jobs after leaving the U.S. Military.

Employers also appreciate that Combat Engineers have worked under extremely high pressure situations and are often natural leaders.

The construction industry, along with inspection jobs are the two most relevant hires.

Summary

The role of the Army Combat Engineer (MOS 12B) is becoming increasingly important with the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Combat Engineers are capable of a variety of tasks which helps a large squad survive out in combat.

Additionally, the civilian job outlook post-retirement from the U.S. Military is very bright.

Resources:

  1. https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/construction-engineering/combat-engineer.html
  2. https://www.cool.army.mil/enlisted/12b.htm
  3. https://www.army.mil/article/200797/combat_engineers_enable_infantry_commanders_soldiers
Zach B.
Zach B.
Zachary B. served in the United States Army for 9 years, both as an active-duty soldier as well as the Army National Guard. He currently operates a a political blog, and works at a local online newspaper in Cortland, NY. Zach currently resides in Syracuse, New York, and is very active in politics and local news media.

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