"The soldier's heart, the soldier's spirit, the soldier's soul, are everything. Unless the soldier's soul sustains him he cannot be relied on and will fail" (U.S. Army 2001,-page 4).
What is the job of an American soldier? The soldier's primary role is to work and fight to protect their country. The life of a soldier can be a very difficult one. A person who enters the army finds him or herself away from their friends and their families for long periods of time. They put themselves in danger, literally risking life and limb for the greater good. These men and women are heroes who willingly put themselves in harm's way so that the country they love can be protected. When a person joins the United States Army, that individual makes the choice to follow the orders of their superiors and to put their faith and future in the hands of their fellow soldiers. There are many positions and jobs that need to be performed in order for the Army to function as a successful unit. Therefore, there is no one role of an American soldier, but many roles that are filled by brave men and women.
Since the very first militia of the United States, the Continental Army, the armed forces have relied on this branch of the military to keep the nation free from tyranny. According to Chester Hearn (2006):
The United States Army is and always has been a work in progress. Ever since the formation of the Continental Army on June 15, 1775, the soldier has always been the protector of American democracy. Those men were a special breed of patriots willing to sacrifice their lives so that others may enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. From a rabble in homespun rags fighting under George Washington in 1775, the American soldier has transformed through the centuries into "An Army of One," which is actually much more than a slogan. The army is a team of professionals interacting together as one, but the soldier of today is a highly capable individual fitted out to fight as an army of one. The U.S. Army was not always the best equipped, the best trained, the best led, and the most respected and highly motivated volunteer military organization on earth, but it is today, and the soldier makes it so (page 6).
This is very true. In some countries of the world, men and women have no choice but to fight in their military. Nations like Israel make it a law that every able-bodied individual must participate in the armed services when they reach legal adulthood. This used to be the case of the United States until the mid-1970s. After the Vietnam War and the loss of so many men who had been drafted into service rather than making the life of a soldier their choice, the policy of the United States changed so that those who fought for their countries did so only by their own volition.
It is the policy of the United States army that they fight either in the name of their country within a war against an enemy of the U.S. Or they undertake humanitarian missions of mercy in countries all over the world (Bartlett 2004,-page 4). Sometimes they are sent in to rescue people during natural disasters or to help other peoples who are living under tyrannical and inhuman governments. Humanitarian missions are usually only possible for soldiers during peacetime when they have the man hours and extra resources available to make those endeavors a priority. Soldiers can also be utilized for activities like crowd control and recapturing escaped prisoners and returning them to prison.
At present, there are approximately 500,000 men and women serving in the United States army (Green 1998,-page 7). Of these, some are full-time soldiers and other are in the army reserves and only see action in the case of extreme military crisis. Within the army branch of the U.S. military, there are three arms: the combat arm, the combat support arm, and the combat-service-support arm. None of these arms within the branch is more important than the other. The initial combat branch will likely see action before the other two groups, but that does not mean that the soldiers in the other two are any less heroic or that they are in any less danger while on the job. The smallest group of men in the army is a company with 90-200 men and women. The largest group is a field army which contains anywhere between 40,000 and 100,000 people. In these groups, single individuals are assigned a variety of jobs based on the particular skills of that person and the immediate need of the army at the time. Some jobs include operating tanks, artillery, helicopters, and communications equipment (Bartlett 2004,-page 9). There are also the ground troops or foot soldiers. As a singular unit, foot soldiers are called the infantry.
The combat arm of the United States Army is considered the "fighting part" of the army (Green 1998,-page 7). It is these soldiers who find themselves on the front line of a battle. These are the men who face the most danger, simply because they are on the ground with only their hand-held weapons to protect them from their enemies.
Another arm of the U.S. Army is the combat support group. These people are directly responsible for the safety and ultimate success of the combat arm. The combat support arm provides information and technologies to the troops on the front line. It is their job to ensure direct communication between ground troops and the rest of the forces. It is also the responsibility of combat support to acquire information about the enemy to ensure the soldiers are adequately prepared to face them (Green 1998,-page 9). This group is also tasked with the responsibility of providing food and supplies to men and women who are on the front.
The third arm is the combat-service-support arm. They are responsible for providing supplies to the other two groups. Also, they are responsible for providing transportation to move ground troops and those in the combat support groups as well to whatever location they need to travel to. These are also the medical officials who provide treatment and legal aid to soldiers. They also handle the financial situations of the United States Army, including payroll.
Soldiers in the United States Army are also given jobs to utilize the particular skill set of each individual member of the army. Besides the Infantry which was mentioned earlier, soldiers can also be assigned to jobs as engineers, jobs in the field artillery branch, air defense artillery branch, aviation, special forces, armor, telecommunications, signal corps, and the Judge Advocate General Branch. There is also the electronic warfare division, information operations, military police, strategic intelligence, military intelligence, financial management, psychological operations, civil affairs, space operations, adjutant general or army band branch, public affairs, USMA stabilized faculty, foreign area officer, operations research and systems analysis, force management, research development and acquisition, nuclear and counterproliferation, simulations operations, strategic plans and policies, and systems automaton office. For soldiers who are also members of the clergy, there is the chaplain branch. For doctors and nurses who join the army, there is the medical corps branch, dental corps, veterinary corps, medical specialist corps, nurse corps, medical service corps, health services, laboratory sciences, preventive medicine and behavioral sciences. Other roles include jobs in the chemical branch, recruiting and retention, logistics, transportation, ammunition, quartermaster, as well as electronic maintenance and calibration. As is evident by this long and extensive list of potential career paths, those entering the United States Army have a plethora of choices available to them as to the position they want to hold and the subsequent role in the army that they wish to fulfill in the future.
While far away from home, it can sometimes become very difficult to remember that the principles you believed in are still strong. In The Writing of American Military History: A Guide (2001), the authors discuss the things that a soldier remembers once he leaves active duty. Paramount in the mind are the following thoughts:
What food did he eat, what clothes did he wear, what shelter did he have? What care, if any, was taken for his health? At just what time did anaesthesia and aspetic surgery show their effect on battle casualties? What conditions affected the soldier's morale? What news of the war did he receive, what mail from home? What political and cultural ideas dominated those who were fighting to defend them? (page 75).
Being a soldier can be as much a form of torture as a rewarding choice. Much of these past disparages have been alleviated in the modern era thanks to communication technologies. In the past, a man or woman might have to wait days, weeks, or even months between communications with a spouse or parent or even a member of the command because they…