The military operates in various parts of the world with its own micro-cities that have hospitals, cafeterias, even mini supermarkets. This means that there are a number of jobs that need to be filled that probably aren’t what you’d expect a military officer to be working. Yet all are essential to keeping our armed forces running smoothly. Some are pretty odd, others are outrageously dangerous, while others are plain ‘ol mundane, but hey, someone’s got to do them all. Here are some of the weirdest, dirtiest and wildest jobs in the military.
An entomologist studies insects, their relationships with other animals, their environments, and human beings. The scientists were first introduced to the military in 1941 in response to an arthropod-borne diseases during World War II. There are a number of diseases carried by insects, such as sand flies and mosquitos, that lead to infectious diseases, like malaria, dengue, and Leishmaniasis. It’s important to protect deployed military personnel from these diseases, and in order to do so, someone has to study what causes them, and know which insects live in which environments.
In addition, Navy entomologists help control cockroaches, bed bugs, spiders, and any other arthropods that can infest the ships.
Air Force Sewage Treatment Engineers
That isn’t a river the officers are pulling the boat out of; it is sewage. There are officers on every base in charge of managing the plumbing, wastewater collection systems, liquid fuel storage and natural gas distribution systems. Maintaining these thousands of miles of fuel and water lines are essential to the base’s daily operations. Though they should be wearing masks, considering that if they accidentally consume any of the waste they will most likely become extremely sick. And if they fall in it, they will immediately sink, since the liquid doesn’t have any oxygen in it.
Army Tank Recovery Crew
A whole department dedicated to recovering Army tanks that get stuck in the mud may initially sound trivial, but it is a very necessary, and dirty, job. Tanks often get trapped in various environments, and these recovery crews help the soldiers in the tanks get back to battle. These officers have to submerge themselves in the mud or swamps to get the 100 pound recovery equipment into place, all while trying to avoid getting their own vehicle stuck as well. The team also repairs or replaces damaged parts in the vehicles while under fire, so it’s also a pretty dangerous job.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal
If this sounds like a dangerous job to you, you are right on the money. These officers’ jobs are to disarm explosive devices, neutralize chemical threats, investigate and demolish natural and man-made underwater obstructions and render safe nuclear weapons. They also ensure that all explosives are disposed of in the safest way possible. After training in an Ordnance Officer Basic Course, these specialized officers attend an additional 36 weeks of advanced training. It’s no surprise that one of the most important skill sets in this position is to be able to work calmly under pressure.
The name may sound silly, but cyber warriors have an extremely important job in the military. Many terrorists and opposing military forces attack through cyberspace, such as by shutting down power grids or paralyzing infrastructures. A cyber warrior protects against such attacks. They are computer experts whose job is to defend information systems against such attacks, or they may be the ones who infiltrate or sabotage information systems in order to help other military personnel with an attack. They have to understand how to integrate technology into the mission that they are trying to complete.
Burn Pit Detail
While fighting in the field, soldiers usually don’t have access to running water. So they build burn pits, which are like wooden port-o-potties that consist of large buckets, usually half of a steel drum, underneath a wooden seat. These pits become full of human waste, and then have to be dragged out, filled with gasoline, set on fire and stirred around. A disgusting job for sure, but the waste has to be disposed of, so it is necessary. Usually this position is rotated so that no one soldier has to endure the wretched smell of human feces burning over and over again while they whirl it around.
Pararescuers are considered one of the most elite units in the military. They are experts in combat and providing medical assistance. They are sent on the most dangerous and demanding rescue missions in the world. If an airman is captured or wounded, a pararescue jumper must locate and bring him or her to safety as fast as possible, no matter what the terrain or the hostile conditions may be. They go into areas that are in full combat, have catastrophic weather conditions, and disaster zones. They go on rescue missions in water, desert terrain or Arctic conditions. The training to become a pararescue jumper is very intense, and many never complete it.
The Coast Guard’s Buoy Tenders
The Cost Guard’s buoy tenders’ jobs are to scrape and power wash about two tons of crud, sea life and animal waste off of buoys that weigh 100 tons. It is important to keep these buoys clean because if they are too dirty they can sink, and if their anchors are too dirty, it can lead to dangerous accidents. It takes these tenders approximately 30 minutes to clean the buoys themselves, but then they have to clean off the decks of their ships, which become filthy from the removed waste, and that takes much longer.
This may sounds like an easy enough job, but it is quite the contrary. Vehicle transportation is definitely one of the more dangerous jobs in the military. Their job as military truck drivers it to making sure weapons, supplies, food, and other necessities get delivered to soldiers on the front lines. Without them, soldiers wouldn’t have everything they need to successfully accomplish their missions. This makes them a main target for attacks. With the rise of IED attacks (bombs constructed and detonated in ways other than in conventional military action), this job has become even more risky.
A door gunner’s job is to seek and fire at the enemy on the ground using manual weapons from aboard a helicopter. They may fire machine guns or turrets with canons, depending on the mission. Sometimes they even have to lean out of the helicopter (while harnessed) to get a better shot. They are pretty exposed and this makes them easy targets for enemy forces, so the job is extremely perilous. In fact, it is said that during war time, a door gunners lifespan is expected to be only five to eight hours.
An Air Force crew chief’s job is to keep a military aircraft, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in the best shape possible. They are in charge of day-to-day maintenance on the aircraft, diagnosing malfunctions, replacing parts, conducting detailed inspections and keeping records. It doesn’t sound all that wild, until you consider the cleaning aspect. They have to climb into the filthy exhausts to clean them, as well remove any bird matter on the plane (often the aircraft hit birds while flying). Crew chiefs get covered with grease and fluids daily. Not to mention they have to work in hot weather conditions inside a stagnant protective aircraft shelter.
Infantrymen are the backbone of the army. They are responsible for defending any threats by land, as well as capturing, destroying and repelling enemy ground forces. When they are out on a mission, they have to trek through whatever natural or man- made obstacles that present themselves, whether it be swamps, torrential downpours, deep mud pits, dead bodies, etc.. They patrol areas for security risks, or seek out enemy combatants. They have to engage in close range combat with the enemy, and usually suffer the greatest number of casualties during a war.
Cost Guard Rescue Swimmers
Coast Guard rescue swimmers are highly conditioned rescue and survival experts trained in a variety of maritime environments. In a nutshell, they free fall from a helicopter into a body of water to perform a rescue mission. They may find themselves deployed during hurricanes, or sent on medical rescue evacuations at sea. They must be very flexible, strong and have a high endurance, so that they are able to function for 30 minutes in heavy seas. They are also in charge of maintaining and inspecting cargo aerial delivery systems, drag parachute systems, aircraft oxygen systems, helicopter emergency flotation systems, portable dewatering pumps, air/sea rescue kits, and special-purpose protective clothing.
Drones pilots, official title Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operators, are remote pilots of unmanned observation aircraft called as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), better known as drones. They gather intelligence to be used in operational tactics. This job is definitely not one of the most coveted jobs in the army. Instead of sitting in a cockpit piloting a plane, these pilots sit hours upon house in a small metal room in front of a computer screen. Furthermore, drones are usually chosen for jobs that are considering dirty, dangerous, or more often, boring. Drone pilots quit at three times the rate of regular pilots. The military is trying to figure out new ways to lure and keep drone pilots, because their surveillance is extremely useful.
The official name for a wild weasel is a SEAD pilot. SEAD stands for “Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses”, and these highly skilled Air Force pilots’ jobs are to reduce ground-based anti-air threats. They have to try and get the enemy to shoot at them so that they can learn their position in order to inform the other units of their whereabouts, so they can take them out. What makes it even more dangerous is that these planes are not being flown at high altitudes, but instead are flying low to the ground. Once the enemy spots them and reveals their location by attacking the plane, the pilot has to get away fast enough before their plane is shot down.
Cryogenics Equipment Operator
This job sounds a bit more out there than it really is. Cryogenics is the science that addresses the production, behavior and effects of materials that are subjected to very low temperatures (at or below −238 degrees Fahrenheit). In the military, a cryogenics equipment operator assembles, operates, and maintains liquid oxygen/nitrogen generating plants, storage and aircraft servicing equipment, vaporizing equipment and vacuum pumps. They created the technology that is used to safely store oxygen for pilots’ tanks and the nitrogen which is used for plane tires.
Military dietitians act as the directors of foodservice operations and the nutrition clinic chief. They help maintain the health of the other service members and their families. They may encourage healthy living by teaching military personnel how to maintain a well-balanced diet and regular exercise program. They can work with people one-on-one or in a classroom setting. It probably doesn’t sound like a job a person would go into the military to do, but it definitely provides skills that can be used in everyday life, and also towards a civilian career if the person decides to leave the military.
Shower/Laundry and Clothing Repair Specialist
Military personnel are most likely not fighting over who will get to be the shower/laundry and clothing repair specialist, but it is a necessary job, nonetheless. These specialists are responsible for supervising and performing laundry, shower, personnel and clothing decontamination functions. They operate mobile washers, extractors, dryers, reimpregnation, decontamination, and delousing equipment. They do light alterations on uniforms that need repair. They sort and issue clean laundry and equipment. While it may not be the most exciting job, the officers need to have laundry that they can wear as they go about their duties.
Instrument Repair Technician
There are a great deal of talented musicians in the military, many of which join and form military bands. What happens if one of their instruments gets damaged and needs repair? Luckily the military has just the answer; they have instrument repair technicians on staff. Their duties also include organizing and maintaining the instrument repair shop according to current occupational safety and health standards, maintaining administrative records and repairs of work performed on musical instruments, and performing preventative maintenance on instrument repair tools and equipment. These technicians usually have a passion for music and instruments themselves, so the job may not seem all that boring to them.
The Marine Corps Combat Art Program is a one of a kind program in the military. Artists in this program, known as military artists or combat artists, experience the war and document their experiences through art. Members must be both Marines and full-fledged artists; they cannot be just one or the other. These soldier-artists create pictorial accounts and interpretations of the battles they are in, creating an archived history of what occurred on the battlefield. They also serve during peacetime to help provide humanitarian relief. How many civilians would have guessed that artists would play such a key role in warfare?