The Renaissance Man

When thinking about the Army, the quintessential job that people imagine is the infantryman. He is the front line soldier and the one that does most of the Army’s heavy lifting when it comes to our modern type of warfare. Since joining ROTC, one of my top choices for job selection has been the infantry officer. He is the one who leads these front line guys. His job is to be the ultimate “Renaissance man” meaning he must know a little about everything. He is not expected to be an expert in weapons, demolition, or maneuvering, but he needs to know tactics, and how to utilize and position his soldiers to effectively complete the mission. All of these, the Army will teach him.

From speaking with an Army Captain who is an infantry officer, my eyes were opened to a few aspects of the job. One thing I found interesting was that the type of degree that will be most beneficial to an infantry officer is either a Business Management degree or one in International Affairs. This seems to make sense considering they focus on how to effectively manage a team, either a business or a platoon of soldiers, and the finer points of international politics.

A degree in science, like mine, can be useful because it teaches how to solve problems, how to think analytically, and how to manage resources, but ultimately what will matter the most is being a people person who can effectively utilize soldiers and network with people outside my unit.

Another thing I learned is how effective Army communication can be. Challenges in communication in the Army generally stem from physical problems rather than rhetorical ones. Communication is typically good because the Army utilizes a solidified chain of command, alert rosters, and multiple means of communication. These include primarily face to face contact, email, and radio communication.

Often times, the physical problems come due to limitations in the equipment. In the field, a unit may be spread over a very large area making it hard for radios to transmit signals that far, and there also might be bad radio feeds due to interference. Another problem is that the infantrymen rely on batteries and vehicles for communication equipment. If either of those is lost or broken, communication is lost.

Rhetorical challenges are overcome easily within the Army. The Army utilizes a number of methods to make communication simple, functional, and understandable for its members. These methods include its use of special verbage or lingo, a rank system, and different MOSs (special job training and functions).  To outsiders, these may be hard concepts to grasp, but even the lowest level soldiers understand them fully. This is the kind of life that I wish to join into.

One thought on “The Renaissance Man

  1. A great point about how the army facilitates communication (and the dissemination of information). These types of standardized communication are great for business purposes, but I wonder what affect they have on the individual who uses them; is there difficulty in personally adjusting to efficient bureaucracy?

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