Most Dangerous Army Jobs – For countries like the US, serving in the military can be a great way to earn some really good benefits. You can have access to free health care- worth the risk alone if you live in the US and its insane health care costs- as well as earn tens of thousands of dollars for your education.
You can even get paid while you’re going to school after your service contract is up,and in today’s world of rising education costs, this alone is another powerful incentive to sign up. But it shouldn’t come as any surprise that serving in the military comes with great risk, but some MOS’s- or jobs- are more dangerous than others.
In today’s article we’re going to be looking at the top ten most dangerous jobs in the military today.
10. Artillery Observers
The great thing about artillery is that it can lay down heavy volumes of fire at very long distances, keeping your troops nice and safe while pounding the hell out of the enemy. The terrible thing about artillery is that it lays down heavy volumes of fire at very long distances, typically well outside of visual range.
In ancient times when artillery took the form of primitive ballista and catapults, adjusting fire for your artillery was typically handled by the firing crew themselves- after all, if they wanted to know how accurate their shooting was all they had to do was watch the giant rock they just hurled and where it landed.
With the invention of the cannon ranges were increased, as well as lethality- yet still a firing crew was generally able to watch the effect of their own fire and adjust accordingly. It wasn’t until the advent of true artillery, heavy pieces of equipment capable of firing a shell over a mile, that getting accurate fire on target became more difficult.
Most Dangerous Army Jobs
At first militaries around the world relied on the tried and true strategy of ‘shoot everything everywhere and eventually somebody will die’, using heavy concentrations of guns to deliver inaccurate, but large volumes of fire across a wide area. With that much explosive metal raining out of the sky.
Some of it was bound to hit what you were hoping to hit. As the artillery pieces themselves improved and became more accurate, crews could make some adjustments for wind and distance and have a rough idea of where the tens of pounds of explosives they were hurtling through the air were going to land.
Eventually though, somebody hit upon the most obvious conclusion- somebody was going to have to go out there, stick their head up, and actually watch where all the damn arty was hitting. Men armed with spyglasses would crawl forward and try to spot fire, relaying instructions back with hand and arm signals or signaling flags.
Then as hot-air balloons became a thing, one of their very first uses was to spot fire for friendly artillery. It wasn’t until the invention of the portable radio though that artillery observers really came into their own and became an indispensable part of any military force.
The job today remains the same as it ever was- watch how and were friendly artillery splashes and radio back adjustments. Unfortunately though, artillery observers tend to stick out like a sore thumb thanks to the giant radios they carry, and because people tend to get really annoyed about having explosives rain down on their heads, artillery observers are a priority target on any battlefield.
Literally from the moment that mankind invented flight, we started using it to kill each other. In fact World War I alone is credited with super-expediting the development of flight and catapulting the brand new technology forward by leaps and bounds. Yet mankind has long dream of murdering itself while floating serenely through the clouds,and even before the invention of aircraft plenty of conceptual drawings of flying contraptions loaded with rudimentary bombs were already in circulation.
Today we’ve achieved that lofty ambition of killing people while floating through the heavens, but unsurprisingly the job is one of the most dangerous in any military. As the US has often found out, air superiority alone will not win a war- but it will make it a hell of a lot easier to do so, and in today’s environment a superior ground force will always lose against even an inferior air force.
Most Dangerous Army Jobs
That’s why so many weapon systems have been developed to blow other humans out of the sky, and the sheer amount of firepower dedicated to clipping a pilot’s wings is enough to make being a pilot the number nine most dangerous job in the military. However it’s not just the enemy you have to worry about, because nature tend to get really pissed that we decided humans should fly, when biologically speaking we really shouldn’t.
Any failure of one of the many complex systems keeping helicopters, transports and fighter jets in the air will immediately see you plummeting to the earth at terrifying speeds, and while the fall won’t kill you, the very sudden stop at the end just might. If that’s not enough to worry you as you cruise in your state-of-the-art fighter jet, then just remember that every single nut and bolt keeping you from a horrific death was all made by the company willing to build it as cheaply as possible.
You’re probably not surprised to hear that artillery observer and pilots are amongst the top ten most dangerous jobs in the military- but transportation? Truck drivers?!Yes indeed, being a military truck driver can be one of the fastest ways to pay out your life insurance to your next of kin.
As you’ve probably heard, an army marches on its stomach, and while it may not be glorious and there’s certainly no hollywood movies made about delivering ammunition and food to troops at the front, transportation soldiers are every bit as critical as an infantryman-if not more so.
Without our truck drivers soldiers won’t eat, and they won’t shoot anything because they’ll have no ammo. In yesteryear transportation was a relatively safe position- at worst you’d have to worry about cunning raids by skirmishers against your supply convoys, such as those mastered by the American rebels during the revolutionary war.
Most Dangerous Army Jobs
But you certainly didn’t have to worry about facing a full-fledged army, militaries simply weren’t mobile enough for that and unless your forces were terribly outmaneuvered, being in the rear and driving trucks, or wagons, was a pretty safe military job. With the advent of flight though, that all changed, and suddenly there were tools to penetrate deep behind the front lines and target the vital supply convoys feeding and arming enemy troops.
In the first Gulf War, NATO firepower absolutely decimated Iraqi convoys, and along Highway 80- a six lane highway between Kuwait and Iraq- air power destroyed between 1800 and 2700 vehicles, dubbing the roadway the Highway of Death.
Cicero, a Roman philosopher, once said, “In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods,than in giving health to men”. Doing their best to save lives across a battlefield, medics are an indispensable part of any fighting unit, and a welcome sight for a casualty. While they are protected under the Geneva convention, these protections only work if the enemy abides by said conventions- and under the heat of combat there’s no telling if an enemy soldier is going to act in accordance with international law or not.
Then of course there’s conflicts against modern foes, terrorists and insurgents, who don’t recognize or operate by international conventions, and see any target as a valid military target. If that wasn’t bad enough, artillery and bombs are notorious for not distinguishing between friend and foe, let alone who is a legal military target and who isn’t, and kill indiscriminately.
Despite this, military medics never fail to treat their casualties, even under the worst of conditions, and this makes them heroes to any man or woman who has ever carried a rifle into battle and known that a guardian angel was watching over them.
Earlier we saw that artillery observers were our number ten most dangerous job in the military,given the fact that they must expose themselves to enemy fire in order to call in accurate fire, and are typically easily recognizable given their large radios. How then could artillery be even higher on this list- aren’t they safely back behind friendly lines, miles away from the fighting?
Well, while artillery is in fact typically far from the front lines, it turns out that most enemies find firing high explosive shells at their troops to be extremely rude, and thus they will politely ask artillery men to stop doing so- with high explosives of their own.
Most Dangerous Army Jobs
In a modern battlefield artillery must always take measures to protect itself from counter-battery fire, this happens when enemy radar detects incoming rounds and then mathematically projects their origin point. That gives the enemy’s own artillery a location to shoot back at.
To avoid this, artillery typically practices shoot-and-scoot maneuvers where they fire a quick barrage and then are immediately on the move to avoid the return fire. However there is also air power to worry about, and aside from hunting tanks, enemy air cavalry is typically tasked with locating and eliminating artillery positions.
In ancient times cavalry was typically a reserve force of shock troops, meant to be dispatched when the regular infantry engaged the enemy and then attack from the flanks or rear. Today while cavalry can be used for such maneuver actions, they also hold one very important, and very dangerous job: reconnaissance.
On a modern battlefield you can’t always rely on air power or even satellites to get you detailed information on where the enemy is, and sometimes you have to rely on good-old fashioned ground recon forces. These soldiers may be safely tucked inside heavily armored vehicles, and accompanied by a few battle tanks, but because of the nature of their mission they are very oftenfighting against much larger forces as they make contact with the enemy.
Most Dangerous Army Jobs
Modern armored warfare strategies often sees a recon element dispatched ahead of the main force, with instructions to fix the enemy but not become decisively engaged- or get caught up in a pitched battle. Find the enemy, figure out size and strength, and then retreat and regroup with the main force.
Unfortunately it turns out that the enemy often very badly wants to decisively engage cavalry recon elements, and operating so far ahead of friendly forces there is always the risk of being outmaneuvered and ending up with no options for retreat.
Little surprise that infantry, the rank and file of a modern military, is one of the most dangerous jobs on a battlefield. Artillery may be the King of battle, but infantry is the undisputed queen- and if you want to know why that is then ask a veteran, because this is a kid-friendly show and we can’t explain it.
The job is simple: make contact with the enemy, shoot the enemy until they stop shooting at you, rinse and repeat until the war is won. Air power, artillery, engineering, literally everything else about war is nothing but flavor,and the core of combat has always been and will always be the infantry.
Before helicopters and satellites, cannons and fighter jets, it was infantry that decided the fate of nations, and nothing has changed today. Unfortunately the human body is notoriously allergic to bullets and bombs, something inno shortage on the front lines of a war, therefore infantry remains one of the most dangerous jobs in any military.
3. Explosive Ordnance Disposal
If you watched our recent episode on how to navigate your way out of a minefield, then you’re well aware that this is one of the last places on earth you want to end up- yet for explosive ordnance disposal technicians, or EOD for short, minefields are their bread and butter.
They tread where no man dares tread- literally- and are responsible for quickly and safely clearing lanes of travel through enemy mine fields. In World War II EOD techs were vital for many of the war’s most famous battles, and it was their heroic efforts and sacrifices that allowed the allies the break out of their landing zones.
Most Dangerous Army Jobs
Without the careful work of EOD, and typically under heavy enemy fire no less, all the heavy vehicles and tanks needed to establish a beachhead in Nazi Europe would have had no safe path to travel. In the last two decades though EOD’s risk levels increased significantly as in surgent and terrorist forces in Iraq and Afghanistan got into the habit of creating improvised explosive devices.
Disguised as trash, children’s toys, or even expensive electronics a soldier may be interested in picking up, these bombs have caused countless NATO casualties-and at the forefront of trying to prevent further carnage was EOD. Soon though the enemy began to create secondary explosives in an attempt to kill these critical technicians, and now an EOD tech must have nerves of steel as they respond to an IED site knowing very well that secondary, or even tertiary, explosives could be laying in hiding waiting for their response.
2. Special Operations
The elite of any military force- these are the men and women who are trained to do jobs too dangerous, complicated, or impractical for large conventional forces to carry out. They typically operate deep behind enemy lines, and can do anything from direct-action missions such as sabotage and target-eliminations, to rescue of VIPs or hostages, or simply remain undetected as they scout out enemy forces and fix positions.
Without these elite operators wars could still be won, but albeit at a much higher cost in treasure and blood both. Far behind other nations in the special operations game, the United States was a quick learner during World War II and even faster to adopt the use of one of the largest special operations forces of any military.
Most Dangerous Army Jobs
Yet often these soldiers must operate too far from friendly forces to rely on fire support,or even an emergency evacuation, and each operator knows that their lives are mostly in their own hands. Even in peacetime though SOF soldiers suffer from the highest casualty rate of any other MOS thanks to the incredibly grueling training that they undertake.
All that training however produces some of the finest soldiers on any battlefield, and as is the old adage in the US military, the more you sweat in peace the less you’ll bleed in war.
The US Air Force gets a lot of flak for being the ‘armchair’ service thanks to its roles in cyber and information warfare- yet it also fields the one MOS that is hands down the single most dangerous job in any military: Pararescue. Known as Pjs, pararescue airmen are essentially the most elite ambulance service in the world, and are responsible for responding to casualties wherever they may be- at the top of a mountain or in the middle of a raging battlefield, it doesn’t matter for a PJ.
Their job is simple: find and treat casualties and rescue anybody in need. Air Force Pjs are literal guardian angels, even conducting HALO jumps to get to their man or woman. Most often though Pararescue airmen are responsible for finding and bringing home downed pilots, even if that means they have to travel deep behind enemy lines or into raging seas.
Trained to treat any matter of wounds, but also defend themselves with a variety of small arms, Pjs without a doubt have the most dangerous job in the US military, and their counterparts around the world share in that risk. What do you think is the most dangerous job in the military? Ever work one of these jobs? Let us know in the comments.