The infantry is an enigma. There are legitimate advantages to have the 03 or 11B military occupational specialty. There are also no-so-legit advantages for trigger pullers as well. Soldiers and Marines can put aside their branch rivalries and bond over their experiences in theater. The differences in conduct and promotions vary among the other jobs in the military. The advantages continue after their service if they choose to continue to work for the government.
1. The job has an element of prestige
When a civilian asks what one does in the military and the response is infantry, they have a general idea of what we do. Grunts do not have to feel with the condescending, disappointed ‘oh’ when personnel other than grunts say they do a non-combat job. Sometimes civilians are just ignorant, they want immediate gratification. Forgive the civilian, they simply do not know what they do not know. When they meet a troop they want to hear you have a high speed, low drag occupation. Infantrymen do not have that problem.
When infantrymen retire as staff NCOs or officers there are jobs in the Department of Defense that are unofficially reserved just for them. Uncle Sam has a seat for those willing to continue their service to their country after their contracts have ended.
2. They shine brighter on promotion boards
When infantrymen switch military occupational specialties into other fields, they quickly climb the ranks. Their service records are more impressive, they’ve earned more awards, and they’ve lead troops in battle. Its hard to have a meritorious board not take any of that into consideration. When a former infantryman switches to a new field there is an expectation they will succeed – and they do. A both a non-infantry and grunt can check all the boxes, but the POG can’t deploy back in time to a time of war.
3. The way infantry junior troops respect seniors
When I was in the Marine Corps I joined with several friends during the surge. Together we covered different MOS: Infantry, engineer, airwin and cook. When we became noncomissioned officers it was night and day whose troop are whose. The cook’s behavior was borderline disrespectful compared to grunt juniors. It was far too casual for the likes of anyone in a line company. The engineers didn’t fair too much better but they at least took hierarchy a little more seriously. The air wingers are just weird.
In the end your juniors are a reflection of yourself. Some NCOs prefer a more relaxed environment while other prefer tact and instant obedience to orders. There is something missing from the way other fields react when being issued an order that just rubs grunts the wrong way.
4. Infantry Drill Instructors have a secret mafia
Similar to the advantage of switching to another MOS, infantrymen who go drill instructor have a whole other advantage to POGs. Becoming a drill instructor is a fraternity within a fraternity. When one observes the chain of command’s staff non commissioned officers, I will bet my last dollar most are former drill hats. The drill field is one bridge between grunts and others.
However, that same experience gives one an edge on promotion boards. So, while two E5s stationed at boot camp fulfill their billet commitment, infantrymen will be more bias to award the grunt. When that, now E6, returns to their MOS they will have that same favorable bias for becoming drill instructors. Think of it as the universe balancing itself out for years of slow promotions as a lower enlisted. Drill Instructors do a lot of work, so, it isn’t free chevrons by any means.
5. The MPs don’t roll by the barracks
An infantry barracks is a no man’s land for military police. They may show up occasionally but they will not patrol certain areas as if it was downtown Detroit. I vividly remember seeing a patrol car showing up to a non infantry barracks during weekend parties to establish a presence. Those MPs are absent during the debauchery unfolding at our barracks.
My first experience in the fleet was a battalion formation with a livid colonel chewing out everybody. Apparently, alpha company and charlie company’s rivalry escaladed into a unit wide brawl with reinforcements from bravo and weapons company. When the MPs showed up half naked Marines disarmed the MPs and beat them with their own batons. The commander’s main point was that just because the unit returned from Iraq doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. There were no arrests because they could not get a single witness statement or detainees.
That was my second week in the fleet. I rarely saw MPs show up around our area throughout my career in the Corps. In the infantry there is a code of silence. It is true what they say, the infantry is the biggest gang in the world and the cops know it.