News Branch Army

Army wants cav scouts, military police to reclass to fill shortages

The Army wants volunteers who are willing to switch MOSs but cavalry scouts and military cops may be required to change careers when they reenlist.
Patty Nieberg Avatar
Cavalry scout on horseback reciting his reenlistment oath
The Army is asking its surplus of cavalry scouts and military police to reclassify into other military occupational specialties because of force shortages elsewhere, according to policy documents. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samarion Hicks)

The Army is asking its surplus of cavalry scouts and military police to reclassify into other military occupational specialties because of force shortages elsewhere, according to recent policy documents.

The “Precision Retention” MILPER released last week covers the Army’s latest restructuring decision to meet its recruitment and retention goals. The policy identified the service’s overcrowded MOSs and included the Army’s underserved positions which are offering earlier promotions and sign-on bonuses for soldiers who volunteer to change careers. 

In fiscal year 2023, the service reclassified around 3,000 soldiers. Over the next two fiscal years, the Army is looking to reclassify just over 3,000 cavalry scouts (19D) and military police (31B). 

Cavalry scouts, the MOS known for being the Army’s eyes and ears on the battlefield by gathering information on the enemy’s positions and activities, “isn’t going away,” said Sgt. Maj. Tobey Whitney, the Army’s senior career counselor. There is still a need for cavalry scouts in the Army so officials are looking for soldiers who want to volunteer for a career change, he added. 

Cavalry scouts were historically known for being the first soldiers on the battlefield but with faster integration of drones, and robots, technology is increasingly being thought of by Army strategists as the first point of contact with the enemy.

In their early days, cavalry scouts, more commonly referred to as “troopers,” conducted reconnaissance on horseback. But that practice faded with the rise of industrial transportation, meaning today’s cavalry soldiers are mounted on armored vehicles and helicopters. However, even today, cavalry soldiers honor their origins by reciting their reenlistment oath on horseback while wearing the 1874 Cavalry uniform with gloves, a Stetson hat, and boot spurs. The scouts’ Horse Cavalry Detachment is now used for ceremonial and recruitment purposes.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, U.S. Army cavalry positions were also made up of Native Americans and in the Army Reorganization Act of 1866, the President was authorized “to enlist and employ in the Territories and Indian country a force of Indians not to exceed one thousand to act as scouts, who shall receive the pay and allowances of cavalry soldiers.”

The Army undertakes the precision retention process every year, but this time the Army is trying to dispel rumors and speculations worrying military families, Whitney said.

“The precision retention process, it’s really simply a way for us to notify leaders, soldiers, and their families, of which MOSs we have too many of, and the process in order for them to get a new MOS and what options and incentives they have available to them,” he said.

By simply pushing the information out to career counselors over the last few weeks, the Army has already had over 100 soldiers from the two MOSs request reclassification, Whitney said. 

Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Uribe-Huitron, directorate of Military Personnel Management said the Army isn’t at the point of mandating soldiers to reclassify if they’re not interested in a different MOS. Instead, officials are hoping to see more soldiers raise their hands to switch careers.

“The Army is going to do everything possible to match the soldiers that elect to reclassify into a new MOS. We’re going to do everything we can to match what their needs, wants, and desires are with what the Army needs,” Whitney said.

The goal of announcing these changes, according to Army officials, is to be very direct in communicating career options to soldiers.

“I kind of just reflect upon many years of my service when it was time for me to consider whether or not I was going to remain in uniform service,” Uribe-Huitron said. “I don’t recall having this level of information available to me as I was kind of trying to navigate through what decisions I was going to make, what was important to me at that time.”

The process

Precision retention is an administrative action that follows a commander’s decision to reenlist a soldier, according to MILPER documents. When making a retention decision, the Army will look at a soldier’s qualifications, special skills, strengths of the MOS at their current location, strengths of the MOS at other locations for potential station changes, and the overall strength of the MOS. 

Soldiers serving as cavalry scouts and military police will not be approved to reenlist and will need to reclassify to a new MOS, according to policy documents. If those soldiers want to continue their service, they will submit paperwork through their career counselor to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command which will decide on a case-by-case basis, according to officials.

Subscribe to Task & Purpose today. Get the latest military news and culture in your inbox daily.

However, military police with certain additional skill identifiers including Protective Services Specialist, Military Police Investigation and Traffic Management and Collision Investigator, are authorized to reenlist or extend service. 

Soldiers serving as cavalry scouts, military police, armament/electrical/avionics systems repairers with certain additional skill identifiers who do not volunteer or opt-in for reclassification during reenlistment may end up being reclassified by officials according to the needs of the Army, according to policy documents.

After receiving approvals to extend or reenlist, soldiers will have seven calendar days to decide. Soldiers who don’t respond will have their approvals revoked and be “considered to have been afforded the opportunity for continued service,” according to policy documents. For soldiers who are not within their reenlistment window, they are encouraged to volunteer for reclassification through their commander.

Easy transitions

With the force changes, officials are trying to make the process easier for soldiers who reclassify into new MOSs.

Airborne-qualified soldiers serving as cavalry scouts at Fort Liberty (who are also non-promotable sergeants) can reclassify as 11B Infantryman without training. Soldiers at other bases will be assigned to an Airborne position with their infantry reclassification.

“HRC and the armor branch and infantry branch have agreed that they can be an 11 Bravo the very next day and continue to remain on airborne status in the infantry at the 82nd Airborne Division,” Whitney said.

For cavalry scouts who would like to become 19C, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle Crewman, or 19K, the M1 Armor Crewman, they can also transition without training at Fort Moore. 

Opportunities for promotions, bonuses

To address the MOSs facing shortages, the Army is offering earlier promotions or selective retention bonuses. With the Army’s need for skills like cyber or air defense artillery, the service has also expanded the number of training seat opportunities for more flexibility.

Soldiers who are E4 and below can reclassify as the following positions and may receive selective retention bonuses between $4,300 and up to $72,000 depending on the MOS:

-Fire control specialist

-HIMARS crew member

-Patriot fire control operator/maintainer 

-Air defense battle system operator

-Air and missile defense crew

-Patriot launching station operator

-Electronic warfare specialist

-Bradley crewmember

-M1 Armor crewman 

-Network communication system specialist

-Petroleum supply specialist 

For current specialists and corporals seeking early promotion to Sergeant and a bonus, eligible MOSs include:

-Cannon crewmember

-Joint fire support specialist

-HIMARS crewmember 

-Electronic warfare specialist

-M1 Armor crewman 

-Counterintelligence agent

-Explosive ordnance disposal specialist 

Sergeants seen as having “high promotion potential” and a bonus can be reclassified as:

-HIMARS crewmember 

-M1 Armor crewman 

The latest on Task & Purpose