[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        June 26, 2009
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Chaplain assistant MOS 
celebrating 100th year

In 1909, the same year Fort McCoy was being founded, the Department of Defense also recorded another noteworthy milestone by authorizing enlisted personnel to assist chaplains.

General Orders No. 253, War Department of Washington, D.C., established the chaplain assistant military occupational specialty (MOS) Dec. 28, 1909. The order allowed each chaplain to have one chaplain assistant.

The qualifications for the position were vague. Chaplain assistants were required to have high moral character, but there were no other prerequisites or general recognized criteria for performance, according to research conducted by Kelvin Davis of the Chief of Chaplains office.

The chaplain assistant MOS continued to have no vocational integrity until after World War II. During the Korean War in the 1950s, the 71B MOS was developed. Training was offered in four-week courses at Fort Dix, N.J., and Fort Ord, Calif. All trainees were volunteers who had completed nine weeks of basic combat training and nine weeks of clerk/typist advanced individual training.

Chaplain assistants roles became closer to the modern day version with the revision of Army Regulation 611-201 in August 1965, when the MOS was designated 71M and chaplainís assistants were given a job description and specific skill requirements.

The Unit Ministry Team (UMT) concept came into prominence in 1974. This was important because chaplains are considered noncombatants and, therefore, do not carry arms. Chaplain assistants provide protection for chaplains and coordinate force protection needs for the UMT program.

On Oct. 1, 2001, the chaplain assistant MOS changed from 71M to 56M, and chaplain assistants now serve in a stand-alone career management field.

Today, chaplain assistants perform many duties.

In addition to the clerical requirements, they need to support religious operations, missions and everyday requirements, be able to conduct specialized peer counseling for combat stress, and perform crisis intervention. They also must be capable of operating tactical vehicles and weapons systems.

(Information from U.S. Army Web site and Kelvin Davis, Chief of Chaplains Office.)

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