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