So You So Want My Job: Army Scout

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 21, 2009 · 40 comments

in Money & Career, So You Want My Job


Once again we return to our So You Want My Job series, in which we interview men who are employed in desirable jobs and ask them about the reality of their work and for advice on how men can live their dream.

Today we hear from one of the dedicated men serving our country in the Armed Forces. Caleb DeArmas is a Cavalry Scout in the US Army who will soon be sent back to Iraq for another tour of duty. Thank you for your service to our country, Caleb and thank for particpating in our SYWMJ series!

To learn more about Corporal DeArmas, you can check out his blog.

1. Tell us a little about yourself (Where are you from? Where did you go to school? How old are you? Describe your job and how long you’ve been at it).

My name is Caleb DeArmas.  I’m 23 years old from Orlando, FL and I’m a Corporal in the United States Army.

I’ve been in the Army as a Cavalry Scout since 2006 and was sent to Iraq in 2007.  I’m headed back to Iraq in about 6 weeks.

As a scout my job is to move around the battlefield to gather intelligence on all aspects of the fight in order to help the commanders build a better picture of what is happening on the ground.  However, due to the dynamics of the fight in Iraq I spend most of my time fulfilling an Infantry type role.  I go on patrols and raids and all the stuff you see soldiers do in the movies.

2. Why did you want to join the Army? When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?

In January of 1991 I was a 5 year old kid sitting on the floor in my living room watching Operation Desert Storm unfold every night on CNN.  From that point on I never wanted to do anything else, much to my parents’ dismay.

After 9/11 my desire to join was only further fueled.  I felt and still feel that as an American citizen it was my responsibility to my country to sacrifice a few years in order to defend her.

3. If man wants to become an Army Scout, how should he best prepare? How much choice does the Army give you in what kind of job you are put in?

One of the great things about the Army – the reason I chose it over other branches – is that you are guaranteed your job upon enlistment.  Given you make it through Basic Training.   Unfortunately, these days everyone makes it through, and it is up to the unit to weed out the ones who don’t cut it.

The best preparation for the job is rather simple.  Run. Do pushups. Repeat.

Physical fitness is key to making it through Basic Training.  Don’t worry though, if you want to go into the Army but can’t do any pushups, they’ll take you.  And you will be able to do pushups when you’re done with Basic. Lots of ‘em.

The one thing I wish I had prepared better for was the ruck marching (marching around with a 35-40 lb backpack ranging from 3k-25k).  The Army understands that most guys aren’t going to walk around their neighborhoods with weighted backpacks to train, so you work your way up in distances and weights. But it is definitely something to get used to.

4. How competitive is it to get a job as an Army Scout?

As long as you score high enough on the ASVAB (the military’s version of the SAT) and you don’t have any major criminal issues in the past, it’s pretty much guaranteed – at least in title.  Everyone who joins the Army to be a Cavalry Scout will go to Fort Knox, KY to train to be a Cav Scout.  The real test is when you are sent to a unit.  If we get a soldier who just doesn’t cut it we’ll simply get rid of him. That could mean anything from sticking him at a desk to push paperwork to kicking him out of the Army.

5. What sets a candidate apart from others when he’s applying?

Physical fitness.  It’s the number one killer of soldiers across the Army.  If you can’t pass a PT Test (2 minutes pushups, 2 minutes sit-ups and 2 mile run) then you’ll never make rank or be given opportunities to succeed.

6. What is the best part of the job?

There are several but my favorite would be the fact that I get paid to drive around sitting behind a .50 caliber machine gun all day.  It’s almost like being in the movies.

7. What is the worst part of the job?

There are 2 major drawbacks to being a Scout.  The first – it is a deadly job.  It is a very real fact that when we do our job we might not make it home at the end of the day, but it is a price we are all willing to pay.

The second is the fact that I only get to do my job when I’m deployed.  While in the States in between rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, we spend a lot of time doing mundane things like working on trucks and cleaning weapons.  They are very necessary things, as is all of the training we conduct in the States, but most guys will agree with me- you don’t feel like a Scout until you’re outside the wire in some far off country sitting in an OP (Observation Post) trying to catch the bad guys at work.

8. What is the biggest misconception people have about the job?

That we run around shooting and causing a ruckus all the time.  Most of the time I am performing some kind of maintenance on my equipment or being so bored that I actually wish someone would try and blow me up – just to relieve the boredom.

9. What is the work/family balance like?

It depends on where you are in the deployment cycle.  Immediately prior to and after deployment most commanders try and give you as much time with your family as possible, however during deployment I’ll only see my wife once for 15 days out of 12 months. During the training cycle before deployment it’s almost like a regular 9-5 unless you’re out in the field.  Field problems range from overnight to 30 days.

10. What is the hierarchy like in the Army? How does one “move up” in the job?

Promotion through the early ranks is guaranteed after a certain amount of time. However a commander may deny promotion or delay it due to discipline issues or PT failure.

In order to become a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) you have to be selected.  There is a promotion board which tests you on your job knowledge as well as overall Army knowledge.  Upon passing the board everything you’ve accomplished in the Army is assigned a point value and if you have enough Promotion Points, you are promoted.

11. Any other advice, tips, or anecdotes you’d like to share?

I encourage anyone who wants to experience the Army to try it.  I have only once regretted my decision (the first time my truck was blown up), and I go to work excited every day.

For anyone who’s interested in seeing the kinds of thing that happen to a regular ground pounder in Iraq you can check my blog.

I haven’t updated much since the last deployment, but I try to update weekly when I’m “down range.”

If anyone wants to know how to support the guys that are already in country feel free to email me or leave a comment on my blog, and I will readily send you an address to a soldier or an organization looking for support.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael October 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Thank you for continuing to fight for our freedom Caleb and thank you for the info.

2 David October 22, 2009 at 12:43 am

Cav Scout not mentioning earning the spurs? haha, proud holder of both silver and brass spurs here!

also, scouts can wear stetsons to work on friday, pretty sweet gig, especially when everyone else is wearing a french beret.

3 Brian Driggs October 22, 2009 at 12:59 am

I grew up the son of an NCO. Dad made his way to SGM and was something like Senior Enlisted Advisor for 7A&USAREUR. When Desert Storm broke out, we lived off base in Heidelberg, Germany and, while we watched the constant reporting on Headline News in our classrooms, there were enlisted Joes up on the roof watching over us.

Years went by, Dad retired (caught one of the more lucrative early-out deals, fortunately), and he made a point of “translating” what the recruiters were promising me. I ended up dropping out of community college and wasting a decade going nowhere, but I digress.

There are plenty of people out there who disagree with the war and our troops being involved, but I know there are still plenty of people out there who, like me, appreciate the sense of honor and duty found in our servicemen and women. I’m glad to hear that you guys are able to enjoy your work at least some of the time.

Today, I’m old enough that enlisting would be a stretch, but being out of the military for so long has only made me appreciate even more how much I consider the Army my extended family. You are all important and I’m damn ashamed that I didn’t sign up to be there by your side. You do us all proud and we hope for your safe return when the mission is over.

4 UB October 22, 2009 at 1:10 am


Real men listen, whereas boys can’t help but just “hear” …

Caleb, at 23, seems to be as articulate and dedicated to his job as any man could be. Where you hear anything “boy”-ish in this interview is a mystery.

Thanks for the insights Caleb and all the best on your missions!

5 Brian October 22, 2009 at 10:01 am

“I have only once regretted my decision (the first time my truck was blown up)”

Makes the coffee maker not working seem more like the mild inconvenience that it is.

6 James October 22, 2009 at 11:52 am

I’m sorry guys. Caleb does sound like he is probably a dedicated soldier and a credit to his uniform/country – but what he describes is a sad indictment of the quality of recruits serving in the US armed forces. Selection?

“Don’t worry though, if you want to go into the Army but can’t do any pushups, they’ll take you

Doesn’t sound like it.

7 Kyle October 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm

James, I think the sad indictment is on American men. The Army can’t be selective because not enough men want to serve their country anymore.

8 Steve October 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

@ James,

Cpl DeArmas is referring to being able to do pushups before going to basic training. You can bet that recruits get plenty of “opportunities to excel” while at basic to work on their pushups. When I went to Air Force basic, I could do about 20. When I graduated, I did 45. I’ve been in for 12 years…now I can pretty much do pushups until YOUR arms get tired :) Rest assured that even though the American public provides slim pickin’s when it comes to quality entrants these days, our fighting men and women in the Smokey Bear hats (drill sergeants/training instructors) shape up those sorry sacks quick, fast, and in a hurry!

9 Steve October 22, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Oh, and Caleb…keep your head down over there. If you need an airstrike, give us a call!

10 Brian October 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm

As a spur holding former 19D (now 11A- complete lapse of judgement) I have to say that being a Cav Scout is the best job in the Army. I learned more about working on diesel engines than I thought possible. While the motorpool is monotonous and mundane, getting out to do the recon makes it all worthwhile. While in Iraq we were given a lot of leeway to do the job, all that mattered were the results.
Hooah CPL DeArmas, keep your senses sharp!
Scouts Out!

11 Craig October 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Well, sorry to say this, but I found several aspects of this chilling. Best part of the job is getting to sit behind a machine gun every day – and the various references to “being in a movie”. Son, you’re an invader of a country that did nothing to you (have people not realised that 911 had nothing to do with Iraq, and that the WMD thing was a big lie?), and the people at the other end of that gun aren’t extras, they’re humans. I do hope you keep that in mind. Disassociation in a situation like yours isn’t healthy.

I do hope that posts aren’t being edited here to only the pro-war ones. There seem to be references here to an earlier post I can’t find (one mentioning boyishness). Sorry – but this article calls for civilised debate. It’s our civic duty, as men, to speak to issues we don’t agree with.

12 America's 1stSgt October 22, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Craig, while I think some of the young Corporal’s remarks somewhat immature (he is only 23) I find some of your comments equally alarming. Yes the people at the other end of the gun are humans; evil ones. The difference between the American armed forces and the insurgency? Americans don’t cut people’s fingers off for smoking tobacco; Americans don’t rape Iraqi women and call it marriage; Americans don’t run murder/intimidation campaigns to gain control of neighborhoods; Americans don’t recruit children to plant explosives. The disassociation is appropriate because the people we are killing there need to be eliminated. As a matter of fact we go to great lengths and a considerable amount of personal danger in an effort not to kill people in any give escalation of force scenario.

Whether 9/11 had anything to do with Iraq is a debate for another time. Troops like Corporal DeArmas have a job to do RIGHT NOW and don’t have the time or luxury to worry about anyone’s politics half way around the world.

13 Michael S October 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm

We in the military, no matter the branch, go where we are told to go. If the president, no matter who, told us to invade Mexico then we invade Mexico. This is not about Iraq, it is about being a Cav Scout; his job currently puts him in Iraq. I just returned from Afghanistan but have gone to Iraq and I went because I was told “Go”. Again, it isn’t about Iraq but his job.

14 dannyb October 22, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Hold your head high buddy, your doing a job that most couldn’t. Keep your attitutude positve and come home in one piece. The atttiude you have seems to be the right one, as it will help keep you and the buddy next to you alive.

Delta Company, 4th Platoon, Disney Barraks, Ft. Knox Kentucky. 1998

15 Charles October 22, 2009 at 9:53 pm

“Well, sorry to say this, but I found several aspects of this chilling. Best part of the job is getting to sit behind a machine gun every day.”

What’s the best part of your job, Craig? Eating donuts in the break room?

This is about a man’s job and I don’t think any man has the right to critique another man’s job. I’m glad there are men like Caleb who can get excited about being a soldier so guys who aren’t as brave (me) and ass hats like Craig don’t have to serve.

Kudos to you for doing your duty and doing it was honor. I’m not a fan of war but I have the deepest respect for those that fight them.

16 Craig October 22, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Hey America’s1stSgt and Michael,

Firstly, thanks for responding with civility even though we disagree on a number of points. I have a number of friends serving in Iraq/Afghanistan at the moment. The freedom to swap differing ideas is at the core of the society they’re ostensibly protecting.

The tension here is between big picture and little picture views. The big picture is a disturbing political landscape that has put soldiers in a place where they have no moral right to be. No – those people at the end of our machine guns aren’t evil. Most of the Iraquis killed have been innocent civilians, and yes, I’m aware of the guerilla tactics and human shield approaches that make that almost inevitable in modern urban warfare. But we knew that would be the case going in (that most of the deaths would be people whose only crime was being poor, and in a country that has some political/economic benefits to disrupting) and went in anyway. The little picture is, of course, the men and women of the armed forces who go where they are told and serve with what honour can be found within a dishonourable conflict.

Caleb – as has quite rightly been pointed out here, you have every right to be proud of your job, vital as it is. Serve with honour and also with compassion. You go and do what you’re told to do, and my anger is more reserved for those who make these kinds of choices that put lads like you in the place you are now. But you’re not in a movie. Not even close.

Charles, you’re a tad off base there mate. I’ve actually worked in several war zones myself, but let’s not let that get in the way of your assumptions :)

17 Michael S October 23, 2009 at 9:00 am

What I’m getting at from my previous post and this one is that this specific article is about a young man being a Cav Scout; if you wish to discuss Iraq we should do so in the appropriate forum.

18 Craig October 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Fair enough, Michael. That’s it from me.

19 Brandon October 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm

“Americans don’t cut people’s fingers off for smoking tobacco” I’m trying to figure out where this came from. I did two years in Iraq (OIF I & IV) and from what I saw (especially during OIF I when we had a little more freedom to roam around the local towns and such) it was like an episode of Mad Men, everyone smokes. Small children were on the side of the roads with cigarette stands. I was a medic and we did a lot of work with local hospitals and clinics and it amazed me that you would go into these places and there’d be 20-30 people in the waiting room, all smoking. I’m keeping my opinions to myself on the rest of the discussion, but I just had to point this out

20 James J. October 26, 2009 at 4:08 pm


I believe he is referring to the Taliban in Afghanistan. I don’t know about cutting off fingers for smoking, but they recently cut off some women’s fingers just for voting:

…and there’s plenty of documented cases of hands being cut off, women being stoned, etc ect.

21 John October 27, 2009 at 8:32 pm

“I have only once regretted my decision (the first time my truck was blown up)”

I laughed so hard.

22 Rick October 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

Thanks for your service, Cpl!! And thats a great mustache you’re toting! HOOAH!

GW1 Vet 1991

23 America's 1stSgt October 28, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Brandon, what I was referring to were cases we were told about of AQI enforcing their brand of Islamic law on neighborhoods they controlled. Iraqis themselves smoke, drink liquor, hang out at night clubs, you name it. My point was the difference between how Americans and the insurgents conduct business. To me it seemed that Craig was insinuating that those “on the other end of the gun” were somehow innocent bystanders when in fact the people we are fighting are not nice folks.

24 George November 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm

As a Cav Scout who’s served in 3 different decades, I gotta say it’s the best job you can ever do. Glad there are Soldiers like CPL DeArmas to stand in the ranks.

25 Charlie November 20, 2009 at 9:24 am

I was a 19D & NCO, served in Bosnia and Kuwait. There’s no limit to what you can do with your career as a scout (you can be attached to infantry units, cavalry units, etc., you can go to jump school, air assault school, sniper school, even ranger school, you can get your master gunnery, your spurs, sapper, etc.) – and even if you decide not to do any of that extra stuff, the basic job of being a scout (recon) is challenging all on its own. From learning how to conduct reconnaissance to operating all the different types of communications equipment (the radio is a scout’s best friend), there’s really a lot of stuff to learn, perfect, and maintain.

It’s the greatest job in the military, hands down, and it taught me a lot about people, it put historical events into perspective for me, and most of all, it helped me learn a lot about myself. I can honestly say it made me a much better man and I miss the Army every day.

Scouts Out!

26 Ben Nelson November 23, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Brian, there are people like me as well. I do not support the war in any shape way or form, but I support the poor bastards out there fighting it.

I’ve sent several care packages out and the like.

You have my respect for doing what you think and feel is the right thing. The people who did your job before you have my respect for allowing me to feel this way.

27 chris November 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I am considering joining the army again active duty. Im prior service and have a total of 22 yrs service, 12 towards retirement. Im now 43 yrs young.

At the moment I hold 3 army mos`s, ( 12B, 11B, 92Y), however if I can I would like to re-up as a 19D cav scout. My other choice would be 88H cargo specialist.

My question is this; Am I too old to be a 19D? I realize I will probable have to lose a stripe coming back in too, so I will be an E-4. Should I just forget about the hooah stuff at this point in my life and just be a cargo pusher? I still have the fire in my gut, but I know I would be around a bunch of young kids in the 19D career field. Anybody have any words for me?

28 Anon December 30, 2009 at 9:14 pm

“In war, everyone’s a casualty.”

29 Dennard January 15, 2010 at 12:01 am

Thank you for serving our country, Corporal DeArmas!

30 JamesDX February 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Anyone know how to do things like this?

31 Bill Lemaster March 14, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I just read your post. I know exactly what your saying. I spent 11 years as a Cavalry Scout. 1/10 Cav.-1/9 Cav.-3/5 Cav.-1/72 Armor-1/35 Armor. I hope you are doing well.-BILL

32 Keith March 18, 2010 at 10:18 am

You guys are making me feel old. I served three years as a cavalry scout, got out in 1980. Served mostly in 1/6 Inf but was attached at times to 11th Cav. Back then we were called Armor Reconnaissance Specialists, that was the official title, but every called us scouts or recon. The MOS designation then was 11D. The MOS and name changed to 19D around 1979. I eventually became a SGT and those three years were the best of my life. The job can be dangerous as hell there are definitely easier ways to make a living but if you love excitement and having a job that is different every day and requires you to think on your feet or at a full run. This is the job. Great training and a job that will hold your attention and doing things that most people can’t even imagine.

Thanks to all of you that have served for your service.

33 Keith March 18, 2010 at 10:28 am

Hey Chris,

I remember seeing the First Sergeants and other senior NCO’s in my unit. They were 40 and as a young guy they looked old. I don’t mean through 20 year old eyes either. They were beat up. The combat arms field is a tough way to make a living. Lots of field time, lots of body abuse. Going in as an E-4 at 43 expecting to get another 8 years, if that is your intention in a combat MOS, is going to be rough. I would push cargo for my final 8. But on the upside. You are prior service attempting to go back in, in war time. Try to keep your stripes. You might be able to keep them but you might have to fight hard. Even if you can’t. You have all that time in service so they can always waive the time in grade for your next promotion.

Best of luck whatever you decide to do.

34 Ben Maddox April 14, 2010 at 10:13 pm

I’m an old man of 65, and I served as a draftee in 1965-67. I can say that the Army was boring, and I was happy to get out 5 days after my unit shipped out for Nam. The other side is that I sometimes wish I had enlisted to stay with my company, 2nd Bn., 506th Inf., 101st Airborne. That being said, after the war protests died down; and I got over being pissed off about the way they treated men who answered their call to duty and served honorably–I have no regrets. I’m proud, and this young soldier will become more proud than I for his service. He and others like him deserve our respect, because they choose to follow the tradition of those who don’t look for the easiest way to live. Willingly doing their duty to protect and preserve our wonderful country. Scoffers, cynics and self-proclaimed patriotic protestors still find themselves aligned with malingerers and cowards.

35 Hiwayman June 22, 2010 at 11:57 pm

My war was Nam. Southern I Corp,Americal Div. 1/1 Cav 11d.1970. IF YOU AIN’T CAV…….YOU AIN’T CHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………..BLACKHAWKS!!!

36 Cody February 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Meh, he really didn’ talk too much about what scouts do. The fact that every real scout sees himself as a stout, highly trained professional killer and female idol, is covered in a rakish black stetson, and always on time due to the fantastic reliability of his seiko watch. There are so many more aspects of the job that could have been expanded upon. Maybe that’s because they interviewed a Corporal, and not a Sergeant or Section Sergeant/ Senior Scout who has more experience?

37 chris July 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I think the most important thing here…Is how bad ass his mustache is. A manly job with a manly mustache? You Caleb are a manly man.

38 Lance July 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm

The information you stated was very interesting in helping me make my decision. I already wanted to enlist in the Army, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to join Infantry or Cav. Scout. My recruiter recommended Cav. Scout and said most people want that position. If you can email me some of your experiences in that position while on base and deployed, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you for serving our country!

39 Rob B July 30, 2013 at 6:47 am

Fitness Standards in the US army do worry me, even the USMC standards seem a little soft.
The British Army’s standards are harder and I could meet them even now, despite doing only intermittent exercise and working in an office.
Thank heavens for grizzled drill instructors, but what happens after that generation retires?
I imagine it will be up to overweight women and college sociology graduates to prepare men for combat.

40 Mark December 17, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I’m an infantry scout sniper. If you want respect once you’re in the Army Lance, go with the infantry.Then if you’re good enough you’ll get selected to be a scout, an infantry scout.

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