In combat, the U.S. Army utilizes two different types of scouts: the infantry scout and the cavalry scout. Both types of soldiers are specially trained to collect information about enemy forces and transmit it back to their superiors. Commanders need the information that scouts provide in order to fine-tune their battle plans. To become a scout, soldiers must be physically fit and able to work independently with minimal supervision.
The most obvious difference between these two types of scouts is the fact that they belong to two different branches of the Army. The infantry branch has the mission of actively engaging large enemy ground forces and capturing their territory. Since infantry units move slowly compared to cavalry units, their scouts only probe areas within close range. The information retrieved by infantry scouts is primarily used by infantry commanders.
On the other hand, the cavalry branch is designed to be a faster moving force, and therefore, their scouts are meant to move farther ahead of the main force to gain intelligence. Cavalry scouts primarily look for ambush points that could trip up tanks and tracked vehicles.
The Army classifies each job with an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) code. The MOS code for a cavalry scout is 19D. Infantry scouts do not have their own MOS code. Instead, soldiers enlist as an infantryman (MOS 11X) and later on train in a specialized position, one of which is scout. Both types of scouts do, however, go through a special form of basic training called One Station Unit Training (OSUT). OSUT is longer than regular basic training and combines basic training with advanced MOS-specific training. Calvary Scouts attend Cavalry OSUT at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Infantrymen attend Infantry OSUT at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The last major difference between the infantry scout and the cavalry scout is the equipment that they use. Traditionally, infantry soldiers travel by foot. For this reason, infantry scouts have to make sure that they only take what they can carry. Like other infantry soldiers, they carry their rifles, ammunition, food and water. However, scout teams also have to carry binoculars and scope for observation of enemy activity and communications equipment to ensure that they can transmit intelligence back to their superiors.
Cavalry scouts, on the other hand, move around via armored HMMWVs (Humvees). This allows them to travel farther and with more gear. In addition to the supplies an infantry scouts might have, cavalry scouts have high tech gear such as the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3). The LRAS3 is mounted on the roof of cavalry scout Humvees and is used to find the origin point of mortar and missile fire. With the LRAS3, scouts can quickly locate enemy attack forces, relay the information to tanks and track vehicles in the main cavalry force.
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