Army Job: MOS 13B Cannon Crewmember

Howitzer 105mm light guns are lined up at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, ready for test firing.
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Army Cannon Crewmembers are part of the Artillery Career Field (13) and responsible for firing howitzer cannons in support of infantry and tank units during combat. The cannon crewmember is a vital role in any combat situation, and it's categorized as a military occupational specialty (MOS) 13B. These soldiers load and fire howitzers, set fuse and charge on a variety of munitions, including high explosive artillery rounds, laser-guided projectiles, mines, and rocket assisted projectiles.

These are not your typical cannons, but some of the most technologically advanced weapons and projectiles every created. From laser guided explosives to the new Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) that can reach ranges of over 70km (over 40 miles), these cannon crewmembers are taking the battle to the front lines with world class fire support that can not necessarily be classified as indirect fire anymore. Precision is the name of the game in today's artillery community.

The cannon is one of many country's military arsenal for hundreds of years. Whether land based with the Army and Marine Corps, ship based with the Navy, and even airplane based (AC-130 Gunship) in the Air Force, cannons, howitzers, and mortars have been an effective method of long range weaponry.

American troops, mostly soldiers and Marines, have used howitzers in some form or other since the Civil War, but the weapon dates back to the 17th century. Howitzer is a term used to describe a cannon or short-barreled gun that propels medium-sized projectiles over high trajectories. Most often, a howitzer's projectile has a steep descent angle, making it useful over short and medium length distances.

Duties of Cannon Crewmembers

These soldiers have an assortment of duties which include maintaining howitzers and helping combat missions succeed. They identify target locations (target acquisition), participate in reconnaissance operations/ intelligence, and make wire and radio communications. 

Cannon crewmembers operate self-propelled howitzers, ammunition trucks and other vehicles used to transport howitzers and troops. They use computer-generated data to set cannon tubes to be loaded and fired, often under intense enemy fire or other combat conditions. 

These soldiers frequently operate in low-light and nighttime environments, using infrared and night vision to determine the placement of howitzers and supporting equipment. They'll use a variety of weapons other than howitzers, including machine guns, grenades, and rocket launchers, in both offensive and defensive positions. 

You'll be successful in this job if you are interested in cannon operations, can make decisions under pressure (especially in combat situations) and work well as part of a team.

Training to be MOS 13B

After nine weeks of Basic Training (boot camp), you'll take 14 weeks of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. This training, divided between the field and the classroom, will include learning methods of calculating targets manually and with instruments.

They also learn how to safely handle ammunition, how to operate guns, missile and rocket systems and artillery tactics. And as with all combat troops, if you enlist as MOS 13B, you'll learn battle strategy and combat survival skills.

Most importantly, you'll learn how to handle, load and unload howitzers, set fuses, and prepare charges. Maintaining the howitzer will also be among your duties in this MOS. 

Qualifying for MOS 13B

To be eligible for this Army job, you'll need a score of at least 93 in the field artillery (FA) area of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests. There's no Department of Defense security clearance needed, but you must have normal color vision. 

Civilian Careers Similar to MOS 13B

Due to its role in combat, there isn't a direct equivalent to cannon crewmember in the civilian workforce. However, the skills you learn could be useful in a variety of non-military jobs. Since you will be trained to drive heavy vehicles, you could drive a truck or bus, or work as a mechanic on diesel engine vehicles.

There is also the option to apply to be a security guard or police officer since you will be trained to use weapons. These jobs obviously would have additional qualifying tests and requirements, but your Army training will position you well to begin the process.