An infantry soldier is trained in combat skills and arms within an armed service, and forms the backbone of any modern military capability. Soldiers see service in all types of roles throughout the world, in peacetime, peacekeeping and warlike activities. The job is physically demanding and often involves operating within high-stress and dangerous environments.
Serving in the armed forces can be a challenging, exciting and rewarding career. While it may not be for everyone, serving as an infantry soldier will provide an experience unequalled in civilian employment. With a career such as this, it is worthwhile to do some research and check with serving or ex-serving members to gain a better understanding of the role, its commitment, and the risks involved.
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Infantry soldiers are trained to engage and neutralise enemy combatants in international armed conflicts, or as peacekeepers in international interventions. In times of peace, a soldier will spend their career honing their skills in training. When deployed, a soldier's duties may be to patrol areas for security or to seek out enemy combatants, post guard duty, conduct military attacks and defence, as well as escort and protective duties. A soldier will often carry specialised equipment and dress, such as their country's uniform, weapons, protective clothing/armour, and other gear pertinent to the task or degree of physical risk.
Infantry have the opportunity, where available, to train for specialised roles within their armed service, such as a sniper, in reconnaissance, special forces and heavy weapons.
Being a soldier is physically demanding. An average month for a soldier might include grueling exercise and physical activity (in gyms or group sessions), sports, army maneuvers and procedures which can involve long periods of walking with heavy equipment like packs, webbing, rifles and armor. While a soldier is physically conditioned to operate in this environment throughout basic and infantry-specific courses, it is still advisable to have a good level of fitness before considering this as a career move. Other considerations are the high-stress and dangerous environment that a soldier may be placed in.
Soldiers may be deployed in international conflicts to suppress, engage and neutralise enemy combatants, and as such there is an element of danger to the position. They must keep calm and professional in dangerous environments that can involve the operation and use of high explosives, firearms and heavy military equipment. As it is a job with a degree of harm involved, interested parties must acknowledge the risk of injury or death inherent in the position.
A soldier will start their career as a volunteer. Training times can vary, but all follow a general process. A civilian is accepted as suitable for a career in the military, after successfully completing a number of aptitude, psychological and physical examinations. These civilians - now referred to as recruits - are then sent on a basic training course for anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months. Skills a recruit learns on a basic training course consist of first aid, drill, history, ethos, small-arms proficiency, teamwork and minor tactics. It is a physically demanding course to complete, with recruits engaging in physical training, pack marches, obstacle courses and field activities, which generally involve field maneuvers, patrolling and section attacks. Recruits will learn how to operate and maintain small arms, as well as how to fire at targets and through simulated combat training (often using blank ammunition). After the successful completion of basic training, a soldier must then complete a job-specific training course, which can be between 4 weeks to 3 months. The course is far more physically and mentally demanding, with soldiers conducting field training for up to weeks at a time. After basic training and the training course a soldier will be posted to an infantry unit. Other options are that a soldier may proceed with further training, depending on the posting and the army. Soldiers may also complete fast ropes courses, paratrooper training, mechanized skills, or combat medical skills. From there, a soldier will be generally posted to an infantry unit. It is at this unit that a soldier will receive the rest of their training. This may include training in explosives, heavy weapons, survival, chemical and riot situations, close combat and urban combat situations.
Infantry see service within their armed forces all over the world. Domestically, they can be posted at a number of national locations and training facilities. Internationally, they may be deployed at a variety of locations, depending on international activity. A soldier might be deployed in international conflicts, as well as NATO, UN or another organisation's peacekeeping or humanitarian missions. A soldier's workplace can vary. There are tasks that are conducted within barracks environments, being duties, lessons or work parties, or else field training on ranges or in rehearsals. Soldiers are often traveling or in remote locations for much of their careers.
Salaries for soldiers are generally on a level with a civilian trade, yet other factors to take into consideration are the range of benefits a soldier receives, which when seen as a package, can be far higher than a civilian trade. Soldiers also receive allowances and additional bonus based on field service, being located away from their home, and for deployments.
Many soldiers receive a number of benefits, including free or reduced accommodation and meals, as well as healthcare and dental care. Many aspects of a soldier's life are taken care of so that they can focus on their roles. Often their spouses and dependants receive help in the form of housing assistance and support.