In the Army, we battle more about whose branch is superior than we do about who has to eat the vegetarian omelette MRE. The infantry, of course, are the most aggressive in asserting their primacy over all others. That is, until special forces rolls in and glares at them over their beards. Cavalry and armor will always attempt to out-strut the other branches, spurs a-jingle. Field artillerists will boom on about the King of Battle while aviators just pretend that they don’t care – but they do.
Really, we shouldn’t get too wrapped up in it because while we get to pick our top choices of branch, a higher authority than we sorts us out and places us where the Army wishes: Human Resources Command (HRC).
If you had to think about it in geek terms, HRC is basically the Sorting Hat of the Army. Which leads us to then wonder; if HRC is the sorting hat, what branches are each of the Houses?
I was hoping that you’d ask that.
Brave, loyal, courageous to the point of stupidity, noble for silly reasons, and really kind of annoying – but they always arrive to save the day. See, you’d think I would’ve said infantry, but have you hung out with the infantry lately? Nobility comes third or fourth on the Infantry Hierarchy of Needs, somewhere behind nicotine and profanity. Armor might come next, but they don’t quite have that level of “we’re better than you” that all Gryffindors need to have. That leaves the cavalry. And man, if there was ever a branch based on doing bravely stupid things, it’s Cav. And as for annoying, have you seen their Stetsons and spurs? Doesn’t matter if they’re in a track or in a helo, Cav is gonna let you know they’re around – and somehow ride in to save the day, in spite of themselves.
Ravenclaws are the smart ones, the ones who managed to get an ASVAB score that did not equate to eating crayons and licking the proverbial windows. They’re highly intelligent, goals and rules oriented, but don’t really care all that much for friendships or, well, emotions. You may be inclined to think signal corps on this one, given that there is so much nerdiness inherent in being a Ravenclaw. However, most signal soldiers don’t have quite the cold level of analytical calculation that Ravenclaws are known for. Plus, can you imagine a Ravenclaw pounding a Mountain Dew Code Red? No, there can only be one branch that produces such gleaming intellectuals who are really overrated but overcompensate for it with charts and graphs: military intelligence. If you doubt me, engage one in conversation. You’ll run screaming faster than you can say “wingardium leviosa.”
Now who doesn’t love a Hufflepuff? Kinda mentally slow, but tremendously loyal with a keen appreciation for naps on overstuffed furniture. They’re not much to look at but they get the job done. Anti-air defense artillery springs to mind when you think Hufflepuff at first, but no one can remember the last time they even saw an ADA soldier. They’re mythical, kind of like finding a warrant officer that’s actually working. Transportation corps is also out the window, because who could ever find an 88M lovable and cuddly? Quartermaster corps might fall into this category, except they keep screaming at you when you take their stuff. Really, the true Hufflepuffs have to be the engineers. They’re decidedly not glamorous given that they’re usually covered in some sort of dirt. No matter where you go in your Army life, there’s sure to be an engineer Hufflepuff around to help you out whether you asked them to or not.
See, no one really openly admits to wanting to be a Slytherin, but many people secretly do: usually Ravenclaws and Gryffindors who are a little bit too close to the power-hungry side. Because Slytherins are all about that power and they don’t really care how they can get it. They will use any sources at their disposal to get it and hang on to it. They are manipulative, duplicitous, and usually have excellent taste in wearing dark clothes. Which is why most Slytherins in the Army can be found in the adjutant general corps or in finance. Because in the Army – as with everywhere else in life – true power lies in the coils of bureaucratic paperwork. Chemical corps is in here as well, merely because they take an absurd delight in subjecting everyone else to their gases. Military police would fall in here as well, but they’re far too much like Gryffindor in spirit and Hufflepuff in action. But if you want to see the true heart of Slytherin in the Army, you need look no further than civil affairs. No one knows what they do or where they go, but they are everywhere – and always with the nicest things and best assignments.
Really, just about every branch of the Army falls into one or more of these categories. Medical services, for example, is a combination of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff while the judge advocate general is about 90% Slytherin and 10% Ravenclaw. Field artillery is an awkward mix of 50% Gryffindor and 50% Hufflepuff. Awkward indeed. It all comes down to where the Sorting Hat sends you – except in the Army, the Sorting Hat kinda has a problem: HRC is totally in Slytherin.
So every time you’re given your next assignment or are forced to do a branch transfer, just remember that Voldemort is totally the one looking over your packet. And eventually losing it.
And SF? Well…you’re going to have to refer that one to the Ministry of Magic, aka, the Pentagon.
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About the Author: Angry Staff Officer is an Army engineer officer who is adrift in a sea of doctrine and staff operations and uses writing as a means to retain his sanity. He also collaborates on a podcast with Adin Dobkin entitled War Stories, which examines key moments in the history of warfare.