With a growing need for more Prime Power Production Specialists, the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment made the decision with the new fiscal year in October to open up the 12P military occupational specialty to the Army’s newest Soldiers.

Prime Power Production Specialists are taught at Fort Leonard Wood’s U.S. Army Prime Power School and are the Army’s only medium-voltage specialists. They perform electrical assessments, facilities maintenance and quality assurance and quality control operations — they serve as liaison officers and technical advisors to military commanders, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal organizations.

Previously, the MOS was only open to Soldiers with an existing MOS, who met the prerequisites to reclassify as a 12P.

According to USAPPS 1st Sgt. Donald Cully, there are a number of reasons this was a welcome change.

The 12P MOS is now required in more locations, and in larger numbers, Cully said, and the new policy provides additional “bandwidth of where we can get applicants.”

“We’re starting to catch up with some of that growth, and that’s what we’re really hoping to see — this MOS get healthy as far as from an inventory perspective,” Cully said.

Another advantage to come, he added, is the potential for a stronger 12P NCO Corps in the future.

“To grow a 12P organically from the ground up — from that private first class or specialist level — we certainly foresee that when they get to be those staff sergeants, instead of being relatively new from the school, from an in-service pipeline, we’ve got these Soldiers with years of operational experience,” Cully said. “I think it’s reasonable to expect that we’re going to see that pay dividends in just the quality of NCO we have and just the level of their experience.”

Cully noted the qualifications and capabilities of what he called “off-the-street accessions” Soldiers in the 12P MOS remain the same.

“They will field the same missions and the same locations,” he said. “For right now, they train concurrent with the standard pipeline, receive all the same training, certifications and have the same capabilities when they leave.”

Individuals who join the Army to become a 12P attend one station unit training at Fort Leonard Wood, and first attain the 12B MOS, Army Combat Engineer. Cully described the process as similar to “having an Airborne follow-on in your contract.”

“Provided you meet the physical standards and all the qualifications, you would go from OSUT straight into the Airborne qualifying — it’s very similar to that,” he said. “They get contracted as a 12 Bravo, with the follow-on promise of the 12P, unless any of the prerequisites are not met.”

The process of training to become a 12P takes about one year, Cully said, and includes one of three additional skill identifiers, which is a qualification a Soldier possesses beyond their primary MOS.

“Every 12P will have some specialty, and there’s a level of cross-training and sharing of knowledge that happens operationally,” he added.

Currently, two active-duty Soldiers are set to graduate in May — they each initially joined before the policy change and had different MOS contracts — with nine more accessions Soldiers each in two concurrent classes and five in a class set to begin in April. Cully said that averages out to about a third of each class being made up of new Soldiers.

One of the two on track to complete the course in just a few months’ time is 25-year-old Pfc. Dallin Beals, from North Ogden, Utah, who said he was drawn to the Army for the occupational training and education benefits.

“I was working full time for a few years after I graduated high school, and when I was deciding on a career path, I thought I could find a good opportunity in the Army,” he said, noting with pride the “diverse career portfolio” he is building. “That’s one of the best parts of this — your trade will always be in demand. There will always be a need for somebody with these skills.”

Beals said he has found the course “quickly paced,” but he is enjoying the challenge.

“The school is as hard as anyone makes it out to be,” he added. “If you’re willing to put in the time and effort it takes to study and to make sure that you’re learning and understanding the material, you’ll be fine.”

And as far as the new policy goes, Beals said he also sees benefits to bringing the Army’s newest Soldiers into the 12P MOS.

“My background with calculus and geometry, physics, everything from high school, it helped,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for trying something new and bringing in some of those that are fresh out of graduating high school and are eager to serve — and who are probably a little more fluent in some of the basic mathematics that are associated with this course.”

By Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office