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Proposal for US Military MB

Update: 11-19–2020 After reading the suggestions this is where I’m at on requirements 3 and 4. There are a lot of really good suggestions and I’m trying to prioritize the ones consensus likes.

Here we go:

Requirement 1a: List the 6 Branches of the US Military (7 if you count the National Guard)

Requirement 1b: Choose one of the branches listed in 1a and write a brief description of that branch discuss with your MB Counselor why you chose that branch.

Requirement 2a: Discuss the role of the US. Reserves

Requirement 2b: Discuss the role of the US National Guard

Requirement 3a: Discuss the differences in enlisted, warrant officers, and commissioned officers.

Requirement 3b: Pick one branch of the military and list all ranks in that branch. (Not all branches have Warrant Officers)

Requirement 4: Discuss the following roles of US Military leadership:

a. President
b. Secretaries of the branches of the military
c. Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chairman of the JCS

MeritBadge_ProposalForm_512-130(16).pdf (181.8 KB)


Like I said, the odds are no MB proposal will get approved, but maybe we can kick around some ideas.

I know some folks are concerned about the fine line between being a Messenger of Peace and endorsing military action, but that’s all the more reason to hash out requirements collectively before someone submits it to BSA.

Several terms in our glossary have military origin: Scout, Patrol, Troop, Rank.

One requirement should ask to describe the similarities and differences between those terms in scouting and in the military.

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Unless it’s changed if an Eagle Scout enlisted in the military, he or she is eligible to enter as a E-3. I would call that significant.


if you want this to even be considered - avoid all comparisons of Scouting to Military - BSA has tried to move away from a militaristic viewpoint or operation. I do think this would be a good MB.

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I’m not sure what the purpose of submitting such a MB if you didn’t connect the two. Military service is not a dirty word. The military is a fine option for kids that choose not to go to college or for new college grads needing some job experience. In fact, I feel the military may be the best trade school programs in America.


I agree it is a noble and great career path - it is drawing line between the 2 that would crush the idea I believe. Let Scouting be Scouting and the Military be Military.

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As I mentioned in the other thread, one would have to be very careful that this doesn’t have the appearance of turning the Scouts BSA into a military recruiting program. Youth interested in joining the military have other youth organizations available to them – JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, and Sea Cadets, for example.

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as @Qwazse said:

Much of the Scout program clearly comes from a military structure. The Military has been a historical friend of Scouting probably since the beginning of the program. As “Ricky Bobby” might say to @DonovanMcNeil and @SteveCagigas “With All Due Respect” there is no need to have a military themed merit MB unless you talk about the historical connection the military has with Scouting. Many of the adults leaders are either duty or veterans. I never had to compete with a Scout that was doing Civil Air Patrol or JROTC…they still made the time because of the leadership and work ethic those program teachers compared to football or some other Sport. I am in the camp of embracing and even promoting stronger relations with the Military in ways that talk about the positives and not war-mongering themes.


It’s only e-2. 4 years of JROTC will get you e-3.

Aside from comparing terms in youth v, military scouting, I too would avoid references to youth scouting. We already have Scouting Heritage MB.

Some potential requirements that are more on-topic:

Visit a military museum or monument and meet with a military historian. Discuss one or more of the following:
Publicly available military records,
How facts about military actions are collected,
How military artifacts are collected and made safe for display,
When local historical societies meet,
How veterans organizations help local historians,
How public monuments to veterans are erected.

Define the following: joint operations, just war, enemy combatant, atrocities, land mines, restitution, and reparations.

Describe post-traumatic stress disorder and how it was understood over the history of our military. Talk about how to help someone with signs of PTSD.

Define unexploded ordinance, define what to do if you find one while hiking a wilderness area.


The oath of enlistment
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Esprit De Corps
legends and traditions
11 principles
Principles of war - Mass, Objective, Offensive, Security, Economy of Force, Maneuver, Unity of Command, Surprise, Simplicity
Pershing Rifles
The National Society of Pershing Rifles


I’m not sure I would delve into such esoteric topics. My thoughts are more along the line of historical, function of each branches, leadership and careers. While folks seem to want to avoid connecting Scout to the military I would certainly talk about how so many of the merit badges that the BSA offers has careers in the various branches. I don’t think discussing PTSD, atrocities are something an 11 year Scout needs to deal with.

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The more brainstorming I hear about this topic, the less in favor of it I am.

Talking about PTSD and atrocities is way too dark for 11 and 12 year olds.

@davidEPPS comments are way too far along the line of making this a recruiting effort.


Just my $.02 that I’d love to see this as a new merit badge and I can think of numerous scouts in both my kids’ troops that would do this as an elective. I think the requirements should focus on:

  1. What are the branches of the military, how they got started, and what their purpose is.
  2. Understanding various career fields available in the military
  3. Learning about a historical building or battle site in your community, and what role it played in the history of the US or your community.
  4. Learn about how the military defines leadership, and how leadership is trained and developed in the military
  5. Learn about a several military leaders, and how their leadership motivated others to accomplish something significant.
  6. Learn about military leaders who took what they learned and applied it to their post-military career
  7. Learn about a person in your family - or that you know - who served in the military. Interview them and report on what you learned.

In brief, the objectives of the MB are:

  1. What is the military, how it formed and why it’s relevant today
  2. Learn about military leadership and how this can be applied to your scouting experience and also in your daily life.
  3. Living history: learn from real people who served to gain a human perspective

Pretty good - I thing it needs the learn about careers available that almost every MB has as the last req

I like @PaulHoeffer’s focus on leadership. I would probably add to #4 “Learn about leadership training programs in Scouting. Discuss how demonstrating leadership in Scouting impacts the success of troop and patrol events.” That ties the idea of leadership development back into Scouting, and possibly gets some scouts more interested in (or at least creates more awareness of) advanced leadership training like NYLT and NAYLE.

I would also add something to @PaulHoeffer’s #5 along the lines of “The accomplishments need not be limited to combat actions, but could include peacetime deployments such as humanitarian aid missions.” I think that might get scouts thinking about the different types of missions the military undertakes beyond combat operations.

ETA: A lot of @WilliamC’s @PaulHoeffer’s suggested requirements overlap. I would probably add in the discussion of the Guard and Reserves to @PaulHoeffer’s #1.

@DonovanMcNeil, you’re thinking of reorganizing @PaulHoeffer’s #2 to fall last?

I like @Qwazse’s suggestions regarding the history aspects. Maybe those would fit well with @PaulHoeffer’s #3, either expanding #3 into a series of sub-requirements, or “renumbering” the subsequent requirements.

At the risk of sounding flippant about a real problem, while I think that learning to recognize and avoid UO can be an important life skill, I’m not sure that it (in and of itself) brings a lot to the topic of Military History.

I’m not sure I can get behind the idea of delving into some of the more grotesque events (war crimes, civilian casualties) and aftereffects (UO, landmines) of military action as part of a merit badge. While both real and important to learn about, I think that it might be too mature a subject matter for younger scouts to deal with in any meaningful way.

I do like the general idea of scouts looking at military actions and considering the ethical impacts of them, however. It’s a difficult subject, to be sure, even for adults. That said, I think that starting the thought process earlier about what exactly we ask the men and women in the armed services to do on our behalf, and the reasons for which we ask them to take these actions leads to a population much better able to understand the impacts of military action. I’m not quite sure how to phrase that as a requirement, though, without it coming off as either an endorsement or an indictment of military action.

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  1. Love the idea of including the Guard/Reserves. I was 10 years in the Guard/Reserves myself. Abashed I didn’t think about that part.
  2. Love also the concept that it doesn’t have to be a combat action. The US military does a lot of peace-time / humanitarian work and leadership lessons still apply there.

@CharleyHamilton, you bring up some great points and I’m not the best writer either. I’d have to think on how to word those up, but I bet someone who is skilled at it would be even better.

Lastly, I would avoid anything that involves war crimes, PTSD, etc. for the same reasons that type of thing is not called out in Indian Lore or Scouting Heritage.


Yeah, @WilliamC and I discussed it a bit in the original thread. Not sure I should get credit for it, since I really just meant to point out that @WilliamC’s mention of it in his post fit in well with your Req. #1.

This isn’t a competition for credit. :wink: What’s more significant is that it’s an idea that seems popular for this proposal.

As we discuss this proposed MB, I do want to talk about perceptions. I think a significant number of people that haven’t served or don’t know a lot about the service think the Military is about going to war.

According to Military.com 80% of the jobs in the military are non combatant. Most jobs in the military are “regular” jobs and not “warmongering” positions. Sure, if someone wants to be a combatant that opportunity is there. I’m not saying this as a recruiting pitch but rather than some perspective for people that don’t understand the military’s role of defense and support.

I like the way this discussion is going. It appears we’ve already identified some good points.

I personally would focus on what the branches of the military do, leadership skills, and what Scout skills could be expanded upon. For example, my dad was trained as a mechanic at a base in Germany during the Vietnam war. He wasn’t near combat, but it was a very important skill. My Grandfather was a cook in the navy. How does group cooking differ from individual cooking, like planning meals for a patrol and taking everyone’s needs into account and making large recipes on a budget. There’s lots of things that are good to learn that aren’t combat. Both my Grandfather (WWII) and my Dad (Vietnam) served during wartime, but neither was involved in combat. However without their service, those in combat would not have had what they needed to do their jobs and save lives. Every job, no matter how small, plays a part. Something like that. My 2 cents as a pacifist who loves the military and our troops.

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