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What Is a Sapper in the US Army?

Have you heard of a “sapper?” It’s a term used frequently by U.S. Army soldiers and other military servicemembers. To the average civilian, though, it’s difficult to surmise what exactly the term “sapper” means. In this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at sappers in the Army, revealing the role and importance they play in carrying out military missions.

Overview of Sapper

In the Army, a sapper is a military support expert or combat engineer who assists the front-line infantry divisions. While sappers often perform direct combat operations when necessary, this isn’t their primary objective. Rather, they are designed to support soldiers on the front line. Sappers are the brave men and women of the U.S. Army who help the countless other soldiers achieve their shared objective.

According to Wikipedia, sappers have fought in every war in which the Army has been engaged. Even during the Battle of Yorktown, for example, sappers from the French Army proved instrumental in helping the United States win the Revolutionary War. Since then, the U.S. Army has employed sappers in all of its wars.

Common tasks performed by sappers include the following:

  • Demolitions
  • Mine detection and removal
  • Surveillance and scouting
  • Preparing defenses
  • Building roads and bridges
  • Requesting airstrikes
  • And much more…

How to Become a Sapper

There are certain steps that Army recruits must take to become a sapper, including graduating from the sapper course. Organized by the U.S. Army Engineer School at Missouri’s Fort Leonard, the 28-day course teaches recruits the skills needed to become a sapper in the Army. Among other things, it focuses on small unit tactics and leadership skills. The sapper course is available to all enlisted soldiers of the Army with a grade of E through 4 (P). And while recruits can come from a variety of combat or support branches, the Army prioritizes sappers from engineering, cavalry and infantry divisions.

After graduating the sapper course, recruits are awarded a special military badge called a Sapper Tab. This badge indicates that they’ve passed the course and are now an official sapper. The Sapper Tab is held with high esteem in the U.S. Army. It shows that the soldier has passed the grueling and intensive 28-day course. Therefore, you’ll often see sappers proudly displaying the Sapper Tab on their uniform.

You can learn more about sappers and how to become one by visiting the U.S. Army’s official website here.

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