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Posted: 4/6/2001 9:23:49 AM EDT
I am currently a college student graudating this May in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  

I am confused as to what to do with my life.  I am looking into going in the Army or Air Force.  My thinking is that if I go into the Army I've already been guaranteed Airborne infantry with Ranger school if I go enlisted.  Another option is to go in as an officer.  The third option involves going into the Air Force as an officer.

My understanding is, if I go Army I'm basically looking for adventure and doing cool stuff.  Would that better fit me as an enlistee or an officer? If I go Air Force, I'll be more in tuned with tech stuff and have a brighter prospect in the civilian world later on in what my major deals with.

Link Posted: 4/6/2001 9:25:32 AM EDT
doh!  I forgot to post my question.

Could you post comments and experiences in those particular fields of the military?  Thanks.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 9:34:53 AM EDT
Anybody that is breathing is eligible for Infantry/Airborne school.  Trust me when I say that it is not all Adventure/fun when you are sitting in the field, its sleeting out, you have to eat a cold MRE, and you have to be up most of the night because some LT wants 50% guard duty.  
Take the AF as an Officer, get lots of good training that will help with civilian career-you also get treated better in the AF.  I think the enlisted AF people get treated better than the Officer Army people.  The AF has a hell of alot more high tech stuff going on than the Army ever will.  It would seem a waste to have a edumacated collige stoodent sitting in a foxhole with their brain going numb.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 9:40:22 AM EDT
it depends on your skin tone,  if you are a summer then go army,  if you are a fall - go airforce, as blue is a cooler tone and will compliment your face with or with out makeup on.


i depends on what floats your boat.  i'd say hang out with some army officers and then try airforce.  airforce in my expericence is more like working for a corporation with uniforms. the atmosphere is more relaxed and the chow is supposedly better.  also in the air force you are usually not a direct combatant so you will be shot at less.

if you want more 'earthy' (no pun intended) experience in combat arms then that is the way to go.  personally i'd do army and go aviation or armour - but do what makes you happy.  

which ever one you choose - go as an officer as you do not waste your degree and it would be easier than 'mustanging' it up.  also you will be paid more, the o club is usually nicer, your barracks are better.

Link Posted: 4/6/2001 9:46:45 AM EDT
I have had experience in both of the above(including Infantry)  IF you decide to go Army-which I would not recommend-pick something other than Infantry.  Other than that I can say "i did it" there is little civilian redeeming value of that MOS.  And you will almost never use any Engineering/computer skills for that job.  Use your brains for what you spent the last 5 years in school for something worthwhile.  And go officer right off the bat.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 9:49:02 AM EDT
 Z, if you're gonna go, go all the way = USMC!
Even if you're an aviator or a REMF you still have to put in your time as a grunt.  USMC officers as a group are also more successful in civilian life.  SEMPER FI!!
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 10:01:35 AM EDT
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 10:02:10 AM EDT
Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

I'm no Army expert, but I don't think they can gurantee you a slot at Ranger school. (But you will get a little black beret just for enlisting evidently)  Those slots have to be earned and I understand the competion is fierce.

Eschew the desire to "learn a trade" or improving your prospects in the civilian world.  Pardon me for saying this...but are you stupid?  You say you'll have a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science?  Dude, you can write your own ticket in the civilian world.  Why waste time in the military?  Get a job.  This will "brighten your prospects in the civilian world" like nothing else.

But if you want adventure, enlist (or seek a commission) in the Marines fer cryin' out loud.  Or even the Army, but make sure you get a combat arms MOS or you will regret it in later life.

Link Posted: 4/6/2001 10:11:26 AM EDT

  Get yourself a guaranteed Reddick Bowe contract that allows you to get out no questions asked with a full refund if you don't like it.

  Seriously speaking, with your degree, you can do way much better by staying in the civilian/private sector.  Good luck either way you decide to go.  
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 10:34:34 AM EDT
Why do you want a career in the military? This is the question you want to ask of yourself. If your answer is "life of adventure and excitement", become a Smoke Jumper. You'll see a lot more action than any Army units, plus you get to jump out of a perfectly good airplane on the side. If your answer is "to shoot full auto guns", than I can just loan you mine to shoot to your heart's desire. If your answer is  "to travel overseas and see the world', than you should try Merchant Marine or work for the airline. They travelled to more locations on earth than you care to name, and you don't ahve to salute or call some punk ass kid just out of college and younger than you "Sir!". So, what I'm trying to say is, think before you act. There's a lot of jobs and opprotunities out there, don't jump into the military and get stuck with cleaning the head for 6 years. Another thing you must remember, your recruiter will tell you anything to get you into the military. They'll say "you're guaranteed this and that if you sign on the dotted line". My advice is look hard, take the contract home and study it. Have a lawyer look at it, and ask questions if you don't understand the contract. If they say "you can't take it home with you, because it's ........", than you can pretty much guarantee that they are bullsh!tting you.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 10:57:05 AM EDT
The amount of "adventure" you will get depends upon your MOS and the unit to which you are assigned.  I was an Infantryman, but more importantly was assigned to a "float" battalion, that is, a battalion that was part of a MEU which did a six month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea every year.  We went all over:  Israel, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Greece, etc.

(The west coast MEUs float to Asia)

Now that Bush is in charge and the military will be brought back up to a decent training level, if you get in a good combat arms MOS you can be guranteed of shooting a lot of cool ordnance. (Just like in the good old days of the Cold War)  Plus if you enlist for the infantry  I can gurantee you will do your Arctic, Mountain, Jungle, and Desert warfare training evolutions which are pretty interesting the first or second time around.

These guarantees are better than your recruiter's guarantees.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 11:14:29 AM EDT
How would you like to go in the military and make LESS money?  If you have a college degree(and want to join) you should go in as an officer.  
First of all, as in any job sh!t rolls down hill.  If your a private, you are at the bottom of the hill.  A lieutenant is at the bottom of the hill as far as officers go, but he has all the enlisted under him.
A boot lieutenant makes almost double what a private earns.  
Looking for "adventure"?  Join the Marines as an officer.[x]

P.S. RECRUITERS LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 11:14:39 AM EDT
[left]see what they can offer you with your college try all navy, army, Af, marines. i was in the army, and i only went in to decide what i wanted to do; really you should try to go into a field you currently studied in, and get the experience you need.[/left]
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 11:54:49 AM EDT
Of course, it's easier being a private.  In the Marines our officers generally work harder than then those below them.  When I was a Marine, every time I looked around there was the Lieutenant eating the same chow, sleeping in the same rain, humping the same pack, and generally enduring the same hardships.  Ditto for the Company Commander.  But on top of this they have the "burden of command" which, as burdens go, is no a light one.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 12:10:51 PM EDT
What is your motivation for wanting to go into the military?...as stated earlier with a degree in electrical engineering you pretty much can write your own ticket...a family friend has such a degree and his small company has put him in the multi millionaire bracket and he is a world traveler..contacts in Taiwan China South America..you will easily be able to afford to hire anyone from any branch of service to teach you anything you feel you should need or want...fly your own jet, helicopter etc...sounds like the army under Shinseki has abandoned its spec ops people so Id say the Marines are probably the only combat arms branch left worth spit it the Army continues on this slope...If its electronic warfare your interested in the Navy Spec Ops gets some nice toys but like the man says you still gotta qualify Buds&Hell Week take their toll...you had better have the stuff for this or your just gonna do your four somewhere were you dont wanna be...even if there is a war on a lot of people dont come home and some that do aint in too gooda shape...are you real sure you wanna walk down that road?....what for?
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 12:18:14 PM EDT
Zumo you at UW?....our family friend graduated there
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 12:26:28 PM EDT
sorry, but 99.9% of people do not get rich for having a degree-in fact i bet that there are more rich people without degrsse than with.  The military offers experience.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 3:02:13 PM EDT
To answer some of your questions and to re-iterate mine.  I am not going into the military for the money. If I don't like it I can always go back the civilian route after 4 years.  If I do like the military then I'll do it as a career.  The reason I didn't choose the USMC is that I am not sure about the physical rigor.  If I can't survive the Army SF or Ranger training at least I'll still be Airborne infantry.  If I take an officer position in the AF it might promote my future career in tech. but I wouldn't be doing any of the really exciting stuff.  So I was wondering if you guys could give any insights into either or both careers.  Yes, I am attending the UW.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 3:08:23 PM EDT
Why are some of you questioning his motive for joining the military? You make it sound like we are a bunch of losers!! Maybe he wants to serve his country and give something back!!

Get a grip, The military is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.
Atleast he has the BALLS to even consider it. Thats more than I can say for some of you.

"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you: Ask what you can do for your country." John F. Kennedy
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 3:49:09 PM EDT
try for a warrant officer position in the corps of engineers. or join the guard or reserve for a taste of the military to see if you like it. don't waste your degree remember you will have to keep current. if you fool around as a grunt when you get out you won't be as employable as when you first get your degree,
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 4:48:38 PM EDT
Talk to the Air Force. Its a good place to start, the training is first class, And employers in the tech fields love to harvest from all branches. If you are just looking to get extra training and need to find an answer to the "how do you get experience if you won't hire me" question. All branches have good points, I had good luck with the AF and met a lot of contacts in the civilian sector from the big military contractors (GE, GD, Macdonald Douglas, Boeing, Westinghouse ect.). The're always looking for good people. Just go in as an officer!

Link Posted: 4/6/2001 6:44:15 PM EDT
I can tell you that right now the Air Force is having a hard time filling officer quotas.  Of course, that is probably true of the other branches too.  What that means is that you are in a better position when you are shopping around.

I agree with exgi about trying out the Guard or Reserve.  I did that when I started college and assumed that by the end of my first enlistment I would either get out or go active duty.  I liked it so much that I just passed my 15th anniversary and may put in 10 or 15 more.

A lot of people I know of (officer and enlisted) did their first hitch on active duty, then transferred into a Guard or Reserve unit close to home to finish out their career.

If you are finishing college now, then I would definitely try to go in as an officer.  I started out as enlisted right out of high school and for a while actively pursued a commission.  They weren't offering what I was looking for at the time so it didn't work out.  At this point, I am not even looking for that anymore even though I have the credentials for it.  I am so darn happy with what I do that I want to finish my career out as an enlisted man.  

The difference between officer and enlisted is a much bigger deal on active duty.  The pay isn't so much an issue to me since it is only a part-time income.  I definitely don't think that I have been cheated by serving out my years as an NCO.  Military service was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 7:16:21 PM EDT
If you have a degree, get a commission.  Better still, get a real job.  If the bug is still biting, get a reserve commission in a NG or AR SF unit.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 7:26:32 PM EDT
You're not going to get rich, but I think military service is a good experience for anybody.

I was enlisted in the Army and am proud of it, but for a guy with your education I'd recommend looking at the Air Force or maybe Navy.

Let's see, electrical engineering and computer science... If you want adventure, get a job on one of those spy planes that fly along the coast of China.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 7:35:32 PM EDT
I am an AF ROTC cadet currently finishing my sophmore year of college.  I personally love the AF.  I have been on many base visits and I am looking forward to my commissioning.  I do like (and greatly respect) all the ground units.  I would love to run around and play in the dirt with all those guys that get to have the fun.  However I am not built for it and I have a little obsession with things like F-22's and F-16's.  What I am getting at is that the AF is a lot of fun.  Even though I don't get to play in the mud a lot (if that is what you want to do) we get treated very VERY well.  I am a Computer Engineer and I have seen technology that is beyond anything I knew existed.  

As for the officer decision.  If you have a degree you should not even consider for a moment being enlisted.  Lots of stuff is better as an officer.

As already stated, don't listen to any recruiters.  As I was told to do, just go to them for paperwork and nod as they talk.  If you want to see what its like go to a ROTC Det on campus or talk to Army/AF members.

Good luck in your decision.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 8:14:06 PM EDT
Zumo--I hope you're not being mislead by an Army recruiter.  Check carefully on what you're being "guaranteed."  

It's been seventeen years since I went to the RTB, and back then recruiters could not guarantee Ranger School to enlistees.  It took a commander's letter about your abilities to perform certain skills, a rank of Spec 4 or above, and a lot of waiting for your company to get a slot to Ranger School(of which many other qualified infantrymen wanted).  I was in the 82nd Airborne Division when I went, and it took four years to get there.

The qualifications may be different for guys assigned to a Ranger Regiment.  Check your facts carefully before you sign on any dotted line.  

One other thing...Not to take anything away from the USMC (because I have the utmost respect for the Marine Corp having served combat duty along side them in Grenada), but if you're worried about the rigors of the Marine Corp, you should not even be considering an attempt at Ranger School.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 8:41:22 PM EDT
Whatever your choice you will have experiences that the majority of the population of the US will never have. I will never forget my time in Viet Nam, the good and the bad, and wouldn't trade it for anything. The military will not let your talents go to waste. But beware of the recuiters with big promises. There are no gurantees in life or the military. One word of caution about the ground forces. Going out with a rifle to find and kill someone before he kills you isn't a lot of fun, but it will give you one hell of a adrenalin rush.
Link Posted: 4/6/2001 11:13:26 PM EDT

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation!!

My first comment would be that if you already have your degree go for a commission.  My second comment would be to go USAF.  

I started out enlisted in the Air National Guard, and am now an officer on active duty.  So I've seen both sides, and the officer gig is defiantly better.  Not that I regret any of my enlisted service.  In fact I'm very proud of being prior enlisted.  Being enlisted first gives a person quite a different outlook on being an officer.  

Now as to why I recommend the AF over the Army.  I did some Army ROTC in college, and I work with the Army some in my job now.  I really enjoyed the field training in ROTC.  Doing land navigation, assault courses while carrying an M-60, patrolling, and putting on face paint is a lot of fun.  But there is no way I would want to do that every day.  Yes, the AF does provide a much better quality of life.  Our facilities are better, the food is better (although I have not eaten in a chow hall in over a year), and when we go to some odd part of the world we stay in nice hotels by the beach instead of a tent situated in a field of mud.  

However, if the cushy, corporate image of the USAF turns you off there are options.  The perception that the USAF is not much more than a civilian corporation in uniform that doesn't get to do cool stuff is to some degree a misperception.  Granted, there are a lot of jobs in the AF that are nothing more than mundane office work.  Surprisingly there are cool and glamorous jobs in the AF.  If you want the Army feel, yet all the benefits of being in the AF there are the following career fields: security forces, combat controller, tactical air liaison officer, and combat weather, to name a few.  In some of these career fields there is the opportunity to get jump qualified, and play with neat toys (M-16, M-249, M-60, Mk-19, etc.).  And don't forget AF aviation careers: navigator, and pilot (both of which require going through combat survival school - a great opportunity to play in the woods and find out what it is like to be a POW).

I've done some seriously cool stuff in my almost 12 years in the AF.  I've pulled 8g's, flown through mountainous terrain 300 feet off the ground, kicked people out of my plane at 13,000 feet (a HALO drop).  I've been to Hawaii, Florida, Las Vegas, San Diego, Canada, and will be going to many more places around the world before I retire.  Do I get to play in the woods, or shoot cool guns as part of my job?  No.  That's why I bought an AR-15, and do volunteer search and rescue.

Hope this helps.


(referring to General Carl A. Spaatz, first USAF Chief of Staff)
Link Posted: 4/7/2001 2:43:55 AM EDT
I agree with Spaatz. I have been active AF for the last 13.5 years and everyday has been an adventure. Just re-upped yesterday for six more years. -XM15
XM15 & Mrs. XM15 Take the Oath.
From my last TDY
Link Posted: 4/7/2001 5:08:27 AM EDT
What I would recommend, since you already have a degree (will shortly anyway)in a job that you can do the rest of your life, go into the service to do something that civilians won't ever get to do. Jump out of planes into total drakness from 1250 feet with 95lbs of gear, fire a 25mm chain gun, fly NOP with NODS in the seat of an AH-64 APACHE, fly an F-15,16,117 etc. Why come in to do something that you can do on the outside and make more money?
If you want to get Ranger school "guaranteed", come in as an Officer in the Combat Arms (Infantry or Engineer is a lock for the school). But if you are even "thinking" about entering the military, no matter which branch you choose, start your physical training NOW! Run you butt off. If you aren't pucking when your done you ain't running hard enough! Hit the weights if you aren't already, do many push-ups, situps and flutter-kicks. Get yourself some GI issue boots and BDU pants and start walking in them to get you feet toughened up. Start with short walks then encrease the distance and speed. Put weight on your back, light at first, then work up to about 45- 50lbs. If you can get to the point where you can go 12 miles in three hours with this weight you'll do fine. I'm not saying everyone can do this, but if you can when and if you come in you'll be way ahead of the game! Hope this didn't steer you away from combat arms, but as an NCO I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't get you ready for your mission If you go Infantry, and end up at Ft Hood, BE sure to look me up. "Infantry leads the way", "Follow Me"!
Link Posted: 4/7/2001 5:37:27 AM EDT

I thought I'd add to the confusion a bit. Have you considered the Navy?

Currently, I'm a Ensign in the Navy, commissioned last May. I had the choice of flying, 'going nuke' and doing the submarine thing, or going into the surface warfare field. I chose surface warfare, here's why:

First, I get to lead people. As a new officer I'll have about 15 people that work for me, thank God I have a good Chief Petty Officer to help out (It's kinda hard when you're new). Secondly, I get to learn about very different aspects of the ship. Right now I'm the damage control assistant, aka the head firefighter; however, I also have to learn navigation, piloting (aka driving the ship), weapons, and main propulsion in oder to get my Surface Warfare Officer's pin (aka water-wings).

This job will last for two years and then I'll transfer to a new ship. On the new ship I'll get a new job. I might be the navigator, communications officer (the commo usually takes care of the LAN, the Navy is embracing computers in a BIG way), the ordinance officer, etc. However, I'll still use the same basic skills I learned on the first ship.

The Navy is a bit different than other services. The Navy trains to do something and then does it. Most other services train to do something they hope they will never have to do. I'll clarify. The Navy trains to deploy overseas for 6 months. Then we deploy. On deployment we do the same job we would do in a wartime enviroment. The only difference is the actual launching of weapons. Hopefully, we never have to. However, forward presence and deterence is what the Navy is all about.

The cool thing about forward presence is the world travel. I know some people that have visited as many as 9 or 10 countries in a single six month deployment. Several of those ports they went to more than once.

It's all a matter of personal preference. For me, I love the sea. I love being able to see ALL of the stars at night. I love it when a full moon lights up the ocean to where it almost looks like it's day outside. I love watching the sunrise over the ocean. And I love walking on bulkheads in heavy seas. :)

Link Posted: 4/7/2001 6:04:43 AM EDT
  Take my word for it.  As a Master Sergeant in the Air Force, I can assure you that, with a college degree, you would not be effectively utilizing your time and talent joining ANY service as an enlisted man.  
 Don't take me wrong, the enlisted ranks are what keeps this country's military functioning from day to day.  Officers come and go, but the "Old Sarge" will always be there, but an individual can bring more to their chosen service by serving in a capacity that is equal to their qualifications.  
 That's what it should be about. What can you give to my country's military?  As an individual with a challenging technical degree, do you really think you have more to offer by becoming an Infantryman?  
 The choice is yours but every young airman I ever supervised that had a college degree felt out of place among his high school graduate peers and also felt very under utilized.
Link Posted: 4/7/2001 7:58:08 AM EDT
If you are worried about the Marines being over physical.  The AF may be your only choice, and not PJs, CCT or ETACs either.  Either being in a Ranger Bat or going to Ranger School will be just as strenuous, and more in some cases, as anything you will do in the Marines Corps outside of the Recon community.  
From what I have heard there is a "Ranger contract" available, but that is to the Ranger Battalions not to Ranger School.  You go to OSUT at Benning, followed by jump school and then go to RIP.  IF you pass RIP you will go to a Bat, as a non-tabbed solider.  After a while in the Bat, and prior to picking up a leadership billet you go to Ranger school to pick up your tab.  But as a side note, because of shortages in billets, the only combat arms officers that have a 100% chance to go to Ranger school after OBC are active duty infantry officers, with a preference to light fighters.  Other combat arms OBC can only send a few officers from each graduating class.
Link Posted: 4/7/2001 8:15:21 AM EDT
You really need to dig down deep and find out what type of work would you do even it there was no pay at all - find your real interests, and then check the services...

I suggest if you plan on going in the military, go all the way - 20 years and take that retirement - else, you will find out that 5 years after you get out of a 4 year tour, you want to go back in - and then you would lose all that time...

At least you'll have your bachelor's degree - that is the best thing anyone can do prior to entering the military.  I had 2 years into college when I joined the Corps in 1989, and when I got out in 93, it took 6 years to get my associate - cash was a big factor, but I still couldn't decide what I wanted to do...after diggin down deep, getting on a SWAT team as a sniper is probably the only thing I would do for free - and enjoy waking up for every day...

So figure that part out and you'll be on your way...

PS:  If you want the real miltary experience where you will stand proud wherever you are, with real long lasting traditions and pride, join the Marines...

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