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Enlisting in the military

JWFokkerJWFokker Registered User regular
edited April 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
After aimlessly languishing post-high school for a few years working as a pharmacy technician and eventually acquiring a GED with no intention of attending college, I've decided after some deliberation that I want to enlist in the military. I want to do a job, work hard to be the best at what I do and get paid for it. I don't have any qualms with busting my ass, so I'd like to make it clear that I am not lazy. I worked my balls off to be the absolute best pharmacy technician and I was (to the resentment of some of my co-workers even). So it was not laziness that deterred me from attending college, but lack of clear direction or desire in regard to what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After reading this excellent thread:

http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=9108

I've taken particular interest in the Air Force Tactical Air Control Party or Combat Controller MOS's or even the Army Cavalry Scout MOS. I want to be on the front lines AND have the opportunity to use my brain extensively. With an ASVAB score in the 90's, what are the odds of someone getting one of these MOS's? Are they currently in demand, or would I have a better chance shooting for a more common MOS and transferring/re-enlisting after my first contract runs out?

JWFokker on

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    ElectricTurtleElectricTurtle Seeress WARegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    A simple question like that should really be asked of a recruiter. They should be able to tell you what score will get you what MOS, and how likely they are to have openings for same.

    ElectricTurtle on
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    Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Major East CoastRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Get every promise the recruiter makes written down, then have someone who knows how to read legal documents look over it.

    Even if it means spending $200 on a lawyer visit to make sure it's all kosher, it's worth it. I don't mean to knock recruiters, but they can lie easy.

    Iceman.USAF on
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    AurinAurin Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    1. Don't believe anything a recruiter tells you, unless he's got it written down.

    2. The Air Force doesn't give a crap about who they recruit right now. They have recruiting numbers like *ZERO* each month. So don't expect a signing bonus for anything, like the other services may offer.

    3. When you go to the recruiter and MEPS, make sure that you look for the AFSC you want. If you don't find it, and can't find anything comparable, wait it out. Do not go into the military without a guaranteed job.

    4. http://ask.afpc.randolph.af.mil/ has some good info about what AFSC's that they're downsizing and such (it's normally that you'll be in the military for your first enlistment, then you will be asked to retrain or be booted, depending on the career field) **But if you don't know what AFSC you're looking at, the site will probably look like a lot of gibberish.** ;-)

    5. DO NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING A RECRUITER TELLS YOU UNLESS IT IS WRITTEN DOWN.

    Otherwise, good luck. I was in the AF for six years, had my fun, it was nice. I didn't want to stay since it just wasn't my thing. Hubby, was in an over-populated AFSC, couldn't retrain, so he was not allowed to re-enlist even though he wanted to.

    And definitely, with an ASVAB score in the 90's, you've got just about any job you want in the bag. :P

    Aurin on
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    MishraMishra Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    JWFokker wrote: »
    After aimlessly languishing post-high school for a few years working as a pharmacy technician and eventually acquiring a GED with no intention of attending college, I've decided after some deliberation that I want to enlist in the military. I want to do a job, work hard to be the best at what I do and get paid for it. I don't have any qualms with busting my ass, so I'd like to make it clear that I am not lazy. I worked my balls off to be the absolute best pharmacy technician and I was (to the resentment of some of my co-workers even). So it was not laziness that deterred me from attending college, but lack of clear direction or desire in regard to what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After reading this excellent thread:

    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=9108

    I've taken particular interest in the Air Force Tactical Air Control Party or Combat Controller MOS's or even the Army Cavalry Scout MOS. I want to be on the front lines AND have the opportunity to use my brain extensively. With an ASVAB score in the 90's, what are the odds of someone getting one of these MOS's? Are they currently in demand, or would I have a better chance shooting for a more common MOS and transferring/re-enlisting after my first contract runs out?

    TACP's are bad ass Mofo's. I got to go to Fort Carson and Chat with some of them as part of my job and they dressed me up in full kit. I was wearing close to 100 pounds of Radios alone. Both TACP's and Combat Controllers are Special Forces. Being an Acquisition guy myself i can't really talk about how you go about joining those AFSC's but there are plenty of other folks on these boards who ought to help you out. Just as was stated here check randolph's web page for what AFSC's are being force shaped. Definately nail your ASVAB's though if your gunning for those AFSC's and start getting in shape. Considering your pharmacological experience you may want to think about some of the medical AFSC's as well. Certainly thet open up plenty of Civilian oppertunities once you get out.

    Mishra on
    "Give a man a fire, he's warm for the night. Set a man on fire he's warm for the rest of his life."
    -Terry Pratchett
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    xWonderboyxxWonderboyx Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    With an ASVAB in the 90s, you can pretty much pick any job you want, barring any physical disabilities. My score wa a 93 and I chose the submarine force. Boo.

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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Take a discipline where a) you won't get shot at and b) it gives you marketable skills for when you discharge. Nuke subs or other high-skilled navy jobs are good bets...

    kaliyama on
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    Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Slightly related, is there a good reference for all these abbreviations being tossed around? I'm pondering military service after I finish college and have followed some of these threads, but the abbreviations make a lot of this hard to follow.

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    HandgimpHandgimp R+L=J Family PhotoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
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    JWFokkerJWFokker Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    kaliyama wrote: »
    Take a discipline where a) you won't get shot at and b) it gives you marketable skills for when you discharge. Nuke subs or other high-skilled navy jobs are good bets...

    So TACPs and CCTs don't have many options after discharging?

    JWFokker on
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    KoekjesKoekjes Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    A few things to consider based on my military experience.

    Do not use military psychologists. They are not bound by any kind of patient-doctor confidentiality and will report you if you admit to breaking any kind of military regulation. I saw thing happen a few times while I was in the Navy. If you ever feel the need to talk to one then seek out a non military private practice.

    Previous posters are absolutely correct. DO NOT believe anything the recruiter tells you. They are very desperate for new blood and will tell you anything you want to hear in an effort to get you to sign.

    They best jobs are the ones that can be used in the civilian side. My being a Navy nuke was nice but it’s the non-nuclear knowledge that was worth the most. If you are considering a Navy nuclear post then know that it is a 6 year enlistment.

    Koekjes on
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    28682868 Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    This isn't much help or advice I guess.

    I don't let my politics interfere with a person's decision to enlist. No matter the world situation I admire this decision and the courage it takes to make it. So if you are serious understand the step you are taking is appreciated by guys like me.

    I just went to a reading by a poet and a veteran of the current Iraq conflict, Brian Turner. The most important thing he offered to those considering service was to be prepared to change. Often for the better, but you will undoubtedly change. I'd recommend reading the collection, "The things they carried," by Tim O'Brien. This story is quite important. I would also suggest reading Brian's collection, "Here, Bullet."

    So again, it's an important decision and I am glad people make it.

    2868 on
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    Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Major East CoastRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Koekjes wrote: »
    A few things to consider based on my military experience.

    Do not use military psychologists. They are not bound by any kind of patient-doctor confidentiality and will report you if you admit to breaking any kind of military regulation. I saw thing happen a few times while I was in the Navy. If you ever feel the need to talk to one then seek out a non military private practice.

    Good advice, same goes for some legal council (the JAG can report you for asking about advice concerning "well if I murdered someone..." where-as a private attorney is not).

    On the flip-side, the base (or ship) Chaplain is trained in many similar areas, and is bound by confidentiality. hurrah!

    Iceman.USAF on
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    19D (Cavalry Scout) sounds like it might be the MOS for you, at least on the Army side. Combat arms, requires just as much thinking as any combat arms MOS (which is more than many might think) if not more. All kinds of routes you can go, too...though you may not get to choose. In Iraq, you'll likely be doing HMMWV-mounted patrols, but in generally you could end up doing anything from dismounted shit to being a Bradley crewmember. You could end up as part of a cavalry troop or you could end up doing recon for an infantry battalion. It's good stuff, and while tankers (which I used to be) and cavalry scouts talk a lot of shit on each other they're both great jobs.

    Also, take note: with your ASVAB score you can probably* get anything ranging from a fatass bonus to a ton of additional college money...if you have no intention of going to college, then obviously opt for the bonus. 19D is generally one of the fastest-promoting MOS's, too...It's not horribly uncommon to see 26/27 year old E-7's. You're also likely to get the opportunity to go to any of the various schools, like airborne/air-assault, or even ranger/SF.

    Recruiters are lying SOB's. Get everything on paper. Not that it hasn't been said, but it bears repeating. If it ain't on paper, it ain't gonna happen.

    * - The GED thing may fuck you. Hard. Generally that's a waiver, or at least it was way back when I enlisted. Things may obviously have changed nowadays, but still don't be surprised if that bars you from all kinds of goodies, like enlistment bonuses and what not. If there's any possible way you could get an associate's degree, it would probably be worth an assload of money to you. But I realize that's easier said that done.

    mcdermott on
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Also, before you so much as think about talking to a recruiter, check with anybody you might know in that same branch to see if they can get a fat check for recommending you as a "referral." Once you've talked to a recruiter, nobody gets shit.

    In the Army, for instance, I can get $2000 for getting somebody to join the Guard (which I'm in) or $1000 for getting somebody to go active duty.

    mcdermott on
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    JWFokkerJWFokker Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Aside from sheer performance, how difficult is it to get into the Rangers or other Special Forces group? To be more specific, is it much dependent on luck and available openings? Or does outstanding performance count more than anything?

    Also, going the HMMWV patrol route doesn't appeal to me too much as I'd prefer to be on my feet when encountering a threat rather than vulnerable to IEDs in an HMMWV. I'd just prefer to have someone shoot at me and be able to do something about it than be stuck in a vehicle when a bomb goes off underneath it.

    JWFokker on
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    h3nduh3ndu Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    JWFokker wrote: »
    Aside from sheer performance, how difficult is it to get into the Rangers or other Special Forces group? To be more specific, is it much dependent on luck and available openings? Or does outstanding performance count more than anything?

    Both. That said, I hope you like to run until your lungs explode, I hope you like to push until your arms break, and that you can go days upon days without sleep and food if you want to take those routes. I'm trying to get myself a RIP contract right now (pppffffft), many of my boys in OSUT tried to do RIP, we're talking strong eighteen year old kids in the very peak of their physical condition just having finished 14 weeks of Infantry training and then another three in airborne school, and dropped because they couldn't cut it - and that's only qualification to get into ranger school. It's not just the physical requirements that make it so hard either, aside from being a fucking rock, you have to know everything about anything, weapons, tactics, and you have to be able to execute that knowledge in a high stress environment.

    You'd best shine like pure gold if you want to do any kind of special forces.

    edit: I scored an 86 on my ASVAB, not to bright but not to dull, I was told I could choose whatever MOS I wanted - I asked my recruiter what he thought I should do and he made me an 11B. I don't necessarily regret this, but my own lack of knowledge on choices of MOS made me a prime target for his quotas, don't let them fuck you over.

    h3ndu on
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    JWFokker wrote: »
    Aside from sheer performance, how difficult is it to get into the Rangers or other Special Forces group? To be more specific, is it much dependent on luck and available openings? Or does outstanding performance count more than anything?

    Also, going the HMMWV patrol route doesn't appeal to me too much as I'd prefer to be on my feet when encountering a threat rather than vulnerable to IEDs in an HMMWV. I'd just prefer to have someone shoot at me and be able to do something about it than be stuck in a vehicle when a bomb goes off underneath it.

    Well, there's nothing to keep them from hitting you with explosives when you're dismounted. Something to consider. Also, snipers have this funny way of disappearing before you get to do much about them. Basically, "combat" in Iraq blows.

    As for difficulty in getting into Ranger/SF...well, I honestly don't know much about it. I was a 19K (armor) and we got pretty much laughed at if we asked about either one. Same with airborne. I know slots are limited, so not only is it performance-based but there will be some element of luck. How limited the slots are, again I don't know.

    Unless I'm mistaken, SF cannot be put into your contract...and I'm fairly sure the same goes for Ranger school. You can get airborne school in your contract, however...so you'd basically go to airborne school immediately after completing basic (which, for combat arms is done in one stretch with one company...no basic/AIT like most). I'm guessing that Ranger school (and probably SF as well) would be easier to get if you've already got airborne.

    But again, I'm venturing outside my realm of knowledge...maybe one of the infantry guys around here can swing through and give you a better idea. I'd say to ask a recruiter, but this is the exact kind of thing they will generally lie out their ass about.

    mcdermott on
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    h3nduh3ndu Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    You can get airborne and RIP, if they tell you you've got a sniper contract(you can't get sniper school on your contract) or a SF contract they're full of shit, unless you're an 11X-ray(SF) or (19D(scout?) this is what a NG scout told me, I have no idea if 19D's can actually get SF).

    h3ndu on
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    JWFokkerJWFokker Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    All good info. I'm not going to enlist ASAP, so moving from boot camp to training to applying for the Rangers isn't my primary concern. Yet. Needless to say, in the interim I will be running many miles and working out a lot to get a leg up on what's coming.

    And I'd like to think that the last couple years spent figuring out what I want to do with myself will give me somewhat more resolve toward my goals than someone just out of high school.

    JWFokker on
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    JWFokkerJWFokker Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    So what other MOS are along the lines of TACP/CCT that I don't know about? I mean, I'm only aware of them because of the other thread. The role of recon/attack coordination is very appealing to me. Even being a forward observer for an artillery team would be cool.

    JWFokker on
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    MishraMishra Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    JWFokker wrote: »
    So what other MOS are along the lines of TACP/CCT that I don't know about? I mean, I'm only aware of them because of the other thread. The role of recon/attack coordination is very appealing to me. Even being a forward observer for an artillery team would be cool.

    Well in the Air Force we also have the little known combat weather teams. Ever wonder how we get conditions behind enemy lines? we drop some poor bastard in with some weather balloons and a gun. I met one at my air and space basic course. Got to wear his blues with boots and a grey berret. Looked kind of stupid frankly walking around with bloused dress pants but I couldn't do his job. There's only like 90 in the whole AF. You can also try for a helicopter crewman. SOF and CSAR (Special Operations Forces and Combat Search and Rescue) need trained crew, just be warned you may end up in Minot, North Dakota shuttling people to missile silos.
    Of course then there's Air Force Intel, a friend of mine is a mission planner for the B-2. He selects the flight path and such for optimal approach to the target. That's a lot of schooling, you get sent to Las Vegas for weapons school for about 9 months but those guys with weapon school patches know just about every bolt on their system of expertise. Intel guys can also get deployed to an Air Operations Center (AOC) which is where I'm hoping to get sent now that my deployment cycle is coming up. The AOC does just that controls all a theaters air assets and what they do via the Air Tasking Order (ATO). Read "Every Man a Tiger" by Tom Clancy and Gen Horner if you want an idea of what goes on there.

    Mishra on
    "Give a man a fire, he's warm for the night. Set a man on fire he's warm for the rest of his life."
    -Terry Pratchett
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