Enlisting with a college degree...bad idea?

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Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017

Hello all, and thanks in advance for any information!

I'm 20, and graduating in December 2017 with a BS in Criminal Justice from the University of Tennessee. I'm 6'5 and 175, in good shape. I am torn between bothering with OCS or just enlisting, and desperately need some advice..

I want to be able to join right after graduation. However, the OCS application process is long and I am not a prime candidate. We all know the Army is downsizing, and according to two recruiters (if they're telling the truth), OCS has a 21% acceptance rate currently for civilian applicants.

The Army seems to be searching for STEM majors with high GPAs, and good recommendations, and lots of athletics in high school and/or college.

I have a 3.1 GPA. I played sports through high school and college, but just for fun. I never did so for the schools, nor did I ever go to competitions. I only joined a handful of boring outdoors clubs in college and didn't stay.

ASVAB Scoring consisted of an 82 AFQT. and GT of 119. I can do anything enlisted that I want.

Work has always been a very important part of my life, which is why my athletics suck so bad. I have paid for everything since high school. I started at Lowe's after graduation where I've worked for almost 3 years and been promoted to sales specialist, now making more than I'd make in the military as enlisted E-5. I drive a brand new car and rent my own house, and am going on my third solo backpacking trip overseas, (Africa this time).

On top of my work, I'm graduating a semester early after going to school full time since I started. Furthermore, I intern for a Congressman. I have no life because of work, but I do have money!.......not sure if that's better or worse.

Anyways, based on this info, what kind of chance do you REALLY think I stand for OCS? Be brutally honest. Is it worth trying, or should I just go ahead and enlist with delayed entry until I graduate?

More than anything, I want to join Special Forces. I've always wanted to, and the 18X candidate program sounds perfect. I'm not in the best shape, but I've got time to be ready by the time I ship out. However, the difference in pay from E4 to O-1 is huge. I know it isn't all about money, but jeez. That's a big difference. Furthermore, there are many more really cool opportunities for officers that I'd be interested in.

Enlisting with a degree I am sure will get me ridiculed by other recruits. What kind of lifestyle would it be compared to an officer's lifestyle? I don't want to waste my degree doing the same thing as some high school graduates and kids with GEDs.

My long term goal is to gain experience to work for a federal agency after the military, preferably FBI. I want to work on a master's while in the Army, and may go on after that for a Ph.D. Being an officer in the army or in special forces would be beneficial, but i'm not sure anything else would be a significant help.

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MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
@ Spencer96

All college grads have a chance at OCS although it's much harder getting in than enlisting.

I can't relate to Officer lifestyles but as a 2LT your commander will load you down mercilessly. Eltee will be the gofer guy with bunch of additional assignments. In Combat Arms as a Platoon Leader he will be almost under the orders of his Platoon Sgt, an E7 with an average time in service of 10 or more years in service. I wet nursed a few in my day on orders of the Company Commander. Eltee was ordered to listen & watch what ever I did & learn from it. They quickly realized that the Academy, ROTC or OCS was nothing like the real Army nor was the training they received able to cover real life conditions, LOL. As a rule they were pretty good guys & became outstanding Officers able to lead Infantry Paratroopers.

There is an incentive to enlist right off the bat. College grads go in as SPC E4. It's hard to get an 18X contract as an enlisted person so it's got to be harder to go to Special Forces as an Officer. You should talk it over with your Recruiter. If you decide to enlist rather than try for a commission you can also try to get into the 75th Ranger Regiment with an Option 40 contract. That would get you BCT/OSUT, Airborne School & Ranger Assessment & Selection Program (RASP) & into the 75th Ranger Regt. Within a year of being in the 75th they would send you to Ranger School. Ranger School is open to all Soldiers including females now but it's mandatory as a Ranger in the 75th Regt. Ranger School by itself is NOT an entry into Ranger Regt. That option 40 isn't exactly easy to get but easier than an 18X. My son had to wait a half year to get his 11X/Option 40. There is a lot of crossbreeding between SF & Rangers. Had my son stayed in he would have gone SF. He stayed in the Reserve though & is now an E7 Platoon SGT & Operations SGT. until they can find someone for that slot. I'm sure he'll retire outranking me, LOL

The main advantage of going in as an enlisted person is you can choose your MOS. As an Officer Candidate you'll be branched according to your ranking in OCS. Ranking includes academic, physical fitness test, marksmanship & peer rating. Those at the top get their choice but it's always according to the needs of the Army.

The Military is finished downsizing. Now they've been ordered by POTUS to build its strength. A larger Army makes it easier all around. Those who had trouble enlisting for some reason or another (or to go to OCS) should start to find it easier now. With GEN Mad Dog Matis as SecDefense & Donald Trump as President means good things for the Military. It was pretty grim under Obama & would have been tragic under Clinton. It was bad enough under Bill but this was & would have been even worse. I'm not trying to be political but facts are facts. I served under many Presidents & it was always better under a Republican. I have a feeling that the increase of troop numbers will begin with the Combat Arms MOSs & those that are understrength by the new standards.

I know many enlisted Soldiers that went to OCS as an enlisted person. It's easier for them because they know the Army by then. in any event you'd be going through BCT with the enlisted Soldiers before OCS. I also know many enlisted college grads that stayed enlisted for their whole career. I was one of them, LOL. I got my degree between my Navy & Army times. By the time I decided to go into the Army I would have been too old to go to OCS, anyhow. I never was kidded about my degree & it's not something that's worn on your sleeve for all to see. You'll see quite a few E4s in BCT/OSUT & they're not all going to OCS.

Run everything by a Recruiter. Start this week! To get any decent contracts will become much harder just before graduations lasting until next fall. They WILL NOT ship you out until after you're graduated. If the exact contract you want isn't available then wait until about next Thanksgiving until mid January '18. A Recruiter can save a slot for you & you'd have your contract in hand. Recruiters can also know what MOSs & contracts are available & when there'll be projected openings.

Good luck! Please keep me updated!!

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@ MSG Glenn

Thanks for your reply! Well, it may be worth an application to OCS, but in the same light, I do not think it is quite what I want to do anyways. I feel like enlisting with a good MOS is better. I like having the choice of what contract. I asked the recruiter about the expansion of the military, and said the same thing as you. It is going to expand, and I should be able to get whatever job I would like.

With my ASVAB scoring, he said I am already qualified for any contract, I just have to get my PFT out of the way at some point, and he will have to find a slot for me in what I choose.

What is your experience with the 75th Ranger Reg? I have been looking at rangers as well as an option. I would still prefer SF, but would it be wise to start as an 11X? I have been watching the training documentaries on SF, and it is very physically demanding. However, my recruiter says that civilians off the street stand a better chance in SFAS than seasoned veterans. What's your take on that?

Basically, he says we start from scratch and are molded into SF candidates, while other previous enlistees just assume they are prepared, and it ends up washing them out faster. And if I didn't make it for some reason in SF (Wouldn't be by quitting), is there any say in where you go? In other words, if I enlisted as an 18X, made it all the way to SFAS and broke a leg and had to quit, would they just drop me down to whatever they want me to be? (Ex. standard infantry) Can you get a backup contract?

THanks!

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
75th Ranger Regt.

I have no experience in the 75th but my son does. I did my Special Operations with the Navy SEALs. Got out, went to college, got married, had kids & decided to go back in. I got my start in Submarines & then transitioned to UDT & then SEALs. I was too old for any SpecOps jobs in the Navy & there were no sub slots available so I tried the Army & settled for Airborne Infantry. My son went in after HS graduation with an 11X/option 40.

No backup contracts. If you get a medical condition while in SF training they'd probably let you heal, get cleared by the doc & start over again. Since all SF start out at Infantry OSUT followed by Airborne School you could also be put in an Airborne Infantry unit. The needs of the Army would dictate that I'm sure.

From all my SF friends it's agreed to get into SF it's always best to start out in the "Big Army" & apply for SFAS sometime during your enlistment. The land nav course gets many. If your Recruiter says civilian have a better chance through SFAS I'll defer to his judgement. He probably has the stats. In UDT we had the "Challenge Course" before we started UDTR. SF must have something similar. It teaches the basics of what we went through & shows many that it's just not for them. Going from the Rangers to SF is the best route. Many if not most SF troopers wear the Ranger Tab along with their SF Tab. Many will eventually go to Ranger School while in SF. Rangers & SF have a lot of cross-breeding. They're both in Army Special Operations Command.

If your Recruiter told you some info about SFAS I would guess there must be openings. I know Military SpecOps wasn't included much in the downsizing that went on for the last 8 years. I know a lot that left the Army as soon as they had their 20 in, though. SpecOps was way overworked. Hard on guys with families.

In my opinion (for what it's worth) the best route to go into SF is to start as an Infantry Ranger. You'll have the requirement of Infantry School & be Airborne qualified - two of the requirements to be in SF.

All SpecOps in all branches of service are extremely demanding. My son & I can relate to each other's tribulations with his RASP, Ranger School & unit training versus my time in UDTR (what BUD/S was called when I went through). We both had Airborne School but I also had Diver School which my son could have gone through had he stayed in. The SpecOps courses are designed to make people drop out or wash out. My UDT class had at least a 65% attrition rate. Some were recycled but still many of those didn't make it on the 2nd try.

Another good course of action would be to get an Infantry 11X/option 4 if option 40s aren't available nor projected to be for quite awhile. That will get you Airborne School after OSUT. Get into an Airborne unit & your chances of going to Ranger School are very good. That won't get you into the 75th as you'll go back to the unit that sent you. They want to utilize the expertise you received in RS but you'll be better equipped to apply to go to RASP or SFAS.

Another thing to keep in mind is there are more MOSs available other than Infantry in Ranger Regt. My son's buddy could only get a Truck Driver Option 40. He still went on many combat ops when extra shooters were needed. Even Cooks went out. He was able to apply & go to Infantry School & became an 11B then due to some civilian training he had he later transitioned to Imagery Analyst when age crept up on him. He remained in the 75th. Had he stayed in his chances of promotion would have been better holding 3 MOSs. I myself held 3. Public Affairs, Commo & Infantry & that helped me jump ahead of my peers when it came time for promotion to E7 & E8 & getting latterly promoted to 1SG from MSG, both E8. That plus my 3 MOSs would have helped me to E9 had I not been forced to retire due to maximum age. I made the E9 list but projected promotion would have been after retirement.

Try for both option 40 & 18X. Either way you'll have to be in as good a shape as a world-class athlete. My son was in great shape being a wrestler & Judo champ but he was placed in PT with option 40 & 18X candidates. They pushed each other. He knows he would have lost a step had he done standard OSUT BCT. Airborne School was fairly easy but Ranger Indoc was still hard on everyone. He was very glad he was able to stay in good condition. Then their are the morning runs when in a Ranger Batt, LOL. Names like Suicide Hill & Cardiac Ridge come to mind, LOL. We had the Grinder in UDT training & running barefoot or in boots on loose sand at the squad level after getting into a Team, LOL. Of course we swam back - three miles there in sand & three miles back in cold water, LOL. Not done every day though, thankfully.

Keep the updates & questions coming. If I don't know the answers I'll tell you so & refer you to your Recruiter.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

That answers the majority of my questions. I do have one more that comes to mind, though. Regardless of which route I take, I know I need to be in prime shape. I'm in OK shape, but by no means am I world class athlete shape. I'm a skinny guy at 6'5, and have never really been able to gain much weight.

What kind of physical standards should I be trying to meet? Any advice on that?

I currently run every day, 3 miles. Average run time only at 7:45ish per mile. At my fastest record I hit three miles in an awful 21:00.... I know, it's not that fast. I'm working on upping my speed by .1 mph every other day. I've got until next Januaryish regardless, so I'll get there, and then some.
Pushups and situps, also not good yet. I just made it my routine a few weeks ago to max out pushups 3 times before I go to bed and when I get up every morning. Then pullups before I can leave the house. Just little things like that to try and work on it when I am not at a gym. I go to the gym 5 days a week.

however, everyone has a different opinion on how to prepare. What did you find to be the most beneficial workouts? The majority has told me pushups, situps, and running are the most important things to focus on. Then, just to fill in the gaps maybe throw in other things like weights and what not.

What's your take on that? And did you ever have a certain routine you followed to prepare for your training? Whatever route I end up settling with, I do not want to "just get by". I want to be a top choice. If I make it to SFAS, and make it through, and still do not get selected, well, I can't let that be an option. I want them to want me in there.

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
PT

Be able to pass the APFT with as high a score as possible. 100% is achievable.

One thing I found to be helpful is while watching TV do pushups alternating with situps each time an ad comes on. Continue running increasing your distance gradually.
Do other forms of cardio as well. Swimming, biking, rowing are a good way to save your legs for running. Lifting weights is another way.

My son prepared for the Rangers by doing just that plus he was very involved in Judo. He had wrestled from grade school through high school & did Judo since he was 9. He started right after the wrestling season ended.

Good luck & keep those progress reports coming.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
MSG Glenn

those are helpful ideas! I'll try those, too. I'll keep posting progress on that. I really appreciate your advice. Is there much swimming involved in SF training? I've never been much of a swimmer. Just wondering if that is something I should be working on as well.

MSG Glenn
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RE: Swimming

You don't have to be a good swimmer. You have to pass the Water Test in RASP & Ranger School. Since Rangers are tasked to do waterborne ops they want to make sure you can survive in case your boat gets dumped. The main thing is not to show any fear in & under the water. You'll have to do it with all your gear on, dump the gear & retrieve it. You'll have to swim a certain distance but form doesn't matter. As long as you get there. I have to assume that SF has the same or more requirements. They probably do as much in the water as SEALs do on land. Most SpecOps are pretty proficient for various ops.

Swimming is a very good exercise. It gives you plenty of cardio while being kind on your joints & tendons. I don't know if it's possible but a good idea would be to take some basic swimming classes. Maybe the YMCA. That's where I started & continued from there & I became a Navy Frogman, lol.

A good idea for you to do is try a search engine & search for anything concerning SF & Ranger training. Maybe starting with Ranger Assessment & Selection Program & SFAS. You should be able to find what the requirements to pass are & how to prepare for them.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
MSG Glenn

That sounds better than I expected. I can definitely try and take some classes to try and prepare for that. I'm not a great swimmer, but if it isn't a hardcore focus on swimming I should be just fine, especially after some basic lessons. I hate swimming. That's why I'd never even consider SEALS haha.

I'll look into the training for both routes and hopefully be able to make a decision soon. I'm leaving on a backpacking trip through Africa on the 10th of this month. My goal is to have a decision when I return in two weeks so I can just go ahead and sign for delayed enlistment until graduation and get my spot before it closes, just in case.

I made a huge several page pros and cons list between SF and Rangers, and they come out with almost the same amount of pros and cons between the two for me. It'll be a tough decision to choose one, but as you said, there is inter-breeding between SF and Rangers, maybe I can switch if I get into one and want to try something else. I think I'd be happy going either route, though.

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
SF vs. 75th Regt.

Go for the one you can get the earliest contract if any are available for either.

The training for SF is much longer. Infantry OSUT, Airborne School, SFAS, SFQ, 18 series MOS school, language school, NCO School- not necessarily in that exact order. Training for Ranger Regt. is BCT, MOS School or if Infantry then you'd go to Infantry OSUT (which runs BCT back-to-back with Infantry School - same location, same Drill Sgts), Airborne School, RASP, assignment to a Ranger Batt. Sometime within about your 1st year in a Batt you'll be sent to Ranger School. All other training such as Breacher, Pathfinder, Air Assault School & a host of other specialized training that your unit might send you to is all done on your existing enlistment, usually 4 years minimum. I'm not sure what the minimum enlistment for SF is but at a guess I'd say longer than 4 years & I'm not sure if you'd have to do your full enlistment if you wash out of any phase of SF training. I'd say you'd have to do the full 6 (?) years. The bad part of busting either is even though you'd be Airborne qualified Airborne units probably wouldn't take you. You'd still be authorized to wear the Jump Wings, though.

Those are all factors you'd have to check out before deciding.

Many Green Berets got their start in the 75th & sometimes they go back for promotion to SGM or CSM. When I visited my son at 3rd Batt. at Ft. Benning I saw several Rangers in Tan Berets with Special Forces Tabs above their Ranger Tab. If they were still SF they'd wear the Green Beret.

Have a good trip. Stay safe & I'll catch ya when you get back.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

I have returned from my trip!

I gave it all a lot of thought over there, and made a decision.I decided to go for the 18X program. I'm not going to sign anything until May when I have confirmation that I graduate in December, just in case, but I'm going to give it a shot. I believe I have what it takes.

I am a little worried something could happen, such as an injury during SFAS, which disqualifies me during training. I'm not the quitting type, so the only way I wouldn't make it is an injury, or them simply not selecting me after training, which they can do. I'd absolutely hate to be sent wherever they want me to go with no say as an enlisted guy who didn't make the cut. It'd be my luck I'd be put in a kitchen in Georgia for my full 6 year term. The worst part is that the SF option is a 6 year contract. If I blow it in training, I'm stuck where they want me for the whole 6 years instead of 4.

IF something happened and I missed out on SF, I'd be OK with nearly anything as plain airborne as a last resort. But, like you said, they might not even take me. I can start applying once I'm in the army for OCS if things don't work out. Maybe I'll get lucky and get in OCS if SF doesn't work out. Maybe I won't. who knows.

It's a big gamble, in the end. I believe the shot for something as exciting as special forces is worth the risk of 6 years of misery, to me at least. I am confident that I will make it, though. The majority of those who go the 18X route fail because they quit, so I think I need to focus on mental preparation very heavily.

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
@Spencer96

Welcome home! I hope you had a great time.

I think you made a wise decision. I don't think there's anything like "plain Airborne", LOL. I spent 21 years doing that. Of course I spent my first 6 years in Navy SpecOps. Almost every day I regret not going back into the Navy or Army a lot sooner. I wouldn't have been DQed from SpecOps due to the age requirement. I waited too long to reenlist. I wanted to get Air Assault School in the Army but I was too old. I got a waiver because I told them that although I was a Paratroop NCO I wanted to have a working knowledge of exiting an aircraft at altitude other than by parachuting.

I feel you'll be happy & do your best no matter what you wind up doing. Remember - go for 18X first, option 40 next & option 4 last. You might want to interject OCS anywhere in the equation keeping in mind that you might not get into SpecOps for awhile as an Officer. I'm really not sure about SF, though. They might take 2LTs in SFAS. For all I know maybe the 75th is by now, too. The lat I heard they wanted those Officers that were Platoon Leaders preferably in an Airborne platoon.

Think of a 6 year enlistment as having a job for that length of time, LOL. Each time I reenlisted I thought of it as job security plus many times I received a bonus. I bought several used cars that way.

Don't wait until May. Start the ball rolling right away. Tell your Recruiter that you won't know for sure about graduating until May. Let him figure it out. If you wait too long all the good slots will be taken. Sometime option 40s 4s & SFAS are filled up for almost a year. There are many May & June graduates that don't realize that they won't ship immediately. Of course many already know that & possibly started as early as the Christmas break. If your contract hinges on your diploma it can always be changed or deleted altogether & started over. They WON'T ship you to BCT until your finished with school. If all contracts are filled until the end of fiscal '17 you'll be in a new fiscal year when you graduate. You'll have the luxury of waiting up about a year to nail a contract that you want. I'd definitely contact a Recruiter this week. Tell him exactly what you want & when you'll be eligible to ship.

Good luck & keep the updates coming!

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

Well, I've got the ball rolling. Got the application filled out and back to the recruiter. Going to meps for the physical sometime this month, and trying to obtain some medical documents for a surgery so I can get approved for that, which will take two weeks to get...

However, I'd like to pick your brain a little bit if I may.

When I get into the SFAS, I want to be prepared in every possible way. The recruiter tells me right now to just get fit, run 6 minute miles and trying rucking some, and swim in combat gear to prepare. He says I don't need to be top-notch fit when I go to basic, as 18X candidates train in a seperate platoon with a much more difficult focus on physical training compared to standard enlistees. Plus, after basic, 18x candidates get an intense 2 week preparation course that no prior service candidates get. Physically, we should be fine. DOes that sound right to you?

Furthermore, what is the best way to prep for these courses beyond the physcial aspects? I want to try learning some navigation skills, for example, as that is a big test during the SFAS. What other things should I be focusing on?

And, let's say I fail the navigation portion and am unable to reach all of the points for the test that I'm supposed to. Would that mean the difference between selection and non-select? I know just making it through the course is not enough. I'd be so angry if I finished and did not get selected, so I want to make sure I do it right.

Thanks!

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
Spencer96

What your Recruiter told you about SFAS & PT preparation sounds right to me. I can't really say what will fail you in any of the tests. I don't now what their standards are. It's possible you'll be recycled or retested.

As far as prepping for SFAS I would focus on the physical aspects. I wouldn't begin to be able to tell you how to prepare for anything else. Since I've been in the Military I've always been taught first, pre-tested then tested. Nobody ever assumed that I'd come to that particular course with any knowledge about it at all.

What your Recruiter told you about a special platoon for SpecOp candidates is correct. 18X & Option 40s will train in PT together. Some say that when going through the regular PT training with all the rest of the recruits they've lost a step from when they came into the Army. I still contend that you should go into Infantry OSUT in good shape. It'll make it much easier on you.

To me your Recruiter is giving you the right information. The PT part is right on the money. I've always contended that preparing for the Army for anything else can be counterproductive unless that preparation is conducted by someone who has actually done it. There's the right way, the wrong way & the Army way, LOL.

I'm glad you followed through with your plans & the best of luck to you! You have a long road of training ahead of you as well as a big adventure. In Navy UDT/SEAL training the adage was "the only easy day was yesterday", LOL.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

Well, I messed up MSG Glenn. I let some doubts in my head, which is the first and worst mistake I hear. I'm quite worried about the physical aspects of SF. I've started going back to the gym every day, and my current abilities would classify me as weak.

I can do pushups and sit ups, but not to SF standards or close to it. My running today times out to a weak 15:40. I'm much farther behind than I thought. And I made the awful mistake of doubting myself, and now that thought is stuck in my head.

I'm deathly afraid of failing the SF program, because my absolute worst fear is to flunk out and be sent to "the needs of the army". At this point, I'd have another 5.5years or so stuck in active duty doing whatever the army wants me to do. I'm not the quitting type, I know I wouldn't quit. But I might score so low that they simply don't select me. Then I'm stuck in the 82nd Airborne or something worse.

Now that I've let these doubts in me, I can't get them out and I am doubting myself. A recruiter at the station earlier overheard me say that I want to go 18x, and he went off on a screaming rant about how I better want it more than anything in the world or I should just not bother. His class had 740 people, and barely over 100 made it. Most of those were 18X candidates.

So, I guess it boils down to this. If I'm already losing motivation, is that a sign I should just quit right now and choose another MOS? Do I want SF? More than any other job. However, I am losing faith in myself.People training for years for SF and Rangers fail regularly. Here I am, just starting training this year, and completely unprepared.

I mean, I found other MOS opportunities I could start in that sound better than the 82nd. I thought maybe I could go 19D Cavalry Scout to begin with, and immediately start trying to get a slot in the SF selection course. That way, if I fail, at least I have a safe backup plan.

What are your thoughts? Maybe I have blown it by letting the doubts in, I don't know.I can't afford to fail something so important to me, and the thought of failing SF would haunt me for the rest of my life.

If I tried it anyways and did not get selected, I know I can retry. That is comforting. But I can't seem to cut the doubts. Normal or not?

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
It's not abnormal...

...to have doubts about SF. In my opinion that something like the 82nd would be right up your alley. Many will go to Ranger School at least as an NCO. The 82nd (or 173rd or 25th Div. Airborne) is probably as close to SpecOps as you can get. When I was in we had a standing joke that we were so powerful that when trouble started somewhere in the world all our ready battalion would have to do is get loaded in aircraft & take off & the trouble would stop immediately, LOL. There were quite a few times when we where turned back mid-flight.

If there's any chance of you deciding sometime in your career to go into SpecOps your best plan would be to go Infantry with an Option 4 contract. SF requires Infantry & Airborne School. Being Airborne Infantry is definitely an exciting job, though. I can't relate too much about Cav Scout but the few that I knew weren't real happy. One of them went Infantry when he reenlisted. I also knew a few who loved it. I personally think I'd like it.

This is a great time to decide against going into SF. Once that contract is signed & you ship it's too late. It's your life & your decision. That Recruiter was sure right. If you have any doubts at all you won't make it through SFAS. All you'll do is take a slot from someone who really wants it & has a good chance of making it. There was a time when a new recruit wanted to go into the 82nd but here is no contract for unit of choice. They'd get an SF or Ranger contract with the thought they'd drop out & be automatically assigned to the 82nd. This no longer happens as far as I know. The 82nd no longer takes SpecOps dropouts. You'd go to a leg Infantry unit.

Good luck & keep me informed about any decisions you make.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

Thanks for that.

What do you think the odds would be of getting a shot for SFAS after enlisting? Of course, missing that guarantee would make it more difficult. However, is it still something possible down the road?

And if I were to enlist under another contract, if I tried SFAS, would I simply revert to what my job was?

This is a very difficult decision. I want SF more than any other position in the army, but as you said, I'd hate to take that slot from somebody who is more prepared for it, perhaps with many years of preperation. I'm going to have to do some real soul searching. I think I can get myself well prepared, as I wouldn't be leaving until January. That's plenty of time with a rigorous workout routine. It's just a matter of deciding if it's my best route, and if I'm OK with 5.5 years in the Army's Needs for a single shot at the best job the Army has to offer.

Once enlisted into some MOS, such as Infantry with option 4 or 19D with an option 4, how difficult is it to switch units down the road? If SFAS never becomes an option to try later, can I still transfer to other places and get beneficial experience, besides plain infantry? Such as, could I try and get into specialized schools such as air assault, Arctic, etc?

Have you ever heard of anyone getting into a language school without an intelligence or SF MOS?

I'm sorry, I know, my knowledge of all of this is minuscule. Researching online gives me good information, but some of these kinds of things are not posted often online with clear answers. I just want to be 100% Certain once I decide. As you said, and as the recruiter said, if I'm not 100% when I sign that dotted line, It's too late. There is no going back. I want to weigh ALL my options before I sign away my life.

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
@Spencer

I'll start with language school. I've never heard of anyone going there with an MOS that didn't require it. I'm sure it's still possible but improbable, though.

Once you're in a unit you'll be pretty much be stuck there unless you get an opportunity for SF or a transfer to some kind of "special unit" that has a need for Soldiers. Those types of units would rather make their own selection because a unit would just use that to get rid of their "dead wood".

Specialized schools are very possible like Air Assault, Sniper & any specialty that your unit uses in your MOS (or others). Your unit first has to have a need for those skills & is willing to pay for you to go to those schools & their budget has to have the funds. Air Assault School is automatic if you get in the 101st Div. They call themselves "101st Airborne" but now their almost exclusively Air Assault with I think one battalion of actual Paratroopers. It's much easier getting those schools as an Infantryman. Most times they'll have a priority on available slots, even Airborne School & Ranger School (you don't have to be in the 75th to get Ranger School but it's not an enlistment option like Option 40). If somewhere down the line you wanted to go into the 75th Rangers & then progress to SF from there you'd be out of luck because the 75th has no 19 series MOSs & SF would require you to go to Infantry school first. There are a few specialized training schools that might be available as a reenlistment incentive if your unit doesn't send you.

It's always best to go in with the shortest contract you can get. Having said that for the best experience & a chance of getting any specialized training 4 years would be the minimum. Otherwise you'd either have to extend your enlistment or reenlist to get those schools in many cases. The Army & your unit would like you to have some time to utilize that training. My son for instance had a 4 year plus training time with his Option 40 contract. That came to about 4 1/3 years.

I may be accused of pushing 11X over 19D but that's because knowing what you're interested in that should be your first choice. It seems that especially for Airborne & 75th recruiting the first place recruiters look for volunteers to fill classes is Infantry School at Ft. Benning. That also happens to be where Airborne School is located & HQ 75th Ranger Regt. Infantry also has the most slots in Airborne units & in Ranger Batts.

Some of the info on the internet might have been correct once but now it could be outdated. I was accused very vehemently that I was giving wrong info once on another site & he had the URL to prove it. I went to that web page & immediately saw it was at least 5 year old info & a lot had changed. I invoked my 1SG persona & chewed him a new one. Felt good. I never heard back from him because now his vast knowledge of the Army as an internet warrior was called into question, LOL.

I hope I answered at least some of your questions.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

That definitely does answer my questions. For example, I didn't realize I couldn't try and get a slot in SF as a 19D. I was told I could still go to ranger school if I ever found a slot, but I'd never be able to serve in the 75th, because that MOS is not in the 75th.

I think you're right, infantry may be my best bet. In which case, I could go 18X as I originally thought, and if I find myself not selected, at least I go back into infantry doing something that I'd still want to be doing. I still thoroughly believe I'd make it through the course. I've been doing my research, and I really think I can. I just fear that I'll be in the 1/3rd that does not get selected anyways.

However, it still may be worth a shot, especially if I were to go infantry anyways.

Out of curiosity, maybe you know the answer to this. I've been searching and asking everywhere and I can't get a straight answer, my recruiter said he'd get back to me on it. If I enlisted as an 18X, would the contract really be that full 6 years, even if I wasn't selected? Or do they just count the 1 to 2 years of training as being not included in the 4 year contract, so if you don't make it, it's still basically just a 4 year contract, and if you do, it goes up to 5 or 6 years?

As usual, thanks for all your help. You're the most knowledgeable person I've found online haha.

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
Almost positive...

...you'd have to serve the full time of your contract. What I've always been told is that your contract only gives you the training &opportunity to be an SF Trooper(18X), Ranger(Opt 40) or Paratrooper(Opt 4) but it definitely guarantees that you'll serve the time that's on that contract. Let your Recruiter find out for sure, though.

Speaking of Infantry - I'm sure you've heard the saying "if it doesn't kill you it only makes you stronger". Well Infantry will kill you, LOL. There are some tee shirts & sweatshirts with that written on them. Gotta get one, LOL. Then the old UDT/SEAL saying "the only easy day was yesterday". Not true. They're all hard & there is no such word as "easy".

You CAN get into SF as a 19D. All SF goes through Infantry School regardless of your MOS (except if you're already 11B then you've met the requirement.) Same as Airborne School. If you've already passed it & are an Infantryman & jump qualified then you've met the first 2 requirements for SF. You're right - you can't get into the 75th Rangers with any 19 series MOS but any MOS can attend Ranger School. In other words you have to hold one of the MOSs in the 75th to go to RASP. That's entirely different than Ranger School.

A fact that many of the unwashed masses don't know. An 18 MOS is the only MOS besides Infantry that awards the Combat Infantry Badge. Infantry as well as SF also wears the Blue Infantry Cord around their right shoulder on their dress uniforms. "Turning Blue" is the graduation ceremony for graduating Infantry School. I had the honor of putting it on my son & about a year later his Ranger Tab when he got back from his 1st deployment with 3rd Batt & graduated from RS.

Infantry usually has the priority & the most slots in almost all of the high speed schools such as Ranger School, Airborne School, Air Assault School, etc.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

As usual, great information haha.

I don't mind the long contract with SF, but the fact that failure goes to the needs of the army has me quite worried. I've heard some horror stories of guys doing that and becoming mechanics and cooks as a result. I feel like I'd be better off enlisting into infantry, possibly option 40. At least I'd be safe as infantry, and not have to worry about becoming a mechanic or something. I don't mind every day being difficult, as you said. If I try infantry, I'll have more time to prepare for SF than I've got now.

I hit a 6:32 mile last night, which is significantly better than usual. However, I about gave out at that speed by 1.5 miles and slowed down. I got my 2 miles in 14:28. My time is improving. Pushups and situps I work on every day twice a day, but I still have a way to go.

I'm still trying to obtain medical records and my graduation letter from my university, so I can't even go to MEPS yet anyways. I'll have to continue researching until then and figure out what I want to do. Every option sounds pretty good, to be honest...

The only thing that holds me back about basic infantry is the fact that it won't give me a diverse skillset useful after the military, if I were to decide not to re-enlist later. Kicking in doors and shooting are not exactly common businesses in the states.

At least with Rangers and SF, you gain many more beneficial skillsets, especially the language training in SF. That's the main thing holding me back on straight up infantry. I love the idea of doing those exciting things, but I don't want my time in the army to not be as beneficial as it could have been, if you know what I mean. The more skillsets I can earn, the better off I will be, whether I stay in the army or I leave later.

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
@Spencer

The main skills you'll get in Combat Arms MOSs is leadership & discipline. I worked at a large photo lab for awhile when I retired from the Army & the lab manager was a former Infantry Officer. He knew pretty much about photography & lab procedures but his main skill was leadership. His exposure to photography came when he was assigned as the Public Information Officer for his division. Other than that he had a working knowledge about photography that he had picked up on his own.

Don't totally dismiss OCS from your plans for the future. Possibly going into a SpecOps job might help but then again you'd be putting pretty much time in the Army in the training alone. As an enlisted Infantryman in the Airborne with the possibility of going to Ranger School I'd say you'd have a leg up to become an Officer through OCS. You'd be used to discipline, have some rank & with that goes a certain degree of leadership skills. OCS attendance would be a lot easier to get good grades in with all that prior knowledge. Some of my best Officers were OCS grads that came up through the ranks. Many of them went on to become Special Operations Officers in SF or Rangers or both. The had the mindset of both an enlisted NCO & an Officer in a Platoon Leader job. Being an Infantry Officer it's almost an unwritten requirement that you wear jump wings or a Ranger Tab. Both are considered skills that make you a better leader even if you never get to an Airborne unit or a Battalion in the 75th.

You have some decisions to make. Regardless which path you choose always make the best of it. You can always get out after your enlistment time is up or reenlist & ask for the world. Many times they'll jump through hoops trying to keep you in. You also have to bear in mind that going to any specialize schools like RASP & OCS is always easier on those who have been in the Army for awhile rather than going right from basic training & MOS school.

Having to wait for your medical records might be in your favor. From now until about Thanksgiving Recruiters will be very busy with the grads. The "desirable" slots go fast. Infantry, Option 4 & 40 contracts are highly sought after. My son started off in early summer & had to wait until January before Infantry opened up & option 40, & if he decided against being a Ranger so did option 4. All 3 of those contracts weren't available during the summer months.

My recommendation? Get an 11X/option 4 contract. After you get into the Big Army for awhile put in an application for OCS. If a Ranger recruiter comes around looking for volunteers for the 75th then go for it. If SF recruiters come along then go for that. Only try out for Rangers or SF if you're pretty sure that you can physically hack it. I'm sure they would give you a pretest or at least look at your APFT scores. As an Infantry Paratrooper you wouldn't have to go through MOS school (for SF) or Airborne School (for both). If it's OCS you'd already have BCT finished & you'd have some Army knowledge. I'm sure that all of those options would require a recommendation from your CO, Platoon Leader, 1SG, PSG, Squad Leader - at least some of those guys. I don't know how far up the chain they go. Getting a chance at them while in basic requires a recommendation from your DS.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

Well, some things have developed since the last post.

After much thought and consideration, I'm going to take the DLAB in a few days. Hopefully will score high enough to get a category III or IV language, and will likely enlist as 35M with an option 4, human intelligence collector. Recruiter thinks he can grab an option 4 with it, as I won't sign for 35M without it.

It's quite a drastic turn from my original thoughts. I guess once it really came down to the final steps of enlisting 18X or 11x/Opt 40, it made me realize it's not exactly what I want to do.

I don't particularly picture myself as a career soldier, and thinking of the future after the military was part of this choice. If I wanted to be in for a lifetime, I'd go 18X in a heartbeat. However, I don't think it's for me. Rangers, on the other hand, is still a possibility.

The 35M/Opt 4 would be great for the language training in particular, but also the skills I'd earn from intelligence training would be beneficial. I've always wanted to work in federal agencies one day, and the language training would be huge for that. On top of the future after the military, the 75th ranger regiment has a need for human intel collectors. Maybe I can get lucky and work hard and get into Rangers as a 35M. Worst case, if I never get a slot in rangers, I still gain highly rewarding skills for after the military.

I hate that I'll miss out on all the excitement. From what I've found, 35M's are often given desk duty, especially now that we are not fully involved in the middle east. There's not that many 35Ms still over there. I hate the thought of that, which makes me want that ranger slot as a 35M more than anything if I can land it. However, talking with a former 35M, he said that despite his desk duty, about 10% of his job actually out in the field with infantry units in Afghanistan was so great that it made up for his desk duty.

I guess it's all banking on my DLAB scores. If I can't get a class III or higher language, I don't want it. I don't think learning Spanish will get me anything exciting out of the Army....or afterwards, unless I want to work ICE, DEA or Border Patrol, which I don't.

I'll update again this week with what my scores come out to and all that.

My PT scores have also gone up a bit, too. If 35M/Opt 4 is a no-go, I'll go infantry opt 40. I've got my 2 miles run time down to 13:35. Pushups are improving but not quite there. I still have 8 months to train before i graduate....I'll be fine by then.

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
@Spencer96

Sounds like a good idea to me. Coming from a level of not knowing diddly squat about MOS 35M can you choose a language or does it all depend on the needs of the Army? I would think that any of the Middle East languages or Korean would be important at this time. Just because there are no troops in many places doesn't mean that those places aren't electronically monitored.

Knowing a foreign language is one thing but the importance lies in knowing the real meaning behind it. A foreign intel interceptor can tune into a US transmission that said "Go take a jump in the lake" & tell his superiors that the US troops have been ordered to go swimming, LOL. Another one that would befuddle an interpreter is "blow it out your a$$". He'd tell his superiors that the US troops are being fed beans, LOL. Knowing the foreign country's idioms can be just as important as being highly proficient in the language when many times a group of words forming a thought can have several meanings & connotations.

At least you have several plans in mind.That's always good. That way you'll have a lot to choose from or that there'll be an opening in at least one of them.

Spencer96
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Joined: 02/27/2017
@MSG Glenn

Well, so much for that plan. I only scored high enough for category I languages, such as Spanish. I rushed myself through to meet the time, and finished with extra time. I screwed that one up. Not worth going 35M for that. Back to the drawing board, I guess.

Current options being most considered are 19D, infantry with option 4 or 40 (if I can find an option 40), or 21B.

Whatever option I end up choosing, I'll be applying for OCS later on during my enlistment, and also for CID. I could go ahead and apply to both, but I want the enlisted experience first. I think I have a good shot getting in either one.

I thought about going ahead and applying for OCS, but the board only meets twice a year according to my recruiter. I am too late for the July board, and the next board is in December or something. I want to be in the Army and gone by January or february at the latest. I'd rather not apply for OCS and be stuck waiting until next June to find out if I even got accepted. If i were not accepted, I'd be back in the same enlisting boat anyway. I want to join up, get the experience, serve my country, and start a career outside the military after that. I'm pushing my schooling to graduate a semester early so I can do this sooner.

I also thought about the new CID college program to apply for out of college, but I don't want that right away either. It's almost like not even being a part of the military. I'd be a federal agent for the army, and rarely wear the uniform. Maybe I'll apply for CID later on, but I don't want to miss out on the true army life, as good or bad as it may be.

I have flip flopped a lot on career choices, as you've seen. I've learned a lot, and really narrowed down choices. I now know SF is not for me. I know I don't qualify for 35M. Those were my top two at one point. I want something beneficial to future careers in federal agencies, but intelligence is the most relevent. I don't want basic intel. Human intel was the most exciting of all intel jobs I could find that are entry level. I mean, any military experience would be at least a little bit beneficial. Just 19D for example would not do much experience wise.

I've been trying pro and con charts of all options, and I still keep flip flopping.

You have any ideas for how to really narrow it down?

MSG Glenn
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Joined: 08/31/2010
This is good time...

...to weigh all your options. Keep working with your Recruiter because any info I can give you rather than advice & Army experience knowledge is different & I expect it to change again soon. during the last 8 years our Military has become a social experiment. Female Soldiers in Combat Arms, Ranger School & Submarines. I cringe, LOL. I'm sure glad & don't have to deal with mixed Combat Arms units that are integrated as a 1SG. There are enough problems without that, LOL.

Did you mean 31D CID? My (outadated) MOS list has CID as 31D. In any event I BELIEVE that CID is not an enlistment option. I BELIEVE you have to start with 31B, Military Police & go from there. Probably changed by now anyway with that college to CID program. It's the same with most civilian police departments - start out as a street cop & advance to detective. My son is now a Patrol Officer but will start training for our Tactical Enforcement Unit (what we call SWAT). He had to be on the department for 3 years to apply & test & out of the 50 or so candidates only 2 were selected. His Ranger experience helped him a lot there. He could have also applied for the Detectives but he wasn't interested. He didn't even bother to check if they were even accepting applicants. He's had some training in that, too because many times Detectives aren't available as our Chief really doesn't believe much in them. He also had training in forensics - DNA samples, fingerprints, photos. He likes being a street cop better & the main reason he went to the PD was to get into TEU. It's the Ranger in him.

I'm glad you're doing your research before signing your contract. I never believed in jumping at the first thing that comes along unless you've had your heart set on a certain route all along. My son had his heart set on Infantry, then after research Airborne, then Ranger Regt. I didn't influence him in any way. I would have been just as happy for him if he decided to be a Cook or even the Air Force. Well maybe not that so much, LOL. He said that going in the Army was a no-brainer because I was in the Army. I reminded him that I was also in the Navy but he told me that was long before he was even born. He only knew me as a Soldier.