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I plan on joining the United States Airforce for many, many reasons, but don't know what route to go. My question is do I endure the the hell of four years as a cadet or go through ROTC where i can go to a University of my choice, and learn whatever the hell I want to? I guess you need to know certain things, and these are what the recruiter told me to consider when deciding.
-I'm an exceptional student, I guess reasonably intellgent (I have a piece off paper telling me I'm one of the smartest in a 30 mile radius), taking advanced courses, and maintaining a B- average with PE and A- without (do to all the activitys requiring nimblness being piled on in the last semester)
-As I have said before, I am a large person, Barrel chested, 6'2" 15-20% body fat, 250lbs
-I have many extracuriclar activities such as football, baseball, job, two apprenticeships, and about 200 community service hours (voleenteer), two different rock semi-bands
-I plan to work on the space program either though craft design, or specifics on the craft, notably drives or hull.
My reservation about the ROTC is that I've heard 'friendly' fire becomes an issue, and you get anywhere near the respect you'd get coming out of the Academy. Plus the Academy has been found out to be a bit pushy in the Evangelical department, and as I'm heavily atheist or Daoist (haven't decided, I could catch even more flak. I still have a year to decide (next June) but as this is potenality the make it or break choice in my life, I'd prefer a varity of opinions.
PS Enlisted opinions will be taken into account as well.
PSS Opinion from the Marines, Navy, Coast Gaurd, and Army will be welcome as well.
PSSS Opinions expressed will not be held as the offical opinion of respective branch
Three Companies of the 26th Vinancium
143rd Airborne Badgers (99.9% done)
159th Corsair Rifles (35% done))
69th Armored Wall Busters (95% done)
Total 197 men, 12 tanks, 4 Heavy Artillery Pieces
There are quite a few things to consider in such a massive decision, which this one is, but to address your concerns right away regarding ROTC or the Academy I would say this much. Regardless of the institute that you choose, the overall end-state is the same: you gain a commission as an officer in the armed forces, in this case the United States Airforce. Every person you talk to will have their own, unique opinion on what life is going to be like after graduating and beginning your service and each one will be slightly tainted by their own experiences. In my opinion, once you get your commission, the manner in which you obtained it is somewhat irrelevant. What matters more is how you conduct yourself and lead the young men and women around you.
That being said, I will talk a little about the two systems, and what I have seen out of them. First I will discuss the Academies. Any service academy that you gain acceptance to is going to be a difficult four year, life altering experience. It is no small task to complete the academic studies alone, or the physical challenges that are required, or even learning the military knowledge and advancing your leadership style. Each one of these regimes can be taxing in its own right, but an academy will force you to excel in all of them. I would not, however, worry about your religious beliefs or those of others. The structure of the schools is set up such that you can place as much emphasis on religion as you feel necessary, or as little. As far a academic studies are concerned, there are a limited number of majors to select from, but the facilities and instructors found at the Academies are top-notch, not to mention the fact that a portion of the instructors will be officers in the military. This, as well as the general nature of the Academies, will provide many great opportunities to interact will members of the military in order to get a feel of what your career may be like.
ROTC provides excellent leadership training in a much less structured setting. You will gain all the required knowledge and tools to be an effective leader or the program would not exist. That being said, you will be learning and developing these styles in more of a college setting than you would find at the Academy. It goes without saying, then, that you will probably enjoy your time more in ROTC life, but who knows. I think, in a way, that those kinds of freedoms require more personal discipline that the structured life of a cadet. Regular colleges will also provide you with many more options for choosing a major.
Like I said earlier, both are excellent paths for reaching that all important goal of service. Now for a quick, perhaps preachy, piece from the Marine in me. The choice to enter the services in any capacity is a serious one and needs to be done for the right reasons. While it is a good career and provides a lot of opportunities to improve or advance yourself, it is ultimately not about that at all. You will be making many sacrifices as a result, and will carry a huge burden with you. That is, you become a part of a corps, or family, responsible for protecting the freedoms of America. Sorry, off my soapbox now.
Good luck in your decision, and let me know if you have any specific questions.
We who fly do so for the love of flying. We are alive in the air with this miracle that lies in our hands and beneath our feet
-Cecil Day Lewis
ok closet_anarchist, heres an opinion from an Army First Sergeant:
Go the way you feel best about.
ROTC, the Academy, OCS, doesn't make much difference in and of itself, what matters is the man or woman in the uniform. To tell you the truth (and the Academy Cadets probably won't like it) OCS officers are generally accorded more respect by the enlisted soldiers at first sight. That shouldn't be surprising.
If you are a good officer, you know what you are doing, show the troops you work at least as hard as they do, are a team player and you learn to listen to your veteran sergeants, then it doesn't matter how you got your commission: the troops will follow you, and the word will get around in the NCO ranks that you are a good officer.
[ 1SG, B/ 2-174 ADA (AVENGER) ]
"The sword that takes life gives life."
whats ocs? i too am interested in enlisting before college, or doing rotc, for several reasons,: free college(not the biggest issue) to show off my republican/american pride (a rarity in teens these days, damn liberalism) because i aspire to one day be the emperoro of the known universe(i will settle for 1/2 to 3/4 of the world if i cant accomplish this) because my family has deep rooted military history(mainly outside of the united states, although my father served as a seal on seal team 6 for a number of years until their leader(i believe it was richard uschenko, i may have my names confused) was imprisoned and seal team 6 became DEVGRU) i want to one day join the elite delta force(i dream big) and mainly cuz its the military, i know itll be hard but i am gonna do it even if its behind my parents backs....
....with Montford981 on this. OCS officers get way more respect from the men then that green luey that just finished up at the point. I will also agree that you should prove to your men (and women) that you will work just as hard as them.
OH.... and Montford...Avengers lead the way hooah
Interesting to see someone else taking interest in the armed services. I've been giving some thought myself, especially for when I finish with college and before I go to law school. A two to four year stretch would help to set my priorities in order and hopefully make some needed changes in my life.
Also, I'm unfortuantly delusional enough to beleive in the ideal of the citizen soldier, and also by the beleif that if one wishes to make a difference, one must take an active role. I'm uncertain where I'd end up myself as well, but the recruiters seem to like me (I AM an Eagle Scout after all, that's got to count for something) but my history of ADHD medicine quickly turns them off.
Perhaps we'll see. I've still got two years to think it through.
"Some days you're the Mekboy building the kannon, the rest you're the grot being blown up by it."
- Quote attributed to Sorkrates, before his much mourned death due to ingestion of Hemsquig Juice.
"Dis iz my choppa, and herez me gun. Dat's for killin' and so'z dis one!"
- Bloodaxe Kommando Warchant
I recently got out of the Marines as a sergeant, and I worked in a planning section where the officers outnumbered the enlisted personnel 3:1, so I have some observations to offer.
- I agree with Montford981, I've met and worked with some good and not so good officers from both avenues, so from an enlisted man's point of view, you'll get the respect from your men if you deserve it. In my experience I've never seen a 2nd Lt. show up for his first day of work and have people not think he is an inexperienced kid who will mess the whole section up. Then again the same goes for a brand new private. Basically everyone starts in the same boat and its your actions that either sink you or drive you to excellence.
- I noticed that officers who attended the academy sometimes tended to be a tighter group at times; to me it seemed like they thought they were more of a "pure" officer. I didn't see anyone get mistreated for not being one though.
- On my college campus (Washington State University) the ROTC people have quite a bit of freedom that I don't generally associate with a military training environment. If you have alot of discipline you'd probably do fine, if not, the academy might prepare you for the rigors of military life better. It is a demanding environment so get accustom to it.
Like I said, I can only offer observations, but I hope they help. Good luck to you!
I have a suggestion for you coming from the enlisted side who is going officer soon.
I suggest enlisting first and milking whatever branch you join for all their worth on the enlisted side before going to be an officer. Believe me, the military absolutely positively WILL screw you over many many times during your career so don't even feel the slightest inkling of guilt for taking the military for every penny that they offer you.
Yes, you get paid more as an officer, but a lot of other benefits aren't there because you are, well, an officer. There's no signing bonus, or college repayment, or GI bill or any of the other stuff that you get for enlisting when you go officer.
In my case, I signed up for a cushy Military Intelligence job with a 20,000 dollar bonus and they repaid my college loans too. Now that my loans are all paid off, and I have the 20,000 in the sack, I'm going to put in for WOFT (Warrant Officer Flight Training), and failing that I will apply to OCS.
One other bonus is that if you are enlisted for five years before you go to OCS, then you receive a special officer pay bonus called 01E pay, which is a few hundred dollars more per month just for having been enlisted before you became an officer.
Lastly, any officer who has done a few years as an enlisted soldier will receive much more respect from their troops than any other 2LT that shows up on the job. If they know that you weren't always an officer then they know that you have eaten **** for a while before moving on to better things.
Lastly, for gods sake don't make the mistake of joining the Army (Like I did) if you are enlisting. Nothing is more idiotic than sitting before a board to decide whether you should get your next rank or not. The Air Force is a much better place for enlisted soldiers because they have proficiency tests that decide your next rank instead of some 50 year old, half dead Sergeant Major making you sing the Army song for ****s and giggles in order to put some stripes on your arm.
closet_anarchist: Reading this thread, I can see alot of wisdom. TheAdidas, Montford981, Sig121, and H0urg1ass are all givng you good advice and options. It's going to be tough to articulate my own offering as well as TheAdidas, so I'll try to add my own little bits and reinterate some of what is already here. It's so tough to distill it down to the essesntials.
Just to make clear where I'm coming from, I'm a US Army Captain, in the Corps of Engineers. I've served as a Combat Engineer in Kosovo and Operation Iraqi Freedom. I've been in service over five years, and I graduated from West Point. I also went to college in South Florida beforehand, and, right now, I'm working with the Air Force. Next year, I plan to leave the service and go back to school for an advanced degree.
Regardless of what commissioning source you choose, your soldiers or airmen will ultimately weigh you and measure you by your own performance. In fact, your performance will do more to affect their perception of the Academy or ROTC or OCS than the other way around.
So choose beteween OCS, ROTC and the Academies based on YOUR personality and desires, not on the impact you thnk it will have on your troops.
Remember that the Academies and ROTC both try to prepare you to be an officer, but nothing teaches like experience, so either way, you won't be 100% ready. Through OCS, you will have already been enlisted for a time (usually).
At West Point, the focus was on leadership and learning to lead in any circumstance. Everyone who attends an academy WILL be put in charge of others during their 4 years.
Attending an Academy will entail alot of sacrifices. Too many to list in detail here. You will not be expected to excel in ALL aspects of your life, but you will be required to maintain a mininmum standard for everything. That can be pretty challenging at times. This first year is very hard. You give up many freedoms and most of your free time. You're also going to learn to keep your pride in check. It gets better each year, though.
In exchange for all that suffering, and, believe me, you WILL suffer. You get alot. The instructors and the quality of the education is the very best. Unlike a university, where the professors often research, the instructors are only there to TEACH. And they come from the best schools in the country and lots of practical experience. Every extracurricular activity you could reasonably want is available to try out. Just name it.
I've got to mention the Honor Code. Every Academy has one. "A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do." This is really serious business and every year someone gets kicked out for dishonesty. It sounds draconian, but it is actually one of the very best aspects of the service academies.
And best of all, your classmates will be like brothers and sisters to you. They will help you succeed and support you, even if they don't know you very well. And when you graduate, you'll run into them and automatically have something in common. When you graduate, you will have the most incredible feeling of self-satisfaction and self-worth.
As for ROTC, I can't add to what TheAdidas wrote, except that Colin Powell was a ROTC graduate, and that says something.
Finally, remember this: choosing to attend an academy is not a committment to a career in the military, but you are definately committing at least 9 years of your life to the military, and that's a very long time when you're 18.
Feel free to send me a note if you have more questions. I promise I won't try to convince you of a particular choice. Good Luck!
When you can't run, you crawl. And when you can't crawl, find someone to carry you.
My cousin served as a combat engineer in Kosovo, I think after or during that he was also an air born ranger, I rember he has the paratrooper thing on his shoulder. Would you know him? His name is John Manton, he just got back from Iraq, he has a purple heart, he convoy was ambushed, hes ok now though but he was hit with alot of frag from an RPG hitting the vehical behind his.Originally Posted by Hadrian