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How to Make a Career in Defense
The careers mentioned here have been segregated in accordance with the branches and common entry points that can be used to enter any of the Armed Forces of the United States. Some future career aspects and other possible career paths have also been discussed.
Having a career in the defense forces of any nation, especially your own is a very, very prestigious way of life and is probably also the ideal way to live life. The United States Armed Forces, which are probably the largest deployed (theoretically, the second largest), have a mammoth presence all across the globe with military bases, installation and deployment in all regions, continents and nooks and crannies of the world. The United States also supplies to the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces, the NATO and other international organizations.
On the whole the U.S. Defense Force needs obnoxious volumes or able, capable, determined and patriotic manpower that too with a razor-sharp instinct. This is your chance to be the best, serve and make almost every movement of life count. A career in the defense forces is a lifetime of an experience. Here are your entry points and the ways in which you can enter the Armed forces.
United States Army
The United States Army, which is the regular army also has Army National Guard and the Army Reserve as its subordinate strike and infantry force, which often supports the regular Army in combat execution in war and combat regions. The National Guard and Reserve are however, deployed nearer to home in peace time, but they often ship out on the battlefield in times where more manpower is needed. The United States Army has 3 chief command hierarchies namely, Non-commissioned Officers and Soldiers (NOC’s), Warrant officers and lastly, the regular Officers.
Soldiers and warrant officers can enter the service by enlisting through the guidance of recruitment officers. Similarly, warrant officers can apply to the Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) for enlistment. Note that, enlistment though voluntary has quite a stringent screening process, which also requires the fulfillment of all physical, mental and some academic qualifications.
The officer entry and training on the other hand is a 4 channeled and follows:
- Army ROTC: The ROTC is basically a Reserve Officer’s training corps where high school, college and university students pursue military training throughout their college and graduation years, following which they receive a commission as full-time army officers with minimum years service requirement. The ROTC for the United States Army is known as Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AROTC). 56% Army officers are ROTC graduates.
- Direct Commission: The Direct Commission is another form of entry to the Army, where students of some specialized professions such as Medicine, law and engineering are recruited and trained in the several staff colleges across the United Stated.
- Officer Candidate Schools: College graduates can apply for Officer Candidate School (OCS), Fort Benning where after intensive training and academic development, they are commissioned as full-time officers.
- United States Military Academy: Often referred to as just West Point, this academy is considered to be the most elite military academy of United States. Cadets pass out as commissioned officers. School students, who are or have completed high school can apply to this academy.
- Others: Enlisted soldiers, warrant officers and commissioned officers can change their career path after some years of experience and service by taking up some or the other examinations and fulfilling requirements to join the army officer cadre.
As a part of the United States Army after enlistment or commission, you have some great, prestigious choices, to enter some of the best covert, classified and specialized infantry and combat units which are operated under the jurisdiction of United States Special Operations Command. Getting selected and trained in these units means that you are a premier soldier – the best of the best.
Some common options include the famous 75th Army Rangers, United States Special Forces or the legendary ‘Green Berets’, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment or the ‘Night Stalkers’, 4th Psychological Operations Group, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, Sustainment Brigade all Airborne units. On the whole you can have an amazing combat or non combat or career, irrespective of the fact whether you are a soldier, warrant officer or a regular officer.
United States Marine Corps
Marine Corps are regarded as the deadliest of the 5 armed forces of the U.S. The entries into the marines is a bit unconventional and quite different from the remaining branches of military. In this branch, enlisted soldiers go through the regular Marines training starting with boot camp. Warrant officers also have a similar method of training, however their training is more specialized and more technical. Often senior non-commissioned marines get promoted to warrant officers. These trainings are conducted at the Marine Corps Recruit Depots.
Officers, on the other hand, have three principle entry points which include, Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), Officer Candidates School (OCS) and the United States Naval Academy (USNA). The entry of officers through the Officer Candidates school is known as Commissioning Programs. Here with the help of an Officer Selection Officer, select a path of entry which consists of 3 options.
- Platoon Leaders Class: This training is for college students during their summer breaks and it takes place at Officer Candidates School (OCS).
- Officer Candidate Course: The officer candidate course is a 10 week program at the Officer Candidates School (OCS).
- NROTC Program: This program is the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, where the cadets with appropriate temperaments, from the Naval ROTC are sent to the Marines Candidate School.
All the 3 aforementioned entry cadets have the option of taking up one specialization from Ground, Air or Law Cadres. After completing the commission from any of the aforementioned 3 options of the Officer Candidate School, Marines get the first deputation at The Basic School at Quantico, which is a 6-month long training program, half a year of living hell to become one among the few and the proud. After the specialized training for the different jobs in the Marines, is completed, officers proceed to their receptive specialization schools which they had opted for at the Marines Candidate School, i.e: air, ground and law.
Ground Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), that is the cadets from the Ground cadre, undergo training in infantry, combat and communications at various staff colleges, academies and schools throughout the United States. Marines opting for the Air cadre, undergo training in flight schools, for aviation and air combat, some of them becoming fighter pilots. On the other hand the Law cadre undergo training at the Naval School of Justice.
Cadets passing out from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, always have the option of joining the marines, where they can directly proceed to the specialty schools of their choice.
After completing years of service and experience, any soldier, officer or warrant officer has a choice of joining the prestigious Marine Special Operations Regiment (MSOR), Marine Special Operations Intelligence Battalion (MIB), Marine Special Operations Support Group (MSOSG), Marine Special Operations School (MSOS) and the Special Mission Training Branch, all of which are covert and highly specialized units under the United States Special Operations Command.
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is probably the best as well as the largest Air Force in the world. The USAF, has a two tiered system of command with Officers and Airmen forming the system. Like the Army, the Air force also has the Reserve and National Guard as its support and subordinate force. Joining the Air force can be a highly rewarding career, whether you are an officer or an airman.
The enlisted Airmen of the Air Force undergo basic training at the Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in an exercise known as the Basic Military Training (BMT). This 7 week training consists of discipline, combat and basic air combat techniques. After the basic training is completed, Airmen proceed to the Air Force Specialty Code, which is a set of schools that trains airmen for technically specialized functions which include, operations, logistics, maintenance, support, medical, navigation, instigation, etc. After this training the Airmen usually join the full-time Air force and receive their first deputation.
The Air fore officers who are actually designated with flying status, Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) and Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), in some cases, navigation and flight engineer status is also awarded. These are trained by the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and Air Force Officer Training School (OTS). Out of the three, the Officer Training School is synonymous to the Officer Candidate School of other branches.
To become an Air Force officer, you will have to pass out of any of the three. Flying personnel or the ones who are going to be involved in direct combat are trained in these academies. On the other hand, other support officers are trained at the Academy of Military Science and several other staff academies in United States. Flying officers also go to staff colleges and several military bases and Air fields for advanced training, after begin commissioned and also throughout their careers.
A career in the USAF is highly rewarding, and if you the best, you can also get further raining and deputation in elite and overt units. These are commanded by the United States Special Operations Command, which include, Twenty-Third Air Force (AFSOF), 1st Special Operations Wing (1 SOW), 27th Special Operations Wing (27 SOW), 919th Special Operations Wing (919 SOW), 193rd Special Operations Wing (193 SOW), and many more.
United States Navy
The United States Navy has the most versatile form of personnel ranging from aviators to the elite SEAL’s. The Navy’s training and deputation is thus, highly versatile and 3 tiered. Sailors and Warrant officers can enlist through the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) and Delayed Entry Program (DEP). Sailors and Warrant officers go through the Boot Camp and then the A-School that is the staff academy or other schools where they receive their specialized training in the field of specialization that they have chosen. This can include anything from navigation to active marine and naval combat.
Officers, on the other hand, are trained in a two tiered system namely, the first tier of Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, United States Naval Academy and the Officer Candidate School. Following this tier the officers proceed to Officer Development School, which includes programs and training for specialized fields of operations including naval aviation and even medical training and marine combat. This training often depends upon the academics that you had taken up in the initial tiers.
Whether you are a Sailor, Officer, Warrant officer or a Naval aviator, among the many reasons to join the navy, there are two crucial and highly prestigious opportunities for you, after your commission or commencement of service of course. The first one is to join the Navy SEAL and the second one is to attend the legendary United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, which is also known as TOPGUN at Miramar (Fighter Town).
Apart from the bright future opportunities, any personnel can opt to be recruited into 4 covert and highly elite combat units under the command of Joint Special Operations Command. This is the tier one strike command in the United States Armed Forces. The Joint Special Operations Command operates 4 covert forces.
- A career in the SEALs especially is so rewarding that you can also opt to become a member of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU/SEAL Team 6, which is reportedly the fastest and deadliest strike and combat commando force in existence.
- The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is formed with the help of the best of Army Special Forces and Rangers, and is famously known as the Delta Force. It’s reputed to be the most formidable force for special operations and combat.
- The Air Force 24th Special Tactics Squadron (24th STS) which a formidable Air strike squadron which executes some very tough operations.
- The last unit is Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) which concentrates on the provision of intelligence activities.
A career in these highly specialized units would, of course, prove to be highly rewarding.