Air Force or Army, and Major

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by SourJ, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. SourJ

    SourJ New Member

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    This is my situation - back in 7th grade, when I decided that I wanted to be in the military, I first decided I wanted to go officer. Better pay, more leadership, I can make more of an impact, etc. My second decision was which branch to go into. I'm not a big fan of the water and I hate the cold, so I ruled out the Navy and Coast Guard. Marines seemed too difficult and it wasn't my sort of thing, so that was out of the question too. That left me with the Air Force or Army. Well, I didn't want to fly, so the obvious answer would be Army, right? Well, back then I thought the Air Force was only flying, nothing else. I realize now, in my high school years, that it's much more than that. However, I had already decided I wanted to go Army, and I became a big Army fan.

    Well, I'm a sophomore in high school and I've decided that I want to be an officer through the academy (whichever I go to) because I'll get a better education, a more military-focused education, and it seemed cooler. However, as I started thinking about life after the Academy, and what job I really wanted, I decided Intelligence would be my thing. That's what I want to do.

    Now, I've had many people ask me "Why Army?", "Have you considered Air Force?" and questions like that. Now, I don't really have a solid reason to say "Not Air Force" except that I don't want to fly. I'm still debating between which branch to choose, and I was hoping I could get some help from people here.

    I made a list about the differences between living conditions, motivations, promotions, pay, and jobs between these two services. Most of them point me towards Air Force, but I'm not 100% sure. Also, I'm still not interested in flying at all. What I'd basically like to know is if I go to the AFA, will I have to study aerospace science, or learn to be a pilot in any way? I'd like to major in something useful to Intelligence and something I'd like to do, such as Computer Science. How many aerospace science classes or flying classes or whatever will I have to take? And which major would work best for the Intel job?

    As for Army or Air Force, will it be easier to become an Intel officer at USMA or USAFA? Which one would be better for me?

    I also intend to have a career for life in the military (not one of those 5 and dive deals), but if I ever leave, I want to go to the CIA, FBI, or any government branch like that. Will Air Force work better for that?
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    CIA… FBI…. just go ahead and throw in NASA, NSA, Secret Service and SWAT.

    I get that CIA and FBI SEEM sexy at this point, but I've never gotten the idea that the two were similar experiences, or that the always attracted the same folks……

    Of course, they DO seem pretty cool in the movies...
     
  3. SourJ

    SourJ New Member

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    I'm not going to be specific on where I would possibly go if I ever leave the military in like 20 years, I'm going to leave the decision to my future self at that point. As for now, I'm going to keep all my options open, so yes, NASA and the NSA are viable options.
     
  4. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    You won't be going to be an FBI, DEA or any other secret service agent jobs if you do 20. The cap age is 37. That doesn't rule out support type roles. Secret service has an age cap too, can't remember if it aligns with 37 or not. Take a look on some of the application sites and get a feeling for the requirements. CIA and federal law enforcement are very different type of jobs. To be honest with you...no one knows who will stay for 20 or get out at 5. Nearly every person your age says it's a career and in reality that number is not that great. Just focus on step 1-10... Preparing to apply. Let the cards fall later on for the rest.

    It is good you are looking at the service vice school. That is the key. The school is a product of the service and tends to reflect. The Air Force and army have very different mission sets and overall personality. Really take a look at the number of Intel billets each service gets. If you don't like the Marines because you think they are too hard what do you think the Army does? Training isn't that vastly different between the two. If you don't like rucking, living in dirt, etc... Then Army might not be a good fit.

    You are 15 or 16 right now. There is no reason you have to narrow it down now. Apply to each summer program and try to visit each school. One school and service will feel right. Also if you don't get Intel, what do you want to do? You don't have to major in aerospace engineering at USAFA, plenty of majors. The mission of the Air Force is focused around flying so therefore the training is focused on air stuff, but there is other training. Lots of info on these forums on summer training.
     
  5. SourJ

    SourJ New Member

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    I'll be sure to look at the government agencies, but I'll leave any decision making for later. If I don't get Intel, I'd like to do something cyber related. Special Ops seems cool, but I kind of figured if it's not first on your list, then it's not going to happen. And no, I'm not a big fan of rucking and living in dirt and stuff; that's why I'm really looking at the Air Force right now.
     
  6. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    I wouldn't rule out USNA either. Have you considered a career in something like the National Geospatial Intelligence agency?
     
  7. wildblueyonder

    wildblueyonder USAFA '19

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    All cadets do have to take some "techy" core classes, including Calc 1 and 2 as well as a couple of aero/astro courses, regardless of their major. Additionally, as of now there is also a freshman-level soaring (glider) program that all cadets will complete (I believe you can opt out of flying, but it's a whole lot more fun if you don't :)). I'm also pretty sure that you will never absolutely HAVE to fly at the Academy if you really can't stand it.

    However, you have complete freedom to choose your major, and are not limited to STEM options. You can definitely major in Comp Sci and also go for Intel--in most cases, AFSC's (Air Force jobs) don't require specific majors. If you really wanted to specialize as much as possible, though, USAFA has active-duty academic advisors who would be able to give you expert advice.

    Good luck to you, SourJ. I applaud you for thinking about your career so early. :thumb:
     
  8. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    If living in dirt and rucking isn't your thing then the Army and any spec ops type of stuff isn't going to be fun. And if you think the Marines are too hard, then spec ops is even harder... A lot harder. Cyber is growing big time in all the services. USNA is building an entire new Cyber Center on campus and 2 semesters of cyber are part of the core curriculum there, not to mention they have a major in it. USAF has some unique career selections with different engineering, missiles and space. Might be worth the research. Not trying to pick things apart for you, but you have tons of time to research and figure out what is best. Keep learning and exploring.
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Not only that, but becoming a special agent in the FBI isn't exactly a cake walk (compared to the Marine Corps).

    I think you've made the right choice in not picking the Navy or Coast Guard if you hate water. That makes sense.

    You have some time to pick apart the Army and Air Force and figure out what you do and do not want.

    I'd also recommend trying to dig a little deeper in what you want to do after, especially if it's federal. There are agencies like the CIA and FBI, which seem cool, but aren't 100% like the movies. I think many people just lump in "I want to do intel…" and they think it's James Bond or Mission Impossible. People are happy in those organizations but the reality isn't exactly what you see, so keep that in mind. You'll also get exposure to MANY other agencies too….
     
  10. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Sour, I applaud your desire to serve your country.

    However, you are at step about 14 out of 2575. Dreaming is good, planning is GREAT - but please do a little more research. You are not expected to be fluent in what these institutions have to offer or in types of careers available to you.

    Yes, as of now, you would have to take several engineering classes and in fact, could earn only a BS degree, not a BA at USAFA. And no, you won't be forced to be a pilot - though many of your classmates would give up a lot to have that dream job. Half of your class will not go to flight school, but will go into intelligence, computer "stuff", acquisitions, management, maintenance, and graduate school, just to name a few.

    Just a point, there is nothing wrong with leaving the Air Force after the five year commitment is up (ten or more for most pilots). True, it used to be that many academy grads did stay on for twenty. Just not as common any more (said without looking up any back-up stats).
     
  11. SourJ

    SourJ New Member

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    I don't have a problem with engineering, math, or physics classes or stuff like that, I love those classes and I'm already taking them. For example, I plan to take AP Calc III my senior year. It also sounds like I'll have to take a couple aerospace or other flying classes, but not a whole lot, which I'm fine with. A couple is okay. As for the freshman gliding program, I'm not sure if I'll do that, it just depends. I'll decide that later. And the only reason I mentioned the FBI or CIA is to know which major might work best for them, or if an Intel officer in the Air Force would make it easier to get into the government as opposed to an Army Intel officer. It sounds, though, like the major won't really make a difference and everyone is just telling me that I've got to do more research on the government branches before even thinking about going into them.... I know that it's not going to be easy to get in, and that's it's not going to be just like the "movies". I get that. I just want a general direction of which will help. I'll do more research and really come up with an agency later, most likely after I graduate college or during college.
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It's possible to overstate how "automatic" a federal job is after serving. There are many veterans competing for a finite number of positions, so many veterans that veterans preference isn't as powerful as it once was….

    If your set on intel, google information about the intel community, get the list of the intel agencies and research each one… there are many.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    2nd LITSs opinion. I will take it one step further. There is a system that they play for the GS jobs. Bullet has now been offered a promotion and it must be advertised, but he already knows that the job is his, yet by law it must be advertised. They will get resumes from people thinking that they have a chance, but the reality is they don't since the job is filled (he is now the "Acting"). The same was true for him when his job was converted from contractor to civilian. He had to apply just like everyone else, but since he was doing the job already there really was no opening.

    My cousin retired from the CIA as the equivalent of a 4 star General. It took him about 5-7 years to get into the CIA. He kept working on his academic studies while waiting to get an interview. By the time he did get offered a job he had just completed his PH.D.

    Govt jobs are like civilian jobs. It is not only what you know, but who you know to get your foot in the door. By name requests are common for job openings.
     
  14. USMC_Ordie

    USMC_Ordie Member

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  15. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Good point.
     
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  16. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    Dot's right.
     
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