Branch Differences

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Classof2018, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. Classof2018

    Classof2018 Member

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    Hello all, I have not received a BFE to West Point or USNA as of yet, but as I plan to serve in the military in some form (reapplying if a TWE is received, or pursuing NROTC or ROTC), I have a question that revolves primarily around the differences between certain branches that I am interested in.

    I was wondering if someone could explain the difference between being an officer in Army infantry as opposed to being an officer in Marine infantry. I have done some research but most of it has gotten me "broad" answers, such as the primary focuses of the Army & Marines. I want something a bit more personal, and just want to know of any major differences that drastically affect the role/life of an officer in said branch.

    I have no problem attending either USNA or USMA, as both are wonderful schools. I do however want to make sure that I end up pursuing a career path that is best suited for me.

    Thanks, and good luck to all you fellow applicants out there.
     
  2. SwimmingMid

    SwimmingMid Member

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    I know I am not the wisest on this one, in fact, far from it, but from what I've heard from enlisted personnel of both is that your gear and resources may be a bit nicer in the Army due to the larger budget, yet the discipline of subordinates is usually of a higher standard in the Marines. Yet on the ground, I would say both function very similarly as far as methods in carrying out operations (Marines haven't done any large scale amphibious assaults since the Second World War). However, I believe as an Army officer there are many more "advancement" options. I would feel as if many Army officers who graduate from WP or other military institutions, typically go for Ranger School or Airborne down the road. In the Marines, you might be lucky to try out for MARSOC at some point in your career. I just want to end this post saying that I love the Army and Marines both very dearly and would never insult the U.S. military. The entire "discipline" observation was a result of opinions I gathered from enlisted infantry of both groups. Once again I will not provide any great insight but I hope this helps, even though I'm sure a Marine vet or Army vet will be able to help much more.
     
  3. hrr_gonavy

    hrr_gonavy Member

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    Thank you for the info SwimmingMid. My DS has been focused on the Marines-Infantry for quite some time and I have tried to broaden his sights to include possible Army but have no military experience to offer any advice. Any others out there that could add some perspectives would be most helpful. Great question 2018 - Good Luck to you!
     
  4. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    Army Infantry Officers almost all go to Ranger and a lot go to Airborne. 99% of Marines will go to neither of these schools.

    Marines don't go to Ranger or Airborne because there's really not a need for them to. There are zero "Airborne" Marine Infantry units, so there's no point in sending Marines there. I can think of very few Marine Officers I know that have gone to Airborne, and most are either MARSOC, Recon, or some random pogue MOS that needs people (some Logisitics Officers go, for example). On the MEU, companies will "specialize" in landing via small boats, helos, AAVs, or whatever, but they don't go to a school for that. It's just a speciality they train to.

    Marines don't go to Ranger because, well...they don't really need to. The Marine Infantry Officer's Course (IOC) has a very high washout rate (often north of 50%), and the staff will drop anyone they feel should not lead Marines into combat, right up until graduation. It's deliberately very secretive but the few stories I have heard from my friends who made it through? It's no damn joke. IBOLC is probably pretty hard and I'm not trying to talk down on it, but from what little I know about it, it honestly sounds a little bit like a more-intense/focused TBS.

    Something to consider too is that Marine Officers compete for their MOS at TBS. So, to be selected for infantry out of USNA you first have to select Marine Ground at service selection and then do well enough at TBS to go to IOC. You will not have a guaranteed spot to try for Infantry out of service selection. With that being said, Infantry is competitive at TBS, but not overly so. If you want it and work hard enough to deserve a shot, you most likely will get it.

    Also, FYI, The "Marines get bad gear" thing is kind of out of date by now. Marines get good gear, not Army cast offs anymore.

    This is more of a cultural difference than anything else, but something to consider: there aren't really units in the Marine Corps that are more prestigious or considered "better" than any other. Sure, there are good units and bad units, but thats always in flux due to the leadership. In the Army there seems to be more of a hierarchy from "good" divisions on down.
    "Light" and "heavy" units don't really exist in the Marines either. There's three active LAR (Light Armored Reconaissance) Battalions, but the overwhemling majority of Infantry Officers are rifle platoon commanders.
    There are some minor differences as well about how Marine v. Army platoons are structured, but that might be getting more into the weeds than you're looking for.

    I could go more into MAGTFery and mindset differences between the Army/USMC if you're interested, though I would be talking out of my *** a little bit about the Army (I know a decent amount about how they do stuff and know people who went that way, but my info's more secondhand). You can't go wrong either way and in both services will be doing great stuff with great people.
     
  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Good gouge from Hurricane12. Probably among the best you will get. You might have a tough sell to your DS on considering Army. I couldn't get my DS to even consider it. He was set on Marines since at least freshman year in high school and nothing, but nothing, would deviate him from that course. So he only applied NROTC Marine Option. Couldn't get him to apply Army at all. Seems like it was the right decision for him so far. It is worth the effort though, just so you know you tried and he made an eyes-open (as much as possible) decision.

    I would think the MAGTF info would be interesting as it is what will distinguish Marines from Army when one hits the fleet.
     
  6. hrr_gonavy

    hrr_gonavy Member

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    Thanks Hurricane12, will make sure he reviews this thread.
    Kinnem, Likewise my DS applied only NROTC-MO also and only interested in the military colleges(USNA, Citadel, VMI, & Norwich). Yep, want his eyes open but its been tough - good to hear your son's doing well along the path. Thanks for your input, this and all your other contributions have been very helpful.
     
  7. Classof2018

    Classof2018 Member

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    Hmm, thank for all for the input. It seems to me that the main difference is the later career opportunities.

    I know the Marines are a proud bunch, not to say the Army isn't either, but is there any 'cultural' differences I guess you could say? If any?
     
  8. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    I think Hurricane12 gave some great feedback. I agree with most of it and wanted to offer a few more points of difference to consider. These are my perspective from 30+ years ago so if they are out of date I am sure someone will correct me.

    Duty stations: There are very few Marine infantry bases in the world. Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune; Okinawa. The Army has many more posts.

    Overseas Deployment: Marines are going to do a fair amount of unaccompanied tours overseas versus Army officers.

    Promotion: Marine officers are promoted at a slower rate than Army officers.

    USMC Infantry Officers serve a lot of non-fleet tours like Recruiting, ROTC, and other staff roles. Not sure about Army.
     
  9. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I cannot attest to the veracity of the document you will find at the link below. It was prepared by a US Marine and a Royal Navy Marine. It discussed the cultural differences and how these differences would affect a proposed merger of the USMC and US Army organizations. It should give you some food for thought anyway. Do your own research to determine if it's true. (You will need Adobe Reader to view this document).

    www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA493119
     
  10. LTSackett

    LTSackett Member

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    Another difference

    One thing that will never happen to an Army officer than can happen to Marines - a tour with a Quick Reaction Force, which is 6-18 months aboard ship. This can be stressful, not only because you're living for months at a time in a tiny space, but also because of a certain amount of friction between the sailors who run the ship and the Marines who are essentially passengers (though they don't get out of chores).

     
  11. skipsdad

    skipsdad Member

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    Branch Differences, etc

    One other potential difference to investigate is what course of study (esp post graduate opportunities) you may want to pursue at USMA or at USNA (w/Marine service selection). You may not have any idea yet, but it's good to at least understand the constraints up front.

    I don't know about USMA, but USNA has a very heavy STEM emphasis for Navy folks. You can graduate with a degree in a liberal arts such as history or political science, but if you do well academically at USNA you might qualify for post-grad opportunities immediately after graduation. If you are commissioned Navy, your opportunities to pursue a non-STEM grad degree are extremely limited.

    However, the Marines are much more flexible and do not place the emphasis on STEM grad degrees that the Navy does. As a result, in the group of the top 100 grads in USNA Class of 2013, it felt like like a disproportionate number of them were going Marine. Many of these top Marine grads were going to grad school on full scholarships -- and many were going to non-STEM grad programs. Several chose the Marines because of their non-STEM flexibility. You could comment on the value of the STEM-vs. non-STEM policy difference, but 'it is what it is'...

    In either case, picking up a masters degree at some point is something that will differentiate you at a future selection board, (probably at Major and above). Maybe you just want to graduate and hit the field -- and not bother with grad school until later -- and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But there are some folks that want to take that immediate grad-school opportunity, then go to their MOS training, then perhaps pursue a Ph.D. later.

    I'm not sure how the Army does it, but might be worth asking, and perhaps someone on this Forum can comment on that.
     

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