Differences Between Branches of the Military?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Jezzie, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. Jezzie

    Jezzie USAFA Cadet

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    I'd like to hear from anyone who would like to share why they chose their particular branch of service. I hope to learn more about how they are different to help me decide between USAFA and USMA. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Would you rather only Army and Air Force members respond or all services? I'm not sure if my decision to join the Coast Guard will have much bearing on USA v. USAF.
     
  3. Jezzie

    Jezzie USAFA Cadet

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    I would enjoy hearing from everyone! :)
     
  4. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    What aspects?

    Quality of life...
    Deployment mentalities...
    Priorities of each service...
    Training requirements...
    Other?...
     
  5. Jezzie

    Jezzie USAFA Cadet

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    raimus...your post shows me I asked a broad question! Well, I am female and don't want to get into high risk combat type of jobs. Although I am not ruling anything out, I don't necessarily plan to be a pilot. I DO know I don't want to live in a boat, so it was easy to rule out Navy.

    I am trying to figure out if AF or Army is a better fit for me. I went to the summer seminars at both USMA and USAFA and loved them both. I know I would be proud to go to either academy. But what about after graduation?

    Jobs I might be interested in are: intelligence, international relations, public affairs, maybe the legal field.

    Here's a question: If two people had the exact same job but one was in the Army and one in the Air Force, how would their day to day lives be different?....is one more laid back than the other?...how is the mindset different, if at all?
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Knowing both AF and Army Public Affairs Officers, I know that the Air Force is currently short on PAOs (axed some for F-22 parts).

    Army PAOs often serve somewhere else and then move to Public Affairs after.


    I will talk about my reasons for joining the Coast Guard later, when i have some time to put "pen to paper" or "finger to key".
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Before I start into why I chose the Coast Guard, I have to say this upfront. I respect the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. While I prefer the Coast Guard, it does not mean I harbor ill-will towards those services.

    Without going into the specific events that pushed me to the military, I will tell you in the end why I chose the service I did.

    I looked at the Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, and Naval Academy.

    First I thought about the services, basically Navy v. Coast Guard. This is pre-Afghanistan and pre-Iraq. I felt the Navy trained 90% of the time to conduct actual operations 10% of the time. The Coast Guard trained 10% of the time to conduct actual operations 90% of the time. Obviously a war will change that percentage for the Navy. Next, while everyone knows about the U.S. Navy, can identify a big gray boat, the Coast Guard seemed to be a service to me that did its job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and in general people didn't know what they did. Coasties weren't doing their job for glory, a pat on the back or recognition. There was something appealing about that. That's not saying that the Navy DOES work for recognition, I don't think they do, they serve this country like other branches. I was just impressed by the steady, oft overlooked dedication of Coasties.


    Well I looked at USCGA, USMMA and USNA and in the end I loved the feel of the Coast Guard Academy. The place was "tight". People knew what they were doing, they liked their missions, and they were proud of their shipmates. That close Coast Guard family has shown itself plenty of times, from knowing a good chunk of the force to seeing people rally around lost shipmates like the fellow Coasties we lost last week in the crash of CG-1705. It's a close family. I would do anything for a shipmate, and I believe they would do anything for me.

    I'm proud of the missions and operations I've been a part of. I have sea stories that seems normal to me but impress the friends of my girlfriend. Whether its a story about angry migrants on a ship or searching for a jumper from a cruise ship, to talking about whales and whale sharks and headless seals near Maine. I have stories from long talks with shipmates during the mid-watch. We saved lives, enforced U.S. federal law, and flown the flag in foreign ports. I've felt small lying on my back on the flight deck of a ship in the middle of the night out at sea, and I've smiled pulling back into home port.

    I've had my frustrations with some in my chain of command. I've had my differences with fellow service members from other services, defended the Coast Guard, and corrected DoD ignorance concerning the Coast Guard.


    The life hasn't been easy on me or loved ones, but I would do it all over again in a second. I've gained great friends, ones I will never forget, ones I am proud to know. I've seen the world, worked with different services and countries.

    In the end, you can't go wrong. Whether you chose my beloved Coast Guard or the Army, Marine Corps, Navy or Air Force, in the end it's "one team, one fight", you will serve the greatest people in the greatest nation in the world.
     
  8. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Seriously consider your reservations about high-risk or combat jobs. While you may never get into either, there is always the possibility.
    Almost anyone can get deployed, and not always to their normal career field. For example, I knew an enlisted B-52 mechanic who was deployed and provided security for Iraqi workers while they worked on base and commuted to/from their homes.


    I can give you some stereotypes (some are even supported by 2nd hand knowledge!):rolleyes:

    The Air Force tends to provide better living accomodations (rumor and 2nd hand).
    Fewer USAF personnel have combat jobs (not stereotype).
    The AF is based on technologies and their operators--aircraft, satellites, computers etc. Both the people and the hardware are important, but the emphasis on equipment will probably be greater than in the army (speculation)

    If you are looking at going through the academies, USAFA usually sends about half of each class to pilot training.
    USMA sends a large chunk of each class to the infantry.

    The class of 2010 at USAFA had 20-40 intel slots, IIRC. I have no idea about PA. Legal slots are usually limited (Judge Advocate people go through a different commissioning program, usually)
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    For housing purposes, I can tell you from 1st hand knowledge that the 4 bases/posts that I have either lived on, or Bullet was assigned to the AF has hands down better housing. The AF has less military members so less homes to keep updated. There is a huge difference in quality for places like Bragg V Pope, Maquire V Dix, Elmendorf v Ft Rich. We were assigned to Leavenworth for PME in 01-02, our home had not been renovated for 30 yrs, that includes cabinets. Our 1st floor was commissary linoleum, or upstairs was hardwood that had an 1" of shellac. When it was hot outside, we had condensation on our floor, enough that it was as much as a fall morning dew. The home for an O-4 was 1200 sqft. with 4 bdrms. and they even charged us monthly for the fence (that doesn't happen in the AF). It was smaller than our 1st home as a LT. in the AF. Not only that, but in the AF when you outprocess out of the home, it needs to be broom swept, in the Army, you will fail the outprocess if you do not pay to have it professionally cleaned. 300 bucks out of pocket hurts when you are moving no matter what rank.

    The Army posts typically have larger commissaries and PX's because of the size of the post. Most AF bases are no larger than 5K airmen.

    Since you will not be a flier, one thing to also put into consideration is military care. Although the Army has many larger hospitals, their wait time for dependents is longer, again because they have so many to serve.

    There are positive and negatives about the "extra" things, but one thing the AF has always been known for is being the "corporate" branch. In other words... duty day is 8-4 with a 1 hr lunch for the non-flying world. Also, since the AF spends so much training fliers (typically called the 6 million dollar man/woman), they are cognizant of this and believe by having the nicer base houses, facilities, etc, that a happy airmen will take the lower pay and stay. When our kids were little and Bullet was assigned to the 82nd as an ALO, he missed soccer and baseball games because he had to go to meetings that started at 4. It was not uncommon only to see Moms at these games. In the AF, if you are not flying you were at the games, because they don't think 2x of the parent saying I am out of here to go coach. I was pregnant with our 1st 2 when Bullet was flying, the rule is if your wife is due or just had a child they do not send you TDY. When I was pregnant with #3, they knew that I was allowed no further away, but 20 miles from the home, and they sent Bullet out in the field 4 days prior to my due date, he came home 3 days past the date. They knew I had no family with me, and 2 children under 4. Luckily, I did not give birth, but one guy was pulled out of the field because his wife went into labor with their 4th, she was in the same sit as me. Keep the spouse happy and chances are they will not be pushing the pen on them to sign their separation papers. The Army's opinion of family is the joke, if they wanted you to have one they would have issued you one. This might mean nothing to you now, but what about when you are 26 and married to another officer...maybe they will send him into the field to play soldier.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
  10. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    One thing to keep in mind about bases is that more and more are becoming joint bases.
    IF you go Army, base housing won't matter much - many 2LT's go in together and rent condo's anyway.

    Seriously, PIMA. Make it clear that is your own jaded opinion and several years outdated.

    Jezzie - many female Army officers have done well in the Army even being married and with a family.
    A good book for you to read is:
    http://www.amazon.com/Band-Sisters-American-Women-Iraq/dp/0811702677

    My daughter loves this book. You will read about the real experiences of women from all branches, enlisted and officers.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    :scratch:

    Let's make sure I get this right. I lived on Army Posts and AFB bases, Bullet retired 12 months ago, and I am several years outdated? Whereas, you have not been connected to the military, except for your DD at WP for almost 30 years is current? You who never lived on any Army Post or AF Base as an adult? You who have no life experience except being a dependent child is telling me I am several yrs outdated? You who has no life experience even currently has the ability to say I am jaded, where I have a military ID card and sticker on my car to get in on any base I want and use every facility, minus housing.

    Am I jaded? ABSOLUTELY! Is my opinion based on my personal experience? ABSOLUTELY! Yours is based on your jaded opinion because your DD is at WP, you have no life experience regarding the AF V Army, except being a dependent child decades ago. Please, before you call someone a name, check yourself first. Your opinion of life regarding housing, medical and how the family is treated is based on 2nd hand, mine is not.

    Please prove me wrong and I will be happy to eat crow...give us your personal military life experience in the past 12 mos and how the Army places family first (NOT YOUR DD at WP...your actual AD/DS experience). Tell me how their housing is so much better than the AF from when you were assigned in the 21st century....how their health care is better...how the Army is more "corporate" than the AF.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
  12. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Ok everyone probably should take a few breaths and keep it within bounds. This is an opinion question so please express them in a non attack mode all around.
    My experiences as both a Sponsor (and then rather oddly as a dependant so I have 2 ID cards- grey Retiree and dependant ID card) are that it's not correct or fair to say that
    PHP:
    the Army's opinion of families is a joke
    . In fact the Army cares deeply about families- and has a lot of programs in place for them but it cares first and foremost about mission and if something is going to give- your homelife will be the something not the unit.

    It is true that the AF generally has nicer bases- (but PIMA in fact your view of Ft Leavenworth is seriously out of date- they have built a ton of new quarters in the last couple of years and those quarters you lived in are gone or completely rehabbed.) In fact every Army post I have seen in the last 5 years is almost totally unrecognizable from what they were 10 years ago in terms of Quarters; Commissary and Post Exchanges as they have spent $$Billions upgrading all of those things. But to use PIMAs examples below: there is no more: Bragg/Pope or Maguire/ Dix or Hickam/ Pearl or Elmendorf/ Ft Richardson- they are all now joint bases and they will all flow to a common standard of support- it may be lower but it will be common. That's the wave of the future - they are not going to stop that trend - so any colocated bases you can expect that to continue for whatever career you have.

    As far as Jezzie's question(she mentioned legal; intel; PAO) is that Intel and legal are accession branches in both the Army and the AF. For JAG- which is not a field you will go into straight out an academy- you're going to Law School and it's not a significant number who go to Law School straight from either USMA or USAFA (and before the peanut gallery starts tripping over this - relatively speaking the % of a class who immediately get sent to a fully funded law program on graduation - it's a handful not the norm ok!). Day to day it's an office job in either service but they will have a field component in the Army- ie you will be living with deployed units that could be "roughing" it considerably more in the Army than in the AF which even when deployed has a higher standard of quartering than the Army does by a long shot. Intel- the career progression is not James Bond or NSA wannabee's initially. As an Intel lieutenant you probably will wind up being a platoon leader or S2 at a pretty low level for a maneuver brigade- again- you are gonna be in a unit that deploys to the field. The AF your chances are a lot lower of getting grungy. The PAO field for the Army is an additional specialty not an accession branch so you will go into that field after you started off and got branch qualified as a Captain- so you will have been in around 5+ years before that can happen. in the meantime you will be in one of the basic branches of the Army serving where they serve. There are only a few places that women aren't found any more in the Army and the places they are serving all have the potential- especially for a junior officer for field conditions and a fair amount of danger in the current world.


    Bottom line- if you really don't like being deployed into more primitive/ rougher conditions to work then the AF is more refined than the Army.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I took my deep breath (had to run errands).

    First, those conjoined bases/posts have been there for decades. They will always exist...why? Because anytime the Army needs a ride, the AF usually gives them one. It is for strategic purposes. Just like in the AF, they have wings that have fighters and heavies, since the training missions include refueling, it is strategically sound to keep them based neareach other.

    I want to say this to Jezzie and any other candidate trying to make a decision. For some it will be clear cut, they want to be in tanks, boats or planes. For others the decision is more difficult, because their career field is more general. The beauty for them is they are not locked to any particular base/post.

    I would not really place any emphasis on the look of any base, because you will not spend your career at one base, regardless if you do 5 and dive. G*d has a way of laughing at us, you see the beautiful base/post, and without a doubt you will be sent to the armpit of that branch:rolleyes: For example Dix is not as pretty as Hurlburt. Fort Hood is not on the tops of the list, nor is Laughlin for the AF, both will have PAOs

    What I would have my child ask are a few questions:
    1. Statistically if I become a PAO, what are my chances of being deployed forward if it was today?
    2. Where would they deploy me to?
    3. What does the typical PAO do for that branch?
    4. What is the promotion rate?


    For both the AF and the Army there is always a chance of a remote assignment, thus it will equal out.

    I want to make this clear, Bullet and I have very good friends that are in the Army an we tease each other constantly. I respect the Army, but through my own life experience living 1/4 of Bullets AD with the Army. I would say this to my kids:

    1. Do you want to jump out of perfectly good airplanes? Then go Army, because the only time you jump out of them in the AF is when they are not "perfectly good":thumbdown:

    2. Do you want to be in the action? Than go Army.

    3. Do you want to serve, but would be happy never to shoot a weapon? Than go AF.

    And I agree with Bruno, even as an Intel officer for the AF you will not be on the front line. You will deploy with the AF flying squadron as an intel officer. For the AF in the end of the day, remember right now that is usually a 4 mos deployment, whereas the Army it could be a yr. However, it is 6 and 1/2 dozen. The AF has never left the sandbox since 1990, thus, over 20 yrs you could be returning to the sandbox every 18 mos for four months at a clip, with them hitting you with a remote for 1 yr in that time to. If in 4 yrs from now we are gone from the badlands with boots, it does not mean that the planes will be gone. It is a true crap shoot to try to see in the future if you use that as a determining factor. In the end it lands up being equal, just depends on how you want to take the medicine...little bit at a time or a big gulp.

    You need to place more emphasis on what you want to do as a PAO, and really be specific asking those questions.

    Now to be fair I will say there is also an AF adage...if you are not flying then you are scooping up bird sh*t off the runway:rolleyes:. You need to be realistic that for the AF fliers will always be the "golden" children. The positive for you compared to a maintenance officer, is that they are not going to take a flier and place them into Intel...they will do that for maintenance, and MSSQ. That being said for the AF it is a mission specific job that nobody can just step into when they have an abundance of fliers, or rejig the system. We entered Maintenance was a separate squadron, then it came under the umbrella of the flying squadron and then they separated from the flying squadron again. That is why fliers took maintainer jobs.

    Last tip, what ever branch you choose, it will warp and change before you have the chance to dive. Join the branch that your heart feels a tug on.

    JAM and I may argue over the branches, but I can guarantee you one thing, if an outsider attacked either branch both of us would be mother bears protecting our cubs. She would defend the AF and I would defend the Army. We both also respect every child, and at my age you are still a child, who is willing to step to the plate and serve to protect this great nation. So in advance, thanks for protecting me.

    Off topic Bruno...I know about Leavenworth we were there when they condemned the housing. However, the irony is Kickapoo was the ones condemned, but instead they renovated Shawnee, which is where we lived. I would have loved to have lived in Infantry, but only if we got the 1st floor. Interestingly enough Pawnee the newest of housing for School was removed, yet they kept kansas. In the end I question if the housing arrangements have more to do with how CGSC now occurs then anything else. Also, Leavenworth is CGSC, typically, command schools have better housing than the avg base. From a personal experience, I don't believe housing should be a make or break since the waiting lists typically are yrs long if the housing is new, if it has not been reno'd you could move in the next day.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
  14. Jezzie

    Jezzie USAFA Cadet

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    Thanks

    I want to thank you all for your insightful opinions and advice. I have a lot to think about in the upcoming months. Your support means a lot and ya'll have definitely given some food for thought!

    Thanks! :smile:
     
  15. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Interesting alternative

    Looking at your desires again:
    intelligence, international relations, public affairs, maybe the legal field
    Not high-risk/combat
    Not pilot

    Have you considered the State Department/CIA/NSA?
    I think they would be dying to have people interested in those areas, and more of their work is directly related to those fields.
     
  16. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Actually heard quite a few Army majors, captains and 1st Lt. make the same general statement recently (and by recently, I mean within the past three weeks), all active duty, all actually serving.
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Ha, but you should have heard what the Marines thought of the Army "non-deployment" option for serving couples. "Joke" was a word used, but not for the same reason Pima used it, so obviously there are different extremes to this issue. In the end, for every branch, operations and "the mission" take priority. Each service has to juggle that with remembering their service members and service members' families.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I'm sure Public Affairs for CIA and NSA, as well as State (often, not always) would be fairly boring. "Can't talk about that due to security......I'm sorry I can't comment on that....."

    Remember, Public Affairs is not the same as Psy Ops.
     
  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I think every branch has their rivalries within it. In the AF the "joke" is fliers make a million + flight pay. If you look at every service like the ACC you get it...they talk crap about each other, but believe their conference is the best.
     
  20. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    I've always heard that the AF built housing, golf course and O clubs first, and then went back to congress when the money ran out for the runways lol
    Actually some old Navy guy told me that. :yllol:
     

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