Original thread in CGA forum, more opinion/advice requested

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by 2020Intel, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. 2020Intel

    2020Intel Member

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    So I originally started a thread in the USCGA academy forum. Long story short, I am interested in two career fields as of now: helicopter pilot, and/or intelligence officer. I was originally only applying to the USAFA, but now after doing more research, I am weighing USMA and USCGA as well. These are things I have learned, please correct me if I am wrong.

    AFA:
    -Helo opportunities are limited due to the small # of people selected per each UPT class. I assume each year the competitiveness varies depending on how many people seek helos, but there are definitely lower amounts of available slots when compared to Coast Guard and Army.
    -Intel opportunities (looked at an old thread and it looks like there are about 40-60 per year, give or take).
    -AF has a pretty good lifestyle, corporate-like compared to other branches
    -Very unlikely chance of doing both flying and intel, though I have read about intel officers being apart of aircrews (terminology?). Unless there is a program similar to the army's (but I haven't read anything about that so far)?

    CGA:
    -Flight school is competitive right out of the academy (1/10 selected according to the website). So that would be like what, about 20-30. But there are opportunities to reapply during first tour(s?) so chances are pretty good that eventually (assuming medically qualified which I don't know, but don't see why I wouldn't be as of now) I can go.
    -Intel opportunities (not directly out of the academy but can have a chance to experience parts of it).
    -Good branch for a family, lots of time spent at home base (does anyone feel like comparing AF with CG in terms of deployments/lifestyle?)
    -Close knit, more so than the other branches
    -Unlikely to be able to do both flying and intel (different fields that require different experiences, probably similar reasoning for AF as well)

    MA:
    -Helo opportunities are competitive (150-200) slots per year. I assume aviation is probably a sought after branch though probably not as much as infantry or armor..
    -Intel opportunities (I believe I read online, will go back and fact-check, that there were about 40-60 as well) are similar to Air Force. From the DA PAM 600-3 it looks like there are a lot of different intel officer roles/types. I have not seen any information about the Air Force on this; would it be safe to assume that there are a comparable number of slots but more diversity in career options in the Army (not to say that there wouldn't be any in the Air Force).
    -It looks like this is the only branch that has a direct career path for a helo pilot to eventually become an intel officer. Does anyone have experience with that or with how the process works for trying to do an intel assignment at the Captain level?
    -However, one poster said that they know a lot of army pilots trying to switch over to coast guard in order to fly more..
    -Does anyone know the time commitment of attending flight school (is it 10 years after pinning, like in AF)? What about Coast Guard?

    So I think it is safe to say that if I want to do both at some point in my career, then Army is the way. But since I am only a high school senior, I know priorities/ambitions change. If I want to be an Intel officer through and through, then probably Army or Air Force since I can go to that route directly out of the academy, though Coast Guard could be a possibility. If I want to be a straight up helicopter pilot it looks like either Army or Coast Guard. Army pilots potentially fly less, but that is probably a combination of warrant officers and those additional duties/roles (like being involved in intel). And if I end up doing a complete 180 and don't want any of those career fields, then idk. This thread is interesting/eye opening because my original first choice (Air Force) seems to be the one that provides the least amount of options for what I currently want.. The only thing it has going for it (for me) is my initial bias/interest and the lifestyle. It looks like Army might be a safe bet assuming that my intended career choices stay the same. Coast Guard is less known (to me at least) but the more I read about it the more interested I become. It seems like everyone has enjoyed their time in it. So does anyone have a negative experience with the coast guard? I particularly like its mission which in my eyes is a lot more defense/law enforcement oriented than war-winning (I don't want to debate this, I know CG is military, I am just saying that the missions appear different and I like the CG mission slightly more, the more I read into it).

    Now for the inevitable: exit opportunities. I don't know how long I intend to serve, but I know it will be between 5-25 years :) . AFA and MA seem to have a lot more recognition than CGA (in terms of academies and services themselves) in the civilians. For example my family is non-military and we did not even know about the CGA until recently, or the scope of its mission. What is your experience with your employers? I intend to continue serving in the public sector or maybe some activist/think tank group so I hope each will be treated to a high degree.

    This might make me seem wishy-washy and like I am overcomplicating things. But as of Friday I was only applying to AFA. Now I live in a competitive state with early nomination deadlines (sept) and only one academy can be written on the applications. I intended on mailing in my application this week to get it in early, but I want to get some stuff straight, because I think it is now in my best interests to change one of my applications to USMA instead of USAFA.

    If you read this far then you sir/ma'am are a champ. Thanks for any insight/advice you may have.
     
  2. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    DD Classmate at USNA was sent Nuke but hated it. Currently USCG Pilot training. He always wanted to be a pilot but could not get Navy designation and took a big reduction in rank to get CG . CG does have arrest authority so you do have that going for you
     
  3. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Lot's of options here...

    Air Force
    Current helicopter options are the UH-1N and HH-60G (CV-22 may or may not be out of the fixed-wing track in the future). Huey pilots tend to get more flight time, and are generally "deployed in place." In other words, their home-station job is their primary mission. The HH-60G crews do CSAR. How much they are gone is pretty much dependent on what is going on in the world. When we were big into Afghanistan, they supplemented the Army CASEVAC mission, and did a LOT of work. Now, they are doing things like holding alert for missions over Iraq/Syria--waiting to pluck out any pilots that go down (like that Saudi a few months back http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-rescues-two-saudi-fighter-pilots-after-splashdown-near-n331711 ).
    Getting a helicopter slot varies in difficulty by class. Since there are usually only 1 or 2 helo slots per UPT class, it really depends on how many people want them. My class of 30-ish students had 5 that put helicopters first on their list. I think that was a little higher than average.
    An AF pilot can generally expect 2-3 flying assignments before moving into more staff work. That gives you 6-9 years of "line flying" where you are expected to fly regularly. Some staff jobs are flying assignments as well, but once you move into those and higher leadership positions, you will not likely be flying very often. Cross training to intel is very uncommon for pilots. I wouldn't count on it. Now, if you make it far, you may end up leading organizations with intel functions, but you won't be doing much intel work.
    (There's more info on the training program in the link in my signature)

    Army
    The Army has more helicopters than the AF has planes. They have a LOT of them! That said, most of their pilots are Warrant Officers. The officer pilots tend to only do 1 assignment of "line flying" before moving into more staff/leadership duties, from what I've heard. So, if you want to fly a lot, Warrant is probably the better way to go. A career Warrant Officer pilot will tend to get significantly more flying time than an AF helo pilot. I'm sure there are plenty of pros and cons, but I don't know them well enough to explain them. Hopefully, Scout will be along shortly.
     
  4. AuxNoob

    AuxNoob CGA Admissions Partner

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    I think there are people better qualified to answer this than I, but... At CGA you can major in Strategic Intelligence Studies, and apply to flight school. Your major does not influence flight, as Humanities majors go as well. You can also apply after any tour as well if you don't get in the first time (there may be a limit, idk. I am an AAP, but was not active duty).

    As an aside, I had heard that a CGA graduate had been picked for flight, even though they were in the bottom 10% of the class. I ended up sitting next to them when my son first entered CGA. First person in the family to attend college, and flight was the dream. I don't know how they did.
     
  5. USCGA13STN

    USCGA13STN Member

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    You can apply up to your third tour from what I understand.
     
  6. 2020Intel

    2020Intel Member

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    Thank you all for your responses! I will continue researching and working on my existing applications.
     

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