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A Few Questions About Life After USNA

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by JFleet, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. JFleet

    JFleet 5-Year Member

    Jan 25, 2011
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    So I realize that you have a number of different career paths that you could end up in (Surface Warfare, FLight Officer, Pilot, Marines, Seals, Subs, etc.). I also realize that the path you choose is not entirely up to you (meaning you may not get your top choice or you could be voluntold). I am still weighing my options as to whether or not to attend the academy. I absolutely want to serve my country and it is something I have wanted to do for a long time. However, part of the reason I want to attend Navy as opposed to West Point is that I don't really want to see combat. I'm not saying that I don't want to be put in any dangerous situations because that is at least in some way shape or form a given of military service. So stemming from that I have a few questions.

    -What is the likelihood of being selected for Marines if that is something you DO NOT want to do?

    -Surface Warfare is obviously very broad. Within SW, what options do you have?

    -I have a friend who is in Surface warfare and he is in the Caribbean doing counter drug ops. However, I realize some are shipped out to the middle east or other combat zones. What is the likelihood that you will be shipped out to a combat zone. If you are, what are the chances that you will actually see real combat?

    -Lastly and probably most importantly, What options are there as a pilot. Within being a pilot, what are the chances that you will actually engage the enemy? My grandfather was a Naval pilot and all he did was fly around for VIP's for his entire time despite the fact that he desperately wanted to see combat (This was, however, during WWII)

    I know some of you are gonna say, you don't belong in the Navy if you don't want to see combat. Thats BS. There are plenty of ways to serve your country without seeing combat. Maybe some of you will say that the coast guard is a better option for me. Maybe you are right. Maybe not. For the time being, the Navy is still what I really want to do and I would like to see what my options are beyond the academy before I make the commitment. That shouldn't be too much to ask I hope
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

    Sep 27, 2008
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    Going into harm's way is part of the deal when serving your country in the armed forces.

    There are no guarantees.

    Think of USS COLE's story.

    Though some career paths are less likely to put you in harm's way on a regular basis, the potential is there. Clearly, with Marines and Army, there is more opportunity to be involved in direct action. Special Forces or SEALs are clearly not your thing. With today's asymmetrical battle space, you could be an aviator who never went near the combat zone while flying in a squadron, yet be assigned on a year's IA (individual augmentation) rotation, fairly routine these days, in Afghanistan, and the personal danger quotient would definitely ramp up. Not combat, but you're in the combat zone, and today's bad guys really don't care if you are holding a weapon or not.

    You could choose Surface Warfare, do all the legwork about choosing your ship and homeport with a schedule least likely to put you in harm's way, have a nice plan to check off your five years obligated service - and - serendipity will kick in. Your orders can change in a heart beat, and instead of going on a nice North Atlantic cruise with excellent port calls on a ship not in the hopper to go back to the combat zone any time soon, you get assigned on a "hot fill" to a ship headed out on an entirely more dicey deployment. The ship across the pier could "break," and your ship's orders get changed so that the nice cruise goes away and the not-so-nice one becomes yours.

    Don't minimize the Coast Guard's exposure to any of the above. LITS will have something to say about that.

    It's good to be candid about factors you are weighing in your decision. Nothing wrong with that.

    There are many threads on here dealing with "Service Selection," with stats on how many in the class got what they wanted, etc. They are worth searching on and reading. A great deal depends on what your class standing is after your first three years. If you haven't done any of the Marine-oriented things during your time at USNA, you ask questions of Marine officers about your chances of seeing combat, you don't put Marine Corps down as a choice, you ensure you are not as physically fit as they require and you're near the bottom of the class, no problem, the Marines won't want you. Surface Warfare is indeed very broad, but you will be assigned to a ship right out of the starting gate. The specific ship assignment will once again depend on your class standing and the needs of the Navy in terms of what's available when and where. There are also no guarantees about what kind of plane/helo you will eventually find yourself flying in the Navy, once you get to that selection point in the naval aviation training pipeline. Ditto for submarines. Not a lot of hand-to-hand there, but an arduous and demanding warfare community without a doubt.

    It is good to want to serve your country. It's an "all in" deal when you take an oath to serve in the armed forces. You can also serve in NOAA as part of their uniformed commissioned corps on their ships, if you're a science kind of person. There is the Public Health Service uniformed officer corps, if you want to go the health provider route. There is the Peace Corps. There are many other opportunities.

    Good luck with your journey.
  3. kp2001

    kp2001 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    I think before you get into the nitty gritty details you need to take a step back and answer this question:

    "What am I going to do/How will I feel if I am assigned to a combat operation?"

    If you can answer that then I think you will have an answer as to what you should do. If you are "okay" with the potential to be assigned to combat operations even if you do everything in your power to avoid it then you MAY be okay with the Navy. If you are one who simply cannot fathom that job, or would be miserable doing so then I think you should find another way to serve your country such as those mentioned above (peace corps, public health, NOAA, etc).

    This is a very important question for you and I'm glad you are thinking about it now and not in the future. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to see/be in combat, but usually that keeps people from joining the military.

    Once you have made that decision then the answers to your other questions will be more important.

    Marines-not going to get these days unless you want it
    Aviation-very, very, very rare at this point to be put in an aircraft that will not be combat related for at least your first operational tour.
    SWO: plan on being on a combatant ship that may have orders to CENTCOM/5th fleet.

    Other options you probably haven't thought of would be restricted line positions, but very unlikely you would be allowed to select these out of USNA. Things like Human Relations, Public Affairs, etc, etc.
  4. Pima

    Pima 5-Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
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    Both MJ and KP have given you great advice.

    Here's the only thing I can say is you are putting the cart before the horse.

    If you can enter any SA with your eyes wide open, and experience everything they have to offer than go for it. Our close friends DS entered wanting to be a SWO (C4C), than a bubble driver (C3C), now as a C2C he wants to fly. He kept every door open and enjoyed/relished the opportunities the USNA gave him. If you only want XYZ in a particular career field, you need to re-evaluate why this route.

    Understand that the cliche SERVICE BEFORE SELF is not a cliche, it is reality for the military. KP touched on this.

    Your desires, wants, needs will be taken into account, but that doesn't mean they won't say too bad, soo sad you are going to do this.

    The military is like IBM/HP/Apple/GM, etc. Your desire takes 2nd place to their needs. Hate to say it, but welcome to the real world. Cadets/mids get that taste much earlier than their hs peers.
  5. sprog

    sprog 5-Year Member

    Mar 10, 2009
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    The Peace Corps is not the right choice if you fear violence or discomfort.

    As much as I ***** about my Air Force time in North Dakota, at least I wasn't in Sierra Leone or some other garden spot, passed out with dysentery while the government of the week decided to go on the latest killing spree. Peace Corps is not for wimps!
  6. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

    Sep 27, 2008
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    Excellent point on Peace Corps. The younger sister of one of our USNA alumni sponsor daughters just completed a stint in one of the 'stans as a typical post-college Peace Corps volunteer. She wouldn't trade the experience for the world, but routinely saw violent events.

    Soak up all these comments and make your own decision.

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