AROTC vs AFROTC advice appreciated



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Dec 13, 2016
I have a tough time deciding between army or air force. I'm a freshman majoring in cyber security/computer science and want to be an officer in either branch. The air force ROTC is a cross town program, and the army is on campus, both have interesting jobs. Any advice?
I'm currently in AFROTC and I have a buddy who used to be in AROTC so maybe I can give you a little perspective. My buddy said that if he had to do it over again, he'd join Air Force. I personally love AFROTC and wouldn't want to switch, but for some people it's just not a good fit.

There are a few main differences, as far as I gather. The first is PT. My buddy said that in his battalion they pretty much woke up every morning (usually 1-2 hours before Air Force) to form up in the freezing cold and get their butts kicked. He would throw up at almost every PT session. If that's your idea of a good time, kudos to you. Air Force PT, depending on the detachment of course, is much less intense. In our detachment we have sports days almost every week and we only have to attend two PT sessions per week. Plus we offer afternoon PT.

The next difference is Leadership Lab. Army's Llabs seem like they are more relevant to what you will actually be doing in your career (land nav, room clearing, 9 line procedures etc.). Our Llabs are pretty much exclusively to prepare you for Field Training. Expect marching, and lots of it. The one Llab we did jointly with the Army last year was probably the most fun I've ever had at a Llab, if that puts things in perspective.

One important thing to note is that only the top 10% (if I remember correctly) of commissioning Army cadets get the opportunity to go Active Duty. If you commission into the Air Force there is a 99% chance that you will go AD. They are opening up some reserve spots in the near future but they will be extremely competitive. So if your goal is AD, I would go Air Force for sure.

Keep in mind that these are just my observations based on what I see at my University and what my friend has told me about at his University. You'll find that every detachment operates a little bit differently, so your experience could vary greatly from mine. The last thing I'll throw in is that I am a crosstown cadet at my detachment and that is a pretty big factor. It can affect your camaraderie and your motivation, especially if you're the only crosstown cadet, like me. The upside is that you gain a ton of respect from other cadets and even Cadre if you consistently show up and are active within the det.

Let me know if you have any questions about AFROTC specifically, I'll do my best to answer them!
DS is a senior and an ECE major. He talked with all ROTC units at his college as a junior in high school to understand what their program was like. He also discussed this with the Cadets in each unit to get their perspective as well. The biggest impact on his decision was the various active duty Officers he talked with who were in career fields relevant to his major. He felt the Air Force had jobs that lined up better with his military goals. He was lucky being in a military area with all branches to make this possible. Although it is important to enjoy your experience in the 4 years you will be dealing with ROTC, it is far more important to enjoy your future career where you will be immersed 24 hours a day in the branch of service you chose.
Consider how close the Crosstown school is and whether there are other cadets from your school participating in AFROTC. DD initially wanted only AFROTC but it was Crosstown (really across town/major city). She would have been the only one at her school doing AFROTC and only reluctantly decided to check out AROTC which is at her school. After talking to the ROO and several cadets she decided on AROTC. Based on how active she has been it is hard to imagine that level of involvement in a Crosstown arrangement, unless there is a significant group of cadets at the Crosstown school. Her battalion has two other schools with large contingents of cadets and they have their own PT, classes, and other activities at the Crosstown school. You'll have to decide for yourself regarding whether AF or Army is right for you, but I can only say DD took to AROTC like a duck to water and now has a hard time imagining commissioning any other way.
Being cross town can be easy or difficult. It depends on how far you have to travel, plus how motivated you are. @madhttr describes the logistics and isolation that can be an issue very well.

I also agree that you have to look at the long term career prospects too. The Army is substantially larger than the AF and thus can offer more opportunities as an officer, but the Air Force may offer better technical STEM positions. It comes back down to your direction of interest. There are differences between AF and Army Cyber as well but both are growing in this area. I have read in another forum that the Army's Cyber division is newer and therefore may offer more opportunities.

Bottom line, is visit and speak to the staff of the detachment and the AROTC battalion. Speak with cadets from both sides and get a feel for which is a better fit.

One more thing: if you really don't like "ruck marches," land nav, exposure to mud, dirt and cold, then go with the Air Force. You will spend more time doing those things in AROTC than AFROTC.

Good luck!
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Thanks for the advice I think Ill stick with army. Cross town registration is pretty difficult and not guaranteed at my school (need about 4 approval signatures everyv semester) and it's an hour drive. I'm fine with either branch anyways. Air Force looked 4 times more competitive with the size of applicants at there detachment anyways