USNA or USAFA?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by HoldTheLine, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. HoldTheLine

    HoldTheLine New Member

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    Hello all,

    This is my first time to this forum, so I apologize if there is a better section for this question.

    I received an appointment to the USNA in January, and earlier today I was notified by my congressman of an offer of appointment to the USAFA as well. Understandably, this is a tough decision. My Dad went to the USAFA and I've wanted to go there for as long as I can remember. I love the campus, I love the area around it and I've always wanted to fly. However, I went to NASS in June and they kind of sold me on the Navy. Before going, I didn't realize that there were so many pilots that come out of the USNA, and I hadn't really considered that the Marines fly planes as well (or that they were even a part of the Navy).

    To get to the point, what are the differences in career options between the two schools? I think I want to fly, but I've heard about people who realize that they either don't like flying or physically can't do it once they actually take a ride in a fighter jet. My fear with going to the USAFA is that I won't be able to fly and end up with a desk job (correct me if this is an inaccurate assumption). I'm a smart guy, but I'm also physically fit and very mentally tough, so if I can't fly I want to to something physically demanding. That's the reason I've been drawn further to the USNA. My plan would be to fall back on Marine Corps infantry if I can't fly for either the Navy or Marines (I have no desire to be a SWO or a submariner). I understand that you can go the ALO or pararescue route out of the USAFA, but I can't find any numbers on the amount of people that actually end up doing it.

    Any input is appreciated. Thank you.
     
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  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Congrats on your appointment. Please reach out to the Moderator, TacticalNuke, and request a change of name. It is best to be anonymous as you move forward with your professional career where possible on forums like this. There is a similar thread on USAFA right now: https://www.serviceacademyforums.com/index.php?threads/usafa-vs-usna.54392/

    Here is my take on the USAFA vs. USNA dilemna. First my background. I am a USNA grad. I went USMC ground (never really had a desire to fly). I worked in a career field in the USMC that was very Joint Operations focused. I actually have lived a total of 1.5 years on USAF bases.
    • USAF has nicer bases. They generally have more dwell time and shorter deployments. This can vary with career field and even air frame. USN pilots, unless ground based like C-2 or C-130, tend to have a very specific pattern of deployment. 1 year of dwell time, 6 month workup (lots of deployed time to get ready) and 6 months deployed. Rinse and repeat. Your career path can vary also based upon air frame. For instance F/A-18 guys have a specific career path for flying so if you want to do something "cool" on a shore tour, it could take you out of the pipeline for command. This can vary on air frame.
    • USAF generally has better family life. Again can vary on your specific job or air frame. For instance I believe JSTARS (I worked with them the most so they are my comfort area) had a very high deployment rate. Some other platforms were much lower. And what has a high rate now, could change later on.
    • If you want physically demanding, USNA gives more options for that avenue if you can't or do not want to fly. You are right that the USAFA also has options, but sheer numbers USNA is on your side. You have SEALs, EOD, and USMC. Also if you went USMC and had a flight spot you could volunteer to be a Forward Air Controller (FAC - USAF calls them TACS) during a non-flying tour. This gets you out with the infantry and helping your fellow pilots put bombs on target. USNA gives more non-career flying choices. In the USN you are a pilot, ship driver, submariner, SEAL, etc. Everyone takes pride in their communities and identifies with it. In the USAF it seems you are either a pilot or not.
    • One of the things I noticed about USAF vs. USN/USMC leadership - its different. The best way I can summarize it is USN/USMC junior officers tend to make decisions and go. I found most USAF junior officers tended to want to consult with their SNCO or Major first. In some instances, yes, needed. But it seemed this way for the small and mundane stuff too. I think culture plays a big part of this. USAF is much more relaxed in their military courtesies and professionalism. USMC is by far the most in this regard. USN is probably in the middle with a very robust set of traditions, especially the black shoe side of the house (SWOs). I am not here to start a fight of what service is better or worse. They are all very good at what they do. Their officers and enlisted work hard everyday. I don't want to start a food fight, just giving my observations of what I witnessed over the years.
    • If you can visit both. Now that you have an appointment you know its conceivable that you will see yourself as a Mid or Cadet. Your view will be different. You are looking at this right on deciding service before school. USNA allows you to pave your own path without the shadow of your father. For some that is a big shadow, for others its no issue. Only you know that answer.
    I hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  3. campe18

    campe18 Member

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    As a USAFA grad I would just like to say that was a nicely worded response.

    You are in an enviable position as you really can't go wrong with either choice. Both offer excellent opportunities to serve your country and have fun doing it.

    Oh yeah... and where is the Commander in Chief's trophy? Exactly!
     
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  4. MAC_Daddy

    MAC_Daddy Rationalization is the enemy of excellence!

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    This response is coming from an Academy wannabe but....
    Like your rationale implies, USNA is probably the most diverse in summer blocks because you get sea, land and air training. Keep in mind, however, just because you go to a particular academy does not mean you need to stay in that branch of service. I have an in-law that was a USNA grad that retired as a USAF general. It is highly likely that you do but several USMA grads put in for BUDS every year. There are pilots at USMA as well (helicopter). It is important to look at the metrics and options that each service offers, but if you have an appointment to both, go with the environment that suits you best.
     
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  5. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    Congratulations, a good decision to have. A couple quick thoughts, as I am pressed for time:

    1) Where do you want to serve ? USAF and USN are two very distinctively different services. I did part of my Nav training at an Air Force Base, and saw the difference.

    2) You hit it on the head when you recognized that USN gives you more options. As my BGO explained to me, in the Air Force, if you aren't a pilot, you are a second class citizen. Navy gives you a lot of alternatives. (Remember, not flying is not always your choice, alot of people get NPQ's for a variety of reasons).

    3) Don't count on interservice transfers --they are few and far between. It used to be there had to be a one for one exchange.

    USAFA was my first choice, but I didn't get in. USNA sent me to NAPS. As I look back, it was a blessing.
     
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  6. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    [QUOTE="
    • One of the things I noticed about USAF vs. USN/USMC leadership - its different. The best way I can summarize it is USN/USMC junior officers tend to make decisions and go. I found most USAF junior officers tended to want to consult with their SNCO or Major first. In some instances, yes, needed. But it seemed this way for the small and mundane stuff too. I think culture plays a big part of this. USAF is much more relaxed in their military courtesies and professionalism. USMC is by far the most in this regard. USN is probably in the middle with a very robust set of traditions, especially the black shoe side of the house (SWOs). I am not here to start a fight of what service is better or worse. They are all very good at what they do. Their officers and enlisted work hard everyday. I don't want to start a food fight, just giving my observations of what I witnessed over the years. [/QUOTE]
    To follow up my 1) above -- the way I often explain this to my candidates, many of whom apply to both USNA and USAFA. My experience was that Navy officers have more initiative and ability to make decisions on their own. My experience in the USAF training command was that they operated under the philosphy that if it wasn't specifically permitted in some regulation , then they couldn't do it. USN had the opposite approach, if it wasn't specifically prohibited, you could do it.
     
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  7. AF6872

    AF6872 10-Year Member

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    Just remember AF has better Golf Courses. Yes NA has more pilots , who knew.
     
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  8. WonderGirl1965

    WonderGirl1965 Member

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    USAFA.... you want to accept that today, and make sure to decline USNA! Congratulations and all of us waiting for USNA thank you in advance. :tomcat:
     
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  9. WonderGirl1965

    WonderGirl1965 Member

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    Seriously Alex, my uncle is retired AF and he never flew. Most of his career was in the USA in the heartland.... Iowa, Nebraska, and those types of places where pretty important stuff goes on that doesnt include flying. I think that's all pretty awesome. From a military aviation standpoint, you have to consider the future of the programs with advanced technology. How many actual people will be manning fighter jets in ten years? 20 years? If Amazon is using drones to deliver groceries well.... I'm sure you can figure that out. I also think it's really important to let whichever Academy you choose lead your career path. You might take a course your second year that completely changes your trajectory. Who knew you would fall in love with nuclear? Or meteorology? Or logistics? The world is your playground at either place. Personally, I don't think there is a "wrong" decision here. Good luck sugar!