Which Branch?


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Mar 22, 2007
My D has been offered both an Army and Air Force scholarship. She plans on majoring in IR - interested in a career in diplomacy, state department, intelligence, etc. Any thoughts on pros and cons of Army and Air Force for this type of service?
Neither - she should go to a good univeristy in the Washington DC area, do some internships and join the Foreign Service.

If she really wants the military - then Army.
There is a new career field in the AF that deals in International Affairs. They want people who are career trained to deal with foreign countries, learning foreign languages and their cultures. This is the career field of my spouse now. Since is to old to fly anymore, he has worked the Jordan, Iraq, UAE and Pakistan buying aircraft, receiving training for their Air Forces and selected countries for exchange programs. He now does this for Europe. In September, he spent a week at Harvard's Kennedy School with many Russian generals trying to build relationships and trust(over a lot of Vodka). In the last month he has also done person to person talks with 2 other ex Soviet Bloc countries. So military sees the world as our partner and want people who are train to deal with it all.

Funny story, as they were developing the new career field, spouses boss an under secretary want to name these officers Political/Military Specialist. My spouse said to his boss you can't name them that, PMS will never fly. Boss ignored spouse, the Secretary of AF was briefed and told the boss you can't have them called PMS.
Thanks - that's the kind of info I was looking for. The PMS story is hilarious!
She has studied Russian and a little bit of Chinese, but I think Russian will be her first language specialty. She wants to serve her country, but would like to have her particular talents and strengths utilized.
Yep that PMS story is pretty funny! The drawback with the Air Force is it sounds like you would have to be a mid-career person - Your daughter would have to wait a long time. Working for the US State Dept in the Foreign Service may get her where she wants to go quicker.
Not to deter her from serving in the military - but serving in the Foreign Service IS serving your country.
No they want to raise them young, I know that with a russian language she will most likely spend time in Germany at Ramstien AFB or at EUCOM. They would like the Lts and Capts in the field, work in the MAJCOMs then come to the Air Staff as Majs and Lt Cols.

There is another career field called civil affairs, the Army and AF both have this type of work. These officers work in countries dealing with diasters help countries get thing like water and food. Also the they help with rebuliding. Right now that career field is very stressed because they are in Iraq.
I personally would recommend what Just A Mom has been recommending. Go straight to the foreign service. That's just as much serving your country as being in the armed forces, but obviously there are major differences in how they serve.

Now, if she truly wants to have a military career that is a different story. If that is the case, I would recommend Army.

If that is the case or not, I would recommend looking into a career with either the State Department, the CIA, or the NSA. All three of those are big IR portions of the government. The major differences are that the CIA is more action oriented and essentially more covert, the NSA is more on the cryptology/computer side of things, and the State Department is overt with ambassadors and such. Of course these are my generalized definitions; each one obviously does similar things-the CIA and the NSA are the most similar. The State Department though is very different in how it functions. Anyways, I would recommend she research all of her options if she hasn't already. Good luck!
This is a difficult subject but I tend to agree with Just A Mom and aeroman. One should join a particular branch of the service to perform directly one of the warfare specialties which that particular organization provides. All other support billets are second class.

These are the billets that will be outsourced with every downsizing. Look at Iraq. Contractors are performing tasks which we would not have dreamed of no more than five years ago. Support organizations are the first to have their budgets trimmed during austere times. Support personnel are the first to complain that their promotion opportunities fall short of their operational counterparts.

Young people should shoot for the stars. Fall back positions are there for a reason. Don't aim for one initially. Go somewhere you can be the best of the best. I would say for this young lady, aeroman is correct. The CIA, NSA, or State Department would be much more rewarding. She can go into the Air Force and sell spare airplane parts to Italy or she can go into the State Department and make a real difference.
Being an Army Cadet, I'm biased, but from what you guys have said, I would also inform your daughter that an AFROTC Scholarship seems like the best way to go for her.