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Need help from a few military members

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I've been mentoring two 17 year old boys for the past year and they are both getting ready to graduate from high school. Both are honors students with good gpa, excellent physical condition, and have tested in top ranks on asvab and similar tests. Both are very seriously considering military careers and have been in touch with several branch recruiters, however we've been less than impressed with the recruiter response. I've personally made a half dozen calls trying to setup appointments to discuss enlistment options, they almost never call back, and when I press it they end up debating which recruiter has jurisdiction over the high schools and then pushing me off to others who also fail to return calls. Well we've managed to get some background info anyway but what we really need now is for these boys to talk with some actual service members, not recruiters, to hear the pros and cons first hand. They are both currently favoring the Navy with dreams of making a seal team, which may not be too crazy because they have both been heavily involved in competitive tactical sports for years and I've gotten them pretty far along on the shooting skills as well. Secondary considerations include nuclear tech, aircraft mechanic, or who knows. So I'm hoping we have a few veteran TGO members that are currently serving or have recently served, that would be willing to chat with one or both of these boys informally. Any branch or MOS is fine and your perspective would be valuable, both pro and con. We can do this via phone, conference call, or meet up in person for coffee or a meal (my treat). If you are interested in helping these boys please just PM me your info and I'll get in touch to discuss background and figure out next steps.

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With the current wars winding down and the additional 20,000 troops brought in for the surge being released through attrition and other means, recruiting "missions" are lower. The situation right now is the same as the situation during the 92 build down when I was a recruiter. 

 

Stations are given "Missions", each recruiter receives their Missions and has to make mission. Several of my friends are at the command level in recruiting right now. Some stations are seeing what they used to call "Zero Mission", meaning they do not have to recruit anyone because they are trying to reach troop levels set by Congress. A relative of mine who is a Gunny Recruiter, tells me that he is having a hell of a time trying to get recruits. They should have no problem getting into the Marines, the Army is a different story altogether, I do not know what the Navy and Air Force are doing. 

 

There is also the fact that recruiters, if they make mission, will hold off on prospects, especially HS Grads, until the following month. And it is very common for a recruiter to hand off a prospective recruit to another recruiter because that recruiter may have already made mission and the other recruiter hasnt, there is nothing unusual about being handed off to another recruiter. 

 

There is also the fact that right now the Recruiting Commands are involved in a huge scandall involving 2 General's and a bunch of Officers and NCO's that cost the taxpayer up to 50 million in theft. In normal times you go from Hero to Zero every month, right now recruiting command is being shaken up and people are being relieved left and right and so far 16 have been convicted.

 

Nothing you mention is unusual. The ASVAB isnt a pass or fail test, it is a test of General and Technical skills and is broken down into numerous areas. The one that matters is the GT (General Technical) score, Should be 110 or above, the other scores only determine which MOS's the recruit will be offered (Qualifies for).

Edited by TankerHC

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You mention the desire to become a seal...I think the first, most obvious step is to get them to realize exactly what this entails. Their missions are usually classified, get very little, if any press, and can be extremely dangerous. While I realize young men often love the sense of adventure, they need to temper it with reality. The door kicking activity which almost always lasts much less than one hour, is preceded by months and years of preparation. That preparation involves being extremely wet and cold, hungry, physically exhausted, and desperately tired. I would offer, if they want a small taste, have them go out and swim across a lake (a mile or two...obviously taking into account safety precautions for hypothermia and drowning), then walk 25-50 miles over a few days into a remote area, in nasty weather, with only what they can carry, with one of them ALWAYS staying awake, trying to avoid any human contact, listening to a news broadcast on the radio, and then lay up in an area for a few days, hidden, not moving around, overlooking a highway and counting the number of semis that go by in a 24 hr period, making sure to record the color and company of each. Then call you every 2-4 hrs with that information.

 

What I just described is called Strategic Reconnaissance which is one of the operational missions of Special Operations. If they can enjoy doing that then maybe it is right for them.

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If they don't have a GT above 110 I would advise them to take it again when they get a chance. I took my first ASVAB when I was a sophomore in high school; it was a compulsory event. They took us all into the gym, passed out these tests and then said it didn't matter if we didnt know the answers to all the questions. I Christmas treed the test, like a good 15 year old kid would do when you say effort/correctness isn't required. If I had used those scores going to a recruiter I would have been qualified to be a pop up target on a range. I retook the test later on when I decided to join, and getting a high GT score opened up all the doors I needed opened at the time.

I believe Tanker is spot on with the draw down. Even if recruiters have a mission of a few guys each month, once they meet that they won't be interested in signing others up until they need them, or at least that was my experience when I joined active service. My entry date wouldn't have been for several months after signing, but the recruiter didnt want me signing until the following month.

Really, dealing with the recruiter was a pointless endeavor anyway. He acted like a used car salesman and didnt much care for what I was interested in. I ended up making my deals with the liaison at MEPS, since he wasn't a mouth-breathing halfwit.

I'm pretty sure they still have entry contracts for guys that want to be SEALs. No reason not to get a SEAL contract up front if they're available. There is no benefit to waiting.


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These boys need to hear from someone how much life sucks if you enlist on a special contract that gets you immediately into high speed qualification stuff, and then you fail out.  In the Army you would sometimes come across young guys that enlisted on a contract similar to the SEAL deal you described (Ranger Indoctrination Program I think) and then flunk out of the program somehow.  They end up not being able to choose their follow-on MOS.  Meaning the Army gets to choose your job for you.  I don't know if things work the same way in the Navy.

 

An even bigger concern is that a young man who's enlisting would do well to figure out what kind of work, generally, he could see himself doing as a civilian.  Most guys don't have the foresight to do this; the recruiter tells them how cool it is to be a spaceship door gunner and that's all the recruit wants.  He doesn't bother to wonder how that job will translate into civilian skills later down the road.  Consequently, at the end of his first enlistment, that young guy doesn't have any real options.  He can either reenlist, or separate and become a civilian who has really cool military skills but can't get a job.

 

Say a young man has always been interested in police detective work, but really wants to see firsthand what the military is all about.  Ideally, he chooses an MOS that will have him doing that kind of stuff (i.e. Military Police, Military Intelligence Investigator, etc.) and enlists.  Later, by the time that same soldier reaches the end of his enlistment, he has done some detective-type service schools, gotten some letters of recommendation together, has some leadership experience, and is marketable to police forces across the country.  He has options in the civilian world.

 

The goal is for the soldier to have a first enlistment experience that gives him what investors call "a good return" for his time in service. 

Edited by Wheelgunner
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These boys need to hear from someone how much life sucks if you enlist on a special contract that gets you immediately into high speed qualification stuff, and then you fail out.  In the Army you would sometimes come across young guys that enlisted on a contract similar to the SEAL deal you described (Ranger Indoctrination Program I think) and then flunk out of the program somehow.  They end up not being able to choose their follow-on MOS.  Meaning the Army gets to choose your job for you.  I don't know if things work the same way in the Navy.

 

An even bigger concern is that a young man who's enlisting would do well to figure out what kind of work, generally, he could see himself doing as a civilian.  Most guys don't have the foresight to do this; the recruiter tells them how cool it is to be a spaceship door gunner and that's all the recruit wants.  He doesn't bother to wonder how that job will translate into civilian skills later down the road.  Consequently, at the end of his first enlistment, that young guy doesn't have any real options.  He can either reenlist, or separate and become a civilian who has really cool military skills but can't get a job.

 

Say a young man has always been interested in police detective work, but really wants to see firsthand what the military is all about.  Ideally, he chooses an MOS that will have him doing that kind of stuff (i.e. Military Police, Military Intelligence Investigator, etc.) and enlists.  Later, by the time that same soldier reaches the end of his enlistment, he has done some detective-type service schools, gotten some letters of recommendation together, has some leadership experience, and is marketable to police forces across the country.  He has options in the civilian world.

 

The goal is for the soldier to have a first enlistment experience that gives him what investors call "a good return" for his time in service. 

 

You go into RIP as whatever your MOS already is.  So if you're 11 series you go worldwide assignment if you don't get picked up by Regiment.  You still are 11 series.  Same for medics and such.

 

I think it depends on what folks want to get out of it.  I didn't join the Army to get skills.  I joined to shoot bad people in the face and play with explosives.  I didn't care much for college money or job skills.  For some folks they want more.  But I don't look back on the younger version of me and wish I had enlisted to be a POG.  If the young bucks want to be SEALs I would assume their reasons aren't so they can get a job turning a wrench on a Bell airframe years down the road.  If I was them I probably wouldn't much care about failing and having to do some BS MOS.  I'd just keep going back until I got selected.

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You go into RIP as whatever your MOS already is.  So if you're 11 series you go worldwide assignment if you don't get picked up by Regiment.  You still are 11 series.  Same for medics and such.

 

I think it depends on what folks want to get out of it.  I didn't join the Army to get skills.  I joined to shoot bad people in the face and play with explosives.  I didn't care much for college money or job skills.  For some folks they want more.  But I don't look back on the younger version of me and wish I had enlisted to be a POG.  If the young bucks want to be SEALs I would assume their reasons aren't so they can get a job turning a wrench on a Bell airframe years down the road.  If I was them I probably wouldn't much care about failing and having to do some BS MOS.  I'd just keep going back until I got selected.

 

My recruiter asked me what I wanted to do. I gave him a questioning look as I thought 'What else?' and said "I want to shoot people and blow #### up. What do I need to do to do that?" I went 11X.

Edited by Daniel

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I was a navy nuke for 8 years, got out in 2010. If they have any questions about that or life on an aircraft carrier, pm me and I'll email chat with them. I work with a bunch of sub navy nukes as well.


Sent from the blue lagoon.

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There is also the fact that right now the Recruiting Commands are involved in a huge scandall involving 2 General's and a bunch of Officers and NCO's that cost the taxpayer up to 50 million in theft. In normal times you go from Hero to Zero every month, right now recruiting command is being shaken up and people are being relieved left and right and so far 16 have been convicted.

 

That would be the National Guard's Recruiting Assistance Program that is under criminal investigation for gaming the program that paid hundreds of millions in bonuses to Guard members who persuaded friends to sign up.

 

The National Guard maintains its own separate and distinct recruiting program and has refused for years to be part of the Regular Army's Recruiting Command.

 

State IGs (who are Regular Army) reported problems with the way that the Guard was handing out this money as far back as 2007.  Since it was "Guard-Color-Of-Money" that had been directly allocated by Congress to the Guard, the Regular Army could not and has not allowed to provide oversight. 

 

 - - - Getting Back On Topic - - -

 

Everyone has given good advice. 

 

I would also add that the "Needs of the Service" will anyways change.  The personnel system of the military tends to look out about 6 months in advance.  Today its trying to reduce its overall numbers which tends to be a meat cleaver kind of approach.  7 months from now the system may very well realize that it kicked too many out of a certain skill and the recruiters will be told to go get more.  

 

So my recommendation would be to keep your ears open.

 

You never know what the future will bring because, "Somewhere, just beyond the horizon, the unicorns are gathering......"

Edited by DMark

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My SIL, who's an E5 in the Army, is much less than impressed with Army discipline.  He says the soldiers are a sloppy, backtalking bunch and the senior NCO's support them.  He liked his time in the Navy much better.  YMMV.

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If you would like to bring them by the store sometime, I would be happy to speak with them about the Navy. I retired in 2005 and during my 20 years I was able to serve with SEAL Team 2 and NSWU-2 in Germany as an armorer for the SEALs.

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The most important thing to know is, if you're talking to a recruiter, you're getting lied to. I have never met a single person that wasn't lied to by their recruiter. They will give the best case scenario and that is it. The truth is, unless you're in special ops, most of the time the military blows. You may make lifelong friends, experience comradery  you will never experience anywhere else, travel to exotic lands where you'll meet interesting people, and then kill them, but a lot of time is spent cleaning clean gear, checking oil in vehicles you checked yesterday (and the day before, and the day before, and the day before, etc. etc. etc.), and just general B.S. to keep you busy, or at least maintain that appearance to the VERY casual observer. 

 

The thing one needs to realize before joining is that once you sign on the dotted line, your ass belongs to Uncle Sam. And he will do with you what he pleases and have no care for your opinion on the matter. And if you screw up, your ass is grass and they are the lawn mower. It can be a very thankless job much of the time, even if it is rewarding to know you're doing some good.

 

I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I want to keep expectations realistic. I had a blast sometimes in the Army, but there were also times when I wanted to sit atop a water tower with a high powered rifle laughing hysterically while I took everyone in my command structure. The only in-between emotion that I recall was sheer boredom. 

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My SIL, who's an E5 in the Army, is much less than impressed with Army discipline.  He says the soldiers are a sloppy, backtalking bunch and the senior NCO's support them.  He liked his time in the Navy much better.  YMMV.

 

It is exactly like that.  The last bastion of military professionalism exists in the infantry, and they're doing their best to turn that into military bearing-free zone.  I've only served in combat arms and was always baffled when interacting with persons in soft skill professions or seeing them interact with others.  I surely have a thousand stories about it.  I've never been under fire with a unit like that, but I refuse to believe that such undisciplined children could be expected to function as an effective fighting unit when they have zero respect for their NCOs, and their NCOs have zero concept of how to manage Soldiers.  Ugh.... rant off.

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I was aircraft maintenance in Marines and after that Heavy truck mechanic in Army. I was telling someone the other night, don't get caught up with too much drinking, messing around with the girls and get some disease, and don't get in trouble. A dishonorable discharge will follow you the rest of your life. BTW, looking back I regret getting out of the Marines.

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It is exactly like that.  The last bastion of military professionalism exists in the infantry, and they're doing their best to turn that into military bearing-free zone.  I've only served in combat arms and was always baffled when interacting with persons in soft skill professions or seeing them interact with others.  I surely have a thousand stories about it.  I've never been under fire with a unit like that, but I refuse to believe that such undisciplined children could be expected to function as an effective fighting unit when they have zero respect for their NCOs, and their NCOs have zero concept of how to manage Soldiers.  Ugh.... rant off.

 

I've been attached to several units outside of the 18th ABN Corps in my capacity as a PSYOP Reservist. I do not have glowing reviews of any of them.

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Ok, here's my take, you want to get into the military (Army Specific) (I served 90-97 (still have friends in the fight), went in with a 11X RGV4, got bronchitis during tower week, tried to suck it up and failed the friday run, no Recycle due to my stupidity, got sent to Panama for 2 years with a round trip ticket to 82nd to get back to jump school)

 

- At the minimal, you want to go in with a Airborne Slot (period). Why? Because all the damn good jobs in the Army are airborne slots, 82nd, 173rd, 4/25, Rangers, 160th SOAR, SF, CAG = Airborne.

- If you want a Ranger Contract (11X RGV4) - you need to find someone to square you away now, so when you get to RASP, you don't fuk up and waste a slot 

- If you want a SF Contract (18X baby SF) - you need to find someone to square you away now, so when you get to selection or whatever they call it when doing this pipeline, you don't fuk up and waste a slot 

- if you want Aviation find a gig that 160th needs and go for it, find someone to square you away now, so you don't bolo out and get stuck working on AC @ Ft. Campbell for 101st.

- Don't join for the college money or bonuses - do it because you want to do it, if you get either it's a bonus

- If you are aren't ready for grown a$$ men or women, telling what you need to do, stay the hell out, NCOs don't have time to baby sit. 

- Most combat arms have veterans that have deployed several times over, they don't need some no it all kid, be the grey man, and shut your piehole and listen to what they tell you. They will take you under their wing and square you away or make you stronger, whichever comes first.

 

If they are going Army, they need to decide what they want to do, Infantry is a good branch and no, folks in that branch are not idiots or morons, lots of good guys that decided to step up to the plate and be on the front lines instead having a cushy job. 

 

Yes, I am biased to Infantry, Rangers, Airborne Infantry, Special Operations, and Special Operation Aviation Assets. 

 

Then there's the other Branches.. They have their own offerings and their own advice, I'll leave to those who served in those branches to speak their bit.. 

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That would be the National Guard's Recruiting Assistance Program that is under criminal investigation for gaming the program that paid hundreds of millions in bonuses to Guard members who persuaded friends to sign up.

 

The National Guard maintains its own separate and distinct recruiting program and has refused for years to be part of the Regular Army's Recruiting Command.

 

State IGs (who are Regular Army) reported problems with the way that the Guard was handing out this money as far back as 2007.  Since it was "Guard-Color-Of-Money" that had been directly allocated by Congress to the Guard, the Regular Army could not and has not allowed to provide oversight. 

 

 - - - Getting Back On Topic - - -

 

Everyone has given good advice. 

 

I would also add that the "Needs of the Service" will anyways change.  The personnel system of the military tends to look out about 6 months in advance.  Today its trying to reduce its overall numbers which tends to be a meat cleaver kind of approach.  7 months from now the system may very well realize that it kicked too many out of a certain skill and the recruiters will be told to go get more.  

 

So my recommendation would be to keep your ears open.

 

You never know what the future will bring because, "Somewhere, just beyond the horizon, the unicorns are gathering......"

 

Correct that the Guard has their own Commands, incorrect that the scandal is limited to the Guard. Right now Officers, NCO', detailed Asst Recruiters, Retirees and Civilian from USAREC and the Guard are being investigated. The program wasn't limited to the Guard and many of the Asst Guard Recruiters were active duty.

 

 

 

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Correct that the Guard has their own Commands, incorrect that the scandal is limited to the Guard. Right now Officers, NCO', detailed Asst Recruiters, Retirees and Civilian from USAREC and the Guard are being investigated. The program wasn't limited to the Guard and many of the Asst Guard Recruiters were active duty.

 

 

They are AGR.  Not Regular Army.

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They are AGR.  Not Regular Army.

 

Again, the program was extended to the Active Component. Active duty personnel were detailed to the Guard and Reserve. It is the reason there are two separate boards conducting the hearings right now. The Guard Civilians in charge of the Guard program are defending the program and the Active duty Generals are not. 

 

Either way, I assume you were a Recruiter. Maybe incorrectly. If so you would know what "Hero to Zero" and not making mission means to an NCOER for a detailed recruiter and career, although by 96 the Army was putting less weight in promotions and retention on NCOER's from USAREC. 

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I assume you were a Recruiter.

 

No.

 

Just a guy that sat on a lot of selection and promotion boards.

 

Reckon the program being extended to the RA was after I had any skin in that game.  Too bad, since the corruption and fraud within the program was well know within months of it going into affect with the Guard.  Just too much free money with little control over how it was being handed out.   

 

- - - After re-reading this post I want everyone to understand that it was the Program itself that was the problem, not the Guard.  There was so much money being thrown around with so very little accountability of how it was being spent that by its very design the program money was ripe for ethical and moral legitimacy questions.  I'm not surprised that it has now finally come under scrutiny for the justifications and rationalizations of how the program was executed.     

Edited by DMark

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I'm going to echo DaveTN's comment....  My recommendation is they do one of the following...

 

Go to college, get 60 credits and apply to the National Guard as an officer candidate, you'll spend 2 years finishing up college and getting officer training.  Then get yourself transferred to one of the special forces units in the Mississippi NG... Or look into a switch to active duty, or another service -  again a lot easier for an officer to pull off.

 

Or, go to college join Navy ROTC and become an officer :)

 

While there aren't as many officers in special operations units it's generally a lot easier to get a slot as an officer, and as a general rule you're a lot less likely to fail out of training...

 

I know it's not fair, but the reality is for some odd reason instructors tend not to fail officers as often as enlisted.

 

Also, the job prospects for officers leaving the service before retirement looks a lot better.

 

I'd also suggest they think outside the box, I've got a buddy who is a Captain in the 8th SOS (Air Force), who nobody has ever heard of which is pulling missions with SEAL's, SF, etc on a daily basis, and it's a cakewalk to get into compared to say the Rangers.

Edited by JayC

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From what I'm reading, we are all in agreement that the black side of branches is where it's at and we are all recommending that side.. Good..  :rock:

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the 8th SOS (Air Force), who nobody has ever heard of.......

 

Unless you've operated out of Hurlburt Field.  :whistle:

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