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Ghost Recon Future Soldier


Joining The Military


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#1 Guest_Jester_*

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 12:08 AM

I've seen many a thread in these forums the last few years with people asking about the military and joining it, getting a commission, going SF, asking what the food is like, etc, etc. There are quite a few vets and active military members in the forums. Personally, I have a standard speech I give to people here or IRL that are thinking about joining any component, active or reserve/guard. I'm arranging to have this pinned so people can add their own advice and ask questions and it will all be in one convenient place. I'll try to add some bit of info every now and then when I have time and am around.

Please don't post advice unless you've got firsthand experience. There is quite a bit of bad info out there that keeps getting repeated by people and spread around. The point of this thread is to help people that are interested, not show off the knowledge you think you have about the military because you heard somebody talking about it once or you read a lot of books. This is for practical advice/information for those that are genuinely curious about military life. Please try to keep it civil.

Right now, I'm going to get the ball rolling by posting my standard starter speech for people. I recently PMd this to somebody that asked me some questions and told them they need to sit and think about this for a couple days before they even start thinking of what questions to ask.


Keep in mind that this is taken from two PMs I sent to somebody in response to some initial questions. I haven't 'cleaned it up' so it reads like you're coming into the conversation late. I apologize for that, however I don't think it negatively impacts the usefulness of the information.

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The first thing you need to prepare yourself for is this:

You need to be ready, regardless of what rank you are, officer or enlisted, what service, what MOS/AFSQ/rating, active duty, reserve or national guard, for this -- deployment. Imagine getting told that the very next day you are going to have to deploy to the worst place you can imagine (think Middle East -- desert. Or certain places in Africa or South America.). You're going to be there for 6 months to a year, with only minimal contact with friends and family, at best. You'll be living in field conditions (a tent, no air conditioning or heating, MREs for two of your three meals a day, little sleep) and having to wear a helmet, body armor, load carrying equipment (LCE) and carry a rifle at all times (even to the latrine). When you do go out of camp, everybody is at a high state of readiness because you don't know if the locals are friendly or not at any given time. People you know will die. Plain and simple, it will be really ugly. You might see somebody you know get killed right in front of you. All this, even if you are a supply clerk. There is no such thing as a 'safe' service or MOS anymore. The reality is that anybody in the military can find themselves in the position I just described. Just ask Jessica Lynch.

Think about it for at least 24 hours. Really think about all of that I described. That is a worst case scenario. But these days, it can happen to anybody. Do some digging on recent news stories -- there are a couple of recent ones (the last few days -- edit: at this time, about 70% of our forces are overseas) that cite percentages of how many troops from our military are overseas right now. That number should give you an idea. I promise you that I know people in every service that have been called to active duty and sent away from home for 1-2 years since 9/11. If you are still interested in serving after thinking about it, we'll talk some more and I can start getting more specific.

Addendum:

Just before the war officially ended in Iraq, in a thread on this topic, I said something about being deployed for that long and somebody said to me that they thought you could only be deployed for 6 months. I said it then and I'll say it now, that was a little nicety that came about quite a while ago when we had lots of troops going on peacekeeping missions. It was to help morale for servicemembers and their families. I said that if the war in Iraq kept going, do you think that we'll stop the 3rd ID short of Baghdad and send them home just because they've been there six months? Well, I hate to say it, but as of this writing, there are elements of the 3rd Infantry Division that have been deployed for 9-10 months and they might get to come home this summer. I know a couple of married officers from Bragg that have been in Kuwait/Iraq since October. They're supposed to come out in September with their unit. They both PCS (move from one post to another) to another unit on 1 October -- right before that unit gets rotated to Iraq. Lucky them.

One key phrase to get used to: Needs of the Army. All the services have their own version because it's the same wherever you go. If the service needs you to do something, everything else goes out the window.


At some point, I'll tackle things like
  • the enlistment process and things you need to be aware of -- your rights and obligations.
  • commissioning options (becoming an officer)
  • special training
  • assignments
  • jobs in the military
  • base pay and special pays
  • taxes
  • promotions
  • miscellaneous other things
Feel free to add to this thread if you are a veteran or current servicemember. Be sure to state what service (or country, if applicable). If your info is only service-specific, make that clear. Most of what I covered in this post is non-service specific. I have more info on the Army than the other services, but I know quite a bit about Air Force, Navy and the Marine Corps -- I have spent a large amount of time working in the joint world and have worked with and for folks from all of the above services.

Edited by Jester, 10 July 2003 - 01:55 AM.


#2 WhiteKnight77

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 12:10 AM

Pinned for future reference. :)

#3 Specter

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 01:10 AM

Jester, Its a good thing you did here. A really good thing. To give the kids a good look at what they will be getting into, besides the pretty picture the recruiters give them.

I would also make some observations from my personal experience.

Make sure you have no medical problems that will crop up under extreme physical stress. If it crops up in training, you are on your own, with no benefits from the military. IE... joint defects, muscle problems, etc. They will fix broken bones, or do appendectomies, stuff like that. But if you have any defects you dont find until then, you will be SOL as far as the govt is concerned.

In reference to Jester's post, there is an extremely factual, true, story told by the Rangers and Delta soldiers that were involved in the real Blackhawk down incident in Mogadishu, with actual footage, and interviews with the soldiers who were there. Watch it. Its called The True Story of Blackhawk Down, put out by The History Channel. It will give you a very accurate picture of what you could face on active duty. This will be especially relevant since we are going back to Africa, and it looks like the US may be spending quite a bit of time there.

Make sure, Like Jester said, that you really understand what you are doing when you sign and take that oath. They will be the most important words you ever say in your life. You will live those words. And understand that once you complete basic, that you will face life threatening situations every day of your life in the service. Well, not everyday, but the time will come, especially for Spec OPs or infantry.

Know that when you pick up that gun, and you step off that transport on foreign soil, that you are very likely going to kill people. Know it and believe it. As much as you are fighting over there for what you believe in, in countries like Africa, most believe they have nothing to lose, and will come after you with everything they have, not caring if they live or die.

Remember that combat is not glamorous, nor is it fun or glorious. People are shooting at you, trying to stab you, and trying to blow you up. If you are in combat, they want you dead, and will not stop until you are. This paragraph is a very harsh, ugly, picture. Its meant to be. Its very real, and very true. Just remember that you are going out to fight what we consider purely evil, and that good people will die doing it, but not in vain. You are literally sacrificing your life for the time that you are in the service. Your life will be the governments life, and you will be the instrument of their policy, even if you dont agree with it. If you dont like what you are sent to do, or dont agree with it, you have to do it anyway, to the best of your ability, or people will die because of you if you dont. Its a great responsibility. Very hard, but also very, very, rewarding.

On the good side. You are doing one of the greatest, most honorable things you can do. You are fighting so that your country can stay free, and you are fighting for freedom for others who arent so lucky as to have it. You are standing up to tyrants and sadists for others who arent able to do so. This is a great honor, and you should be filled with alot of pride about what you are doing. You will have the gratitude of thousands, even millions of people, even though it isnt always spoken. What you are joining up to protect and accomplish is a worthy cause. One of the few worthy causes left.

I hope this gives everyone something to think about, and I hope it was some good info for you.

And read real closely what Jester posts for you in the near future.

#4 Guest_Jester_*

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 01:47 AM

Good post. One thing that phantom touched on that I will expand on later is the fact that you are in an awkward position as a servicemember. You are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is a little more strict than regular laws that everybody in our society is bound by. Ironically, while serving and guaranteeing the rights of others, you actually give up some of your personal freedoms guaranteed by things like the Consititution and the Bill of Rights.

For instance, you can't express many of your political beliefs while in uniform. Say you don't like the current President. As everybody knows, freedom of speech allows everybody to say how they feel. Well, not in the military. The President happens to be the Commander-in-Chief and, as such, he is in your chain of command. You can't just sit around and talk crap about him.

Ok, keeping it short, like I intended. I'll talk more about this some other time.

Just be grateful there's no dedovschina in our military. ;)

#5 WhiteKnight77

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 02:15 AM

I would like to add one thing to both of these posts. Phantom touched on it and Jester did too with the UCMJ, but when you sign up and take the oath, you are government property. No matter what you feel like doing (getting a tattoo can get you in trouble for defacing government property if someone really wants to push it) you can't.

You will have to do things you don't want and do things that totally do not make sense, but you will have to do them no matter what. If you should tell a Staff NCO that he has a really messy attitude about something, you have to stand there and get chewed out by the Staff NCO who caused the problem to beging with and you had to unfoul up (that really happened to me BTW and I was an NCO.)

This is not meant to scare you, it's just to let you know what to expect.

#6 Marcinko

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 02:20 AM

I'm not military... yet, and thats a lot of good info, i took alot of it to heart,and will be thinking about it in my time before and after i join that sevice. It's very cool of u guys to do this, thanks :D
"I will not be softened by the wishful thinking of pacifists who chose reassurance over reality." -- Ed Evans, MGySgt., USMC (Ret.)
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#7 Guest_Jester_*

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 02:27 AM

I would like to add one thing to both of these posts. Phantom touched on it and Jester did too with the UCMJ, but when you sign up and take the oath, you are government property. No matter what you feel like doing (getting a tattoo can get you in trouble for defacing government property if someone really wants to push it) you can't.

You will have to do things you don't want and do things that totally do not make sense, but you will have to do them no matter what. If you should tell a Staff NCO that he has a really messy attitude about something, you have to stand there and get chewed out by the Staff NCO who caused the problem to beging with and you had to unfoul up (that really happened to me BTW and I was an NCO.)

This is not meant to scare you, it's just to let you know what to expect.

On that note, in the Army you can't have any tattoos that are visible when wearing the Class A uniform (the green suit and tie). That means hands, face, neck. If you had them already when they decided that a few years ago, they gave you a choice -- free removal procedure or get out. If you have them and want to get in, you'll have to get them removed yourself.

On doing what people tell you -- that's a fact of being in. I have seen lots of disgruntled soldiers that apparently never saw a movie about the military, let alone talked to anybody that had ever been in. They were absolutely miserable once they learned that people would tell them to do things and *gasp* expect them to do them. Not only that, but they could get in trouble if they didn't. If you don't think you can deal well with people telling you what to do and expecting you to move out, don't join up. There will be times when they don't have time to explain to you why they want you to do it -- they just need you to freaking do it quickly.

As WK said this isn't really meant to scare you. Some of what I say in these posts may be taken that way, but it is because I'm trying to paint a realistic picture for you. See, over the last well....number of years....I've seen lots of soldiers that didn't know what to expect, like the ones I mentioned in the last paragraph. They get in and they find out they have to do stuff they think is stupid, or they wind up stuck on a detail and don't like it, or something else. They quickly start to affect the morale and efficiency of every single soldier around them. Now, I don't care if they hate the Army and have decided they're going to get out after their enlistment is up (there's another fun fact -- you can't just easily quit because you don't like it). That's fine -- it's not for everybody.

However, many people in that position really become a drain on everybody around them. They complain constantly. They half try at every task given to them. They develop an attitude that they display with people in their chain of command. That spreads. It affects other soldiers that would ordinarily be good soldiers. That leads to morale problems and gets all those other soldiers to only half do their jobs. In a place like Iraq, that could translate to you or your buddies (or friends of mine) dying. "I hate this -- guard duty is so stupid and boring." Complacency sets in. Pvt Malcontent falls asleep. ZZZZZ ZZZZZ ZZZZZZ." BOOOM!

Again, not a scare tactic -- just trying to make things clear for those of you that are considering the military as an option. If you meet people like that, don't catch what they're passing around. Make the best of every situation that you find yourself in, whenever you can.

Note -- yes, it is a soldier's right to complain. You'll see, though, that there is a difference between a group of soldiers commiserating about crappy living conditions (or anything else) and the people I'm talking about.

Edited by Jester, 10 July 2003 - 02:30 AM.


#8 TheBlakeness (HotPants)

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 02:37 AM

I would like to also add something about getting tattoos. Back when I was still in the aplication process for OCS, I thought about getting a small tattoo on my back. Nothing crazy or anything, just a tattoo. For some reason I felt that I should talk to my officer recruiter about it. He told me that he would strongly advise against it, because even though they are not technically allowed to be biased on things like that, A lot of Officers (that would be interviewing me) tend to look down on people with tattoos.

Now if you want a tattoo bad enough, nothing is going to stop you, but I strongly suggest that you wait till after basic, OCS, ROTC, The Academy, or whereever you plan on going. Just so you can get a feel as to what is the military way.
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" -Benjamin Franklin

Airplanes suffer from so many technical faults that it is only a matter of time before any reasonable man realizes that they are useless! -- Scientific American (1910)

#9 Specter

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 03:34 AM

A note about boot camp. At least for the USMC.

It will be the hardest 3 months of your life. You are going to be degraded, insulted, pushed around, and yelled at constantly. The first 3 days, you will not sleep, unless it has changed. You are going to be embarrassed. You are going to have to do pullups and pushups before your even allowed to enter the bathroom.(yes, this is fact, I personally know this). You are only going to sleep 4 hours or less a nite. You pull guard duty, even in basic, from day 3, your first nite in the barracks. You will clean everything with a tooth brush, even toilets. This is not a myth, unless it has changed.

You will be expected to stay highly clean, when not in the field. More people are going to see you naked than you ever imagined at one time. After 3 or 4 hours of sleep, you are going to be expected to do PT, run, eat, and handle academics, all before lunch. A day off will be considered a day cleaning the barracks, and studying, working with your weapon. You get no free time and wont see a woman for at least 12 weeks.
You will run a minimum of 3 miles or more before breakfast, right out of the rack. Weather is not a factor. They dont care. They dont care if your tired, hungry, or your tummy doesnt feel good. They are training you to kill people, and stay alive under the worst conditions you ever imagined. They are going to work you and run you and push you until you think you will break, and then do it some more. You will have 3 minutes to get out of bed, make your rack, get dressed and fall in. You will be expected to do everything they teach you in your sleep, perfect.
The platoon will expect you to carry your load. If you dont and you can, God help you, because they wont. If you really cant, they will break their backs for you. You will be closer to these guys than you ever have before to anyone. By the time boot is over, you will know that if your in trouble, you wont have to watch your back, it is already covered by a man that would take a bullet for you, and they expect the same.
If you arent a team player, the military may not be for you, unless you are willing to change.
Be in decent shape when you go, with an emphasis on endurance. You will need it. Start now: running, doing pull ups, sit ups, and push ups. And for the love of God, leave your ego at home. Or the DI's will eat you alive ! ! They will push you harder, and try to really break you. You dont want that. I saw it once. Those DI's are in better shape and know more about breaking and beating people than you can imagine. Pull your weight, do your very best, but you arent allowed to be cocky until after all your training. Then Spec Ops training. I havent done that, but you can bet it will be 10 times harder than boot.

But when you come out. When you come out, you wont be the same. You will be better. You will have realized a level of potential and confidence that you didnt have before.

Boot could have changed alot since I was there in 85. I dont know, but thats what it was like for me.

#10 ReconSnake

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 03:52 AM

1) Understand that you don't know jack sh!t. Most recruits are 17-21 and that age group likes to think they know it all while they couldn't find their rear with both hands and a flashlight. Shut your trap and listen to your DI - he is telling you stuff that will save your life. Smart-ass kids and know-it-all are not appreciated by the Smokies.

2) Watch out for you squad & platoon -always.

3) Always listen to your NCO's - obey your officers' commands, but listen to your NCO's. LT's are usually wet-behind-the balls know-nothing ring knockers or other miscellanious babes in the woods.

4) Develop a strong body and thick skin.

5) Concentrate on developing your leadership skills and mastering the basics.

6) Take every chance for advanced training and courses.

#11 Ruin

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 04:30 AM

Jester, how about Academies? Going the Officer route instead? Do you know anyone from West Point (because I know you're Army) that could offer any advise? My mom's co-woerker who's soon to be a Junior there and said that it's %40 academics and %60 physical. Also from what I've read the fist six weeks there are crap. Is this like basic?

Just some questions for those who are not considering enlisting but going through an Academy.
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#12 Marcinko

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 06:17 AM

Smart-ass kids and know-it-all are not appreciated by the Smokies

:unsure: <_<
"I will not be softened by the wishful thinking of pacifists who chose reassurance over reality." -- Ed Evans, MGySgt., USMC (Ret.)
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#13 Specter

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 01:08 PM

Smart-ass kids and know-it-all are not appreciated by the Smokies

:unsure: <_<

He didnt mean it as an insult, Marcinko. He is absolutely dead on. You go in there thinking that you know anything at all except your families' names, and they will land on you like a dump truck full of bricks.

You go, open your mind, learn everything, and say nothing unless asked. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. They dont care what you think you know, they only want you to learn and know what they teach you. Until your grad ceremony, you are literally a know nothing nobody. And they dont single anyone out, unless you single yourself out. They treat everyone lower than prehistoric frog sh!t. You have to earn every bit of respect and trust you get there. They will give you nothing, and they will beat the cockiness right out of you, literally, and metaphorically speaking. They arent allowed to hit anymore, but rest assured, there are many, many ways to beat a man down. And they know them all, and like to think up more.

#14 Zebb

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 03:24 PM

Where do i sign ?...... ;) :P

Good points gent's, well written, i dont need to add anything...... Lol :sheep:
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So you think you can tell, Heaven from Hell ?.....

#15 Marcinko

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 05:05 PM

I've learned a lot lot, and i hate to say it, but from games, readin theads, etc. especially moddin, has taught me a lot, not just guns, units, all that bs, patienence as well, bein a smart ass is my nature, i try not to, it just happens. i probably will get my ass kicked, but I WILL NOT QUIT!!!!!!!!! no matter what they throw at me, no way, no how, i see that bell, i'll see the faces of all the people who ever told me i'm good for nothin, i'll never make it, i'll see their face, and i'll keep goin. HOOYAH!!!!!
"I will not be softened by the wishful thinking of pacifists who chose reassurance over reality." -- Ed Evans, MGySgt., USMC (Ret.)
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