T Nation

Joining the Armed Forces


I am strongly considering a military career. I just got back from meeting with the Army recruiters for the second time. They are really pushing for me to go Rangers or special forces, but I was wondering what other options there are out there for me to shoot for.

I'd like to try to join the most elite unit possible, and they talked to me about SEALS, marine recon, rangers, and special forces, but I was wondering if there were any other units out there that might be interesting. I know there are a lot of current and former soldiers on here, so any information or advice would be greatly appreciated.


This isn't answering your question (I know nothing about the army), but I figured it's as good a time as any to ask, why are you interested in joining the army?

Just intellectual curiosity, feel free to PM me if you don't want it public. :slight_smile:


I was a Marine, therefore I think you should go USMC. You can be in the Army, in the Navy, or in the Air Force, but you are a Marine. The Marines are an elite force altogether. A desk Jockey in the Marines can shoot a flea off of a gnats ass. It's a small force and can be more selective.

When I was looking to join the military there was never any question. Joining something other than the Marines would have been a cop out. It's the longest basic(boot camp) and the toughest. Be a Marine!!!


As to why I want to join the army, it is something I have always had a fascination with. Everytime I see someone with dog tags or in uniform, I kind of feel an itch to be a part of what they've joined.

Also, despite getting my college degree, I never really saw myself working in an office or having a normal 9-5 type job. I tried going the professional boxing route, but I'm 25 now, and have had some hand troubles (the army said I'd still be fine to join) and I kind of want to start getting on with my life.

As for the Marines, they were definitely initially my preference - I always respected the esprit de corps, and they did always strike me as the most elite, but in talking to the recruiter today he said that you can't really choose your job in the Marines.

In other words, if they think I'd be most useful as a translator (I speak 5 languages) I might be used as a linguist and not have the option to join Recon, so the freedom to choose my job definitely made the Army more appealing.


I'm going to keep this short. This is a topic that comes up frequently and I always try to answer. Of course it is a big life decision, and you want to be as informed as you can.
First, don't take just ONE recruiters word on anything. Talk to several, at different offices. Pay attention to what they say, but keep in mind that it is thier job to sway you in thier service and away from the others.
No one service is better than the others. They are the same in many ways, and very different in others. I was Marine and am Army now. Both have it's plusses and minuses.
If you are thinking about going SF or something elite, Army may be the way to go. As far as I know, they are the only service that offers this in the contract. Make sure you read the fine print to see what happens if you don't make it through the courses.
Good luck with everything, keep us posted.


If you've got your degree, why not try the OCS route?


Yeah, I would definitely go in as an officer if you've already got a degree. Plus, when you get out it looks great on a resume.


Warning if you do not have some sort of a skill when you join the Army they will tell you you can be what ever you want to get you to sign. Join the Marine Corps. If you speak 5 different languages, try to enlist for embassey duty, you'll get to travel and you also get a hazard pay increase because you will be in forgein countries full time, the grub is good.

Note, I have a friend who was all hyped becasue he was going to be an Airborne Ranger, he wound up really being a glorified janitor. Rangers train constantly, and when you get out of the Army, what kind of a job do you think you'll get just because you were a Ranger? Pick something that will give you career options when you decide to get out of the Military, no matter which branch you choose. The glorified janitor got out after 6 years, he's a baggage handiler at the airport making 9 bucks an hour.

Remember, you need to think about the then and now as well as the future, you don't want to get out in say 4 years with trashed knees and no real skill to enter the general population with.



As an Enlisted Marine who has done a lot of research into being a Marine officer, I can wholeheartedly say GO MARINE OFFICER. First off, after you complete OCS (Officer Candidate School) they give you one of your top 2 choices as to which field you go into. I know that was a concern for you. Second, there is nothing like the Esprit de Corps - nowhere. The pride Marines take in being a part of the most elite fighting force in the world is immeasurable. It's no wonder that pretty much everyone knows our motto: Semper Fidelis.

My question is though, how did you do on your ASVAB? I was able to choose which field I went into, so I don't see why you wouldn't be able to. I believe your recruiter (scratch that, I KNOW) is lying to you. You have a choice. Without a good ASVAB score, though, your choices are VERY limited...


I take the ASVAB on thursday, but I took the preliminary one last week and got a 96, so the recruiter thinks I should do fine on the actual test. I really want to get a perfect score on that and on all my fitness stuff too. I will try to meet with some Marine recruiters as well. I had a feeling they were really pushing the Ranger stuff because that's what the Army needs most now. It was kind of like being sold a car.

I did ask about OCS, but they said I wouldn't get as much respect from other soldiers coming out of OCS, and that I would enter the army as an E-4 and be a Sargeant if I completed SF training.


Man you just have to remember recruiters lie. This you will not be respected if you go the OCS route is a load of shit. If you complete OCS you will be an officer in the greatest Army in the world and your soldiers will know this. Your language skills will give you a huge advantage when applying for Special Forces training in the Army, if you choose to go that route.

Also if you choose to be an officer your pay will be higher along with other benefits (such as better housing etc.) Finally I will end my rant with this; if you want a family the Army has many family programs that make life easier for your spouse and children.

I know from talking to members of other branches of the service that every branch has some sort of program but the Marines are definitely lacking in the living conditions and family departments. Ultimately the decision comes down to you, but I would defiantly choose to be an Officer over an Enlisted man anyday.


Remember there is always the "for the good of the Army" clause in all of the contracts.


I scored the highest ASVAB score in my high school in 15 years. I had the Marine Corp recruiter picking me up and taking me to school. He even would come over to my house and help me mow the yard. He told me he didn't want me to stress out and change my mind about enlisting.



Marine BCT is 12-13 weeks if I remember correctly, my army BCT was 14. How many bootcamps have you attended by the way?

Marine's are so big-headed.


That would be the 18xray. Very tough to get ahold of one of those. Although every once and a while they give one out just for the fuck of it.


First off question EVERYTHING your recruiter tells you and then get second and third opinions. I was interested in SEALs since I was 12 and I always thought my horrible vision would be the only thing keeping my from a team. Make a long story short my recruiters fed me bullshit about prescription goggles and that I more than qualified for Lasik surgery knowing both we're a lie. I blame noone but myself for not going directly to a SEAL recruiter and finding out firsthand. I was luckily able to get out of my NAVY contract.

Special Ops aren't something you just maybe consider because it sounds cool. Unless you've wanted that for a long time and are willing to do anything for it(I shed 30 lbs of muscle to become faster and have more endurance)you probably won't make it. If you're extremely committed and a valuable asset then special forces is only the beginning.

The army most elite isn't the Rangers or Green Berets it's Delta Force but they choose you. To sum it up know what you're getting yourself into, trust no recruiter, and think about what happens after you get out.


And have every right to be.

Note how the Marines on these threads have "devil" or "Corps" worked into their screen-name somehow.

You, have a video game character.


-Former Navy Doc


All of the US armed forces are the best in the world at what they do, and each has a special, unique mission. I'm a Marine Officer, so I'm biased. DO NOT ENLIST IF YOU HAVE A DEGREE! If your Marine recruiter doesn't want to talk OCS, go find another Marine recruiter that will. They're actually called Officer Selection Officers, not recruiters.

It is true that Marines lack certain creature comforts that are mandatory in other services...but that's what makes us Marines. We take pride in our grunginess. It's part of the "adapt and overcome" mentality. You will make the same pay as your counterparts in other services, but have more work and responsibility and pressure. Again, we take pride in that. Other services promise college money, travel, excitement, career...Marines promise you a hard time. We promise you will be changed forever. But in the end you will have earned the title "Marine". That may sound cheesie, and if it does to you I suggest you join another service. The Marines are, and always have been, America's "shock troops".

You want Special Forces, Marine Infantry is about as elite as it gets. Then there's Recon and ANGLICO. Getting an infantry spot as an officer is hard and you will have to compete with your peers at basic training (if you go OCS). I will tell you this...no service takes as much pride in their traditions, history, title and warrior spirit as the Marines. And it doesn't matter if you're a cook, mechanic, admin clerk or whatever...EVERY Marine is a rifleman.

Whatever you do, don't get all wrappped up in the romantic "Special Forces" image. All dashing, daring, brave and ruthless. It's a dangerous, hard, miserable life. Anf forget about having a family. It takes a special person to do that job. They are the military's equilavent of Mr. Olympia, or NFL All-Pro's. The top of the game players. Elite fighters. None better. You just don't walk in off the street and get in. Think about your goals and figure out which service best suits your personality. Good luck and keep us posted.


My opinion is just one of many, but you'd be crazy NOT to go to OCS if you have a degree. Be a good leader and the men will respect you whether you're an E-5 or an O-1. Plus there's way more upside as an officer. I can't think of a good reason not to receive you commision if it's at all possible.

And since you sound like you're reasonably atheletic and since you speak five languages I would seriously consider Special Forces. (As a side note, the Marines have no Special Operations forces. Yes, the Recon group is cool, but it's Special Operations Ready, not full on Spec Ops.) In SF you'll work closely as a team of 12 men and have more leeway (read less red tape) than being regular Army. I really don't know all the differences between Rangers and SF, but I believe Rangers are basically bad ass infantry, while SF is equiped to handle a broader mission as the team has a specialist in each area; weapons, language, medic, etc.

One big thing to consider is your plans for family. You will be away much of the time, especially if your Spec Ops. It's not easy. And as hard as it can be on you, it will be harder on your family. This is a BIG decesion. Be sure you make the right one.


"my army BCT was 14"

I don't know what BCT is, but the Marine Corps "basic" training(boot camp) is longer than the Army's. It is thirteen weeks The Army's is 8 weeks and you'll be about as well rounded as the women that were in your platoon. (no offense to women.) In the Marines, you then go through another month of Advanced Combat Training no matter what your MOS is. Again, my point about the Marines in general being an elite force. If you (Ryu13) were in the Army you already know that the Marines is harder. There's a reason Marines are "big headed", as you so eloquently put it, genius. It's because we also know this. That's why we had the balls to join the Marines.
I actually joined this forum last night in order to respond to this dempsey606's inquiry. Thank you Ryu13 for making it personal so quickly. It shows us all that you are not big headed at all, only pea brained. I may take this as my cue to get out of this forum early. I don't want to stick around and have some punk take written low blows in my direction.
Ryu13, you can still remain proud. There are members of the Army, passed and present, who possess integrity. I'm not sure if you are one. I'm guessing not. Just remember, I have more self discipline and Esprit De Corps in my pinkie than you do in your entire body.

PS. There's a reason why there's something commonly known as a "Marine push-up"

PSS. It's "bad assed" not "big headed"