I want to enlist...can anyone offer advice?


The Nip
February 13, 2003, 08:29 AM
Hey folks, I've been lurking for a while but haven't yet posted until now. I've got a question regarding enlistment details for the Air Force (someone told me that the AF is the best for folks like me).

I'm 23, a college graduate (B.A.), and I'm looking seriously at the prospect of joining the AF. I've heard that when an individual joins with a degree like mine, he's automatically placed in officer training, and then given the rank of officer?

My family is VERY civilian, so I don't have anyone to ask near me.

If this is so, what are the benefits of joining at this stage? Is the pay decent enough to live on? What kind of positions can I hope for, being that I'm not trying to fly?

Perhaps I'm crazy, and believe me...those close to me think I am, but I really want to be a part of this current situation. I want to do something I can be proud of, fifty years from now. I'm not content with sitting on the sidelines in my boring job, while 150,000 kids my age are risking their lives to get rid of nutjob sandroach terrorist problems.

If anyone can offer any advice, insight, or share their experiences with me, I would GREATLY appreciate it.

BTW...does anyone know what sort of firearms are issued to AF personnel?

Thanks in advance...


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February 13, 2003, 08:36 AM
I don't have an Air Force background but let me suggest this: Go to the nearest university with an Air Force ROTC detachment and talk to one of the officers there if you're interested in a career. My brother was an Air Force recruiter over twenty years ago and, since he is my brother after all, was a pretty straight shooter. I'm not saying the recruiters out there today aren't but I would talk with someone without a vested interest in signing you up, first. Apply the same system to Navy, Army and Marines. Good luck, I appreciate your commitment.

February 13, 2003, 08:40 AM
Is the pay decent enough to live on?
Tens of thousands of current AF personnel seem to manage.
BTW...does anyone know what sort of firearms are issued to AF personnel?
Depends on what you do.
My grandpa was an AF mechanic stationed in Alaska. He got to shoot M1 Carbines to qualify and wasn't issued anything. Of course, that was a long time ago.

Greg L
February 13, 2003, 08:56 AM
I've heard that when an individual joins with a degree like mine, he's automatically placed in officer training, and then given the rank of officer?

What's your degree in? I don't know about the AF ;) but at least with the other services, one earns the rank. :D

What kind of positions can I hope for, being that I'm not trying to fly?

What do you want to do? There are a whole lot of jobs that need doing, if you aren't specific on what you want to do I'm sure that they can find something for you to do (you probably won't like it though).

Viking had a good suggestion on talking to the ROTC people. At least feel them out for what is available and the requirements for the different jobs that you may want to do. Just remember that recruiters may not be lying everytime they open their mouths, but chances are fairly good that they aren't telling you the whole story either.

What you want to do can be rewarding and fun, but I think that you need to define just what you want out of it a bit more than "I want to do something I can be proud of, fifty years from now". If you serve you can be proud of helping out, it just may not be the most interesting time of your life if you go into it not knowing what you want to do.

My 2% of a $.


February 13, 2003, 08:58 AM
Couple tips on military service.

I hate to say this, but do NOT trust what a recruiter says. They make idle promises. You're not guaranteed anything unless it's in your contract, regardless of what he promises.

It's a good idea to go through Air Force ROTC.

February 13, 2003, 09:01 AM
The best advice I can give you is to just MAKE SURE YOU WANT TO DO IT. I saw entirely too many peopel join and then whine their entire enlist ment about how much they hated it.

As far as your degree, I think lawyers and doctors are the only ones that go in as officers. You would probably go through basic and then go on to OCS. I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

The Nip
February 13, 2003, 09:10 AM
Thanks for the advice, folks. I really do appreciate it, and yes, I'll try my luck with the recruiting office.

Oh, a very good friend of my family is actually a Lt. Col. who's been in the Army recruiting office for years. He's admittedly the biggest liar ever born when it comes to getting kids to enlist (he's been telling me to join since I was 10), so I'm already wary of those folks.

Thanks again.


February 13, 2003, 09:34 AM
Thanks for wanting to serve. I agree with much of the advice above, and would add the following.
1. Most USAF people I know are strangers to small arms. They, unlike the other services, don't have (or don't enforce) an annual requal requirement like the others. Notwithstanding people like my daughter-in-law who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the USAF OSI and has to annually requal with her carry weapon. The Navy is a close second in this regard. Army and Marines are more into pistol (for officers and senior NCOs) training/requal.
2. You need to talk to an OSO-Officer Selection Officer, not a recruiter. You would go straight into Officer Candidate School, not Basic Training.
3. The USAF offers the widest variety of non-combat technical specialties with the Navy a close second. Talk to them all about guaranteed entry into a career field that interests you.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

TFL Survivor

February 13, 2003, 09:42 AM
If you want a good idea of job types that the USAF has to offer go to their website, and somewhere at the top of the page there is a section for officer positions. The USAF is tops on the wide variety of technical positions available of what I've seen.

And make sure you want to do this first. Its a big commitment to contract yourself for at least 4-6 years to serve in the military. I too have many friends that enlisted, not to be officers, and have gripped the whole time they've been in.

I'll add that you should find the nearest college with a USAF ROTC program and talk to some of the men and women there about serving. You'll get a more realistic picture about what the life is like.

February 13, 2003, 09:48 AM
Officer pay scale (partial).

O1: 2097.00 / Mo.
O2: 2416.20 / Mo.
O3: 2796.00 / Mo.

This is base pay with less than two years in.

Just about any job you find in the civilian market you will find in the miliary. From Medical feilds, supply, logistics, marketing, engineering, management, research, etc. You name it, they just about have it.

Keep in mind the the Airforce does not allow a lot of room for advancement.

Also, since your not going to be a pilot don't discount the other branches of service. You may get a better deal and might be able to advance quicker.

Good Luck!


February 13, 2003, 09:56 AM
I was an Army (assistant full time) recruiter (for 1 year), dont believe our BS, you are a number to meet our goals both monthly and yearly. If you ever hear about anyone whos recruiter helped them stick it through basic training (which by the way is a piece of cake) it is because the recruiter does not get credit until you graduate AIT. Now I would not trade my military service for anything....Well at least the first 3-4 years. After that it really started to effect my long term goals and personal life. I was never a "lifer" but did sign up for 6 yrs origionally. Which really delayed my carrear outside of the military. But, to each thier own. I hope I dont piss anybody off here but I always felt like a human Guinnie Pig and a puppet. If you still want to join up Good for you!! Seriously! It is necessary for the future of our country to have people, especially intellegent people, there to defend it. Just dont expect any appreciation from the Govt.

February 13, 2003, 10:41 AM
Just dont expect any appreciation from the Govt.

You can expect it from us, the People!!!!!!!!

Yea, while your in, it does not seem to be all that noble of a choice. I guess its because you are surrounded by peers.

However, you did say one key phrase that is touted by all x-military: "Now I would not trade my military service for anything". I think that says it all to anyone who is thinking about serving.

February 13, 2003, 10:51 AM

Here's some info from somebody leaving Monday morning for basic and OCS in the Army. Let me preface this by saying I've never been to an Air Force recruiter but do have a number of AF officer buddies.

Recruiters are salesmen. They have a number to hit each month. Keep looking for different recruiters until you find one who: A. Knows about OTS and B. Is straight up with you. Do NOT enlist with a promise that you will get a chance to go to OCS--anything that is promised MUST be in writing. Do your homework on the web, there's a wealth of info there (about.com has some good info). Army OCS has a web page.

In the Army, getting into OCS is about a 4 month process. You have to take the ASVAB, physical, interview with local batallion boards, get selected by USAREC, then get your dates.

As far as those pay scales that were posted, they are correct. Just add in about $700 per month tax free for BAH and $165 per month tax free for BSA.

Granted your job hazards are a little more final that, say, the sales profession. But look at it this way, if you get in for the three year minimum and get out you've both served your country and filled you resume up with a LOT of leadership experience (assuming you go to OTS). Not a bad deal.

To sum it up--get it in writing that you'll go to OTS or you probably won't. Case in point: A buddy of mine in school was "promised that he'd go to Airborne school when he enilisted in the reserves. I told him to get it in writing. He didn't. He never went to the school.


February 13, 2003, 10:55 AM
Most branches of the service have a direct officer enlistment program for people who hold professional degrees (doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers), you go in as an officer with only very basic basic training. like how to recognize which rank is which and where to put what ribbon on your uniform, and what all those acronyms mean.
I had planned to go into the Coast Guard, which was my dream since I was in second grade, but alas they don't want people with asthma. I could have gone in as an officer/lawyer. While researching it, I found that while the pay is good for most enlisted people and nonprofessional personnel, it would only be about 50% what I'd make as a civillian attorney. Empirically it was good pay, but in comparison to civillian pay it was terrible.

Check out this link (http://www.princetonreview.com/cte/articles/military/airforcedc.asp) for Air Force direct commissioning.

February 13, 2003, 01:57 PM
Good for you, Nip! :neener:

Don't know about now, but decades ago, non-rated USAF officers (other than doctors, lawyers, etc.) pretty much rode WAY back on the promotion and privileges bus.

Gila Jorge
February 13, 2003, 02:07 PM
Was in the Air Corce during Nam. Received Commendation Medal. Was a SSGt. Had a degree
but did not seek a commission. Worked in Comptroller Planning and Budgeting for a Bird Colonel who became head of Office of Manpower and Budget for the Air Force (Maj Gen. Blanton) now retired. Rewarding work. For the most part good people back then. Enjoyed my servie to my country. Back then our country was filled with draft dodgers and cowards...ala Klinton types.
Today vastly different. Know several young officers (Captains) presently inour church and stationed at Ft. Bliss. Army is not same as Air Force...Ari Force was and remains superior in most respects....followed by Navy.

February 13, 2003, 02:42 PM
Just make sure you want to do it. Life in the military is different. You're NOT FREE. Understand this, you're basically an indentured servant, except you get paid. The military can, and will if it feels necessary, run every aspect of your life. That sort of thing is necessary for effectively deploying troops, supporting them, and warfighting in general.

So if you're the type of person who's a free spirit and/or distrusts authority, the military might not be for you.

The branches are different, though. I only have experience iwth the Army National Guard, but come from an Air Force family. The USAF is a bit more laid back than the Army, much more so than, say, Army Infantry.

The Air Force is a better choice than the Army if you actually want to get any useful job skills out of your military service. There are a number of technical jobs in the Army, but as a rule the Air Force and Navy are better choices for learning skills that apply to the civilian world. I mean, take my MOS. Not a whole lot of use in the civilian world for clearing/installing mine fields and obstacles designed to slow down armor and infantry....

February 13, 2003, 02:58 PM
Officer pay scale (partial).

O1: 2097.00 / Mo.
O2: 2416.20 / Mo.
O3: 2796.00 / Mo.

This is base pay with less than two years in.

%100 of which can be disposable income............. as they will cover your housing, utilities, food and uniforms

February 13, 2003, 03:03 PM

I spent 4 years active as an enlisted Navy Hospital Corpsman. I cannot speak to the details of what officers do, but here is what I tell everyone that asks....

Determine what type of job you want to do, or what field of specialty you are interested in. Find out what your favorite branch of the military has to offer in that field. Then, and this is the point I always stress, TALK TO AT LEAST 3 PEOPLE CURRENTLY IN THAT FIELD, preferably in the duty station you would likely be going to. Your location of OCS training can determine East Coast or West Coast duty stations. Find out before you sign anything.

The reason I say that is from personal experience. I was a Search and Rescue Medical Technician. The duty stations I had available to me when I got out of training were NAS Pensicola, Florida and NWS China Lake California. I had just completed training in Florida and wasn't impressed with the area so I chose California. What I didn't know was that at the Florida station the SAR medics were flying real missions almost every day. At the California station the SAR medics were spending 3/4 of their time working in the clinic giving medical exams to the pilots on base.:banghead:

If someone had given me this tip, I would not be an expert on eye exam wall charts and on dispensing glasses.:rolleyes:

So, when you talk to those people currently doing what you are thinking about, ask them to describe a typical day or week. What to they like best/least about their chosen position AND their current duty station. Find out if there are large variations between duty stations. I don't think you could ask too many questions to get a solid idea of what you're about to get into.

Also find out about any tips they have on getting through OCS training as easily as possible. My recruiter actually gave me some very good tips that made boot camp a whole lot easier.

Good luck! Don't get me wrong. I don't regret serving my country the way my dad did, and some very good things came from my time in service (like my wife :D ).


Felonious Monk
February 13, 2003, 03:35 PM
Hi Nip!

You've gotten good, honest info.

--Recruiter speak with forked tongue
--Get it in writing
--Start by talking with the ROTC cadre at a local Univ.

I would add:
--Choose something you can leverage into a good career when/if you get out.

Remember the John Rambo quote from the first movie?
"Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank, I was in charge of million dollar equipment. Back here I can't even hold a job PARKING CARS!!!!"

Don't let that happen to you. Become a computer networking guy. Let the military pay to train you, and give them good service in return, but become something you can use on the outside. Not much use for Field Artillery experts in Peoria.

February 13, 2003, 03:42 PM
good point!

The Army payed me to become a highly sucessful helicopter machanic

February 13, 2003, 03:56 PM
Yea, thanks to the Navy I can target and track enemy aircraft, drop sonobouys on subs, and wax one hell of a deck.

Now I'm a Socail Worker.

Be wise,


February 13, 2003, 06:03 PM
There are a number of technical jobs in the Army, but as a rule the Air Force and Navy are better choices for learning skills that apply to the civilian world.

Depends. My buddy is an Armor officer. People say "How is tanks going to transfer to the civilian world?" Well, right now he's off tanks and is a Batallion Maintenance Officer--he's got 83 soldiers he's in charge of, a $13,000,000 budget, and is in charge of a supply chain for all the parts that you need for a batallion of tanks. If you can't sell that management and supply chain experience in the civilian world, you probably don't deserve the job anyhow. The big difference between officer and enlisted is that as an enlisted soldier is a specialist in his MOS within the branch. Officers are just branched and are trained to be a manager of the specialists. A lot more transfer to the civilian world there IF you take advantage of being able to sell those skills.


February 13, 2003, 06:21 PM
NIP, good on ya, but there are three rules you MUST remember when considering military service. In order of importance they are:

Recruiters lie.
Recruiters lie.
Recruiters lie.

Just remember those three rules and all will be well. :D

BTW, don't let that :D fool you. I'm dead serious. It can be a great time of your life, or not. You could get dead. It's a lousy life for a family, and for the family man.

But we are grateful for those who serve, and I'd be glad to shake your hand.

Greg L
February 13, 2003, 06:43 PM
Sometimes though you get to have "fun" with your recruiter. I had been in the National Guard for a couple of years after being comissioned when to my surprise and delight I had a new SSG assigned to my platoon. Yep, you guessed it. We had a talk or two about some of the things that he neglected to tell me. :evil: Usually it was in the middle of the night when I had SDO for the Bn. :D


The Nip
February 13, 2003, 08:19 PM
Thanks for the great advice folks, I really do appreciate it. I've phoned a friend of the family and he'll be setting me up tp talk with some trustworthy folks he knows in the AF (hopefully).

Oh well...now I just need to figure out exactly what it is I'd be good for, and SOON. Smells like the wars closer than ever, don't it?

Thanks again


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