December 15, 2009
By SGT Michael Volkin
Boot Camp is a lot tougher than one can imagine. For most people, deciding which branch of service to join isn’t difficult. Perhaps you come from a family with a long tradition of joining the Marines, or you would like to follow in your brother’s footsteps and join the Navy. Military family tradition is certainly well acknowledged in American society. However, each person is different. Based on your particular interests and qualifications, you may be better suited for a particular branch of service that no one in your family has considered before. Remember, joining the military isn’t like applying for a job; you can’t just quit if you don’t like it. You are signing a contract and taking an oath to your country. So, make a decision based on your interests and do what will make you happy, otherwise, you won’t be.
For all intents and purposes, Marines are considered riflemen first. In basic training, they receive more marksmanship training than any other branch of service. Also, Marine basic training is longer than the other branches. Their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) is considered second to their marksmanship training. The Marines have an incredible ability to convert their dollar power into combat power, as they do not have a big budget like the Air Force. All the branches of the military have a sense of military pride, but the Marines, as a whole, probably carry the biggest sense of commitment and loyalty to their branch of service. So, in summary, if you are joining the military to be in on the action, to be on the front lines, and to shoot your weapon, the Marines might be the best choice for you.
The Army carries its own unique sense of pride and loyalty. The Army has the second most intense basic training regimen (next to the Marines). Three of the nine weeks of basic training are devoted to marksmanship. Soldiers in the Army have the ability to lead or defend against an assault. In the Army, a soldier can pick from hundreds of MOS’s. The training you receive from your MOS can transfer well into civilian jobs.
The Navy, although less intense than the Marines and Army regarding marksmanship, is deeply rooted with traditions. If you like to travel, the Navy might be your best option. If you are a family man, you might want to consider the time you’ll spend away from your family if you join the Navy. On the other hand, if you’re single, the Navy might be a terrific opportunity for you to explore numerous countries and cultures. Obviously, joining the Navy involves spending a significant amount of time on ships. Keep this in mind if you are one to get Closter phobic or if have an likeness for large vessels.
The U.S. Air Force is certainly an impressive compilation of machinery and technology. If you are good with computers and electronics, you might want to consider the Air Force. The Air Force has arguably the best housing units of all the other branches. As far as educational requirements, the Air Force is the most difficult to get into. Without a high school diploma, your chances of getting into the Air Force are slim.
The Coast Guard is a branch of service that sometimes goes unnoticed. The Coast Guard has about 25 enlisted jobs. Their responsibilities are vast, ranging from search and rescue missions to maritime law enforcement and even environmental protection. A high school diploma is required to join the Coast Guard. Basic training in the Coast Guard is 8-weeks long.
A note of caution; do not play games with recruiters. If you visit a recruiter and you’re not sure which branch of service to join, tell them. Do not sign anything unless you’re certain of the branch you want to join. Weigh all your options, from educational benefits to training. You’ll be glad you did. SGT Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, available in both paperback and e-book format at www.ultimatebasictrainingguidebook.com.