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Old 02-19-2008, 08:55 AM   #1
James Forbes
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Any Air Force Officers out there?

I am considering entering the military again, and was hoping some Air Force Officers could give me some of their thoughts. I was prior Navy, so I know what to expect there. I wanna compare the Air Force and Navy to determine what might be a better route for me. Thanks!
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:44 AM   #2
Victor Putz
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Re: Any Air Force Officers out there?

Well, while it's not quite 100% accurate (particularly since it primarily focuses on academies and aviation) I've found that the following anecdotal quote, attributed to naval aviator Bob Norris, to be pretty telling:

In response to a letter from an aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the following.

12 Feb 04

Young Man,

Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force Academies. Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way to serve your country. As you requested, I'd be happy to share some insight into which service would be the best choice. Each service has a distinctly different culture. You need to ask yourself "Which one am I more likely to thrive in?"

USAF Snapshot: The USAF is exceptionally well organized and well run. Their training programs are terrific. All pilots are groomed to meet high standards for knowledge and professionalism. Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely well maintained. Their facilities are excellent. Their enlisted personnel are the brightest and the best trained. The USAF is homogenous and macro. No matter where you go, you'll know what to expect, what is expected of you, and you'll be given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations. You will never be put in a situation over your head. Over a 20-year career, you will be home for most important family events. Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force would your wife. Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.

Navy Snapshot: Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black shoes (surface warfare) and bubble heads (submariners). Furthermore, the Navy is split into two distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast). The Navy is heterogeneous and micro. Your squadron is your home; it may be great, average, or awful. A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you know it. You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on cruise. The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the availability of parts. Senior Navy enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn their respect. Junior enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge made join the service. You will be given the opportunity to lead these people during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty. The quality of your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head. You will miss many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty aboard ship. You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be scared many times. You will fly with legends in the Navy and they will kick your *** until you become a lethal force. And some days - when the scheduling Gods have smiled upon you - your jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it. The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator. That bar is in Singapore.

Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm & good luck in Colorado.


PS Air Force pilots wear scarves and iron their flight suits.
Having quoted that, it's a bit hard to give advice based on lack of information about your career field and/or intent. From what I've seen of both, the sweeping generalizations that "USAF has a better/"easier" lifestyle" and "USN gives you better leadership experience" are actually, by and large, true in the sense that generally USAF officers in many career fields are unlikely to have serious leadership demands until late in their careers (NOT TRUE for some, eg security police) and USN officers are going to be away from their families and at sea on a more regular basis. I don't want to imply that my friends in the USAF who deploy frequently have an "easy" lifestyle or aren't getting good leadership experience; far from the case. But in terms of trends, the above tend to be true.

The USAF in some ways tends to be more "tribal" in the sense that they cover a lot of different mission territory; a missileer really has virtually no common ground with, say, a rescue helicopter pilot, so when the two meet they may have nothing to say with each other. Seamen I've met, possibly by virtue of their constant deployment, almost always have something to say to each other, usually consisting of complaining about the navy. Sounds like a trivial thing, but in my experience the "esprit d'corps" of a unit in the USAF can be high (often but not always in direct proportion to their feet-on-ground mission relevance) while the esprit of the service as a whole tends to be a little lower, while in the USN both are fairly high.

I have never known a USAF aviator to iron their flight suit. Maybe the fighter units who want to look cool do, but it'd surprise me. Many units do in fact wear scarves, which has nothing to do with anything (grin).

Your decision should involve your family planning to an extreme degree. Some relationships thrive with periodic separations and work great for USN, but (like with frequently-deployed units in any service) that is not the case for many. If you have a spouse or are likely to want one, give that some serious consideration. Even if you have the most fulfilling job in the world, its impact on your family must never ever be underestimated.

They're both great and fulfilling services to enter if you enter them with your eyes wide open and know sorta what to expect. Bottom line, though, if you have to ask, good luck and I hope you look good in blue (grin).

(note: this is actually a really good question, so let's try to answer his question and keep interservice rivalry on a playful level!)
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Old 02-20-2008, 12:14 AM   #3
James Forbes
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Re: Any Air Force Officers out there?

Thanks for the reply. Family is a huge consideration for me. I am currently a police officer, so working in security forces might be good. I am planning on talking to a USN and USAF recruiter soon to see what jobs are available. I don't really want to inquire from them about their thoughts on each service. After all, they are recruiters, and will want to recruit me for whatever service they represent.
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:01 AM   #4
Daniel Fannin
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Re: Any Air Force Officers out there?

Be careful about what you ask for. A lot of USAF officers are finding their way to the door either because their jobs are overmanned and the service pays them to leave or kicks them out. That said, if you like the idea of being a big giant voice, try 13B.
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Old 02-21-2008, 08:28 AM   #5
Shannon Kissling
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Re: Any Air Force Officers out there?

Not sure how it goes for officers (we are Navy and hubby is a Warrant in the IT field) but all of my friends who are in the Air Force and are security forces deploy A LOT. My best friends husband is doing a 1 year remote at Thule right now, when he gets back he gets to look forward to 6 months at home and 6 months deployed for the next few years. Just something to think about if you are concerned about family.
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy ****, what a ride!"
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Old 02-21-2008, 01:16 PM   #6
Darren Zega
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Re: Any Air Force Officers out there?

Let me share an email from a friend, and AF intel officer, who is jumping ship for the army:

I decided on it a couple minutes ago in the shower, and I'm gonna stick with it and go through with it (barring contingencies, which I will cover). After McGuire, I'm going to Korea in order to get stationed in Germany afterwards, that's the deal with the Air Force, you go to Korea, you go where you want after that. Now, if, IF I decide to stay in the military after Germany...

I'm joining the Army

Now before you go huh? Wha? I'll explain. I know no better way to illustrate why I'm going to leave the Air Force than a meeting I had to sit in on as the intel rep. This was back in May 06, and the meeting was of all the Group Commanders, so this was all the big deal Colonels on base. The 8 highest ranking Air Force guys on base were at this meeting, and this is what they discussed:

Col 1: "So...our crews sitting alert for this exercise...I mean it's hot out, and they're stuck in the plane all day, I think they're gonna need some water"
Col 2:"No prob, we'll just ferry water out to them at the plane"
Col 3:"Sounds good, we have plenty of gallon jugs back at the warehouse"
Col 4:"Wait...what if we gave them bottled water?"
Col 5:"Yes, bottled water could be more efficient than the big gallon jugs"
Col 1:"Well, they're gonna get a pallet of water, so we need someone to crunch some numbers and see if a pallet of jugs or a pallet of bottles will have more water"
Col 3:"But we already have plenty of gallon jugs lying around"
Col 4:"Yes but we could always round up enough bottles of water at the chow hall"
Col 3:"Enough to fill a whole pallet? I mean that's a lot of bottles"
Col 4:"You're right....oh! I know! How about if we got the crews some camelbaks"
All the colonels:"ohhhh! I like that idea! Yes camelbaks that would be awesome"
Col 2:"Where are we going to get the funding...?"
Col 1:"Oh we have leftover fund raiser money that we could use to purchase the crews the camelbaks"
Col 3:"With the camelbaks...are we gonna get them black ones? Desert ones? ACU pattern? What color, this is important"
Col 2:"And what size camelbak? Gallon or 2 liter"
Col 1:"You know what, you're right, I forgot that they come in multiple sizes"
Col 3:"I think the gallon size ones will be the most efficient route...and let's go old school, let's get the OD green ones...."

Get the point???? That discussion was not an aberration, that discussion is business as usual. My number one priority out here right now? Does it involve intel? job this week, is this standardize the shades of color on our powerpoint slides. All the blues need to be the same shade of blue, all the reds need to be the same red, etc. The Air Force has reached with me a level of ridiculous I've concluded I can no longer tolerate. So you might be asking, why stay for 3 more years then? i.e.
Korea and Germany. That answer's simple: before I leave I'm gonna get an Asian and European vacation out of the deal, haha. No seriously that's it, I'm going to milk them for sweet travel opportunites before punching out.

I apologize, I realize this email is turning into a novel FAST, moving on...

Don't worry, this was not a knee jerk decision. I'm very well aware of the buffoonery *EDIT*has to deal with in Iraq, when I visited *EDIT* out in *EDIT* I asked his dad a little about the Army, I've talked with *EDIT* about it, with *EDIT*, and with *EDIT*, etc etc. There was A LOT of consultancy going into this decision. I realize it's not gonna be sugar coated fun and games, don't forget people, I've been shot at by AK-47 toting 12 year olds, I've been there done that and checked the box off. I've stomped around Iraq with Army ground liason teams, with only an M-9 to protect myself (and I suck balls with pistols), and an old school 1980's flak vest on top of that. I've seen to a degree where Army life can suck.

So why join the Air Force to begin with you might ask. Here's the story, my step granddad was in the Air Force, dad was in the Air Force, I love airplanes, *EDIT* was there, I was happy as a clam when I bought Ace Combat 4. Me going into the Air Force was just a given growing up.
I think airplanes are totally sweet, but, when I think military service, the Air Force has just not panned out as what I had in mind. Now don't get me wrong, I've made great friends, and have had great experiences, but the buffoonery's just gotten to be too much, and it's endemic, it's cultural, it ain't going away! In fact, it's encouraged to a degree.
I'm surrounded by idiots so to speak.

So why not join the Army back at Tech? Well, I just had always figured that I would dread sitting in woods, all stinky, no toilet, all that Army outdoor stuff, ewww right? Well, so they made me go to Combat Skills Training before coming out here. CST is a class run by Army instructors out at Ft Dix to prepare Air Force personnel that work in Air Mobility Command, i.e. cargo planes who will be deploying with the Army to have a working knowledge of how to operate. Side note: CST is only for AMC right now, but will expand to the rest of the Air Force in the future...moving on...the Army was getting tired of the LTs we were putting through CST "They're clueless"
"They're ****ing idiots"
"OMG don't put me in a foxhole with this guy"
The Army was mad, and letting the Air Force know it. The Air Force wanted to save face, they needed guys within AMC who had gone to senior military academies to go through CST, because those guys would have half a clue. Enter Me, alongside an Aggie, a VMI guy, a couple Citadel guys, and a Norwich girl. We were tagged to attend CST, and to smoke it, show the Army some AF folks had a clue after all. So, a week in the woods, and it was cold mind you, playing grown up laser tag (MILES gear) and eating MREs all day? Kirk's worst nightmare right?

Turns out, I ****ing loved it. Call me twisted, call me a sick person, I had to get dragged kicking and screaming into doing the the end of it, I was sad it was over. I even got invited to be an assistant instructor when I get back to the US in May. That's when I knew, maybe this Army thing isn't too bad after all

I was gonna tell you guys about how things are out here so far, the usual introductory info, but **** it, that'll have to wait for the next email, because I realize this one is gigantic, and 3/4 of you have probaly fallen asleep at least once while trying to read through this.

On that note, I need to get to bed. Feels good to get all that off my chest, and I'd like to thank all of you for, at the very least, being an email address I could send these thoughts to, but feedback would be highly appreciated.

Last edited by Darren Zega; 02-21-2008 at 01:20 PM..
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Old 02-21-2008, 10:49 PM   #7
Samuel Redwine
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Re: Any Air Force Officers out there?

I am an E Marine myself, with a cousin who was an O in the Navy and an uncle who is a retired AF O. I have heard stories from every service through family and friends. Right now, the service that wants people the most is the Army. I know some people that love it, some that hate it. We have had two guys from my unit leave for some part of the Army in the last year. One left our reserve unit for the Army reserve for a promotion, better job and signing bonus after his 6 yrs were up, the other to be active duty Army with a $40,000 signing bonus after less than 3 yrs in because he could not change over to active duty in the Corps, but the Army processed him in a week. I have also seen a couple guys get out and not want to go to any other service and one who left us to become a fighter pilot who is at TBS now.

Go and look at everyone. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and even the Coast Guard. See which one will work best for you, then decide.
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Old 02-22-2008, 03:12 PM   #8
James Forbes
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Re: Any Air Force Officers out there?

Thanks for the input guys. I work with a few guys who are prior AF, so I will be talking to them. It is weird that one of you mentioned the Coast Guard, I was kinda thinking that. At this point, I am thinking a big NO on the Marines and Army. While I was with the Navy, I served 3 years with a Marine Corps Infantry Battlion, and I did not like it at all. I'm thinking that the Army would be closely related in terms of types of deployments and expectations. Not for me.
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Old 02-22-2008, 03:17 PM   #9
Sakura Barrientos
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Re: Any Air Force Officers out there?


I am currently a 1LT in the USAF. Although I am not Active Duty right now...long story...I can tell you that depending on your AFSC (job) it can be a rewarding experience. My mother was a flight nurse and loved her job. She regrets ever separating.

My husband is a police officer as well. He was looking in to a lot of options. He is a Devil Dog (prior Marine) but is currently in the USAF as an Aerial Port Reservist. He was looking in to Pararescue in the ANG but that would require nearly two years of training and the department would have to let him go. Then there's the Coast Guard invesitgative services. You can do this as a reservist. I believe you only need 60+ units to be an officer? He was then looking in to Security Police in the USAF but they do deploy a lot. You can also opt for OSI in the USAF.

What do you want to do? Do you want to stay with a law enforcement type of job or something else? I worked in the Aerial Port but I'm more of a hands-on person myself so office work wasn't too great for me.

I have a friend who went from the AF to the Navy and is much happier in the Navy.

If you have any questions or you need people to talk to, you can email me at I know a lot of people in various AFSCs because I was an AFROTC cadet. Let me know. I can even put you in touch with my husband if you want since you two are both police officers.

p.s. Tucson rocks...I went to U of A for my first three years of college...
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