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Deep Blue
05-12-2004, 12:11
I've started to look into going back into the service after I graduate college in about 2 years. I spent 6 years in the Navy as a submariner, but am now looking at one of the ground branches (Army or Marines). I've actually talked to the Marines, the Lt. I talked to seemed interested and thought I'd make a good candidate for OCS.

My question is, what do Marine Corps or Army junior officers do on a day to day basis? I know what they do in the Navy, but the other branches are a mystery. I want to know what goes on in an average days work.

fade2black
05-12-2004, 12:56
Really it depends on what your MOS is...that is going to dictate your day-to-day duties. In a rifle company you'll spend a lot of time in the field training. Leading your Marines, planning for contingencies, deployments, etc. You'll work closely with the Company and Battalion Commanders to achieve their goals. I was in Comm (I wasn't an officer BTW) and our CommO worked on comm requirements to make sure the Battalion could communicate to achieve the goals of the chain of command. That included ensuring all comm gear was operational, comm vehicles where ready to go, radio frequency were alotted, encryption was secured, personnel were assigned to unit commanders, the Battalion command center was operational and ready to go, etc, etc. I spent most of my time in infantry units, so I can't speak for what the other officers did.

NetNinja
05-12-2004, 14:33
Well if you decide to go into the Marine Corps you are going to have to go to boot camp.
Stand by Devil Dog. A lot can happen in two years, so if I were you I wouldn't make the service your priority.

You are going to college to get an education correct? So why are you deciding on going back into the service? You did your 6 and you owe them 2 more inactive reserve correct?

Unless you are taking advatage of the college program and owe them 6 more years of your life.

What do you want to do in the Marine Corps? Ground side? Air Wing Side?
Since you were a submariner before what was your previous MOS?
Drive the sub? Electricians mate?

Your day to day job will vary with each job. As an officer you are going to be doing a lot of planning and logistics. Basically being upper management for whatever job you happen to get.

I can't speak for what they do in the Army. Maybe you want to be a Helicopter pilot? and if you rock out of the program they will put you in a some other job that requires an Officer to fill the billet.

Have you thoguht about the FBI or CIA? I think that will better suit you. Plus the paychecks are a lot bigger.

Deep Blue
05-12-2004, 15:18
So why are you deciding on going back into the service?

Frankly, I figure someone has to do it, so it might as well be me. The longer I'm out of the service(coming up on 2 years now) the more I realize it really is a noble profession. I don't want to go back into the Navy if I can't be a submariner, and I have the wrong degree to be a submarine officer, so I'm looking at the other branches. Call it patriotism or whatever, but I liked the sense of accomplishment and service.

Since you were a submariner before what was your previous MOS?

I was an Fire Control Tech. The Navy doesn't have the same MOS system as the Army or Marine Corps, but basically I operated the fire control system. I tracked targets and shot torpedos.

Maybe you want to be a Helicopter pilot? and if you rock out of the program they will put you in a some other job that requires an Officer to fill the billet.

I thought they prefer engineering majors as pilots, so I don't expect to fly anything(I'm PolySci). I'll do whatever they need me to do.

Have you thought about the FBI or CIA? I think that will better suit you. Plus the paychecks are a lot bigger.

Actually, I have thought of the CIA and FBI. And the paycheck isn't that bigger.

nothing
05-12-2004, 16:00
Originally posted by Deep Blue
I thought they prefer engineering majors as pilots, so I don't expect to fly anything(I'm PolySci). I'll do whatever they need me to do.


I can't speak for the Marine Corp, but in the Army they really don't give a crap what degree you have. I'm a Music Major about to commission as an Infantry officer. One of my friends tried to branch signal corp, but got quartermaster instead. She has a degree in computer science. You would be suprised how many medical officers have no medical training at all aside from what the get from OBC. Of course they are admins and not doctors or nurses. If you want to fly it's probably the hardest branch to get in the Army. It's hard enough just to pass the physical for it, but the competition is also really high.

RussP
05-12-2004, 16:21
Originally posted by Deep Blue
Frankly, I figure someone has to do it, so it might as well be me. The longer I'm out of the service(coming up on 2 years now) the more I realize it really is a noble profession. I don't want to go back into the Navy if I can't be a submariner, and I have the wrong degree to be a submarine officer, so I'm looking at the other branches. Call it patriotism or whatever, but I liked the sense of accomplishment and service.... ;? I'd call it admirable!!;?

Dig
05-13-2004, 18:45
good on you for thinking about getting back in, I applaud your sense of duty.

I entered USMC OCS in the Summer of 86. I'm a LtCol, still on active. Helicopter stick wiggler.

a few thoughts in no particular order, from one Marine's perspective.

1. College major doesn't count for much in the Corps. The Corps realizes its more about guts and heart. I know more than a handful of pilots who do not have "technical" college degrees.

2. Anyone who joins the military to make money, or as a steping stone to something better, like a "free" education, is missing the boat. But you already know that.

3. Marine OCS is not a cakewalk. Be in shape or you will hate life. If you want to be in this outfit bring your A game. In other words if you volunteer to sign up for the Corps the going in position is the Corps owes you nothing. Its up to you to prove what you're about.

4. Day to day routine. Like mentioned above, depends on MOS. However, in the Corps as a young Officer you will be given plenty of opportunity, early, to either shine or fall on your face. Whatever the MOS, if you enjoy being a Marine you will enjoy most of what you do. Most importantly you will lead. You will be responsible for the training and conduct, i.e. you will be responsible for the lives, of young Marines. Young Marines want to be led. They want to be challenged, regardless of MOS. The bond that results from that you will never take for granted, and is an honor you will cherish the rest of your life.

M2 Carbine
05-13-2004, 21:25
Deep Blue

What Dig said.:)


Personally I went on Marine Corps active duty when I was 18, in 1956 just out of high school and eventually made Sergeant. (rank was hard to come by then)

In 1964 I was lucky enough to get a slot in the Army helicopter flight school.

I'm real proud of making it as far as becoming an Army Officer and pilot,
but I'll always think of myself as a Marine Corps Sergeant.

Good luck on which ever road you take.

RussP
05-14-2004, 08:15
Deep Blue, you're getting a wide range of advice, now I'd like to add an NCO's perspective.

Still Combat Photo was my MOS. Being a photographer, a photojournalist gave me opportunities not available to most airmen. I met and got to know some of the finest officers and leaders ever in the USAF. I also got to meet, but rarely got to know, some of the worst.

There were two types of officer's in the photo MOS: administrators responsible for making sure everyone and everything were where they should be, in the correct quantity, when they should be. They handled logistics.

The others were the creative, talented photograhers and cinematographers that did the same work done in the civilian film industry, just for a hell of a lot less money.

I don't think anyone I knew made it big in Hollywood, but some did in corporate advertising: GE, GM, Boeing, and a few others.

But, that isn't where you're headed, so lets talk about flyers...

You learn a lot about a person when you are strapped into a seat next to them for 4-5 hours. Most of "my" pilots loved flying; the combat was "the job". They became one-with-the-machine when the action started. Flying was instinctive to them. The mechanics can be learned, but the best had that relationship with their planes and the respect for forces that make flight possible. "My" pilots also wanted to pass it on, to share their love for the art of flying. They were passionate about what they did. They were the leaders.

The degrees they had didn't mean dung up in that cockpit when the AAA was flying by the canopy; that "one-with-the-machine", and as Dig said, "guts and heart" meant everything. I learned to trust my instinct up there next to those men. It paid off during my second tour.

A couple of the FAC pilots taught me to fly and sometimes let me "have the bird" while we worked. One day I thought I saw something under the trees, took the controls and banked right for a bettter look. In a steep bank, I saw a flash on the ground and knew we were in deep kimchi. In a heartbeat I went full power, rolled to inverted saw the tracers going right exactly where we would have been, rolled upright, pushed the nose over, armed two willie-petes, reached over on the pilot's yoke and sent two rockets into the trees. Then it was time to get the hell out of Dodge.

All this happened in seconds, and when we were finally, hopefully out of range of the AAA, I looked at my pilot sitting there with his hands on his chest, out of the way. We pushed our visors up. He put his right hand out, I took it in my left and we just squeezed and held each others hand for a moment.

The moment was broken by a flight of Marine aviators in F4s checking in to see if we had a target for them. I asked if they saw smoke. "Affirmative Nail," was their answer. My pilot said, "Hit our smoke. That's an active AAA."

Point of the story: In our few missions together he'd taught me the mechanics, yes, but he also had let me know he trusted me with his plane and his life. It paid off. He was a leader who taught others how to lead. He respected everyone who took pride in their work, regardless of rank or assignment.
But you know, he wasn't popular with several officers in the Wing. Guess who they were? Dig knows: "Anyone who joins the military to make money, or as a steping stone to something better, like a "free" education, is missing the boat." They were the ones who thought the USAF "owed them something". They were satisfied with just getting back "across the fence", not how effective their mission was. I rarely flew twice with them.

You sound like you'll be an Officer I'd be honored to join in combat. Only condition is, I ain't getting in no sub...;f

Deep Blue, you keep your head screwed on straight like it is now and you'll do just fine. This decision is just like acquiring your target in that sub. You'll know when to "FIRE" or what ever you submariners say....;f ;f

DMF
05-14-2004, 11:11
Originally posted by Deep Blue
Actually, I have thought of the CIA and FBI. And the paycheck isn't that bigger. As a former active duty officer, current reservist, and federal law enforcement officer the payback is MUCH bigger when working fed LE. BTW, CIA isn't fed LE it's intel, and very different gig. Payback is better there (and NSA, DIA, etc), but not like LE. With Fed LE you get Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), which is an additional 25% on top of both base pay and locality pay. The retirement includes the Thrift Savings Plan, but they have matching funds (like a 401K), but the military TSP does not.

Also, the retirement annuity is based on your three high years of tenure, just like the military. However the military only pays a percentage of your BASE PAY. Fed LE retirement pays on TOTAL PAY. Check out what a GS-13 Step 5 makes, and figure after 20 years of service they will 34% of that total pay (+1% for every year over 20 with mandatory retirement at 57). Then look at what a Major makes after 20, and figure 50% of his base pay alone. I use GS-13 step 5 and Major as examples, because anything beyond those is not guaranteed, but in fed LE in almost all GS-1811 jobs (Criminal Investigator) you will make 13 step 5 in 20 years (Most likely 13 step 10 but I'll be conservative), and while promotion to Major isn't guaranteed, it's very likely. Beyond that is iffy.

But let's just look at pay at 20 years to see what the difference really is. GS-13 Step 5 living in Denver, CO makes $103962/year (incl. locality pay and LEAP), while a Major with 20 stationed at Fort Carson (C Springs, CO), makes just 85908/year (including BAH w/dependants assuming you will be married by then and BAS) That's 18 grand a year difference, not to mention that you make GS-13 step 1 with 5 to 7 years of becoming a GS-1811, you won't make Major until at least year 9 of service. Then look at retirement at 20, that GS-13 retired LE agent will make 35347/year. The retired major will make 34398. So it's only $1000 dollars per year difference right? Well not really because that is just the basic annuity, assuming the GS employee, and officer both contributed to the TSP for the whole 20 years the GS guy comes out way ahead, because he got matching funds on a portion of his contributions, and because he was earning much more over the course of 20 years he could afford to invest more toward retirement.

I'm not trying to discourage your military service, but you should know the facts. My point is the military pay, and retirement is OK, but is significantly outdone by fed LE, and completely blown out of the water in the private sector.

Also, there is a lot more to fed LE than just the big three (FBI, USSS, and DEA). There are over 70 departments of the government that have employees that work in law enforcement, and most have GS-1811s (Criminal Investigators - including FBI agents). The FBI may be the most famous, but it's not any better than the others, so if you have thoughts about fed LE after your military service keep that in mind.

EDIT TO ADD: I re-read your original post, and see you have 6 years prior active duty. You can "buy back" that time into the GS system, and get an additional 1% per year of active duty added onto your GS LE retirement. That means after 20 your retirement would be calculated for 26 years (34% for 20, and 6% for your military time). That buy back is based on a tiny percentage of your base pay, and will pay off huge in retirement. My "buy back" is based on 9 years of officer time, and is only going to cost a couple of thousand dollars spread out over 2 years with NO INTEREST. Great deal.

Also, your vacation time will be based on total federal service including military time. So as a brand new GS employee you would get vacation time like someone with 6 years of service.

DMF
05-14-2004, 11:17
DELETED accidental double post.

7677
05-14-2004, 14:37
DMF,
Great post and I could not have explained as well as you did.
BTW, You forgot travel and Per diem which is also a nice benefit.

DMF
05-14-2004, 14:50
Originally posted by 7677
DMF,
Great post and I could not have explained as well as you did.
BTW, You forgot travel and Per diem which is also a nice benefit. Thanks, it can get complicated and I would hate to see someone make a serious choice without having the facts.

As for travel and per diem, I figured I'd leave that stuff out. There are some small benefits to each form of employment that basically makes it all a wash, IMO. You get better travel and higher per diem as a GS employee, but some of the tax breaks with allowances and combat tax exclusion etc. balance that out.

Plus I was getting long winded there, and I didn' want to bore anyone! ;Y

Rigormootis
05-26-2004, 08:16
The degrees they had didn't mean dung up in that cockpit when the AAA was flying by the canopy; that "one-with-the-machine", and as Dig said, "guts and heart" meant everything. I learned to trust my instinct up there next to those men. It paid off during my second tour.

- so true.

Right now I am a 5821 in the USMCR. I was a Sgt. when I earned my PhD (Sociology/Social Psychology)....had my MA (same) when I was a Cpl, and my BA as a LCPL (Sociology/History). In my job, my education has helped, but then again, I consider myself an interrogation specialist and having spent all that money getting all those "fancy pieces of paper" for my wall should be worth something (it is). That said, the most brilliant I&I (Interviewer/Interrogator, not Inspector/Instructor) I have ever met was one of my former CID chiefs (a MSgt). Nothing, but nothing, can beat cold hard experience. ...anyway...

I have served some active time, most recently a one year activation. I've been in just shy of 10 years and IF I ever put anything "shiny" on my collar, I have decided that it will be Warrant Officer bars. In my MOS (CID 5821/5805), there are no regular officers and I wouldn't give up this job for anything.

To each his own...