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TeddyP
09-01-2012, 03:41
I'm currently AD in Group and I have been thinking about going to the Guard unit in WA. I just want to hear from some guys that went from AD to Guard SF and if they had any regrets, do overs, how the TM life is in comparison, or any good advice from someone who made the switch. I haven't found that much information on the matter and I don't personally know anyone that switched.

I don't want to leave Group or active duty for that matter but I have a family and I am trying to do what is best for them and I am hoping that I can compromise by finding a civilian job and still staying on a TM in the Guard.

Thanks.

Feel free to email or PM me.

Dozer523
09-01-2012, 04:10
You could click "home" above and go to the third section about National Guard Groups. There is a whole section of stuff on both Groups.

TeddyP
09-01-2012, 04:29
You could click "home" above and go to the third section about National Guard Groups. There is a whole section of stuff on both Groups.

Thanks. I am aware of the role, AO's, and optempo of the Guard Units and I have friends in active Guard I was just hoping to privately talk to someone who has done both somewhat recently so I can get a better feel for it.

neecheepure
09-01-2012, 09:00
PM inbound, Teddy

Astronomy
09-05-2012, 23:47
TeddyP: ...I just want to hear from some guys that went from AD to Guard SF and if they had any regrets, do overs, how the TM life is in comparison, or any good advice from someone who made the switch. I haven't found that much information on the matter and I don't personally know anyone that switched.

My Guard / Reserve SF experience is now a bit dated, but...

I ETS'ed from 1-10 as an 18B SSG, returned CONUS, and enrolled in college. Shortly thereafter I joined up with B/3/11 (Reserve SF company based in Columbus, Georgia). I brought a certain amount of current SF experience to the unit, but... I found that several members were friends of mine from previous SOF assignments, lots of the guys were prior AD SF from other Groups, many were prior service (USMC, SEALs, USAF), and lots of the guys were very experienced Vietnam veterans. About 70% of the unit's members were current LEOs at local, state, or federal level. Most of the rest were 1) college students, 2) self-employed professionals, or 3) government employees or contractors (again...local, state, or federal).

I spent over 7 years on the same ODA. Average team time (in the '80s) for my ODA was 12 years. My Team Commander had six years on the team when I first met him. He started as an E-4, got Q-coursed, become an SMP ROTC Cadet, then a 2LT/1LT XO, then finally took the team as a Captain. Today he is a Colonel. Similar track for 2 successive Team Sergeants...grew up on the team...eventually ran it as Master Sergeants. One of them eventually became the Company SGM.

In a nutshell...it was a blast. I loved every one of those years spent serving with a truly extraordinary group of brothers. "Team Life" was very tight despite only drilling once per month. Many of my team mates also lived/worked vicinity of my civilian location (Atlanta), so we saw a lot of each other socially.

Team SOPs actually worked, and after knowing everyone on your team for many years, everyone's strong points, weaknesses, and likely contingency responses were understood. We were not always re-inventing the ODA because of high personnel turnover...the core of the team was around for years and years. Everyone already had a civilian life and income...being in SF was for the love of it.

A Guard SF ODA has two advantages over an AD team. They have true team longevity and they possess an occasional wealth of truly unique civilian skills (doctors, lawyers, FAA aircraft mechanics, Federal Agency Intel Agents, civilian construction contractors, SWAT team leaders, city administrators, teachers, civil engineers, and the list goes on...).

I eventually accessed back onto AD SF and finished a full AD SF career. No regrets either way (getting out and going SF Reserves...nor coming back to AD).

In later AD years, I advised a Guard SF Battalion and was honored to go to war with them in Afghanistan (the first year). Again, a truly exceptional bunch of Soldiers and one of the best assignments I ever did.

I would heartily recommend joining a Guard SF unit. It allows you to do what you want to do in life (outside the Army) and yet still have a place to do what you love (be an SF Soldier). It will provide you with a peer group of guys who you will relate to more than the average granola-eating civilians you work alongside or attend school with. Trust me...no matter how dicked up you think the Army, SF, or your current unit is, you will eventually find yourself searching for that certain intangible SF mentality in civilian life. You will only rarely find that trial-by-fire bond among non-SF civilians.

If you still want combat deployments...expect a high probability of that occurring. Schools and training deployments are also available for QP guys who want to take a hiatus from whatever they are doing as civilians. Usually more schools on the OML than guys available to attend them (due to civilian occupational demands). Still plenty of JCETs and overseas deployed exercises.

Another little known aspect of Guard duty (from an AD perspective) is that you frequently support real world disaster relief in your State (or adjacent ones). It feels pretty damn good to help out fellow Americans when fire, flood, earthquake, storms, blizzard, or other disaster slam the populace. You have no doubt as to what you are doing, who you are doing it for, and the thanks from YOUR people is heartfelt and genuine (unlike some deployments overseas). When you see some American family living under plastic sheeting after losing all in a flood...but they've taken the time to hand write a sign that says God Bless the Army, and their muddy six year old salutes you as you drive past...it'll bring a lump to your throat. SF units get used for that a lot due to superior planning, commo, & medical abilities...and just generally being "Go To" guys in any State Guard organization.

Naturally, rank, benefits, and eventual retirement pay accrue. Some States have their own military educational programs, where Guardsmen get free in-state college tuition...separate from AD GI bill benefits (which you could save for later use).

You still have plenty of opportunity get killed or fucked up. Most Guard SF units are built into the deployment playbook. Most have been downrange several times.

Additionally, if you are still young and single, your outrageously debonair SF aura will make trolling for your next future ex-girlfriend/wife a piece of cake in comparison to the civilian competition. ;)

Do it. Good luck.

Stras
09-06-2012, 03:55
My Guard / Reserve SF experience is now a bit dated, but...


Nope, you're just well seasoned....:cool:

Great info for the masses.

craigepo
09-06-2012, 09:42
Astronomy's take is spot-on. Another plus to joining the guard if you get out: Once out of the active duty army, you are re-entering civillian life with only what you have in your head and your moving van. Your active-duty friends are scattered all over hell and creation. Many of your old high school/college era friends are gone, or have no idea what you have experienced in life, with a result that you don't have a hell of a lot in common with anybody. Moreover, your income stream can decrease to a trickle.

Conversely, many of the guard guys are very tied-in in their communities and vocations, are quite successful in their new careers, and have been to many of the same places as you. It's sort of like the idea of a masonic lodge, in that you go somewhere absolutely foreign, walk in, and you almost automatically have a bunch of new friends. Additionally, guard guys have been off active duty for a while, so you can go borrow their crap that they have that you never needed while on active duty.

Big plus---guard guys have the best intel on hunting/fishing/outdoors stuff. Our team did an annual "movement to contact" weekend, complete with shotguns, quail, bird dogs, and beer and chow.

Astronomy
09-06-2012, 10:42
craigepo: Conversely, many of the guard guys are very tied-in in their communities and vocations, are quite successful in their new careers, and have been to many of the same places as you. It's sort of like the idea of a masonic lodge, in that you go somewhere absolutely foreign, walk in, and you almost automatically have a bunch of new friends.

This is a huge point! State Guard organizations are insular in the sense that folks tend to stay their entire military career within what might be essentially a one or two brigade sized organization (aggregate of all military elements within a state). Everyone senior is known to everyone else. Quality SF folks tend to rise to the top. Quite a job network. Quite a support mechanism for professional references.

The Adjutant General of the state I advised (CG of all Army & USAF Guard units in the state) was a prior SF Team Leader & Battalion Commander.

T7L
09-06-2012, 11:01
Very good and accurate information from Astronomy and craigepo. I followed a similar career path to Astronomy after getting out the middle of 1998. I came back in 2003 after finishing a BA. I spent time in 2/20th, and all of their comments are exactly right. They are also dead on about one other thing - it's very hard to find the type of person you have gotten used to working with out there.

Plus- you still get to go to the range, jump out of airplanes and do things you have gotten used to doing on a semi-regular basis. Those things can be hard to give up cold turkey.

abc_123
09-07-2012, 03:52
Not that it's necessary, but I'll also pile on in agreement. I got out at the end of '98. Was a traditional guardsman with the 20th SFG until I put the uniform back on full time in '06... but as a full-time guardsman.

Had guys on my team in the 20th that I had served with on AD. The team stayed together until we launched downrange to AFG in '03. Some of us could have left (reassigments/promotions) but we all made conscious decisions to stay on the team. We ran like clockwork. JCETS (before the war) were EASY. SOPs in place and in use.

Stay in the Regiment. Don't waste your experience. Continue to serve your country. You cannot be mass produced. Service in the ARNG allows you to do other things but still keep active in the community that you are a part of now.

Going ARNG after leaving Active Duty was the best decision that I ever made.

Feel free to PM me if you want to chat.

RichL025
09-07-2012, 19:33
I concur with the previous comments -

I got off AD at the end of 1998 and joined A/3/20 in Ocala, FL. I honestly did not know what to expect, I was half-expecting a bunch of wannabe's or a weekend beer-drinking club...

I was thoroughly iimpressed with the quality of the company I was in. The guys were mostly young, great condition, many were in law enforcement / FD / related security type jobs. My 18B worked for a nationally-known gun manufacturer! A few (~20%) of guys had active duty time either as QPs or non-QPs prior to the Q course.

There was a little bit of 'parochial-ness' (for lack of a better word)... "this is the way we do things here" etc etc. But no one was really hide-bound, and they were open to learning new ways of doing things, etc...

I echo the comments about how "tight" the teams are. I left A/3/20 in 2002 to start medical school, and I still regularly keep in touch with many of my old teammates.

I can wholeheartedly endorse the SF NG - they were damn good back when I first met them, and I have no doubt that, given their extended deployments in OIF / OEF, they have gotten better still.

HTH