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.