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Old 05-02-2022, 16:29   #1
asg
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Requesting .02 for First 25m Target

First, my gratitude to everyone that has contributed their experience and input to this website. I've found variations on my questions via the search bar, and would still welcome any further thoughts as I weigh my decision about my next steps forward.

Per my introduction, I recently turned 32, am in strong condition with no injuries having worked as a personal trainer for years, already have a Bachelor’s degree, no family of my own, and have two primary goals: to serve with SF and lead as an Officer. I am currently determining which route to take aim at for my first goal.

I am making this decision with the intention of a long-term investment on a new career path. Big picture, I would like to learn to competently serve and lead with the best of them, have the resources to support a family, God willing, and retire with a degree of security and opportunity.

For the enlisted route, age 30 is the cut off for 18x. So, outside of getting a waiver, the SF Recruiter at Ft. Bragg discouraged taking the 11x Option 40 contract suggested by my street recruiter and instead recommended going 11b with an Airborne Option and then volunteering for SFAS. He did also warn that 18x could end in being reclassed at the needs of the Army if I washed out for whatever reason. Beyond that, he further advised to aim for becoming an 180a down the line of the enlisted path. If I’m mapping this right, an 11b Airborne Option would put me on on an ODA in about 3 years (age 35). From there, if I really wanted to push on to OCS after operating for a while, I could while repeating Q course, but I might find that I prefer to remain enlisted and instead aim for 180a.

For the OCS route, the recruiter’s caveat was that I would really only have one shot at SFAS (unless I resigned my commission) in about two years (age 34) putting me on a team at 36, and even then, I would only get 18-24 months of team time. However, per Astronomy’s recommendation on post 13 in this thread, it seems like keeping my longterm view of making an impact, renumeration, and post retirement opportunity would be wise to factor into this choice.

My questions are the following as I weigh this decision:

-As an 18a, if you only operate from Cpt to Maj on an ODA, what is a day in the life like after that? Do you remain in SF, just not as an on the ground operator?
-Considering current age, timelines, waivers, etc. would it be wiser to go for SF via that enlisted route outlined above and drop a packet for OCS later or OCS now and be as ready as possible at senior 1st LT?
-What is the best course of action for the enlisted route: only accept an 18x (provided I can get an age waiver) or would 11b Airborne Option be a solid alternative?
-What factors am I missing or would you suggest contemplating, from your experience and looking back?

Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Old 05-02-2022, 19:24   #2
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My background was the Senior Enlisted instructor out at the 18A course before I retired in 2019.


.02 (Bluntly) Your to late going the Officer route not being in the Army currently or prior enlistment with zero experience at your age.
If you truly want to go into the Army and get a Shot.

1. I also recommended going 11B with an Airborne contract and then volunteering for SFAS. you will be reassigned at the needs of the Army if you washed out for whatever reason as a 11B still Airborne.


2. 180a down the line of the enlisted path is an option. (YES) if you make it as a enlisted SF Soldier and get recommendations from your Commanders.


3. If I’m mapping this right, an 11b Airborne Option would put me on on an ODA in about 3 years (age 35).

(Maybe) all depends on how you do at your normal Army job and stay out of trouble and have all the stars align.


4. As an 18a, if you only operate from Cpt to Maj on an ODA, what is a day in the life like after that? Do you remain in SF, just not as an on the ground operator?

Majors are not on ODA's even if they wanted to run one as a Company Commander.

You remain SF, but on Staff jobs (AKA sucky jobs you won't like... chasing stuff down for your boss or getting your ass chewed for not making time lines)



Yes... you 99% of the time only get one shot at SFAS as an Officer. (because of your narrow window of opportunity and if you don't make it you will still have to attend the big Army required courses or risk get booted out of the military if you don't meet requirements of your Rank and year group.



-What factors am I missing or would you suggest contemplating, from your experience and looking back?

Do you have any problem with living in crappy living conditions with people that may or not like you and have not taken a bath in months, eating the local food with your bare hands ?

I would also test your resolve before signing any paper.

Wear some comfortable clothes, and some boots
get a backpack with 65 lbs in it. Now soak yourself with water from head to feet. and walk 12 miles in that wet mess see what you think ? Then ask yourself could you do 24 miles like that ? Could you walk 30 miles like that in 2 days.

If the answer is yes, that's a baby step to the 25m target but no guarantee of anything.
See my Signature before you go slurping mud puddles.
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Last edited by 7624U; 05-02-2022 at 19:28.
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Old 05-02-2022, 19:50   #3
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Thank you for the blunt and thorough .02, 7624U.

To clarify- if I went straight OCS out the gate and then put in a packet for SFAS, like any other 1st LT, I would not get selected because of age/ lack of experience, is that correct?

Really does sound like the better option for a shot would be enlisting 11b Airborne. Seems like worst case scenario would be that I wash out, drop a packet for OCS, and drive on to serve as an Infantry Officer...

I didn't know a risk of not making selection as an officer is that you might not be able to make the big Army required courses for rank and year group and consequently get booted from the military... that certainly carries some weighty risk if I'm trying to go for the long-haul here.

I did work as a wilderness guide for thru hikes, long distance cycling, white water, and rock climbing in the Northeast area for a few years. Not at all that that is comparable to what I would experience in SF, but my resolve never quit there and I loved that work. Certainly doesn't make for a guarantee, but I am looking to knock hard where opportunity is to be found.

Do you have any take on doing an 11x Option 40 vs. 11b Airborne Option on the enlisted route?

Thank you, again. Signature duly noted.
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Old 05-02-2022, 20:37   #4
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The quickest way to become an 18 series is to go to the SFQC.

As far as your other options - I'm not sure why a recruiter would discourage an option 40 contract. If you are looking for high adventure, Ranger Regiment is a good place to start. PLUS - an option 40 contract means you will also go to airborne school on your way through the pipeline. An option 40 contract will test your guts because you will have to go to RASP (or whatever they call it these days) along your path. Hell, you may get to the backside of an option-40 enlistment and decide that you are happy right where you are at.


An airborne option sounds neat but you could end up anywhere - the Army is full of airborne qualified infantrymen that arent in an airborne unit. A regular 11 series contract could land you in a place that makes you doubt why you came to the party. My son loved Colorado - hated the 4th ID. The unit soured his attitude toward the Army and when his time is up, he's out.

The best way to become an SF guy is to go and be an SF guy - everything else is just a detour. Tell the recruiter to get you an SF waiver. That's what waivers are for.

Just my two cents
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Old 05-02-2022, 22:56   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asg View Post
Thank you for the blunt and thorough .02, 7624U.

To clarify- if I went straight OCS out the gate and then put in a packet for SFAS, like any other 1st LT, I would not get selected because of age/ lack of experience, is that correct?
.
Not saying you would not make it, because of your age what I am saying is you have disadvantage vs your younger Officer Peers you would be 35 going into the 18A course. You would also get a lot of questions from Senior Officers of why you waited so long. Just be prepared for that. (you don't know what you don't know)

I was 31 when i graduated in 2002 and I think the oldest I have ever seen was 43 enlisted dude but this was at the high end of recruiting drives to bolster our numbers in 2007.

Do what Box said put the paperwork in for a Waiver they can only say No.
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Old 05-03-2022, 05:38   #6
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Thank you, both.

Box, the SF Recruiter gave a vehement "hell no" to the Option 40 because he said the Ranger mentality is so different from SF that I would either be discouraged from volunteering or just have a real hard time making the switch. However, what you outlined tracked more with my sense of that option.

7624U, understood about the OCS route- thank you for clarifying.

Given the responses here, this is where my head is at currently:

P- Get a waiver for 18x*
A- 11x Option 40 and volunteer after RASP
C- OCS and volunteer knowing clearly why I waited so long
E- If I wash out in an enlisted option, drop a packet for OCS and take that shot again at 1st Lt. and drive on knowing I at least accomplished one of my two primary goals in my military career of serving as an Officer.

*The only caveat here is, in the event of washing out, I could wind up anywhere else in the army... but that risk makes sense for taking the most direct route to the objective and the "Emergency" choice of dropping a packet might be the saving grace there.
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Old 05-03-2022, 06:35   #7
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If I may ask, was your SF recruiter a SF guy or served in the Ranger Regiment? I ask because you said he said the "Ranger mentality is so different." So I have to assume he served in both. Having served in SF, with a whole slew of guys that grew up in Regiment, I can tell you that the "base mentality," is don't quit...don't ever quit, be too stupid to quit. Right next to that mentality...is this one, "I want that..." Be it serve in Regiment, or serve in Group, or both...and so that's what they did...they didn't try to overthink the decision.

I wish you the best of luck. But it seems to me that you're spending too much time trying to figure out "what if..." vs. just doing it.

Let me ask one final question, if you fail to make selection, or RASP, does that lessen your desire to serve?
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Old 05-03-2022, 07:07   #8
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He was an SF guy, don't believe he served in the Ranger Regiment, however.

No, if I don't make RASP or Selection, I still want and intend to serve to the best of my ability.

Thanks for the kick on overthinking- it's definitely a weak spot of mine. The wealth of information online is valuable, but it can certainly put me too much in my head on "figuring it out" rather than just getting after it.

On that note- I've got a run to do. Thank you all, again.
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Old 05-03-2022, 09:40   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asg View Post
Thank you, both.

Box, the SF Recruiter gave a vehement "hell no" to the Option 40 because he said the Ranger mentality is so different from SF that I would either be discouraged from volunteering or just have a real hard time making the switch. However, what you outlined tracked more with my sense of that option.

7624U, understood about the OCS route- thank you for clarifying.

Given the responses here, this is where my head is at currently:

P- Get a waiver for 18x*
A- 11x Option 40 and volunteer after RASP
C- OCS and volunteer knowing clearly why I waited so long
E- If I wash out in an enlisted option, drop a packet for OCS and take that shot again at 1st Lt. and drive on knowing I at least accomplished one of my two primary goals in my military career of serving as an Officer.

*The only caveat here is, in the event of washing out, I could wind up anywhere else in the army... but that risk makes sense for taking the most direct route to the objective and the "Emergency" choice of dropping a packet might be the saving grace there.

Here are a few different points to chew on - a few of which may not sit well with some folks on this board - but...

...the Ranger mentality is so different from SF that I would either be discouraged from volunteering or just have a real hard time making the switch.

So says your recruiter. He probably just doesn't realize that 1st SFC, USASOC, and USSOCOM are FULL of folks from Ranger Regiment. There are more "Rangers" commanding units than there are SF guys commanding units. Look at the last - every single USSOCOM commander ever - and see how many of them 'grew up' in Special Forces. You might be surprised to find that every single NONE of them made it to the top by serving in SF. Pilots, Rangers, and Ninjas but no pure SF guys in the lot...
-There is no such thing as a "Ranger mindset"

What people consider "Ranger Mindset" can be found in just as many SF guys that never spent a day in Regiment.
The folks that think Rangers are stuck in the mud of uniformity, high and tights, and Hooah Sarn't just haven't been paying attention. Their hair is longer, their civilian assault boots are cooler, and their espririt de corps is higher than most of the SF guys that I worked with during my last 10 years in SF.
PLUS - they made it through selection.

Or - we would have to all agree that SF selection doesnt really work.
(which is a possibility - I made it through on my first try)

What most guys cling to as "the Ranger mentality" could just as easily be confused with a guy that doesnt like standards. Or a guy that keeps getting outperformed during PT. Or a guy that just doesn't like Rangers.
As a Team Sergeant and company SGM - I saw as many "X-Rays" with this mystical Ranger mentality as I saw Rangers with Ranger mentality.

Lets take it a step further - a REAL Ranger that has a REAL case of Ranger mentality would never stoop so low as to sully his feet playing with lowly SF guys. He would just take the long walk and go be a Ninja. Don't let a recruiter (or anyone else for that matter) tell you that your choice is anything but your choice.
"YOUR CAREER, YOUR CHOICE"



If I wash out...
I would recommend you get that crap out of your head. If you are already planning to wash out - why bother??? The details of your contract is all the "plan" you need. Selection is not hard. The shit going through your head makes you think its hard. Let me give you something - for free...
-You are going to carry heavy things across uneven terrain.
-The weather will be unpleasant.
-You will have to walk fast for a long time.
-You are your own competition so do your best everyday.
-The above five statements are built around the knowledge that you WILL become tired and unsure of yourself
-Even when you are tired and unsure of yourself, the program expects you to notice that there were only four statements worth of advice - not five.



*The only caveat here is, in the event of washing out, I could wind up anywhere else in the army...
I know - isn't that great !!!
The army already has your plan mapped out for you, so you have one less thing to worry about while you are walking very fast across great distances while carrying heavy things across uneven terrain. People think SFAS means Special Forces Assessment and Selection but it doesn't. It means Sore Feet and Shoulders because that is the vehicle they use to make you think about your own shortcomings.
But guess what - if you do wash out of 18x - drop a packet to go to RASP

If you don't want to end up "anywhere eles" in the army - I might even suggest that you rethink exactly why you want to be in SF at your age. SF (and the Infantry for that matter) is not going to be kind to your body. You will find yourself in the shoes of a 40 year old man, competing for a promotion to E7 with men that are 10-15 younger than you. You will be in your early 50's before you are old enough to retire with a 20 year package.

If you want to "enlist now" so you can go to OCS later - maybe it isn't really an SF guy that you want to be. Just being an SF guy and going to OCS doesn't mean you are coming out as an SF officer. You could end up 'branched' somewhere else and now you are right back to don't want to end up "anywhere else" in the army under that career path you could find yourself as a brand new Captain in his early 40's before you get your first job as an ODA team leader and then you'll get about two more years of team time before you become an "administrator" because there are very few majors that are really out there "operating"
You COULD look down the road at being an SF Warrant Officer, but again, you're still talking about being a 40 year old SF guy before you get back to an ODA as a WO1 and would get a lot more team time than a Captain will get.


Only you can answer those questions - but if you really want to be an SF guy - and you want to be an SF guy right now - get a waiver and don't quit.
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Last edited by Box; 05-03-2022 at 11:39.
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Old 05-03-2022, 10:03   #10
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Box- good bits to chew on with a healthy dose of humor. Thank you for all of that, I'll keep those four (not five) points in mind and keep on rucking ahead.
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Old 05-04-2022, 17:15   #11
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Get the age waiver and go to SFAS... then on to Group. That's the most direct path available.

Or...

Secure an Option 40 contract and go to Ranger Regiment. Probably the single best place to prepare oneself for a future SF selection and assignment. One enlisted tour there...and on to attempt SFAS at the earliest your Battalion will support. I fucking guarantee you'll be mentally, physically, and skillfully prepared for attempting accession into SF.

I don't see that an 11X Airborne Option is going to result in any faster opportunity to attempt SFAS. Any first assignment unit is going to get some hard use out of you (time wise) before allowing you to attend SFAS. 75th Rangers no different in that respect than the 82nd ABN.

If you are highly successful at either unit (after garnering command recommendation)... apply for OCS.

------------------

Ranger Mentality? Yeah that's an actual philosophical discussion topic around SF, but that recruiter is still wrong. 75th Rangers have been a primary feeder mechanism for SF since the Ranger Batts were formed back in 1974.

Those who completely drink the Ranger Regiment's Kool-Aid tend to stay in the 75th. Some try out for Delta's Selection & go behind the fence. A hell of a lot of them come over to SF and do very well. Former 75th guys on ODAs have always been a fairly common thing... and well appreciated by Team Sergeants & Sergeants Major. Because they show up already well experienced, trained, motivated, and vetted by multiple gut checks. Beyond merely having completed SFAS/SFQC. Usually bringing some hard earned Junior/Mid-Grade NCO leadership experience with them to boot.

SF & Rangers are vaguely similar (in terms of some basic SOF mission capabilities & carefully selected pool of human material), but two entirely different jobs and force structures. There is a requirement to mentally flip that job switch upon arrival at SF. Most former Rangers accomplish that quite handily.

-----------------

Another angle to consider regarding commissioning:

https://www.gograd.org/resources/rot...duate-student/

https://www.serviceacademyforums.com...-degree.39761/

Get commissioned, earn another degree, and then pursue SF when your year group window opens.

You sound like you want it and are able to articulate your desire. Your described background sounds like a potentially good fit. You have several choices, but not a lot of time (age) before some windows close. Choose your main target and pull the trigger. Don't let "what-if" contingency worries dissuade you from grabbing for the brass ring.

I'd go for the waiver and attempt SFAS. That's the Leeroy Jenkins play. If it doesn't pan out, you'll find most of your other goals still available.

Last edited by Astronomy; 05-04-2022 at 18:10.
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Old 05-04-2022, 17:26   #12
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Thank you, Astronomy.

.02 is too low a marker for the value of all the input here. I'm contacting my recruiter about getting after that age waiver while I keep getting after my PT.

If that door slams shut... 11x Option 40 it is.

The commission option has multiple plays down the line if that remains a target and while the body is strong and the spirit is willing, I'm going to take a direct shot.

Until then, I'll be lurking about and searching this veritable gold mine.

Once more, my sincere appreciation to everyone here.
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Old 05-05-2022, 06:14   #13
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Good luck to you again. Please let us know how everything pans out.
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Old 05-05-2022, 06:31   #14
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Thank you, 1stindoor. Will do so on this thread.
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