If you google MILITARY DECISION MAKING PROCESS, you'll come up with plenty of results to compound on this. What I'd like to introduce to you is step 3, or course of action(COA) development. This is what batallion staffs and above, and ODAs use when they receive a mission. Even though in today's GWOT the COA is already mapped out for you, it's good to go through the motions to develop an understanding. Here, we're going to be applying it to career paths. So, one of the most important things about COAs is that they must be obviously distinguishable from one another. ex. 1 (how not to do it) COA 1- I'm going to join the Army as an 18X and be an SF Engineer. COA 2- I'm going to join the Army as an 18X and be an SF Medic. Bad, they are both hinging on a single point of failure. ex. 2 COA 1- I'm going to join the Army as an 18X and be an SF Engineer. COA 2- I'm going to join the Army as an 18X and be the best Airborne Infantryman I can be. Good, we're still assuming the risk of making it through jump school- but that's pretty easy, especially after basic. Being a great infantryman can still be a blast and there's plenty of stuff for you to do there. Some people love being an NCO in charge of soldiers, I did. Some people get a kick out of being a jumpmaster, some guys just love the 82nd (guilty again). So, for a little historic comparison- Invasion of Afghanistan vs. Both Invasions of Iraq. The SOF/Surgical option was on the table for both, and was definitely also used in Iraq, but to a lesser extent. During the COA comparison and approval phases, I'm sure the SOF specific option was shot down for Iraq because of the increased threat posed by Saddam's army. Afghanistan, on the other hand, was an open book to the CIA, and we knew what to expect and where to expect it- which is easily exploited by SOF elements, you can kill anything if you show up to the hunt with the right gun. So kids (which 1/2 of you may be older than me), at least 2 COAs for career progression, distinctly different.