35M, 38B, or 18X

JAG2

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Hi everyone. Apologies if this isn't the correct place to post this kind of thing, but it seemed like the most relevant place that I've found on this forum. If given another avenue I'll take this elsewhere.

I'm just out of college, and hoping to enlist soon as a 35M (Human Intelligence Collector), 38B (Civil Affairs Specialist), or 18X (Special Forces Candidate). I want to do my research before setting a path for myself, which is why I'm on here.

I know more about these MOS's than the average civilian, but the more perspectives I get the better. And this seems like an awesome forum to get those perspectives.

I can talk all day about why I want to join the military/SOF community; my patriotism, my desire to do something meaningful with my life, my affinity for being on the ground and being able to do my part to protect the guys around me, but for now (because I'm sure this will already be a long post) I'm going to stick to the specifics of narrowing down what exactly I should be pursuing. But I'd happily go into more detail about my motivations if asked.

Here are my core thoughts so far about the 3 paths. Feel free to read on and share your insight if you're up for giving me a hand.

I'm interested in 35M because I'm passionate about HUMINT and source ops (yes even all the paperwork). But I've heard horror stories about peacetime 35Ms spending all day at the motorpool and having an awful time. If I were to go 35M I would push hard for Airborne, because I would jump at the chance to deploy (no pun intended) especially as an enabler for SOF activities. But the possibility that I'll be somewhere in the States doing a whole lot of nothing for a few years is what's holding me back. The fact that this is neither a combat arms nor special operations position is also a big drawback for me when it comes to life-after-army. Though the HUMINT experience would definitely be a big plus...if I can get any.

I'm interested in 38B because deploying often and working in a small team sounds like my ideal situation. Interacting with locals, gaining intimate knowledge about an AO and local languages, and doing the whole 'armed peace corps' thing all sounds up my alley too. The thing holding me back from this MOS is the fact that this is not an intel-centric position (I hear intel and CA are almost entirely unrelated) and the post-military career opportunities I've seen (social services, office management, education, etc) do not really line up with what I would like to do in the long-term.

I'm interested in 18X for a lot of the same reasons as 38B: deploying often, small team, interacting with locals, gaining advanced knowledge about AOs and languages. 18-series brings the added bonuses of being more intel-related (18F would look appealing in the long-run) and the post-army opportunities for the 18-series are more in-line with what I would like to do in the long-term. At the same time, I realize that 18X would be intense when it comes to physical fitness. I am confident that I can build myself up to a semi-competitive standard given much time (I'm thin and my push-up/pull-up/sit-up/rucking game is okay, but I suck worse than anyone else at running and lifting) but I don't know if I'm willing to put my enlistment on hold for a year+ so I can wait to improve myself to a comfortable level in those areas.

Not very interested in going to OCS, only because I've heard you get way less freedom when it comes to choosing your branch, and you have to wait much longer for opportunities that have much smaller windows to pass by. I'd also rather be on the ground than in a planning room this early in the game. But I'm open for hearing arguments either way.

Thanks for reading this far, looking forward to any details, feedback, personal experience, or advice.
 

JAG2

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Note: I didn't post this on the "First Post" thread because I saw an instruction detailing that thread as being for people who know their goal, and are actively trying to pursue it. I don't know my final goal yet. But if this should go there anyway, I'll be happy to delete an repost under that thread.
 

Totentanz

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If you're interested in active duty, CA is not open to initial accessions. In other words, you have to be in service and apply. There is no program analogous to 18X.

If you choose to bypass OCS (nothing wrong with doing so), just be aware that there are age, rank, and TIS (time in service) cutoffs if you want to apply later. From the little bit you've described of your goals and interests, enlisting is more likely to get you where you want to go.
 

Il Duce

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If you're a 35M you won't be in the motorpool all day - there's plenty of source ops in the world, and even more training. However, source operations may not be as glamorous as you're imagining. Believe there are a couple posts on SS about what 35Ms and source collectors do - try searching for them they may help you clarify your goals.
 

JAG2

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If you're interested in active duty, CA is not open to initial accessions. In other words, you have to be in service and apply. There is no program analogous to 18X.

If you choose to bypass OCS (nothing wrong with doing so), just be aware that there are age, rank, and TIS (time in service) cutoffs if you want to apply later. From the little bit you've described of your goals and interests, enlisting is more likely to get you where you want to go.
Thanks for the info, Totentanz. Might work out in my favor, since I could pursue 35M and submit a packet for CA after I've fulfilled my rank and TIS requirements. I'll look into the OCS cutoffs and keep them in mind, but good to hear you agree that enlisting might be the way to go for my interests. Also, I see you're CA! Anything about it that you wish you knew going in?
 

JAG2

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If you're a 35M you won't be in the motorpool all day - there's plenty of source ops in the world, and even more training. However, source operations may not be as glamorous as you're imagining. Believe there are a couple posts on SS about what 35Ms and source collectors do - try searching for them they may help you clarify your goals.
Thanks II Duce, good to hear that opportunities for 35Ms are still relatively plentiful. I usually make sure to keep my expectations informed and realistic when it comes to source ops (I know it's *not* combat arms, *not* james bond/jason bourne stuff in the slightest, and *mostly* sitting at a desk doing paperwork and sitting in a room doing debriefs on people who may or may not be worth the time). I've been reading up on HUMINT collections, analysis, etc and it does still sound right in my area of interest. Regardless, I'll be sure to look into more posts re: 35Ms and source collectors on SS and gather more information. How was your experience as an enabler?
 

Zen Warrior

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On the other hand if you do want to go directly to 38B we deploy CA a lot in the reserves and you can go directly into a unit. It is a 29 day AIT and it helps if you speak the language of whatever unit you are joining is aligned to. On the Officer Side it's a little more difficult, but if you really want to serve with a degree consider OCS-> Any branch -> SOF/CA.
 

JAG2

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Aug 18, 2016
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On the other hand if you do want to go directly to 38B we deploy CA a lot in the reserves and you can go directly into a unit. It is a 29 day AIT and it helps if you speak the language of whatever unit you are joining is aligned to. On the Officer Side it's a little more difficult, but if you really want to serve with a degree consider OCS-> Any branch -> SOF/CA.
Good to know, thanks Zen.
 
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