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Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

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  • Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

    Hello all. This is my first time posting a question on these forums. Excited to learn from your collective experience!

    Recently I have started considering service with the Army National Guard. I am posting here in an effort to gather the rest of the information I need to make my decisions responsibly. In the end, I would like to serve as an Officer. However, I’m trying to decide on my specific path; Enlistment (Advanced Paygrade of E-4) with intent to apply for OCS after a couple years of NCO service, or 09S OCS Option.

    To paint a little bit of a picture, I am a 27 year old male with a 4 year engineering degree. I believe I would score about a 275 APFT today, and I am sure I could get myself to a 300 APFT before shipping to BCT. I am not prior service. My motivations are simple; Service to my State/Nation, and Leadership Development. Any part time pay I would receive with the ARNG is not really a huge deal for me, to be honest. I’m more concerned with the journey.

    So why would a degreed engineer be considering Enlistment first before applying to OCS? Two reasons:

    1) I don’t want to miss out on valuable experience as an NCO that might serve to make me a better junior Officer.
    I understand that the job of an NCO and an Officer are very different. I understand that some Officers have a hard time avoiding micromanagement and letting NCOs do their job… especially after having been an NCO themselves. On the other hand, I believe that service as an NCO might provide a very valuable perspective to a junior Officer. I have come to understand that it is common for a ‘Mustang’ Officer to be given the benefit of the doubt so to speak from his Soldiers. Could this be for good reason? Could this be because these ‘Mustang’ Officers lead more effectively?

    2) I want to become deployable as soon as possible.
    In both paths, I would have to go to BCT. However, AIT for the MOS I am most interested in is 16 weeks. The traditional State OCS program is anywhere from 18-24 months. Then there is BOLC- B. If I were to join, go the 09S route, and my unit were to deploy while I was in State OCS… I wouldn’t make the roster because I wouldn’t have a job. On the other hand if I were to Enlist, go to AIT, get an MOS, start a State OCS program… and my unit were to get orders while I was in OCS… I could voluntarily dis-enroll and go with my unit as an NCO. Please, please correct me if any of the above is wrong.

    I’m also trying to look long term here. I could see myself really enjoying service in the National Guard. Let’s say I decide to stay in for 20 years and make a full retirement. I did a little poking around on minimum/maximum time in grade for the Officer ranks (http://www.part-time-commander.com/a...-requirements/). Looks like the fastest I could get from 2LT to LtCol would be 11 years, and the longest would be 23 years. Let’s say I’m ‘average’ in the purest sense of the word and I take 17 years to make LtCol. By my math, that would leave me 3 years to serve as an NCO before attending OCS and starting my career path as a ‘Mustang’ Officer and still being able to retire at 20 years of service. If my end goal was retirement as a LtCol, up to 3 years of service as an NCO would have little/no impact on my retirement goal. Again, please shoot holes in my thinking.

    Bottom line: I want to do the most good that I can for my State, my Country, and myself.
    I want to serve in the most impactful, meaningful, productive fashion possible.

    Any insight you all can provide would be very much appreciated. I feel like I’m getting close to jumping in on this service opportunity, and I want to make the best choices possible going forward.

    Very respectfully,

    Nate

  • #2
    Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

    Whether or not being an NCO will help you as an officer is debatable. Some will argue that there's no way it COULDN'T help you, others will argue that it won't really help you. I've personally seen junior officers with experience as an NCO be complete wierdos and good. Being an officer is completely different from being an NCO

    My advice to you is that if you want to be an officer, be an officer. Nobody can guarantee OCS criteria or your own health tomorrow or any day after. There are a lot of X factors that can come into play between now and then while you're waiting on a few years as an NCO to add up.

    Go for 09S. Either way you're not going to be deployable fast. I would see if you can get an AOCS slot if speed is your focus.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

      Originally posted by DrugFree906 View Post
      Hello all. This is my first time posting a question on these forums. Excited to learn from your collective experience!

      Recently I have started considering service with the Army National Guard. I am posting here in an effort to gather the rest of the information I need to make my decisions responsibly. In the end, I would like to serve as an Officer. However, I’m trying to decide on my specific path; Enlistment (Advanced Paygrade of E-4) with intent to apply for OCS after a couple years of NCO service, or 09S OCS Option.

      To paint a little bit of a picture, I am a 27 year old male with a 4 year engineering degree. I believe I would score about a 275 APFT today, and I am sure I could get myself to a 300 APFT before shipping to BCT. I am not prior service. My motivations are simple; Service to my State/Nation, and Leadership Development. Any part time pay I would receive with the ARNG is not really a huge deal for me, to be honest. I’m more concerned with the journey.

      So why would a degreed engineer be considering Enlistment first before applying to OCS? Two reasons:

      1) I don’t want to miss out on valuable experience as an NCO that might serve to make me a better junior Officer.
      I understand that the job of an NCO and an Officer are very different. I understand that some Officers have a hard time avoiding micromanagement and letting NCOs do their job… especially after having been an NCO themselves. On the other hand, I believe that service as an NCO might provide a very valuable perspective to a junior Officer. I have come to understand that it is common for a ‘Mustang’ Officer to be given the benefit of the doubt so to speak from his Soldiers. Could this be for good reason? Could this be because these ‘Mustang’ Officers lead more effectively?

      2) I want to become deployable as soon as possible.
      In both paths, I would have to go to BCT. However, AIT for the MOS I am most interested in is 16 weeks. The traditional State OCS program is anywhere from 18-24 months. Then there is BOLC- B. If I were to join, go the 09S route, and my unit were to deploy while I was in State OCS… I wouldn’t make the roster because I wouldn’t have a job. On the other hand if I were to Enlist, go to AIT, get an MOS, start a State OCS program… and my unit were to get orders while I was in OCS… I could voluntarily dis-enroll and go with my unit as an NCO. Please, please correct me if any of the above is wrong.

      I’m also trying to look long term here. I could see myself really enjoying service in the National Guard. Let’s say I decide to stay in for 20 years and make a full retirement. I did a little poking around on minimum/maximum time in grade for the Officer ranks (http://www.part-time-commander.com/a...-requirements/). Looks like the fastest I could get from 2LT to LtCol would be 11 years, and the longest would be 23 years. Let’s say I’m ‘average’ in the purest sense of the word and I take 17 years to make LtCol. By my math, that would leave me 3 years to serve as an NCO before attending OCS and starting my career path as a ‘Mustang’ Officer and still being able to retire at 20 years of service. If my end goal was retirement as a LtCol, up to 3 years of service as an NCO would have little/no impact on my retirement goal. Again, please shoot holes in my thinking.

      Bottom line: I want to do the most good that I can for my State, my Country, and myself.
      I want to serve in the most impactful, meaningful, productive fashion possible.

      Any insight you all can provide would be very much appreciated. I feel like I’m getting close to jumping in on this service opportunity, and I want to make the best choices possible going forward.

      Very respectfully,

      Nate
      I was in your boat for a while and then I made the decision to go the 09S route. I didn't want to be a 33 year old Infantry PL when the 22 year old guy was blowing past me on an APFT.

      I don't know about other states but you certainly won't make O-5 in 11 years in the NJ ARNG. That's a pipe dream. I'm basing the following on what I have seen in the NJ ARNG:

      2LT -> 1LT (18 months total)
      1LT -> CPT (~ 72 months total - 6 years)
      CPT -> MAJ (12-14 years) : it's very conceivable that some brand new 2LT will make CPT before you make MAJ.
      MAJ -> LTC (a little right before the 20 year mark)

      If you want to be promoted faster you need to do the following:
      1. Be willing to travel
      2. Transfer to the USAR

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

        As a prior-enlisted officer, I agree with show_stopper. The history books are filled with officers who distinguished themselves as young lieutenants despite not having had any experience as enlisted soldiers. That's not to say that it won't benefit you in some way, but I am not personally aware of any correlation between competence as a junior officer and prior enlisted service. If you're up to the task, you'll figure it out with or without that experience.

        On the other hand, you may find serving as an enlisted soldier to be personally rewarding regardless. That's your call.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

          I've served with good officers and bad officers. Prior service and non prior service. My PL right now is non prior service and he is a pretty good officer. On top of that he was ROTC, so he has managed to disprove two stereotypes so far. I know some great officers who were prior service, like my last PL who was an E-6. Excellent officer. But I we also had a former NCO turned officer in the company that was horrible. All this says to me is it all comes down to the individual. A leader is a leader is a leader. The path they take to get there may vary but if they are good leaders they probably would be that way regardless of which path they chose. If a really crappy NCO becomes an officer chances are he/she will be a really crappy officer.

          Enlisted time can't hurt, and in the grand scheme we have more fun for a longer period of time. But if officer is your end goal then why not take that path from the start.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

            I am new to this site and had a quick question can the guard be a full time job or does have to be part time if you not deployed

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

              Traditionally the National Guard is part time. There are very few full time positions available. Research AGR and Federal Technician positions for more information. If you want to be full time, go Active Duty.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

                I tried to hold off, but I'm going to have to jump into this one...

                First off, you mentioned serving up to 3 years as an NCO. If you enlist as an E-4, you may not pin E-5 within your 3 year window. Assuming you show up to your unit within a year of enlisting, you'll have to get on the promotion list, get yourself to the top, and then find a slot to promote in to.

                Secondly, the notion of pinning O-5 in 11 years is laughable. Plan on pinning sometime around the 16 year mark, give or take. That doesn't automatically mean you are average, but you need to understand promotions aren't automatic. You have to promote into a slot. You could be number one on the list, but if there's nobody moving around, you will find yourself sitting around waiting for a slot to open up.

                As was previously mentioned, if you want to be an officer, go be an officer. Enlisted time isn't a guarantee that you will be a "better" officer when you commission.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

                  Besides that....half the fun is showing up as brand new 2LT... thinking for all that time the school (OCS or ROTC) would prepare you for what you now face and realizing you have no clue what in the world is going on or what to do and figuring it out as you.

                  You'll get that either way but its way more awesome if you go 09S

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

                    Originally posted by show_stopper999 View Post
                    Besides that....half the fun is showing up as brand new 2LT... thinking for all that time the school (OCS or ROTC) would prepare you for what you now face and realizing you have no clue what in the world is going on or what to do and figuring it out as you.

                    You'll get that either way but its way more awesome if you go 09S
                    So true.

                    On the other hand, you can show up and tell your guys you know exactly what is going on and how things are going to be since you were, after all, prior-enlisted. That always goes over REEEEEALLY well.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

                      Originally posted by collk22 View Post
                      So true.

                      On the other hand, you can show up and tell your guys you know exactly what is going on and how things are going to be since you were, after all, prior-enlisted. That always goes over REEEEEALLY well.
                      Yeah, seen that plenty of times. Turns out that crappy E-7s make equally crappy O-1s. Who'da thunkit?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

                        Thank you all very much. Your input is so incredibly valuable to me right now.

                        What I'm hearing is that prior enlisted service has little to no bearing on a new 2LTs ability to lead.

                        Can anyone shed some light on the hands on nature of a 2LTs work in a combat arms MOS? I know that an officer's principal charge is leadership, but are junior officers still in the field doing work with the troops? I think bottom line, I'm not ready to serve from behind a desk yet. I want to lead but I also want to be outside the wire so to speak.

                        Again, thank you all very much. I really appreciate your input.

                        Very respectfully,

                        Nate

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

                          I specifically remember following around another 2LT (now a 1LT) and basically just copying all of his motions and hoping nobody asked me anything serious.

                          One thing that was helpful was asking the senior enlisted or another officer "Is this something I need to be involved with/concerned about/providing input on, or is that an NCO/Training/Commander/XO thing?"

                          It was (and still is sometimes) a "fake it 'til you make it" type thing. I'm guessing that somewhere in the grand scheme of things that's by design. If you cant figure out you dont belong as an officer anyways and if it was all spelled out perfectly few would ever try anything different.
                          Last edited by show_stopper999; January 31st, 2013, 01:52 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

                            Originally posted by DrugFree906 View Post
                            Thank you all very much. Your input is so incredibly valuable to me right now.

                            What I'm hearing is that prior enlisted service has little to no bearing on a new 2LTs ability to lead.

                            Can anyone shed some light on the hands on nature of a 2LTs work in a combat arms MOS? I know that an officer's principal charge is leadership, but are junior officers still in the field doing work with the troops? I think bottom line, I'm not ready to serve from behind a desk yet. I want to lead but I also want to be outside the wire so to speak.

                            Again, thank you all very much. I really appreciate your input.

                            Very respectfully,

                            Nate
                            I'm branched infantry and as a 2LT you'll usually commission and *poof* instant leadership. You'll be given a (roughly) 40 man platoon and you'll spend field drills running ranges or tactical stuff in the field like running lanes/missions against other platoons/companies, etc

                            You'll get a few good years of that before you're sucked into being an XO for awhile... then you'll have a shot a company command.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Enlistment with intent to apply for OCS, or 09S?

                              Originally posted by DrugFree906 View Post
                              Thank you all very much. Your input is so incredibly valuable to me right now.

                              What I'm hearing is that prior enlisted service has little to no bearing on a new 2LTs ability to lead.

                              Can anyone shed some light on the hands on nature of a 2LTs work in a combat arms MOS? I know that an officer's principal charge is leadership, but are junior officers still in the field doing work with the troops? I think bottom line, I'm not ready to serve from behind a desk yet. I want to lead but I also want to be outside the wire so to speak.

                              Again, thank you all very much. I really appreciate your input.

                              Very respectfully,

                              Nate
                              Generally speaking, it's hard to lead the main effort if you're not on the ground. If you're in a combat arms MOS and you're not in the field with your platoon, you're probably wrong.

                              Comment

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