Posted on Apr 10, 2014
CPT Assistant Operations Officer (S3)
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I am at a interesting point with my Army career, but not a new one, but am weighting the advantages and disadvantages of getting another branch using my Captain's Career Course to make that change.

Currently I am Infantry 11A (qualified with my IOBC Infantry Officer Basic Course) and am looking at the advantages / disadvantages of choosing Signal (SCCC). I am also in the National Guard, so I'm not active duty.

Maybe I'm answering my own question but want to be more detailed.

Probably the first thing which anyone who responds is "What do I want to do" ? also "What are my priorities" ?

For both branches, I want more responsibility, I want to learn how to plan and conduct signal and/or infantry operations. I do not mind BN staff in either specfic type of BN to learn how those Battalions operate. I would need that to be a more effective commander anyways.

For both branches, I want command, eventually to lead troops whether it's a signal or infantry company and also to learn from my men/women. Command responsibility forces you to develop and grow as a person and that is what I want.

Notice getting rank wasn't the first, now if Rank gives me more responsibility then fine.

I see things I enjoy in both.

For Infantry, as  PL and currently an OCS Instructor, I enjoy teaching the platoon and squad tactics. I even enjoyed it when I worked for Harris RF Communications teaching software engineers who had no military experience. Eventually as an eventual commander, I will enjoy the tactical planning of infantry platoons, within the confines of the company mission, giving them purpose, direction and guidance for each mission.

I'm also a fan of military generals like Hannibal Barca.

For Signal, I did an S6 role (in an IN. rear detatched BN.) and enjoyed working with the S.T.T Sattelite Tactical Trailer, and giving my section a plan to operate. I was blessed with a very good NCOIC to give me the technical expertise to make things happen for the rear detatched BN. I see opportunities to get better familiar with BFT, CPOF, S.T.T, WIN-T phases 1 and 2, and see where the Guard can revolutionize their communication implementing the WIN-T which will eventually go to phase 2 (Company level), which right now its BN level.

What I don't want.

I don't want to be thrown into the wind ? I want to do something that is a good contribution to the unit. I have learned that the less I do, the lazier I become, but with more responsibility, I tend to rise to the challenge and it makes me grow.

I hate the TOC. Maybe that will have to change, but unfortunately one thing about an S6 is your stuck in the TOC. 11A your not. Maybe because I'm a software engineer by trade who does sit at a desk for 8-9 hours a day, possibly why I'm not a fan. but them on deployment I hated it too. Put me where the action is.

Civilian benefits.

The SCCC may help my civilian career, if I get command and learn the networking aspect of the military world. Truth is both will help, because MCCC helps in terms of where we are going as an Army Force IMO.

In an ideal world I would have both but with the downsizing of today, it seems unlikely.
Edited 8 y ago
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Responses: 5
CPT Gs 13
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Since the Army is not your full time job, I would go for the route that will help improve your civilian career more.  Although being in a combat arms branch would be more fun in my opinion, I chose a branch that would better supplement my civilian career. So, perhaps think about that?
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MAJ Operations Officer (Opso)
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I think few actually like being in the TOC. As for once you go up in the ranks you get further from the actual men and women and closer to that desk. As for signal we had our signal folks all over the place in Afghanistan fixing stuff, running lines, etc. Will you be in the TOC or in a office? Yes, regardless of what you do you will be stuck with briefings and reports. The higher up you go the more paperwork you get. What do you want to do while in the TOC is what you should ask yourself. Where do you do want to serve on staff?
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CPT Assistant Operations Officer (S3)
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Well see how it goes. I'm gathering as much information as possible before I make a decision. SCCC matches with what I do as a civilian and I may have to take that into account. Plus I know the future of military communications. Plus in the next war, we know soldiers do know how to fight, so what they may need are advisers who not only know infantry tactics, but can set up their communication networks. That would make me marketable.

But I'm still debating the two and as I said before, I would love to do both MCCC and SCCC.
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CPT Program Director
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I did exactly what you are describing. Got deployed, because I did 'software' in the civilian world, ended up becoming the BN S6.

Afterwards I branch transferred from 11A to 25A in the National Guard. I wrestled with the decision a lot, but now, I don't regret it for a minute.

Everyone is bound for the TOC at some point in their career, 11A or not. Not too many people see the TOC as being as 'sexy' as being a combat arms leader in the field. But think back to all the times you were annoyed as a PL or XO because Higher seemed like they were too slow to react, or delivered contradictory information. Working in the TOC is your opportunity to understand what happens and what fails to happen at BN, and make conditions better for ALL of the line companies. If you can learn to love the 'suck' of the field, you can learn to love the TOC, where the SICPS has A/C and unlimited coffee.

Build a good relationship with the S3 and work with them to get that TOC running like clockwork. The better your TOC runs, the less you will be chained to it, and the more time you will be able to spend with your Soldiers, and making the big-picture improvements that you alluded to.

You will still hold the 11A designator, and you can always take the blue cord out again later.
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