Posted on Jan 11, 2018
Isabel Moritz
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I want to go into active duty after graduation. Is there competition with this? Am I competing against all of the other cadets at my school? Or am I able to decide this now?
Posted in these groups: Thcapm08l9 ROTC
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LTC Thomas Tennant
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First off, congratulations and welcome to the officer corps. Just remember that needs of the service tend to drive most decisions made for you. Yes, how you rank in any levy will be based on your reputation and perceived merit, sprinkled with some organizational politics and outside political-operational evens. But having spent some time in all three components of the Army, I think im somewhat qualified to offer you some generalities with pros and cons.

If you can, go active duty (Compo 1) for your first tour as a young officer because you can always bail into the Army Reserve (Compo 3) or National Guard (Compo 2). It is unlikely you will be selected for Compo 1 if you first go to the two reserve components. The Active Component, especially now, has more vacant company grade positions (LT & CPT) than it has lieutenants in that it is trying to rebuild after the “Obama Draw Down” and you many have more options than normal. The experience will remain with you for your lifetime. My first platoon had so great people, many I have kept in touch even now. I was only offered “Vol-Indef” at the time because the Army was in the middle of the “Carter Draw Down” so “Regular Army” was not an option. The down side of AD, you may be deployed most of your career.

Compo 2 (National Guard) is the most political of the three because it is driven by the politics and policies of each individual state. As a young officer, you normally will not be effected by the politics so much but as you get into the field grade ranks your job is directly linked as to who is the governor and you affiliation with them. That can be dicey, because the officer corps should be apolitical with some conservatism, which will be hard (if not impossible) to do at the state level. Also, the quality and duration of your career just might be impacted by the size of your state and the funding allocated to it by NGB. Smaller states sometimes means smaller budgets with fewer resources and even fewer officer “paid & authorized” billets. Example, the state of Delaware suffered for years until VP Joe Bidden put foot down on the Chief NGB. During the Clinton years, Arkansas got really pulsed up with a couple of brigades which were put to good use under Bush the Younger. The FOB (Friends of Bill) in Arkansas also got the golden assignments. Oh, most of the reserve combat branches reside in the National Guard….limits types of jobs for the most part combat branches.

The Army Reserve (Compo 3) is not without its challenges, but the two reserve components is better because it holds most of the combat support and service support positions needed by “The Army” in time of war. It also doesn’t get ensnared in state politics and tends to be more merit based. Recently it has produce more female General Officers than Compo 1 & 2 combined…all of them well qualified for their assignments as any man. The down side it is the most geographically dispersed which means you will have to travel further for your paid weekend “Battle Assemblies” (aka drills). You will also find yourself spending your time on e-mails and phone calls just to get your AR work done because of the dispersion. As a company commander I traveled 2 hours to the unit and bunked at a friend’s house on drill weekend. I also spent about 6 hours per week coordinating ahead of time so our drills were productive and the admin work done. The folks at the “Reserve Officers Association” (ROA) are lobbying to mitigate the stinging expense associated with drill travel. So you should join ROA at your soonest so they continue to have the membership numbers to be an effect voice for the reserves.
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Isabel Moritz
Isabel Moritz
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Thank you so much! The info helped a lot.
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MAJ Battalion Operations Officer (S3)
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Isabel Moritz welcome to the military where there is always competition for everything. My year group had "over drafted" recruits so a lot went to fill vacancies into the Reserves and National Guard and were eligible for a $6,000 bonus for doing so (aka being forced to). Turns out great for me as I got a great reserves unit and then went AGR and love it. With that being said you have a say, but not the final say in what you get, just like branch. There are very few exceptions such as taking a guaranteed Reserves contract or branch wise if you got a nursing scholarship. Everything else (as you will see in your career) will be needs of the Army. At least half of my commissioning class at my college didn't get their top pick and you'd think with a criminal justice degree you'd get Military Police, but you'd be wrong.

Make the best of what you want and work with what you get to advance your career in a way you want. I wanted to go active and I got put into the Reserves, I appealed and then tried to transfer into the Active Component while at office basic course without success. So I applied for the AGR program and now I active within the Reserves and love it.
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SFC Agr Tng Nco
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I heard that its an option as to where you want your commission to be at, I personally would take active duty commission.
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