Posted on Aug 8, 2014
SGT Writer
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Can anyone who has been in the Army and Air Force compare daily life and operations between the two branches?
Posted in these groups: United_states_army_logo ArmyUsaf_logo Air ForceNavy Navy
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TSgt Battlefield Weather Forecaster
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Having worked beside the Army for the past 6+ years (out of 10 years in the Air Force), I found that the fundamental difference is that the Army is more rank conscious than the Air Force. While I do find a lot of respect from lower enlisted to upper enlisted or officers, the Army grinds the parade rest/attention and "Sergeant"/"Sir/Ma'am" mentality very hard. The Air Force is more people oriented; Leaders try to get to know their people, not just from a work viewpoint, but from a personal one as well.

Personally, I have seen SPC and PV2s openly defy and disrespect CPTs and 1LTs, while I have not seen the corresponding lack of respect from SrA and A1Cs to Capts or 1st Lts. I think a lot of this has to do with the mentality of how the two services treat their lower ranks. The Air Force generally tries to better the person, while the Army tries to better the worker.

All this being said, I have the utmost respect for my Army brethren. I love working alongside them.
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TSgt Battlefield Weather Forecaster
TSgt (Join to see)
5 y
SGT Spratley,

What I've noticed is that the Air Force places a heavy emphasis on advanced training and education, working towards a degree, volunteer activities, and working on skills that aren't solely geared to their primary military duties. I'm not saying that the Army doesn't do this, but I don't see nearly as much emphasis as the AF does.
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SGT Writer
SGT (Join to see)
5 y
In the Army, from my short experience those things are prioritized based on the mission of the organization. Those levels aren't constant throughout units.
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SSG Chris Castillo
SSG Chris Castillo
>1 y
I agree with that assessment, but most disrespect from lower enlisted to officers comes from the S shops, and not the Army as a whole. There is a different mentality in the administration world which I assume most of your experience with the Army comes from.
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SSgt Simone Hamilton
SSgt Simone Hamilton
4 y
Air Force is much more people oriented. The Army is not. It seems that the Army is much more concerned with soldiers passing boards and getting promotions rather than their true jobs. In the Air Force, (at least the one I was in) You had to know the basics of your job). I have seen so many inept soldiers in charge all because it was thought they SHOULD be in charge because of their rank. I speak from experience.
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COL Jason Smallfield, PMP, CFM, CM
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Comparing Army and Air Force daily life and operations between the two branches is like comparing apples and oranges in some cases but I'll give it a try:
- Mission. Very different missions and orientations. The Army is land based and generally tactically focused while the Air Force is air based and generally strategically focused.
- MOS. The Army has about 125 MOSs. I do not know the number of MOSs in the Air Force. Some MOSs are the same or similar such as engineers, firefighters, and logisticians that are common to both. Others have similar names but different functions such as MPs vs SPs. Others have no counterpart in the other service at all such as infantry, armor, or field artillery MOSs.
- Installations. The Air Force generally has more success with their facilities (barracks, housing, headquarters) than the Army does based upon a different philosophical and tactical approach.
- Deployments. Due to differences in missions, the service approach to deployments is different. Army deployments are 9-12 months because close team work and consistency on the ground are key while Air Force deployments are 3-6 months since air crews themselves should stick together but units are more interchangeable.
- Therefore daily life and operations within the two services depends a lot upon the MOS a person is in within the service. This drives a lot of the other considerations (mission, installation, deployments, etc).
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Maj Chris Nelson
Maj Chris Nelson
5 y
LTC Labrador, in some regards you are right. Crew Chief always own aircraft, but especially for fighters, they do not get to fly. The best example I can give is in the Army, the driver and assistant driver of Vehicle A are/were stenciled on the windshield and they are the "owners". On aircraft, they do the same thing, but the name is the pilot/copilot (if there is a co....). so they would be the "owners".
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TSgt Joshua Copeland
TSgt Joshua Copeland
5 y
Dedicated Crew Chiefs have their name on the plane. Normally on the nose gear flap.
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Col Joseph Lenertz
Col Joseph Lenertz
4 y
COL Jason Smallfield, PMP, CFM, CM agree with all up to "tactical approach", where RP has cut you off. Another aspect is the shape of the pyramid of force structure. AF invests more money in advanced training and needs to retain their folks longer in order to recoup the investment. Narrower pyramid than the Army. Easier daily life and better creature comforts are part of the retention effort.
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Marissa Valdez
Marissa Valdez
2 mo
this helped me a lot! thank you sir.
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Maj Chris Nelson
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I started as an Army Medic, now am an Air Force nurse..... ok, so Enlisted with the Army and Officer with Air Force, but still medical field. Also, keep in mind that this is stretching across time and space....I have been playing in the military since 1987, so much has changed.....

Army: very mission focused. Family was distant second. Quarters, entertainment, and other off duty quality of life aspects were often worn out, old....just less.
Air Force: Very mission focused, but also family was an important aspect. Quarters, and off duty aspects were often much nicer. More offered.

Day to day work: Army is much more of a field operations thought process. Air Force is less so as they have combat reach with aircraft. Just a different feel to things.

Nothing wrong with either one. I for one, miss some of the aspects (tradition, enforced standards, etc) of the Army, but really enjoy the perks of the Air Force in regards to family and facilities.
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SMSgt Tony Barnes
SMSgt Tony Barnes
5 y
I am a retired AF 1st Sgt who now work with wounded warriors on an Army post. The Army treats their junior enlisted very poorly compared to the Air Force.
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SSG Section Sergeant
SSG (Join to see)
5 y
For the most part, I do agree with you SMSgt Barnes. But, it all depends on your chain of command. I will admit, the AF does do a excellent job in taking care of their Airmen
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SGT Writer
SGT (Join to see)
5 y
SMSgt Tony Barnes, could you offer some examples of comparison between the two branches?
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TSgt Joshua Copeland
TSgt Joshua Copeland
5 y
AF treats even our most junior Airmen as full grown adults for the most part.
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