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Military Careers






At the end of this block of study, you should be able to:

6.16 Identify the primary mission of the military service.
6.17 Compare the military career fields with those found in the civilian job market.
6.18 Compare the military life-style with your projected career life-style.

The branches of the military service are the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. Military service offers advantages such as achieving physical fitness, meaningful employment, economic security, education and training, job experience, and a variety of broadening experiences including travel, adventure, and friendships. The military also demands sacrifice, hardship, frequent separations from family, constant relocations, the requirement to be on call 24 hours a day, the structure of military discipline, and the inherent dangers of military operations. All of these liabilities are the price service people pay in exchange for the opportunities the military provides.

Military aircraft sales include airplanes, helicopters, and separately purchased engines instruments, electronics, parts, accessories and other aerospace products and aeronautical services for operation, maintenance, and repairs. Production of a number of weapons systems that performed so well in the Persian Gulf War is being phased out before the next generation of replacements come on line. McDonnell Douglas F-15 and General Dynamics F-16 production lines, for example, are scheduled to be shut down by 1993, while the Air Force's advanced tactical fighter will not enter production until 1997. Defense firms are looking at export orders to keep existing lines open and bridge the production gap. The United States has already prepared billions of dollars worth of arms sale packages for a number of Mideast nations.

Each branch of the service has its advantages and its disadvantages. They play a vital role in defending our Nation from foreign aggression and have outstanding people and leaders. Usually, the choice of a service branch is based on an individual's persona! life-style. It is well known that the Air Force has the most civilians working for them, while the Marines have the most military-oriented employees.

Most military occupations are directly transferable to the civilian work world. Civilian employers do recognize the value of service occupations. They place a lot of stock in the job experience and skills of ex-service people.

The service branches have established an education office on nearly every installation These offices are staffed with trained counselors and staff who are there to assist the members of the installations. They coordinate programs with local universities, make their facilities available for testing and for conducting courses, and administer an effective education program.


The U.S. Army is the largest of our five military branches. There are over 775,000 soldiers in the Army. They are located around the world, though they are mostly found in Alaska, Hawaii, Panama, Germany Korea, and in the continental United States. The Army is at the very core of our Nation’s defense structure. The foot soldier and the tank crew were led by efficacious leaders like MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Patton. These leaders have contributed to the overall Image of the US. Army.

The Army's primary mission is to defend and attack on land when war breaks out. Army troops are stationed on the borders of conflict. The Army's most elite units are those of the Rangers. These troops are trained to go anywhere, to parachute, to descend from helicopters, and to fight against amazing odds in ail kinds of terrain and weather. They specialize in reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines.

The Army is composed of personnel who perform duties in a wide range of occupations. Only about one-fourth is assigned direct combat jobs. The others work in fields such as electronics, computers, supply, administration, engineering, medical services, and military police. Like the other branches, the Army operates a huge training system to teach its personnel needed skills.

The Army stresses physical fitness and many units engage in fitness programs as a group. Thing are a little more relaxed support units, but soldiers are always expected to stay in shape. Time off from duties is usually given for a person to participate in organized sports.


The U.S. Air Force was created in 1947. Prior to that time, the Air Force was a part of the Army. The Air Force has the responsibility of providing aerospace forces to prevent war and to establish air and space superiority in the event of war. It provides strategic aircraft and missile forces and defends against air and missile attack. In addition, this branch is the airlift supplier for the Nation’s military service and has tactical land-based air forces to provide air support of ground troops in combat.

The Air Force provides the major space research and development of the Department of Defense. It is involved in the development of lasers, the space shuttle, missiles, and satellite systems.

The Air Force is made up mainly of people in technical skills. Studies have shown that approximately 85 percent of the occupational skills in the Air Force are transferable to the civilian job market . The Air Force is the most technologically oriented of the branches, but there are plenty of jobs for people in nontechnical fields. The civil engineering branches in the Air Force offer occupations in plumbing, carpentry, electronics, and even street maintenance. There are thousands of supply and administration people plus many airmen in recreation, accounting, parachute rigging, education, and other career fields.

All Air Force personnel are expected to keep in good physical shape and must pass a yearly cycle ergometry test and weight check. The Air Force emphasizes the job and overall mission accomplishment. Though it appears to have a more relaxed military atmosphere than the Army, discipline is an expected benefit of mission accomplishment.

The Air Force provides for the education of their officers through the Air Force Academy, the professional military schools of the Air University, the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Program, and the Air Force Institute of Technology. The AFROTC is the primary source of commissioned nonrated officers and a major source of rated officers (pilots and navigators) for the Air Force. The program is offered on the campuses of colleges and universities In 46 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Two commissioning programs are available through AFROTC for college students. Freshmen may enroll in the four-year program, and students with at least two years of undergraduate or graduate work remaining may apply for the two-year program. The two programs are open to both men and women.

Located near Colorado Springs, Colorado, on an 18,800-acre site, the Air Force Academy ranks among the Nation's finest colleges and universities. Appointees to the Academy receive a four-year college education in addition to military and physical training. The academic curriculum consists of studies in both the humanities and the sciences. Successful completion of the prescribed courses leads to a bachelor of science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force or one of the other service branches.

Most of the yearly student nominations to the Air Force Academy are made by U.S. senators and representatives.The USAF Academy Admissions Division makes all offers of appointment to the student nominees. Five Air Force Junior ROTC students from each high school may be nominated to compete for authorized vacancies in the Academy. To be eligible, the student must have successfully completed the AFJROTC program at his or her school and be awarded a certificate of completion and a high school diploma. The aerospace education instructor recommends the best qualified applicants to the high school principal, who, in turn, submits the nomination to the Academy.


The Coast Guard falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation in peacetime and comes under the direction of the Navy in wartime. In World War II, the Coast Guard actively fought and sunk German U-boats and suffered many war casualties.

The Coast Guard is responsible for safeguarding our Nation’s coasts. It maintains hundreds of navigational and rescue stations, collects oceanographic data for environmental research, enforces waterway pollution regulations, arrests smugglers, and assists in boat safety programs. The Coast Guard also has rescue stations manned around the clock ready to launch small boats within minutes of a distress call.

The Coast Guard is by far the smallest of the Nation's five military branches. Most of the occupations held by Coast Guard members also are found in the Navy. The two branches provide ocean- and water-based services. Coast Guard personnel perform duties as electricians, boatswains, boiler technicians, hull repairmen, carpenters, and mechanical engineers. They also perform in many other highly technical skilled areas.

Coast Guard personnel probably spend more time on the water than do Navy personnel. They are stationed at small sites and installations. The Coast Guard is not able to maintain the elaborate system of hospitals, commissaries, and exchange stores the other branches operate.


The Marine Corps was founded in 1775, and Its personnel is only about one-fourth that of the Army. The Marines are known for their high-spirited ways and traditional military rules of behavior. They are the United States' amphibious fighting force. They are a separate branch but are under the topside direction of the Navy.

Traveling with the naval fleet and ready for combat, Marine forces are capable of seizing or defending naval bases and land sites. They are trained to embark from naval vessels and attack land forces from the sea, arriving in specially designed landing craft.

The Marine Corps operates a variety of aircraft, tanks, and tracked vehicles; guards U.S. embassies and naval installations and ships; and protects the President when he is at his Camp David retreat.

Marines are assigned to a large number of noncombat career fields to include supply, administration, weather, utilities, electronics, transportation, and medical.

Marine life is much like that in the Army; except that there is even more emphasis placed on keeping physically fit, maintaining self-discipline, obeying orders, and actively supporting unit morale and pride.


The Navy has almost as many aircraft as the Air Force. The Navy is the only branch other than the Air Force to have a strategic, nuclear mission. The Navy also has the only nuclear propulsion system for its carriers and some submarines. The Navy is second only to the Air Force in the number of personnel assigned to technical career fields.

The Navy is responsible for controlling the seas. It must have sufficient forces to prevent or ward off enemy attack by sea and to win objectives at sea and abroad.

The Navy has people in a large number of career areas. People are needed in various occupations such as pilots, telephone operators, aircraft mechanics, food service, supply, computers, postal, medical, and firefighting.

Navy people are located in Europe, the Middle East, Hawaii, and Japan. Naval personnel can expect sea duty during their first assignment.



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Updated: March 12, 2004