Joining Air Force or Army
I'm contemplating joing the Air Force or Army.
what are some of the pros and cons of each branch.
I'm 23 and I just got a B.A in Accounting and Finance. I'm also a bilingual.For many reasons, I want to join the military. I'm thinking of either the Army or the Air Force. From what I hear from people, Air Force is more laid back, less strict, and much safer. what are some of the advantages of the Army and disadvatages of the Air Force and vice versa, such as pay, benefits, promotion, etc.
Asked By: shawn c - 8/10/2008
I've been in the Air Force (Enlisted) as Heavy Equipment operator for 5 1/2 years, but I've also worked closely with the Army alot during 2 deployments to Iraq and one to Uzbekistan.
The pros and cons:
Overall, the AF is more laid back, but that is also going to depend on what career you go into. I'm in a specialty unit called RED HORSE (Rapid Engineering Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineer) and my job isn't so laid back when we have a project going on, we usually work 10+ hours a day plus weekends depending how pressed for work we are. The Security Forces also work pretty long hours and aren't as laid back either. If you work an office job though, like finance, you might have more a break. It seems like everytime I go to the personnel office everyone is just hanging around at their desk in their nice air conditioned office BSing with eachother. Finance does tend to have a greater responsibility on their hands though. They handle all of the pay issues of everyone at that particular base they're at. From my experiences in working with the Army in Iraq, they pretty much work you for as long as they need to and it doesn't matter much out there what your job is, you could be a finance personnelist, if they need you to go out on a patrol mission for 10 hours, they send you anyway.
Shorter deployments in the Air Force, but depending on your job you might go more often. I usually go for 7 months at a time but I'm back in the sand box again about a year after I return home. If you do go into finance you probably won't go as often as I do. The Army on the other hand is usually there for atleast a year, usually for 15-18 months or more. I've known many people that have been deployed for as long as 25 months as well. At the same time, I know people who I was deployed with back in 2006 that haven't been back since while I just got back in April again. A lot of that is going to depend on your job. My job is in high demand in Iraq because of construction needs on and off the bases. You might go into a career that might not deploy as much if not at all.
Pay is the same and based on rank. The higher the rank and longer the time in service, the more you get paid. Officers get paid more than Enlisted. Also, from talking to some of the people in the Army, the AF does seem to get slightly better pay entitlements when getting deployed; such as per deim, getting paid for gas milelage (when driving to go TDY), etc.... I'm not sure about the Army, but in the AF you also get extra pay for specialty qualifications in specific jobs. If you go into the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape), Air Combat Controllers, or Pararescue you get Jump Pay, which is extra pay ($150 a month) for being parachute qualified. You also get Demo Pay (another $150 a month) if you get qualified to handle explosives outside of your specific careerfield.
Benifits are the same across the branches; full medical, dental, vision, etc... for you and your dependants for a very low cost. Life insurance is also pretty cheap and the same across the board.
Rank is a lot slower to make in the AF than it is in the Army. For example, depending on the length of your initial enlistment, you will not be able to be promoted to E-4 untill your 36 month mark if you sign up for four years, or at 28 months if you sign up for six instead. In the Army, I've met people who had their E-4 with in their first year, and their E-5 shortly after. Not really sure on the difference in officer ranks, but those are even slower yet in the AF.
Quality of Life tends to be much better in the AF than the Army and that's the sad truth, especially now that many of the AF bases are remodeling their base housing and dormitories. The houses for the lower ranking airmen tend to be much better than the houses I've seen at Army Posts for their Senior Non-Commisioned Officers, I kid you not. If you're a single airmen in the dorms, you pretty much get your own room and share a bathroom and a kitchen. I've noticed the Army isnt as luxurious. The food at the AF dining facilities also tend to be better. I haven't had a decent meal at an Army Post yet compared to the ones I've had on AF bases.
If you're into guns and shooting stuff and playing with toys like that, the AF is not the branch to do that in, unless you go Combat Controller or one of those careerfields that specifically focuses on combat. If you're Security Forces maybe, but not as much as the Army. If you like playing with firearms, the Army is the definite choice on that one. I got to play with all kinds of toys while deployed with the Army. And overall, the Army is more combat orientated than the AF. In the Army you're a soldier first, then specific to your job. The AF, you're usually specific in you job, then you're a soldier, or combat airman as they say now.
Physical requirements: AF standards for your age group are 62 push ups in a minute, 55 sit ups in a minute, and running a mile and a half in 9:36. That's just to max out and get the most amount of points during your evals. I'm not sure about the minimum requirements as I usually don't concern myself with the minimum requirements, and honestly, if you're going to join you shouldn't either and instead always strive to do the best you can. Not completely sure on the Army requirements, but from what I have heard they run 2 miles instead and get 2 minutes to do their sit ups and push ups.
Overall, a lot of people say the AF is better while others make fun of us instead and say the Army is better. Personally, I do think the AF is better in more ways, but the Army does have some of it's pros as well. I posted what I know about the two branches and hope that the info I provided is of some use. but ultimately it's all going to come down to what you want, what you feel is better, and which branch you feel will give you the better sense of satisfaction. I will say this though, since you have a BA, you should look into getting a commision and becoming an officer instead of enlisting. As an Officer you do get paid more and your resposibilities and roles as a leader will be much greater than those of a lower enlisted person and I'm sure you put up with less crap than we do in the lower ranks.
Answered By: GundamBoy Mk-II - 8/10/2008