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Nerds in the Air Force? 102

Renraku asks: "I know that I am considering joining the U.S. Air Force and going with their networking course. I saw in a story the other day how several people answered with comments about their own life in the Air Force, in the line of work I would be doing. Does anyone have any stories, or tips for surviving basic / tech school / Air Force life in general?"
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Nerds in the Air Force?

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  • Don't. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by presearch ( 214913 )
    One less soldier is one step closer to peace.
    • Heh (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't think that post should be considered flamebait, however the moderator is probably some conservative yuppy who likes guns.

      That's all we need is more people to join to corporate killing machine known as "The United States of America"

      *This* post is flamebait. Thanks.
      • Right, except for the part about guns. The're call paintball markers, not guns. I got a customized Smart Parts Impulse. Can't fire an M-16 at your friends.
    • Re:Don't. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by presearch ( 214913 )
      Hey, it wasn't flamebait.

      The training you'll get will be so dumbed down and slow paced
      that it'll take you 8 times as long to learn the same thing in the real world.

      The military wants you to think that you'll gain an exciting life, a rewarding
      career, valuable work experience, travel the world, be a patriot and geek out on the
      highest of tech. But in reality, you'll be stripped of your individualism,
      be used as muscle to expand corporate interests abroad, have a hand in killing
      other human beings and quite possibly be killed yourself.
      • Re:Don't. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dt23507 ( 567140 )
        I don't know about this Air Force program, but the training I received through the Navy's Nuclear Power program was far from dumbed down and slow paced. Completing my BS in Computer Engineering was a hell of a lot easier than Nuke School!!

        But I fully agree with your other points about being stripped of your individualism, etc.

        My advice is this: Don't go into the military unless you have absolutely no where else to go.
        • I bow before you.

          I was a Journalist in the Navy for nine years, and during that time I met more people in the Navy who failed Nuke school then those who completed it. I went through "A" school with four failed nukes (two of them also failed Journalism school, which is decidedly more difficult then you might think).

          Anyone who can pass Nuke school can do anything.
      • Re:Don't. (Score:5, Informative)

        by "Zow" ( 6449 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @06:54PM (#4323276) Homepage
        Hey, it wasn't flamebait.

        Sure it was. That's not necessarily a bad thing though. It was an honest opinion, not like a troll or anything, and some people found it inflamatory. Come to think of it, I think /. allows you to turn off the -1 for flamebait -- I should probably do that.

        The training you'll get will be so dumbed down and slow paced that it'll take you 8 times as long to learn the same thing in the real world.

        In the "real world" people don't normally get shot at while at work. Yes, military training is intended to turn solders into drones, but that's based on the principle that in high-stress situations (such as combat), solders should carry out orders without question, because the time they would take to think about those orders may well get them or other members of their group killed. This principle is based on a couple hundred years of battlefield experience, so I'd put some stock in it, but that's just my opinion.

        The military wants you to think that you'll gain an exciting life, a rewarding career, valuable work experience, travel the world, be a patriot and geek out on the highest of tech. But in reality, you'll be stripped of your individualism, be used as muscle to expand corporate interests abroad, have a hand in killing other human beings and quite possibly be killed yourself.

        The two points are not mutually exclusive. I won't argue with the negative points you make, but that doesn't negate the existance of positive points to the job.

        As for your negative comments, I'll echo a comment I heard someone else say, "Shouldn't we be asking ourselves why so many groups around the world hate the United States and want to bring harm to us?" Let's face it, if no one disliked us, a military job would probably be about as safe as they come (that goes back to the "8 times as long to learn the same thing" point - most of that is red tape for safety reasons, among others).

        Personally, I think for someone interested in military service that ROTC is the way to go, as you'll get a standard university education out of it and go on to serve as an officer, where you'd be able to demonstrate more initative, have a greater potential to shape military policy, and have a greater chance to get introduced to beltway politics, should you want to go that way after serving your time (which would allow you to address most of the negative points presearch makes).


        • Personally, I think for someone interested in military service that ROTC is the way to go, as you'll get a standard university education out of it and go on to serve as an officer, where you'd be able to demonstrate more initative, have a greater potential to shape military policy, and have a greater chance to get introduced to beltway politics, should you want to go that way after serving your time (which would allow you to address most of the negative points presearch makes).

          Besides, the Air Force is the only branch of the service that sends its officers off to do the fighting and leaves the enlisted men in the rear with the gear.

          • Besides, the Air Force is the only branch of the service that sends its officers off to do the fighting and leaves the enlisted men in the rear with the gear.

            LOL -- Good point. Reminds me of my father-in-law who was an ordinance officer in the Air Force in 'nam. He was only over there a couple weeks before a couple of the enlisted guys he was supervising dropped a bomb on his knee and sent him home with a medical discharge. So it seems that it's not just the ones that the AF sends to the front, but it's always their officers that get hurt. :-)


      • Re:Don't. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bwt ( 68845 )
        The training you'll get will be so dumbed down and slow paced that it'll take you 8 times as long to learn the same thing in the real world.

        The military persues tech training the same way that corporations do: they hire the same consulting firms to teach the exact same classes. For example, the USAF just hired Oracle to teach us one of the stock off-the-shelf courses on Oracle's Designer product. They have also purchased the entire collection of Oracle CBT's.

        You obviously are trying to spread disinformation. Why would you be doing that?

        The military wants you to think that you'll gain an exciting life, a rewarding career, valuable work experience, travel the world, be a patriot and geek out on the highest of tech. But in reality, you'll be stripped of your individualism, be used as muscle to expand corporate interests abroad, have a hand in killing other human beings and quite possibly be killed yourself.

        War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

        -- John Stuart Mill

        • War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
          -- John Stuart Mill

          Having nothing for which you are willing to fight for is different than not wanting to fight because nothing is currently worth it.

          If something threatened, my freedom to complain about how the government is run, and how they like to take our military all over the world to do things I don't like, etc, then I'd be willing to fight.

      • I only lasted 18 months before getting out with an honorable discharge because I told them I was so miserable I was going to kill myself..

        However, I must say that even though everything you say is true and correct, the military was an excellent experience for me as a young man and one that I highly recommend all young people seriously consider.

        It is a much needed transition from childhood to adulthood in this country that I do not think college adequately addresses.

        I came out much more prepared to take on college and adulthood seriously and effectively than I would have had I not had the experience.

        I was in the Navy, by the way..
    • If that soldier is Saddam Hussein, then yes.
    • Re:Don't. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wdr1 ( 31310 )
      This is true only if you disregard all of human history.

      "Let him who desires peace prepare for war" --Vegetius

      "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." -- General George Washington

    • Re:Don't. (Score:2, Informative)

      by neocon ( 580579 )
      If you are speaking about American soldiers, this is simply false.

      It was the addition of more American soldiers, not less, that resulted in

      • The defeat of German Fascism
      • The defeat of Japanese Militarism
      • Freedom and democracy in Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, and scores of other places
      • The defeat of Soviet Communism

      Show me anything like these which has been acheived through disarmament...

      • Solution to war? More war!
        • Often, yes.

          The solution to Hitler's war on Europe and the world was more war, to defeat and disarm him. The result was a stable and peaceful democracy.

          Appeasement and disarmament were patently unsuccessful at acheiving the same ends. Above, I provided plenty of other examples where this was the case.

          • Re:Don't. (Score:1, Troll)

            by Lord Sauron ( 551055 )
            Can you tell me the difference between George Bush and Hitler? This is not a taunt, but an honest question.
            • Can you tell me the difference between George Bush and Hitler? This is not a taunt, but an honest question.

              I'll bite. As much as I dislike GWB's policies regarding foreign interests, this was just too stupid to pass up.

              Here's the only pertinent difference. GWB isn't killing off millions of innocent civilians based on their ethnicity.

              I know what parallels you're going to draw, but all the things that allowed Hitler to come to power are prevented by our own political infrastructure. Not only that, but the evil things America might be doing to all those Mid-East countries is not for the purpose of making the general public hate Muslims, but for the purposes of killing off all the opposers of our own percieved god-given right to oil.

              • GWB is killing innocent civilians based on their nationality. And it thirsty for more blood. He wants to fight Iraq, because he doesn't like them, and is just looking for an excuse to initiate the attack. Of course at least thousands will die. Blair and GWB say Iraq has mass destruction weapons. So what ? The US also has. Is US the only country that is allowed to have it ? I guess US will stand against any country that develops weapons and does not say amen to everything the US says. Of course, same rule, different measures. Iraq will be attacked because it's not doing what UN said. But Israel doesn't do it either, and will not be attacked because it's friend to US. I think the whole thing stinks. War stinks.
                • GWB...He wants to fight Iraq, because he doesn't like them, and is just looking for an excuse to initiate the attack.

                  While I am not convinced of the morality of our attacking Iraq at this moment in time, I think it is foolish to say that Bush "just does't like" the nation. Sure there is a family history here, but you must admit:

                  1. Iraq signed a cease fire agreement, where it agreed to disarm.
                  2. Iraq has violated the cease fire by kicking out inspectors, and has violated U.N. resolution again and again by refusing to let them back in.
                  3. Sadaam is a threat to the stability of the region. (At the least, he is paying off families of suicide bombers which has been shown on Arab TV.)
                  4. Sadaam has done some very nasty stuff, including using chemical weopans on his own people (the Kurds).
                  You may not feel that these reasons are enough to initiate a war half-way across the world, but you must admit they are not "just an excuse."

                  Blair and GWB say Iraq has mass destruction weapons. So what ? The US also has. Is US the only country that is allowed to have it ?

                  Nope, so do Britain, France, Israel, Germany, Russia, Pakistan, India, etc. and we are not attacking them. Then again, we (we = U.S.A. in this case) don't keep handguns out of the hands of the average citizen. But we do keep them out of the hands of felons, because they are more likely to use them to harm others. The same principle applies here. If Sadaam gets The Bomb, he is very likely to use it against Israel or Iran.

                  Iraq will be attacked because it's not doing what UN said. But Israel doesn't do it either, and will not be attacked because it's friend to US.

                  This is your best argument on the subject, in my opinion. Apples to apples, as it were. At the same time, do you really feel that Israel is likely to use their Nukes on their neighbors without being attacked first? I don't. Would Iraq use their nukes on their neighbors? I believe they would, either to hurt Israel or their long-time foe, Iran.

                  I think the whole thing stinks. War stinks.

                  I give you that war stinks. But being conquered by a madman or nuked stinks a lot worse than war, in general.

                • What kind of crack have you been smoking and where did you get it? Tell your dealer he's been selling you shit that makes you fucking stupid.

                  While it's clear that US foreign policy is most often driven by economic factors (the price of oil, the cost of clothing and electronics, etc.), the case against Iraq is unfortunately pretty clear cut. Yes, the US made Saddam the successful monster he is today. But that doesn't mean that the correct path to take today is to meekly withdraw from the world stage because of that mistake, no matter how egregious it was.

                  Saddam has been proven to be developing weapons of mass distruction. Those include, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. When the UNSCOM inspectors left Iraq, it was clear that they had found and destroyed a lot of equipment used to further those ends and they seized a lot of documentation proving that the equipment they destroyed was being used for those ends. However, UNSCOM inspectors knew they weren't seeing everything and it's been several years since UNSCOM withdrew.

                  Saddam Hussein is a man who will clearly stop at nothing to achieve the level of power he desires. Yes, it's largely the US's fault he is where he is today. That means it's the US's responsibility to do everything possible to strip him of his power or to force him out.

                  Would the US prefer to use peaceable means to force Saddam out? Absolutely? Does the US relish the thought of killing more Iraqis? Absolutely not.

                  By the way, Hitler killed Jews, homosexuals and intellectuals by the millions and he did it on purpose. While the US war against terror will most likely end up killing some civilians, the US is doing everything it can to minimize the number of innocent non-combatants who are killed in military actions. That's a huge difference. The US tries to avoid killing civilians. Hitler went out of his way to kill civilians. If you can't see the magnitude of difference there, then you must have suffered some brain damage from a bad hit of whatever shit it is you smoke.

            • Re:Don't. (Score:1, Flamebait)

              by neocon ( 580579 )

              Hmm, gee -- the duly elected representative of a democratic government performing his Constitutional duty to defend his country within the rule of law or a totalitarian dictator discarding the rule of law in order to pursue his fantasies of ethnic extermination and racial ascendency...

              Go Godwin yourself...

            • Can you tell me the difference between George Bush and Hitler? This is not a taunt, but an honest question.

              Hitler: Attacks to annex additional land to a German Empire (Austria, Poland, most of Europe).
              Bush: Counterattacks after America attacked in 9/11, leaves governance of land in the hands of the indigenous population (Afghanistan), Attacks to punish the breaking of a ceasefire agreement, will leave governance in the hands of the indigenous peoples (Iraq)

              Hitler: Attempted genocide against enemies and people groups (Jews, homosexuals, Russians, etc.)
              Bush: Ordered the dropping of food for enemies who were starving (Afghanistan)

              There is plenty more, but that seems like enough.

              Feel like I should post something like "1 Stealth Bomber: $2.4 billion. Freedom for Afghanistan: priceless."
            • Re:Don't. (Score:2, Insightful)

              by superyooser ( 100462 )
              Proof that public education has failed. Or that anti-American propaganda has succeeded.

              Obviously, a remedial class in Holocaust history is in order. Look carefully at these absolutely horrifying, chilling pictures [] of mass executions and torture. You are comparing Bush to this [], this [], and this []? All innocent victims, mind you. In the photos from the first link, you see pictures of human medical experiments involving freezing, surgeries, and head-shrinking. Bush is against stem cell research, for crying out loud!

              Please read up on Adolph Hitler so you don't embarrass yourself in public again. Hitler's Nazi party is responsible for the deaths of 11 million innocent people. There's simply no legitimate comparison to Bush in any respect whatsoever. Everything about the two men is different: politics, principles, priorities, religion, worldview, philosophies, leadership style, attitude, demeanor, relationships, sociability, values, likes, dislikes, etc, etc, etc.

              The closest modern-day comparison to Hitler is probably Saddam Hussein. Arafat would take the title, except that he doesn't have much power anymore.

  • by Syncdata ( 596941 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @06:18PM (#4323041) Journal
    It's clear that the Navy/Air Force et all are actively recruiting those of a geekish persuasion. The America's Army game appears to be but the tip of the iceberg.
    Yesterday, I saw a commercial for the Navy, I believe, featuring a kid growing up through the years playing with increasingly sophisticated model/remote control planes, the final shot being the (now) man controlling an UAV in front of a monitor with a keyboard/joystick combo. The tag Line? "We've been waiting for you."
    • Sounds like the first episode of Star Trek Enterprise.
    • Didn't see that one, but I saw the one with the girl on the roof aligning the satillite dish and the TV in the house all of a sudden getting a picture, her smiling, and then someone older controling a sattilite array or something, then the navy bit.

      As for the American Army game (which i find myself playing Rabidly), I think your right about the tip of the iceburg part, only I think it's going abit more sinister. If you want to sign up for the Beta team they quitely ask you at the bottem for your Social Security number or Drivers Licence ID...... Call me Paranoid, but it sounds to me like the creation of a Priority draft list or something. Supposedly though the main intention of the game originally was just to get people asking questions about the Army and how it operates, Which it definatly has been doing.

      and to quote a very strange Texan...
      "Yea, I'll Join up, as soon as they promise me I can fight in the war in the safety of an air conditioned room with robots" - Marlin
  • Al-uh-bama! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by borgboy ( 218060 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @06:21PM (#4323060)
    Wecome to the deep south. Well, maybe not. If you go into the Communications Computer Systems Operator career field, you could end up anywhere - Guam, Turkey, even California. Operators go everywhere. Programmers - the enlisted programmer career track at least - usually end up in Nebraska, Boston, or Montgomery, Alabama.

    It aint bad. I had a worthwhile time in the Air Force, and a wonderful pay raise when I got out. The experience was valuable. Just be sure that if you enlist, your enlistment contract guarantees that you'll get the career field you want.

    Recruiters lie. Lots.

    --Former Senior Airman J Pitts, Standard Systems Group, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Proud TIB 95/97 Prior.
    • nitpick: Recruiters never tell the truth. Ever. They twist and distort the truth with everything they say -- it's all lies. And there's no such thing as a guaranteed school in the Air Force -- that's why I picked the Navy.

      In all seriousness -- if you want a career in networking, go into the Navy as a CT. Just make sure you've never done anything you don't want them to find out about -- the background check is pretty rigorous.

      • by adolf ( 21054 )
        Listen up, kids: If anyone here is currently going through the recruitment paperwork dance, and your recruiter is not buying you food every time you see them, try to find a different recruiter, or go to a completely different post. Not only is he lying to you (it's -all- lies, after all), he's just being plain unfriendly. They get reimbursed for every expense they incur before you leave for training.

        And don't let him make you think, even as he makes a point of letting you see him hand his last twenty dollar bill to the waiter, that it was ever his money to begin with.

        Use them for all they're worth, because that's exactly what they're actively doing to you.

        A good recruiter will offer to drive you to work every day if your car breaks down, and will be Johnny-on-the-spot when you, blind-drunk at a party, call his cell phone at 3:00AM and tell him you need a ride home.

        A good recruiter is like a puppy that you can kick all day long, scold constantly, and never give any water, that never grows tired of being subservient. Until you leave for training, it's their job to keep you happy and out of jail.

        Don't think for a second that you're hurting their feelings by accepting, or even asking for, these favors. They've all been in the military long enough that they're quite used to being fucked.

      • Re:Al-uh-bama! (Score:3, Informative)

        by swillden ( 191260 )

        And there's no such thing as a guaranteed school in the Air Force

        There is in the Air Force Reserves, or the Air National Guard. When you enlist into one of those organizations, you are picking a particular slot in a particular unit. You just have to find a unit that has a need for what you want to do.

        I've known a couple of people who went that route, joining up as a part-timer with every intention of going active duty once they completed their training. Of course, once you're trained up and qualified to perform a particular job, they're not going to send you to a different school on a whim. As a matter of fact, once you're in a given AFSC (job) cross-training to a different one often fairly hard to arrange even if you want to.

        Plus, one of the guys I knew who joined as a part-timer with the intention of going active duty later ended up realizing that he really, really didn't like it. That left him stuck with a commitment of one weekend a month and two weeks every summer for the next six years, which he thought was much better than being full-time for four years. Instead, he took advantage of the Reserve GI Bill, got a college degree and now intends to complete a career with the AF Reserve.

        • I got my job's just not guaranteed if you fail out of either basic or tech school...other than that, sure, you can get it guaranteed.


      • RE: No guaranteed school in the Air Force

        Who cares? Here's the difference between the Air Force and all the other branches.

        Army: Builds confidence course, firing range, artillery range, maintenance buildings, runs out of money before building barracks, asks for more, sets up tent camps.

        Navy (and Marines): Build docks, runways, shops, beautiful commisaries, beautiful officer housing, runs out of money, builds Quanset huts.

        Air Force: Builds barracks, chow hall, rec center, bowling lanes, runs out of money, sits on hands until congress gives them the money to build the runways, flightline and shops.

        The Air Force is like civilians in uniform.

        Lastly, my favorite joke. 99% of all women in the world are beautiful, the other 1% went into the Navy. :-)
  • you'd join the Marines, heh.

    "Gunny, what do I do with this here 'Ethernet' thing-a-ma-bob?"

    "That's easy, son - if you can't eat it or f*** it, piss on it."
  • ROTC (Score:3, Informative)

    by PSwim ( 111056 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @06:36PM (#4323153) Homepage
    I don't know if you've considering doing ROTC in college. I went to a good private college on an Air Force ROTC scholarship and it was definitely one of the best decisions I've made. You have to wake up at ungodly hours a few times a week and spend a month at field training one summer, but you also get a college degree and graduate as an officer.

    There are many of these scholarships available and most of them are for people interested in technical majors. If you're talking to a recruiter, ask them about it before deciding to enlist!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @07:01PM (#4323314)
    i was working on nukes, so i can't tell you exactly to expect from your particular tech school. but i can back up a previous post:

    get your career in writing. my recruiter was incredibly honest, but i've heard some real horror stories about how recruiters can dick people over.

    other than that, be able to run a few miles, do (i think) 30 pushups and situps, and clear your mind. basic training is a giant head game. remember that training instructors can't physically harm you, but they do have some extraordinary tricks up their sleeves when it comes to how to screw with your noodle.

    do not volunteer for anything in those crucial first 48 hours. and by volunteering, i mean don't answer any questions directed at your flight that seem to come from nowhere. don't raise your hand and say you like bowling. don't claim that you joined to get some exercise. don't nuthin.

    true, i'm a former airman. but i have no regrets about the 4 years i was in. i had a whole lot of fun and met people i would never have even looked twice at in the real world.

  • by greenhide ( 597777 ) <{moc.ylkeewellivc} {ta} {todhsalsnadroj}> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @07:03PM (#4323330)
    All other disadvantages of enlisting with the Air Force aside, keep in mind that the true purpose of the Air Force is to serve as a military force. This means that you will have to make yourself comfortable with the possibility that you will, either indirectly or directly, be responsible for the deaths of other people.

    There are many ways to learn networking. Going through the Air Force may be free (and will no doubt use the latest and greatest technology), but in my opinion it is much more costly.
    • You apparently have never been in the Air Force. On my first assignment in 1990 at NORAD they were just replacing a series of punch card machines. The graphics systems for generating real-time and excercise data on the big screens in the command center were running off of old Honeywell mainframes obtained second hand from the Army.
    • By that logic, any person in any country which has a military is indirectly responsible for the deaths of others.

      I personally think that it's a honorable profession, and a necesary one.

    • My strange and crazy lit teacher in highschool, said just one thing I remember in the 130 federally mandated hours we spent together, "You have to kill, or pay someone to kill for you."

      The Air Force (and all of our other military institutions) buys our freedom with their "sweat blood and tears." Yes I know that freedom isn't perfect (patriot act, DMCA, george bush, et all). And I sure as hell know these institutions are far from perfect. BUT if thy didn't do what they do, you wouldn't have the freedom to object.

    • Any time you whip out your wallet you are directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of other people through your purchasing habits, so that argument isn't so special.

      The U.S. Armed Forces have some really great training (if you choose right), excellent financial support for college tuition, and other benefits.

      Sure some misguided pacificsts may try to discourage you from joining. But a pacifist with a brain would know that embrace and extent works with wetware, too. What if 10 000 pacifist geeks were to sign up with a specific branch for 4 years active duty starting October and November? Most would end up at the same bases or in the same units with a high enough density to strongly change the nature of the institution. Remember that, in the U.S., racial integration happened first in the military.

      The Bush administration is adding to the benefits, at least for the time being. But if you plan to sign up remember ... if it ain't in writing, it didn't happen.

    • With the point you just made you can conclude that when you pay taxes, you are funding the killing of people. Joining the military is not going to make you any more or less guilty. However, when you get out of the military, you will be much, MUCH more enticing to employers.

      BTW, if you don't pay taxes, you should be shot.
  • >I know that I am considering joining the U.S. Air Force and going with their networking course.

    Are you sure? That's just what they want you to think you know.
  • by bwt ( 68845 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @08:28PM (#4323868) Homepage
    I work at the Air Force Recruiting Center in the database shop. It is a pretty nice place to work. I was never in the military (I'm a contractor), but about half of the people I work with are, and a good chunk of the contractors are ex-military.

    The Air Force offers a great opportunity in IT that few companies will offer, because they expect to fill entry level positions and they understand that they need to offer training. There are all varieties of systems at the Air Force, so there is no shortage of interesting technical problems to solve. One nice thing is that they do take computer security seriously, although that can also be a pain in the ass sometimes.

    How well you deal with basic military training (BMT) depends on you. There is a certain level of physical fitness and humility that you need to have. They simply will not put up with your crap, so don't try to pull anything. BMT doesn't last all that long in the big picutre, so I wouldn't worry too much about that -- the big question is what comes after that, where will you work, and what will you do.

    I was very surprised to learn what now seems obvious: the people in the military are just people. Some are very cool and a few are jerks. Contrary to Hollywood images, they don't shout orders at each other all day. I'm most impressed with the senior NCO's. There really are some outstanding people in the enlisted leadership positions. I work with a couple E-9's who I am very impressed with.
  • by itwerx ( 165526 ) <> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @09:06PM (#4324024) Homepage
    Don't take anything to basic besides a change or two of clothes that you don't care about. (The storage facilities at Lackland have been known to leak - mildew city!).
    Make sure nothing you wear or have on your body stands out. If you have long hair cut it, but don't get a crewcut or any other military cut. (If you have a military cut now let it grow out). If you have tattoos wear clothing which will conceal them. Remove any and all jewelry (studs, ear-rings, watches, chains etc. etc.). Shave.
    A trick for making your t-shirts neat - stack with the largest on the bottom, graduated to the smallest on top (you'll see what I mean). Then, iron the SIDES of the stack. Voila', perfect t-shirt stack. If you get the choice of a bunk, take the top one. It's easier to make and TI's won't hassle you as much at night (they like to be looming over you when you wake up). Reach under the frame between the wires to pull the sheets extra tight...
    You'll probably be shown all sorts of tricks for getting your boots shinier (using a lighter, alcohol, heel-and-sole dressing etc.) None of them help and some will actually damage your boots (esp. the alcohol). The trick is to put only a little bit of polish on them, then let them sit for awhile and dry before you wipe and buff. And Nev'r'dull does wonders for belt-buckles (steal a teeny-tiny bit while you're on a cleaning detail).
    If you can paint and keep your clothes clean doing it, then volunteer for the painting detail, everybody else'll be doing calisthenics in the sun. ;)
    Also, DO volunteer for KP (Kitchen Patrol), especially if your TI is a hard-ass. The first couple of weeks you don't get much time to eat. The kitchen crew will let you have extra food.
    Make sure your M-16 is set to single-shot when you go to the firing range. The instructor there may be a dick and switch it to full-auto as he's handing it to you. You do NOT get another clip.
    You'll get MRE's to eat that day. Chicken and turkey are good, some of the others are downright evil. ;)
    Wanna mess with the newbies minds when you get dorm-guard duty for another dorm? The caps on the bed posts are sometimes loose. Pull two of them off and click them together, sounds just like a TI's taps. (No, I didn't do that, it's cruel, and hell to pay if you're caught.)
    When you get out of Basic, force yourself not to eat as
    much. You'll be in the same eating mode, but your exercise level will have dropped to about one twentieth. I put on 25 pounds in about two weeks when I got out, then looked in a mirror and said "Damn!". Took me
    over a month at the gym to get rid of it.
    Also, buy the Samsonite briefcase at the BX. They're the toughest, and that may come in handy (you'll
    find out why... ;) Tossing a spare flashlight in it doesn't hurt either (again, there's a reason).
    Other than that military life is nothing like civilian life but some people love it. I thought it sucked, and not in a good way! But I survived and got a good job offer when I got out to go with my GI bill. For a young person with few skills/education and/or lack of discipline (I was all of the above) it's probably the best choice you could make.
    • the M16A2 has no full auto mode, it is single-shot or burst.
      • Who'da guessed the instructor would be reading Slashdot?! He'll probably super-glue the damn thing now...
        (Maybe he can be bribed with a chicken MRE? :)

        Though I must admit, it takes talent to craft a troll, er post, which is as anal as Jon787's one while remaining informative and on-topic!

        Better add some content here quick...

        True story: when I was in USAF BMT at the firing range the moron next to me shot at my target when we were sighting in. (Sighting on one clip?!? Wtf? Dumb asses). Anyway, instructor pulls targets sees what moron did, looks at the groups decides on the average between them and adjusts both sights accordingly! So I had a nice tight 1" group about 2 and a half inches to the left of the bulls eye. Thank god special ops gets real training 'cause the troops behind the lines damn sure don't!
      • And it jams so much with that stupid .22 adapter that you're unlikely to get even a full three-round burst out of it.

        Do they have A2s at Lackland now?

    • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:06AM (#4325344)
      Wow. Great advice. I'd add a few bits...

      Do bring a large set of nail-clippers with you (not scissors, not a pocketknife - these will be considered dangerous and locked away). When you make it to your new bunk, you'll be faced with a lock still sealed in its stiff plastic packaging. You'll be tasked to open that puppy up quick while the TI paces around looking for someone having trouble with the task. Take your nail-clippers and clip a cut in to the side of the packaging. It'll make ripping open the package quick and easy.

      Later on, those nail-clippers will come in handy while you're out and about and you notice a loose string you missed on your new BDUs. Strings seem to GROW on the things. And you don't want anybody to find one dangling off'a you. Take those nail-clippers everywhere with you except when you're out for PC.

      KP is great. You loose some sleep to do it, but the work is stress-free. Plus you get to have meals unrushed or supervised by your TI. That usually means access to luxury foods like a cheeseburger, icecream, and soda. While it doesn't sounds like a big deal right now, consider that life is very different once you're there. You will come to consider a "patio break" (4 mins to spend your own money on a vending machine and wolf down some junkfood or possibly manage a call from a payphone) a great luxury.

      If you do get KP, apply a thick layer of unbuffed shoe polish over your boots. It'll help protect the shine you've labored to create from MOST of the abuse your boots will get doing KP grunt work. A simple buffing will return your boots to most of their previous glory. A mirror-like shine can be accomplished with regular Kiwi, cottonballs, and a tiny bit of water (creme polish can add a nice touch but you want a good base first). Alchohol strips the polish - don't do that unless you've got a good reason to.

      If you are required to fill out security background check paperwork, do not rush it. This paperwork tends to go in to considerable detail and you aren't expected to have all the required information available right away. Furthermore, only a few of your flight will need to do this and it'll come at a time in your training where you're trusted enough to go out on your own without TI supervision. This provides a couple of luxuries. You'll have plenty of quiet time to fill out paperwork and write letters to home. You will have unrestricted time at a payphone to call family, friends, etc. And when it is lunch time, you'll be taken to the nearest caffeteria - which if you're lucky, means another meal without your own TI to speed you along or restrict your diet (more cheeseburgers and soda). Security paperwork turned in to 3 days of relaxation for me without a comment from my TI.

      At the foot of your bed will be a laundry bag. "Laundry" will consist of a set of dirty clothes and a set of clean clothes you will wear the following day. You will always refer to the contents as "laundry" and if pressed, claim that it is all dirty clothes. In reality, you will have several sets of clothes in your drawer that you have taken paintakingly carefull time to fold in to absolutely perfect squares (yes, underwear too). You will not wear these clothes (and will launder them once when you first get them), although you will keep them dusted so they don't actually appear to not ever be worn. When you leave Basic... you'll feel kinda funny about unfolding and wearing them the first time.

      I completely agree on the briefcase - especially if your techschool is of any real length. My briefcase is actually in my closet somewhere. I've had it for 10+ years. The spare flashlight can be a lifesaver... though I never had one, myself.

      Military life is indeed very different. You won't understand just how different until you experience it first-hand. You'll end up with an entire language and cultural identity that'll have your friends scratching their head in confusion when you go home on leave. Its not for everyone. But it was one of the best things I did (and a considerably tough decission to leave).
      • How could I have forgotten the clippers?!? :)
        Interesting to hear about the security paperwork. They didn't make me do that until I was in tech school.
        I remember when I went home for a few days right after basic. I got pulled over for speeding at about 2am and the cop had me out of the car to see if I was drunk and I was in total "yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir" mode. (Amazing how brain-washed you can get in so short a time!)
        He looked at my haircut, started laughing and let me go. Woo-hoo! :)
    • A few other things to add...

      First, bring disposable razors. Not the one's with disposable blades, but the ones where to throw the whole thing out. They will make inspection time much easier. Trust me on this one.

      Second, no matter who tells you what, you don't want to be noticed. This can be accomplished in part by taking a wall locker (we got to choose ours) towards the end of the bay. You get a chance to "hide" a little back there, and while they might try to get you on an inspection, you can avoid trouble by making sure you stuff is squared away. I was in the back of the bay and managed to be fairly invisible through basic.

      Third, I don't care if you are religious...go to church on Sundays. I'm not religious, but I went, and you should go to. It gives you a chance to unwind from the week, get away from the TI's, and you can mail letters to home on the way ;-).

      Fifth, the only words you know from the time you arrive untill the time you leave basic are "Sir/Ma'am Trainee __________ reports as ordered!" And don't you dare say "Sir/Ma'am" at the end.

      Sixth, the big threat is "being recycled", i.e. getting bumped from your current flight to a flight further behind you in training. In other words, being made to repeat a part of basic. The TI's will threaten you or someone else in the flight with this on a daily, if not hourly basis. Don't worry about it. You pretty much have to be a screwup to be recycled. They won't do it for petty stuff, but if you screw up big, you're done...

      Remember, it's a mental game...and they are very, very good at it. They aren't trying to break you. They are trying to make you work as a team, and to pay attention to detail. The sooner you and your flight figure this out, the better off you will be. Remember that a good portion of people there are straight out of highschool. There are a lot of young, selfish, and cocky people there. The idea of basic is to break them of those habits and instill in them some teamwork and attention to detail. In short, to make them wake up to the real world.

      Of course, I had a little different perspective on it, as I was 23 when I went through basic, and having lived on my own, found the games a little silly, but you still have to play by their rules...


  • Make sure you are physically ready for basic training. Run, pushups, situps, pullups at least a few times a week. The primary aim of this is to prepare your body for the stress of basic. I saw too many people turn up that obviously hadn't done any running prior in the lead up to basic and many of them developed injuries and/or had a much tougher time than they would have anyway. Other than that just take basic as it comes, go with the flow, try not to stick out and and draw attention to yourself and it should be a valuable and worthwhile experience.
    • Regarding physical preparation, I had the opposite experience. I ran at least five miles a day for a year or two before going to basic (not as preparation for basic, just 'cause I liked to run). When you run that much, you *need* to run, it's like an addiction (may in fact be an addiction to endorphins) and it messes with you when you can't.

      The first two weeks of USAF basic involve no running and relatively little physical exercise of any sort. I think the lack of exercise caused me at least as much stress as what the TIs were doing.

      So, be in reasonably good shape, but don't be in a position where you'll be bothered by going a couple of weeks without exercise.

  • It depends (Score:4, Informative)

    by xagon7 ( 530399 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @09:22PM (#4324087)
    I am a Airforce brat. I am now 26, the first 22 of those years was spent with my father, a retired enlisted man who retired here in the great state of Alabama (I love it here). He was in space command in Colorado and the Senior NCO Academy in Montgomery. He helped put up the GPS system, and wrote the training system in the late 70s for the enlisted space ops. We were stationed in Alabama and Falcon AFB in Colorado for most of my life. I lived on base in Colorado, South Dakota, Maine. Born in Rimini Italy.

    I got a %100 on the ASVAB. The navy called constantly.

    My dad retired as a Master Sgt. with a skill level 9 and gave me these words of wisdom....

    Don't go in unless you go in as an officer.

    Needless to say, I didn't join. I do NOT have a college education, only SOME vocational school in programming, and I now make about 3 times what a starting commissioned officer makes...even in this market.

    It is worth it if you truly want to serve your country. When Sept 11th happened, I was ready to be drafted if necessary. I have still been thinking about joining the reserves.

    It is worth enlisting if you want to just get training and only want one tour. I have worked with some guys straight outta the Air Force, and they do excellent work. (a lot of ADA, some Java, and I have even met a fellow Delphi developer).

    It is worth it if you plan on putting in the 20 years. My father, now 40, is fully retired, and draws half his pay for the rest of his life, along with medical benefits. -- not bad once you add it all up -- and I don't care what they say Military medical care is vastly SUPERIOR to civilian care, based on personal experience.

    For those that are passifists, I respect your right. I also respect the laws of nature.

    I hope my ramblings help somewhat. Basically. All I am saying is that if you decide to go in, do it with a goal, keep any and all stereo types out of your head, keep an open mind, and learn.

    ~Sweet home Alabama...where the skies are so blue...~
    • I just wanted to add that the redstone testing centers are in Alabama. Huntsville space center is here, and more astronauts have graduated from Auburn University than any other university.

      War Eagle!
    • I've only ever met three people with better ASVAB scores than my own. I am totally impressed! :)

      But to stay on-topic...

      Somebody suggested the Navy. In a word - don't!
      Nev'r'Dull also gets stubborn scuffs off the floor (along with the wax, unfortunately).
      Don't lock your knees while standing (if you're careful you can actually flex them quite a bit without your pants moving; so nobody knows).
      It's "reports", not "reporting".
      And yes, get your AFSC (probably a 49xxx if they haven't changed them around too much) in writing from your recruiter. They're dying for techies so it shouldn't be a problem but ya never know...
      And back to the parent post, being an officer is definitely better if you don't mind getting the degree first. (I wasn't cut out for school and needed the discipline so I didn't, ymmv). And I too am making several times as much as the officers now that I've been a civilian for the last decade... :)
  • by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @10:50PM (#4324657) Journal

    I know that I am considering joining the U.S. Air Force

    Son, you're fuckin' high.

  • At some point they will hand you some sort of rule book. Read it! At one time shorts were in the rule book as qualifing as full dress if you were in Hawaii, but nobody wore them until one person showed up at inspection and caught the inspector who didn't know that. (I don't know if this is a true story) I'm not sure if you want to be the one to inform the inspectors they don't know the rules, but you should know them anyway.

    Everyone says don't volunteer for anything. This is not true, but make sure you know what you are volunteering for. My uncle volunteered for choir and discovered afterwords that choir practice was always when inspections were held. So long as things looked neat he wasn't held to the standards the rest of his dorm was held to. (He had a good voice though). The person on KP isn't doing exercise in the yard. Personally I'd rather weed the base garden than do a 5 mile run, even if the weeding job is inspected afterwards. When the sargent announces a 26 mile run, but there will be a truck for anyone who colapses on the way - well someone has to drive the truck.

    Warning though, do not spend so much time avoiding the exercises that you can't do them. Get in shape before you go, and stay in shape. At some point you won't be able to get out of the drill, so make sure you are not below the rest of your class.

    Finially, it is your life. Free advice is worth what you pay for it, I haven't been to boot camp, I'm only repeating stories from those who have. Still there are some useful nuggets in here, so don't waste them

  • ahhh. the 3c0x1's (Score:2, Informative)

    by Crypt0pimP ( 172050 )
    unless they've recently changed the AFSC's you'll be a 3c031 when you leave tech school.

    I spent four years babysitting 3c0's in base communication centers from New Mexico to Turkey then Arizona..

    best advice..
    1> Don't try to get stationed near your home for your first assignment. It almost never happens, so don't waste a slot on your dream sheet.

    2> Volunteer for overseas. You'll be amazed how much fun you can have in a foreign land even when you don't speak the language. I highly reccomend Turkey. Very friendly locals, great food, excellent liquor, and 18 yr old drinking age. You also come away with great stories

    3> Don't be a dorm rat! Get out and see whats out there, even if you are in North Dakota.

    4> DO NOT (as in NEVER) think you're in love in tech school.. It can be a very high stress environment and I saw a few good people go down in flames for people they thought they loved only to be trampled on like some bad high school romance. Remeber, you may feel more responsible, it doesn't mean the people around you are.

    5> when they're handing out your assignments at the end of tech school, and you have the option to trade, get on the DSN line at the school house and call your possible shop. Ask what they do. If the answer is "Comm Center Operator" or they mention running the MDT, try to swap with a less bright classmate. I saw brilliant potential admins turn into mush brained zombies after 8 hours in front of that damned MDT console.

    6> when you have to page a technician because your stuff isn't working, be nice, we were probably asleep when you paged.

    Patrick J Sliney, Former Senior Airman, Secure Communications System Journeyman (2e351), 49th Comm Squadron, Incirlik Airbase, Turkey
    I've got lots more info for making life just a little better. email me at
    slineyp (at ) hotmail (dot) com
  • I got out of the Air Force in 1999 after 10 years in the career field you mentioned (3C0X1). The most important thing for you to remember is that in that job, you can work with anything that involves a computer. This means you might get a great position as a network security specialist or you might work as a telephone operator. Most likely you will start in the hell known as Base Comm Center. Basically, you will operate systems that process classified email. It is extremely boring and if you make a mistake, you get burned because you compromised national security.

    And don't think that you can waltz in and impress the commander into giving you the network job because of your vast knowledge. Everyone in the 3C0X1 wants that job and you will be the lost ranking person. So guess what... back to the Comm Center.

    Another thing about the 3C0X1 job is that they are needed at every single AF installation in the world. This is good and bad. If you want to travel around the world, you will like this. However... most of the time you don't get your choice. I put in for any East Coast base, and I got Germany. The next time, I put in for East Coast bases again and I got California. Neither assignment was what I wanted, but both turned out to be great.

    And as far as assignments go... Don't just pick the base you want because of location. Find out what they do at the base. For example... If they have a Combat Communications Squadron, be prepared to spend 180 days a year away from home (do you like Kuwait at Christmas time?). Hint: Look for Space Command bases. For me, I was lucky and got Onizuka AS in California. I worked in a satellite mission control center. In addition to working on a ton of military space launches, I also worked on 33 space shuttle missions with NASA.

    One last word of caution.... I know you probably aren't expecting the AF to beat a civilian job in terms of salary/benefits. But, be aware at how pitiful the benefits and pay really are. When I got out in 1999, I almost tripled my salary. A lot of the benefits the AF does have are shrinking and suck. Ask anyone in the military (besides a recruiter) about the medical benefits!

    Anyway.... If you want some more insight... Email me at
  • I started in computers as computer operator for the USAF. Some people like, some people hate it, I hated it.

    Remember, there is no easy way out. If you hate it, you are just screwed - for years.

    Needless to say: those armed forces commercials make for light comedy for anybody who has actually been there.
  • I was part of the USAF Palace Acquire Program []. It is a civilian program that pays a salary and expenses to pursue graduate work. Overall, I was happy with my experience. There are exceptions, but I discovered that most "real work" (i.e. new technology, development) is done by contractors. The AF personel are mostly program managers or budget managers.

    These are the pros and cons of my experience

    • Don't have to be a poor graduate student
    • Because you're being paid, you can concentrate on your studies/research and don't have to teach classes or work for a professor
    • Lots of freedom and responsiblity -- my group was incredibly under staffed
    • The AF typically has boat-loads of money to spend on technology and training
    • You're serving your country
    • Job security
    • Slow pace
    • Low salaries compared to the industry
    • Bureaucracy
    • Because of a 12 year hiring freeze, your coworkers may not be well educated on the latest advances in technology
    • Because of job security, your coworkers may be apathetic
    • Slow pace
  • One less US Soldier is one step in the wrong direction. While any reasonably intelligent human would like nothing better than peace throughout the world, the fact remains that evil people and evil nations will always exist. There must be a powerful force of Good to fight that evil, and that force is the US Armed Forces. Amen.
  • An electronic tech in the military learns to swap cards. A hull tech may learn to weld.

    Join the military if you want an adventure, secondarily if you want to save for college. Do not join for the fantastic education. Think abbout it -- they want bodies and field maintenace, not wizards.

    I never understood why the Navy dropped its slogan "It's not just a job, it's an adventure." If you want the college education fund from the GI bill and don't want an adventure, join the air force or army.

    If you want that adventure, join the navy, go overseas. Talk to the recruiter, make him understand that you want two years in the Pacific and two years in the Med. On a ship. The rating only matters if it guarantees you four years on a ship. You will go places and see countries you will never get a chance to repeat, all on Uncle Sam's (that's us taxpayers) dime. I won't begrudge you using my tax money for your adventure in the slightest.

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer