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Decisions — Which Service to Choose?

Talking to Army Recruiter

Questions like these make me appreciate the younger generation more and have hope for the future of our country. This young man wants to serve this great country of ours, but yet is struggling with the decision of the Army or Navy. Here is his question:

Sir, I’m currently a junior in high school, and I’m having some trouble deciding upon a branch of the military. At the moment, I am PTing with the Army, with plans to go infantry and eventually Ranger. But whenever I decide on that, something just says, “SEALs!” and then I have more trouble. I haven’t signed any paperwork with the Army yet, and I would very much appreciate any help or advice you could give me. Thank you

Sure there are inter-​​service rivalries between all the branches of our military but in the end, we are all on the same team. Here are some things to consider about your decision:

Tough decision — I had the same issue as my entire family were Army vets (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam) and I was the first to go Navy. I had a true love for the water, ocean, rivers, even swamps since I grew up in North Florida.

You need to ask yourself what is it that you enjoy. If putting on back pack rucking and running in any environment, working with large teams, the Rangers might be the best option. You will have to be able to swim, ride in small boats, shoot weapons, jump out of planes, use demolition, call in fire support and much more with this job as well.

If you truly want to have “one foot in the water” the Navy SEAL program might be best for you. Sure the SEALs work on land, jump out of planes, helicopters, but will often be tasked with some sort of waterborne insertion or extraction. Sure the last decade of war has changed a few things but if you want to get TO and THROUGH the Navy SEAL program you have to be very proficient in swimming and comfortable in any water setting. That means performing in oceans, rivers, lakes, and swamps at night.

Both training programs and actual jobs in the teams are physically challenging, equally demanding on your personal life, but personally gratifying that you are a warrior serving your country. To be honest — you cannot go wrong with either choice. Both are great units. Another option is to do both. I have known a few Army Rangers to do their time in the Army then join the Navy and go to BUDS. A few former SEALs have gone the Army SF and Ranger route too.

Also consider where you will be stationed. Look at Army and Navy bases and see if you would like to live in those cities, states, or climate. Growing up near beaches, I was drawn to the Navy because the bases around the world always have a beach nearby.

Not to make your decision tougher than it already is BUT: Don’t forget the Marines with their infantry, RECON, and MarSOC units either. The Air Force Special Forces (PJ /​ CCT) are also exceptional combat medics and airfire control specialists performing with valor in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world where needed.

Good luck with your choice. Regardless, thank you for wanting to serve in our military. I wish there were more young people out there like you who want to serve in any branch of our Armed Forces. You cannot go wrong with your choice.

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Stew Smith Special Operations Fitness Fitness Air Force Special Operations Marine Corps Special Operations Navy Special Operations Army Special Forces

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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