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What the Recruiter Never Told You

Enlistment Contracts and Enlistment Incentives


The Navy program is a "sort of" guaranteed first duty station. Under the Navy program, you can be guaranteed a first assignment in a designated geographical area. In other words, while the Navy can't guarantee that you would be assigned to a particular base, they can, for example, guarantee an assignment on the West Coast. However, under the Navy program, there is a catch -- the program is not available to those who sign up with a guaranteed rating (job). It's only available for those who enlist under the GENDET program. Under the GENDET enlistment program, applicants pick a "general field," such as "aviation," rather than a specific rating. Then, following basic training, they spend a year or so at a Navy Base, doing general duties as an "undesignated seaman" before they get to choose their rating (job) and go to job-school.

Note: The Guard and Reserves also guarantee the duty station because they are recruiting to fill specific, open slots in specific Guard & Reserve units. When you enlist in the National Guard or Reserves, you will know, right from the start, where your drilling unit is located (generally within 100 miles or so of where you live).

Buddy Program. All of the services offer a "Buddy Enlistment" program. Under this program, two or more individuals (of the same sex) can enlist together, and -- at a minimum -- be guaranteed to go through basic training together. If the individuals have the same job, the services can also guarantee that they will go through job training together. In some cases (with the exception of the Air Force), the service can even guarantee that the "buddies" will be assigned to their first duty station together.

Split Option. Some of the services offer "split option training" for members of their National Guard and Reserve. Under "split option," the member attends basic training, and then returns to his Guard/Reserve unit, where she/he drills (one weekend per month) for up to a year before attending job training. This program is designed for those in school, who wish to spit their full-time training so they won't miss too many college classes, and for those who do not wish to be away from their civilian jobs for too long a period of time for military training. In most cases, "split option" isn't a very good idea, and you should avoid it, if you can:

  1. You are generally "worthless" to your unit until you have completed job training. You can't do the "job" you were "hired" for, and the unit can't begin your advanced training.

  2. If something happens to your job training date, it can sometimes take forever for the Guard and Reserves to get another training slot. When dishing out job training slots, the active duty forces get first crack, and what is left over is offered to the Guard and Reserves.

  3. If you attend job training immediately after basic training, you will still be in shape. It's easy to fall out of shape in a year's time, when you're only drilling one weekend per month. However, under the "split training" option, you're thrown back into a training evironment, right along side those straight out of basic training, and you're expected to keep up with them.

  4. "Split Option" members undergo the same job-training restrictions as those straight out of basic training. That means, for the first month or so of job-school, your off-duty time is strictly regimented. That's pretty easy, when you're straight out of basic training. It's not so easy, once you've spent up to a year in the relatively relaxed environment of weekend drills. Continued in Part 5 -- Military Pay

    Other Parts to this Series:

    • Part 1 -- Choosing a Military Service
    • Part 2 -- Meeting the Recruiter
    • Part 3 -- The Enlistment Process and Job Selection
    • Part 5 -- Military Pay
    • Part 6 -- Housing, Housing Allowance, and Barracks
    • Part 7 -- Chow Halls and Food Allowance
    • Part 8 -- Education Programs
    • Part 9 -- Leave (Vacation), and Job Training
    • Part 10 -- Assignments
    • Part 11 -- Promotions
    • Part 12 -- Military Medical Care
    • Part 13 -- Commissaries and Exchanges
    • Part 14 -- Morale, Welfare, & Recreation (MWR) Activities
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