How to become a US Army soldier
The United States is a world superpower. Among developed nations, the US has one of the biggest economies with its unparalleled advancement in technology and infrastructure and the strongest democratic institutions that yield a substantial political influence in the world stage. America is also an industry leader in defense. It has the largest military force in terms of equipment, aircraft, and soldiers, not mentioning its sophisticated nuclear arsenal.
In order to maintain this world order where the US is on top, it allocates a big portion of its federal budget to the army. But beyond the notion of being ahead, there is a sort of nobility and selflessness associated with being a soldier, duty-bound to serve the nation.
As a soldier, it is your mandate to uphold the constitution, the values, and the way of life, and to defend the nation and its citizens from internal and external harm. Apart from these roles, you also have a responsibility to the international community in helping secure contentious borders, aid humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, and help people rise from natural disasters.
Once you enter the service, you are given the necessary tools built upon the principles of courage and discipline in order to effectively carry out your missions. Now, the question remains on how one gets into the army. What are the basic qualifications? What are the necessary steps to undertake? What to expect from the exam and the training? Read on.
Before you enlist yourself to the service, you have to make sure that you are mentally and emotionally prepared to commit yourself to the army. There are a lot of benefits and privileges that go along with the job, and you are given specialized training to improve your cognitive and physical abilities. Yet you will be separated from your family and friends because of constant relocations and will be put into the toughest situations to test your limits. Consider this kind of commitment first before you finally decide to enroll in the US Army.
You must also be a US citizen or a resident alien, and at least seventeen years old (seventeen-year-old applicants require parental consent though). You must also have obtained a high school diploma. Applicants with GED (General Education Development certificate) may also enlist, however, opportunities within the service may be limited. To enlist, applicants may visit any Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for their physical exam and oath of enlistment.
If you’re still unsure if the soldier life is right for you, you may want to talk to a recruiter. It is their job to not only seek out individuals who are interested in the army but also gauge whether they got what it takes to survive the military service. A recruiter can be particularly useful in helping you decide your possible options within the US Army. They will check if you meet the basic qualifications, assist you in preparing the documents, help you find a position that is in line with your strengths, and move you toward the training stage.
After meeting with your recruiter, you will be required to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), if you haven’t taken it already. (The test may also be taken in any MEP Station.) It is a timed multi-aptitude exam developed by the Department of Defense to test an applicant’s skills and abilities, as well as determine eligibility. Your Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) scores in four crucial areas—arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, and mathematics knowledge—decide whether you’re qualified to enlist. AFQT scores in other areas are basis for enlistment bonus and assignment for military occupational specialties. If you pass, you will now experience the kind of rigorous training soldiers are subjected to.
The Basic Combat Training (BCT) is a ten-week course that will make soldiers out of ordinary civilians. It is divided into five stages where recruits learn about tactical and survival skills alongside military customs and the Seven Core Army Values. The introductory phase of the training is the Reception Battalion where paperwork is finalized, physical fitness tests are conducted, and teamwork and Army values are learned. The Red Phase involves learning Army heritage and fitness training. After the Red Phase, the White Phase follows, where recruits undergo marksmanship and combat training. Next comes the Blue Phase where mastery of automatic weapons and hand grenades are learned and tested. After passing all the challenges, recruits congregate for the final phase, the Graduation. At this stage, you can now tell your family and friends that you are now a soldier of the United States Army.
From basic training, you will then proceed to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) to learn specific skill sets regarding your army job. Wherever you may be assigned and whatever your mission might be, it is important that you always imbibe the Seven Core Army Values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
US Army. 2015 “Becoming a Soldier.” Last modified May 13, 2015. Accessed June 8, 2017. https://www.goarmy.com/soldier-life/becoming-a-soldier.html.
Military.com. n.d. “Ace the ASVAB.” Accessed June 8, 2017. http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/asvab.
n.d. “Are You Eligible to Join the Military?” Accessed June 8, 2017. http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/join-the-military-basic-eligibility.html.
Today’s Military. n.d. “Review Military Entrance Requirements.” Accessed June 8, 2017. http://todaysmilitary.com/joining/entrance-requirements.