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Ex Brit Military wanting to join US Military!

#1
Rare as it may sound, this is a few serious questions for our American chums here,

I am a former Brit soldier, left as a Sergeant with 12 years experience two years ago to come and live over here in the US with my American wife, who I met while on an exchange in Washington DC. I have served in both the Balkans conflicts, Afghanistan and Iraq also.

Although I am somewhat settled into civi life here in Seattle with my greencard, I am finding myself missing the army and have recently been contemplating joining one of your services. I'm going to the careers offices fairly soon to have a chat with those blokes, however, I wouldn't mind a couple of straight answers from you guys, if you have any knowledge of recruiting, etc.

1. Do you reckon my previous service in the Brit army would be taken into consideration at all? Of course, I could join as a private, even at the ripe old age of 32 your fitness standards look fairly lax to me :) - however, I have a lot of skills that I reckon could only benefit your mob, and it would be a bit daft to join at the bottom of the heap.

2. Daft or not, if I did have to join as a sprog, what would the instructors make of me? I did a stint teaching recruits myself in Winchester a few years back, so that could be interesting.

3. Once I got to a unit, do you think people would value my previous military experience, or would they generally just treat me like a know nothing foreigner, and dumbass E-1 private? One thing that has annoyed a bit about US society at large is that society as a whole is a bit me-centric, and if its not american its not worth knowing about. Basically, if I did have to join as a sprog new boy, (bearing in mind my rank in the UK military would work out at E-7 or so), do you think if I did a good job I could be promoted quickly?

4. If I joined as a reservist (may be the more sensible option to be honest, missus and kids would rather stay in Seattle to be honest, as the family is here), would I be mobilized and off to Iraq with immediate effect? Not overly bothered (after my last deployment, never thought I'd find myself saying that, but leading this boring civi life here has changed my outlook and values somewhat!), just curious.

5. I was in the Brit Army, obviously, however, I might just fancy something different here - knowing what you all know, and all loyalty to your own service aside, which would you consider to be the best service to join? i know that's fairly wide reaching, so my priority would be, if joining as a shitty E-1, the one with the least amount of bullshit and mess the troops around factor - been there done that, so I was thinking maybe the easiest ride in theis sense would be the Air Force, would you agree?

Replies appreciated, either here or via PM.

Cheers.

PS - Its funny here, a lot of people really seems to view the military recruiters as the scourge of satan, but that the military is great - but as long as someone elses kids are doing it. I'd be happy to do my bit for my adopted country - but I see it more as doing the bit for myself and making the best use of my abilities.
 
#2
I served during the eighties so bear that in mind:

There were lots of foriegners serving then, some with prior service from their homeland, some not.

One that reminds me of you was a SA (South African) Para. He had to start from scratch as regards rank but was promoted rather rapidly because he was an extremely good soldier (of course).

Keeping quiet (like any good private learns to do) might serve you better than announcing your former status, much as it may pain you to do so. In this I had personal experience. I first served four years in the USMC then another three in the Army. Gobbing off did me no good. I had to learn to shut up again.

As for instructors, they may not care what your prior status was as they have several bodies besides yourself to deal with. I'd keep my mouth shut based on personal experience.

As for branch of service, go Army. The promotions are far better.

That's about all I can address from my rather antiquated ( :D ) view. Best of luck to you.
 
#4
Darth_Doctrinus said:
Undercracker,

I've sent your post to a man who will be able to assist.

Wait Out.
Cheers Darth, thanks very much

Sawdusty - understand what you say, thanks, however, I think I couldn't help popping up with a bit of constructive criticism now and then.... :D
 
#6
undercracker said:
Darth_Doctrinus said:
Undercracker,

I've sent your post to a man who will be able to assist.

Wait Out.
Cheers Darth, thanks very much

Sawdusty - understand what you say, thanks, however, I think I couldn't help popping up with a bit of constructive criticism now and then.... :D
But of course! Just pick your moments... :D
 
#7
1. In my personal experience, I was considered "prior service" during the recruiting process, but that didn't change jack all. I joined the Marine Corps Reserves, and they're a lot more "we don't don't give a shit about who you are." Out of loyalty, I approached the Army first, and they promised me more.
But none of that has to do with your background, in all likelihood. The maximum enlistment rank for the USMC is E-2 (PFC), and for the Army it's E-4 (SPC). The key here is this: your educational background. Anyone with a college degree can get advance rank. The Army's quite desperate though, so E-4 shouldn't be a problem for you. Who knows...you can't but try to wangle something higher out of it. From your exchange experience, you must know how low their E-4's are. Whatever you hear, GET IT IN WRITING!!!

2. Depends on how you behave when you show up. The Army is kindler, gentler than the USMC, but they're not going to treat you like their chum. Expect a platoon guide position as soon as they can give it to you. With your maturity and background, you're an instant honor grad candidate. Only you can screw that up.

3. Who knows. Depends on who you work with and what attitude you display. Best-case scenario: your platoon chain knows who you were, constantly asks you for advice, younguns look up to you, and you stay humble. Promotion for excellence comes quickly in a wartime Army.

4. Depends on ops cycles and the great crystal ball in the Pentagon. You should know that :)

5. Agreed. USAF are as laid back as the Crabs. What suits you may largely depend on your "MOS" in the UK. If you were in a good infantry regiment, there's no way around the USMC. US Army Reserve has no inf component. Generally speaking, stay far, far away from the National Guard because of funding and training issues. Check out the local units, though. I know someone who just became an ARNG MP officer in California. That man can do 60 kipping pullups and lead men through fire. I'd follow him into war even if he were in the Salvation Army.

A lot of interesting stuff like ARNG SOF and CIMIC is a nogo because you lack citizenship. You're entitled to apply for it as soon as you're done with all your basic training though, because of a law Dubya signed a couple of years ago. Came as a nice bonus. If things work out as planned, I'm lifting my right hand up sometime later next year and commissioning in 2008.

PS: Don't trust Septic recruiters except in the most exceptional of instances. These chaps are under 100 times the pressure their British counterparts are.
 
#8
Hi,

I think you are on the right track, with the Army Reserve or Army National Guard service. You'll no doubt have to attend Basic training and MOS (Job speciality) training. I'd try for some startup rank, maybe SP4 or PFC, based on previous military experience, Good advice about keeping the talk down about your prior service.

The best way, is to demonstrate your skills as a soldier and leader, when given the opportunity. I'm sure, you will tasked to be a leader, if you are good at soldiering and it shows to the senior NCOs and Officers in your unit.

You didn't really discuss what type of unit(s) that you had prior service with. Keep it in mind that Reserve units are mostly, if not all support units.

The combat units are all in the National Guard now, to include the National Guard's 19th Special Forces Group, Airborne, who has a unit in Buckly, WA. They have been deployed to Iraq, Afganistan and the PI.

Once you are established in the Reserve or Guard unit, a request for active duty is fairly simple, if you desire is to go regular Army.

Good luck, with whatever you decide to do. Besure the 'contract' that you sign up for, has what you want to do or attend on it.
 
#9
cheesypoptart said:
1. In my personal experience, I was considered "prior service" during the recruiting process, but that didn't change jack all. I joined the Marine Corps Reserves, and they're a lot more "we don't don't give a s*** about who you are." Out of loyalty, I approached the Army first, and they promised me more.
But none of that has to do with your background, in all likelihood. The maximum enlistment rank for the USMC is E-2 (PFC), and for the Army it's E-4 (SPC). The key here is this: your educational background. Anyone with a college degree can get advance rank. The Army's quite desperate though, so E-4 shouldn't be a problem for you. Who knows...you can't but try to wangle something higher out of it. From your exchange experience, you must know how low their E-4's are. Whatever you hear, GET IT IN WRITING!!!

2. Depends on how you behave when you show up. The Army is kindler, gentler than the USMC, but they're not going to treat you like their chum. Expect a platoon guide position as soon as they can give it to you. With your maturity and background, you're an instant honor grad candidate. Only you can screw that up.

3. Who knows. Depends on who you work with and what attitude you display. Best-case scenario: your platoon chain knows who you were, constantly asks you for advice, younguns look up to you, and you stay humble. Promotion for excellence comes quickly in a wartime Army.

4. Depends on ops cycles and the great crystal ball in the Pentagon. You should know that :)

5. Agreed. USAF are as laid back as the Crabs. What suits you may largely depend on your "MOS" in the UK. If you were in a good infantry regiment, there's no way around the USMC. US Army Reserve has no inf component. Generally speaking, stay far, far away from the National Guard because of funding and training issues. Check out the local units, though. I know someone who just became an ARNG MP officer in California. That man can do 60 kipping pullups and lead men through fire. I'd follow him into war even if he were in the Salvation Army.

A lot of interesting stuff like ARNG SOF and CIMIC is a nogo because you lack citizenship. You're entitled to apply for it as soon as you're done with all your basic training though, because of a law Dubya signed a couple of years ago. Came as a nice bonus. If things work out as planned, I'm lifting my right hand up sometime later next year and commissioning in 2008.

PS: Don't trust Septic recruiters except in the most exceptional of instances. These chaps are under 100 times the pressure their British counterparts are.
Excellent reply mate, cheers. Have PM'd you.
 
#10
cheesypoptart said:
1. In my personal experience, I was considered "prior service" during the recruiting process, but that didn't change jack all. I joined the Marine Corps Reserves, and they're a lot more "we don't don't give a s*** about who you are." Out of loyalty, I approached the Army first, and they promised me more.
But none of that has to do with your background, in all likelihood. The maximum enlistment rank for the USMC is E-2 (PFC), and for the Army it's E-4 (SPC). The key here is this: your educational background. Anyone with a college degree can get advance rank. The Army's quite desperate though, so E-4 shouldn't be a problem for you. Who knows...you can't but try to wangle something higher out of it. From your exchange experience, you must know how low their E-4's are. Whatever you hear, GET IT IN WRITING!!!

2. Depends on how you behave when you show up. The Army is kindler, gentler than the USMC, but they're not going to treat you like their chum. Expect a platoon guide position as soon as they can give it to you. With your maturity and background, you're an instant honor grad candidate. Only you can screw that up.

3. Who knows. Depends on who you work with and what attitude you display. Best-case scenario: your platoon chain knows who you were, constantly asks you for advice, younguns look up to you, and you stay humble. Promotion for excellence comes quickly in a wartime Army.

4. Depends on ops cycles and the great crystal ball in the Pentagon. You should know that :)

5. Agreed. USAF are as laid back as the Crabs. What suits you may largely depend on your "MOS" in the UK. If you were in a good infantry regiment, there's no way around the USMC. US Army Reserve has no inf component. Generally speaking, stay far, far away from the National Guard because of funding and training issues. Check out the local units, though. I know someone who just became an ARNG MP officer in California. That man can do 60 kipping pullups and lead men through fire. I'd follow him into war even if he were in the Salvation Army.

A lot of interesting stuff like ARNG SOF and CIMIC is a nogo because you lack citizenship. You're entitled to apply for it as soon as you're done with all your basic training though, because of a law Dubya signed a couple of years ago. Came as a nice bonus. If things work out as planned, I'm lifting my right hand up sometime later next year and commissioning in 2008.

PS: Don't trust Septic recruiters except in the most exceptional of instances. These chaps are under 100 times the pressure their British counterparts are.
Great post - cheers Cheesy!
 
#12
My info might be a bit dated, but I`ll throw it out for what it may be worth , as far as I know the regulations have`nt changed. I was in the US Army in Vietnam, and met a very large number of prior service from other armies serving in the US Army then. Had a platoon sergeant ,Welshman,who had several years British Army experience and joined US Army for much the same reasons you mention.Rick Rescorla, a Cornishman and quite the 9/11 hero had also a British Army background and was quite the soldier in the Ia Drang battles.These men`s prior experience was recognised and tas all prior service soldiers`are and they did not languish in the lower ranks for long.

There were many prior service men of other nationalities, I can remember many Germans and especially a lot of Canadians.Canada got our draft dodgers and we got first-rate experienced soldiers in exchange. I read a Canadian authored book that established the fact that there were actually more Canadians enlisting in the US forces than the number of US draft dodgers going to Canada. At that time there was a draft and resident alien students were drafted if they dropped out of college. I particularly remember a Nigerian draftee who had served in the forces there when it was still a British colony,was always getting attention from the drill instructors because he had a hard time losing the British Army forms of saluting and close order drill.

I believe your previous military experience would be highly valued and respected, one of the first questions you get in the US military is "prior service?".I concur with everything that cheesypoptart has posted .the Army would probably fast track you and I very much doubt that anyone, including the senior NCOs would treat you as a dumbarse foreigner, the British Army, and for that matter,all Commonwealth soldiers are very highly respected in US military circles. My info is a bit old , but I had more recent experience in the 80s-90s in a National Guard Armoured battalion and noticed that my earlier experience was still valid (we trained quite a bit with regular troops at Ft Lewis and the Yakima Firing Center and the Army was still accepting foreign nationals).

I realise this isn`t much help to you,but maybe there`s a tidbit or two that may be of use. Get it in writing from the recruiters is always a good plan.

Good luck to you, hope it works out the way you`d like.
 
#13
Trip_Wire said:
Hi,

I think you are on the right track, with the Army Reserve or Army National Guard service. You'll no doubt have to attend Basic training and MOS (Job speciality) training. I'd try for some startup rank, maybe SP4 or PFC, based on previous military experience, Good advice about keeping the talk down about your prior service.

The best way, is to demonstrate your skills as a soldier and leader, when given the opportunity. I'm sure, you will tasked to be a leader, if you are good at soldiering and it shows to the senior NCOs and Officers in your unit.

You didn't really discuss what type of unit(s) that you had prior service with. Keep it in mind that Reserve units are mostly, if not all support units.

The combat units are all in the National Guard now, to include the National Guard's 19th Special Forces Group, Airborne, who has a unit in Buckly, WA. They have been deployed to Iraq, Afganistan and the PI.

Once you are established in the Reserve or Guard unit, a request for active duty is fairly simple, if you desire is to go regular Army.

Good luck, with whatever you decide to do. Besure the 'contract' that you sign up for, has what you want to do or attend on it.
Thanks very much. From all these replies, seems there is some truth to the spawn of satan recruiters :) - I'll watch what I sign - am getting used to that after 2 years here now, our house closing took 5 hours! due to me questioning everything on the mass of paperwork, made them work for a living!

The not gobbing off thing speaks for itself, when I was recruit training and we had retreads through, we wouldn't give them too much grief if they kept their heads down. I'd let them know I had some inkling of what I was doing, but defo wouldn't attempt to be a gobshite.
 
#14
I missed Trip_Wire`s post while I was typing, pretty good advice. As to the National Guard reserve route, the Guards had/have a program called "Try One". This was a deal where prior service guys (of whatever branch of service) could enlist for 1 year in the Guard to see if they`d want to continue with it or not, previous rank in active service was granted as your Guard rank.Might not apply for foreign service, but it might be a good idea to ask if this program is still in effect. Probably would have to talk to a Guard recruiter instead of the regular Army ones.
 
#15
One more tip, come to think of it: Don't go for the Marines. They don't seem to be on your radar, but all the same. Even if you could get past the age requirements, they're the ones who really don't give a crap about your previous military experience. Our OPTAG may be training them, and they don't train us, but in the eyes of Marines they're the Herrenmenschen.
I've had that nearly 100% of the time with enlisted men. Think of them as the Paras of the USA :). Officers, especially those beyond Captain, know the score.

That said, if you're willing to put up with that like I was, then you'll get the highest standards the regular US military has to offer below the SOF level. Or at least the illusion of such, ha! The Marines' esprit de corps is unbeatable, and I know several men who ended up at incredible finance firms despite going to a second-rate university because they'd spent time in the Marines. That effect trickles all the way down. I bet the highest-paid dishwasher in the US was a Marine. The USMC is a funny beast. It's probably all just self-delusion and grandeur, but it works wonderfully.

SpruceCreek made so many good points. If you're not above that, spend some time with your recruiter practicing drill before you leave. Old habits die hard, and boot camp isn't the place to bury them. Blank slate. There's a book about Rick Rescorla, easily found on Amazon. Read it and weep for a man who walked proudly before you (you can see how I'm starting to get the whole American pathos thing).

Watch out with the Try One program. Google the term.

Hopefully, the rest of the regular Yank gang will post replies over the next few days. I'm not one of them. They know far more than I do.
 
#16
undercracker said:
1. Do you reckon my previous service in the Brit army would be taken into consideration at all? Of course, I could join as a private, even at the ripe old age of 32 your fitness standards look fairly lax to me :) - however, I have a lot of skills that I reckon could only benefit your mob, and it would be a bit daft to join at the bottom of the heap.
I don't think they'll spot you rank for being in a foreign army. They will spot you some rank for education, ie if you have two years of college you'll be a Private First Class (E3) instead of a Private (E1) or (E2) and make Specialist/Corporal in six months.

2. Daft or not, if I did have to join as a sprog, what would the instructors make of me? I did a stint teaching recruits myself in Winchester a few years back, so that could be interesting.
Depends on the Drill Sgt. Most probably won't care all that much unless your 'military bearing' shines through. Then they'll notice.

3. Once I got to a unit, do you think people would value my previous military experience, or would they generally just treat me like a know nothing foreigner, and dumbass E-1 private? One thing that has annoyed a bit about US society at large is that society as a whole is a bit me-centric, and if its not american its not worth knowing about. Basically, if I did have to join as a sprog new boy, (bearing in mind my rank in the UK military would work out at E-7 or so), do you think if I did a good job I could be promoted quickly?
Every unit values a good troop. If you can bring something to the table in terms of experience and training it'll certainly be noticed. Good troops tend to fast-track and get the better schools in my experience. American society may be more me-centric but in the Army you'll be valued if you're a team player.

4. If I joined as a reservist (may be the more sensible option to be honest, missus and kids would rather stay in Seattle to be honest, as the family is here), would I be mobilized and off to Iraq with immediate effect? Not overly bothered (after my last deployment, never thought I'd find myself saying that, but leading this boring civi life here has changed my outlook and values somewhat!), just curious.
There's an Army Reserve PSYOP company [361st PSYOP Company] out of Bothell, just north of Seattle and a PSYOP company in Portland as well [320th]. Very deployable. both have been to Iraq at least once, perhaps twice now and Afghanistan.

5. I was in the Brit Army, obviously, however, I might just fancy something different here - knowing what you all know, and all loyalty to your own service aside, which would you consider to be the best service to join? i know that's fairly wide reaching, so my priority would be, if joining as a shitty E-1, the one with the least amount of bullshit and mess the troops around factor - been there done that, so I was thinking maybe the easiest ride in theis sense would be the Air Force, would you agree?
As a reservist, Army PSYOP is very active and deployable. The AF is definitely the easiest ride, they treat their people like real human beings. I think the Army has a lot of money for training and good equipment. The Marines are great but you'll have to put up with a lot of BS you may want to avoid at your experience level. The hell with Navy life.

Ask around the recruiters. Don't be afraid to play them against each other and to look into the level of bonuses and eductional benefits available.

You may want to look into the medical field as well. The Army--Reserves and Active duy-- are constantly looking for Physician's Assistants. If you make the cut they'll train you and commission you as well.

EDIT: Apparently the Navy SEALS are expanding their number by 500, if that's what you mean by 'something different'.
 
#17
Thanks Virgil, another great reply.

Yes, as mentioned one of the reasons I'm thinking about joining here, at least as a reserve, would be to get back a bit of that cameraderie. I think to some degree my me-centric quote probably applies to UK civi society as well these days, although not perhaps to the same materialistic degree as here.

Navy Seals - LOL, hell no, thats not what I meant by something different at all! Done my ragging round in the Brit mob on a few specialist courses, think I've got that bit out of my system. Seen that program on BUDS on the TV - Fook that, as they say, might be alright when you are 21! :D I simply meant a different branch of service other than the army, i.e Navy or Air Force - so far removed from Seals, it says on their website:

"By graduation, you'll meet the fitness requirements that make Reservists physically durable in almost any situation." Those requirements are:

Basic Military Training graduation fitness requirements:

Your Air Force Reserve basic training will involve extensive marching, conditioning classes, and the completion of a challenging obstacle course. Upon graduation, you will not only be able to meet these requirements, you'll be in the best shape of your life.

Males

Two Mile Run: 18 minutes
Sit-Ups: 45 in 2 minutes
Push-Ups: 30 in 2 minutes


Now thats what I'm talking about, none of this SOF malarkey for me! :D :D If I saw one leg off, I might just be able to make that run time....

Your Psyop thing would be interesting and relevant given my background is a multitude of J2 MOS's with one fairly hardcore NI int gathering course and experience thrown in. However, I am under the impression that citizenship would be required for those types of jobs, which is probably realistically 16-18 months away at best case secenario.
 
#18
I'm going to see the Air Force and Army recruiters on Tuesday. I'll go armed with my testimonial etc and see what they say. I'll let you all know how it turns out.
 
#19
Undercracker,

have you considered becoming a private contractor. Earn a bit of decent money and, to a degree, choose which area of Operations you wish too work in ??

Just an idea, best wishes all the same mate.
 
#20
ACAB said:
Undercracker,

have you considered becoming a private contractor. Earn a bit of decent money and, to a degree, choose which area of Operations you wish too work in ??

Just an idea, best wishes all the same mate.
Indeed I have mate, which I must say has had some influence in leading me to this juncture. I have many American contacts within the private contractor domain, who think my experience is brilliant and I should go and work with them. I'd agree, however, herin lies the problem. No US citizenship=no security clearance, hence no job. Even when said citizenship is obtained, there still isn't a clearance without government service as most contractors want to see an exisiting one,as it saves them tons of money and hassle of clearing you themselves.

Hence, my thought to join the reserves in the Int world to (re)gain my clearance. Should this plan come off, it would most likely be senior analyst by day, E1 junior int sprog on the weekend! :) Would be quite funny!

Its my thought that I should wait to gain citizenship (I can apply in 10 months, realistically earliest I can hope to see it is 14-18 mos) before jumping in due to this fact, but it won't hurt for me to go and have a chat with them next week anyway.
 

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