Ex Signals now National Guard Plumber

Hello all,

Just thought I’d share my experiences with joining the American national guard and the differences I’ve seen so far.

First off, my background, ex Royal Sigs, did 8 years and married a yank, got out and moved to America in 2020.

Thought I was done with the Army until I discovered how much it actually costs to have a baby out here and how good the military health insurance is so off I trotted to the careers office (again) to discuss what was available.

I didn’t really understand how the Army works so I went to the standard careers office to discuss the reserves as I thought this would be the most obvious choice. Careers offices over here are VERY different. Back home I remember being guided based on my school grades, barb test, interviews etc etc. well over here they don’t care about any of that and the recruiters I spoke to had limited if not no knowledge of the careers available. I asked for a job that would be with the closest unit to where I lived and they flat out refused to tell me what that would be so I just told them to poke it. Went home, did some research and stumbled across the guard.

Like many brits I thought the guard was primarily used for whacking mouthy students with a stick and cleaning up after hurricanes however I didn’t know it’s the only reserve component that offers all jobs whereas the reserves offers only a few. The reserves as I understand it is directly federally controlled, the guard is controlled by the governor of your state and can be federally activated in times of crisis. It’s weird and I still don’t fully get it.

Anyway, went to the guard careers office and met probably the funniest and most helpful American I’ve met so far. Proper god guns and country redneck that would probably be a good laugh on the piss. He answered all my questions, catered to my needs, didn’t feed me bullshit like the other place so that was decent. I was on a limited time frame due to the imminent birth of my son so we agreed to settle for whatever the fastest phase 1 and 2 path was.

Nothing is done at the careers office other than chatting, once you’re ready to commit you go off to a centralised facility with everyone else for two days. This isn’t like selection back home but it can only be described as a hole. You get there the night before, stay at a hotel and then get a bus at 4 in the morning to go do the worlds shittest medical to then sit outside your chosen office to wait to be called in to go over and sign paperwork. You then sign and go and make your oath. My oath was separate to everyone else’s as I had to do it to the governor of My state not the president. I then went home for a month and a half to wait to go to…

Basic training. Again. My basic training was in Fort Sill Oaklahoma so I can’t speak for the other three basic training locations. I’ll say this now, I felt like less of a soldier after I’d finished American basic training than when I started. The whole process was websters and pretty pointless. I did the long course at Harrogate originally and that set me in pretty good stead for the future. I never struggled on promotion courses, exercises etc as I feel like what I learnt there was actually, pretty useful. This was not the case with American basic training.

American basic training is broken down in to three phases. Red, white and blue (obviously) with the addition of yellow before red as a covid isolation phase. You get there at 3 in the morning, run off the bus and stand all together. Unlike the UK where you are immediately with your platoon in the US you have to do a week of so called ‘in processing’. Here you basically sit in a hall with 300 other bods from 6 in the morning until 4 in the evening, silent waiting to go from station to station doing hearing, kit issue, pay etc. it was webbo.

A week later your cadre come and pick you up and take you to the ‘death stars’ huge blocks that house 5 companies each with 300-400 people. The instructors are pretty different to back home as they have ‘drill sgts’. I don’t quite understand why they make a big deal out of instructing recruits but it’s seen as that so whatever floats your boat.

The room or ‘bay’ was very much full metal jacket. One big rectangle with bunk beds. Americans are funny about nudity due to the many sexual assault cases that happen over here so 60 blokes had to get changed in the bogs and being shirtless was a no no which I found strange and immature. Stag was done pretty much every night for no apparent reason. Locker inspections and room inspections for that matter weren’t really a thing. Gats were kept in the room at the front in a locked weapons rack. You’ve seen full metal jacket you’ve seen this room.

Red phase. This was briefs, PT an obstacle course and that was pretty much it for two weeks. Nothing else really. Skill at arms lessons were given in the bay. In fact most lessons were given up there which was weird to me. Drill is done on a patch of grass out the back marching around singing songs about being airborne, or infantry or a ranger which I found very strange.

Scoff was the worst I’ve ever had. Meals went like this. Breakfast, meals delivered from the DFAC everyone sit on the floor outside and eat silent. Lunch, MRES. Dinner, sit on the floor outside and eat silently. We went to the DFAC maybe 3-4 times a week and it was awful with silly rituals like sliding around and holding your cups like a grenade it was just weird.

PT was shite. No PTI’s, no gym, no progression, if you’ve seen band of brothers and 50 blokes doing star jumps then you’ve seen American PT. Exercises and warmups are rigid with no flexibility between bod to bod. Do it the way the PAM says and that’s that. position of attention between exercises. Press ups and sit-ups done on concrete. IMO the whole thing needs and overhaul and they could do with sending some policy makers to aldershot. It was pretty embarrassing.

White phase was weeks 3-6, this was the range every single day which honestly wouldn’t have been that bad if it wasn’t Oaklahoma in the middle of summer. It was 35 degrees regularly so that was shite. First week and a half was iron sights second week and half was CCO red dot. I don’t know if ACOGS are just an infantry thing but the CCO did make me appreciate a SUSAT. Overall the the tested shoot was pretty fun, but it was one and done, once you passed your shoot you just sat around silently waiting for everyone else, I think I went through about 5-6 different books whilst I was there and I hadn’t read a book in the past 10 years so that’s saying something.

Blue phase is the final phase. I don’t really remember much about this phase other than the final ex which pretty much got canned. It starts out with a 10 mile TAB or ‘ruck’ in 4 hours (with 15kg, screaming!) through the night To the Night infiltration course. Basically you crawl towards GPMGS firing tracers over you. Have a camp in a field. ( without a roll mat) wake up and then you’re supposed to start doing other things. Well we had 8 heat casualties before breakfast so we stayed under a huge tent for the next 2 days sitting around whilst I read more books. Honestly didn’t do a thing. Unfortunately there’s no smoking or tobacco at American basic training which is ironic as Harrogate is where I picked up the habit! After this camping trip was done we tabbed back again at night to the soldier ceremony.

The soldier ceremony was very weird. There was a huge fire and tiki torches and we were all handed a polystyrene cup of juice (alcohol is a big no no to the American military) and put on our berets ( I got told off for shaping mine properly and not having it come down past my ear and cover my eye. Screaming.) the whole thing reminded me of some SS book burning.

After that we were pretty much done. The final week was supposed to be just clean up and then pass out, I don’t know what pass out was like as I had a family emergency come back up at home so I left two days early and tried to come back to the UK but flights were 5 grand at the time no idea why and the yanks didn’t offer me a welfare flight other than getting back to My state and even getting away was a hassle and took 3 days.

When I went back for my phase 2 there’s no really much to say. I had to return to Fort Sill again for a week to in process AGAIN then went down to an Air Force base in Texas. They treated me as a prior service so I got my own room, kept my phone, wore civilians, didn’t have to walk in a a pair ( the hole sexual assault thing people who haven’t finished training need a battle buddy) and did my six weeks of plumber school. This was actually pretty enjoyable. I was put in a navy class and the lads in there were a lot better than the army trainees I’d met so far. Overall a much better experience. Still would you trust a plumber with six weeks training?

TLDR; Too short and websters.
 
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I actually enjoyed reading that.

Mainly, I think, because you can compare it with your previous service.

Also for continued use of the term ‘Websters’ :thumleft:

From how you’ve described some of the training I think I would be muttering ‘Websters’ or ‘webbo c nuts’ under my breath constantly.
 
I chat with some U.S Veterans often… unless you are talking Green berets/SEALS/ Rangers etc - you can tell the training and culture is pretty poor for the support branches. Possibly you have to invest more years to see an improvement - IDK. Post service benefits are impressive though.
 

RaiderBoat

On ROPS
On ROPs
At least you went to Plumber School with USN DCs. Much better.
BTW…USAF Basic is even easier…

The two hardest Boot Camps are USMC and USCG. Then USN, Army, AF.
 
At least you went to Plumber School with USN DCs. Much better.
BTW…USAF Basic is even easier…

The two hardest Boot Camps are USMC and USCG. Then USN, Army, AF.
I believe it. The navy guys were seabee UT’s though, they were pretty cool guys but their rules and regulations were very bullshit.
 

RaiderBoat

On ROPS
On ROPs
I believe it. The navy guys were seabee UT’s though, they were pretty cool guys but their rules and regulations were very bullshit.
Ah. Thanks for the correction. I forget the UTs. The Rate that still cracks me up is Hull Technician. “Take hammer. Bang hull. Gooood”.

Hang with us Coasties…we have FUN.
 
would you trust a plumber with six weeks training?
Why not, if I took an unserviceable radio to you in your former trade and calling, you'd just ask if I'd tried kicking it.* :D

Good post I enjoyed that!


(* yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, REME fixes electrickery shit)
 
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At least you went to Plumber School with USN DCs. Much better.
BTW…USAF Basic is even easier…

The two hardest Boot Camps are USMC and USCG. Then USN, Army, AF.
Sorry, I could not resist.

Genuinely, thank you for your service.
 
Hello all,

Just thought I’d share my experiences with joining the American national guard and the differences I’ve seen so far.

First off, my background, ex Royal Sigs, did 8 years and married a yank, got out and moved to America in 2020.

Thought I was done with the Army until I discovered how much it actually costs to have a baby out here and how good the military health insurance is so off I trotted to the careers office (again) to discuss what was available.

I didn’t really understand how the Army works so I went to the standard careers office to discuss the reserves as I thought this would be the most obvious choice. Careers offices over here are VERY different. Back home I remember being guided based on my school grades, barb test, interviews etc etc. well over here they don’t care about any of that and the recruiters I spoke to had limited if not no knowledge of the careers available. I asked for a job that would be with the closest unit to where I lived and they flat out refused to tell me what that would be so I just told them to poke it. Went home, did some research and stumbled across the guard.

Like many brits I thought the guard was primarily used for whacking mouthy students with a stick and cleaning up after hurricanes however I didn’t know it’s the only reserve component that offers all jobs whereas the reserves offers only a few. The reserves as I understand it is directly federally controlled, the guard is controlled by the governor of your state and can be federally activated in times of crisis. It’s weird and I still don’t fully get it.

Anyway, went to the guard careers office and met probably the funniest and most helpful American I’ve met so far. Proper god guns and country redneck that would probably be a good laugh on the piss. He answered all my questions, catered to my needs, didn’t feed me bullshit like the other place so that was decent. I was on a limited time frame due to the imminent birth of my son so we agreed to settle for whatever the fastest phase 1 and 2 path was.

Nothing is done at the careers office other than chatting, once you’re ready to commit you go off to a centralised facility with everyone else for two days. This isn’t like selection back home but it can only be described as a hole. You get there the night before, stay at a hotel and then get a bus at 4 in the morning to go do the worlds shittest medical to then sit outside your chosen office to wait to be called in to go over and sign paperwork. You then sign and go and make your oath. My oath was separate to everyone else’s as I had to do it to the governor of My state not the president. I then went home for a month and a half to wait to go to…

Basic training. Again. My basic training was in Fort Sill Oaklahoma so I can’t speak for the other three basic training locations. I’ll say this now, I felt like less of a soldier after I’d finished American basic training than when I started. The whole process was websters and pretty pointless. I did the long course at Harrogate originally and that set me in pretty good stead for the future. I never struggled on promotion courses, exercises etc as I feel like what I learnt there was actually, pretty useful. This was not the case with American basic training.

American basic training is broken down in to three phases. Red, white and blue (obviously) with the addition of yellow before red as a covid isolation phase. You get there at 3 in the morning, run off the bus and stand all together. Unlike the UK where you are immediately with your platoon in the US you have to do a week of so called ‘in processing’. Here you basically sit in a hall with 300 other bods from 6 in the morning until 4 in the evening, silent waiting to go from station to station doing hearing, kit issue, pay etc. it was webbo.

A week later your cadre come and pick you up and take you to the ‘death stars’ huge blocks that house 5 companies each with 300-400 people. The instructors are pretty different to back home as they have ‘drill sgts’. I don’t quite understand why they make a big deal out of instructing recruits but it’s seen as that so whatever floats your boat.

The room or ‘bay’ was very much full metal jacket. One big rectangle with bunk beds. Americans are funny about nudity due to the many sexual assault cases that happen over here so 60 blokes had to get changed in the bogs and being shirtless was a no no which I found strange and immature. Stag was done pretty much every night for no apparent reason. Locker inspections and room inspections for that matter weren’t really a thing. Gats were kept in the room at the front in a locked weapons rack. You’ve seen full metal jacket you’ve seen this room.

Red phase. This was briefs, PT an obstacle course and that was pretty much it for two weeks. Nothing else really. Skill at arms lessons were given in the bay. In fact most lessons were given up there which was weird to me. Drill is done on a patch of grass out the back marching around singing songs about being airborne, or infantry or a ranger which I found very strange.

Scoff was the worst I’ve ever had. Meals went like this. Breakfast, meals delivered from the DFAC everyone sit on the floor outside and eat silent. Lunch, MRES. Dinner, sit on the floor outside and eat silently. We went to the DFAC maybe 3-4 times a week and it was awful with silly rituals like sliding around and holding your cups like a grenade it was just weird.

PT was shite. No PTI’s, no gym, no progression, if you’ve seen band of brothers and 50 blokes doing star jumps then you’ve seen American PT. Exercises and warmups are rigid with no flexibility between bod to bod. Do it the way the PAM says and that’s that. position of attention between exercises. Press ups and sit-ups done on concrete. IMO the whole thing needs and overhaul and they could do with sending some policy makers to aldershot. It was pretty embarrassing.

White phase was weeks 3-6, this was the range every single day which honestly wouldn’t have been that bad if it wasn’t Oaklahoma in the middle of summer. It was 35 degrees regularly so that was shite. First week and a half was iron sights second week and half was CCO red dot. I don’t know if ACOGS are just an infantry thing but the CCO did make me appreciate a SUSAT. Overall the the tested shoot was pretty fun, but it was one and done, once you passed your shoot you just sat around silently waiting for everyone else, I think I went through about 5-6 different books whilst I was there and I hadn’t read a book in the past 10 years so that’s saying something.

Blue phase is the final phase. I don’t really remember much about this phase other than the final ex which pretty much got canned. It starts out with a 10 mile TAB or ‘ruck’ in 4 hours (with 15kg, screaming!) through the night To the Night infiltration course. Basically you crawl towards GPMGS firing tracers over you. Have a camp in a field. ( without a roll mat) wake up and then you’re supposed to start doing other things. Well we had 8 heat casualties before breakfast so we stayed under a huge tent for the next 2 days sitting around whilst I read more books. Honestly didn’t do a thing. Unfortunately there’s no smoking or tobacco at American basic training which is ironic as Harrogate is where I picked up the habit! After this camping trip was done we tabbed back again at night to the soldier ceremony.

The soldier ceremony was very weird. There was a huge fire and tiki torches and we were all handed a polystyrene cup of juice (alcohol is a big no no to the American military) and put on our berets ( I got told off for shaping mine properly and not having it come down past my ear and cover my eye. Screaming.) the whole thing reminded me of some SS book burning.

After that we were pretty much done. The final week was supposed to be just clean up and then pass out, I don’t know what pass out was like as I had a family emergency come back up at home so I left two days early and tried to come back to the UK but flights were 5 grand at the time no idea why and the yanks didn’t offer me a welfare flight other than getting back to My state and even getting away was a hassle and took 3 days.

When I went back for my phase 2 there’s no really much to say. I had to return to Fort Sill again for a week to in process AGAIN then went down to an Air Force base in Texas. They treated me as a prior service so I got my own room, kept my phone, wore civilians, didn’t have to walk in a a pair ( the hole sexual assault thing people who haven’t finished training need a battle buddy) and did my six weeks of plumber school. This was actually pretty enjoyable. I was put in a navy class and the lads in there were a lot better than the army trainees I’d met so far. Overall a much better experience. Still would you trust a plumber with six weeks training?

TLDR; Too short and websters.
And I thought recruit training for our reserves was pap. Actually, I found that really interesting as a former ATU instructor. Six weeks residential, did I read that right?
 
And I thought recruit training for our reserves was pap. Actually, I found that really interesting as a former ATU instructor. Six weeks residential, did I read that right?
Reserves and guard in the US do the exact same initial training, if you’re infantry in the guard then you’re off to benning for 22 weeks just like a regular, if you’re a plumber like me then it’s 10 weeks basic and then 6 weeks trade. There is no buckshee do a few weekends and two weeks like I thought it would be.
 
Reserves and guard in the US do the exact same initial training, if you’re infantry in the guard then you’re off to benning for 22 weeks just like a regular, if you’re a plumber like me then it’s 10 weeks basic and then 6 weeks trade. There is no buckshee do a few weekends and two weeks like I thought it would be.
And there is the problem. British reserves, effectively, do three weeks recruit training, infantry do five weeks. It's nowhere near enough, but no politician has got the balls to bring in septic style training. And on top of that, employers would never go for it.
How were you treated, regarding your previous and you're Englandcestershire accent?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
My very brief interaction with an American careers office is much the same as your experiences.

While on terminal leave from the RN I was weighing up my options and moving to the states was a real contender.

My mum is a dual citizen and has a US passport and I have a lot of family over there. Theoretically it wasn’t that hard for me to get a green card and apply for citizenship.

So one day I’m walking around Hollywood and I see a careers office. “**** it, why not?” Thinks I, so I go in for a chat, expecting a somewhat similar experience to going in a UK AFCO.

I’m greeted by someone in a white US Navy uniform so I reckon I’m in the right place. I explain that I’m currently serving in the Royal Navy as a weapons engineer, but leaving soon and that I’m qualified on some US kit including Phalanx, something that they have on nearly every yank ship.

The bloke just looks at me blankly and then in a very strong Hispanic accent says:

“Er sounds like you’re from out of town.”

“Yeah no shit.”

He barely spoke English, didn’t have a ******* clue what I was on about. Had never heard of the Royal Navy. I genuinely don’t think the bloke had ever even set foot on a ship before. Couldn’t answer a single one of my questions.

I think his sole purpose in life was just to hand out leaflets.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t join the US Navy that day.
 
My very brief interaction with an American careers office is much the same as your experiences.

While on terminal leave from the RN I was weighing up my options and moving to the states was a real contender.

My mum is a dual citizen and has a US passport and I have a lot of family over there. Theoretically it wasn’t that hard for me to get a green card and apply for citizenship.

So one day I’m walking around Hollywood and I see a careers office. “**** it, why not?” Thinks I, so I go in for a chat, expecting a somewhat similar experience to going in a UK AFCO.

I’m greeted by someone in a white US Navy uniform so I reckon I’m in the right place. I explain that I’m currently serving in the Royal Navy as a weapons engineer, but leaving soon and that I’m qualified on some US kit including Phalanx, something that they have on nearly every yank ship.

The bloke just looks at me blankly and then in a very strong Hispanic accent says:

“Er sounds like you’re from out of town.”

“Yeah no shit.”

He barely spoke English, didn’t have a ******* clue what I was on about. Had never heard of the Royal Navy. I genuinely don’t think the bloke had ever even set foot on a ship before. Couldn’t answer a single one of my questions.

I think his sole purpose in life was just to hand out leaflets.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t join the US Navy that day.
You should have, you'd be a Brigadier by now, probably.
 
My very brief interaction with an American careers office is much the same as your experiences.

While on terminal leave from the RN I was weighing up my options and moving to the states was a real contender.

My mum is a dual citizen and has a US passport and I have a lot of family over there. Theoretically it wasn’t that hard for me to get a green card and apply for citizenship.

So one day I’m walking around Hollywood and I see a careers office. “**** it, why not?” Thinks I, so I go in for a chat, expecting a somewhat similar experience to going in a UK AFCO.

I’m greeted by someone in a white US Navy uniform so I reckon I’m in the right place. I explain that I’m currently serving in the Royal Navy as a weapons engineer, but leaving soon and that I’m qualified on some US kit including Phalanx, something that they have on nearly every yank ship.

The bloke just looks at me blankly and then in a very strong Hispanic accent says:

“Er sounds like you’re from out of town.”

“Yeah no shit.”

He barely spoke English, didn’t have a ******* clue what I was on about. Had never heard of the Royal Navy. I genuinely don’t think the bloke had ever even set foot on a ship before. Couldn’t answer a single one of my questions.

I think his sole purpose in life was just to hand out leaflets.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t join the US Navy that day.
Are you sure you didn't wander on to a film set?
 
And there is the problem. British reserves, effectively, do three weeks recruit training, infantry do five weeks. It's nowhere near enough, but no politician has got the balls to bring in septic style training. And on top of that, employers would never go for it.
How were you treated, regarding your previous and you're Englandcestershire accent?
I mean unless you’re teeth arms over here I’m willing to bet those three to five weeks are much more useful. I did find it odd that some of the instructors here were reserves and they were training the regulars.
 
And there is the problem. British reserves, effectively, do three weeks recruit training, infantry do five weeks. It's nowhere near enough, but no politician has got the balls to bring in septic style training. And on top of that, employers would never go for it.
There is no money for it either.
 

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