The American Military Dream

Discussion in 'The War Room' started by JosephDredd, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. JosephDredd

    JosephDredd Gold Belt

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    I admit up front that I know very little about the military.

    We all know the American Dream, to build yourself up from nothing into a success story, and at one time the American Dream was real. For some reason I was under the impression that there is a military version of the American Dream, where a lowly private could rise through the ranks to a general.

    Today I was talking with someone who's more knowledgable about military history than I am and his opinion was that now, as in most of history, military leaders are groomed and come from a more elite class than the average grunt.

    Has it ever been common, in modern times or in history, for uneducated peasants to rise through to the top of military ranks because they possessed incredible military acumen and were given the opportunity to demonstrate it?
     
  2. Diamond Jim

    Diamond Jim Silver Belt

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    Not a private. He is enlisted personnel. He could become a high ranking noncommissioned officer years down the road but not a general.
     
  3. Diamond Jim

    Diamond Jim Silver Belt

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    As far as grooming officers from elite families, that seems probably a couple centuries ago. Now it's more likely the officers you come across are middle class guys who went to a military academy for college or went to a public school and did ROTC.
     
  4. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    I think it's less the social elite in the American military than the intellectual elite. It's really, really hard to get into any of the service academies and they are very demanding schools. The majority of high ranking officers come from the service academies, I don't know this but I'd guess most of the rest come from other college ROTC programs. I have no idea how many people go through OCS and rise to high ranks, but I bet it's relatively few.
     
  5. s karlyle

    s karlyle الجسر

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    I completely familiar with military protocol but I would imagine that the "high" or "ruling" ranks like all other industries are reserved for a certain "class" of people. I'm sure blood lines and traditions have a lot to do with eventual rank.
     
  6. madizm2

    madizm2 Brown Belt

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    As far as the Army goes, usually when enlisted switch over to commissioned, they usually top out at captain or major. By the time they hit those ranks they are pushing 20+ years of total service. Like it was stated above, today's generals usually have 30+ years in the officer ranks and graduated from a service academy most likely.
     
  7. oldshadow

    oldshadow Steel Belt

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  8. panamaican

    panamaican Senior Moderator Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    My understanding mirrors those stated above. If you go to college, you basically enter the military as a commissioned officer. After 20+ years in the service, I'd imagine that there just isn't enough time for your average private to climb that high. Plus you've got the guys who either went ROTC or a service academy and they're climbing too.

    Also, don't the military services use some sort of intelligence test to determine where you start and it somewhat influences the direction of your career? I'd ask someone I know but most of my commissioned officer friends got out after 4-6 years (except for a guy in JAG) and my family members retired as NCO's.
     
  9. LogicalError

    LogicalError Purple Belt

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    This is a quality post. ROTC is the largest commissioning source, but percentage wise, most General officers likely come from West Point or one of the senior military academies.

    Also, a private can meet the eligibility to attend West Point and commission so it is possible to serve as both enlisted and a warrant or commissioned officer.

    Lastly, why is the idea of success pinned to rising to the rank of General. Anyone who retires at an appropriate rank for their years of service have achieved quite a bit of success vs the average American from my perspective.
     
  10. lts5025

    lts5025 "What the **** is a Dim Mack?"

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    I don't know that it's common, but it's certainly not unheard of. Tommy Franks is a pretty notable example.

    Every branch has a enlisted-to-officer program that takes outstanding enlisted personnel and pays for them to go to college and then receive an officer's commission. The army calls theirs Green to Gold, while the Navy has the Seaman to Admiral program.

    I'm sure there are also lots of cases where enlisted personnel have used the GI Bill to get a degree and then go through OCS.

    As for graduating from West Point or Annapolis being a requirement to get 4 stars, it certainly helps but it's not a requirement. If you look at the current and past Chiefs of Staff, the percentage of service academy grads is only about 50%.
     
  11. oldshadow

    oldshadow Steel Belt

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    Ring knockers.
     
  12. FloridaCracker

    FloridaCracker Dirty, Stinky, Greasy

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    I'm not sure if an E1 could reach 010 but (at least in the USMC) they could go MECEP after picking up E4 on their first enlistment and probably retire as at least an 06.
     
  13. FloridaCracker

    FloridaCracker Dirty, Stinky, Greasy

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    If not, someone coming in as an E1 and working their way all the way up to E9 is still pretty swank. Over $5700 a month base pay if you've done at least 20 and that doesn't include BAH (because obviously someone that high isn't gonna be living in the barracks). Just as an example, BAH would probably be around $1200 with no dependents and around $1500 with dependents in the Camp Lejeune area.

    Edit: Remember too that you have full medical and dental covered and ComRats to cover your groceries.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015
  14. 2DUM2TAP

    2DUM2TAP Silver Belt

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    I know a guy who worked as a reservist here in Canada. He made it all the way to Chief Warrant Officer as an NCM with the appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major, then Area Sergeant Major. About as high as you can go as an NCM.

    He then took his commission automatically at the rank of Captain and proceeded to make it up to the rank of Lt. Colonel and became the Commanding Officer of the Regiment.

    Don't see that very often.
     
  15. FloridaCracker

    FloridaCracker Dirty, Stinky, Greasy

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    A guy I used to work with went from enlisted (E6 SSgt) to warrant officer (CWO2) to officer (03E Capt). I'm not sure if he had a degree or not though.
     
  16. 2DUM2TAP

    2DUM2TAP Silver Belt

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    Might work the same in the US as here. Once you hit CWO you can take an automatic commission to the rank of Captain. An MWO to Lt.
     
  17. Diamond Jim

    Diamond Jim Silver Belt

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    We had a PFC (E-3) who left Iraq 3 months into deployment because he had a lot of flight hours pre-army and his warrant officer packet was accepted.
     
  18. FloridaCracker

    FloridaCracker Dirty, Stinky, Greasy

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    That's nuts. Anyone I ever knew who went warrant officer was at least an E6 (which is an snco rank in the USMC).
     
  19. JosephDredd

    JosephDredd Gold Belt

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    Man, so much great information here.

    At what level of service are you likely to no longer serve alongside the troops in combat?
     
  20. 2DUM2TAP

    2DUM2TAP Silver Belt

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    Depends on Officer or NCM here and what your trade is.
     

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