I'm in the Army so I can't really speak on behalf of the Air Force, or National Gaurd for the matter.
The Army offers "decent" education. I'm a IT Specialist, which translates into a Sys/Net Admin with minimal clearance. Basically your job is contracted out to civilians. You'll end up doing other "military" jobs related to what you're supposed to do. Kinda sucks.
But on the lighter side of things you have the opportunity to get learned up on stuff. I'm currently working on getting my Associate's degree in the computer field.
This post has bugged me for a while.
Shit happens but this isn't an accurate picture of what really goes on. Army IT Specialist start with Secret clearances and a lot of them get Top Secret clearances after AIT.
It really depends on the assignment but they're pretty common in that field. Army IT Specialist jobs are not
contracted out to civilians. Civilians (DoD civilians, DA civilians, contractors, etc...) have an important role in supporting Soldiers, but they can't replace them. Especially during a time of war like the Global War on Terrorism.
It applies to all branches and job fields.
I worked with dozens of dirty contractors and civilians when I was in (it wasn't that long ago) and none of them could replace me. I was always in high demand. People knew where to go when they wanted stuff done in garrison, on exercises, and deployed. Those dirty contractors and civilians made my transition out of the military very easy too. The only hard part was deciding what job to accept.
The system isn't perfect and I've heard plenty of horror stories about supply rooms and other BS assignments. I normally question how they got there and why they didn't move. One of the great things about the military is that it's easy to move. Even more so during the Global War on Terrorism. It's too easy to speak to your CSM, branch assignment manager
, Special Ops recruiter, or use the Internets to find great assignments like this.
I had a friend call a G6 and land a good assignment that way. I never played the needs of the Army game. I had Option 19 - Guaranteed Station of Choice in my enlistment contract and did a 4187 COT/low cost move after my first assignment. The gaining organization was thrilled to have me and the Army saved a lot of money. I got a free ticket to the states and some vacation time too. Nobody did the paperwork for me and I had to get my 1SG, who was more than happy to assist, involved at one point.
The Army paid for my Associate's degree too. It's crazy how many people don't take advantage of the Tuition Assistance (TA) program. It's great how they don't take away from the GI or Post 911 Bill, but I was sort of pissed towards the end when they started making us pay for books. Fortunately I had a lot of old books to sell.
Funny how they did it around the start of the post 911 bill and everyone was excited about the new education benefits.
And if you do enter, give up your Guard/Reserve ideas and just go Full Time. If you don't go full time for at least 3 years and pay into the MGIB you're going to encounter anger on the scale of every a-bomb dropped in the Marshall Islands. Just do it. It's worth every thing they say it is in the end. After your 3 years is up, switch to guard or reserve or not at all.
Also, make sure whatever the recruiter promises you is IN WRITING. Recruiters = used car salesmen whose office is a mobile home with a full tank of gas.
Couldn't agree more about the full time active duty, but I don't think people pay anymore.
Job experience and friendships made along the way are worth a lot more than the training ever will be. It's hard to keep a decent job or go to school when the Guard and Reserves are calling all of the time. Employers aren't thrilled about the idea either.