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Enlisted to Officer?

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  • Enlisted to Officer?

    I am currently 21, and I aim to join the Navy after graduation from college - in approximately 2 years. Currently, I plan on making a career out of the military and one of my primary goals is to become an officer. (I know that plans like this tend to change for most people after they actually join, hence why I say "I plan on.") I am already preparing myself up for a SEAL Contract via Delayed Entry Program. What I am unsure about is whether I should enlist first, THEN try for commission, or go straight for commission. I know this is scattered throughout the forum, but for the sake of convenience, what are the major differences between an enlisted SEAL and a commissioned SEAL - aside from the obvious, "officers have more responsibility and oversight than enlisted." I remember reading somewhere (I believe on this forum) that officers don't get as much of a variety of specializations than enlisted. I want to know things of that nature. What are the differences in opportunities of the two?

    Also, a bit of background of my personal motives. I am joining the military for some time regardless of anything else I do in my life. I feel that it is required from me, as my debt to this great country. However, don't let that make you think I don't WANT to join, because I definitely do wholeheartedly want to join. And my philosophy is that if I am going to do something, then I might as well shoot for the best that that ' thing' has to offer. In this case the "something" is the military, and the Navy SEALs are the best that it has to offer. Also, I have always wanted to be a SEAL, and I think it would be absolutely freaking awesome to be able to wear that Gold Trident.
    Now, I understand that most people want to be in the field as long as they possibly can. While, it would be nice to have a service record with an incredible number of active duty deployments, I am not all too worried about that. I want to get the Trident, and do my part to the absolute best of my ability, whether the higher-ups need me in the field or Stateside is irrelevant to me.

    I also understand that enlisted usually get more operational time than officers, because command usually needs individuals who are commissioned to be available for paperwork and pesky politics... and the occasional wartime strategy development (mild sarcasm) and that is okay. I plan on getting into politics once I get out of service. So, given this information, what would be the best route to take? Should I enlist then try to commission, or should I attempt to go straight for commission?


  • #2
    Hi KTH,

    This question comes up a lot. To serve your country is an honorable thing to do whether you choose Officer or Enlisted.

    Both Enlisted and Officer are leaders within the Teams and the Navy. Both take orders. No career path is ever the same in the Teams. An Officer could do 2x Assistant Platoon Commander Tours and 2x Platoon Commander Tours, all still being actively engaged with the Enlisted. Usually, upon putting on the rank of O4 (Lieutenant Commander), Officers gain more responsibility for his/her sailors therefore taking them away from the up close action. Though there are opportunities for O4s to stay active, but that is up to the individual and the needs of the Teams.

    Becoming an Officer, you must realize your sole purpose; to lead men/women in combat. You are responsible for the health and welfare of your Teammates and provide the top cover and support when situations become unstable. What you see in movies is false. Every SEAL is trained to shoot, move and communicate, however, the Enlisted Sailor will become more proficient and specialize and stay active longer with less responsibility than an Officer. With rank and years in service, responsibility increases.

    Everyone will do paperwork, everyone will do work that sucks. The big difference is responsibility; Officers provide task and purpose and Enlisted action those tasks.

    The decision must be yours. Becoming an Enlisted first, than trying to become a commissioned Officer is a very challenge route to say the least.


    • #3
      Thank you for your reply!

      First and foremost, I just want to clarify that I am ready and willing to lead anyone into any situation - after I become sufficiently trained, of course. I am also fully aware of the responsibilities I will have to take on. My team has always and will always come before myself.

      You answered my question about the differences between the lifestyle of Enlisted and Officer, so now I am stuck with one other inquiry. I mentioned that one of my end goals in the military is to become an officer, as well as becoming a SEAL. I know the choice is ultimately mine, but that doesn't negate my curiosity about what I'll be getting myself into. On the one hand, I could attempt to go Enlisted to Officer, which is understandably very hard. I have to prove myself worthy against other previously Enlisted sailors who likely have a service record equal to, or better than my own. On the other hand, I could try for OCS, or the Naval Academy (which is a completely different conversation,) and be commissioned before even attempting BUD/s. ROTC is out of the picture for me, I am already three years into my four year degree, and I need at least two years remaining in order to apply go through ROTC. Anyway, it is to my understanding that only a very few number of Officers are even selected for a SEAL contract to begin with. So, that will make my chances dwindle on top of an already extremely competitive contract application process.

      I suppose the question I am trying to ask is: what would be a more reasonable approach to becoming a SEAL Officer? I am willing to undertake any hardships that either path will bring forth, but - as with most major life choices - there are logical choices that could be made. Is this a fair question?

      Any advice would be appreciated!


      • #4
        The most reasonable approach for becoming a SEAL Officer, in your case, would be to finish your degree and look at the OCS route and submitting a packages for SOAS.

        There are a lot of variables that will affect your chances of becoming an officer when you're already an enlisted sailor:
        -A college degree
        -Your rank
        -Performance (EVALS)
        -Needs of the Teams (Your competing with incoming Junior Officer SEALs and what NSW manning requirements are)

        It is not impossible to do.

        However, in your case, to go Enlisted to Officer in the SEAL community, is over 12 years away! And you have one little speed bump you have to get over before any of this can happen; make it through BUD/S!

        i like that you are looking ahead at your options but you should start to lock in on your near targets and prepare for them; getting an enlisted SEAL contract or finishing your degree and submit packages for OCS and SOAS.

        Good luck. And please send me an email if you would like to further discuss about the process.