go now, or train for later?

August 5th, 2005  

Topic: go now, or train for later?

Hello all.

Some basic information before i ask my questions...

I am a 23 year old car salesman who is extremely bored and looking for a new career. Perhaps in private security after proper military training. A buddy of mine is in the military and when i last caught up with him, i found out he was with one of the sf groups. I have always been interested in the military, but always thought the "cool" jobs meant a lifetime commitment to the army, in other words, you would be in for 10 or more years before you were allowed to participate in any type of special program... and then the appropriate amount of time with those programs and more advanced programs afterwards until retirement. Apparently now however, you can participate in special programs almost immediately if you qualify, and after a 5-8 year service you can move on to the next non-military stage of your career if you so choose.

A buddy of mine from high school went straight into the military, and when we last caught up i found out he was with one of the SF groups. My friend educated me about the new "18x" program and through my own research i have found out as much about it as i can. Both the good of being able to go straight from being a civilian to trying out for sf at SFAS (after basic etc)... and the bad of some guys complaining that "sf babies" are not mature enough to handle the task and that whole argument.

The program seems very interesting and is obviously alot more stimulating than sitting behind a desk all day haucking cars. About 4 months ago i decided that the sf program was something that i really wanted, so i quit smoking, drinking, and dropped my musical projects and other activities to make room for physical training so i could earn the enlistment.

Before anyone asks, the asvab won't be a problem. I took the test in high school and was told i had an almost perfect score. I also speak spanish fluently, and have picked up conversational russian. I seem to have an affinity for learning languages so i don't foresee the d-lab being a problem either.

I work about 50-60 hours a week on average... and 4 years of smoking, drinking and sitting behind a desk and eating fast food 2 meals a day took it's toll. When i started training in late march i weighed 225 (i'm 6'2)... my body fat was over 20%. I was a strong athlete in high school however, and I have clawed my way back down to about 200, and feel like i have made a tremendous amount of progress. When i started training, i couldn't even finish the 2 mile run... my best time now is 15:30 (barely passing but certainly an improvement).

My best APFT was as follows:
push-ups - 57
Situps - 62
Two mile run 15:32

Giving me a score of 218.

This is enough to satisfy the physical requirements for my enlistment... but i have to admit that those scores reflect a "gut check" test. I was totally smoked at the end of the test. Perhaps a reflection of mental stamina, but not a true statement of my physical condition if that makes sense.

So now that you have this background info... here is my question.

From what i have read online, there is alot of competition among 18x-ers at selection. I am wondering, should i go ahead and enlist, and head to basic... and possibly start out a bit behind the others physically and hope to catch up at basic, ait, airborne and sopc, or... wait to enlist for another 2-3 months and work towards a "comfortable" 250 or above on the test. In other words... when i am in the kind of shape where i can score a 250 or higher without a tremendous amount of strain.

My concern is that at benning especially, for basic... ait and airborne... there are no cooks, no computer jockeys, no tank drivers (no disrespect to those mos's, i'm sure there are plenty of cooks who could whip me on a pt test right now)... but what i am getting at here... is at benning, everyone is a grunt. So everyone there will be cut from some pretty tough cloth i am guessing. I expect almost everyone will be in sharp shape when they arrive to basic.

So, do i need to best the competition out of the gate to have a better chance at selection, or am i golden to go now and play catch up at basic etc.?

Sorry to be long winded, but i wanted to give as much information as possible so i can get advice based on my situation.

Thanks for your help!
August 7th, 2005  
You need to have an APFT of at least 229, with no less than 60 points on any event. Those with this score have about a 30% chance of passing SFAS. That isn't very high.

If you are at 218 now, I would not even think of signing a contract.

If you're shooting for a 'comfortable' 250 score, do not waste your time with an 18X contract. SF is not a place to find comfort or be satsified with the minimum. Those with 250 scores have around a 40% chance of passing SFAS.

If you use basic as a means of "catching" up, you can forget any hope of a career in SF.

You should set your goal at maxing the APFT, and until you do so .. I would not step foot into MEPS.

It doesn't seem as if you are taking the 18X program as seriously as you should. This is not something to be decided on a whim .. you are looking at spending a year or more in training. Physically and mentally demanding training. SF is not something to do just because you've become bored with your civilian career. It is something you have to be 110% completely dedicated to, something you are willing to sacrifice everything you are and have to accomplish.

If I were you, I would take a step back and reevaluate why you're considering joining under the 18X program. It certainly needs to be taken a lot more seriously than you seem to be taking it.