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Reservist hopeful of switching to Army Reserve/Guard to fly WO route.


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#1 Headspace And Timing

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 20:24

I'm currently serving as an infantryman in the Marine Reserves, I'd love to switch to the Army Reserves or the Guard to fly as a WO. But, in all honesty I don't have a very good understanding of how the process will work. Is it easy for me to switch branches? Going the Reserve/Guard route how does the initial training pipeline work (i.e. going through all the schools) can they be broken up? Am I able to fly an aircraft even if there isn't a unit that flies it in my state? Any and all information would be greatly appreciated. 

 

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#2 mike0331

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 11:54

It seems Illinois has a sizable Guard aviation unit. You are going to probably want to find a unit that is closer to where you live, rather than just in your state. Guard aviators are expected to go in weekly to fly in addition to drilling. 

 

Reach out to an Illinois guard recruiter and have him get you in touch with the "Warrant Officer Strength Manager." The WOSM will be able to get you information directly about what your state requires for prospective aviators. It varies state by state -- some allow anyone off the street to apply, others require you to have current membership in the Guard, and others do something somewhere in the middle or are willing to work with potential aviators. When you talk to the WOSM, have them get you in touch with someone at the aviation unit directly so you can talk to them, meet them for coffee, and generally get yourself on their radar. If Illinois is willing to consider you, go from there. They should advise on what you need for a packet/how they want it put together. Also, your recruiter can tell you what you need from the USMC, it will be some form of conditional release. 

 

If you can get a secret clearance started if you don't already have one while you are still USMC, that would be helpful. There's a good chance if you're a 31 you don't have one. You will also need a class 1 flight physical approved by Ft Rucker, as well as a SIFT test score. 

 

As to the process... assuming Illinois boards you and accepts you on the condition the USMCR gives you a conditional release, you'll probably separate from the USMC after boarding and being accepted by the Guard, and start drilling as a warrant officer candidate with the aviation unit until they get you school seats. You won't be required to go to boot camp, but you will have to attend WOCS, and then about 14-18 months of flight school which includes (if you haven't done it already) SERE-C. They won't typically split it up from what I understand, but often there is a bit of a gap between WOCS (which is looking like will be 4.5 weeks for all classes pretty soon) and flight school, and often there is not. 

You need not go to "your" state's Guard unit... just keep in mind you're going to need to go in weekly to fly, so consider the commute. 

There seem to be a lot of Marines who go this route FWIW. I was an 0331 in the reserves from 08-14. I'm a "WOC" in the Guard now waiting for school dates. It's a very different world from being an 0331 in the Marine Corps. So far, much less yelling and much happier people. Not sure what your experience in the SMCR has been like, and though I generally had a good experience, the Guard seems to care much more about it's members' civilian lives and careers. Your mileage may vary, of course. 

 

Mike


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#3 Headspace And Timing

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 16:57

All very helpful information. I have reached out to a recruiter, so far they aren't the greatest at replying to my initial contacts (surprising for a recruiter). My time in '15 - Current has been lack luster to say the least, poor command, no deployments, etc. Looking for the next step in my military career, as I would like to make it a career. 

 

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#4 mike0331

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 22:31

Yeah the optempo for the SMCR has slowed down considerably from 2005-2012. Some individual companies are getting rotated through Afghanistan on a secfor mission and UDPs to Japan for example are happening. Not the guaranteed combat deployment it had been.

As far as command, they'll come and go. Assuming you find a Guard unit willing to work with you, your state Guard and your command will need to be willing to play ball. My guess is the Guard won't board you unless your command gives them some sort of assurance theyll give you a conditional release if you're selected, but the only way to know is to ask. Stay on top of the recruiter, and get in touch with the WOSM and someone at the aviation unit near you.

Mike
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