It’s time for you to select a Branch…where do you start? How do I pick the “right” one? Will I get my 1st choice…or my 10th?
Junior Officer has compiled some helpful information for you below. If you have an insight, a document, or a link that you found helpful, please comment below and share your knowledge!
We wish you all the best in receiving the branch of your choice. Good luck!
– Junior Officer Team
Things to Consider, Suggestions, and Tips
Successful Army junior officers told us what questions they asked as they made their branch choices. Not every question will work for you; consider them starting points for building your own list of questions:
Things They Asked Themselves:
- What attracted me to the Army in the first place?
- Am I willing to do the tasks my soldiers have to do within this branch?
- Do I understand and believe in the mission of this branch?
- Will this branch challenge me / fulfill me / make me better?
- Does this branch offer personal and professional options I want? Does it align with my personality and goals? Does it let me serve at my greatest capacity?
- What factors affect my success in this branch? Schools, Post, leadership?
- Do I have any mentors in this branch?
- How best may I serve?
Things They Asked Others:
- “Why did you pick this branch?”
- “What is your regular Day/Week/month like?”
- “What is the most important part of this job?”
- “What are the hardest / most fun / most fulfilling parts of this branch?”
- “If you had the opportunity to pick your branch over again, what would you do differently?”
- “What units (e.g. airborne, heavy, light) are better for this branch?”
- “What developmental resources (schools, leader development options) are avail-able for officers in this branch?”
- “What are the deployment opportunities in this branch?”
- “How do this branch’s skills relate to post-Army life?”
Three Junior Officers: "How I picked my branch"
When I was choosing my branch, my class rank had me high enough to be assured of my first choice. For me, it was between Engineers and Infantry. I would have considered Aviation, too, because whirly-birds are stinkin’ cool, but I didn’t have the eyes for it. Ultimately, I asked myself one question, “What attracted me to West Point in the first place?” For me, I started my military adventure for the service ethic and the quality of the people. Read more …
Any branch gave me the opportunity to serve. The Infantry gave me the purest opportunity to serve my fellow Soldiers. Other branches had platforms and weapon systems and capabilities and memorandums and maintenance. Other branches had the same high quality Soldiers as the Infantry, but they also had so many other distractions. The Infantry prioritized their “platform” to be a well-trained Soldier. So, I choose Infantry, because I asked myself what is the pure essence of military service, and what branch puts me closest to Soldiers?
There is another compelling thought process that I heard while my classmates and I were choosing our branches. As my buddy put it, “you join the Army with the idea of going to war. Not the desire to go to war, but the idea that joining the Army makes going to war a real possibility in your future. In war, every Soldier needs to know how to fight. So, if I might go to war and I might get in a fight, I want to be in a branch where I surround myself with other Soldiers that know how to fight. And nobody trains to fight more than the Infantry.”
My roommate used a similar version of the thought process but it ended with, “if I’m going to get in a fight I want two tons of steel wrapped around me and the ability to shoot sabot rounds.” He branched Armor.
That got me to the Infantry. The question I used to decide where to post would also work for deciding how to branch. I had decided to post to Germany where my best friend was also posting and we were going to share an apartment, learn German, and drink lots of beer. I shared my plans with a mentor of mine at West Point and he gave me the right question to ask myself. It’s a question I stole and still use to make career decisions today. He shrugged when he heard my plans to go to Germany and said, “That’s not a bad way to think about it. Me personally, I never knew how long my military career would last – I might not like it and want to get out, I might pay the ultimate sacrifice in a foreign land. So, I always wanted to en- sure I would be proud of my military service and that I had selected the toughest assignment available at every opportunity. If Germany is the toughest assignment you can get, you should go to Germany…” Holy eff, I felt three inches tall after that little pep talk. I did not post to Germany. I choose an assignment I felt would demand more. To generalize the question for something that works for branching or posting or prioritizing your next assignment: “Which option allows me to serve at my greatest capacity?” If you are a numerical savant and your greatest service will be developing new algorithms in the Finance Corps, you should serve there. If you were part of the young aviators club and have wanted to be Top Gun in an Apache helicopter your whole life, branch Aviation. Go where you feel like you have the greatest capacity to serve.
As a final note, some cadets will not get their first, second, or even sixth choice of branch. In those in- stances, just reverse the thought process. Serve in the greatest capacity you are able in the branch you receive. At the end of the day, it’s about service. Serve the country. Serve the Constitution. Ask yourself at every opportunity, “how best may I serve?”
As a cadet, I felt like I really needed to find the branch that was the best fit for me. Looking back, I realize I put too much emphasis on finding “the” branch or branches that would fit best. Having been in the Army about 8 years now, I have worked with officers from numerous branches. As I learned more and more about what each branch did, I realized I would have enjoyed many of them. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I get to do in my current branch (Military Police). However, I don’t see branching as a zero-sum decision. Just because you like one does not mean you could also not like the others. Read more …
I firmly believe that I would be just as happy and fulfilled in more than half of the Army’s branches as I am in my current branch. I say all of this because it was a message I wish I heard during my branching process: Don’t feel like you can only be happy with just one. You could be just as happy with 5… 10… 15… of them.
With that said, you still need to put deliberate thought into your selection. After all, your choice does matter. Here is what I did:
– I started thinking about my decision early: freshman year. This gave me time to talk with many people and shape the experiences I had in school to help inform my decision.
– I researched every branch option and spoke to at least one person in each branch.
– I analyzed what I wanted out of my life and what was important to me. Then I looked at how those branches fit into that.
– Once I narrowed down the choices to my top few, I talked with a few more people with each branch or had longer discussions with them, asking difficult questions to really get to know the branch. I found that everyone’s experiences were different, so it helped to talk to multiple people.
– I selected a CTLT slot with what I thought was my top branch choice to validate (or not) my decision.
I’m happy with the decision I made and the branch I received, in part because of the time I put into researching each branch. Every branch has a purpose and an important mission. If it didn’t, the Army would get rid of that branch.
At the end of the day, remember: you will be a leader in whatever branch you receive. While each branch has their differences, leadership is leadership. The applications are different, but the core principles are the same.
My branching story is a simple one. I come from an Army family and their career fields vary from field artillery, aviation, and transportation. My mother, a retired CSM, was in the transportation and supply field. My mother and I have a close-knit relationship. I look up to her and as I made the decision to join the military, I automatically was interested in the transportation branch.
When I was a cadet going through LDAC and we got to explore all the different branches, the logistic fields caught my interest. Medical was always number one, however, I knew I had to have backup options and they were transportation and quartermaster. Unfortunately, the class that graduated before me had a lot of cadets that branched medical so when it came my turn to branch the following year, I knew there would not be many medical options. That was okay, I got my second choice, which was transportation.
Read more …
Branch-specific Junior Officer Members
Below is a list of Junior Officer members that are in each of the branches selected. If you’d like to reach out to these JO Members, their contact information is below. NOTE: If you are a member of Junior Officer, you will see their full name and a link to contact them via email. Non-JO Members will only see the name and Year Group information.