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FA Officers, APFT and other questions

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frankmask123
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FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby frankmask123 Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:48 am

Hello all, I checked to see if this was covered yet and I couldn't find anything, so if it has already been talked about, then forgive me.

I want to branch FA as my first choice, and I was wondering three things,

1. I have heard conflicting answers about how competitive FA is as a branch via OCS. Some say it is one of the most competitive, others have said it is always available. I figured it would be best to hear it from the horses mouth here. How competitive is FA at OCS really?

2. Are there generally many FA slots available? Or is it more rare as branches go?

3. Finally, of the FA Officers here who went through OCS, how were your APFT scores? Currently I am sitting around a 285-290. I can max out the Pushups and Sit-ups portions quite easily, however, my run time is always hovering between 13 30 and 14 00 (I will be attending boards in March/April-ish and hopefully will be entering a class sometime in June should I get selected, which should give me enough time to really force down my run time).

Thank you so much and sorry if this is a bit longwinded.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby PhantomWarrior Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:42 pm

I'm surprised anyone would tell you FA is a competitive branch choice. Infantry is far and away the hottest combat arms branch, with Armor a somewhat distant second. I can't give you hard numbers but based on my OCS experience and ten years on this forum FA generally seems like the red headed step child of the combat arms branches. Unless you are very low on the Order of Merit List (OML or class rankings) I don't think you'll have much trouble securing an FA slot.

In a regular class of 100-150 candidates it seems like there are usually four to eight "pure" FA slots, with a smaller number of branch details from AG, MI, and SC. If it is a small class those numbers will be smaller. But the number of candidates will be smaller as well.

A 290 APFT is a pretty good place to be. Both for OCS and as a new 2LT. As long as you can run five miles at an eight minute pace or close to it I wouldn't worry too much. Obviously it is always good to improve. But I think you are in good shape physically to make it through OCS and succeed at your first unit.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby frankmask123 Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:06 pm

So it is reasonable to say that if one places in the middle of the OML or the top third, that they stand a good chance of branching FA if it is their first choice?
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby Son of the Raven Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:56 pm

So it is reasonable to say that if one places in the middle of the OML or the top third, that they stand a good chance of branching FA if it is their first choice?
I hate to say this but ... it depends. If there are, say 5 FA slots, assigned to your class and you are #6, If numbers 1-5 want FA as their #1 Branch too you will be out of luck. The chances of that are remote, of course. It's just that there are variables that you cannot control (e.g. the number of slots, the interests of those ranked higher than you on the OML, etc.). All you can worry about is what you can control. Your APFT score is not the only thing that controls your OML placement. It sounds like you've done everything you can to do your best in that area. While you are at OCS make sure that you are excelling in your other graded areas as well in order to ensure as high a ranking as possible on your class' OML.

The other thing I would suggest, and you probably won't like hearing this, accept that you might not get FA. Based on your post, it seems like it is FA or nothing for you. If I'm wrong, disregard this part of my answer. However, if I am not, then you are only setting yourself up for a miserable Army experience if no other branch will do. PW mentioned branch detail options. This might not be an ideal solution but it would allow you to go through the window instead of the door. Spend time in another branch and then shift over to FA or, if the branch detail has you spend time in FA first, you can look to stay FA and not switch over to the other branch. That has been an option for some in the past.

The reality is that you will not always get your first choice of branches, assignments, etc. throughout your Army career. Understanding, and more importantly accepting, that fact will make your Army career a more acceptable and enjoyable one. For example, when you look to PCS you need to consider at least 3 or 4 possibilities both in terms of location and what that assignment will mean for your career path. If you are determined to follow a very specific path throughout your Army career you are going to be miserable in the Army with anything other than that path. The reality is that you will rarely get to follow the exact path you want. However, if you accept that every path creates opportunities, which they will if you do your job exceptionally well, then you could be surprised with where your career takes you.
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frankmask123
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby frankmask123 Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:00 pm

Oh it is definitely not all or nothing FA for me... to be frank, I would be elated with any combat arms branch (Infantry, Armor, Engineer, FA, ADA, etc). Thats the only thing I would be disappointed with, if I didn't get one of those as my branch. Aside from that, I am pretty much willing to be stationed anywhere and do anything.

It is reasonable to expect at least one of those if I place them as my top preferences, right?
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby dcol Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:24 pm

What I can offer is purely anecdotal.

I commissioned with Alpha Co. on 15 December, and we had 5 pure FA slots available. There were a few FA branch detail slots as well, which I can't remember off the top of my head (gdavis, a fellow classmate, posted our branch allocations in another thread if you care to look that up).

Following our call for fire simulation half the class was interested in FA, but the excitement died out as the cycle progressed.

We ended up having 3 candidates who were hard on for FA, all graduated around the middle of the pack, and got the FA slots.
The remaining two pure slots were picked up dead last- two of our females at the bottom of the OML were force branched.

While I was at OCS I only had the opportunity to see Delta and Alpha branching- the majority of my peers wanted support jobs. Hard chargers at the head of the pack picked up combat slots early, and individuals at the bottom of the OML were forced to pick up the balance. There was no in-between.

Average AFPT score for Alpha was in the 270's, so you should be fine. Just focus on STX, that is where we saw a HUGE shift in the OML just a week before branching. The final OML will show the first 15-20 individuals within 1-2 points of one another.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby sck003 Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:46 am

I just find it really hard to believe that FA is not a highly sought after branching. I want to serve my country, what better way to do it than shooting massive weaponry, on the ground right with the infantry? If we have conflicts with a country with a true air force I could see ADA being really good too.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby caleb13g Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:06 am

sck003, I don't think anyone is doubting your bravery but they are telling you what they know. This is just like your 9th post about FA. At this point, I would start listening to the officer's advise on the issue.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby Son of the Raven Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:14 am

I just find it really hard to believe that FA is not a highly sought after branching. I want to serve my country, what better way to do it than shooting massive weaponry, on the ground right with the infantry? If we have conflicts with a country with a true air force I could see ADA being really good too.
Are you going to feel the same if you are assigned to an MLRS battalion where you are many many miles from the front? And Fires isn't just kinetic. There are many jobs that can produce fires effects who never even have to carry a weapon to have a Fires effect.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby sck003 Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:55 am

sck003, I don't think anyone is doubting your bravery but they are telling you what they know. This is just like your 9th post about FA. At this point, I would start listening to the officer's advise on the issue.
Hey Caleb,
I am just browsing these forums to learn from the officers. This was actually my first post in FA, and I am just glad to see that the probability of being able to branch FA is higher than I anticipated it would be.

Son of the Raven,
My statement was obviously a bit rushed, thinking only about towed howitzers. I would honestly prefer going to an MLRS battalion in my doubtless naive mind. The long range accuracy, precision and power is an incredible thing to wield.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby Son of the Raven Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:19 am

sck003, I don't think anyone is doubting your bravery but they are telling you what they know. This is just like your 9th post about FA. At this point, I would start listening to the officer's advise on the issue.
Hey Caleb,
I am just browsing these forums to learn from the officers. This was actually my first post in FA, and I am just glad to see that the probability of being able to branch FA is higher than I anticipated it would be.

Son of the Raven,
My statement was obviously a bit rushed, thinking only about towed howitzers. I would honestly prefer going to an MLRS battalion in my doubtless naive mind. The long range accuracy, precision and power is an incredible thing to wield.
Fair enough, I asked to ensure that you step back and take a holistic look before diving in. Hence, why I mentioned non-kinetic fires. Just keep asking yourself what you don't know and you will keep finding out more.
Son of the Raven
This means you can't drool in your notebook all week and pass. -- PhantomWarrior
When you can not change the facts; bend your attitude. -- Anonymous
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby caleb13g Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:07 pm

Sorry, I had you confused with FrankMask.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby PhantomWarrior Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:28 pm

SOTR makes a good point about non-kinetic fires. In the COIN type operations we've been doing a lot of lately FA officers have been tasked to do a lot of other stuff besides calling for/shooting artillery. Our battalion fire support officer my first deployment (Baghdad circa 2007/the Surge) didn't do any fire support. He did do a lot of meeting with Iraqis and working development projects and other stuff. Food for thought.
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Re: FA Officers, APFT and other questions

Postby SethB Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:46 am

I would honestly prefer going to an MLRS battalion in my doubtless naive mind. The long range accuracy, precision and power is an incredible thing to wield.
As someone that spent four years in an MLRS BN I would advise you to stick to cannons and FSO positions. You'll end up a lot more well rounded and have a lot more opportunities to learn your trade.

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