Is becoming a military tactical operations leader right for me?

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How to become a Military Tactical Operations Leader

Becoming a military tactical operations leader in the United States requires a combination of education, training, experience, and personal qualities. Here are the general steps to pursue a career in this field:

  • Meet the basic requirements: Ensure that you meet the basic eligibility criteria to join the military. This includes being a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, meeting age requirements, having a high school diploma or equivalent, and meeting physical fitness standards.
  • Choose a military branch: Research the various branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) to determine which one aligns with your interests and career goals. Each branch offers different opportunities for tactical operations leadership.
  • Enlist or commission: Join the military either through enlisting or commissioning as an officer. Enlisting involves completing basic training, while commissioning requires completing a college degree and attending an officer training program. Commissioning is typically required to become a tactical operations leader, as it offers a higher rank and more leadership responsibilities.
  • Select a relevant military occupational specialty (MOS): Within your chosen military branch, select an MOS that aligns with tactical operations. These MOSs may include infantry, special operations, intelligence, or combat arms. Consult with a military recruiter or career counselor to explore your options and select the best path for your goals.
  • Complete specialized training: Once you have chosen an MOS, you will undergo specialized training that focuses on tactical operations. This training will vary depending on the branch and MOS, but it typically includes courses on tactics, weapons proficiency, leadership, and specialized skills such as close quarters combat or airborne operations.
  • Gain experience: Build your experience through deployments, exercises, and field assignments. This will provide you with practical experience in tactical operations, honing your skills and leadership abilities. Seek opportunities to work with experienced leaders and learn from their expertise.
  • Pursue professional development: Continuously strive to improve your skills and knowledge. Take advantage of professional development programs, attend advanced courses, and seek out leadership positions within your unit. The military offers a range of educational opportunities, including advanced degree programs, which can enhance your qualifications.
  • Demonstrate leadership qualities: Display strong leadership qualities such as critical thinking, decision-making, adaptability, and effective communication. These traits are essential for tactical operations leaders who need to lead teams, make split-second decisions, and coordinate complex missions.
  • Seek mentorship and networking: Connect with experienced leaders in your field and seek their guidance. Mentors can provide valuable advice and help you navigate your career path. Networking with peers and senior personnel can also open doors to new opportunities.
  • Pursue advanced training and education: Consider pursuing advanced training courses specific to tactical operations leadership, such as the U.S. Army's Ranger School or the U.S. Navy's SEAL training. Additionally, continuing education through civilian or military institutions can deepen your knowledge and enhance your leadership capabilities.

Helpful Resources
As a military tactical operations leader, there are several resources available to help you stay informed, develop your skills, and enhance your leadership abilities. Here are some helpful resources:

  • Field Manuals and Publications: The U.S. Army's Field Manuals (FMs) and other military publications provide valuable guidance on tactics, techniques, and procedures for various operations. These resources cover topics such as small unit tactics, counterinsurgency operations, urban operations, and more. The U.S. Army Publishing Directorate website is a reliable source to access official publications.
  • Military Training Centers and Schools: The U.S. military has several renowned training centers and schools that offer specialized courses for tactical operations leaders. These include the U.S. Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE), U.S. Marine Corps' Marine Corps University, and the U.S. Air Force's Air Education and Training Command. These institutions provide advanced training and education specific to tactical operations.
  • Joint Special Operations University (JSOU): JSOU is a U.S. Department of Defense institution that offers professional military education and training focused on special operations. They provide a wide range of courses, publications, and research resources related to special operations tactics, leadership, and strategy. Their website is a valuable resource for military professionals.
  • Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL): CALL is a knowledge management organization within the U.S. Army that collects, analyzes, and disseminates lessons learned from various operations. Their publications and reports can provide insights and best practices for tactical operations leaders. The CALL website offers access to their publications and resources.
  • Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): DTIC is a repository of scientific and technical information for the U.S. Department of Defense. It provides access to research reports, technical papers, and other publications related to military operations, tactics, and strategy. The DTIC website can be a valuable source of information for tactical operations leaders.
  • Professional Military Journals and Magazines: Stay updated with the latest developments and insights in the military community by reading professional journals and magazines. Publications such as the Joint Force Quarterly (JFQ), Military Review, and Special Warfare cover a wide range of topics, including tactics, leadership, and operational experiences.
  • Military Professional Development Programs: Take advantage of professional development programs offered by the military. For example, the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College (CGSC) offers intermediate-level education programs that focus on leadership, tactics, and operational planning. Similar programs exist within other branches of the military, providing opportunities for career advancement and skill development.
  • Military Conferences and Seminars: Attend military conferences, seminars, and symposiums focused on tactical operations. These events provide opportunities to learn from subject matter experts, network with peers, and gain insights into the latest trends and innovations in the field.