.CSO vs. SOCS-C

Mack94

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Good morning,
I'm currently a 0621 Corporal in the reserves. This past summeri had the great opportunity to work along side some Raiders down in Fort Stewart. I had thought about becoming an CSO before but meeting these gentlemen really sealed the deal for me. I also was welcomed by the SOCS-C guys and introduced to the idea of going the SOCS-C route. I do legitimately enjoy being a radio operator. And after being shown the cocktail and equipment I'd have the opportunity to work with, the SOC-C route interested me. After reading some posts on here it seems however that individual experiences will vary and I don't know if id ever get the opportunity to potentially go out with the team guys or if I'd get stuck at the battalion level. I was hoping for some serious pros and cons for both of these routes as careers and lifestyles.
Thank you.
 

Mack94

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I apologize where it says cocktail and equipment it should say COC and equipment. Was typing this up on my phone during lunch break and can't find the edit post on the mobile browser.
 

Hillclimb

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Some considerations before moving forward:

I'd try and find a POC and see if there's even a program for reservist to active duty SOCS-C. Maybe @The Hate Ape can answer that.

Second is what are you hoping to accomplish short term and long term? If you go SOCS-C, and complete that commitment, you will most likely close off the doors to becoming a CSO due to TIS/TIG requirements to attend A&S. Likewise, the SOCS stint will eventually come to an end. I think it's 5-6 years of something like that, then they get rotated back to the fleet. I may be off base with that, but @The Hate Ape may be worth sending a message.

If you have questions about being a CSO comm guy on the team, you can PM me about that as well.
 

The Hate Ape

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We don't maintain / take on SOCS as reservists (unless that has changed) and ^that guy is going to have a better scope of what-is-what concerning the CSO route in your current duty status - crossing over into Active Duty will be a challenge regardless.

If communications is genuinely your interest, I'd advise against becoming the CSO tasked with Communications because it is only going to last for as long as you are tasked with said billet.

My partner / CSO communications type on my first team five years ago is now a team chief in a sister company. While CSOs can make excellent communicators, they support the role while relying on the 06xx to fill the gaps. Said 0372's effectiveness as Advisors or Subject Matter Experts in other core tasks are more valuable to the team & mission when a SOCS is performing his duties in the lineup.

SOCS (all types) go to teams because they bring irreplaceable expertise to an even-more necessary task. Gauging by your youth (rank wise) and under the assumption that you are an effective Marine, it is likely you'll land on a team. There has always been an "experience" wave of return deployers vs. first-timers. We don't have enough man power to get all the right guys into a perfect position to rotate.

You will likely fall-in with a company alongside the fellow pipeline graduates you've been seeing for the past nine months and from there, you'll be able to guess the most likely team candidates. Team candidates are either hand-picked as return deployers or evaluated as physically/morally fit and highly-capable in communications. If you fill either of those checkboxes, congrats, you'll get to a team.

Being worried about what you get to do unfortunately, is very common among SOCS in all fields. MARSOC is a place to get-in-where-you-fit-in and you'll find a lot of support guys working well beyond their field of expertise after some time around the block. The guys that bitch about being at Battalion rarely request for follow-on training besides a stupid insert-school or something highly irrelevant to the mission of our command. One formal language school in a useful language or proficiency in a niche skillset and rest assured, an ops chief will be pounding at the door to get your ass over to his company to take advantage of the fact that you just filled two or more red-line taskers (mandatory proficiency skillsets).

A technically & tactically proficient SOCS Communications guy who has language and other niche certifications that we offer "in house" under his belt will never just "sit at battalion." Some people genuinely do draw the shit stick but at no point is it all doom and gloom from there either. Your career will accelerate here; you'll be offered positions in elevated units or you'll damn near get whatever unit you want afterward depending on the monitor's feelings that day.

I asked for California, I received California. I asked for Reconnaissance, I received orders to 1st Reconnaissance...

BLUF: Yes you can cross-over as a SOCS, but not without A LOT of work.

@Hillclimb hinted to this process in his post. Our manpower will not allow any qualified & deployable SOCS to cross-over to the CSO route / A&S until they are on their last year of their tour with MARSOC. Rank and other shit is only a matter of what the recruiters have to say. I was slated for A&S 2-16 as a Staff Sergeant before I shattered my ankle the month before-hand. This required approval by the 0372 Monitor, my monitor, our Ops Chief (SOCS side) and medical plus vetting by my previous team commanders, operations chiefs / officers, etc. My performance track-record in the unit and having been at my final year / completing multiple deployments enabled this to happen. If your end state ever becomes A&S after-the-fact, consider this example as a picture painted for how to get there. Circumstances will always dictate.

I will not however, have another opportunity at this again due to TIG and other irrelevant information. My main point is that your career is what you make of it and so is your time here - if I could do it all over again, I absolutely would. There is more than enough "former MARSOC" types walking around to prove that I'm not the only one either.
 
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Mack94

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@Hillclimb
My goals were only to do a single enlistment either way unless of course I change my mind over the course of the enlistment. My reason being that I have plans to be an aviation officer after my time in MARSOC should I be able to get in. The reason I'm choosing MARSOC is a desire to push myself. I joined the reserves on a misconception that I would still get the Marine Corps experience but be able to do college too. Obviously this was wrong and now im left with a desire to push myself to make the most of my Marine Corps career.

@The Hate Ape
I appreciate all of the good info on your reply. What I've taken from your advice is to be thirsty for knowledge. I you're that is correct. As for going SOCS-C as a reservist I'd heard from one of the guys in Fort Stewart that they had a reservist who'd switch to active. I don't know how accurate this was since I didn't meet him it's possible there was much more to the story and probably a ton of paperwork but I'll look into it further and let you know if I find anything.

As for your advice being a reservist has left me with one notable quality and that is my first for knowledge. Honestly I want even suppose to work with the guys down in Fort Stewart the only reason it ended up that was is because I asked them if they would teach me about comm, next thing I know I'm spending all day with my unit then all night with the SOCS-C guys. I tend not to sleep when we go to the field because I volunteer for every training op I can get on. Hell I've even volunteered for radio watch just to get more hands on time with radios.

That being said what kind of follow on schools should I look into to make myself more desirable? How easy is it to get these schools? I know you mentioned language schools in particular.
 

The Hate Ape

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Don't get bent around the axle about schools. Those were examples.

You need to achieve proficiency in a mission enabling task - either by school or verifiable performance.

The highlight here is that you are proving yourself as more valuable than just a basically trained SOCS.

The advice I give directly to new SOCS:
"Stop trying to learn/do what everyone is trying to learn/do. Fill mission gaps and become more versatile. Be fucking amazing at your job and learn how to market yourself.

Actually learn your mission, not just communications - the entire mission. Know what everyone's job is, learn how to gather verbally provided information quickly & efficiently and... while understanding said mission / commander's intent - provide said information in a usable & tangible format to decision makers when applicable. That makes you a force multiplier. Once you gain enough trust to perform this way and be granted the lattitude to make devisions out-of-yet-parrallet to your lane - you've made yourself irreplaceable."

OPSEC prevents me from painting my experiences directly, but even as a guy who learned everything the hard way, I can look back on my time here with an incredible amount of pride.

No school makes you this way, you have to become a critical thinker and apply yourself. These are very intangible skills in a much more tangible enviornment.
 

Teufel

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You are a reservist. Your options, as I understand them, are to put in an active duty CSO package and go to A&S, lat move to reserve recon, or stay where you are at.
 

busyworks

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I have a question specifically for SOCS-C. Just something that I always wondered.

Do SOCS-C Marines stay in their specific MOS, or is it more of a communications chief type of gig, supporting the whole comms spectrum?
 

Dusty8071

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I have a question specifically for SOCS-C. Just something that I always wondered.

Do SOCS-C Marines stay in their specific MOS, or is it more of a communications chief type of gig, supporting the whole comms spectrum?
If you spend some time at a BN S6 there you will be expected to do certain things as a section... radio, data, maintenance. Even still though people in the command don't care what your primary MOS is, you're a Comm guy so if it plugs into a wall and has an on/off switch they will put it on you to fix.

This is ten fold on a company and even more than that on a team. Company has maybe two Comm guys, typically both Radio, during the majority of the workup so you do it all. A team has one or two Comm trained CSO's and then one Communicator. You are the SME on all things Comm. Everything from cell phones to satcom, you're the guy. You definitely learn a lot this way but some guys struggle with being really strong at their primary MOS but not being able to pick up the other skill sets required, on top of being able to fit into a team and do the extra duties required of team life.

Hope this helps, if you have other questions feel free to message me or post here
 

busyworks

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That's pretty much what I thought, and that was also my experience as a 0651(now 0671?) deployed on independent billets with the wing.

Wish I would had tried to go the SOCS-C route when I had the chance. I liked that level of responsibility, and enjoyed learning all the aspects of comm, and putting myself out there to do non-comm duties as well. I was always worried that I would be stuck doing just Data stuff so I decided to EAS, and pursue different MOS' in the reserves. Oh well.

However, when it comes to expectations versus actual responsibilities, do all SOCS-C go through the same training, or is it broken down by MOS?
 

Dusty8071

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The training is the same across the board, after MNOC maintainers are expected (somewhat) to know as much about radio and data as the radio and date guys, same goes for the rest. MNOCis also the course that Comm CSO's go through. Individual experiences will definitely vary after that though.
 

busyworks

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The training is the same across the board, after MNOC maintainers are expected (somewhat) to know as much about radio and data as the radio and date guys, same goes for the rest. MNOCis also the course that Comm CSO's go through. Individual experiences will definitely vary after that though.
That's interesting. Sounds like a good experience for any communicator.
 

The Hate Ape

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Depending on your team environment and how long you've been at the unit, you could reasonably expect to fill roles outside of the communications MOS. I refer you right back to my original advice to the OP.

Your career in this unit is what you make of it and how aggressively you capitalize on opportunities presented.
 

busyworks

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Depending on your team environment and how long you've been at the unit, you could reasonably expect to fill roles outside of the communications MOS. I refer you right back to my original advice to the OP.

Your career in this unit is what you make of it and how aggressively you capitalize on opportunities presented.
I feel like this is something that's true for the Marine Corps in general. In my experience it seems that comparatively to the other branches I've worked with, I've had many more opportunities to get out and perform other duties that didn't pertain directly to my MOS. Maybe I'm wrong though.

The SOCS route sounds like valuable experience for any communicator taking their career seriously.
 

The Hate Ape

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I feel like this is something that's true for the Marine Corps in general. In my experience it seems that comparatively to the other branches I've worked with, I've had many more opportunities to get out and perform other duties that didn't pertain directly to my MOS. Maybe I'm wrong though.

The SOCS route sounds like valuable experience for any communicator taking their career seriously.
If you get the right assignments, this place will make a man out of you. Those who have been around the block a time or two know exactly what I mean by this - my entire life has changed from being assigned to this unit. My experience is irreplaceable and extends far from communications (which I'm fucking wonderful at) and at the risk of sounding like a douchebag, I will leave it at that.

And no, you are wrong - this cannot be found in the Marine Corps in general. You ever get to this unit, PM me.
 

busyworks

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If you get the right assignments, this place will make a man out of you. Those who have been around the block a time or two know exactly what I mean by this - my entire life has changed from being assigned to this unit. My experience is irreplaceable and extends far from communications (which I'm fucking wonderful at) and at the risk of sounding like a douchebag, I will leave it at that.

And no, you are wrong - this cannot be found in the Marine Corps in general. You ever get to this unit, PM me.
You're misinterpreting the intent of reply. I'm not comparing the general Marine Corps to MARSOC. I'm just giving a little praise to the Marine Corps as a whole, and stating that in atleast in my experience it has offered me opportunities that I haven't seen from peers in sister service equivalents. Like I said though, I could be way off.

Unfortunately I've missed my chance to ever get there, unless they start taking volunteers from the reserves or something.
 
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