Advancing Within the Military

The military can be an excellent way to build your career. Many well-known people have made the military their career of choice. Some of them are General MacArthur and Rear Admiral/Commodore Grace Murray Hopper.


General MacArthur joined the military in the early 1900’s and graduated at the top of his class. He served in WWI and became a commanding Lieutenant General during WWII. MacArthur stopped the Japanese attack on New Guinea and secured that country for New Britain. In 1944, MacArthur returned to the Philippines to aid in their defense from Japanese invasion. President Roosevelt promoted Mr. MacArthur to General of the Armies and put him in charge of planning the invasion of Japan. This led to Japan’s surrender shortly afterward. He was also a General during the Korean War. Some say that he is controversial, but he was devoted to his men and country. MacArthur also had a very low casualty rate and was an expert strategist when it came to planning maneuvers and tactics.


Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper joined the Navy Reserves in 1943 during World War II and was assigned to work for the Bureau of Ordinance Computation Project. During her time there, she educated herself in computers and founded the COBOL programming language we still have today. In fact, COBOL is used in many of the computer industry’s software codes and existing mainframe computers. Mainframe computers are ancient regarding technology, but they still have advantages even for today. Did you know the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer was named after her? Ms. Hopper was known as “Amazing Grace,” and even had a destroyer named after her, the USS Hopper, DDG-70. What a wonderful tribute to such a courageous and dedicated woman.


You may still be asking yourself how you can become a military Colonel or General at some point in your career. Here are a few pointers:


  1. Continue your education – whether it is through college courses or via military correspondence courses, continuing your education is key and valued when it comes to military promotions. When your superiors see that you are doing something to better yourself, you are doing something to better the military as well, especially if it pertains to the next military exam you are studying for. (Remember any promotion after Specialist/Corporal (E-4) is not automatic. You have to persuade your supervisors that they need you and that you are worth keeping).


  1. Forget everything you learned in training – Boot camp is great because the main goal throughout that training is to reduce your individuality and increase your awareness of others and your impact you have on others. This newly acquired knowledge increases the team-work and general principal of getting trainees to work together as a unit. Once you are out of boot camp, you are in the “real world, ” and you need to pay attention so that you can, in essence, re-learn everything. Jobs and requests are definitely done differently; it’s simple, just do what you are told. You will also learn how to work with others and become a unit that works together and implements team-work.
  3. Keep your nose clean – Do not let yourself get tangled up with the latest gossip and rumors. Your supervisors look down on that and will see you as part of the problem, which you are if you are listening to and spreading rumors. Nine times out of ten, the rumor is not true. You need to stay out of trouble in other ways too, like do not get in trouble with the law or MP, make sure you have enough money in the bank so that your checks do not bounce at the PX, and of course never drink and drive. Superiors frown on such unruly behavior because to them it is a “red flag” that you are a careless and reckless person. Would you want someone like that to cover your back in a time of war or an emergency? Your commanders want to know that you are dependable and that other soldiers can rely on you to be there in time of trouble.

There are other recommendations as well, but these are some of the top suggestions that will help you advance in your military career. They are not always easy to follow and adhere to, especially as a young man or young woman, but you need to look at the big picture. If you can do this, you will be great success in the US Armed Forces.