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Physics Degree and Military Service

  1. Feb 13, 2008 #1

    So I will be getting my physics degree soon but I've always wanted to go into the military. I will be enlisting soon (I can't be an officer right away because I am not a citizen yet) but I don't wanna detach myself from physics. Are there any physicists that are in the military? Do you have any suggestions on what MOS I should go into? Can a physics degree do anything for you in the military? Can the military help your physics career in any way? Any advice or suggestion would be appreciated.


    P.S. As far as branches, I am considering the Army.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2008 #2


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  4. Feb 13, 2008 #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    That thread didn't have much info pertaining to the US military and the different MOS's (Military Occupation Specialties) that are offered for enlistees. As far as research goes, I don't think you can enlist and start working in R&D for the military. Not to say that I probably don't want to work on developping weapons and bombs out of moral standards.
  5. Feb 13, 2008 #4
    something in the Signal Corps? Something on avionics in the Aviation branch?

    I'm not sure, but how much guarantee do you have that you'll be placed in an MOS that you want? Might you get the training but then be placed somewhere the Army needs rather than in that MOS? Are there limits on the numbers they place into certain MOS with high transferability to civilian life because of high demand?

    You might want to consider the Air Force - I think they might have more technically oriented positions than the Army. The Navy might also, but has the disadvantage of the possibility of living on a boat with hundreds to thousands of other guys for months at a time.

    I'm a little puzzeled about your desire to join the military, but your reluctance to work on weapons "...out of moral standards". If working on having effective weapons is immoral, does that make less effective, less accurate weapons which potientially kill more innocent people the more moral choice? Think of the difference between WWII aerial bombing (hundreds to thousands of aircraft dropping inaccurate iron bombs on population centers, killing hundreds of thousands at least over the course of the war) vs. modern airstrikes with precision guided munitions - even if you screw up and hit the odd French or Chinese embassy or a civilian shelter, orders of magnitude fewer innocent people die due to the technical work done on weapons. Also note the demphasis on nuclear weapons in the past twenty years - now that we can hit just what we want, we have less reason to resort to the big sledgehammer of a nuke. I think a case can be made that people who work on precision guided munitions have done more to avert a purposeful or accidental nuclear war than all the Nobel Peace Prize winners and anti-war demonstrators have put together. Even leaving all that aside, even with the most inoffensive MOS, you would be one cog in a big organization contributing to the overall goal of putting ordinance on target. I don't see the moral difference between helping build them and helping to use them.
  6. Feb 13, 2008 #5
    You're much better off going into academics or the industry. You won't get much research and development without a PhD, very much like the industry. If you want to do R&D that helps benefit military, find a company that makes contracts with them.

    And with the moral standards stuff you have with designing weapons and bombs, they wouldn't want you. I spent some time in the military, and it is often looked down on if you can't defend your country, even if it meant that you have to kill. All it means is that you're much likely a conscientious objector and it will get in the way if for some reason, war were to occur. When you're serving the Army or military, you're not serving and benefiting yourself. You do it for the country.
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