Security clearance in the U.S. armed services

What **friedo **said. I meant “first statement” to distinguish from the statement “bullshit” in my post.

Plus I agree with your answers to the actual OP :slight_smile:

He is clearly responding to the OP’s question about recruits, not to someone else’s post. Leaving out a quote or a descriptive word makes it vague, but not beyond comprehension.

Sure there are enlisted soldiers that are given security clearances based upon their assigned responsibilities, but your run of the mill grunt, which our armed services are mostly comprised of, do not require security clearances, and are not a requirement to enlist.

This is WAY different than your original post, which stated that NO enlisted person needed a security clearance, that enlisted people didn’t make decisions, that enlisted people don’t use classified information to make decisions, and they simply shut up and follow orders.

Not every single enlisted person in the military is an E-2 private in the Army Infantry :rolleyes:

I’m clearly NOT doing that. Well, clearly to me anyway :smiley:

You are either being deliberately obtuse or trying to obfuscate matters because you are unwilling to admit that you misinterpreted something.

Omar was talking, specifically, not vaguely, about “enlisted person[s],” not recruits. He talked directly, not obliquely, about their jobs, in the service, as enlisted personnel, “not making decisions based upon classified information” and “follow[ing] orders.” Precisely zero percent of the content in Omar post was about recruits, and exactly one hundred percent of it was about on-the-job enlisted personnel, who are already in the armed services, because that’s what “enlisted person” means. The information in that post was wrong, and people (including me) corrected it.

Agree with Chefguy’s take on the OP and with everyone’s take on Omar being at best confused.

Recruits don’t get, have, or as a general rule need clearances. Some folks do get the clearance ball rolling early in their enlistment. Depending on all the obvious details.

“Ability to obtain” is a bit of a misnomer since the only way for you or the service to find out if you can obtain one is to go through the actual process and see what results. To be sure if the answer is “yes, you’ve qualified for clearance XYZ”, but then you choose not to enlist the government is under no obligation to actually bestow the now-useless clearance upon you.
My process as a USAF officer coming in via ROTC went like this as best I recall. …

In ROTC I was put on the pilot track. Which means that assuming I eventually graduated I’d definitely need some level of clearance.

My whole 2 years in ROTC we did exactly zero towards a clearance. No forms, no investigations, no nothing.

When I was commissioned at graduation? No forms, no investigations, no nothing.

During my year at pilot training? No forms, no investigations, no nothing.

At graduation from pilot training they took those of us going to the “real” USAF and had us fill out paperwork (SF86) to get the appropriate clearance to our upcoming aircraft assignment. The 15% of newly minted pilots staying behind in training command to train more newbie pilots? No clearance for them. No forms, no investigations, no nothing.

6 months and 3 TDY schools later I met with the DIA investigator and once he was satisfied I got my SECRET. Which in the clearance world is a gigantic yawn.

So in all I’d been associated with USAF for about 5 years and about $1mil of taxpayer expense before they found out whether I was trustworthy or was a major commie-sympathizing pinko homo security risk.

If they’d wait that long for folks in my shoes, they’re sure not going to spend money on investigations for folks just talking to recruiters about maybe possibly joining the Army. Or even folks who’ve signed on the dotted line to show up for enlistment.

The run of the mill grunt makes up maybe 20% of the Army. There are entire career fields that require a clearance from day one.

All officers in the Army are required to have at least a Secret clearance. I already had mine but someone else in my OCS class was kicked out because his clearance was denied.

I never found out what would have happened to an officer who failed SECRET. I’d assume, as you say, that they’d be useless as tits on a bull and promptly cashiered. But USAF was sure willing to bet on that come.

They had some funny gaps in clearance logic. My fighter squadron was stateside but, like all stateside units, had one or more dedicated wartime destinations in various theaters. One of our E-3 admin clerks wasn’t a US citizen. She couldn’t have a clearance. She couldn’t touch the classified papers the other clerks in the same room worked on. And she couldn’t be deployed overseas with us.

Why the hell USAF put her into that deployable clearance-required position when there are thousands of non-deployable no-clearance required admin jobs was a mystery to everyone involved. She was a good worker, but our deployment plans had us going off shorthanded on purpose. Dumb.

Man what a bunch of pedantic soldiers we have here. Glad you guys can read my mind. My original post was to the OP regarding people enlisting in the armed services. How many of you super secret probation classified soldiers had to pass a security clearance when signing up as an enlisted soldier?

As I explained earlier. I did.

That’s ridiculous. I had a Top Secret clearance when I was an E-5 in the Air Force because I handled classified documents.

Most Military Intelligence MOS require a TS from E-1 on up as do many in the commo field.

Right. Because I was going to language school, I did have to have an extra security interview with this really mean old guy at MEPS prior to enlisting, but he didn’t grant a clearance, just made sure I’d probably be able to get one. The special background check during language school was for SCI on top of the TS. Those investigators unearthed stuff about me I’d forgotten. “I lived where, with who? Oh yeah, for like a month.”

I seem to recall interrogators with foreign language skills only needed a secret clearance, which as others mentioned, is really easy to get.

Whether you need a clearance for your job has nothing to do with whether you make decisions of any kind whatsoever. Nearly everyone with a security clearance (military, civilian government employee, or civilian contractor employee) makes no decisions about the things they’re doing. They have no significant influence on what the government is doing. At best, they are lending their technical expertise to solving problems that they are assigned. Making decisions is only for top people. You’re given a security clearance if you have to use classified material in your work, and you have to have a background check to determine if you can get that clearance.

I went to a Maritime Academy. I passed the lowest level of security clearance at the time, I believe it was confidential. Some of the Naval Science classes used material that had confidential stamped all over it. When I graduated I received my Inactive Reserve commission as an Ensign without any up grade in my clearance. Those that fail the confidential security status were not eligible for the Naval Science option. That meant they lost out on $125 a trimester from the Navy, and after graduation they could be drafted in to the Army.

I am a run-of-the-mill grunt. Enlisted infantry. I’ve had a security clearance since the day I joined.

As to the factual answer to the OP:

No. However, it is a requirement for entry into certain jobs within the U.S. armed services.

The recruit submits the application for a security clearance before shipping off to Basic. If the recruit has any obvious disqualifiers, then the recruiter would not even bother putting the future soldier into that kind of job.
By the time basic training is completed, the security clearance investigation might be complete, it may still be in progress, or it might have come back DENIED. If the recruit is unable to obtain a clearance, then he/she will have to reclassify into a different job title. The recruit will then be shipped off for training in that new job instead of the one that required a clearance.
If the clearance investigation is still in progress, the recruit will either be allowed to continue training with an Interim clearance or will have to wait it out in a holdover status. The recruit may be held at his/her basic training company as a holdover, just kind of helping out and doing menial tasks around the company until the clearance is finally approved. Less likely, but I think possible, is that the recruit will ship out to the school and go into a holdover status on that end. Either way, they’re not going to start school until the clearance or an interim is granted. And if, at any time, the clearance is denied or revoked, the recruit will have to change jobs in accordance with the needs of the service.

By the time that recruit has completed basic training, the military has already spent about a hundred thousand dollars to train him/her. It would be a poor investment strategy to just kick them out. They will most likely be retained in the service, but sent off to be trained in a different job.
So, if someone joined the Army to be a 35F - Intelligence Analyst, he would need a Top Secret SCI clearance. The recruiter will ask some basic questions to determine if the recruit is likely to be granted the clearance. The recruit will submit the application and ship off to basic training. After graduating basic training, the application is still in progress. So, the recruit stays there at Ft. Jackson, SC after graduation and hangs out for several more weeks helping out the drill sergeants and generally being bored out of his mind. A couple more weeks pass and the application comes back DENIED due to very bad Credit Score or something. At that point, the soldier is not eligible to be a 35F, so the Army changes his orders to 92G - Culinary Specialist. The soldier is then put on a bus to Ft Lee, VA to become a cook instead of going to Ft. Huachuca to be an intel analyst.

Depends on the job. For most enlisted recruits, it’s none. For most intel-related jobs, many cyber jobs, some commo jobs and (I’m guessing here) probably nuclear-related Navy jobs will start out with Top Secret. Others, like special forces and such, will start out with a Secret. The vast majority of initial enlistees, however, will not start out needing any clearance at all.

Two of my daughters were in the Israeli army. One of the questions they were asked was the names of their elementary school teachers. It took a few phone calls back to their friends in the states to help them with that one.

All three parts of this post are completely incorrect. First off, as mentioned by other posters, there are plenty of fields in the military where enlisted members require and have security clearances. Examples are: Yeoman, Personnel Specialist, Intelligence Analyst, Operations Specialist, various workers who prepare, operate, and maintain classified equipment.

Yes, there are enlisted personnel making decisions based on classified material. Of course, a Sergeant Major or Master Chief Petty Officer is not going to be commanding a brigade-sized element; however, there may be issues which require immediate action.

Finally, a service member who just obeys orders without asking why can end up in the infamous “hurt locker” (reduction in grade, incarceration, punitive discharge). At the risk of “Godwinizing” the thread, remember that “just following orders” is not an excuse for unlawful action. In fact, it’s incumbent upon the person carrying out the order to be sure that the order is lawful.