Where Will I Be Stationed Once I Join the Military?

where will i most likely be stationed in the army

After several weeks of basic training or boot camp and months of learning how to do your job in the military, it’s time to go to your first duty station. If you’re wondering where you’ll be stationed once you join the military, read our latest article to learn more about the process that’s used to decide where you’ll be sent first.

Possibility of Military Leave Before First Duty Assignment

In some cases, before reporting to your first duty assignment, you’ll be offered what’s called military leave. Leave is one of the great benefits earned by every service member.

Military leave, commonly referred to as leave, is an approved absence from military duty. It is equivalent to taking time off from work or paid time off (PTO) in the civilian world. The length of leave varies from days to weeks after training if you’re approved for it.

Military leave is any paid leave taken for personal reasons, including vacations, family care, errands, or any other purpose. For example, many people make the most of their military leave by spending time with family and friends before heading off to their first duty station. Others choose to rest and relax after the strenuous activities of basic training or bootcamp. If you are given leave after military training, be sure to use it wisely.

Do I Have a Say in Where I Go for My First Duty Station?

where will i most likely be stationed in the army

Yes and no.

There is no concrete answer for this question. And here’s why:

During basic training, technical school, AIT, or A-School, you may select a few locations, stateside and overseas, where you’d like to start your military career using a paper that’s called a “wish list” or “duty station dream list.” Typically, you’ll choose up to three locations.

Once you turn in your wish list, just let the chips fall where they may. Unfortunately, some people get upset and very disappointed when they don’t get one of the duty locations on their wish list. In fact, most believe the military doesn’t look at their wish list at all. The military will do what it’s going to do to accomplish the mission, so there’s no need of fighting the choice that was made for you.

At the end of the day, it is important to keep in mind, while the military will consider your wishes, duty stations are based on the needs of the military and where you are needed the most. There are several factors that determine where you’ll be stationed first.

The factors that affect where you’ll be stationed include:

  • The needs of the military

Meaning, you’ll be sent wherever your chosen branch needs you the most. Think quotas, timelines, and rank.

  • Your military occupational specialty (MOS) or job

Remember choosing your MOS at MEPS? Well, every military installation has a specialty mission, and people with certain job specialties end up at those respective installations.

Every MOS has different duty stations. However, depending on your MOS, you can be stationed at any military base throughout the United States and the world.

  • Job vacancies

Meaning, whether positions are open at the military installation. If you’re an aircraft mechanic, you’ll only be assigned to the duty stations that have aircrafts to fix.

  • Your preferences

The choices you include on your wish list.

You may receive your first duty assignment orders before completing training. The orders will tell you where you’re going and what date you need to report on the installation.

How to Maximize Your Chances of Getting Your Chosen Duty Station

where will i most likely be stationed in the army

Most people hinder their own opportunities because they only choose “lifestyle locations,” which are the ones that look and sound interesting. Think places like Hawaii. Everyone wants to go to Hawaii for the beach and sunshine, right? Other top duty stations include Florida and Japan. No one wants to go to one of the worst duty assignments like Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico or Minor Air Force base in North Dakota.

But everyone can’t be stationed in the same place. If so, the military would never accomplish its missions. So, here’s how to maximize your chances of being stationed at one of your chosen locations:


Don’t waste your time filling up your wish list with military installations or duty locations that do not need your MOS. Remember, every installation has a mission. Your MOS falls within that mission and every MOS has a certain duty location.

Take time to do some research ahead of time and be sure that your MOS fits the duty locations that are offered.

This also applies to schools or programs that you may be attending. For instance, there are not many Airborne units in the Army. While Soldiers that graduate from Airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia, are not guaranteed a spot in an actual Airborne unit, it usually works out that they are. If you will be attending Airborne school, make sure your wish list contains Army posts that have an Airborne unit.

As another example, the Navy SEALS and other elite U.S. Special Forces groups are only stationed at certain locations.

So, instead of choosing your wish list based on the best looking or sounding locations, be sure to choose the installations that are the best possible fit for your MOS.

Good Luck on Your First Duty Station!

where will i most likely be stationed in the army

Now that you know how the military determines your first duty location after joining, and how to ensure you have a better chance of getting a location on your wish list, our entire team at Empire Resume wishes you the best of luck at your first duty station. Whether you received a location on your list or not, be sure to embrace your duty assignment. Make new friends, work hard, and enjoy the overall experience.

Be sure to bookmark Empire Resume’s military blog for the latest tips as you progress through your new career in the military. We’re always here to help with your career planning needs and deliver results, guaranteed!  

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance. 

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