How to Transfer Between Military Branches

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"Transfers" in the military technically are early discharges and new acceptances.
"Transfers" in the military technically are early discharges and new acceptances. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The military has several branches that offer positions covering many different skill sets, and sometimes members of the military discover that their careers or the military would be better served if they were in a different branch. In these cases, military personnel may move from one branch to another. However, this requires an early discharge from the current branch and formal acceptance into the new one. Those who want to transfer also must contact their commanding officer and a recruiter from the new branch, putting the request for transfer in writing and submitting it according to proper procedures.

Look at the website for and talk to recruiters from each branch of the military. Get information about compensation, specific duty expectations, advancement opportunities and similar topics. Use this information to decide which branch of the military to which you will transfer.

Obtain Form DD 368, Request for Conditional Release, from your commanding officer, or download and print it online.

Fill out Form DD 368. Provide all required information about your current military obligations and indicate which branch of the military to which you want to transfer.

Take Form DD 368 to your commanding officer. Explain your reasons for wanting to transfer and have him sign the form. For instance, if you've decided you want to be a pilot after getting out of the military for good, serving in the Air Force would provide more practical training and experience than the Army or Navy. Similarly, you may have skills for which another branch of the military has a greater need.

Take Form DD 368 to a recruiter from the branch of the military to which you want to move and have him sign it. Recruiters generally cannot ask members of the military to switch branches with some exceptions for certain programs, but they can accept voluntary requests for transfers that have been approved by a commanding officer.

Take the signed Form DD 368 back to your commanding officer. The recruiter's signature verifies that, if released from your current branch, the branch to which you want to transfer will accept you. Have the commanding officer submit the form so other officials can approve or deny the application formally. There is no guarantee your branch of the military will approve the release request, depending on current needs and the terms of your contract, but you always have the right to get Form DD 368 formally approved or denied; therefore, commanding officers must accept any Form DD 368 you submit.

Enroll in and complete any training and testing necessary to transfer to your new branch of the military. You still must complete your obligations to your current branch during this time, so coordinate in advance with your current commanding officer.

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