As for the 'real soldier' vibe our area kinda nips that in the bud, too, as a decent percentage of the community's players are recent or current military and Iraq/ Afghanistan veterans. Not that they are necessarily better players but they help keep the COD kid's attitude in check.
Event storylines here tend to be along a "US military/ private contractor security force" against "insurgents/ militia force". That way all the anal retentive, latest and greatest look player's are with like-minded and the more casual players can run with what they bring. I always go 'rebel forces' with older gear like British P37 or P58 webbing, Bush War era camo and an M1A1 Thompson or old AK.
Just like anything, find a group you like and go with it