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While Cloud did train on his own with the goal of becoming a SOLDIER, he washed out for whatever reason and became a member of the "regular" Shin-Ra army.

He later combines his memories with stories his friend Zach Fair told him to be able to "live both of their lives" as he says in Advent Children Complete. When Rufus Shinra tells Cloud (in the same film) that "You were a SOLDIER once" Cloud responds "Yeah... in my head."

Take out the caps and replace them with lowercase, then he WAS a soldier.

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