|Photo by Paul Stocklin|
Kicking off the first in a series of posts about Air Force Officer Training School (OTS), I wanted to give you some basic, background information, as well as some background information on my class.
OTS is located down at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama, and is nine weeks in length. Individuals at OTS are referred to as Officer Trainees (OTs), versus Guardsmen who are called Officer Candidates (OCs) – more on them later. A group of OTs is called a Class, and they’re organized by the fiscal year and their order of graduation in the fiscal year. My Class was 15-01, the first class of fiscal year 2015 (we began during FY14 but graduated in FY15). From there the Class is broken down into three squadrons. Squadron 1 is the Goldhawks, Squadron 2 is the Hoyas, and Squadron 3 is the Tigers. Amusingly enough, the Squadron 1 is on the 3rd floor of the dorms and Squadron 3 is on the 1st, but maybe it’s a slight bit of OCD that made me meditate on that.
Our class originally began with eighty-nine people. Not too far into the program, one female OT became an SIE – a self-identified elimination. Near the end, we lost three additional OTs. One was recycled (held back and made to repeat training) due to concerns about “adaptability” and the other two had three failed graded measures. Eighty-nine in, eighty-five out. My squadron, the Hoyas, was the biggest with 38 people, and the other two had twenty-five each.
Squadrons are comprised of both male and female trainees. The separation amongst the sexes one experiences at BMT is out the door at OTS. Men and women live in rooms right next to and across from each other, dine together, do laundry together, and attend class together. You are housed in dorms similar to tech school dorms, with three beds (one bunk, one single), three desks, three dressers, two closets, two vanities, one shower, and one toilet. Typically there are only two OTs in a room, but depending on the numbers (especially with females), there may be three.
Squadrons are broken down into flights, with approximately twelve members. That flight is your core group of people while at OTS. You do all of your training with them, including field leadership and academic instruction. Your flight is lead by a Flight Commander (FLT/CC), a commissioned staff member whose rank is either a First Lieutenant or a Captain. The FLT/CC serves as both an instructor, providing small group instruction in a flight room, and a mentor in the later weeks of training.
Training consists of field leadership exercises (most of the “cool,” hands-on stuff you see pictured or in videos), military training (bearing, the military lifestyle, marching), and academic instruction (either in the flight room or an auditorium) covering warfare studies, communication, leadership, and the profession of arms. Physical Training (PT) is a daily part of life while at OTS as well, with the exception of Sundays, where OTs are permitted to attend worship services.
OTS is broke up into four phases, each of which have privileges associated with them. Privileges largely dictate where you’re allowed to go on base and off, and what you must wear while exercising privileges. The first phase is indoctrination (referred to as “Indoc”), when your primary instructor is your Military Training Instructor (MTI) – yes, them again! There is one MTI assigned to each squadron. This MTI duty is a special assignment within the MTI corps, and they must apply for this duty at OTS. That being said, two out of three of our MTIs were Blue Ropes (Master Military Training Instructors), and the third was an exemplary MTI as well. After this phase is over, your FLT/CC takes over as your primary instructor.
In addition to the training program, OTs manage themselves through an OT Wing, which is designed to simulate the Wing organization and structure that categorizes the operational Air Force. There is an OT Wing staff, a Missing Support Group (MSG), a Operations Group (OG), and staff in each individual squadron. Your flight has positions as well, so you may find yourself wearing multiple hats and performing many functions while at OTS, in addition to doing your academics.
More to come later, with lots of specific descriptions, tips, and photos to share! Stick around, and enjoy the read!