The OTSMAN talks about the phase program in Chapter 5 Cadet Privileges. There are five phases during OTS. These phases basically dictate how much freedom you will have both during and after training. The initial phases are very restrictive and the idea is to slowly give you more freedom so you are better prepared to re-enter the real world.
The phases are dictated in the OTSMAN and the OTSMAN applies to both 24 TRS and Det 12. From my experience, 24 TRS and Det 12 have different timings for when they will phase you up. My experience is with the 24 TRS.
In general, and again this is my opinion, as long as your class does what they are supposed to do you will continue to phase up (and not get phased down). Some examples of doing what you are supposed to do are making an effort to keep your dorm in inspection order (not ball up all clothes and hide them in the unused drawer), or complying with the phase program (not going off base without approval in Phase 1). Our class phased all the way up to Phase 4. Our sister class had some sort of integrity issue and did not fess up to the truth when confronted by the instructors, so they were phased down. Do the right thing and hold your class, squadron, and flight accountable for doing the right thing, and hopefully you will have no issues.
As I recall the Indoc Phase ended after TFIT ended. On the first day of TFOT we were in Phase 1 instead of Indoc which meant we could leave the dorms and go to the OTS shoppette and the OTS gym after SMT. This phase up was automatic for us.
Sometime after you arrive you may hear about something called a “POE”. POE stands for Phase One Evaluation, and passing the POE will mean you will be granted Phase 2 status. For us the POE was intense. They actually gave us the criteria for what we need to know for POE on Day 1 in the packet they handed us when we arrived. HAWK knowledge was absolutely crucial for passing the POE, along with the practical application of the OTSMAN. Our first dorm inspection also counted toward POE. I think the way it works is every different type of evaluation has a points total and points given for each cadet. For example, if I missed one word from a question the HAWK I only received 7 of 8 points. If I received four demerits for my dorm inspection I would only receive 6 of 10 points. All points were added up for all cadets and if our total squadron (Goldhawk, Hoya, etc.) percentage was above a cutoff (probably 80%), we passed the POE. Our POE was toward the end of Week 2 and all four squadrons passed.
Phase 3 was a lot different than Phase 2 because for us it seemed like it just happened. We as a class basically did what we were supposed to be doing. There were some things we had to work on but in general we were getting the job done. I think we got Phase 3 during Week 6 and I am pretty sure it was after we finished the “Commander’s Challenge” and received our Prop and Wings. This happened as a class.
I think we received Phase 4 at the end of Week 8. Phase 4 means you don’t have to march or do most of the procedural OTS things. It can mean the difference of walking around campus with your family during grad week or marching as a flight to/from locations while they follow behind or meet you there.
I think each squadron (24 TRS/Det 12) has general guidelines for when they grant phasing up, but at the end of the day it is all up to the squadron commander. Our squadron commander was lenient with phasing up but I think we were also a decent class with no major issues. Don’t stress the phasing up, just do what you are supposed to do and let it happen.