The topic of the ANG selectees not attending TFIT is undeniably the most contentious topic of debate regarding OTS. It doesn’t matter if you are Active Duty or ANG, departing for OTS or a graduate, prior or non-prior, EVERYONE has strong opinions about this topic because it impacts EVERY aspect of OTS. To sum it up since ANG personnel are not required to attend TFIT most units will not provide funds for them to go. This means they will arrive at TFOT after a week of the course has elapsed, leaving them at an extreme disadvantage. My goal for this post is to provide those individuals with as much information as my integrity will allow me to disclose about what to expect upon arrival. They can then be better prepared prior to arrival, and be better armed to plug in to their team upon arrival. I do not want to compromise the course, but I do want to help. Please leave your comments with advice on how this post can better achieve both goals.
Our TFOT began on TD-6 which was about a week into the course. The new arrivals arrived the day before but the main difference is that they arrived in ABUs. If you are packing to arrive at TFOT as ANG, I recommend you cross reference your reporting instructions with the AD reporting instructions on the Holm Center web site. There were several differences between the two which caused some problems and confusion with new ANG personnel upon arrival. If there are discrepancies, see if you can find someone from your class on Facebook who can help you out.
The two “how-to” manuals at OTS are the Dorm Manual and the OTSMAN. The Dorm Manual will tell you how to set up everything in your dorm room, and the OTSMAN will tell you how to do everything else while you are at OTS. The OTSMAN is available on the Holm Center web site so I recommend you spend more time getting to know this document. Here is how I would prioritize my study:
- 1.6. Reporting Procedures. You should be able to do this correctly without thinking. In general you should always be marching at attention, no matter where you go. If you are about to walk by a member of staff you need to say the greeting of the day without making eye contact. Any other time you open your mouth, the first word should be sir/ma’am. The only time you use the reporting statement is if you are trying to ask a question. All conversations must be closed out with the greeting of the day.
- Chapter 3. DFAC. This will be hard because you have never been there. Read the chapter and ask me questions. I will then try to flesh this out in a way which is most beneficial to those who have no idea what that chapter is saying.
The Dorm Manual is a document which OTS does not put on the web site but it was emailed to my class by the staff once we arrived. It literally tells you every detail you need to know about where and how to store your items in the dorms. If you are lucky maybe someone in your class could help you out with this prior to your arrival. If not, people will definitely help you out once you get there.
Knowledge (or lack of knowledge) was huge for our ANG members. When you show up there are no distinctions between ANG or people who attended TFIT, so if you do not know something you will get blasted. There were two major times when our class was in the knowledge hot spot. The first was any time we were in trouble the entire group of us would be locked up standing at attention, usually in Gilbert Hall. The expectation was that if someone were to ask what the Quote of the Day (QOTD) was, the entire group would be able to spout if off as a group in unison loud and proud. The same would go for any other required knowledge. We only had to know the QOTD for that day, but you are expected to be able to spout it off any time from 0430 – 2300. When the next day came our previous day’s QOTD could be deleted from our memory.
The rest of the HAWK knowledge accumulated each day. We received a list of knowledge which had to be known by each training day. For example, on TD-1 maybe we had to know the core values. On TD-2 you had to know the core values and the AF song. On TD-3 you had to know the core values, AF song, and chain of command. These are just examples, not actually what we had to know. This is all in addition to the QOTD. This is why the ANG personnel felt so behind. On their Day 1 they were expected to already know seven days of knowledge plus that QOTD.
Here is an example. Let’s say you are on your first day as an ANG individual. Someone asks what such and such is which was supposed to be known by TD-2. You don’t know it so you are asked why you don’t know it. You try to explain but you forget to use “sir” at the beginning. You get an earful then you are asked the QOTD. You forgot the QOTD because you were trying to study and memorize the TD-7 knowledge. Do you see how this works?
The second major time knowledge was huge was at the DFAC. Some of you are familiar with the term “snake pit.” For us, the snake pit was outside of the DFAC while we were waiting to go inside. The staff would say something to the effect of “I want to hear some knowledge!” and your flight would be required to spout it all off.
Don’t Worry, There is Hope
That all sounds pretty terrible, but there is hope. What you will go through is the same thing everyone else went through during TFIT. Your flight really doesn’t care if you are getting lit up by the staff because they will probably be next (but they are used to it.) Your lack of knowledge will not be holding the flight back, the staff member is just giving you extra special attention to reinforce the standard they are trying to teach you. The staff is not mad at you, they are trying to make you better. Readers, please help me add encouragement to this paragraph.
At the end of the day, your failures with knowledge and procedures will only impact yourself and your own record. Your flight will not be frustrated if you mess up, they will be frustrated if you are messing up and are not asking for help. Put your weaknesses out there for everyone so they can look out for you. This goes beyond knowledge. If you cannot focus on studying for academics because you don’t know your knowledge, you need to ask for help in both areas. Don’t wait until after you fail your CWT to ask for help. As long as you are showing your flight that you are making an effort to improve, they will support you.
So what should you study? I cannot in good conscience disclose our knowledge map or dorm manual for my class. Study the HAWK and start memorizing things you think will be most important to know. Prioritize your QOTD study and try to familiarize yourself with future quotes so you don’t have to struggle so much in the future.
You may be expected to march a flight around within the first few days of your arrival. I will flesh this out more later, but reference the Drill & Ceremonies AFI to get a good idea on how to do this. The ability to march a flight around will help you tremendously.