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April 10, 2016

24

After Graduation – PCSing to Your Next Base

by airforceotsguy

I have received this question a few times so I figured I may as well do a post on it.  In most cases, you should know where you will be going after OTS fairly early.  As a 13S I knew my next base well before I even left for OTS.  Any time you permanently leave a base during your career it is called a Permanent Change of Station (PCS).  Most, if not all, will PCS from Maxwell after training.

Prior Active Duty

I believe my case was fairly common so I will go ahead and tell you how it worked for me and hope it covers the majority of situations.  I left my last enlisted base as a TSgt with orders to my next officer assignment as a TSgt.  My orders did say I was taking a TDY en-route to my next base to OTS though so that was really the only documentation I had that I was to be commissioned.  The day before I commissioned I was separated from the AF as a TSgt and commissioned as a 2d Lt the following day.  To document this change the OTS personnel section amended our orders which changed my rank on the documents from TSgt to 2d Lt.  This is one of those things we did the final week of OTS during our outprocessing appointments.
The only main difference I can think of for the prior enlisted side is if your first base will be tech school or your actual duty assignment.  This is decided by the length of your tech school.  I don’t have the regulation in front of me, but I believe the number is 20 weeks.  If your tech school is lower than 20 weeks like mine, you will PCS to your next base and go TDY to tech school.  If your next assignment is over 20 weeks, you will PCS to your actual tech school base.  Off the top of my head 13S tech school is a TDY, and 13N and 14N are PCS’s.  This of course is subject to change.

Non-Prior Active Duty

The only difference for the non-priors is the starting point is at Maxwell, so I believe everyone in this category PCS’s Maxwell to whatever base you are going to next.  The reason I explained the difference between priors and non-priors is because the number of travel days authorized is different for a TDY and a PCS.

Report No Later Than Date (RNLTD)

I am going to use the example of leaving Maxwell AFB, AL after OTS and traveling to Keesler AFB, MS for tech school.  Whenever you receive your orders you will be given a RNLTD.  This is the latest date you must sign into your next base by.  If you would like to get an extension on this date, you can do so fairly easily at OTS.  You will need to talk to the personnelists at the PAC counter.  The general process is to do a memorandum and it needs to be signed by you and coordinated with the 24 TRS leadership and your gaining base leadership.  Once they all sign it, it has to be ultimately approved by the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC).  The regulation somewhere says that these changes are not to be done for convenience but for a valid AF need which may sound ominous.  When I did mine I simply listed that it would create undue hardships for my children since we were driving across country, and extra days were needed to ease the burden.  I believe as long as your gaining unit commander signs off on it AFPC will approve it.  I had no problem with my justification.  The only thing I recommend you do is start this process early so you don’t have to fret about it at the very end of training.
Once you have your RNLTD the only thing you really need to worry about is getting to your next base by that date.  Here are your entitlements if you drive:
  • A fixed amount per mile calculated by the DoD from your departing to arriving base (something like $0.60).
  • Lodging for the allotted travel days you are authorized.
  • Per-diem for the allotted travel days you are authorized.
Your travel days are calculated by one day per 350 or 400 miles of travel.  350 is for PCS, 400 is for TDY.  Here is the reference.  Since Maxwell AFB to Keesler AFB is approximately 234 miles, you are authorized one travel day.  If your base was 1,200 miles away for a TDY, you would have three travel days.  There is fine print on this so be sure to check out the link above.
There is currently no formal process for taking leave both for a PCS or TDY en-route.  As long as you show up at your next base by the RNLTD, you are good to go.  You will be reimbursed for the number of travel days you are authorized and any extra days will be charged as leave.  For example if you wanted to spend a day in Pensacola, FL on your way to Keesler you would get your per diem and lodging covered for one day and the other day would be out of pocket.

The Perks of PCSing

  • While you are traveling on orders hotels are only authorized to charge you a maximum rate if they have availability.  This is calculated by county/zip code and you can find the maximum rate here.  The reason I tell you this is because it doesn’t matter how nice the hotel is, that is the maximum rate they can charge you for that location.  I took advantage of this benefit by staying in Hilton’s while I traveled from Maxwell to my first base.  To get the most out of this, I also used my hotel rewards number so I got credit for the stay.  When you book the reservation just be sure to ask for the ‘military’ or ‘government’ rate.  The price difference was about $60 for most of the hotels I stayed in, so it was a considerable benefit.
  • You can choose how you want to do this for the days you are traveling which will be charged as leave.  When I PCS’d to my first base as an officer I actually used my hotel points so the price was basically the same when compared to the government rate.  After I thought about it for a while I realized even though you are taking leave en route you are still traveling on official government orders.  The rate you negotiate with the hotel is up to the discretion of the hotel so if you inform them you are on government orders and taking leave en route maybe they will give you the government rate anyways.  Just be honest with them and have them make the decision, maybe it will save you $60.  They are honestly probably just happy to have your business because if they don’t give you a decent rate maybe they will lose your business.
  • The last thing I will mention is one more entitlement I may have missed out on if I wasn’t paying attention.  Because OTS was a TDY en route instead of a PCS I also had the benefit of the government paying for whatever luggage I took to and from OTS.  In order to set this up I had to go to the JPPSO office prior to leaving my last base.  They gave me some paperwork told me once I arrived at my next base to just turn in the paperwork to their JPPSO office.  Basically prior to packing my car I filled the gas tank and had to get my vehicle weighed at a certified scale.  After I packed I did the same thing, then I was to drive to OTS.  I had to do the same thing after OTS prior to leaving Maxwell.  I was paid an amount per pound because I had to haul the weight with me during my travel.  I will note that the amount authorized was different for a TSgt than a 2d Lt, but not by much.
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24 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sara
    Apr 18 2016

    Does the travel time for your next base start on graduation day (after the ceremony/parade) or is the next day counted as Day 1? Just wondering whether to leave and drive a few hours that afternoon or stick around in Montgomery for the night. We're going to LA AFB.

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  2. Apr 18 2016

    I am pretty sure graduation day is a day of work and the travel days start the day after. I wanted to relax so I stayed in Montgomery that night, but lots of other people wanted to leave Montgomery ASAP. LA AFB? What AFSC are you?

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  3. Anonymous
    Apr 21 2016

    As an FYI most hotels will give you the government whether or not you're on orders. All you do is ask for the government rate on check in and show them your ID.

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  4. Apr 21 2016

    If you get Keesler as a PCS after OTS for tech school (cyber ops), and you only have 1 day to get there, what do you do in terms of finding housing and moving your family? I'm a married civilian with 1 child, and, if selected, my family will be overseas for the duration of OTS (I'm a 16OT03 applicant).

    Coming from overseas, I won't even have a car. I'd probably have to rent a car to get from Maxwell to Keesler and have nothing to my name (in the states) except for a few bags of OTS gear when I show up at Keesler. Seems like a hard situation.

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  5. Apr 21 2016

    Good info, thanks. Yeah I have found most hotels to be very flexible.

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  6. Apr 21 2016

    If you are an overseas select and PCSing to Keesler after OTS, I recommend trying to get a curtailment of your DEROS and PCS to Keesler prior to OTS. That way you can drive from Keesler to Maxwell after you are settled, have your car, and simply return after OTS. How far out is your DEROS? Most of the time the OTS staff will give you a class date that matches closest with your current DEROS so they don't mess with the cycles very much.

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  7. Apr 21 2016

    Thank you for your reply. I'm a civilian so I'm not sure how this will work for me. Also, what is DEROS?

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  8. Apr 21 2016

    Oh, when you said overseas I assumed you meant stationed overseas. Feel free to email me at airforceotsguy@gmail.com. DEROS is when you are eligible to return from overseas so that doesn't apply. Shoot me an email and I can help you come up with something which makes sense.

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  9. May 7 2016

    Hi sir, I am a 16OT03 select and currently stationed at Elllsworth AFB,SD with Civilian wife and 2 kids. I do not have a projected base yet but i noticed that the timeline from OTS to next base seems short. So how does the PCS work since my family would probably still be home when I go to OTS. Do I outprocess before OTS, where will my family be? Or do I go back for them after OTS? Thank you. I would just like to plan things to make it easier for them.

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  10. May 7 2016

    Congrats on your selection! I think you can choose to either PCS to your following base before or after OTS. A lot of this will depend on if your tech school is a TDY or PCS. What AFSC are you? It would have been easier for my family to stay at my last base then PCS right after graduation. A lot of it will also depend on what RNLTD they give you but keep in mind you can also extend RNLTDs.

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  11. May 7 2016

    I am 64p. Which is basically the same job as I have now. Tech school is typically just 8 weeks tops. So I think it will be a TDY like the new LTs in my unit. Thank you.

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  12. May 7 2016

    Yes I imagine it would be the exact same process. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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  13. May 18 2016

    Hello, i had a similar question about how long will I have to move my family and find adequate housing (we want to live off base) after COT?

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  14. May 18 2016

    Assuming you are active, for PCSing you have one travel day authorized for every 350 or 400 miles between bases. Once you get there you are authorized ten days in lodging to find a place to live but you can extend in ten day increments up to 30 at government expense. Work usually gives you 8 or 10 days off for house hunting but if you want more you have to take leave. These rules may change if you are PCSing to a training base.

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  15. May 18 2016

    And then in terms of moving your stuff from your residence you would have to take leave to go back and secure that?

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  16. May 18 2016

    I think once you go active and have orders you can set up something called TMO or JPPSO. They will come show up and pack your entire house and move it to your next base. The catch is someone has to be at the house to tell them what to pack and sign the paperwork. Since you will be in training I would assume your wife would help you out. You could go all the way back home but you probably won't have time.

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  17. May 18 2016

    Thanks so much for your help. There's like zero info online about this process, especially from the AF perspective. Last question: does this process ring true for any commissioned officers, including chaplains?

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  18. May 18 2016

    It should be the same but I honestly don't know. I can't think of any reason why it would be different. I'm glad I am able to help!

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  19. Jan 17 2017

    Thank you so much for this blog, it has helped us a lot! My husband's OTS date is in April. I'm a bit concerned about the transition to tech school. We don't have official orders yet, but because he has been assigned as a Cyber Ops Officer, we think he will end up at Keesler. He is not a prior and we are living in California so I'm not sure how the move will work. Will he even be allowed to live with me off base right away or is there a waiting period? Thank you!

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  20. Jan 17 2017

    Thanks for the comment! As far as I know Cyber (17D) is a PCS at Keesler, so you should expect to get base housing or BAH there. Basically you will have to figure out a way to get the government (JPPSO or TMO) to pack up your stuff from CA and move you to MS, then they will move you from MS to his first base. There may be a waiting period at Keesler but either way you guys should be able to be together.

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  21. Jan 19 2017

    Thank you so much! That info is very helpful and reassuring! How much prior to OTS did you get your tech school orders? And what happened when you first went to tech school in regards to your family? Also, did you have to go through a phase system at all? Thanks again for all of your help!

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  22. Jan 20 2017

    My tech school is less than 20 weeks so I didn't get my orders until well after I arrived at my first base. If your tech school is more than 20 weeks you will PCS there after OTS. Most of the time active duty have orders before OTS, I think civilians got their orders during OTS.

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  23. Feb 6 2017

    Did you have family and if so where did they stay? Did they stay at the current base or forward to the next assignment?

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  24. Feb 6 2017

    Yes they stayed at the country inn in Prattville. They stayed with friends and flew down for the graduation. We all PCSd to my next base together.

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