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March 15, 2017

21

Preparing for OTS – Military Pay, PCSing, Getting a Sponsor

by airforceotsguy

A graduate from class 17-03 (Det 12) sent me the following updates about OTS.  He made a few really good points that I never thought about spelling out specifically in the past:

  • Military Pay:  If you are a civilian it may take a while for your pay to start kicking in.  It is easy to think this is an issue with the OTS staff but changes to military pay in general take a long time.  If all goes well for an active duty person, you can see changes to your military pay in as little as three weeks, but for anyone it can take up to several months.  I think one of the main reasons for this is because it has to first make it through AF-level personnel then it has to be submitted to DFAS which manages the pay for the entire DoD.
    • Tip #1:  If your pay is messed up or you aren’t getting paid at all, SPEAK UP.  All leadership (OTS staff, operational AF, AETC training, etc.) acknowledges that not getting paid is a major, real issue.  If you bring it up they will move mountains to help you out.
    • Tip #2:  Double check everything.  Cross reference your base pay, BAS, and BAH with separate sources online.  I’ll do a specific post on this later with links and a brief explanation of a pay statement (LES).
    • Tip #3:  If something doesn’t look right and you get paid a bunch of money you don’t think you are entitled to, DON’T SPEND THE MONEY!  Once DFAS figures out the mistake they can straight up stop paying you until the debt is paid.
  • PCS’ing to Your First Base:  After you get orders (AF Form 899) it will include what is called a Report No Later Than Date (RNLTD).  This date will almost always be a few days after OTS graduation, so you need to plan for things to move fast after you graduate.  The DoD basically takes your graduation date then gives you “travel days” based on the number of miles it takes to drive to your first base.  The calculation is something like 350 to 400 miles per day.  If it takes you two days/600 miles to get to your first base, you will be authorized to take two travel days where the AF will pay you a little bit per mile and for lodging.
    • In the operational Air Force they give you a RNLTD a month or two past when you will actually take leave.  Finance calculates these travel days first then any extra days you take to get from A to B are charged as leave.
    • Your RNLTD CAN BE CHANGED.  You have to get approval from your gaining unit so you will have to dig and dig for phone numbers and ask someone at that unit.  The process when I was there was for your Flight Commander to sign a memo request, your gaining unit to approve the memo, then the 24 TRS/CC or Det 12/CC to finally approve it.  Once they approve it you give it back to personnel and they amend your orders in 3-4 days (at the fastest).  Check with personnel on the specific process when you are there.
    • In summary, unless you have everything in your car and you are ready to drive straight to your next base, if you want to take leave you may have to request a RNLTD extension.
  • Finally, Your Gaining Base will not know you are coming:  We are an electronic Air Force and everything personnel related is tracked in a database.  This includes PCSing, your personnel records, assignments, etc.  Because OTS is off cycle to the rest of the AF, and because they can’t load an officer assignment for an enlisted dude, your orders are cut by hand and manually produced on the AF Form 899.
    • You as an OTS grad will bypass this normal electronic process, so you have to reach out and bridge this gap yourself.
    • It is crucial you keep copies of your orders because unlike later in your career, you cannot log back in and just re-print them.
    • Try to established the relationship with your first base as early as possible.  Units are supposed to give you a sponsor to help you with your move.  They will provide local info, tips, contacts for setting stuff up, getting you a temporary address, etc.  Ask for them to assign you a sponsor because they won’t know you are coming.

Comments from the grad:


– They’re doing pretty different stuff between Det 12 and TRS 24 right now. In fact, the 24th is being unofficially called a “guinea pig” experiment right now as they’re cramming all of the material into even fewer weeks, but still keeping cadets for the standard amount of total time.  For example, I believe last week they had their CWT #2, SPT #2, PFA, and a briefing all in the course of a standard week.  So it seems like they’re trying to determine whether OTS can be further condensed.  Also, we (Det 12) only had 4ish people sent home total, and they had already had 15 sent home by the time we graduated, and they still had a few weeks left.

– Our Det 12 class was the first one (according to staff) that was put 4 to a dorm room.  It was pretty packed but we got used to it.  Interestingly, this was also one of the first (or perhaps the only) class to have zero self eliminations.  The staff is trying to figure out if there’s a connection between the two, but I don’t know what the future implications of this will be.

– I’d say around 20% of our class never received pay while at OTS.  This might not be something to tell incoming students so that they don’t worry about it, but OTS has acknowledged that their finance department is in need of change.

– They’re getting rid of the ropes course this year.  Bummer, because it’s really fun.

– AEF was only two days for us, as our class was too big.  Two squadrons went out for Monday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon, the other two for Wed afternoon through Fri afternoon.

– Maybe just give a little note to non-priors especially that there is a very good chance they’ll be PCSing to their next duty station immediately after OTS.  This is primarily for those cadets who might otherwise fly to OTS – I would have driven with my household goods from the Northwest for OTS if I had known that I would have a report date of 12 March after graduating 10 March.

– They’re getting rideof TFIT in the next yearish – I think you already knew this.  [NOTE, this has been confirmed to start for class 17-07 (click here)].

– They’re looking at the possibility of offering online lessons prior to OTS so that there is less classroom/reading time and more application.  I’m a big fan of this concept, but it’s not official yet and might not happen for some time, if at all.  Leadership seemed to be on board with the idea of it though.

– Don’t hide stuff in laundry bags.  They loved to check those.


Follow up comments from a recent 24 TRS grad:

I’m in 17-04, so I wanted to clarify and comment on the points from the 17-03 grad.

– They are correct. In one week, Monday was CWT2 and SPT2, Tuesday and Wednesday was LRC, Thursday was Advocacy brief, Friday was PFA. Then Sunday night-Tuesday evening was my groups AEF.  We’re also split in to two groups.  Almost everyone has a GLP at AEF.
– 24 TRS doesn’t have 4 to a room.  We have 2-3 depending on the squadron.  They have us split in to two dorms.  Goldhawks/Spartans are in one, Hoyas/Tigers in another.  This could be because they’re in the process of replacing all of the carpet in one building, though, so it only has two floors available.
– We only have one guy who isn’t getting paid yet, and his was supposed to finally start today.  Finance said something along the lines of they put in so many backpay/advance requests that their DFAS account has been flagged and DoD was having to manually approve things or something like that.
– 24 TRS hasn’t lost 15 people.  I think we’re up to 12 now, and a few were people who failed PFB and their retest.  2 self eliminated that I know of.  The others were people who failed multiple graded measurements.
Read more from After OTS, OTS Prep
21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mar 15 2017

    I've always wondered what happens to rated selects and PCMSing. Rated people have far more training and not a first duty station, as far as I understand. It'd be nice to get more info about that.

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  2. Mar 15 2017

    Oof! 4 to a room sounds terrible! Good updates and info though!!

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  3. Mar 16 2017

    Hopefully someone else can chime in on this. I really don't know how it works.

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  4. Mar 16 2017

    I know I was surprised to hear that! It sounds like this is common for Det 12 but not common for 24 TRS. In 24 TRS for the past year it was two to a room, maybe three but not four.

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  5. Mar 16 2017

    Question for the 17-04 student in 24 TRS, how many people did you have to begin with? E.g., did you lose 12/60ish or 12/120?

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  6. Mar 17 2017

    I am not the 17-04 student and not sure if he will see this, but I think both Det 12 and 24 TRS are pushing around 250 people through each class. In that case it would be 12/~250.

    When I went through in 2015 we lost about that many and our class started around 240 and were down to 226 I think.

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  7. Mar 17 2017

    To answer the rated question, you will go to MFS (if non prior) immediately after hopefully. For example, we graduate the 24th and I go to MFS 28-30 in Wright Patt. They will pay for you to fly or you can drive, that is up to you. After MFS you have a certain period of time to report to your base to in-process and sit on casual status until either IFT or UPT starts. You will PCS to your UPT base since you will be there over a year. For the answer to the 1704 question: we had around 265 or so cadets to start and now we are down to around 252. The numbers aren't exact but close. I know we did lose a bunch compared to previous classes but as they said, it was tough on a lot of people when they crammed a bunch of things all in one week.

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  8. Mar 17 2017

    Thanks for the info!

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  9. Anonymous
    Mar 21 2017

    Hello, thank you for the great info. Question: for non-rated, once graduated from the OTS does one go to the duty station or to the tech school first?

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  10. Mar 21 2017

    It depends on the length of tech school. What NR career field? I may know the length off the top of my head. If the tech school is longer than 20 weeks you will go straight to tech school by PCS. If the tech school is shorter than 20 weeks you will PCS to your first base then go to tech school as a TDY. PCS is permanent change of station, TDY is temporary duty yonder. (haha not really yonder).

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  11. Anonymous
    Mar 22 2017

    Hello. Thank you so much for your response. I am in Logistics Readiness (LRO) 21R1. One more question if you don't mind…I report to the OTS on 03/29/17. Do I report in ABU or a professional civillian clothes? Thank you for your time.

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  12. Mar 23 2017

    Professional civilian clothes. They will start uniforms once people get a chance to go to clothing sales. This will be built into the schedule. I'm not sure about that one but I'll ask on my Facebook group.

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  13. Mar 23 2017

    I am hearing you will go to your first base first then go TDY to tech school. Lro tech school is only a few weeks long.

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  14. Anonymous
    Mar 25 2017

    Thank you so much for the info! It's very helpful!

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  15. Mar 25 2017

    You're welcome!

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  16. Apr 1 2017

    Do I really need to take 2000 down for uniform's or get the star card?How much money do I realistically need?

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  17. Apr 1 2017

    I think someone asked this in the facebook group, but I think $2000 is on the high side. You can use kellac.com to estimate uniform costs, ABUs at least. It can be pricey but you can get deals sometimes by finding used deals.

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  18. Apr 1 2017

    I am a CIV Pilot select.

    Your post said I will be reporting to UPT base in a few days after OTS graduation. Then, when can I bring my family down to UPT base and how many days will be provided? I am from Northwest, so I need ample time to drive up there, pack all our stuff, and bring my wife and kid down to UPT base.

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  19. Apr 2 2017

    Congratulations on your selection!!! The easiest for a civilian to move is to bring all of your stuff to OTS with you (I recommend driving vs. flying). The AF may not give you enough travel days to travel all the way back to the NW then to UPT. I'm not sure about the details for UPT but while you are there it would probably be easiest if they visited with and met you there vs. you picking them up. Feel free to email me if you have more questions. airforceotsguy@gmail.com

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  20. Apr 2 2017

    Thank you for the answer

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  21. Apr 2 2017

    No problem.

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