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Posts from the ‘OTS’ Category

18
Oct

17OT05 Active Duty Board Results

Here are the results from the 17OT05 Active Duty Board.  The board convened in August 2017, results were released on 15 Sep 2017.

  • 461 Active Duty considered
  • 129 Active Duty selected
  • 28% selection rate

Click Here for the press release which includes the names of those selected.

Click Here for a link to all press releases on my blog.

17
Oct

OTS Tips From the Trenches

Here are a few comments from at OTS cadet who was still in training.  I second the remark about getting out what you put into OTS.  The OTS curriculum and staff can only do so much for you, at some point you need to apply what you learn and grow and develop into the type of officer you want to be.


  1. The academics are not difficult but the exams are scenario based questions.  If you know Bloom Taxonomy, be prepared to go beyond the first level (remember) and into the understand or higher level.
  2. You get what you put into OTS.  If you come here with the attitude that you already know how to be a leader, you will find this place a waste of time and I sincerely hope none of you come with that attitude.  I’m halfway through and feel I have learned TONS about decision-making and leadership.  Yes there are things here that I don’t agree with and that’s part of the learning process.  There will be priors and non-priors who think they have it all figured out.  Do yourself a favor put your ego and pride to the side and you will get plenty out of the experience.
  3. Come here fit.  Don’t rely on getting time here to workout.  You will PT and you will get chances to workout after SMT (the scheduled duty day) but you’d be amazed how many people come here not able to meet standards.  I’ve lost 10 pounds so far and my strength has gone down since I don’t workout as much as I used to back home.  Trust me I try.
  4. You will spend the next 8-9 weeks with your flight so don’t burn bridges and try your best to get along with everyone.  Even if you have differences in opinions (and trust me you will), these are the people you will be around 24/7.  Life will either be great (because you are all experiencing the same stuff) or will be horrible for you based on how you and your flight act with each other.
  5. You are going to do peer feedback about halfway through the course.  This is MANDATORY and be prepared to hear the truth about what your flightmates think of you.  Be open-minded to the feedback and don’t take anything personal.  Learn from each other and become better.
  6. Think about the things you respect and desire in a leader and work your way to those positive qualities.  Learn patience with decisions and with your surroundings.  You may not agree with certain things in OTS and that will be the same when you work anywhere else.  How you adapt and how you handle the environment is up to you.  You can either be a part of the solution or the problem.
  7. Remember why you’re here.  Remember there are people who didn’t and couldn’t make it.  YOU were selected to serve as an officer in the greatest Air Force in the world.  Prove to everyone why you are here and become the leader that everyone knows you can be.  Be something more than you were yesterday.
17
Oct

OTS Advice – June 2017 Grad

This was posted in one of the OTS class Facebook groups.  Posted with permission.  I could be wrong but this sounds like a Det 12 experience to me.


First Day

Check-in was from 1200-1600.  I arrived at 1430.  Show up with your laces and shirt tucked in.  The MTIs and the Squadron Commanders were all there to “greet” us.  They were pretty intense.  Just remember your customs and courtesies and to move with a sense of urgency.  Different MTIs grabbed groups of people and started instructing them outside the dorms on the basics of customs/courtesies and marching.  Then, we went inside to grab our welcome packets, which had our room assignments on them.  Once I got my packet, I went outside, grabbed my luggage and went to my room.  After dropping off my stuff, we formed up on the other side of the dorms to march over to the OTS shoppette.  From that point on, you will always have your HAWK and OTSMAN on you at all times.  So while we were waiting for enough people to form up outside, we were standing there reading our OTSMAN.  Then, we marched over to the shoppette, where everyone grabbed any uniform items they didn’t bring, toiletries, and items on the pre-positioned list.  Take your time in there because otherwise you will be standing outside for a long time waiting for everyone in your group to be done.  Then we marched back to the dorms, where the MTIs did not give us any direction on what to do besides go to our rooms, so people sat in their rooms doing nothing for hours and hours waiting for some kind of instruction.  What you should do is unpack your luggage and start setting up your room according to the dorm manual.  You will have an MRE to eat in your dorm for dinner, and you should be allowed a 15 minute phone call to let people know your address and that you are fine.  It is a long day of waiting around not knowing what to do or what’s coming next.  Then, the MTIs should hold a meeting with the whole class before lights out that evening.

First Week

The whole first week was a lot of standing around, getting yelled at, and learning how to march.  My feet had never hurt so bad in my life.  Everybody’s feet were killing them.  Make sure you have Dr. Scholl’s inserts in your boots, and make sure you wear comfortable shoes the first day in your civvies.

The second day, we immediately started wearing ABUs.  As priors, you will have to help your roommate get dressed because most likely, they have no idea what they are doing.  They woke us up at 0430 on the dot by yelling and banging on doors.  It’s not as crazy as BMT, and they won’t make you do push-ups/sit-ups/etc. or yell in your face.  They also will not embarrass you or single you out.  You will know who is in your flight right away because your rooms are all next to each other.  There are 16 people to a flight, 4 flights per squadron, 4 squadrons per wing (the wing is the whole class).  It will be a mix of priors/non-priors, ANG, and Reserve.  You will be with your Flight all the time, so make good relationships with those people.  You will also have to stratify each other, and report the top 3 and bottom 3 flight members to your Flight CC every week (I was not a fan of this).

Our first week was TFIT, which they got rid of now.  TFIT consisted of learning to march and proper procedures for everything at OTS.  Now that will just be integrated into TFOT, so you will be learning all of that at the same time you are starting classes and in-processing.  We didn’t meet our Flight Commanders until TFOT started the next week.  However, you might be meeting them right away now.  Your Flight Commander will be yours for the duration of your time at OTS and he/she will most likely be a Captain, possibly a 1st Lt.  He/She will be instructing you in your Flight Room, and you will have combined lectures with your whole class in the auditoriums as well.

Lights On is at 0430 everyday, no earlier than that.  If you need to wake up a little early, do it quietly and with the lights off.  Lights Out is at 2300 every night, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay up that late.  You can go to bed whenever you want.  You will have late nights a lot in the beginning trying to get prepared and everything, but it will lighten up and get easier as time goes on.  It’s really hard to stay awake during lectures, so a lot of people had cough drops and mints to help keep them awake.

Following Weeks

The first couple weeks are pretty rough, but it starts getting so much better by week 3. The staff stops yelling at you, and they go to just being stern when needed.  Then, as your class phases up throughout the course, they will start being nice to you.  But you have to always remember to not get complacent and not start slacking.  Our class phased up earlier than most because we were able to be professional and self-sufficient with our cadet chain-of-command.  They won’t phase you up if they have to constantly babysit and correct you.

Physical Training

We took our first PT test during the second week.  This is a baseline test.  It doesn’t count as your official score, but there was talk about letting it count, so people don’t have to worry about getting injured later and getting sent home for injuries.  So it is possible that this test may officially count for you.  We didn’t have any PT up to this test, so make sure you come prepared to pass.  There were a few people sent home because of failures on the baseline test.  Throughout the course, there is not much PT, and the PT is very short and weak.  Don’t expect to be physically challenged.  There were many people who complained about not having enough PT and getting out of shape there.  Well, I have to disagree with that.  I got into the best shape of my life there because I worked out every evening.  By the end of the course, I increased my PT score by 7 points and had my best run time yet.  Don’t rely on their PT program.  Make time for yourself to workout in the evenings.  You will have access to everything on the OTS campus once you get Phase I, which is pretty quickly.  There is a gym, a quarter-mile track, the “paper clip” track (this is a 1.5 mile track in the shape of a paper clip, and this is the track you will test on), and volleyball courts outside.  There will be a few early formation runs that are 2-3 miles long, but you stop along the way to do exercises.  The longest run was 6 miles, but again you make a lot of stops along the way to do exercises (this was the prop & wings run, which you do about halfway throughout the course).

Leadership Exercises and Challenges

My favorite parts of OTS were all the leadership exercises and challenges:  BELPS, LRC, EMLEX, AEF.  I also really enjoyed combatives.  We did combatives for a week first thing in the morning somewhere in the middle of the course.  I would have liked to have a lot more of it.  BELPS was out in the woods with different leadership challenges for each person in the group.  It was fun, and it was basically a precursor to LRC.  LRC is graded, and you do it toward the end of the course.  It consists of leadership challenges for each person in the group as well.  There are a lot of challenges with pools of water.  I got soaked, but not everybody does.  I fell in the water.  It was pretty funny.  EMLEX is an emergency exercise meant more for the ANG members.  It is only fun if you are one of the role-players, who play local victims of the disaster.  AEF was 3 days out in the woods.  Everybody has a job out there, except for the people who get to play Elysians (the locals).  There were about 20 of us picked by OTS leadership to be Elysians.  As Elysians, we really didn’t have any rules, and got to just have fun running wild and messing with both sides (everyone else was split into two teams according to Squadrons, and they had to run FOBs and had missions and whatnot).

Academics

There are two academic tests throughout the course.  They are multiple choice, and the second one is not comprehensive; it just covers the second half of academics.  Whoever the academic leader is in your Flight should be helping with study guides, practice tests, games, etc. to help everyone in the flight pass.  You will also have two papers and two briefings.  Your briefings will mirror your papers.  One is an informative briefing/background paper on a country or an aircraft, and one is an advocacy briefing/persuasive paper on a topic that has to do with the Air Force.  You will also be tested on the whole OTSMAN and aircraft in the HAWK (this test doesn’t count toward your academic grade, it just goes toward consideration for DG – same goes for your PT scores and your dorm inspection).  The official graded dorm inspection is toward the end of the course, but keep your dorm inspection-ready at all times because the MTIs and your Flight CC will randomly check your rooms throughout the course.

Leadership Positions

The other graded part of your time there is your graded leadership position.  Every person will get one sooner or later.  Each flight member will have an additional duty, however, it only counts as a graded position if you are the Wing POC for that additional duty.  The only additional duty position that is graded in your flight is the War-gaming/Intel POC.  This person has to give a briefing each week to the flight on important news for that week.  They also have to lead the simulated war-gaming exercise, which is a few hours one day toward the end of the course on laptops in a classroom.  They were also talking about making the Academic POC a graded leadership position because it takes a lot of work and a lot of time.  This was my additional duty.  I made study plans, study guides, practice tests, trivia games, had to make sure everybody was good to go for the tests, made sure study time was used efficiently, etc.

The other positions consisted of:

  • Drill & Ceremonies POC – helps the flight with marching, prepping for drill/ceremonies, holds tryouts and chooses people for key personnel positions for the graduation ceremony.
  • Grad Week POC – compiles information on grad week guests and DVs for the flight, helps coordinate commissioning ceremony.
  • Awards Banquet POC – part of planning committee for the awards banquet.
  • EMLEX POC – helps coordinate EMLEX.
  • BELPS POC – helps coordinate BELPS.
  • LRC POC – helps coordinate LRC.
  • UDM – conducts pre-deployment training and pre-BELPS training, which includes teaching navigation, pace-counting, maneuvers, challenging procedures; also preps flight for AEF and conducts a bag-drop to make sure everyone has what they need for the “deployment.”
  • Safety POC – reports any mishaps/injuries or safety issues in the flight.
  • PTL – helps lead flight PT; may also be appointed a Squadron PTL, who leads their Squadron at Wing PT; helps people who are struggling.
  • Mail POC – gets mail from the distribution center each week and delivers mail to their flight members.
  • Logistics POC – makes sure everyone has what they need as far as mandatory items that you will need for various things/events throughout the course; gets MREs for everyone; passes out and keeps accountability of hard and soft cadet ranks for flight members
  • Chaplain POC – coordinates with the Chaplain on morale events (weekly coffee socials and anything they would like to get the class to do together).
  • Computer POC – handles computer issues in the classroom.
  • Audio/Visual POC – takes pictures and videos throughout the course to compile for our class video at the end of the course.

The graded leadership positions that count, besides Wargaming/Intel POC and Wing POC for any of the additional duties, are the cadet leadership positions like Flight CC, Squadron CC, Group CC, Wing CC, and a couple other positions up there.  The only time you will volunteer for a position like this might be the first week.  After that, the OTS officers will choose the leaders for each week.  They will most likely choose someone they trust to set a good tone in the beginning.  Then, they might proceed to choose people who really need to be thrown into a leadership position in order to come out of their shell or people who are just struggling in different areas.  If you don’t get one of these leadership positions, you will get one at EMLEX or AEF in order to fulfill your graded leadership position obligation.

Dining Facility

Dining Facility – This was probably the worst part of each day.  It’s definitely not as bad as BMT though.  There’s no snake pit and they don’t hover over you and yell at you.  You also get 10 minutes to eat.  However, you do have to stand at attention and sidestep through the line, but you can grab whatever you want, and there are tons of desserts if you’re into that.  You will not be able to grab coffee or consume caffeine at all until you are in Phase II.  There are specific procedures for how to sit down, eat, and clean up/leave the table, so just read the OTSMAN on that.  It will make sense once you actually do it in person.  As far as the food, I thought it was terrible.  Some people actually enjoyed it.  I really think it contributed to my weight loss at OTS because I just really did not like the food, so I did not eat that much until we got Phase III and were allowed off the OTS campus on weekends (Phase IV is when you can go off base in civvies and you can leave the OTS campus after dinner on weekdays – if you get this phase, it will most likely be during the last week. It depends on your class. Our class got it earlier than that. Other classes never even got it.)

Advice

  • Always do the right thing.  They are watching even if you think they aren’t around.  Sometimes they pop out of nowhere.  There are also cameras everywhere.
  • Do not stress out or be super nervous going into this.  You will do great, and it is WAY easier and different than I was anticipating.  There is a reason you were selected, and those qualities are what’s going to get you through it.  Just think of it as another PME.
  • Make friends with your flight members.  Do things together (volleyball, bowling, going out to eat).
  • Study for your tests and pay attention to detail when doing your papers/briefings.  It’s not fun if you fail one of those, have to redo it, and meet with OTS leadership about it.
  • Remember that at the end of it, you all are going to be 2d Lts.  Cadet rank is not real.  Treat others with dignity and respect.
  • Get to know the OTS staff, including the MTIs.  You’re stuck with them for 8 weeks, and they are people too.
  • Don’t try to go for DG or any other awards.  Be yourself, and just worry about graduating.
  • Help out your roommate.  If your roommate is failing, then you are failing as a roommate.  However, do not carry others through the course.  There is a point where personal accountability and individual effort is important.
  • Participate.  As priors, you have a lot of experience, often more experience than your Flight CCs, so share what you know and help the non-priors in your class.
  • Don’t be overbearing or micromanaging.  Do your best to be a great leader, but remember that your classmates are adults, and everyone there is smart and is there for a reason.
  • Take risks.  There is a lot of gray area in the OTSMAN and throughout OTS.  There is a reason for that.  They expect good leaders to take risks and make decisions.
  • Be creative and think outside the box.  There are different ways to do things and you will not be told how to do everything at OTS.
  • Go with the flow.  The MTIs and Flight CCs might contradict themselves or each other.  It’s okay.  This is what happens in a training environment, and what matters is how you handle those situations.
15
Oct

Wings Information

A follower wrote this up for me.  Let me know if you have anything to add and I will either add it to this post or create a new post.


In order to slightly shorten the length of OTS, the WINGS course was introduced.  The WINGS course is essentially made up of prerequisite work that must be completed, and is used to get the cadet ready for OTS.  Upon receiving a class letter, a cadet will receive log in information to their WINGS portal through the Holm Center.  Within this portal are many useful pieces of information to prepare a cadet for OTS, including the OTSMAN and the HAWK, as well as Reporting Instructions and a Physical Training Guidance, which essentially gives a run down of the exact PT that will be done at OTS.  Also included are several in-processing documents, which will need to be printed and filled out prior to attending OTS.  These are mainly questionnaires that need some basic information, or just documents that need signed saying “I agree”.  One very informative document hidden in this section is the Line Accessions Base Availability Listing.  This document provides cadets with information regarding what base they could go to as determined by their AFSC.

The prerequisite work itself is fairly easy, just time consuming.  It consists of a combination of readings, slideshows, and videos on various topics.  The work the cadet will be going through involves learning about effective communication and leadership, dress code, and the history of the air force and airpower.  The cadet will also be familiarized with what will be expected of them, in terms of how they represent the Air Force and to take pride in the position they will be holding.  Throughout all of this, there is a note taker, and the cadet is expected to take notes on the material.  The note taker is more of a fill in the blank, and 95% of the blanks are fairly obvious within the readings and slides.  There is said to be a test upon arriving at Maxwell AFB on the WINGS material, so taking notes is extremely important in order to review it all, as there is a lot of information.

As the course is still new, there are still various issues.  A lot of cadets were having problems with logging into the site, as it was down fairly often.  I only experienced one time where I could not get the site to load, but once I cleared my browser cookies I was fine (which they suggest doing).  They also give warning when the site will be down for any sort of maintenance, so a cadet can prepare ahead of time.  The website will also track the cadets progress, and a certificate is rewarded at the end of the program that must be printed and saved as proof of completion.  Unfortunately, the site itself can be slightly tricky to find documents, and takes a bit of getting used to.  The biggest problem I personally encountered was every time I clicked to view course material, it sent me to a page that did not have my course material on it.  I would have to close out of that, and click on course material again before it would finally load the correct page.

– Civilian Select, Slotted for TFOT Class 18-02, Authored September 2017


Here are some additional comments followers from the Facebook group wanted to add:

Two things. First, if you’re using chrome as your browser, you can set up a separate “user” browser. There are specific steps that they give you to set up your browser so things work the smoothest. If you set up a separate user (I called mine “Air Force”) like they suggest, things work much better. I suggest doing this so your regular browsing doesn’t mess with their site, and you don’t have to clear cookies every time you want to log in.

Second, there’s a note on the site currently that says that the course material is being reworked. And anyone going after the OT03 and OT04 classes will have different material, which should be ready the middle of January. So, you can familiarize yourself with the material, but any work done before the new stuff gets pushed out won’t count to completing the course.

And another:

The new course should roll out in November. There are slight changes in some of the sample of behaviors. Not to many drastic changes. The biggest change is that the prerequisite course web base training will now include the real test inside the material and there may even be a challenge test to test out of it. This will eliminate taking a test at OTS on the prerequisite course material.

14
Sep

17OT04 Civilian Board Results

Out of 402 civilian applicants, 109 were selected to become Air Force officers.  That is a selection rate of 27% which I personally consider a low selection rate.  This year there were a ton applicants so all Fiscal Year quotas were filled by the first two out of seven boards.  17OT04 and 17OT05 should have fairly low selection rates and it should reset for next Fiscal Year.

Click Here for the official Air Force press release.

19
Jul

TFOT Course Change Rumors

This may be old news by now, but a reader sent me this a few weeks ago.  He was a 17-05 graduate who wanted to share what he had heard regarding the TFOT course changes.
Class 17-07 and 17-08, I am eagerly awaiting to hear of any major changes!

  • No more TFIT – just the 8-week TFOT course.  The indoctrination phase will be shortened to only a couple days.  They will rely on the prior enlisted members to help the non-priors get up to speed.
  • There are now about 40 hours of CBTs to replace the courses that were removed from the syllabus.  Completing the CBTs is a prerequisite to attending TFOT.  The good news:  incoming cadets can test out of many of these CBTs.  This should save prior enlisted members a lot of time.  (Admin note:  I have heard the testing out tests are no joke, so take them seriously!  – airforceotsguy)
  • There will actually be two more classroom days.  I believe this will be achieved by moving things around in the schedule and by removing some of the non-classroom material.  For example, my class 17-05 had 5 days of Combatives, while class 17-06 had 3 days; I can’t verify this will be the case for all future classes, but my assumption is this will be the types of changes made.  Additionally, we had a lot of free time (OPS APT) at the end of our course.  I think some of those days could be restructured to provide more classroom time.  Again, this is speculation on my part.
  • There will be substantially more Graded Leadership Positions (GLPs).  We had 2 GLPs when I went through, but I’ve heard the new curriculum will call for somewhere around 4-6.  I’m not sure where all of them are coming from, but I believe some of the additional duties will become GLPs.  For example, there was discussion of the Academic Monitor becoming a GLP because they do a lot of work and that responsibility continues throughout the course.
13
Jul

TFOT Pre-Requisite Course – Wings

From the inbox:

Many people are having trouble updating their profile for the TFOT prerequisite site.  The home page has a broken link to verify personal information.  Here is a workaround:

20107881_10213471234838804_1860795554_o

6
Jun

Military Pay

Everyone in the Air Force, and the DoD for that matter, is paid by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).  Once you join the Air Force someone will set you up with a “myPay” account page on the DFAS web site.  You can use myPay to manage almost anything finance related (e.g., download your W-2 tax forms, change how you claim on your W-4, set up allotments which are automatic transfers from your paycheck to separate bank accounts, or view your pay stubs.)

The first one you are likely concerned with is your military pay stub, which we call a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES.)  There are a lot of other sites out there which explain how to view your LES, so I am just going to focus on how you can use the internet to calculate your military pay once you commission.

The LES is divided into three main financial sections; Entitlements, Deductions, Allotments, and Summary.  Here is a breakdown of each:

Entitlements

Your entitlements are what the military owes or pays you.  There are two main types of entitlements, Base Pay and Allowances.  The main difference between the two is base pay is taxable, allowances are not.  This is a huge unseen benefit of being in the military.

My LES is composed of the following entitlements:

  • Base Pay
  • Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS)
  • Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)

Base Pay

Base Pay is a publicly available number anyone can reference on the web.  Click Here for the link to the DFAS site which has all of the military pay tables from 1949 to the present.  To find your base pay, find your Time in Service (TIS) in Years at the top of the chart.  If you are a non-prior at OTS, I assume your TIS starts the day you begin OTS, so your TIS will be “2 or less.”  Next, find your pay grade and you will see your “Base Pay.”

The day you start OTS you will be a Staff Sergeant, which is pay grade E-5.  The day you commission you will be separated as a Staff Sergeant and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, O-1.  Prior enlisted officers (over three or four years TIS, I can’t remember), can qualify for O-1E which is a slightly higher rate.

The 2017 base pay for an O-1, 2 or less TIS is:  $3,034.80 per month (taxable).

Pay Table

Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS)

The military pays us a standard rate per month for food.   The military doesn’t control how you spend this money, so you could technically spend $100 on rice and beans for the entire month and pocket the rest, but this is the allowance you are given.  Every time I search for an official site for this I always find a different site.  When I did the search today, the .gov site actually had the wrong number (it wasn’t updated since 2014).  Nonetheless, here is the site which matches what I get for BAS.

The BAS is the same rate for the entire year, one rate for officers and one rate for enlisted.  Here is the site:

https://www.federalpay.org/military/bah-bas

The 2017 BAS for officers is:  $253.63 per month (non-taxable).

I honestly can’t remember how this works while in OTS.  I think you get BAS but since you have the chow hall available for each meal you eat they deduct it from your pay in the form of “Meal Deductions” under the deductions category.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)

The military also gives us an allowance for housing.  This rate is calculated by zip code, pay grade, and whether or not you have dependents.  In the Air Force if you are single, you have no dependents.  If you are married you have one dependent; you are the sponsor and your spouse is your dependent.  If you are married and have two kids you have three dependents; you are the sponsor, your wife and kids are the dependents.  The “with dependent” rate is the same regardless if you have one or seven dependents.

While in OTS as a non-prior you will not get BAH because you will be housed in the dorms.  After OTS, your BAH will kick in once you arrive at your first duty station.  For some, your first duty station is your first operational base, for others your first duty station is your tech school.  It depends on your tech school length.

Here is the link to my post about how to tell if your tech school is a PCS or TDY:

https://airforcejourney.com/2017/05/26/is-tech-school-a-pcs-or-tdy/

If you are a non-prior with dependents my understanding for how this works is unclear, so this is only an educated guess.  If you have dependents, your BAH may kick in for the zip code where your dependents are located once you start OTS.  If that is the case you will get that rate until you check in to your next base.  Ask the Facebook Forum for more details on this, the people there are “closer” to the issue and therefore more “in the know.”

Click Here for the official site for BAH.

The BAH for an O-1 at Tinker AFB, OK, without dependents is currently:  $1,140.00 per month (non-taxable).  I picked Tinker AFB because I think it is one of the lowest BAH rates.

Entitlements Summary

Here is the summary of what a O-1 entitlements as of June 2017.

  • Base Pay $3,034.80 per month
  • BAS $253.63 per month
  • BAH (Tinker AFB) $1,140.00 per month

Deductions

I don’t really know how the government knows what to take out for taxes (does anyone?)  I am just going to give you guys hard numbers and you can use them to make an educated guess for yourself.

  • Entitlements
    • BASE PAY:  $4,533.90
  • Deductions
    • FEDERAL TAXES:  $291.74
    • FICA-SOC SECURITY:  $281.10
    • FICA-MEDICARE:  $65.74
    • SGLI:  $29.00
    • SGLI FAM/SPOUSE:  $6.50
    • ROTH TSP:  XXXX
    • MID-MONTH-PAY:  XXXX

Here is what I know about these:

  • SGLI is life insurance.  I pay $29.00 per month for $400,000 of coverage.
  • SGLI Family/Spouse is life insurance for my family.  I think it is $100,000 for my wife and $10,000 for my kids, something like that.
  • Roth TSP:  Through myPay you can set up a portion of your base pay to go straight to your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).  TSP is similar to a civilian 401K.
  • Mid Month Pay:  Given all of your entitlements, deductions, and allotments, the government calculates about half of this and pays you 1/2 on the 15th and 1/2 on the 1st.  The “mid month pay” is what they pay you on the 15th.

Allotments

Through myPay you can have some of your check go into one account and some of your money go into another account.  Your primary account is going to be the one for your primary pay, allotments are for wherever else you want your money.  I have my pay deposited in my checking account but I set up a $1,000 for a separate savings account.  The $1,000 will show up in this section as “DISCRETIONARY ALT.”

The only other thing on my Allotments category is TRICARE DENTAL which costs me $28.87.

Summary

If my base pay was $6,000 and I had $1,000 in deductions and allotments, the government would owe me $5,000 per month.  The military will divide this in two and pay me $2,500 on the 15th and $2,500 on the 1st.  The mid-month-pay in deductions is the former, the End of Month Pay is the latter.

After OTS you should be entitled to “Dislocation Allowance” or “Clothing Allowance”  (ask me if you have no idea what these are), and these will show up as an additional line in your “Entitlements.”  For that month you will get paid more so your mid-month-pay may or may not be the same.  A lot of times they won’t adjust your mid-month pay but they will “catch up” what they owe you at the end of the month.  Sometimes they will over-estimate your mid-month pay then correct it for the End of Month.  Sometimes, they will mess up your pay then add a $389.17 deduction to your next paycheck.  Bottom line, pay attention to make sure that what they are doing makes sense.  If it doesn’t, ASK FINANCE.  If you don’t, they will probably never know that something is wrong until 9 months later when they realize you were overpaid by $8,000.  If you don’t pay attention you won’t notice something is wrong until you don’t get paychecks for two months because they are re-couping the cost.  This sounds crazy, but this actually happens.

Additional Resources:

Here is a site I found which spells out how to read an actual military LES:

http://www.military.com/spouse/military-benefits/money-management/how-to-read-a-military-les-leave-and-earnings-statement.html

4
Jun

TFOT Class Videos

Prior to OTS I actually refused to watch a lot of videos because I was partially in denial that I had to go through this stressful, life-changing event.  After I completed the program, I realized how valuable the experience was and I cherish the memories and lessons I learned there.

Class videos are a great way to capture the experience, but it honestly means so much more to those in that class than outsiders looking in.  Regardless, it is our opportunity to share a piece of the experience with the graduates, so I encourage you to watch these videos.

I plan to work backwards and link as many videos as I can, but here is the most recent ones I found.


OTS Videos YouTube Playlist (8 Oct 2017) – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKCuYpfDS0zofF0jwskp-9chudarWnC7H

Class 17-08 (30 Aug 2017) – https://youtu.be/VpfeshKHatg

Class 17-07 (25 Aug 2017) – https://youtu.be/i3iilFI556k

Class 17-06 (15 Jun 2017) – https://youtu.be/Jntd4Gjf3bE

Class 17-05 (3 Jun 2017) – https://youtu.be/Jntd4Gjf3bE

Class 17-04 (23 Mar 2017) – https://youtu.be/SVmzVbo8s-0

OTS Goldhawk Video (18 Nov 2016) – https://youtu.be/jxCEh89GKZ8

Class 17-02 (18 Nov 2016) – https://youtu.be/cbGzNDlsRuw

Class 17-02 (18 Nov 2016) – https://youtu.be/4Q9AWEGr7NU

Class 17-01 (28 Oct 2016) – https://youtu.be/XPR6tWcmnNY

Class 16-08 (9 Sep 2016) – https://youtu.be/BdJHfBBJfBE

Class 16-08 (9 Sep 2016) – https://youtu.be/Tz2d7eLCbWg

Class 16-07 (17 Jun 2016) – https://youtu.be/eJegtu9FC4g

Class 16-05 (8 Mar 2016) – https://youtu.be/N4RjkQq0lcw

Class 16-04 Spartans (5 Mar 2016) – https://youtu.be/_nc0uw2Nwuc

Class 16-03 (18 Dec 2015) – https://youtu.be/YWvKeAn_bb8

Class 16-02 (11 Dec 2015) – https://youtu.be/3K6F3tEXXYk

Air Force Basic Officer Training (16 Apr 2014) – https://youtu.be/3K6F3tEXXYk

Air Force Officer Training School (13 Oct 2012) – https://youtu.be/whNQ_EVOqF4

2
Jun

OTS Prep Advice – June 2017

Here is some advice from a recent OTS grad:


Since some of you will be leaving for OTS not long from now, and some of you will be completely new to the military, please allow me to share a few tips.

First and foremost…. Learn your reporting statements from the OTSMAN.  If you only study a single thing before you go, it should be your reporting statements.  Know what reporting statement to use when you initiate the conversation vs when an OTS faculty member initiates it.  This will make asking questions (and you WILL have questions) a far less painful experience in that first week.

Second….. Be cool.  Non-priors had a harder time with this since all priors learned in basic….  They WILL be looking to cause you to panic, they WILL try to stress you out, to scare you, just to see how you react under pressure.  They can’t simulate life or death decision type pressure, so they’ll use the only thing they can….  Which is screaming at you and stressing you out.  They want to see how you handle it, how you react.  They’ll be looking to see if you crack under it, or if you operate well under pressure.  When they scream at you, and try to scare you….  do not let them see you stress.  In the military, we call this maintaining your “military bearing”.  You may find yourself getting screamed at by 4 angry MTIs.  They aren’t angry.  They are professionals doing a job.  They want to stress you out, and they want to cause stress in the other cadets watching…  thinking…  “I don’t want that to be me”.  Don’t react, don’t flinch, and they’ll quickly realize they aren’t going to crack you.  They’ll move on, and you may or may not notice that those MTIs no longer try that mess on you again (or to much less extent)…  since they know you won’t crack.

The day you show up to OTS….  you will report in civilian clothes.  If you want to avoid being the first example of the situation I described above…..  Wear a polo shirt, tucked in, pants, and have your shoelaces tucked in.  If not, their will be a nice MTI there, who will see you walking from the parking lot a few hundred feet away, and be kind enough to describe such rules to you at the top of his or her lungs.

Non-priors…..  don’t button the top button of your ABUs.  Just don’t.  Also, if you are bringing uniforms with you (vs buying them there) make sure you have the correct blues hat.  It’ll have a silver braid.  If you have one without the silver braid, or even worse…..  it has a solid white line (a general’s cap) then you have the wrong one.  Saw both of these happen in my class.

The OTSMAN governs every activity in OTS.  That’s actually a great thing.  You can go there knowing all the rules.  Read into the rules.  If it says lights on is no earlier than 0430 and lights out is no later than 1100……  it means just that.  If you do not have anything scheduled that day, you can get up as late as 6am (rare) or go to bed as early as 7pm (rare).  At first, your class will be afraid to make decisions that make your lives easier, but eventually the class will learn that if it doesn’t break any rules, you can make your lives much better.  Just remember to make such decisions AS A CLASS.

While there, EVERYTHING will be standardized.  Whether the zipper on your camelback is up or down, will be standardized across all 200 people in your class.  What pocket you put your HAWK in will be standardized the same way.  If 199 people get it right, but 1 doesn’t…..  you have failed to standardize…  and you and your leadership all the way to the student wing commander, will be held accountable.

See above.  Some of you will be student wing staff (squadron, group, and wing commanders).  You will be responsible for setting and enforcing the standards above.  Communication is critical, so make it as easy as possible.  Do not write yourselves into corners by making stupid rules.  If you created the rule, and its so stupid that people screw it up all the time…..  guess who gets to answer to both your classmates (who you screwed) and the OTS faculty (who wants to know why your classmates aren’t following your rules)?  You.

Shower.  It’s sad that I have to say this, but shower.  Yes, there will be occasions where you have less than 5 minutes to shower and get into uniform after PT.  Guess what tho?  That’s 5 minutes to get that nasty stank off so you don’t have to go the rest of your day smelling like a burlap sack of smashed assholes.

Go there able to CRUSH the PT test.  If you are worried about failing the PT test when you get there, you are behind the power curve.  Fail that first PT test and you (most likely) will be kicked out.  They did give people who BARELY failed (1 situp, etc) another chance, but we did lose people to PT that first week of my class.

Do not lie, cheat, or steal.  Woe unto the person that does.  If you think you won’t get caught by the faculty…..  Just remember that there are 200 other people who aren’t going to be willing to lose their career by helping you keep your secret.

Don’t do anything stupid on cellphones or computers.  There are cameras everywhere, from the classrooms to the hallways in the dorms.  There was a guy who got kicked out for being on the Chive.  In the auditorium, there are giant windows behind you that OTS faculty sit behind just watching for people doing stupid stuff on their computers or cellphones.