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Posts from the ‘OTS’ Category

21
May

Getting Ready for OTS

A long time ago someone took a lot of my posts and combined them into an all-encompassing prep document.  It also includes things like the general schedule, tips, or other resources.

I have the word document but it is 20 mb so I chose not to link it, but if anyone ever wants to update this hit me up and I’ll send you the download link.

Again, there may be some overlap between this and many of my blog posts, but this document is more portable.

Click Here to download the file.

1
Apr

17OT02 Rated Board Results

The 17OT02 board results have been released.  The board selected 355 of 525 applicants for a selection rate of 67.48%.  The official press release is incorrect, 17OT02 is a RATED board, not non-rated.

67% is my personal estimated selection rate for all boards, so this board was right on that estimate.  The biggest surprise for me on this one was the 97 active duty selects vs. 260 civilian selects.  Usually the split between civilian and active duty is split more or less down the middle, but these results may mark a change in accession recruitment policy.  Because of the rumors of the Air Force ramping up manpower, the board may be trying to leave active duty as enlisted while increasing the manning numbers with civilians.  The 17OT01 results due to come out in April 2017 will be very interesting.

Update:  Someone on Facebook posted there were about 150 active duty applicants based on what people were tracking when they submitted their applications on SharePoint, so 97 selects aligns with around 67%.

Congratulations to all of the selects!  If the blog helped you out at all and you would like to give back, you can email me anything you would like to share and I will make you a post after I redact all of your personal information.

Click Here for the Press Release

15
Mar

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

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.
3
Feb

OTS Consolidated Help

Morgan Higdon posted this in the “USAF OTS 1705” Facebook group (click here).  This is good info!  I posted this with his permission.

You can download the actual file if you are part of that Facebook group.  Click Here for the link.


Suggestions & Questions about Uniforms and Packing

  1. View this site and see how Zachary Ian packed his duffle bag (if using one of those instead of suit case); it may help: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1330569503637484/permalink/1518297878197978/
  2. How is everyone packing?  Some are bringing one duffel of personal items and civvies and a backpack with a laptop and some personal items. Some others are bringing a suitcase, garment bag, and a backpack.
  3. Is everyone planning to bring the “winter months” clothing requirements?  Some people are some people aren’t. Reporting instructions cite Oct-April for cold weather gear.
  4. Is anyone bringing a princess cut blues shirt, just in case?  Some said no, but if everyone has one eventually all females are able to wear them. Note: You can get these and tuck in like the original blues shirt (with usage of garters).
  5. Anyone find any quick tips or hints on rolling socks and shirts?  Shirts… Make sure when you turn over the bottom, do it at 3 inches, otherwise when you get to the end you will have to little or too much fabric. Read the OTS Manual…. It is specific.
  6. How many pairs of ABUs is everyone bringing?  The consensus was 3 pairs.
  7. Does anyone know about how OTS feels about vibram fingers? As far as I know (and from what I know from 2903) you can wear them. I do not ever recall reading in there that you cannot. I am active duty and there are always 1 or 2 people around the base who do in PT uniform.
  8. Suggestions:  Try to roll your shirts/socks prior to arrival. As well, it helps to zip lock like items together (for ease of packing/unpacking as well as keeping the roll “intact”.
  9. Suggestions:  Females- When we report in on the 29th, make sure you hair is good to go.  And by that I mean in bun (if it’s long enough) even though we’re going to be in civilian clothes.
  10. Suggestions:  Sew everything on prior to coming (excluding rank).  Also, clip and burn your strings.  This will save you a lot of time the first few days and make more time for cleaning/homework. 

Officer Training School Questions and TIPS

General Questions:
  1. Anyone hear any confirmation that OTS is going to be 2 weeks shorter or was that just a rumor?  Again, this is just a rumor. The course syllabus has not changed. This may be affective for FY18 but our current class will likely do the full 29 March – 02 June 2017 period.
  2. Does anyone know, or heard from grads, if you can wear calf compression, knee compression type devices during PT?  I’ve heard if they can’t see it under PT gear you are good.
  3. For those who wear steel toed boots everyday, are you planning on buying some non steel toes and breaking them in prior?  If so what kind?  Ordered the Nike boots.  Super light and comfy but not sure how durable they are.  Only wore them a few days but I have custom orthotics so I don’t usually have to break boots in.  They don’t come in steel toe though so not sure how much I’ll get to wear them after OTS. I have been told the under armor are nice also.  I don’t think you can go wrong with either.  I got a pair of rocky C4Ts
  4. Since the skill badge was mentioned in the clothing list, are you having them sewn on to your ABU tops along with your name tapes and USAF tapes?  Most people say yes.  Remember though, if you get wings, those always go on top.  Also, do not to sew on officer’s badge (unless same as enlisted) until completion of the course and/or tech school.
  5. Has anyone actually started to study?  Some have some have not.  If you are going to study anything, study the OTSMAN first.  It is higher on the priority list than the HAWK.
  6. Do you know what documents I need to bring to OTS to enroll in join spouse? Husband is AD and I know instructions to enroll civilian spouses in DEERS says to bring marriage/birth certificates.  I’m currently in DEERS if that matters.  Bring copy of original marriage/birth certificates and of his ID.

Helpful Links

From Prior Grads

  1. What time should I report in?  1500-ish is a good time.
  2. Comment:  USE THE CROSSWALKS WHEN GOING TO REPORT IN!
  3. How much luggage may I bring?  As much as you need (you do not have to carry your bags BMT style; you can roll your suitcase if needed).  If possible, leave blues items in the car.
  4. What should I wear to report in?  Khakis or nice pants, tucked in button up or collared shirt, belt, no watch or jewelry (other than a wedding band), tuck in your shoe laces.
  5. Comment to Prior Es:  Do not stand at attention when the instructors are lining us up after check-in.
  6. How much civilian attire should I pack?  What you arrive in will be okay for a few weeks (we won’t be wearing them) – If you have a car you might want a couple of outfits stashed there for phasing up
  7. The checklist says pajamas… any specific kind?  They suggest sleeping in PT gear.  There are times where instructors will come into the dorms and tell you to be outside in one minute and you cannot be in your civilian pajamas outside.  Also, they suggested not changing into PT gear right away after the duty day (wait until all instructors are gone), because they can call you outside at any moment and you would need to put your ABUs back on in less than a minute.
  8. For females, can we bring things like hair dryers, curling irons, make up?  Yes, and there is time to put make up on in the morning.
  9. Suggestion:  They highly suggest bringing your own pillow with a white pillow case.  I asked about a blanket and they suggested not bringing that because they don’t know where you would store it.  I asked because I am ALWAYS cold.  They said the AC is blasting all the time so bring a sweater to sleep in and/or the PT sweatshirt. 
  10. Should I have cash on hand?  Yes, like $20-40-ish
  11. Does the color of your undergarments matter?  No, no one cares about your bloomers. 
  12. Are prepositioned items provided upon arrival?  If you don’t already have them, they will take you down to the BX and make you buy everything then and there.  They suggest bringing those items with you (just one less thing to worry about)
  13. The dorm manual talks about having an attache for your computer. I’m assuming we can’t carry backpacks to put our laptops and other class items in?  No,  The attache must be uniform.  Purchase upon arrival.  The opening for large pocket is about 15″x12″.  The biggest issue is weight, that thing gets really freaking heavy while marching around.

From Prior Service (who have not yet attended)

  1. Do I need to pack my clothes they way they will be inspected?  No, plenty of time for rolling your socks there.
  2. Priority for graded items:
    1. Academics (SOBs)
    2. Research Papers
    3. Briefings
    4. OTSMAN
    5. Room inspection
    6. Drill and Ceremony
    7. HAWK
    8. PT
  3. A few suggested items:
    1. headphones,
    2. allergy/pain meds,
    3. scissors,
    4. MOLESKIN (they could not emphasize this enough),
    5. ABSOLUETLY NO SNACKS

From Prior Service (who have not yet attended)

  1. Does anyone know or have you heard anything about the weekend schedules during OTS?  Expect a Schedule along these lines (week 1):

Assignments/TDY

General Questions

  1. People who have base assignments, how well do those assignments match up with your requests?  Where are you going, and what was your first pick?  In general, people were not getting the assignments they requested.  A few got assignments that were on their list, but the majority did not.
  2. Did you get your assignment before your orders or did you see your assignment for the first time on your orders?  I got my orders three weeks after finding out about my assignment.

Career Field Specific Questions

  • (RPA specific) Any RPA guys have an assignment yet? I talked to Mr. Coleman yesterday and he said it should be soon.  Some have, some don’t.  We will just have to be patient on this one.
  • (21A Specific) Any word on AMOC yet and if the schedule is posted for the rest of FY17?  The Unit Training Manager will send you a rip once you are ready to go.  The assignments POC sent an email to my gaining CC saying that they do not have slots yet for AMOC for OTS (1705) graduates.
  • (21A Specific) Do you go to your first base first, and then go TDY to AMOC at Sheppard?  If so about how long until you actually leave to go TDY?  Yes; between 1 and 6 months after getting to your base.  It just depends.
  • (21A Specific) How is the command structure in Aircraft maintenance (i.e. who is over and under you)?  Very few officers; Squadron commander is normally your supervisor.  You may have a Capt or Major sitting as the Mnx Op’s Officer (to provide oversight just for the ops side of the house) but they won’t normally be your rater.  Your position will likely be a Flight Commander or AMU OIC.  You will have between 50-300 people under you.
  • (21A Specific) Is it difficult as a woman in the field?  And if you were in a different career field, is it hard to learn/adjust?  Not hard as a woman.  You have to have tough skin though; they are all normally respectful when I enter the area.
  • (21A Specific) Do we get to deploy/Do we deploy a lot? We get to deploy, but it depends on your Command.
  • (21A Specific) What seem to peoples favorite aircraft to work on/with?  Usually your first aircraft.
  • (21A Specific) Do you ever get to physically work with the aircraft or you just do the management of the people who do the work?  We are not signed off to work on the aircraft but you can go out when maintainers are working on the aircraft and learn what they do and maybe climb into whatever area the work is in, but we don’t do the physical work.  Just manage personnel issues, EPRs, and big picture guidance for mx practices, attend a lot of meetings in which we brief production and aircraft status.
  • (21A Specific) Is AMOC difficult for those who dont have mnx backgrounds?  It is an appropriate speed and if you have prior service it helps because you don’t have to learn AF stuff as well.
  • (21A Specific) Do we have to deal with a lot of disciplinary things?  Yes.  You tend to write a bit of apaperwork (normally LORs).  LOCs should be handled lower than your level and Article 15s are handled at CC level.  But your First Sergeants will have lots of examples so you don’t have to start from scratch.
  • (21A Specific) Do you recommend keeping anything from when you were enlisted (i.e. EPRs, resumes, etc.)?  Keep what you normally would if you were doing a PCS/PCA.
  • (21A Specific) Are officers in that Aircraft Mnx field mainly new accessions or do they come in through ROTC/OTS?  Mainly they are new AF Accessions, so you already will have a leg up on many people…
  • (21A Specific) What does a Deputy Maintenance Commander Recommend in this career field?  For my situation, I’ll be in for 10 years once I get settled at my first base and she was saying I need to do a remote ASAP after that.  It would be my first so it’s best to get it out of the way on your terms.  For you civilians, you really need to do a remote 1 year tour in your career.  Basically you are filling in a “checked box” to make Major later on. Example locations are Korea, Turkey or other places in the Gulf region.  Then after that you need to figure out what you want in your career.  If you wanna go far, you gotta get to bases that basically slay you and take you away from your family/deploy.  Or you can be with family and set yourself up to retire as a Major.
  • (21A Specific) This is a recommendation:  Just had a meeting with a 21A Capt and the biggest advice that he gave was that MX officers get beat up in meetings and not to push that beating to the Airmen.  There is some that will have to be trickled down but don’t take it out on them.  Take it on the chin and move on.  There are 3 main sections of MX, the Maintenance Ops (paperwork side), backshops (fuels, propulsion, off flightline stuff), and AMXS which is on flightline stuff.  Most of what the 21A’s do is briefings about status’ and parts on order and stuff like that.
15
Jun

Air Force Drill (Marching)

I looked for some good videos on marching but I did not find many I wanted to necessarily endorse.  On my limited search I found a video of some JROTC cadets marching who looked really sharp.  Off the top of my head this video covers 95% of what you will need to know how to do by the time you graduate OTS (with the exception of parade.)  The only one we did all the time which was not in the video was column of files from the right/left.

Our OTS flights had around 12-14 people and on any given day any one of us could be in charge of marching the rest of us around.  There is no hard rule for this because every Flt/CC and flight themselves will decide to do this differently, but expect to do some sort of leading and lots of marching while at OTS.
15
Jun

OTS Dorm Room

This is what the OTS dorm room looked like, and mostly what a room should look like when in “inspection order.”

15
Jun

Rolling Socks in OTS

OTS made me more efficient in what I can get done in any allotted time.  If I don’t know how to do something, I can figure it out more quickly than before.  If I know how long something usually takes, I can find a way to shave off 30 more seconds.  It is hard to explain how the training course does this to people who have never been through it, but the oversimplified version is that the course over-saturates you with tasks and limits the time you have available to complete them.

Here is a good video of how to do one task of the many you will have to complete while you are there.  I will try to find lots of these and post them for you all.  If you find a good video link it in a comment and I’ll do a separate post.
When I was in OTS we were required to roll the socks just like she does in the video, but I had a different technique.  I would flatten the socks like she does and place the end in the bottom drawer of my desk or security drawer.  I would pinch the socks with the drawer and hold it closed with my feet, then pull them tight as I rolled them up.  I did not bang the socks against anything at the end because I made sure the sides were flat as I was rolling.  Sometimes I would push the end in with my finger to make it flatter but my goal was to never have to do this.
6
May

Board Results – My Perspective

The official release for the 16OT03 non-rated board will be released tomorrow (Friday, 6 May), but by now I imagine most of you have a pretty good idea of what the results are.  For this board it sounds like civilian notifications started trickling out on Saturday, 1 May with continued notifications from recruiters this week.  From what I gather on the Active Duty side wings were given the list of names on Monday this week with instructions to not notify the selects until Thursday.  The official list will be uploaded to the MyPers site sometime tomorrow.

For the selects:

Congratulations!  This is a huge step in your career and I speak with experience when I say it is going to cause you to grow in ways you never imagined.  After the celebrations are complete be sure to take the time to thank everyone who helped you along the way.  One of the major differences I noticed going from enlisted to officer was that it is no longer about you.  It is not your career progression or your recognition, it is the recognition of those who helped you along the way.  More importantly, it is about not where you are at, but how you are effecting change in a positive way to those around you.  My biggest advice for you is to not get in trouble for something stupid, don’t injure yourself, start striving for a perfect score PT test, and spend some time with your friends and family before the adventure begins.  Beyond that, enjoy the ride!

For the non-selects:

I am truly sorry that you did not get the news that you wanted.  I am happy for the selects but my heart is truly heavy right now for the non-selects.  Take some time to reflect and regain your bearings, but tomorrow make it your goal to put the news behind you and strategize your next application.  Here are some bullet points:

  • Have someone in your chain of command call the AFRS staff to get some honest feedback on your application.  Many of the non-selects I talked to got some really good feedback or insight into why the results were what they were.
  • From what I gather the board reviews applications in the following graded areas.  Send me your application and I will provide my insight on how I believe your application was reviewed in light of these areas.
    • Leadership potential
    • Education
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Ability to Adapt
  • The 180-day wait period (waiting in between applications) is no longer in effect!  Applicants can apply for multiple boards as long as they are eligible (as of April 2016)!  Apply again!  In light of the above graded areas, consider what you can do in a short period of time to improve your application.  I can probably help you brainstorm.  Check the schedule and resubmit your application for another board!  The board process is how you are stacked against the other applications and what the established cutoff was, so it is always worth another shot.
  • Pull back, regroup, and recover.  Take the time you need to re-assess your motivation for wanting to commission.  Try to take an objective look at your own application to see if you can find areas where you were weak.  Once you are ready, take the next step forward.  You can learn from this and make yourself a better person and leader because of it.  Your dreams may have been crushed but in my opinion we all have our purpose here on Earth, it is just a matter of finding it.  How you respond to failure is one of the defining aspects of your character.
3
May

16OT03 NR Results Are Trickling Out!

I just noticed on the forums that civilian select notifications are starting to trickle out!  It looks like people started to get phone calls from their recruiters on Saturday 30 Apr but more today (2 May).  If you are AD I would expect to hear Tuesday or Wednesday, but would not be surprised if it wasn’t until Friday.  I WOULD be surprised if you did not know by Friday, I am pretty sure the results will be pushed out this week.  (This is just a personal guess so I could be wrong).

When I submitted my application last year the SharePoint asked for an email for my commander and my commander was the only one who got my ‘OTS select’ email from the OTS board staff.  He brought along the squadron leadership but I know most of the bigger bases also bring higher leadership depending on the unit.  If you see a bunch of rank walk into your office be skeptical of anything they tell you.  They often like to have a little fun with the ‘select’ notifications and many get creative.

As always feel free to leave a comment on this post if this blog helped you out.  I always love hearing from readers.  Good luck to you all!

14
Apr

General OTS Advice – Looking Back

I can say without a doubt that OTS was the most valuable experience of my life.  It was not valuable because I learned a lot, it was valuable because I learned a lot about myself.  I don’t know how common this perspective is from other OTS graduates, but I know it is true for me.  I will do a separate post to summarize how OTS fits into the larger picture of my life from a religious perspective.

Here are some general tips I have for those prepping for OTS:

  • Confidence – Learn to have confidence in everything you do and in every way you think.  Confidence is a paradox in that in order to be confident you have to not try to be confident.  You have to focus on the task at hand, learn what you need to perform the task, and concentrate on executing the task based on the gained knowledge.  Once you change your perspective from being confident to smaller tasks under your immediate control, confidence will come naturally.
  • Stress – OTS will be stressful.  The faster you realize this the faster you will be able to cope with and respond to it in a positive way.  OTS raises your baseline stress level so you know you can handle even the smallest tasks when your stress level is through the roof.  During the course take time for yourself.  I restored myself weekly by ignoring everything else on Sunday morning and watching my church service from home online.  To cope with stress during the day I focused on getting through the next appointment, next meal, or next ‘after SMT’ period.
  • Chill Out! – I majorly stressed myself out prior to arriving at OTS.  I gave you a general overview of the course so you know what to expect.  The course will give you everything you need in order to succeed, so all you have to do is execute.  In the meantime, relax and enjoy your freedom!
  • It’s Not About You – One of my flight mates thought it was possible to get through OTS without fully embracing the course or leaning on everyone around him.  Had he continued on this path, he would have been dropped from the course.  There were many other circumstances involved, but the bottom line is that you have to lean on everyone around you.  If you are struggling, let it be known early so your flight mates have the opportunity to help you (not right before the deadline.)  If you don’t they may think you don’t care and you want to go home.
  • Dive Right In – The last part of confidence is learning to just dive right in and do it.  You have been accepted to attend OTS, that is the hard part.  You DON’T want to go home early and give up this opportunity, so close your eyes and dive right in!  Challenge yourself.  Step out of your comfort zone, make mistakes (and learn from them) and I guarantee you will come out the other side a better, more refined person.
  • Don’t over-standardize – Doing so will only make your job harder.  Standardize enough to not stand out or get noticed, but not so much that you get a demerit if your pencil rolls 1 millimeter.  Standardization is one of the few things under your control.
  • Make It Look Right From a Distance – Whatever you do, make it look right from a distance.  If you are going to BS outside on the pad because it was a tough day and you have to wait for that last dude in your flight, have your HAWKs in your face so it looks right from a distance.  If someone can’t march your flight but has to for whatever reason, have the drill leader fall out as well so he can coach and assist as necessary.  Yes it is about having integrity and doing the right thing, but it is also about taking care of each other.

What is important at OTS?  How do I prioritize my time?
 
Many people thought the OTS staff was purposefully trying to distract you from what was ‘really important’ as a hollow attempt to make you better.  While I agree the course is challenging by design, I disagree on the motive.  The point of the high stress level and distractions at OTS is not to distract you from what is really important, it is to teach you that it is all important in a unique and complex way.  Here are some of the major challenges in priority order, and why I think think they are important.
  • Physical Fitness – If you fail the PFB or PFA, you will go home.  There are exceptions to this rule and I could explain to you what the exceptions are and how they work, but you need to have the mindset that failing a PT test it NOT an option.
  • Graded Measures – Your academic scores are one of the easiest areas for OTS to assess you on.  The graded measures are the papers, briefings, academic tests, etc.  There is a passing score and a failing score for each, and I think a minimum cumulative average.  Prioritize your time so you can provide adequate effort to your graded measures.  Failure of multiple graded measures will cause you to have to fight for the opportunity to graduate from the course.
  • Graded Items (but not Graded Measures) – These are items you receive a grade on but they are not technically ‘graded measures’ in accordance with the syllabus.  Examples of these are your SPT or BELPS score.  If you fail these items I don’t think you can be sent home, but you can receive an OTMR from your Flight Commander.  I think the score for these items also went directly toward end of course awards points such as Distinguished Graduate (DG).  Regardless, I am pretty sure these scores go directly toward your mid-term and end of course feedback score, which also contributes to awards and your flight ranking/stratification.
  • OTMR – An OTMR is an Officer Training Memorandum for Record (I think).  In of themselves, they don’t mean much.  They will directly contribute to your mid or end of course ranking though.  If you receive one your Flight Commander will have to remove points from your score.  Receiving an OTMR can be used as ammunition against you if you are trying to fight for your opportunity to graduate like I said above.  If you fail a few graded measures and you have a few OTMRs, it will all be part of your file when the commander reviews your case to stay or be dis-enrolled from the course.
  • Demerits – just try to keep your demerit count low in relation to everyone else.  In the end these really don’t mean much.  You may get an OTMR if you have a ridiculous amount of demerits, but if you are receiving so many demerits you are probably failing in one of the above areas anyway.  Just don’t be that guy that always stands out for being jacked up.
  • Dorm Inspection – Again just try to pass all of your dorm inspections.  The trick with the dorms is to just always have your room in inspection order.  What I mean is keep everything where it is supposed to be and in the correct order, but don’t focus so much on lint rolling your carpet if you know your closet is in the wrong order.  Make it look good from a distance.  If you expect them to hit your desk, THEN do the intense dusting of your desk the night before.  Some thing here, excessive failures or security violations means an OTMR.
  • Knowledge – It matters for Phase 1 but beyond that just stay off the radar.  Don’t tell anyone I told you that.  Don’t get me wrong you will get chewed out and eat some demerits, but it will take quite a lot of screw ups for it to make a significant negative impact.