We started class on a Tuesday so week zero for us was five days long. If you have the OTS schedule you should have the dates for both TFIT and TFOT. There is a fairly distinct difference between the two. TFIT is essentially learning the basics of OTS before you actually start class. The biggest challenge we had with the TFIT/TFOT structure is most of the Guard personnel did not do TFIT. This was a problem for us because we literally didn’t do any critical training (training required by syllabus) until TFOT. It essentially meant the clock wasn’t ticking until they arrived. It sucked for them because they were expected to be at the same level as we were with HAWK knowledge and OTS procedures. They arrived and on their Day 1 they were getting yelled at because they didn’t know stuff they had never been taught. Of course we tried to fill them in on everything but it was impossible to cover everything we had done over the past week and a half in a few days. I will do a post specifically with advice to future Guard cadets.
Week zero was basically in-processing and, I will call it, climatization. Everyone of the staff seemed angry and there was a lot of yelling. I remember being very concerned about not knowing when our first PT test was. We did not do our first PT test until TFOT. I learned the TDs (Training Days) counted M-F but events were scheduled for us M-Sat. Sunday was more or less a free day to catch up and attend religious services.
When I first arrived I was told to ground my luggage and stand next to three other people who arrived just before me. I was told to tuck in my shirt and my shoe laces. I wore cargo shorts and a polo and it worked great for me. I was able to put things in the same place in my cargo shorts as I would in ABUs. Bring a pen in your pocket because you will need it for paperwork. We were told by the staff a tip for success is to always have a pen and paper on you. Be sure you always have your HAWK on you once you get it. We didn’t get out OTSMANs for another week or so after we arrived.
After we got a little speech from the staff and the Squadron Commander, we were told to take our bags upstairs. There are three floors so you may not have to go upstairs, but it will be a one in three chance. I found my room and at some point we were also told to put on our “hydration sources” (camelbak). It was stressful filling it up and figuring out how the hose was supposed to go. In the end we were told to “standardize”, and our standard was under the left armpit then nozzle pointing up. We did chow, we were taught to march, and at some point we were left by ourselves in the dorms. This was basically how TFIT went for us.
The rest of the week involved a few auditorium lectures where we struggled staying awake and were called out for not being standardized. We were told to go here and there, and do it with a sense of urgency. We were lectured on leadership and that we volunteered to be there so we should enjoy the experience. Thursday was uniform purchase day so we were in civilian clothes until Friday. Once we put on our ABUs for the first time the new challenge was making sure no-one had “cables”. Buy your uniforms before OTS and CLIP YOUR CABLES. That is not something you will want to mess with while you are there. You can buy from AAFES or third party, it doesn’t matter. Just be sure you have your name tapes and clip those strings.
The only other random things which happened this week was a hearing test. Saturday we were told to practice drill. I don’t think the staff was present on that first Saturday but I could be wrong. There were limited cadet leadership positions like the Squadron Ops 1s (Hawk 1, Hoya 1, Tiger 1, Spartan 1) and maybe some Cadet Group Commanders. There were also a few other positions designated like the Standardization Officer (Stand-O).
Random rules/thoughts pertinent to Week 0:
- Dorms have 2-3 people assigned. You will likely get a new roommate once or twice. I only had to move rooms once but some other squadrons moved several times.
- If you are in your room your door should be propped open unless you are showering or changing (and more cases in the OTSMAN).
- If you are out of your room, your door will be closed and lights out.
- No talking in Gilbert Hall or dorm hallways. Enter a flight room or dorm room to talk.
- You should be able to do laundry right away, but you may not have time to do it.
- Lights out at 2300, lights on at 0430. This means during that time you should be in your bed sleeping. I broke the rules by setting my alarm for 0429. When it rang I put my shoes on and since I slept in PT gear, I was outside my room right at 0430. This minimized yelling.
- During TFIT be out of your room ASAP then you should be given hygiene time after accountability.
- DON’T STEP ON THE BRASS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE HALLWAYS.
- I bought a battery powered alarm clock. Many people used their cell phones as an alarm.
- Get used to sir/ma’am being the first thing out of your mouth. Practice with other cadets otherwise you will keep messing it up with staff and it won’t be pretty (there are caveats to this rule in the OTSMAN).
- Be nice to your fellow cadets. If you are in a cadet leadership position you are not an MTI or staff, you are just another cadet. Say and do what you need to say/do but don’t be a jerk.
- Be sure you are at attention when you talk to staff.
- BE SURE TO GET YOUR SLEEP. I was severely sleep deprived for the first few weeks because I was awake from 0430-2300. This will be necessary for some days, but for most you should be going to bed earlier. Otherwise, you will not retain what you need to retain and you will not be able to function properly. Most people tried to go to bed after 2100. Most of the time I started getting ready for the next day at 2130 and I tried to be in bed by 2200.
I could go on and on, but those are the main ones that were pertinent for me. I was a prior but I was surprised how rusty I was on drill. I was also in the BMT reporting statement (Sir, Trainee XXX reports as ordered) mindset which messed me up for about eight days. In BMT once we did the statement we didn’t have to say sir/ma’am we just talked so it was a lot different.