This is posting is a culmination of one AS300 student's experience as a third year Det 370 Air Force ROTC cadet.
Field Training is a twenty-one-day event at Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB), Alabama that evaluates AFROTC cadet’s potential to become officers. Although is both physically and mentally challenging, you feel an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment upon receiving your “prop and wings” at graduation. I would say that most cadets, after finishing Field Training, are excited to begin a new year of Air Force ROTC.
While I was at Field Training, I realized that I wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. Prior to going to Field Training, I was not sure of what Air Force career I wanted to pursue after commissioning. I was leaning toward Intelligence, but again, I was not 100-percent sure that I would be happy with that choice. During the “simulated deployment” portion of Field Training, I had a fair amount of time to really think about what I wanted to do in the Air Force (it’s amazing what not having a cell phone for a month can do for you). During this time, we were living on a simulated Forward Operating Base (FOB) and there was an airstrip very close to us. It seemed that Air Force aircraft were operating out of that location 24/7, and the more I saw them, the more I thought about flying. And that’s when it (one of the most obvious things in the world, you may think) hit me: flying is what the Air Force does. So from that point on I have been aggressively pursing a pilot slot in the Air Force. I think that Field Training helped me find what I wanted to do in the Air Force.
Like I was saying in the beginning of this post, after finishing Field Training most cadets are very excited to begin a new year of AFROTC at college in the Professional Officer Course (POC). I certainly was at the beginning of my Junior year. As a POC, you have increased responsibility and more is expected of you than was in the past (as a Freshman and Sophomore [a GMC cadet]). My first assignment as a POC cadet was the Flight Commander of Yankee Flight (a group consisting of nine cadets). I have certainly learned a ton about leadership in this position from both my successes and failures.
At least for me, during my first year back from Field Training, I feel as though I have a lot more learning to do. At the same time, though, I think that I am able to perform at a higher level than I was during my first and second years in Air Force ROTC. I can only imagine that proficiency increases (along with learning) during the fourth and final year of AFROTC prior to commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.