The Air Force’s Future; A day in the life of an OTS trainee

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Early in the morning at Maxwell Air Force Base, reveille breaks the silence, kicking off a day full of challenges and new experiences for an Officer Training School trainee.

Within minutes, the future officers hustle to get dressed and formed up for physical training. Rare moments of silence are broken by the barks of the military training instructors.

"We come around banging on doors and get them to move with a sense of urgency," said Tech. Sgt. Paul J. Baisden, OTS military training instructor.

During the initial days of training, an MTI screaming first thing in the morning proves to be shocking for many trainees.

"The first time this happened, all I could think is this experience is going to be much harder than I thought," said Anthony Bianchi, an officer trainee in week 12 of training. "I came here with some ideas about what OTS was going to be like, but I did not think it was going to be as demanding as it is."

Every day, the officer trainees have 15 minutes to get up, get ready and be in formation for physical training. Between 5:15 and 6:15 a.m., trainees attend physical conditioning consisting of a combination of strength and endurance exercises, including pushups, sit-ups, running and plyometrics.

"Our physical fitness program is truly challenging and demanding," said Staff Sgt. Troy Hoover, 22nd Training Squadron, OTS physical conditioning instructor. "The officer trainees experience a multitude of different exercises while at OTS, which not only challenge the body, but the mind as well."

There are reasons for trainees to be pushed while at OTS. Shaping the officers of tomorrow is a task instructors do not take lightly.

"One day these officers are going to be tasked to make quick decisions," said Baisden. "We push them to move quickly to prepare them for future real world mission assignments."

After physical training, trainees transition to breakfast and personal time from 6:15-8 a.m. Many cadets fill this time with conversations with their classmates about where they call home or why they joined the Air Force.

Following breakfast, trainees practice leadership skills by teaching each other various drill commands.

Initially, instructors lead the future officers through their daily routine. Baisden explained that eventually, trainees are responsible for organizing themselves, forcing senior cadets to take on leadership roles. Since the OTS program is designed to develop leaders, flights self regulating is practice for being in charge of groups of people.

In the hours before lunch, the cadets will participate in drill time, customs and courtesies study and other Air Force culture classes taught during academic sessions. Subjects such as enlisted performance report writing, used throughout their Air Force careers, are also covered.

"Some of the OTs come in having done things a certain way before," said Baisden. "We show them another way that may be better in their future as leaders within the Air Force."

The afternoon for a cadet brings more focus on military skills they will need to lead future flights, squadrons and for some groups. From 1-5 p.m., trainees will spend more time in the classroom attending classes from how to spend money wisely to military history.

"Not only do I learn about leadership skills, but I'm learning about myself," said Bianchi. "I see what kind of person I am, how I work with others, along with my leadership qualities."

Trainee group activities and meetings follow their evening meal and last until 10 p.m. Group activities and meeting times are designed to go over what the trainees learned that day. They discuss the things that were done well and expected to continue, while things that need improvement are addressed.

Between 10-10:30 p.m. the trainees are allowed personal time to write letters or relax from the training day. Some trainees take this opportunity to get to sleep early before lights out at 11:30 p.m.

While the 13 weeks at OTS are filled with challenges, and being away from family and friends may be stressful and demanding, the pride and sense of accomplishment at graduation day may be well worth the road traveled to get there.

"I do not want to go through it again," said officer trainee Jordan Romberg. "However, I am definitely glad that I'm doing it. Many trainees learn more in their time here than in four years of college."