This past summer I attended COT, commissioned officer training. This training is the basic training equivalent for the non-line Air Force officers who receive their commission pre-training. (This includes medical officers, JAG, and chaplains.)
I am prior enlisted, so the learning curve wasn’t as steep for me as it was for some of the others. Below I’ve got some tips from my classmates and I to help you while you’re at COT. (Read this post for things you should master before training.)
- Don’t jump on a command job (group commander, any group-level leaders) in the first couple days unless you’re prepared to lose all your free time for the next month. It will cut into your sleep and study time.
- Part of the test at COT is time management. They will give you more than you can handle to see how you prioritize what to drop. Stay calm, and prioritize your sleep. They will check to see if your lights are on at night and you can get in trouble if you’re up too late.
- Bringing a printer is a good idea. There is one printer in the academic building that everyone shares, so having your own in the flight is advantageous.
- Check the supply closets before you buy stuff at the BX. Oftentimes there is stuff that previous graduates have left behind. You can save money or get ideas for what other candidates found useful in their stash of stuff.
- Ignore the urge to buy more uniform items than necessary. Everything you have is inspectable, and having too many items increases the likelihood that you’ll get pinged during inspections. -Lt. Rouse
- Practice putting “Sir/Ma’am” in front of every statement. This will be the first part of your reporting statement (and most things you say), and heaven forbid you should forget it. Practice it to a reflex. -Lt. Banks
- Be okay with inconsistency from leadership. Don’t freak out or get bothered by it. A lot of the leadership decisions made that will impact your daily life will be made by student leaders. They can be fired if they don’t perform their jobs well enough, and every new change in leadership will result in even more change. Things will not make sense and things will not settle into a predictable norm until the later part of training when you all know what you’re doing. The student leaders making decisions are learning just like you are. -Lt. Banks
- Read the OTSMAN (OTS Manual) about meal procedures and learn it as soon as possible. They will not review these before you need to eat. Have a functioning knowledge of how it all works before you get to the dfac (dining facility).
- Make sure someone in your flight checks the schedule daily. The schedule is posted in two forms: a chart-like table with activities filling in boxes, and a more detailed version. If it gets changed, it will likely be changed in the morning with an updated version posted mid-morning, so that’s a good time to check it.
- BRING A LAPTOP. The COT resources make it sound like just a good idea to bring a laptop, but the reality is you will be complete and utterly lost if you don’t bring one. You won’t be able to complete assignments, you won’t have access to the schedule, you won’t have access to templates for doing assignments… You’ll be in a heap of hurt.
- Don’t buy the crazy velcro blousing straps. They are expensive and fiddly and don’t work for anyone with sizable calves. If necessary, ask a clerk for the small elastic ones with hooks at the ends. They’re cheap and work better. (You can also have elastic put in your pants after COT if you want.)