OTS cadets push through the Blue Thunder obstacle course

  • Published
  • By Robert Dantzler
  • Air University Public Affairs

Officer Training School officer trainees completed the Blue Thunder obstacle course as part of their module three deployment exercise April 9, 2024, at Maxwell Air Force Base.

As part of their 60-day commissioning requirements, officer trainees display their Air and Space Force competencies related to leadership, mission execution, warfighting, communication and professionalism as they rappel down a wall, crawl through sand, and navigate through numerous obstacles as a team.

“[Module three] is our expeditionary module, where we push them to their limits,” said Capt. Patrick Francis, an OTS instructor. “The physical courage aspect of this plays into their growth as an officer and prepares them for future deployments. The hardest part of this challenge for most trainees is looking down the tower and making eye contact with their belayer, because they are 50 feet above them, and all they’ve got is a rope.”

OTS is split into five modules, or phases, of training. These five modules mimic the Air Force Force Generation model in how it trains, equips, and “deploys” officer trainees through their 60 days of training. In module three, trainees participate in Blue Thunder, a deployment exercise that includes rucking, tactical combat casualty care training and combat arms training and maintenance.

“In this block of training, we’ve shifted from individual-focused to team-focused training,” said OT Jordan Maharrey, an officer trainee who went through the course. “Whenever these groups are doing the obstacles, you’ll notice they can’t continue until everyone completes the obstacle. There were a lot of people who had never done this before and so it’s good to build comradery and the team.”

The exercise falls during a pivotal time in the training curriculum, right before the budding leaders transition to becoming upper classmen and are charged with leading the junior classes. During this phase, module three, trainees being to hone their skills as multi-capable airmen, preparing for rapid mobilization and mission execution. Emphasis on staff roles, decision-making, continuous competency development and physical challenges play into the refinement of leadership fundamentals. All of these skills continue to build throughout the program, leading to the culminating event of every officer trainee’s journey at OTS graduation.