By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert, 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 18, 2017
Commissioned Officer Training students balances across a rope obstacle at the Officer Training School’s Vigilant Warrior training site, April 25, 2017, near Titus, Ala. Vigilant Warrior is a 200 acre expeditionary training site. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
Commissioned Officer Training student swings across the last obstacle of the Officer Training School’s Vigilant Warrior training site, April 25, 2017, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Unlike Total Force Officer Training cadets, COT students enter training with officer rank and are recruited to serve in specialized career fields. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
Commissioned Officer Training student maneuvers through an obstacle at the Officer Training School’s Vigilant Warrior training site, April 25, 2017, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. This was the first COT class to the Vigilant Warrior training site, instead of the High Ropes Course, in order to better align the course with the Total Force Officer Training course. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
Leaders at the Air Force Officer Training School’s Commissioned Officer Training course are closing the training requirements gap between COT students and Total Force Officer Training cadets at Air University.
In effort to provide future Air Force officers the same training, regardless of their commissioning path, COT sent their first class to the Vigilant Warrior training site, instead of the High Ropes Course, in order to provide a more realistic mock deployment experience.
Capt. Tyler Gibson, OTS 23rd Training Squadron assistant director of operations, noted that they have been trying to move to Vigilant Warrior to better align with the opportunities usually only afforded to the TFOT cadets.
“It doesn’t matter whether an officer came from OTS, United States Air Force Academy or Reserve Officer Training Corps. We all took an oath, and that does not take a backseat to where we received our commission,” Gibson wrote.
The most visible difference between the TFOT course and COT is the rank the COT students hold.
COT students are newly commissioned medical, chaplain and judge advocate officers. They enter training with officer rank determined by the level of their personal qualifications and can vary from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel. TFOT students earn their rank after graduation of the course.
COT officers are recruited by the Air Force Recruiting service, because of the highly specialized professions.
“Our enemies do not care that some officers are lawyers, chaplains, medical professions, pilots, cops or maintainers. In today’s combat environment, we are all treated equally. With that in mind, if we can provide something similar to what the other officer trainees receive, then we can close the gap,” Gibson wrote.
Another difference between the two courses is the time schedule. The TFOT course is an eight week class, whereas, the COT course is only five weeks.
“Even though we are limited by a five week course, we always try to find the most effective ways to provide our students the same quality training that TFOT gets in eight weeks,” he noted.
Another difference between the two courses is that COT does not conduct combative or weapons training. This is due to the condensed time frame and because a majority of the students will go on to serve in a non-combatant status.
Despite the differences, Gibson wrote that COT effectively prepares newly commissioned officers by providing them the opportunity to lead, follow, take risks and grow.
Throughout the duration of the five week course, COT students go through four phases: orientation, development, application and transition.
Throughout these phases, students become familiarized with the Air Force, learn leadership fundamentals and are challenged as leaders.
If you are interested in COT, reach out to a recruiter, the base education office, or visit the OTS COT website, http://www.airuniversity.af.mil/Holm-Center/OTS/Commissioned-Officer-Training/.