By Lt. Col. Mae-Li Allison, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published February 09, 2018
A Commissioned Officer Training student balances across a rope obstacle at the Officer Training School’s Vigilant Warrior training site, April 25, 2017, near Titus, Ala. Administered by Officer Training School, COT is currently a five-week course offered only to newly commissioned medical, chaplain and judge advocate officers, where students become familiarized with the Air Force, learn leadership fundamentals and are challenged as leaders. Maxwell Air Force Base hosted a three-day summit Jan. 31 - Feb. 2, 2018, which allowed for a diverse group of officer training personnel and Air Force leaders to discuss a range of options to re-imagine COT in light of the continuum of learning and development of modular, on-demand and on-command content in the future. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
Approximately 30 personnel representing 20 organizations, ranging from the Air Force Surgeon General's office and the Air Force Personnel Center to Commissioned Officer Training (COT) instructors, met here for a three-day summit Jan. 31 - Feb. 2.
The event allowed for this diverse group of officer training personnel and leaders to discuss a range of options to re-imagine COT in light of the continuum of learning and development of modular, on-demand and on-command content in the future.
Commissioned Officer Training is a five-week course offered only to newly commissioned medical, chaplain and judge advocate officers, administered by Officer Training School (OTS) and overseen by Air University's Holmes Center at Maxwell Air Force Base. Students enter training with officer rank determined by the level of their personal qualifications and can vary from second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel. Throughout the duration of the 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.
"This summit represents another step in the nearly three years of partnership between Air University and the Air Force Medical Service as we focus on medical officer force development," said Col. (Dr.) Paul Nelson, the Surgeon General's Chair to Air University and event organizer for the two previous summits. "In the Air Force, medical units work directly for the wing commander, and are deeply embedded in the Wing mission. We want to build these relationships on mutual trust and understanding early—such as during COT and OTS—and then reinforce them throughout an Airman's career."
Following the recent COT Summit, it is likely that some elements of the current program will be changed and even expanded through the "continuum of learning," which is the current Air Force learning paradigm.
"Like any training program, COT is periodically updated to accommodate for factors like changing curriculum, new teaching tools and technology, and evolving learning styles," said Air Education and Training Command Surgeon General Col. (Dr.) Tom Harrell, who traveled from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph to join the discussions. "Developing an Airman is a career-long venture and it starts with the foundational training delivered at Officer Training School. In the future, newly commissioned medical, chaplain, and judge advocate officers will share a more common on-boarding experience with the rest of the Air Force Officer Corps. We believe there is also a place for some material to be provided in the form of applications on smart devices to free up more time for the essential experiential and relational learning that takes place in creating an Air Force officer at OTS."
Overall, the summit proved very productive.
"I was impressed with the COT team's hard work as they re-imagined how we onboard our newest Air Force officers, regardless of specialty," said Maj. Gen. Michael Rothstein, the acting Air University commander and president, and Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education commander. "I want to personally thank the team for its commitment to improving officer training and look forward to seeing their final products."
From the February COT Summit, several courses of action were refined to present next month to the AETC Commander, Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, for consideration and approval to move forward in coordination with key stakeholders.