By Billy Blankenship, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published July 02, 2019
(U.S. Air Force graphic by Billy Blankenship)
Air Force ROTC cadets from around the country are battling the central Alabama heat this summer at Air University on their journey toward earning their gold bars.
The more than 2,600 cadets from most of AFROTC’s 145 detachments are rotating through Field Training, a congressionally mandated program and part of the AFROTC four-year linear progression construct.
Field Training is a necessary part of the cadets’ professional growth and development and marks a transition from follower to leader on their path to becoming commissioned second lieutenants in the Air Force.
Cadets compete nationwide during the spring semester of their sophomore year to receive an enrollment allocation to continue in AFROTC. Part of that enrollment allocation is the requirement to attend this 13-day leadership development course, offered at the mid-way point of their four years in ROTC. Evaluated items include grade point average and physical fitness assessment scores, along with ranking among other cadets in their class. The number of awarded slots is determined each year by the needs of the Air Force.
At Field Training, cadets hone followership, teamwork and leadership skills, doing so on the same grounds many will return to as commissioned officers attending one or more of Air University’s colleges at some point in their careers.
“Through this training, we are looking for cadets who successfully demonstrate leadership and the warrior ethos, tested and ready to transition from the ROTC General Military Course to the Professional Officer Course, where they will practice and hone the leadership traits required to be successful officers in the Air Force,” said Col. Kevin Cullen, AFROTC Field Training Unit 1 commander and Detachment 645 commander at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. “As these cadets transition to leaders in the detachments, it is important for them to recognize that they are really just beginning their leadership journey. The end goal is a self-realization that as students of the profession of arms, learning about leadership never stops as long as you continue to serve.”
Cadets who successfully transition from the GMC to the POC are expected to lead the training and development of junior cadets in their respective detachment wing, he said. They are responsible for equipping the cadets with the skills and experiences needed to learn about the Air Force, fitness and basic leadership. Their duties include planning and executing physical fitness sessions and leadership laboratories, providing formal feedback, conducting evaluations, implementing mentorship programs and organizing special events, such as base visits.
Having Field Training at Air University consolidates critical resources into one centralized location, increasing access to learning aids such as training areas, while ensuring a standardized experience for all cadets, said Col. Jon Berry, AFROTC Field Training Unit 2 commander and Detachment 028 commander at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Ariz.
Additionally, it co-locates the deployed Field Training cadre with ROTC headquarters-level assets, providing direct access to decision authorities and course developers, he said.
“This is a pivotal transition experience for cadets as they move from lower classmen to upper classmen,” Berry said. “Because the training is conducted by regionally selected and highly trained officers and NCOs, it provides the cadets with experiential learning and direct engagement.
“As the cadets leave, my sincere desire is that they evaluate and incorporate what they have learned at Field Training into their ever-developing leadership portfolio,” he said. “As they assume responsibilities as cadet leaders in their respective detachments, their newfound experience and perspective is sure to serve them well as they complete AFROTC and ultimately commission in the Air Force.”
For more information on Air Force ROTC and Air University officer accessions, visit www.airuniversity.af.edu/Holm-Center/AFROTC or www.afrotc.com.