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OTS beta courses test accelerated commissioning program for SNCOs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) --

Air University is testing a new, accelerated program to help fast-track qualifying Air Force senior noncommissioned officers looking to commission as second lieutenants.

Beta tests for the Officer Training School-Accelerated Commissioning Program, scheduled to run in August and November of this year, will each last 14 days, compared to the current program which lasts 40 training days.

“The accelerated commissioning program is part of an effort to revolutionize Air Education and Training Command’s force development and create a best-in-the-world learning model to train the leaders of tomorrow’s Air Force faster and smarter,” said Brig. Gen. William Spangenthal, AETC director of Operations and Communications. “Part of providing the right training for Airmen is breaking certain industrial-age training paradigms.”

OTS-ACP tests help break the paradigm that time must be a constant in training. In the normal OTS curriculum, all trainees, regardless of initial competence level, are trained for the same amount of time before graduating. OTS-ACP will also focus on Airmen-centered teaching methods, using case studies and experiential learning.

"We felt that we could tailor a class to senior NCOs that wouldn't require 40 days because they know how to march, they know how to salute and they already know how to be outstanding at the basics of being an Airman," Spangenthal said. "We'll have to validate that, of course, but this is the rationale behind OTS-ACP."

“We don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution,” Spangenthal continued. “Individual Airmen learn differently and we can provide them with the learning tools that speak best to them. We have found that when you allow Airmen to move at their pace, they almost always move faster.”

To streamline OTS-ACP, the selected senior noncommissioned officers will receive self-study assignments to complete before they arrive, giving OTS cadre the ability to focus the syllabus on transitioning members of the beta tests from the mindset of a senior NCO to the mindset of a commissioned officer, said Col. Peter Bailey, OTS commandant.

“OTS has always been the flexible arm of the three commissioning sources,” Bailey said. “We are constantly evolving to provide the right training to the right Airman at the right time.”

Selectees for the beta tests were chosen through the current OTS board selection process. These senior NCOs voluntarily applied to OTS, and those selected for OTS by the January-February 2019 selection board were then reviewed by the Air Force Recruiting Service.

The program is not one to which Airmen apply directly; candidates for OTS-ACP were selected from the pool of OTS selects using the present OTS application process. The AFRS then searched from within those that applied for master sergeants and above that had completed Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy either by correspondence or in-residence.

“OTS-ACP’s ultimate goal is not to produce officers faster but, instead, to find the best method of taking Airmen who already have years of experience and develop them as efficiently as possible into commissioned officers ready to lead the Air Force’s next fight,” Spangenthal said. “The goal is to create a better, more ready Airman at the end of OTS-ACP. This is 100% about mission effectiveness.”

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