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OTS eliminates component distinctions

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Air Force Officer Training School here has removed all service component distinctions from its line officer commissioning courses.

Regular Air Force and Reserve cadets no longer receive their commissions through Basic Officer Training or Air National Guard cadets through the Academy of Military Science.

With the start of OTS Class 15-03 in early January, all line officer cadets receive the same training at the same time in the same classrooms. Instead of saying they graduated from either BOT or AMS, the newly commissioned officers will simply say that they received their commissions from OTS.

"Neither of those acronyms -- BOT and AMS -- is necessary any more, as we now have 'one furnace, one metal,'" said OTS Commandant Col. Scott Lockwood. "We have one program, which is just OTS."

The current class of 78 Guard, 15 regular Air Force and 13 Reserve cadets will graduate together March 13.

The move to one program started in late 2014.

In October, the school celebrated its first-ever simultaneous graduation of regular Air Force, Reserve and Guard cadets. Though they graduated together, the cadets attended either BOT or AMS classes, which ran in parallel over eight weeks.

The graduation was heralded as a true 'total force' milestone.

However, just as OTS has removed service distinctions in the classrooms, Lockwood said he would like to avoid the 'total force' label altogether at the school.

"It is no longer needed, much like the caveat from the chief of staff when he said when we quit calling things 'total force,' we will know we are there," he said.

In this go-around, Lockwood said he's aware that the percentage of students heavily favors the Guard. In future classes, he sees a more balanced mix of students.

"We will attempt to offer up the traditional number of seats to each component, but we also would ideally have a percentage mix that better reflects the overall populations being trained throughout the year," he said. "However, we will simply fill seats as needed, and that can alter the mix from one class to the next."

The average size of future classes will be between 150 to 200 cadets, he said. He anticipates commissioning about 800 regular Air Force, 500 Guard and 200 Reserve line officers this fiscal year.

Tweaking the mix of students here and there is not nearly as important as the benefits the cadets will realize from sharing the same instructional environment from the start.

"They will not feel as if there is a difference in quality and professionalism," Lockwood said. "They will all have faced the same crucible and belong to the same fraternity as a whole. This will better perpetuate a trust, loyalty and commitment to the service, to include all components."

The colonel said the Air Force as a whole will also benefit by enmeshing cadets from the three components together from day one in the service.

"Not only will they make important relationships that will benefit them throughout their careers, but it will greatly increase the education of our regular Air Force and Reserve cadets on the Guard and who they are," he said. "It is simply too late in their careers to end up commanding a total force wing and then have to start from scratch in finding out about how the Air National Guard operates."

In fiscal 2014, OTS commissioned 748 second lieutenants and trained more than 1,300 officers through its Commissioned Officer Training and Reserve COT programs. AMS commissioned 511 Guard officers during that same time period.

Officer Training School is part of Air University's Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development. The center also includes Air Force ROTC, Air Force JROTC and Civil Air Patrol-U.S. Air Force.

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