How long does it take to train an officer? For some senior enlisted airmen, the answer may be as little as two weeks.
Select senior noncommissioned officers (SNCO) will have a chance to speed through the service’s Officer Training School (OTS) in as little as 14 days, as part of two beta test courses at the Officer Training School-Accelerated Commissioning Program will be offered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., beginning this summer. The courses, which include 36 SNCO candidates apiece, will take the place of the traditional 40-day OTS curriculum.
“We want to tailor our training to our airmen,” said Brig. Gen. William Spangenthal, director of operations and communications for Air Education and Training Command. “If they already know how to do the basics, could we zero in on those skills that make them an officer?”
The course was designed to produce officers more efficiently by cutting out skills airmen already have mastered and instead focusing on leadership skills. Eligibility is open only to senior airmen who have completed the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy course and have been selected for OTS through the normal board process.
Airmen who complete the course will be commissioned as second lieutenants.
The first test course begins in August. Once both test courses are completed, leaders will evaluate the program and determine whether additional test courses should be launched.
One of the most significant points in the shortened courses will be shifting the mindset from leading as an NCO to leading as an officer, said Col. Peter Bailey, commander of the Air Force’s OTS. Senior NCOs focus on mission accomplishment, while officers lead from a broader perspective that includes training and equipping an organization, he said.
“The toughest thing about being an officer is balancing mission accomplishment with taking care of people,” Bailey said.
Just like their comrades who complete the 40-day course, Bailey said he hopes senior NCOs take away a greater responsibility to influence and lead the next generation of airmen.
“It takes respect and dedication,” Bailey said. “My biggest hope is they realize this fact and use it to build upon the rest of their careers.”