Having just returned from AFROTC field training I can provide some insight into this boot camp experience.
Field training (commonly referred to as FT, or camp)shares many similarities with traditional boot camps, stressing discipline and teamwork in a stressful environment. Additionally, since the people being trained will eventually become officers, field leadership is evaluated in cadets. This includes not only your ability to effectively lead people, but doing so in a stressful setting (created by your FTO's and CTA's). A final goal of FT is to stratify you amongst your peers, which will help determine what job you get in the Air Force when you enter active duty. A good score at FT can help a cadet get his pilot slot later in his cadet career.
Field training comes in two main flavors. A four week camp is attended by cadets who already have two years of experience in ROTC, while a six week camp is required for STAR cadets which includes extra academic instruction to bring those cadets up to speed on the one or two years of Air Force education they may have missed.
There are several bases that offer field training currently:
- Tyndall AFB, Florida
- Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
- Lackland AFB, Texas
A typical day at for a cadet would include physical fitness, briefings, inspections, and leadership exercises and will run between 0430 and 2115 (4:30 AM to 9:15 PM).
One interesting facet of field training is that one is able to prepare a great deal for it. Cadets are given a field training guide, which details every procedure one may go through at camp, and usually has several months to study the material inside. Further, AFROTC detachments also offer a great deal of field training preparation prior to the cadet leaving. This is quite different than other basic trainings, in which entering members are assumed to know nothing at all about what they are getting in to.
Some positions cadets may hold at field training:
- Flight commander
- Deputy flight commander
- Standardization officer
- Physical Fitness officer
- Element leaders
- Supply officer
- Various squadron and group positions
Holding these positions gives you actual authority over other cadets in your flight, even though you're all going through the same thing. These positions are also an opportunity for you to get evaluated on your leadership potential.
Oh yeah, and it's like the least fun thing ever. It's rewarding in the end, but is probably the longest 28 days of a person's life.