What is AFROTC?
The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (AFROTC) is one of the Air
Forceís three sources of commissioning officers. It differs from OTS in
that cadets complete the program while going through college. It
differs from the Academy in that cadets attend a non-military college or
university and study any major of their choice. As with all
commissioning sources, the purpose of AFROTC is to prepare cadets as
officers and leaders for the Air Force.
In order to begin the process of becoming an Air Force officer through
AFROTC, a student must first attend a school that offers the program.
Many undergraduate institutions offer the program and for those who
donít offer it directly, students can often join a detachment that has a
cross-town agreement with it. After completing the necessary paper work
and meeting the cadre of the detachment, the student then enrolls in the
AFROTC curriculum, which includes both classes and a Leadership
Laboratory (LLAB) ran primarily by the cadets.
first two years of AFROTC and the AS100 and AS200 courses are meant to
give a cadet a feel for the program and the Air Force without either
party agreeing to a commitment. The first two years of the program are
for the cadet and the Air Force to ďtry each other onĒ to decide if
there is a fit. For cadets who receive a 4-year scholarship out of
high school. They would sign the contract/ enlist in fall of their
freshman year -- for these cadets, commitments begin on the first day of
class of their sophomore year, so they have one year to try out the
program and make sure it was right for them. The in-college
scholarship or 3-year scholarship recipients aren't eligible for this.
Once they sign the contract, they are committed.
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After the cadets sign their contract, if the cadet either
chooses to leave the program or fails to meet standards within the
program, the cadet then bears the responsibility to either pay back the
money that has been put towards his/her education or be involuntarily
called up for active duty as an enlisted personnel. The choice belongs
to the Air Force and typically involves the paying back of scholarship
monies used. Cadets also must complete all necessary paperwork to
attain a Secret Clearance sometime during their first two years and
prior to attending Field Training the summer of their sophomore year.
Most students begin in their freshmen year of college and begin with
the AS100 course curriculum. In this course cadets learn general
information concerning what Air Force life is like. They study such
topics as dress and appearance standards, military customs and
courtesies, Air Force heritage, career opportunities and benefits, the
Air Force core values, and leadership among others. This course is a
general overview of the Air Force. In the first two years of the
program, cadets are known as General Military Course (GMC) cadets.
After your second year of ROTC you will go to Field Training, which is a
4-week training period designed to test your ability to become an
officer. After completion of field training, youíll come back and begin
to lead and be responsible for cadets and programs within your
detachment. The third year will focus on honing your leadership style
and getting you ready to pick an assignment with the Air Force. Your
senior year will offer high level command positions in the detachment
and prepare you to enter active duty. By now you will know what you
will be doing in the Air Force and you will be spending most of your
time leading the detachment and getting ready to commission.
Officer Candidate Tests
How to Win a
AS100 (freshman year)
Assuming you are new to ROTC and your university, and have 4 years
remaining until graduation, you will be classified as an AS100 cadet or
C/4C (Read: Cadet 4th class). You will be an AS100 for the
first academic year (fall and spring semesters at a typical
university). During this year, your ROTC coursework will consist of a
one credit class that focuses on an introduction to the Air Force.
Youíll learn the basics of how a base operates, what career fields are
available to officers, and a lot of miscellaneous Air Force knowledge.
In addition to your class youíll have Leadership Lab (Read: Lead Lab,
Lab, LLab, etcÖ) where everyone from the detachment participates in
various activities planned by cadre and command staff. At Lead Lab,
youíll be placed in a flight. Your flight is similar to a small class
in size and structure. Youíll have a flight commander who is the
upperclassman in charge and conducts most or all of your training for
the semester. Youíll usually get a new flight every semester.
What do I focus on this year?
-Meeting people (Classmates, GMC, POC, and Cadre). Not only will
you be spending the next 4 years with your classmates, but in a year or
two the AS200ís will be POC and in charge of what you are doing.
-Focus on school. The biggest reason for cadets
getting kicked out of ROTC is bad grades. This is especially difficult
for those on scholarship who will have to give their money back or
enlist if grades drop below a certain cumulative GPA (2.0 for GMC, 2.5
for POC, of course subject to change from AFROTC). Since this is your
first year, your grades will affect your GPA more than they would when
youíre a senior. Youíll also have a better idea if you want to keep the
major youíre currently in. Changing your major later in ROTC is tough
to do (Almost impossible if you are a POC).
-Take everything seriously. Over time youíll
figure out what you need to pay attention to and what you can dismiss as
busywork or poor planning on the part of wing leadership. Initially
however, pay attention to everything and youíll be setting yourself up
for an easier time during your AS200 year.
Additionally, what should I focus on if I want a
-Get involved with extra curricular activities offered by wing staff
or cadet organizations. Youíll be able to meet people and determine
if/which organization you want to join when their training periods come
around. Youíll also get a leg up in terms of familiarization with the
-Getting a good score on your pilot and navigator
sections on the AFOQT test will pave the way for a good chance at a
pilot slot. The AFOQT is a test taken soon after you enter the program
and is structured similar to an SAT. Several AFOQT test books can be
bought or obtained that are great study guides. In addition to the
study guides, basic aviation books will help on the aviation knowledge
portion of the test.
-Some detachments offer a CAP flight orientation
program. This program will give you 4 flights in a single engine
aircraft for a minimal fee. If youíve never flown before, this is a
good indicator to if youíll even enjoy flying. A lot of people get sick
on their first few flights, but this is normal for everyone and donít be
concerned that youíll always be stuck with that problem. Once your body
gets used to flight youíll stop getting sick.
In their sophomore year, GMC cadets will register for the AS200
course curriculum. In AS200, cadets will study previous wars and the
Air Forceís role in them. They will study the history of the Air Force
as a military branch including its founding fathers and the Army Air
Corps. They will study and discuss the Air Forceís failures and
successes throughout history. The course generally consists of Air
Force supplied material, an outside source of Military History, and
concludes with the cadets giving individual briefings concerning a
specific time in the Air Forceís history. Often, the O-6 or other
leading Professor of Aerospace Science (PAS) and the detachment will
teach this course as it gives him/her the opportunity to get to know the
cadets. It is important that the cadre know the cadets so that when it
comes time for the cadets to apply for careers in the Air Force, the
cadre are able to accurately rank the cadets as it counts for up to 50%
of the cadetsí submitted packages.
The sophomore year is also important for cadets as it is also their
Field Training (FT) preparation year. In this training, led by cadets
who have previously completed FT, AS200 cadets will learn what it will
be like to attend FT over their sophomore summer. FT is a requirement
for all AFROTC cadets and acts as an officer ďboot-campĒ. It is also
required if the students desire to stay with the program and enroll in
the AS300 course in the fall.
AS200 (sophomore year)
This year will be the second year in ROTC for most cadets, except
those who are dual-enrolled (meaning you came in late to the program and
have only three years left until you graduate). Concurrently enrolled
cadets should read the AS100 section if you are new to ROTC. AS200
coursework is focused on a history of the Air Force and is again a one
credit class. By this time you should know how to march in a flight,
how to command a flight, and all of the written knowledge youíre
required to know. Youíll be expected to start leading in your flight
during the fall semester. During the spring, most detachments start a
program called Field Training Preparation. This semester, youíll focus
on learning how to get through Field Training (FT). To excel here,
youíll want to know how to command a flight, and how to lead your flight
through various problem solving situations. Essentially, you should
feel comfortable being a flight commander yourself by now. This is the
time to start transitioning from being a follower like you were as a
freshman to being a leader like youíll be expected to at FT and as a POC
and your time in the Air Force.
What do I focus on this year?
-FT is no longer accepting everyone that applies. ROTC has limited
enrollment allocations (amount of new Lieutenants that the Air Force
will accept in 2 years when you commission). This number will
fluctuate, but what you need to be concerned about is how competitive
you are. Your GPA and PFT scores will certainly factor into this
ranking, but it varies between detachments. Essentially, get your GPA
and PFT scores as high as possible.
-You should know by now if the Air Force is what
you want to do. After you return from FT you will contract with the AF
and it will be much harder if not impossible to leave ROTC.
Additionally, what should I focus on if I want a
-Joining a cadet organization will put you in a position to be more
involved in the detachment. Youíll learn more about ROTC, your cadre,
the Air Force, and leadership in general. Two of the best organizations
to join are Arnold Air or the Honor Guard. Both organizations should
have a similar structure and will do the same thing to enhance your time
in ROTC. Check out more information on
how to get a pilot slot.
-Keep your GPA as high as you can get it, at least
over 3.0 but higher is better.
AFROTC Field Training
takes place over the cadetsí sophomore summer of college. There are
three different bases where FT is currently located, however, these have
changed over the years. Currently, FT takes place at either Ellsworth,
AFB in South Dakota, Maxwell, AFB in Alabama, or at Tyndall, AFB in
Florida. Each of these bases have multiple encampments such as Maxwell
1 and Maxwell 2, which take place during different months of the summer
to accommodate more cadets in a given summer. FT is typically four
weeks long. There is also a six week encampment for cadets who may have
entered AFROTC their sophomore year and have not completed either the
AS100 or AS200 course. This six week camp includes an academic portion
that covers both cirriculums and materials of the AS100 and AS200
courses. After completing the academic portion, cadets then attend a
regular four week camp.
At FT, cadets are put through rigorous training that is designed to
test and train them in an environment of stress which is intended to
simulate the stresses that are experienced in time of war. By the
nature of the training, cadets must compete against one another, as in
the end they will once again be ranked, however, they must also learn to
work as a whole within their flight. Each flight at FT is assigned a
Field Training Officer (FTO) and one or two Cadet Training Assistants (CTA).
The FTO is an active duty officer who provides and facilitates the
training of the cadets. The CTAs are fellow cadets who have previously
attended and graduated field training. They assist the FTO in the
provision and facilitation of training.
Training includes military briefings by active duty personnel, daily
physical training (PT), study and discussion in leadership, and various
opportunities for the cadets to lead and experience the demands and
duties of active duty officers. At the end of training and upon
graduation, cadets are now qualified to enter the Professional Officer
Course (POC) at their detachment in the fall. In addition, cadets may
also receive various awards based on their performance at training and
their ranking within their flight. The two most prominent awards to be
won are Distinguished Graduate and Superior Performer. These awards are
given to the highest ranked cadet(s) (DG) and the second highest ranked
cadet (SP) and are factored into the package submitted when requesting
Upon completing FT and returning to their detachments, cadets are now
eligible to enroll in the Professional Officer Course classes. Each
cadet that enrolls in the POC curriculum must also become a contracted
cadet, with or without a scholarship, and now acquires a four year
service commitment. During the next two years as a POC, cadets will
take up more responsibility in regards to leadership within the
The AS300 course further develops upon the training that cadets
received at FT. Leadership is further developed and studied through
various forms, including watching films that portray leadership and
critiquing the leaders within them.
Download the AFROTC Field Training Manual.
AS300 (junior year)
By now you should know whatís going on with ROTC so this is purely
information for the younger cadets as to what goes on as a POC. The
AS300 year is the year you will start leading others at your
detachment. Your job in the cadet wing will start to impact your UCR
(explained in pilot selection) very heavily. Some jobs will allow for a
better UCR such as a Flight Commander, Executive Officer, PT Officer,
and sometimes Special Projects or CAP Commander. Assistant, deputy, and
support jobs will make it very hard for you to stand out at your
detachment in front of all the flight commanders or other high profile
jobs. If you are seeking a pilot slot, try to get a high profile job
such as Flight Commander, Executive officer, or PT officer. This year,
your coursework for AFROTC will jump from one credit to three credits
(in addition to Lead Lab).
What do I focus on this year?
-Stand out in your job at the detachment
-Maintain a good GPA and PFT score
-Decide what your choice of assignment will be
Additionally, what should I focus on if I want a
-Take the TBAS in the fall
-Submit your intention to compete for
categorization (A form that should be filled out sometime in the fall,
handed out my cadre)
-Work on getting a competitive PFT score for
-Fix any issues in your paperwork that could
prevent you from categorizing
-Retake the AFOQT if necessary
In the AS400 course, cadets will look at the role of the Air Force in
todayís society. They will also look at international military
relationships and various factors of the United Statesí national
AS400 (senior year)
This year will be spent getting ready to go on active duty. You
will get your base assignment in late fall. The date you will actually
start work will be determined when you get your orders later in the year
(usually in April). Youíll have your UPT or UNT class date if you are
categorized and will most likely do time on casual status and go to ASBC
before you start your training/assignment.
What do I focus on this year?
-Getting any medical issues cleared up
-Making sure your paperwork is good to go
-Figure out logistics of entering active duty
(Moving, transportation, etc...)
AFROTC Leadership Lab
addition to bi-weekly AS courses, cadets attend, participate in, and
lead Leadership Lab (LLAB). LLAB consists of military briefings that
encompass every aspect of the detachment. LLAB is usually opened with a
briefing from the Colonel or another member of the cadre and is often
motivational in nature. Other current issues and topics are also
addressed. Following the cadre briefing, the Cadet Colonel of the
detachment does likewise. Once these briefs have been completed,
various cadets who hold leadership positions in the cadet corps also
brief the detachment. These briefs include topics such as awards,
training, intelligence, uniform issues, fund raising issues, and issues
relating to the operations and maintenance of the detachment. After all
briefings are completed, the cadets move into squadron break out time,
wherein each squadron meets at an assigned location to discuss issues
pertinent to their squadron and their responsibilities in the
detachment. This time can also include training for the GMC and FT Prep
In addition to class and LLAB, cadets also must complete 2 hours of PT
every week. PT sessions are organized at the detachment and attendance
is mandatory. For those students who are cross-town cadets and live a
considerable distance from the detachment, PT memos are sent to the
detachment's Physical Fitness Officer (WPFO) via e-mail. Each semester,
cadets are required to complete a Physical Fitness Test (PFT) at the
detachment. The PFT consists of a mile and a half run as well as push
ups and sit ups. Cadets must pass the PFT each semester or they will
receive a conditional event which looks poorly on the cadetís record.
Scholarship cadets who fail a PFT and a subsequent re-test may lose
In addition to physical fitness and leadership skills and abilities,
academics are always emphasized as being a cadetís first and most
important priority. All cadets must retain a 2.0 average and
scholarship cadets must retain a 2.5 grade point average to keep their
Near the end of the cadetsí AS300 year, each cadet will make requests
concerning careers within the Air Force upon commissioning. Those
cadets who desire to be rated as a Pilot, Navigator, or Air Battle
Manager (ABM), must be physically qualified and must compete for those
slots. Each aspect of the cadetsí time in AFROTC and college are
calculated and evaluated when consideration is made about who gets a
rated slot. The aspects are evaluated upon a weighted percentage
scale. For instance, how the cadet did at FT counts as 15% of their
score when submitting a package. Other factors are PFT scores, GPA, and
most importantly the Colonelís rating which counts for 50% of the cadets
ranking. Packages are submitted to reviewing boards and the cadets hear
back after they have been reviewed and categorized slots have been
assigned. For those cadets who desire to attend Euro Nato Joint Jet
Pilot Training (ENJJPT) for Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), a memo
must be submitted to their cadre stating as such at the time the cadet
notifies them of their desire to be a Pilot rated cadet. Each
detachment receives a different number of slots based on the size of the
detachment and the detachment's rating. Cadets who receive Navigator
slots or ABM slots, who are physically qualified, can attempt to upgrade
their slot to a Pilot slot if they so desire. An upgrade is never
Selections for pilots are done by a categorization board in late
February/early March of every year. You will be selected for pilot
training the March before the fiscal year that you graduate. For
example, if you are graduating in May of 2007, you will be submitted for
pilot selection in March of 2006 and find out that same month (In your
junior year of college in most cases). The selection criteria with
explanations follow and is referred to as your Order of Merit (OM):
Your cumulative GPA is directly submitted for this portion on a 4.0
scale. The reason itís important to get a good GPA right away is that
only the first 5 semesters of your GPA will count towards this score (in
most cases). This is not your GPA at graduation; itís your GPA at the
time you are submitted for pilot training.
This score is a combination of 3 areas and composes the PCSM (Pilot
Candidate Selection Method). The first area is your AFOQT Pilot score.
Youíll take your AFOQT soon after you enter the program. Second are
your flight hours, broken down into brackets up to a max of 200 hours.
Finally, the TBAS measures your hand/eye coordination, flight knowledge,
and decision making. The TBAS is typically taken in the fall semester
before you are submitted for pilot selection. More on the PSCM can be
found on baseops.net.
Youíll get a ranking once you finish FT which will directly contribute
to your pilot selection. 10/10 for being a Distinguished Graduate (Top
10%), 9/10 for Superior Performer (Top 10-20%), 7/10 for Top Third, 6/10
for Mid Third, and 5/10 for Bottom Third. Eligibility for DG and SP
vary between Field Training Units but typically follow the guidelines
10% PFT (Most recent)
Your most recent PFT out of 100 scaled to out of 10.
Unit Commanders Ranking or Relative Standing Score is the ranking system
that the cadre at your detachment create to stratify you against
everyone else in your graduating class. This is a mystery formula
because itís not made public by commanders, and furthermore varies from
detachment to detachment. Some commanders will let you know what your
score is, some wonít. The best way to predict this is to guess based on
your success in the wing.
All of these are combined to 100 points and
submitted to a national board. You are not directly competing against
others at your detachment, and no detachment gets X number of pilot
slots. You will compete nationally. For example, 750 cadets want a
pilot slot in a given year. The Air Force says it needs 520 pilots.
Here, all 750 are submitted to the board and everyoneís OM is compiled
in a list and a line is drawn at 520, Mr. 521 is out of luck, but has a
good chance to get picked up for a supplemental board later in the year
once some of those that are selected get dropped for medical
Here is an example of how I calculated my OM:
3.34 / 4.0 x 100 x 0.15 = 12.53%
95 x 0.15 = 14.25%
FT: Mid-third (6)
6 = 6%
93 x 0.1 = 9.3%
UCR: Estimated top 20% of class
80 x 0.5 = 40%
(12.53 + 14.25 + 6 + 9.3 + 40 = 82.08)
Typically, the selection process will draw the line
in the mid-high seventies (depending on the fiscal year and Air Force
needs). As you can see, as a GMC it is very hard to determine this
score since you donít really have a UCR yet, and you wonít have a FT or
PCSM score until your junior year. This is why itís imperative to focus
on grades and your PFT score in your early years.
Non rated/Non categorized selection means that you are applying to
become anything other than a pilot, navigator, or ABM. Some of these
jobs do not require a selection process and some do. You will meet a
selection board if you are aspiring to go into OSI, Medical Corps, or
advanced degrees such as a masters program. The selection criteria for
those are similar, if not the same, as the selection process for pilot
(Without the PCSM score, but weighted heavily on GPA and UCR). The
selection boards for these assignments are held in the fall of your
senior year before you commission.
Regardless of if you are competing on a selection
board or not, all cadets will submit a Form 53, which lets you choose
your top six choices for assignments. This form is submitted to the Air
Force in April of your junior year, you will usually find out the
results over the summer. Your major or area of study will highly
influence this. Some jobs in the AF are almost impossible to get
without a specialized degree. For example, itís hard to get a Security
Forces assignment without having a degree relating to criminal justice.
Likewise, itís hard to get an Intelligence assignment without having a
background in Political Science or History.
Depending on your major, the AF might decide your
job based on your major. For example, if you are an Electrical
Engineering major and your first choice is Personnel/Manpower, you will
probably be assigned an engineering job anyway (even if engineering
wasnít even on your list). Remember, your assignment is ultimately up
to the Air Force, and while they do take your preferences into
consideration, you need to be ready to deal with an assignment that you
Those cadets who do not qualify, did not receive, or do not desire a
rated career field within the Air Force, list the jobs that they do want
and are qualified for in order of preference. Again these packages are
submitted and reviewed and careers are awarded based on the Air Forceís
After careers have been awarded and assigned, cadets must also
maintain their qualification for their career field. Pilot, Nav, and
ABM rated cadets must pass Air Force physical qualifying test for those
career fields and attain a Top Secret Clearance. Cadets who will
commission into non-rated career fields must also meet Air Force
standards for those careers.
Upon graduation, completed cadets will also commission as 2nd
Lieutenants and take the Oath of Office, formally becoming Air Force
officers. Each cadet will then move onto training in whatever
career they have been selected or will take on other duties assigned to
them as they await training.
For more information, check out our
Interested in the other services? Check out our
Army ROTC section.
Are you or is someone you know interested in Army ROTC (Reserve
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college, want a challenge, or feel a special calling to be a leader in
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topic, The Ultimate ROTC Guidebook: Tips, Tricks, and Tactics for
Excelling in Reserve Officersí Training Corps is a must-read necessity.
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