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Wing members experience new generation of officer training

U.S. Air Force training instructors lower the American flag during a retreat ceremony for the Officer Training School's 50th Anniversary weekend celebration at Welch parade field on Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., Feb 5, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers Cox/Released)

U.S. Air Force training instructors lower the American flag during a retreat ceremony for the Officer Training School's 50th Anniversary weekend celebration at Welch parade field on Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., Feb 5, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers Cox/Released)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- January 2015 marks the beginning of a new era for Air Force officer training as candidates from all three service components, active duty, the Reserves and the Guard, will begin training side by side. The Air Force began transitioning to a combined basic officer training school last fall with new curricula and partially integrated classroom training.

Two members from the 162nd Wing had the honor of taking part in this historical transition as both instructor and trainee--in addition to being the first instructor and trainee from the 162nd simultaneously assigned to the Academy of Military Science, the Air National Guard's basic officer training school.

Captain Jason Gonzales, formerly an officer at the 162nd Wing, recently joined the ranks of AMS instructors to mold officer candidates into the professional military leaders of today. Gonzales began his four-year instructor tour at AMS in June, and has witnessed first-hand the gradual merger of Officer Training School and AMS.

Gonzales' first class of cadets included 2nd Lt. Aldo Estrada, a fellow Tucsonan and future remotely piloted aircraft pilot with the 214th Reconnaissance Group. Estrada graduated AMS Oct. 10, 2014 and was the second AMS class to graduate under the newly redesigned 8-week joint service component curriculum.

The new curriculum was designed to synchronize officer training between the separate Air Force components, and was derived from the, "more aggressive 6-week course available through the Academy of Military Science," said Gonzales, "which speaks volumes for the AMS curriculum."

Basic Military Training is a joint service component school, said Gonzales, and it's necessary for basic officer training to be as well--for the camaraderie amongst the service components and for information sharing that can benefit each individual and their future leadership actions within their service component.

Estrada's class had limited interaction with active duty and reserve component candidates, but he feels the future integrated school will be beneficial to all the service components. Estrada hopes the joint school will break-down the 'weekend warrior' stigma, and reinforce the importance of regulations and military bearing amongst guard members.

The combined basic officer training course will allow trainees to be, "more well-rounded in their experience with the various military components," said Gonzales.
Gonzales is one of the AMS instructors to take part in the first integrated class of OTS and AMS cadets beginning January 2015.

"I'm proud that our unit is part of teaching the future officers of the Air National Guard, and other service components," said Estrada.

Although Gonzales and Estrada did not know one another prior to Estrada's attendance at AMS, and strict fraternization rules governed their interaction during, a bond was formed through their shared home unit and love of Sonoran hot dogs.

"It's a good feeling to know that this individual is going to return to our unit and do great things," said Gonzales.