Unofficial Guide to
Academy of Military Science
AMS IS NOW CURRENTLY AT MAXWELL AFB, MONTGOMERY ALABAMA (AS OF JANUARY 2011)
The Academy of Military Science hosted at McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base in Alcoa, TN (outside of Knoxville, TN) is a six-week program designed to commission Air National Guard candidates. (All Air Force Reserve candidates now attend OTS).
Regardless of what you experience the first few days or week, it is not a hard program. Very few things will get you eliminated from the program very quickly. Aside from that, by completing the tasks given, following the rules, and helping your bros out, you will all successfully graduate and commission at the end of six weeks.
This guide was started after O-2006-3. The AMS staff likes to change the program all the time. Because of this, various parts of this guide will be out of date. Always do what’s right for your class – this guide is not law.
AMS is a school in leadership, officership, and time management. Time management is a big part of your life at AMS. Do not neglect the things that you need to do. Suck it up for six weeks, get the hell out, and move on.
Most people’s orders have them arriving on the Sunday prior to the class starting. It is beneficial to arrive on the Saturday, however. Try and get your travel arrangements changed. All is not lost if you still have to arrive on Sunday, though.
If you arrive on Saturday, you might be the first person in your squadron (or wing) to arrive. Not to worry. Proceed to your squadron and room and see if anyone else is there. Bring all your bags up. If you’re over zealous, you can start putting your room together. There are specific AMS OI’s (operating instructions) that specify how to set your room up. Read these OI’s and get familiar with them. Almost everything is put in these OIs. If something is vague in the OI’s, it’s done this way on purpose. Eventually these vague items will have to be standardized among your squadron and eventually the entire wing.
Don’t spend too much time trying to get it 100% right the first time. You’re probably going to do some of it wrong and on your first room inspection (the first or second day) it will end up on the floor, anyway. Keep in mind that the especially during the first week you will not do anything right. Even if it is right, it’s still wrong. Get it?
The important part about getting there on Saturday is to get to know the folks in your squadron. You want to start building the team atmosphere. If able, try and gather everyone who is there in your squadron for a dinner on Saturday or Sunday. This will be time well spent – you will be spending almost 24 hours a day with these individuals.
Walk around the TEC (Training and EducationCenter) – get to know where the buildings are. Take note of the building names; come Monday morning you may be leading the squadron to one of these buildings and you’ll want to know where it is.
Go to the BX if you need any uniform items. When the rest of the wing gets in town, the BX will be pillaged. Get the items you need now. Don’t waste your time getting any food items. You will not be able to eat them until Phase II.
Continue going to the BX if you need anything else. They will be open this day along with the dry cleaners. If you have too many uniform items, (for instance, if you have 3 each of short-sleeved blue shirts and long-sleeved) it may be a time to start a stock pile at the dry cleaners. You don’t need to have multiples of everything in your wall locker to pass a room inspection. Refer to the OI to see exactly how many of each (if any) items you need.
Today is a good day to bring things to your car you do not need. Take all of your civilian clothes to your car. You will not need them, nor are they allowed in your dorm at any time.
Near the end of the day, change into your PT gear and take these things to your car. Your dorm room should only have the things you need for the entire six weeks in it. You will not have access to the things in your car until very near the end of the program (after Day 1 – Monday). Plan accordingly.
If you roommate has arrived, ask him or her to help you move your bed aside. Use the vacuum cleaner and get all the dust up. This will help you later on. Pass this around to the other members of your squadron.
Day 1 sucks. There is no way around it. Expect to be woken up sometime between 0430 and 0445. You’ll be told (by yelling) to come out of your room with all-weather coat and shower shoes. Take your time. Make sure you and your roommate both have the items on. Your all-weather coat needs to be fully buttoned and have the belt done. Do not come out of your room until this is done. They may yell at you for being the last one out in your squadron, but they won’t remember that in two minutes.
Look straight ahead, at attention when outside of your room.
Do not bring anything else outside of your room with you except your room key. You don’t want to be one of the cool people who become locked out of their room in the first five minutes.
Did you forget to lock your security drawer? Don’t.
After this you’ll be told to go back in your room and change into BDU’s and come outside with your flashlight. You’ll be told you have some small amount of time to do this – five minutes, probably. Hurry up, make sure to help your roommate if he or she is having problems. Don’t forget your flashlight. Is your security drawer locked?
Hold the hand rails when you go down the stairs. Have your flashlight turned on. Make sure to put your cap on.
You’ll be taped and weighed before or after breakfast. If you are over the weight limit you will be sent home. Do not come to AMS physically unprepared.
Getting to breakfast on the first day might take 30 minutes. Be prepared to do pushups a lot. You’ll be marching as a squadron to the dining facility.
Some poor bastard will be given the position of temporary squadron commander during this time. If you’ve had previous marching experience, this will help. It is early, and you will be getting yelled at. The BIGGEST THING during the first day (and week… and entire time at AMS) is to KEEP MILITARY BEARING. It’s ok to take five seconds and think of the command you need to say. Do NOT lose your military bearing. If you can stay cool during this time you will do very well.
Your squadron will mess up the column of files movement into the dining facility. Don’t worry about it, you’ll get it later. Again, be prepared to do many pushups while you screw this up.
If you are not squadron commander, but are comfortable in doing the marching, help out your bro. Call out the commands that should be given (you’ll get yelled at, but you’ll be helping your squadron). If you do this, you might be forced to become the squadron commander. Be prepared. AMS is not a time to fly under the radar. If you can do it, step up and get the job done.
While in breakfast, you cannot talk while in line. You cannot talk when at the table. You have to eat in 10 minutes. At least one person at the table needs to be keeping time.
After breakfast is over, you’ll go to your first class. Know where the buildings are so you can get your squadron there if you’re squadron commander.
This type of activity (taking a long time to get to the dining facility) goes on throughout the first week. You’ll do a lot of pushups.
If it’s in your dorm room, it can and will be gigged. A good way to get fewer gigs is to have less things in your room. Don’t bring a lot of unneeded material into your dorm room. You want the minimum and maybe a few extra things to survive. If you have a lot of uniforms, either bring some to your car or store them at the dry cleaners. Your per diem will pay for the dry cleaners, so don’t be afraid of them. Reference your travel voucher for exactly how much you can use. Don’t be afraid to store items at the dry cleaner for a week or more.
At the time the document was written, BDU’s were the uniform of the day 90% of the time. Because of this, you will not need very many sets of shirts and pants for blues.
The security drawer is a big item at AMS. Read the OI over and over to make sure you have it set up properly. Getting a security violation is a big deal during these short six weeks. Even though you’ll think it’s crap, this is one of the easiest parts of AMS that too many people mess up.
Keep it locked all the times. If you have to get something out, be sure to lock it back up immediately. Make sure it’s locked during your fire drills. Take TIME to ensure you and roommate’s drawers are locked. Don’t put things that aren’t allowed in your drawer because you think it’s safe. The possibility of a stand-by inspection is great and you don’t want to be caught with peanut butter in your drawer. If an item that should be in your security drawer is found outside of it, this is a violation. Don’t leave things out of your security drawer if they need to be in there.
Dorm room inspections will be a big part of your life while at AMS. The first week they will happen on a daily basis. Pay attention to what the inspectors are looking at. Typically, they will focus on one part of the room each day. Stay ahead of them by canceling out what has already been looked at.
Realize (again) that you will have made some mistakes. It’s OK; these room inspections are not graded. They’re a learning opportunity. Don’t forget to call the room to attention when the inspector comes in. If the inspector asks you to leave the room with him or her, make sure your security drawer is locked (you’re leaving your room, aren’t you?).
Be prepared to do a lot of pushups during these inspections the first week. You will probably get smoked.
When the graded room inspections start – the second week – realize that it takes 15 gigs to fail. A security violation is an automatic failure of 15 gigs. Any more gigs on top of that will be added to your total number. You do not want to get a security violation or allow your squadron mates. Early on, assign someone from your squadron to read and fully understand the OI in regards to the security violation and check everyone in the squadron. This is very important.
If you don’t have a security violation, the required 15 gigs to fail will take a lot. The room inspectors will hurry through your room. That being said, you should still spend time on your room, the biggest thing being the wall lockers. This is where you’ll get the most gigs.
Dust is a huge issue in the rooms. You’ll have to dust the big areas everyday to make sure you don’t get gigged. Their favorite places to look are in the refrigerator, behind the computer or in the computer desk, behind the TV, and on the window ledges. On top of all the surfaces including wall lockers, desks, and lamps are also a favorite of the room inspectors.
Your shower needs to have all the water cleaned up. There are various ways to do this. Make sure to wipe the faucet part down as well. You don’t want spots on this.
Wipe the water out of your sink.
Make sure all flammable materials (anything related to shoe polish, including rags and batteries) are under your sink.
You’ll be in Phase I starting on Day 1.
Only drink water, juice, and sport beverages No email or personal phone calls
You’ll be in Phase I at least until everybody passes the first PFA and academic test. The first academic test is usually on the first Monday of the third week.
Phase II is better than Phase I because:
Generally speaking, only noon meals Mon – Sat are mandatory Email and phone calls allowed during non-duty hours
You’ll be in Phase II until the night of the Dining-In. The dining-in usually takes place the Thursday of the fifth week. You CAN be phased back to Phase I. Don’t do that.
Phase III is better than Phase II because:
Reflective assignments are what the AMS staff use to 1.) Punish you if you’ve done something wrong, and 2.) Find out how you’ve done in some student staff position.
When you are writing your reflective assignment for some time of staff position you’ve had (wing staff, squadron staff, etc), take your time in writing these. Put effort into it. It’s a pain in the butt (but, typically, it’s only 1 page long), but it will be worth it to you in the end.
Your FA along with the rest of the AMS staff are not around you 100% of the time. By writing your reflective assignment, you are essentially telling them how you did at your job. You’ll be telling them what you did good at, what you learned, and how the members of your team did. You’ll find out near the end of the class that the AMS staff uses the documents to write up their reviews of YOU. Part of these reviews will be sent to your commander back at your home unit. You want to sound good, right?
A failing grade is that below a 70. An average below an 80 (anything below an 80.. 79.9 is below) and you will not get commissioned. It’s that simple. Because of that, stay ahead of your academics. You don’t want to be sweating the last test and be sent home on the Monday of the sixth week after all the crap you’ve put up with because you failed academically.
Every section of your reading/lectures will have what is called the “Samples of Behavior”. These are no-joke the questions that will be on the test. These are what you need to study. Make flash cards or whatever you need to know everything about the SOB that you feel is necessary. Don’t waste your time studying or memorizing something that is not an SOB. It’s that easy.
We had two official memorandums that were due. These are so easy, everything is given to you, and all you have to do is type it out. However, because it was so easy, people blew them off and ended up failing the assignment. Take the time you need to get 100s on both of these assignments. You’ll be glad you did later. Don’t be stupid and blow these off. Make sure you get 100 on these.
We had two briefings. Statistically, everybody in the wing did better on the second briefing than the first. Keep that in mind. There are several things you should not get counted off on and you’ll do fairly well:
Don’t go over or under time, you’ll get counted off big
Make sure your outline is grammatically correct – visually, make it look exactly like the example
Don’t READ your briefing
Make sure to look at everybody in the room at least once
MAINTAIN military bearing! Don’t laugh, or say “sorry”
How to Get Kicked Out
As stated earlier, there are few things that will get you removed from the AMS program immediately. They include, but are not limited to:
Being overweight out of AF standards Failing the commissioning PFA
Don’t do any of the above items. Keep your mouth shut.
Help your squadron and wing mates out.
Study for the academics. Don’t blow it off.
Recognize what is important at AMS. They want to teach you how to be an officer. They will not tell you exactly how to do everything. You should be smart enough to figure it out. Don’t be afraid to hang it all out and try something, but be confident in what you do.
MAINTAIN MILITARY BEARING. Nothing will attract attention to you like losing your military bearing.
Academics are the most important thing at AMS, but the least harped on. You will get yelled at if your room is not clean. You will go home if you don’t make the standards academically. Get it? The amount of gigs it takes to fail a room inspection (15) is A LOT. If you maintain your room on a daily basis, it should not be a problem to pass a room inspection. The passing grade to commission is an 80. The failing grade on an assignment or a test is 70. You don’t want that.
Work out a schedule for yourself and keep to it. If able, try to not deal with laundry (or at least big loads of laundry) until Sunday. One thing that worked out well for me was still getting up at a reasonable time on Sunday (0700 or so) before most people and getting a jump on my laundry. While it was cleaning, I would work on cleaning my room. After the laundry was done, I spent an hour or so folding and ironing the clothes that needed it. After lunch I dedicated a few hours to whatever academics I needed to take care of. Find out what works for you and stick to it.
Keep in mind that every class is different and parts (if not the whole) of this document may be out of date. Keep an open mind and be open to change. Be flexible.
Cooperate to graduate – help your bros out.
REMEMBER: You’re being paid to do this. What a country.