Air University’s Officer Training School in Alabama is bracing for the largest influx of officer trainees in its history.
Class 19-07, comprising 800 officer trainees, is more than twice as large as the previous record-holding class at Officer Training School and has been nicknamed the “Godzilla” class by the folks down at Maxwell Air Force Base.
Last March, 340 officer trainees attended OTC, which was then the biggest class ever.
OTS is considered the “shock absorber” for Air Force officer accessioning, said Lt. Col. Erick Saks, 24th Training Squadron commander, in a news release. The school works with the Air Force manpower directorate and Air Force Recruiting Service to meet any projected shortfalls in the number of commissioned officers from the service’s other commissioning sources — Air Force ROTC and the Air Force Academy.
For the Godzilla class, OTS nearly tripled the typical number of seats allotted for line officers, going from about 170 to 500, the majority of the increase, according to the release. The 800 officer trainees coming in will be split between OTS’s two training squadrons, the 24th TRS and Detachment 12. Previously, each squadron typically received a class of 250-300 officer trainees.
Despite the larger numbers, the number of military training instructors will remain the same, six. But OTS leadership does not expect the increase in trainees to cause a decrease in quality of training.
“It’s not just about getting numbers out, it’s about making sure our trainees leave here with the skills they need to be great officers,” said Capt. Kaitlin Daddona, OTS 24th Squadron assistant director of operations, in the release. “That’s what we’re really focusing on with this many people in one class.”
The Godzilla class puts the school at maximum capacity and the team at OTS is concerned the sheer numbers of trainees could “take a major toll” on the facilities. However, they also regard this as an an opportunity to become better at what they do and believe they are prepared for the assignment ahead of them.
“Even though Godzilla seems like a terrifying beast, we recognize the importance of getting these officers through and giving them the training that they need,” Doddona said.
Even ordinary aspects of the OTS program, like lectures and meal times, will require more preparation due to the high number of trainees.
“The best part of this has been being able to open up those lines of communication so that we can connect and build relationships with the partners that we have, whether it’s here on base or within Montgomery,” Doddona said in the release.
Although Class 19-07 is like nothing the school has ever experienced, OTS officials say their goal will remain the same.
“As long as our trainees are leaving pumped and ready to be officers, then we did our job,” Daddona said.