Learning the ropes

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A group of 13 Reserve Officer Training Corps and Air Force Academy cadets arrived at Sheppard Sunday night for three weeks as part of Operation Air Force. 

"(Operation Air Force) allows cadets to take their academic skills and knowledge and apply it to their Air Force careers in a real-world situation," said OAF director Capt. Dwayne Porter. 

The group is the first of three to come to Sheppard to immerse into the Air Force way of life, working in various units on various projects and taskings. 

They will be taught what a new Airman or lieutenant would be taught. 

This year, OAF has two programs tailored for each classification. The programs are non-com and brevet lieutenants. 

Non-com, or non-commissioned, allows the cadets participating in that program to shadow a senior non-commissioned officer in an effort to gain knowledge of the enlisted force. Their goal is to see the Air Force from an enlisted point-of-view. 

The non-com program is for junior cadets, freshmen and sophomores. There are five in this group. 

All senior cadets, in their junior or senior year, will participate in the brevet lieutenant program. In that program, the cadets are assigned to an officer sponsor. 

These cadets are usually ones who have recieved their Air Force Specialty Code assignment, and in the program, they are given a more specific view of the Air Force. 

They also get more involved with their future career goals, Captain Porter said. 

"The cadets are given the chance to see actual senior NCOs and officers in action and their lives in the Air Force," he said. "All of this gives them the chance to go back to their units, detachments or the Academy with a greater enthusiasm for the Air Force. 

In addition, it gives the all-volunteer sponsors the chance to provide mentorship and shed some light on actual Air Force functions and the the chance to pass off what they've learned to future officers." 

There are eight brevet lieutenants in this group. 

The cadets in the first wave are assigned to the 82nd Communications Squadron, the 80th Flying Training Wing, the Office of Special Investigations, the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, the 82nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 82nd Civil Engineer Squadron. 

The current group will be here until June 24. On June 25, the next group of cadets will arrive for their three-week period.