Forging Leaders: Kirtland’s First Term Officer’s Course

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Karissa Dick
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The First Term Officers Course (FTOC), offered at Kirtland Air Force Base, is an in-depth course used to bridge the gap between commissioning programs and the demanding operational world of the military.

Here, FTOC is an experience where officers build upon their foundational knowledge and explore the details of enlisted culture and structure. Through immersive learning experiences and briefings, officers have the opportunity to gain insights on leadership methods and cultivate a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the military ranks.

 “FTOC is a beneficial program that is still evolving to meet the needs of our Airmen,” explained Master Sgt. Jesse Bechtel, 377th Force Support Squadron career and development advisor. “Our plans for the future involve more frequent offerings of the course, tailoring content based on feedback, and continuously improving to cater to the specific needs of first-term officers.”

One of the highlights of FTOC is the focus on the Enlisted Performance Report (EPR) and Officer Performance Report (OPR) processes. Officers not only learn these evaluation systems, but also learn to hone their writing skills, ensuring effective communication in their future endeavors.

“I would recommend all first term officers take this course,” said 2nd Lt. Mark Burns, 377th Weapons System Security Squadron flight commander. “It's packed full of information about available resources, the enlisted force structure, joint forces, and the core values. It explains really well what standards to enforce as an officer and I feel like this course will allow me to be a better leader. I know what's expected of me as an officer and now I can better serve my unit and Airmen.”

FTOC also equips officers with a forward-looking-mindset. Virtual programs and systems covered during the course provide officers with the tools they need for development and leading within their units.

However, FTOC is more than just an academic course; it’s a platform for forging lasting connections with peers. Networking is crucial as officers from diverse backgrounds come together to share their experiences and mindsets. The bonds formed during FTOC become a valuable asset and support system throughout these officers’ careers.

Major Charles Crooks', 377th Logistics Readiness Squadron director of operations and FTOC mentor, shared his perspective on the impact and importance of the course and why he jumped at the opportunity to mentor the officers attending.

 "As a prior enlisted officer, I value professional development and being able to provide my experience,” said Crooks. “I've been very fortunate throughout my military career that I've been exposed to a lot of different mission sets and the fact that here, at Kirtland, we've decided to do a first term officers’ course is phenomenal. I wish we could do it more often because there's so much valuable information here that officers need.”

As officers complete FTOC, they carry with them a wealth of knowledge, a network of strong connections, and a sense of purpose. This course ensures our officers and leaders are ready to navigate their roles, armed with the experience and lessons needed to succeed within the military.

“These officers are the future of the Air and Space Force,” Crooks emphasized. “It’s our inherent responsibility to ensure we are preparing these officers well because they will be the next generation of future military leaders.”