HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Future Air Force officers visited here June 6-21 as part of an annual program that introduces them to the experiences they’ll likely have at an operational base after graduation.
Col. Jennifer Hammerstedt, 75th Air Base Wing commander, hosted 12 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets during their visit to a wide variety of units across the base. This year’s project officers were Maj. Joshua Tate, 75th Force Support Squadron, and Capt. Larry Otero, 75th Medical Support Squadron, and 1st Lt. Jason Walker, 75th Medical Group.
The visit was part of Operation Air Force, a two-and-a-half week long program for cadets about to begin their junior year at the Academy.
According to Cadet 2nd Class Hayden Molitor, Ops AF is a singular opportunity for cadets to experience Air Force base operations prior to commissioning as second lieutenants.
“Previous cadets have cited this program as significantly influencing their career choices,” he said. “Additionally, cadets credit Ops AF with providing the means to better understand their commissioning education, relate their academic classes to the Air Force, and plan for their future role as Air Force officers.”
Molitor also noted that Ops AF is a requirement for graduation and Hill AFB is one of the 60 continental United States bases working with the Academy to make this program possible.
“This program provides cadets with the chance to ask many questions and be actively involved in daily operations as well as providing insight into active duty Air Force missions, weapons systems, capabilities, and careers,” said Molitor. “The cadets will also value the opportunity to work alongside enlisted personnel, officers, civilians, and supervisors.”
The time spent here will prove valuable to the cadets, but it was challenging.
“Ops AF is not a vacation; it is a training program and cadets are expected to represent their commissioning source as professionals,” Molitor said.
Ops AF benefits cadets, who will soon begin deciding on career paths, by providing a look at some of the many career fields available to an Air Force officer.
“The intent of the program is to immerse the USAFA Cadets in Air Force culture and the active duty environment,” said Molitor. “It provides cadets with the opportunity to explore career options through Air Force Specialty Code interaction and learn how base components work together to achieve their specific mission. Most importantly, the overall experience of the program often has large-scale impacts on the career decisions of participating cadets as they make AFSC selections.”
Tate was gratified to help prepare the Air Force’s next generation of officers for their future responsibilities.
“As our battlefields get more and more complex it becomes critical we introduce our officers early to the environment in which they will navigate and continue to develop them throughout their careers,” he said. “We hope to expose them to the broad and complex mission sets the Air Force has to offer and show them the many ways they can make positive contributions.”