Can you Ever Be Too Prepared for Field Training???
By Cadet Matt Chodzko
It is a warm Friday morning and you are exhausted because of the lack of sleep you had the night before. Did you stay up too late? No, your mind was having trouble winding down because you knew you would be sleeping in a new bed, in a room full of strangers. When you hug your family good bye at the front of the airport, and they pull away, the realization of Field Training comes to life. Your orders tell you that you be spending twenty-eight days at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. The Air Force will be taking the time to evaluate your leadership experience, to see if you should be retained into the Professional Officer Corps.
On the flight down south, not a single fellow cadet is reclined in their chair listening to their MP3 player. Everyone is sitting with some form of either their Airman’s Manual (AM) or Field Training Manual (FTM) open on their tray tables in front of them. Why do they need to study more now? Did they not study days even months ahead of time? To many cadets, it did not matter that they had already studied prior to their departure. They wanted to be sure that they could recite all the knowledge in the manuals.
One thing I wish I had known is why am I being evaluated on how well I know the AM or FTM. I realize now that it was about far more than a test of my memory, but it was a test of my resolve. They want to see your attention to detail, your ability to make decisions. If we approach Field Training as we would the Air Force, we would quickly realize that being too prepared is like saying that the 30mm canon on the nose of the A-10 is too big; it just does not make a whole heap of sense. Poor preparation prevents proper performance, and if you try to learn the FTM while at Maxwell, you will realize that it will be difficult to perform well in other areas. If you are not physically up to standards, you will be losing your French Toast in the Dojo and losing your fights.
If you find yourself settling and saying to yourself “I’m prepared enough,” it is time to be honest and give yourself a self-evaluation. Nobody is perfect, but you have to realize that no one in their right mind has ever said “I wish I wasn’t so prepared.” Rather we have been taught that we are expected to pursue excellence in all we do. The key may not be to achieve excellence, but striving to be better. If you chase after excellence, if you make it your goal, then you can in fact never be too prepared for Field Training.
- Learn more about SLU’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 207