Cadets gain operational Air Force experience

  • Published
  • By Cadet Harriet Randolph and Cadet Megumi Voight
  • United States Air Force Academy
At the United States Air Force Academy, a cadet's summer is broken up into three periods. As a rising junior (the summer between sophomore and junior years), one three-week period is spent visiting operational Air Force bases.

The purpose of the "Ops Air Force" program is for cadets to experience first-hand the world they will soon be entering. Cadets are sent to bases as diverse as Aviano Air Base, Italy, to Minot Air Force Base, N.D.. While bases overseas have their obvious appeal, a smaller or more rural base can be more rewarding.

"Some assignments may not be initially attractive; however, there are positive aspects to all assignments and focusing on those will make any place or job enjoyable," said Cadet Tyler Benjamin.

Both cadets and the Air Force bases they visit are similar in that each presents a unique demand. While many cadets want to become pilots, others want to join career fields ranging from finance to security forces.

Cadet Emma Stone shadowed the 97th Security Forces Squadron. "I got tazed, attacked by a psycho dog, and learned how to properly hit things with sticks. Conclusion: Cops are awesome."

On the surface "Ops Air Force" seems to be an opportunity to observe the daily routines of your desired career field; however, for those of us at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., we learned a much more important lesson. Regardless of which base you are assigned, the quality of your experience is determined by your attitude. Though Altus Air Force Base may not have the reputation of the ideal base to visit, the experiences we had and the insights we gained are well worth the loss of gelato and gondola rides.

For more information regarding the United States Air Force Academy and its programs, visit