The enlistment process of the u.s. air force gas definition wikipedia

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The Air Force is the youngest of our Nation’s military services. It was separated from the Army Air Corps as part of the National Security Act of 1947. The Air Force is also one of the hardest services to join. Why? Well, it seems that the Air Force is the most popular of the military services. They also have the highest reenlistment rate of any of the services.

In other words, those who join tend to want to stay in after their initial term of service is up. This results in fewer slots for new recruits. In fact, over the past several years, the Air Force has found themselves in the embarrassing position of having more people on active duty than Congress says they can have. That means, each year, some people who want to stay in the Air Force, can’t, and many people who want to join the Air Force can’t.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to join. If you can meet the enlistment qualifications, and are willing to be very flexible in job choices, and are willing to spend months (possibly several months) waiting for an enlistment/training slot, you can be among the 30,000 (or so) who will enlist in the Air Force this year.•

Your first step in the enlistment process is to meet with a recruiter. AF recruiting offices can be found in all major U.S. cities. They’re listed in the phone book in the white pages, under "U.S. Government." You can also locate your nearest recruiter using the Advisor Locator on the Air Force Recruiting Web site.

The recruiter will conduct a "pre-screening" to see if (on the surface) you are qualified for enlistment. The recruiter will ask you about your education level, your criminal history, your age, your marital/dependency status, and your medical history. The recruiter will weigh you to ensure you meet Air Force accession weight standards. The recruiter will have you take a "mini- ASVAB" (Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery), on a computer, which gives a pretty good idea of how you will score on the actual test.

The medical pre-screen is sent to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station), where it is reviewed by a doctor. The recruiter forwards the rest of the information to his/her bosses at the Recruiting Squadron. The review process will take a few days. If there are no obvious disqualifying factors, the recruiter arranges an appointment for you to go to MEPS. If there are disqualifying factors, the recruiter will speak with you about the possibility of waivers.

MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station and is where your real qualifications for joining the Air Force are determined. MEPS is not owned by the Air Force. In fact, it’s not owned by any of the branches. MEPS is a "joint-operation," and is staffed by members of all the branches.

Unless you already have a valid Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score, you’ll usually take the ASVAB on the afternoon you arrive. The next day, the real fun begins — and it’s a long, long day. Your day will start at about 5:30 AM, and you won’t finish until about 5:00 or 5:30 that evening.

Your day will include a urinalysis (drug test), medical exam, eye test, hearing test, strength test, security interview, weight check, body-fat measurement (if you exceed the weight on the published weight charts), security clearance interview, meeting with a job counselor, reviewing enlistment options and possible enlistment incentives, taking the enlistment oath, and signing the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) contract. Oh, yeah, intermixed in between all of this you’ll fill out lots of forms and do lots and lots of waiting.

The largest portion of your day at MEPS is taken up by the medical examination. You’ll start by completing a detailed medical history. Your blood and urine will be taken and examined for this and that. Your eyes and hearing will be checked. You’ll have to do some stupid-sounding things, such as walking while squatting (this is commonly called the "duck-walk.")

Medical Standards for enlistment are set by the Department of Defense, not the Air Force. The doctors at MEPS will medically disqualify you if you fail to meet any of the standards. There are two types of disqualification: temporary and permanent. A temporary disqualification means you can’t join right now, but may be able to, at a later time. For example, if you just had an operation the week before. A permanent disqualification means that you failed to meet the published standards, and that won’t change with time.

If you’re permanently disqualified, the Air Force can choose to waive the medical disqualification and enlist you anyway. The commanding officer of the recruiting squadron will determine whether or not a waiver will be submitted. If the commander approves it, the request goes all the way up, winding its way through the command chain, to the top doctor in the entire Air Force (The Air Force Surgeon General). The SG’s office has final approval authority. This process can take several weeks (sometimes several months).

The Air Force has two enlistment options: Guaranteed Job and Guaranteed Aptitude area. There are only enough guaranteed job slots made available to the Air Force Recruiting Service to accommodate about 40 percent of the recruits who enlist each year. Most enlist in a guaranteed aptitude area.

The Air Force has four aptitude areas: General, Electronics, Mechanical, and Administrative. Various combinations of ASVAB scores make up line scores for each of these areas. Under the Guaranteed Aptitude Enlistment Option, one is guaranteed that they will be assigned to a job which falls into that aptitude area but won’t find out what their actual job is, until the last week of basic training.

If you’re very lucky (and the computer-Gods are smiling on you), you may be able to reserve a specific job at the time you meet with the Job Counselor at MEPS. More likely, however, there won’t be any available slots listed in the computer system. In that case, you’ll give the Job Counselor five (or so) choices.

Usually, at least one of your listed preferences must be for an aptitude area, and the other preferences can be for specific jobs. You’ll then enlist in the DEP (see next section) and your preferences will be entered into the job computer system. When one of your choices becomes available, your recruiter will notify you of your job assignment and your shipping date.

The waiting period in the Delayed Enlistment Program is probably the hardest thing about the enlistment process. The Air Force recruits for several months in advance. Depending on job and training availability, you may have to wait for several months to ship out to basic training (I’ve known folks who have spent over a year in the Air Force DEP).

In order not to waste a scheduled job/training slot, the recruiting service maintains a list of those who agree to take the place of such individuals. The only problem is that you would have to accept the same job (or aptitude area) of the person dropping out, be of the same sex (usually), and keep your bags packed, as you may only get a day’s notice.

While waiting in the DEP, you’ll meet with your recruiter periodically (usually once per month). Often these meetings take place in the form of a "Commander’s Call," where all the DEPpers attend a group meeting. Often the recruiter will arrange for guest speakers, such as recently graduated recruits, or senior recruiting officials. Your recruiter will also use these meetings to help get you ready for basic training and your Air Force career.