Here are four ways to get stationed at your desired Air Force base that everyone joining the Air Force should know. Some ways are simple and easy to do while others take time and effort. However, any and all of these 4 ways will help you travel to whichever base you want.
Listen to the accompanying podcast episode from the Basic To Blues Podcast.
Fill Out Your Dream Sheet
You might be wondering what a dream sheet is. During basic training you are given the chance to fill out a list of your top seven Air Force base preferences, that list is called a dream sheet. Be aware you are not guaranteed any of the bases you fill in, you could be sent to any other base regardless of your list. However, think carefully about listing your preferred bases on your dream sheet. Do you want stateside or overseas Air Force bases?
If you want an overseas base then list all 7 of your dream sheet choices as overseas bases. Even if you don’t necessary want to go to one of the bases put on your dream sheet. You’re more likely to be given an overseas Air Force base versus a stateside base if your entire dream sheet is filled with overseas locations. The same thing is true for stateside bases. If you’d like to be stationed in the U.S. then fill your dream sheet with all stateside bases. Simply because it’s harder going from stateside bases to overseas bases when it cost the Air Force more for relocating expenses.
Side Tip, be aware not all entry level Air Force jobs are at every base. Whether you join with a guaranteed Air Force job or enlist as open general (learn about them here) regardless when filling out your dream sheet you will be shown only a list of 3 level (apprentice) bases you can choose from.
Swapping Duty Assignments In Tech School
While learning your Air Force job in technical school you will be given official orders for your first duty assignment. Your duty assignment is the Air Force base you will be stationed at. Your tech school classroom instructor will inform everyone that you are able to trade orders with other airmen in your class. Be aware you must do so within 24 to 48 hours, after that you are out of luck. So if you find out another airmen is going to be stationed at the base you want just talk to them, you might be getting assigned to the base they want too. A win win situation for everyone. The two of you can swap your duty assignment orders by informing the instructor about it. Shorty after you would get new official orders to the changed Air Force base.
It’s best to talk with your classmates about bases you hope to get while at tech school just so everyone knows about it. I really wanted to get stationed in Japan but I made the mistake of not speaking up to anyone. Even after a classmate of mine got orders to Misawa Air Force Base in Japan and because of my silence I went off to Seymour Johnson (good ole Shady J) in North Carolina instead.
Update Base Of Preference
After getting to your first duty station and adjusting to military life you might like your first base. However you might not, you could be one of those people that still want to go to a different Air Force base. The next step is going to be updating your BOP (base of preference). A BOP are the Air Force bases on your dream sheet, it’s basically a list of the top bases you want to be stationed at. It’s found on any military computer using your CAC card (military ID card) to log in to the Air Force portal. Filling out the list is pretty simple and straight forward. Just put every base you’re interested in on the list and make sure your top base is listed at #1.
The BOP process can be sped up, but there is a catch to doing this. List your most desired Air Force base as #1 with a South Korea base as #2, either Osan or Kunsan, and any other bases desired after that. Why South Korea? South Korea is a short tour that’s known for getting people assigned to their first choice BOP after leaving Korea.
Your base of preference can be updated as much as you’d like. Also you don’t absolutely have to put Korea on the list. There is still a chance or receiving new orders with only your desired base listed. Korean is just a quicker way of getting there, cause the Air Force frequently sends people through Osan and Kunsan.
Short Tour Your Way To A Desired Air Force Base
Doing a short tour in Korea is the number one way for getting orders to a new duty assignment afterwards. So keep your BOP updated if you go. Believe me it works, I watched a number of airmen go to Korea just so they could get away from being stationed at Seymour Johnson and receive orders to their BOP. Sometimes it seemed like new airmen were barely there before they got their short tour.
A short tour in Korea has multiple different tour lengths depending on the situation. Breaking it down the typical tour length for most airmen will be 12 months long. However if you’re married a few different options are on the table. Married airmen have the choice to go without their spouse and complete a 12 month short tour alone. The other opportunity for married airmen is to be accompanied by their spouse and both go to Korea for a 24 or 36 month long tour. Keep in mind that Air Force bases in Korea have military exercises nearly every month so it makes for a long 24 to 36 months.
Bonus Tip – TDY To Your Air Force Base
If all else fails you can always volunteer for a TDY when tasking come down for the base you’re interested in. A TDY is a temporary duty assignment located at a different base other then your permanent duty station. Basically TDY’s need airmen to perform their Air Force job elsewhere to help with mission increases or exercises. They usually last only for short periods of time ranging from 1 to 3 weeks. So this tip won’t keep you at the TDY base you’re interested in but you’d still experience it.
Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas always has TDY’s going on, plenty of fun can be experienced there.
To Wrap It Up
So unless you get lucky right off the bat it might take some time and effort to get stationed at a specific base. Do each of the four steps to get there the fastest.
- It starts with filling out your dream sheet in basic training.
- Talk to other airmen in tech school about swapping bases.
- Keep your BOP updated.
- Take a short tour to Korea to get BOP orders after.
What Air Force base would you most want to be stationed at? Leave a comment below.
Air Force Veteran
Corey is an Air Force veteran and the lead writer at Basic to Blues. He refueled fighter jets as a young airman and deployed twice to the Middle East. Now Corey can be found hiking in the Pacific Northwest.
Who the hell… POL!