United States Air Force Academy

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The Core of Cadet Life


In order to prepare for life as an officer, the Cadet Wing at the U.S. Air Force Academy simulates the organization of an operational Air Force wing. Cadets are responsible for running and operating the wing–an unparalleled leadership opportunity to understand the importance of respect among peers and how to be an honorable, well-balanced officer. All cadets learn how to use a chain of command, how to function as part of various military formations and how military units organize to accomplish collective tasks.

The Cadet Wing’s 4,000 members are organized into four groups of 10 squadrons each. Cadets live, eat and take part in military training with their squadrons, which are comprised of roughly even numbers of cadets from all four class years.

Cadets take on additional leadership roles and higher-level operational and support jobs as they rise in class year. In parallel to active duty life, first-class cadets hold the positions of officers, second-class cadets function as cadet non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and third-class cadets act as junior NCOs. Fourth-class cadets act as followers and function as cadet Airmen.

Led by the Cadet Wing Commander and his or her staff, the Cadet Wing is broken down into a number of functional areas, some of which also mirror components of an active duty unit:

  • Honor
  • Academics
  • Athletics
  • Safety
  • Antiterrorism & Force Protection
  • Standardization & Evaluation
  • Drill & Ceremonies
  • Support
  • Information Technology
  • Training
  • Major Training Events
  • Public Affairs
  • Character

Air Officers Commanding (AOC) supervise cadets, and are located within each group and squadron. These Air Force officers oversee all cadet activities, provide instruction and serve as role models as the cadets experience firsthand the processes of command and organization to accomplish the mission. Academy Military Trainer (AMT) NCOs complement the AOCs and provide an enlisted role model perspective.