“The AMEDD BOLC is designed to provide orientation, training, and initial leader– DA PAM 600-4 Army Medical Department Officer Professional Development and Career Management
development for newly commissioned officer. All AMEDD officers will complete the AMEDD BOLC at Joint Base San Antonio, TX.”
My BOLC journey began in the Fall of 2021. If you are an Army Reservist, you will need to reach out to USAREC HQ for registration. Your unit shouldn’t register for this course as this is considered as Initial Military Training (IMT). Email [email protected] for registration. You can also find the contact information of the Course Registrars on the MAVNI Officers FB page. I’d recommend that you register and complete the school as early as possible immediately after taking the Oath of Office. Orders will be sent to you a month before the school report date. If you don’t have your orders, send them an email requesting Orders.
- Take a COVID test prior (72hrs within arrival) if you wish to avoid taking 3 tests after arrival.
- Ft. Sam Houston is NOT a walking campus no matter what the official BOLC page says. You are better off with a car (If you are close enough to drive to Ft. Sam Houston). Walk between the DFAC/PX/Hotel takes anywhere from 15 to 30 min.
- There are a lot of things to do in San Antonio including the river walk, Six Flags, Sea World, The Zoo, Boat Cruise etc. Bring a few pairs of civilian cloths.
- Get ready to hear a lot of BLUF “Bottom Line Up Front”
- Tests: There are ATHENA evaluations, a mid term, a final exam and one or more smaller tests in between. The tests require you to remember the exact verbiage of acronyms (eg: ASCOPE, OAKOC) and definitions (Operational Environment etc.). Go through every slide and memorize rules, responsibilities, procedures and policies (eg: responsibilities and criteria of a Intermediate rater). The exams are no joke. They test you on the fine print. Take time to study.
- Platoon classrooms have laptops assigned to each student so you do not need to bring your laptop to the classroom but you may need a laptop during downtime or during the weekends.
- Bring a power bank, cloth hangers,
Call the number on the orders to schedule the flights. I booked one way instead of a round trip as SATO charges a fee for any changes and it’s safer to schedule the return flight closer to the graduation date. I signed up for Clear membership (through Amex) which made Airport security check in a breeze. I left Newark (EWR) around 8am arrived in San Antonio around 1pm with a brief layover in Houston. I enjoyed the AMEX Centurion lounge at Houston. Upon arriving in San Antonio, I had to walk towards the entrance of Terminal 1 and request the Taxi attendant to arrange for a cab to Ft. Sam Houston. Only certain drivers are allowed to drive in to the base. So Uber, Lyft and many taxi cab companies are a NO GO. The cab ride to the base was about 20 min.
I reported to Bldg. 592 (Holiday Inn Express) at 3825 Dickman Road, San Antonio, Texas. There was already a big line full of my future classmates checking in. I was put in Bldg. 1384, another Holiday inn which a couple more miles away. Some folks were put in Candlewood Suites. My hotel was the only one far away from the DFAC and the training site. There’s no swimming pool. The hotel is dated but the rooms do have a small kitchenette. The hotel has construction going on.
Here are the locations of the public hotels, DFAC and other places of interest
In Brief & Day Zero
We assembled at the AMEDD Center of Excellence (ACE)’s Blesse Auditorium for an initial briefing around 1600. The cadre welcomed us, introduced themselves and we were handed some paperwork (counselling forms) to complete. The next day (10/7 Thursday), we got the COVID test at 6am (If you came in with a negative covid test, you’re good! Otherwise, you will need to take three negative tests). We will be in Restriction of Movement (ROM) for the next week and a half. After that, we came back to our hotel rooms and then back to the ACE bldg for a full day of EO, Sharp classes and also complete the counselling forms and other paper work. The next few days fell in during a long weekend. So we had the Fri-Mon off. Day One begins on the following Tuesday on 10/12. Over the weekend, we were not allowed to leave the base and were only authorized to go to the PX, DFAC and the Commissary.
We came back to ACE on Day 1 after the long weekend for more briefings (SHARP, EO, CID, Chaplain) that continued to the following day. We continued to take the remaining two COVID tests at 6am, went back to hotel for an hour, back to ACE for more classes. We were released by afternoon on Wednesday. On Friday, we started off with a lecture given by a Guest speaker on AMEDD history which was a lot of fun. We were given time for Admin activities on the Friday afternoon followed by a safety brief at 1600.
We started off the Monday (10/18), the first day after in processing with a Company run at 5:00am, we came back to the hotel and then back to Blesse Auditorium at 8:00am. We were split by platoons and I walked in to the my Platoon Classroom which was on the third floor. We received training on Introduction to Army Health System, Army Identity, Culture & Climate and Counselling.
On day 2, we arrived at our respective platoon classrooms by 0850.We took classes in Troop leading Procedures, Enlisted promotions, Award Awards, Administrative Flags in the morning. We had 50 min for lunch at Rocco DFAC which is a 10 min walk. At 1300, we assembled as a company in Blesse Auditorium for classes in Effective Communication and Army Writing. We ended the day back in platoon classrooms to validate Blackboard access.
On day 3, those who needed an optometry consult were sent to the clinic at 5:30am at Mcwethy Troop Medical Clinic (TMC) (see the map above). Regular classes started at 7:50am as usual. We learned about OERs, OPMS, NCOERs in the morning. First platoon is lucky to have CPT McClure as an instructor who is just phenomenal, highly motivated and instead of just reading through the slides, he engaged us during the presentation soliciting questions and helping us truly understand the importance and the intricacies of OERs and also shared some practical examples while providing a live walkthrough of EES. He maintains the same high energy level all the way to the end of the class which is just a testament to his dedication. There was a very high class participation and everyone asked follow up questions eagerly and curiously. Even though the class went a little over, no one felt any less than fully captivated with the topic. We had about 40 min for lunch (remember that it takes 10 min to walk to the Rocco DFAC). In the afternoon, we assembled together as a company again in Blesse for a class on Army writing (continued from yesterday).
On day 4, we received instruction on Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CME), Conducting Operations in a Degraded Space Environment, Property Accountability Fundamentals. We had very little time for lunch. In the afternoon, after lunch at Rocco, we had a class on Military Ethics at Evans Auditorium. Parking fills up quickly here so start early.
On day 5, we formed up at 0715 at CIF. The gear was heavy. I had to carry it back to MedCOE building by 9:20. We then had a class on Perform Effectively in an Operational Environment and MRT.
On day 1 (Monday), We had PT at 0530 and then the mid term at 0745. The mid term was serious and covered minute details from the slides/notes. Please make sure to review the slides carefully. Pay attention to the verbiage of definitions, concepts and descriptions. We then had a class on Deployment Health Assessment Process. In the afternoon we assembled in Blesse for a class on Military Justice for a couple of hours.
On day 2, we started the day with ATHENA assessments followed by classes on Medical Platoon, Symbols & Terminology, Preservation of remains. After lunch, we assembled in Blesse for a brief from the course’s senior advisor BG Lodi.
On day 3, we were supposed to assemble at Jimmy Brought fitness center near the PX at 0530 but it was canceled due to rain. We started class at 0750 as usual with a lecture on Medical Company, Combat Organizations and Capabilities followed by lunch and then classes on Risk Management and a class on Identify the Unit Deployment Process
On day 4, we assembled in our Platoon Classrooms at 0750 for classes on Medical Evacuation, Extremist Organizations followed by lunch and then classes on Integrated Disability Evaluation system (IDES) in Blesse and Patient Movement.
On day 5, our assembled at Jimmy Brought fitness center and we were given a brief on ACFT. We were then released to the hotel and returned to our respective Platoon Classrooms for class on Combat Operational Stress Control, MEDPROS followed by lunch and then a class on Medical Company.
On day 1, we had PT as usual at 0520, returned to class at 0750 for training on Conduct maintenance at the Company level, Plan Convoy operations, break for lunch and then return for classes on Echelons above Brigade and Operation Orders.
On day 2, we started at 0750 with a guest speaker lecture on Be a better leader. We returned from lunch for a class on Plan Platoon training
On day 3, we had PT starting at 0520. We did the bars. We returned to class at 0750 for classes on Resilience Training. We then assembled in Blesse for a brief from MG LeMaster. In the afternoon, we received blocks of instruction on MRT 2 and Medical Logistics
On day 4, we started at 0750 with a 10 question test followed by a class on Army Health System planning and PCC/PCIs in the afternoon for the upcoming FTX including taping our Ruck, TAP etc.
On day 5, we assembled around 0420 for a diagnostic ACFT followed by classes on Conducting Convoy Operations. We then conducted Home Town briefs wherein each of us had to stand in front of the platoon and say something about our Hometown in 3-5 min. We then had a brief for the upcoming FTX.
Week 5 (Range)
On day 1, we assembled in the parking lot of Holiday Inn Bldg 582 around 0650 for a bus to the TTB in Camp Bullis. We received Preliminary Marksman instruction (PMI), followed by a 20 question test (need 80% to pass). We then conducted basic M4 drills i.e Clearing the weapon, Functions check etc.
On day 2, we did a Brigade run at 0440 followed by an instruction on Land Navigation. We were then released so that we can prepare for the final exam tomorrow.
On day 3, we went to a Qualification familiar range and shot twice. For the first iteration, you receive an extra Mag for familiarization. Transportation to the ranges is through squad specific LMTVs.
On days 4 and 5,we went to Qualification ranges and we were given four opportunities to qualify. The highest score counts. We then formed up in the TTB for a final formation of the week, did the flag salute and drove back to the hotel in a bus.
We formed up in the parking lot of 592 around 0440, headed to the TTB. We received training on setting up Role 1 care, doing sand tables, setting up Role 2 care and some time for studying AWTs
On Day 2, We got up for AWT Testing on Clearing and doing Functions checks on M4 and M17, Making a MEDEVAC request, Configuring an ASIP radio, Conducting TCCC on a Mannequin. We then received a brief from BG Lodi and were released for the day early to prepare for Land Nav tomorrow.
On Day 3, we woke up at 0330, given a brief about Land Nav and conducted Land Nav with a map, a compass and a protractor. It was an easy self correcting course. We had to find 6/8 points. We were all done by 1000. We then did a police call, hopped on to the buses and returned to Fort Sam starting at 1300 for the long Thanksgiving day break.
Day 1 was a long day. We hopped on to the buses to head back to Freedom TTB around 0600. We received 3 MREs for days worth of meals. Today marks the beginning of Operation Iron Hammer. Our platoon started today with Small Unit Tactics (SUT lanes). We were split in to individual squads and were taken by the Squad LMTV to the woods (one of the points in Land Nav that we did last week. We did four missions today. For each mission, the assigned instructor picks a Squad leader and gives him/her an Operation to Conduct (OPORD). The squad leader then picks his team leads. They then pick the Compass person, Paceman, two RTOs. For the first mission, the OPORD included coordinates that we needed to plot and navigate to as a squad. We had to setup an Observation Post and call for fire on a target. For the second mission, we were given new coordinates to navigate to, secure an area, observe an enemy by conducting leader’s recon, move and attack. The third mission was about KLE (Key Leader engagement). We again navigate to a target location to take in a HVT (High Value Target), secure the area nearby, search him, detain him, seek intelligence, do the reporting, conduct MEDEVAC for his associate. The last mission was contact to fire where we were given fresh coordinates to navigate to and move as a squad to react to incoming fire. It was a long day where we had to walk across moderately diverse terrain, walk for a few miles and conduct the missions. We returned back to the TTB around 1700 and retired for the day.
Our Platoon did the Role 1 Ops for Day 2. Leaders were picked for the mission. We were given an SP time. We prepared a Sand Table, issued a Convoy Brief, started the Convoy, reacted to IEDs, small arms fire and then drove the convoy to a Floating Rally Point. As per the mission, we split in to FAS and a MAS. We arrived at the objective and setup MAS. We setup Role 1 there and practiced operations all day long while switching positions during lunch.
On Day 3, We did Role 2 at the Freedom TTB. The Cadre again picked the leaders, we setup Role 2 in a tent, split into separate teams for Evac, triage, treatment, OP4, RTO and other leadership positions. It was a long day. I carried litters back to back. Day 4 was recovery. We had hot chow for the morning, split in to separate cleaning details and then waited for the buses to pick us up. We turned in the weapons, compasses and protractors.
Day 4 was recovery. We had hot chow for breakfast served by the Cadre. We were then split in to teams within all platoons to do a police call, inventory, cleanup. The buses arrived on time but one was broken. There was just one trailer. So our platoon had to carry the ruck, assault pack with us in the bus.
Day 5 was the graduation day. We turned in our equipment to CIF in the morning. We then assembled at the Graduation hall for a few rehearsals. The actual graduation ceremony was short. Only the Lynch Leader Awardee was recognized. They also showed a montage of pictures and videos of all platoons taken during the course on the screen. The short course folks began departing on the evening.