Your airman will make requests for their first duty station selection while at Basic Military Training (BMT). They will fill out an out a form, known as a “dream sheet”, to list their assignment preferences. They will have the opportunity to fill out eight stateside bases and eight overseas bases if they want. They can put less, but that would just be putting a limit on the Air Force’s options in trying to match a base to your Airman’s preferences when the time comes to assign them their first base.
Since I mentioned selecting overseas bases, I do want to include a personal note about first term airmen and overseas assignments. An overseas assignment can be very rewarding for a lot of people. You will get to see different cultures and do a lot of things you may not be able to do stateside. With that said, I have personally seen a lot of airmen get themselves in serious trouble while overseas, especially when it is their first base assignment. I would recommend being very selective on which bases you list on your dream sheet and ensure when you do, that you will be mature enough to not get “carried away” with some of the things that happen overseas. Now, back to the rest of the article…
It is called a dream sheet for a reason. The Air Force will consider their preferences; however, the overriding deciding factor is where the Air Force needs people in your airman’s AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) the most. If the Air Forces’ needs so happens to coincide with one of your airman’s preferences, great, everyone will be happy. If it does not happen to coincide with one of your airman’s preferences, your airman will be assigned to where the Air Force needs them.
For the most part, for the first duty assignment, the “dream sheet” is best thought of as a tie-breaker. For example, let’s say the Air Force needs airmen equally as bad at base X and base Y. They now have to decide which of these two bases to send your airman. They will look at your airman’s dream sheet and if they see they have base Y listed as one of their preferences. Problem solved! Your airman will be assigned to base Y! On the other hand, assume your airman has base Z on their dream sheet and not base X nor Y. Your airman will probably not be going to base Z. The Air Force will be assigning them to either base X or base Y, regardless of what is on their dream sheet, because that is where he/she is needed.
Of course, it goes without saying that assignments are based on valid vacancies for AFSC’s. If your Airmen has a AFSC that is limited to only certain bases, for example a U-2 reconnaissance plane mechanic, the options will be limited to the bases that have U-2’s.
Your airman will likely find out where their first base will actually be sometime before they graduate their tech school.