At various times throughout your Air Force career, you'll need to "report" to a military superior, especially if you're a cadet in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) or Air Force Academy, or attending Basic Military Training.
"Reporting" is an old military custom, but today's Air Force basic training is a little more relaxed, and there are only certain instances when reports are required.
Trainee Reports as Ordered
The basic reporting statement format is "Sir (or Ma'am), Trainee Jones reports," or "Sir (or Ma'am), Trainee Jones reports as ordered" (depending on whether you were ordered to see the superior, or whether you showed up on your own). If you were not directed to report to speak with a superior, you would not use the same language. Most seniors will accept requests to speak to them depending upon the situation and training schedule.
In today's Air Force, one is usually required to report any time they are directed, officially, to see the commanding officer, or sometimes the first sergeant or even their supervisor (usually when the subordinate is in trouble). A trainee may also be required to report to boards, such as a Senior Airman Below-the-Zone Promotion Board, or an Airman or NCO of the Quarter Recognition Program Board.
Air Force Reporting Statements
Outside of basic training, the Air Force follows a standard reporting statement procedure. At the position of attention, knock (a single time) on the door of the superior you are reporting to. If the door is open, knock (a single time) on the door frame. At the command of "enter," march smartly to a position three paces in front of and centered to the superior's desk. Stand sharply at attention. If the superior is a commissioned officer, salute, and hold the salute while making the reporting statement. Hold the salute until the officer returns it.
If you were ordered or requested to be there, the reporting statement should be, "Sir (or "Ma'am"), Sgt. Johnson reports as ordered."
If you were not ordered to be there, the reporting statement should be, "Sir (or "Ma'am") Sgt. Johnson reports."
Remain at attention unless the superior instructs otherwise. If the superior tells you to "be at ease," or "as you were," move to the position of "parade rest."
When excused, return to the position of attention. If the superior is a commissioned officer, salute, and hold the salute until it is returned. Perform a sharp facing movement (left face, right face, about face—whatever is required to face the door), and march sharply out of the office.
Basic Training Reporting
Reporting while in basic training is a little different. Until your last week of basic (when you get your dress blue uniform) your title is not "airman," or "airman first class," or even "airman basic," no matter what pay grade you enlisted as. Your title is "trainee."
Also, in basic training, when addressing an MTI (Military Training Instructor), the first words out of your mouth are always the reporting statement.
That doesn't mean every sentence begins with the reporting statement—just at the beginning of the conversation. For example, your TI yells, "Trainee Smith! Get your butt over here!"
You would run over, stand at attention three paces in front of the TI and say, "Sir (or Ma'am), Trainee Smith reports as ordered!"
The TI then asks, "Where were you born?"
You would then say, "Ohio, sir!" (or Ma'am, as the case may be).
In short, you use "reports as ordered," instead of just "reports," because you were requested to "get over there," and you only use the reporting statement for the first words of the conversation.
Some TIs will require trainees to salute when reporting to the TI in his/her office. That's because new recruits need practice, and there just aren't enough commissioned officers running around basic training to give them the proper practice in saluting in a reporting situation. Once the trainee becomes an airman, they no longer have to salute TI's or other enlisted ranks.
To sum it up, for basic training:
- If you were requested (or ordered), your reporting statement is, "Sir (or Ma'am), Trainee Jones reports as ordered."
- If it's you initiating the conversation, your reporting statement is, "Sir (or Ma'am), Trainee Jones reports."
- Use the reporting statement only as your first words during a single conversation.
- Always use the honorific "Sir" or "Ma'am" when reporting.
- When reporting, you are always at the position of attention.
- If the situation requires a salute, salute first, hold it, and make your reporting statement. Continue holding the salute until the superior returns it.
- Reporting to a TI in his/her office is the same as the basic reporting procedures used above (with the exception of using the title "trainee" instead of rank).