Choosing Your First Officer Base/Assignment

I received the following comment on a post and I thought it would be beneficial for all to hear.

"Being that you have been active duty for a while, what things do you look for when deciding what your base choices would be?  For example, my wife and I thought that proximity to family, quality, etc would be important."

This is a really tough question to answer because it really depends on what your priorities are, what career field you are in (or going in to), and what you want to do with your career.  I will start by talking through some of the things I thought about over the years.  I will separate this by enlisted vs. officer because the process or approach taken should be treated very differently for each.

My Enlisted Base Experience

When you first enlist you write down eight base choices available for your career field, but that is basically the extent of your personal influence on the situation.  Once you submit your eight choices you are at the mercy of the available quotas outlined by AFPC.  The basic criteria of these choices are PCS timeline, quotas (slots available) and rank.  I submitted my eight choices for my first base but I ended up getting a base that wasn't on my list.  If you are enlisted there are ways you can get a pretty good idea of the manning at each of the bases you are interested in and that can help you with getting the assignment you want.  I didn't figure this out until several years into my career.

Since my first base chose me (instead of the other way around), I didn't really think about where I wanted to go.  Once I got there, I began to realize there are a few factors which directly relate to your quality of life at that base.  Here are a few I learned from my earlier assignments.

Toward the later part of my career I married my beautiful wife and had a few kids, so my priorities changed.  By this time I knew what I wanted for city size, I knew how close I wanted to live by my parents and I was fairly familiar with the missions across the Air Force.  Here are a few other factors which began to play a role in my PCS decisions.
Other Remarks

I am slightly hesitant with doing this post because I don't think it is right to nitpick your assignment or dread an assignment because it wasn't what you were expected (or didn't provide what you thought was important to you.)  Here are some tips which I have employed over the years to have the best assignments.  I can wholeheartedly say every assignment I have had was better than all previous.
Officer Assignments

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