Pre-Commissioning (ROTC, OCS, West Point) Questions and Answers

Marauder06

Intel Enabler
Verified SOF
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
11,200
Location
CONUS
I've received quite a few emails and PMs from people asking questions related to ROTC, OCS, West Point, the commissioning process, and specific branches. The questions have been focused and well-researched, and I'm always glad to talk to aspiring officers, but much of my information about pre-commissioning and what young LTs need to know is 16+ years old. I'm starting this thread so people who have questions about pre-commissioning programs can ask them here and have them answered by people whose information is a bit more current.

Ground rules: If you want to ask a question here, no problem, just keep in mind that most of the members here will expect you to do your own research first, to communicate effectively and concisely, and to otherwise act like the officer you aspire to be. If you're responding to a question asked about a pre-commissioning program, please restrict your response to factual, current (i.e. what's happening "now," not what you saw happen years ago) and accurate information.

A bit later I'll post up some of the questions I've been asked in the past and see if anyone has any input.
 

yarles87

Verified Military
Joined
Jun 17, 2010
Messages
32
Location
WY
I'm recently commissioned - USMC. I've got a good deal of gouge on the various commissioning programs in the Corps through my personal experiences and through helping out the Officer Selection Office. I have some knowledge on NSW commissioning programs as well, as my roommate recently went through that process. I'm more than happy to help and give some info back to these boards, as I've received a lot of knowledge from SS. 'Rah
 

Marauder06

Intel Enabler
Verified SOF
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
11,200
Location
CONUS
Okay everyone, this is supposed to be the thread that "helps" young or aspiring officers, the thread to "heckle" them is... well... every other thread.

Yarles, thanks for being the first one to post up in this thread, with the number of Marines and want-to-be-Marines on the site, I think your experience and willingness to share it will prove very useful.
 

rv808

Trying, with no luck.
Verified Military
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
171
Location
OCONUS again
It's been five years (gulp) since I finished Army OCS. It has changed alot since I attended (I swear my class was the last hard one =).
 

Marauder06

Intel Enabler
Verified SOF
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
11,200
Location
CONUS
Care to share anything about your OCS experiences? I'm very familiar with ROTC and West Point, but I know next to nothing about OCS.
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
SOF Support
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
16,432
Location
Not Afghanistan
And then there's the NG version of OCS which 99%+ of the NG guys have to attend....:(
 

rv808

Trying, with no luck.
Verified Military
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
171
Location
OCONUS again
Sir, it was 14 weeks of fun (especially after 9 weeks of basic. No liberty until week 11, and you actually could get recycled for failing something (I was so great a land nav, they put me in a later class just to verify my outstanding scores).

I entered when the Army was offering an 8k bonus for their zero to hero programs (civi to gentleman in 23 weeks). Sometime in early 2006, Congress decided it was illegal, and gave the option to hundreds of OCSers to get out of the Army for breach of contract on the gov't's part. This was at a time when the Army needed JOs bad. I remember going through OCS, and literally losing 1 person a day to this. Around week four (late April 2006) was when they could officially start getting chaptered with an honorable discharge. It seemed to just be a few at first that really wanted out, but as OCS got tougher , we were losing more. FF to Aug 2006, and when I finished, the Army had lost an entire OCS Company to that policy (~120 students).

As for the course. The first three weeks are in-processing, class and then train up for land nav week....week 4. This used to be the single largest attrition event for OCS. My class lost 30 percent (including me) to land nav alone. They included batt boys, Infantry, Engineers, admin, Navy, AF, and new Soldiers. Yankee North/South at FT Benning. Days ran from 0500 till 2200. Upon entering and leaving the DFAC for every meal, you would do as many pullups for whatever week you were in (3 pullups for week 3). PT was everyday, running M, W, and F with combatives on Tuesday and Thursday.

Weeks 5 and 6 were back in the classroom, learning about call for fire, rank structure, platoon operations, five paragraph OPORD, TLPs. Week 7 was the first FTX, and it put alot of what you learned into action. Crawl was the classroom, walk was FLX1, and the run phase is FLX 2 (evaluation time).

Weeks 8 and 9 were the Inspections, and the call for fire test (which was the second largest attrition event).

Weeks 10 and 11 is the second FTX, a lovely two weeks in the dirt. You were evaluated on your leadership for two events (squad leader, PSG or PL). If you had two GOs, you were good. A third was a make up if you failed one of them.

Weeks 11-14 were mostly cleaning up equipment, introduction to the "social" side of being an Officer, and a final PT test. The days are scaled back to 9 to 6.

For my class, it was about 80% graduation rate. People got recycled the day before graduation, back to day 1.
 

rv808

Trying, with no luck.
Verified Military
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
171
Location
OCONUS again
On a side note: tough and 80% graduation rate should never be used in the same post :cool:
 

moobob

Capsizing islands...
Verified Military
Joined
Jul 29, 2007
Messages
510
Location
murica
I'm submitting a green to gold application. I was accepted to USMAPS years ago, but didn't go through with it.
 

Marauder06

Intel Enabler
Verified SOF
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
11,200
Location
CONUS
I think Green to Gold is one of the best programs out there. :thumbsup: Steady paycheck while you're getting your degree, and a guaranteed job (i.e. commission) after? Hard to beat.
 

x SF med

the Troll
Verified SOF
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
10,841
Location
Not far from the south of Canada, 'Murica!
SSMP
SOF Mentor
On a side note: tough and 80% graduation rate should never be used in the same post :cool:

Thanks for the insight on the OCS side. I did ROTC/SMP back in the Day Civil War times per some of the smart asses around this place and got the HD from that to Enlist and go SF (as I was told by an SF SGM and SF MSG).
 

Totentanz

Civil Affairs
Verified SOF
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
Messages
1,638
Sir, I'll just add a few "more recent" comments (I graduated July 2009). The core of what you've posted hasn't changed, but just to fine tune it...

First thing - the course length has been reduced from 14 weeks to 12. That, along with the structure, may change/have changed with the deletion of BOLC II. We spent 6 weeks as junior candidates, 6 weeks as senior. Your description of weeks 1-6 sounds very similar to my experience - most of the shift I think occurred in the second half. Immediately after land nav (which was a solid kick in the balls) and switching over to senior at the end of week six, we headed to the field for three weeks with Sundays being recover days to return, run laundry, get a haircut, restock on field items, etc (usually on a mad blitz during a 3 or 4 hour pass to hit the PX). The last three weeks were history II, "officer and a gentleman" stuff, and outprocessing.

Although you could recycle for failing something, multiple opportunities were given to those who needed them (academic tests were an exception to that policy, two failures on the same test and you were an automatic recycle... multiple retests would result in the same, I think the limit was 3). The policy on FLX was that you had to have more than 50% gos, with a minimum of 3 evals (that said, if you got 2/2... cadre didn't bother with a 3rd eval).... but there were several candidates who were thrown more and more lanes because they were consistently racking up no-gos.

The only "tough" part of OCS I encountered was the intentionally-generated BS. But if you could play the game and navigate the BS, the commission was yours. It was more frustrating than it was difficult.

(caveat... as stated, I graduated two years ago. At that point in time, the Army was still hurting for company-grade officers. It's my understanding that between the coming drawdown, the surplus of candidates, the elimination of BOLC II, and a myriad of other factors that have changed since I went through, OCS may look vastly different from what I experienced)

Sir, it was 14 weeks of fun (especially after 9 weeks of basic. No liberty until week 11, and you actually could get recycled for failing something (I was so great a land nav, they put me in a later class just to verify my outstanding scores).

I entered when the Army was offering an 8k bonus for their zero to hero programs (civi to gentleman in 23 weeks). Sometime in early 2006, Congress decided it was illegal, and gave the option to hundreds of OCSers to get out of the Army for breach of contract on the gov't's part. This was at a time when the Army needed JOs bad. I remember going through OCS, and literally losing 1 person a day to this. Around week four (late April 2006) was when they could officially start getting chaptered with an honorable discharge. It seemed to just be a few at first that really wanted out, but as OCS got tougher , we were losing more. FF to Aug 2006, and when I finished, the Army had lost an entire OCS Company to that policy (~120 students).

As for the course. The first three weeks are in-processing, class and then train up for land nav week....week 4. This used to be the single largest attrition event for OCS. My class lost 30 percent (including me) to land nav alone. They included batt boys, Infantry, Engineers, admin, Navy, AF, and new Soldiers. Yankee North/South at FT Benning. Days ran from 0500 till 2200. Upon entering and leaving the DFAC for every meal, you would do as many pullups for whatever week you were in (3 pullups for week 3). PT was everyday, running M, W, and F with combatives on Tuesday and Thursday.

Weeks 5 and 6 were back in the classroom, learning about call for fire, rank structure, platoon operations, five paragraph OPORD, TLPs. Week 7 was the first FTX, and it put alot of what you learned into action. Crawl was the classroom, walk was FLX1, and the run phase is FLX 2 (evaluation time).

Weeks 8 and 9 were the Inspections, and the call for fire test (which was the second largest attrition event).

Weeks 10 and 11 is the second FTX, a lovely two weeks in the dirt. You were evaluated on your leadership for two events (squad leader, PSG or PL). If you had two GOs, you were good. A third was a make up if you failed one of them.

Weeks 11-14 were mostly cleaning up equipment, introduction to the "social" side of being an Officer, and a final PT test. The days are scaled back to 9 to 6.

For my class, it was about 80% graduation rate. People got recycled the day before graduation, back to day 1.
 

Totentanz

Civil Affairs
Verified SOF
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
Messages
1,638
Another comment: I honestly learned FAR more from living with/next-to former NCOs for 12 weeks, picking their brains, watching them react to situations (both FLX lanes and life in general in the Army), general life advice etc than I did from the course itself.
 

ben

Verified Military
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Centralia
USMC OCS Summer 2009, commissioned this Spring, and I am currently at TBS about 1/3 of the way through. If anyone has any questions feel free to shoot me a PM, but there's no telling how long it will take me to get around to answering it.
 

TH15

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2010
Messages
286
Location
Michigan
USMC OCS Summer 2009, commissioned this Spring, and I am currently at TBS about 1/3 of the way through. If anyone has any questions feel free to shoot me a PM, but there's no telling how long it will take me to get around to answering it.
Thanks Ben and congratulations. I'll PM you tonight or tomorrow with some questions.
 

tmroun01

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
Verified Military
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Messages
80
Location
Bluegrass State
Has anyone gone through ROTC, while getting their MBA or any other degree above BA and BS? Was their any differences in what was expected from you compared to the newly graduated high school ROTC guy?
 

x SF med

the Troll
Verified SOF
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
10,841
Location
Not far from the south of Canada, 'Murica!
SSMP
SOF Mentor
Has anyone gone through ROTC, while getting their MBA or any other degree above BA and BS? Was their any differences in what was expected from you compared to the newly graduated high school ROTC guy?

When I did the ROTC/SMP thing we had a couple of Master's guys and gals in the ROTC program there was no slack given. We also had Prior Service Enlisted guys... the staff expected even more from them.
 

Purple

Verified SOF
Joined
Jul 26, 2010
Messages
61
Location
Texas
I was a SSG(P) SF NCO when I went to OCS with 8.5 years of service. My sequence number for promotion to SFC came up while I was in OCS but I never pinned on the rank. I enjoyed my 14 weeks there immensely (especially the carrot cake, clean sheets, and a/c billets) and was an Honor Grad who qualified expert on all weapons. I was commissioned a 2LT of Infantry on 13 April 1979 - which happened to be Friday the 13th and Good Friday that year. :)

I would do it all again in a heart beat.

Purple
 
Top