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  1. #1

    2nd Lts

    "August 13, 2004
    2nd Lieutenants; Invaluable Assets


    by Master GySgt. Billy Stewart
    Special to HH News


    Imagine that you are hard at work in your shop or company area. The NCO in charge has every Marine focused and turned to. Suddenly, everything gets quiet. You could hear a pin drop. Every Marine stops and looks towards the hatch. Standing there with a briefcase stands a new 2nd Lieutenant dressed in the Service Alpha Uniform. The young officer is sporting two shooting badges and the National Defense Ribbon. The Lieutenant politely asks where the current officer-in-charge is, and makes his/her way to their office. Hence, the scuttlebutt begins.

    The chatter sounds like a bunch of senior citizens at a bingo parlor (not that I don't like that sound). Everyone has something to say. First, there are the wise cracks, closely followed by comments like "does the lieutenant's mother know he's playing Marine?" or "The lieutenant looks like she is still in high school." Next, reality sets in, and the enlisted Marines begin to sweat profusely. All they can imagine is the constant running up and down an array of hills and trails in full combat gear, followed by a weapon's class, some type of PME, or a land navigation exercise. Over in the corner sits the Gunny with a glazed over stare. He knows what's in store for him. The new 2nd Lieutenant will bombard him with so many questions during the next year, he will think that he is a contestant on "Jeopardy." While this description is of the humorous nature, my experience tells me that most Marines do not know the value of 2nd Lieutenants and how much intestinal fortitude it takes to earn a commission as a Marine Officer. After you read my column, I believe you will think twice before taking a 2nd Lieutenant for granted.

    I base my experience with 2nd Lieutenants from my personal career, but more so from a 4-year tour at Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), Iowa State University coupled with a subsequent cycle at Officer Candidates School (OCS). It was here that I served as the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor (AMOI), and as a Platoon Sergeant respectively. For those that do not know, a Platoon Sergeant at OCS is equivalent to a Senior Drill Instructor at enlisted recruit training. My responsibility as an AMOI entailed preparing midshipmen/candidates for commissioning, to successfully complete OCS, or better yet, putting them through OCS at Quantico during the summer months. So what? I am sure you're still wondering, what is so great about a 2nd Lieutenant? In my opinion, the best words to describe the average 2nd Lieutenant is "highly trained, mentally and physically hard, and extremely dedicated to making a difference." I will discuss and describe each of these adjectives and allow you to develop your own opinion about the mysterious "2nd Lieutenant."

    Stating that a 2nd Lieutenant is highly trained would be a gross understatement. Marine Officers begin their careers with more training than any other officer in the United States Armed Forces. First and foremost, all 2nd Lieutenants have a 4-year college degree or are close to completing one. Some programs allow officers subsequent time to complete their degrees. Meeting an officer these days without a completed degree is very rare. In addition, officers must finish their bachelor's degree before they compete for augmentation. Aside from all officers commissioned at the United States Naval Academy, all 2nd Lieutenants have completed OCS. OCS is negotiated in a number of different ways. Depending on the commissioning program, the OCS evolution can be completed in one 10-week session, two 6-week sessions, or one 6-week session if coming from a NROTC Unit. Following OCS, all officers must attend The Officer Basic School (TBS) in Quantico. TBS is 6 months long and trains the 2nd Lieutenant in all aspects of being a Marine Corps Officer, and Rifle Platoon Commander. Finally, following TBS, the 2nd Lieutenants make their way to their respective MOS School. This could range from a 3-month average to well over a year if the Marine is attending flight school. This explains why pilots sometimes check in as 1st Lieutenants. So by the time you see that 2nd Lieutenant in your shop, close to one year of training has been invested. Highly trained? I think so. To successfully complete the training mentioned above, a 2nd Lieutenant must possess physical and mental toughness.

    To compare the mental and physical requirements of Marine Recruit Training and OCS would be like comparing a five-mile run to a marathon. OCS is clearly more challenging than boot camp will ever be. That might disappoint some enlisted Marines, but it is true. Just ask any prior enlisted officer and they will confirm it. While I don't have enough time to describe every event during OCS, I can offer some key factors that will prove my opinion. Unlike boot camp, virtually all physical activity and training (PT) is conducted wearing combat boots and carrying some type of gear. This could range from full packs to load bearing vests, helmets, and rifles. About 75% of PT is done with a rifle. This presents one of the most challenging concepts, since all PT courses are built around combat conditioning and leadership.

    If that isn't enough, OCS has been running their version of the crucible well before the enlisted version was ever thought about. The name of this event is the Small Unit Leader Evaluation II (SULE II). This is where every Marine in the squad is evaluated while giving an operational order and leading an assault. Sounds easy? This event last 2 days and is mostly up and down hills. The only break the candidates receive is the chance to run 4 miles every few hours down and back to the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC) to be evaluated solving team orientated obstacles. Of course, add in the normal sleep and food deprivation and you end up with an interesting quagmire. Are they mentally and physically tough? Again, I think so. Just think, after OCS, 2nd Lieutenants go to TBS and run the same type of PT courses for an additional six months. Although 2nd Lieutenants are tough, it is not my favorite quality. The reason I like 2nd Lieutenants is because of their dedication to making a difference.

    When a 2nd Lieutenant checks in everything becomes new again. The basic Marine concepts are resurrected through the vigor of gold bars. Unlike the private, the 2nd Lieutenant has more opportunity to lead, set policy, and train the Marines under his or her charge. Most often, that is why each lieutenant joins the Marine Corps. The overriding of all of these reasons is the chance to lead and influence. The 2nd Lieutenant represents what the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) wants in our leaders. The CMC desires warriors that are dedicated to lead and train Marines professionally, physically, mentally, tactically, and technically. Each 2nd Lieutenant has a fire burning inside of them to make a difference; a flame of dedication. They must possess it! How else could a Marine endure over a year's worth of intense training if they were lacking dedication? This is the reason why young officers desire the basics for their Marines. While each 2nd Lieutenant yearns to be technically proficient, they also know that developing Marines in other areas is paramount to achieving total success. We all could take a lesson from this. Their basic priorities should motivate and cause others to rededicate. I have yet to meet a 2nd Lieutenant that did not want to better the Corps through dedicated service.

    I have told you what I like about 2nd Lieutenants. There is no way I could ever write everything I want to say about young officers in this article. However, I can say that they are our Corps' future, just as a Marine Private is. Both are the blood transfusion that keeps us alive and able to sustain. When your see young lieutenants, pick their brain a little. Ask them about "The Quigly, The Endurance Course, or Fartlek Hill." I'm sure you will receive an eager and heart felt explanation. Remember, 2nd Lieutenants are "highly trained, mentally and physically hard, and extremely dedicated to making a difference." Just take a moment to see what they are doing in support of Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom. If you challenge them, they won't need to step up, most will be waiting for you and chomping at the bit. I guarantee it.

    Semper Fi.

    Master GySgt. Billy Stewart"

    Nice article! Found it on MarineOCS.com


  2. #2
    Am I suppose to fall to the ground prostrate for you and 2nd Lt's and be ashamed that I went through Recruit Training instead of a "harder" OCS? What was the point of this??? I would bet my life, quite literally, that a salty combat vet Lance knows a hell of a lot more about leadership or anything related to the Corps or combat than a boot Lt.

    Last edited by RYDERKUR; 09-23-08 at 10:01 PM. Reason: Additional thought

  3. #3
    Just an article Lance Corporal. I'm not an officer, and meant no hostility. These are not my words, I just thought it was a good read.


  4. #4
    Marine Free Member sparkie's Avatar
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    The article ignored the real training,,,,Just as it takes an NCO a year to 'grow up' a Private, it takes Staff/Gunny a year to 'grow up' a 2ndLT.


  5. #5
    ryderkur, I usually agree with most of the comments you make on this blog but this last comment of yours has got to be sh*t ass stupid. I think he did Poolees a favor by posting this.

    UMDstudent24, thanks for this article. I am sure this will help potential Officers to be more focused on their goal.


  6. #6
    Thanks Sergeant.

    I posted it because I've always seen a lot of hostility towards officers from the service members I've known: (My brother and his friends from DINFOS, for example; my sister's recruiters, practically every enlisted person I've ever met that my father worked with while he was active, etc.)
    I've heard so many stories about the dumb-a$$ butter bar who thinks he is God's gift to the Marine Corps/Air Force/Army; as well as stories of the officer who thought he was better than everyone else or treated his subordinates poorly or etc.

    There are always going to be people like that; particularly when they're in a position where power can be abused. I figured, not every officer can that terrible, and often times a lot of recollections become exaggerated. It seemed to me, from what I heard, that the malice for officers often stemmed from the belief that they have it easy; that they took the easy road while the enlisted took the hard path. So, I was curious how many of those people know what the officers went through to get where they are, and when I saw this article, I thought it was a good write-up about that particular path.

    Again, I apologize to anyone the article offends.


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sparkie View Post
    The article ignored the real training,,,,Just as it takes an NCO a year to 'grow up' a Private, it takes Staff/Gunny a year to 'grow up' a 2ndLT.
    What is the difference between a PFC and a 2ndLT?The PFC has been promoted once.LOL


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by amarine0311 View Post
    ryderkur, I usually agree with most of the comments you make on this blog but this last comment of yours has got to be sh*t ass stupid. I think he did Poolees a favor by posting this.

    UMDstudent24, thanks for this article. I am sure this will help potential Officers to be more focused on their goal.
    Sergeant, I apologize, but for some reason this article strikes the wrong chord with me. It may be informative, which it probably is, but the tone and style it is written, irks me. I understand it was written by an enlisted man also, but like I say, something about it just lit my fire. Anyways, if people can take something away from it than very well. Semper Fi...


  9. #9
    UMDStudent24- Thank you for posting this. I'm hoping to try to get through NROTC myself so this was very encouraging.

    With no disrespect intended towards any Marines on here, to be honest I've found much less encouraging materiel on here for Officer hopefuls than I have for enlisted men (which is of course no surprise, because the majority of people on here are enlisted). Not that I haven't found any at all, there's definitely still been some very helpful information on here. But after hearing an ex-Army friend of mine chew up 2nd Lt.'s and talk about all the negative things about them it's encouraging to hear something positive .

    -Aitrus



  10. #10
    As Sgt Sparkie said, it ignores the real training. Yes they get more formal training, its harder physically and mentally. Our old XO was a mustang, and we were at the armory once, he is a 2nd LT. He said the training at OCS was "ridiculously harder than boot camp." But what you said was pretty off center.


  11. #11
    Platoon Leader Platinum Member jinelson's Avatar
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    There was a time when I was the biggest basher of butter bars that there was. Until a butter bar who was in my estimation and my Marines minds the dumbest idiot ever to wear our uniform saved our lives. He was a boot S-4 Officer and me and my Marines addressed him as Skipper from then on. I rotated back home and I never saw him again but I have never forgotten 2nd Lt Earl Beaushane USMCR.

    Jim


    Last edited by jinelson; 09-24-08 at 12:34 PM.
    No better friend/No worse enemy


  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by RYDERKUR View Post
    Sergeant, I apologize, but for some reason this article strikes the wrong chord with me. It may be informative, which it probably is, but the tone and style it is written, irks me. I understand it was written by an enlisted man also, but like I say, something about it just lit my fire. Anyways, if people can take something away from it than very well. Semper Fi...
    The article kind of irked me too, given that it's written by a Master Guns... he kind of gives off the vibe that he wants to bend over some butter bars and make love to em the rest of his life. I especially liked this quote "When a 2nd Lieutenant checks in everything becomes new again." In other words, he/she tries to reinvent the wheel and p***** everyone off in the process. If the LT is so "highly trained" why in the **** would he be bothering the Gunny for the next friggin year. So.... basically it takes 2 whole years to train an LT?

    Sounds like the MGuns wants to brag about himself too. You're right, the tone is off, and he gives the perception that the enlisted really don't know/do/or train for S***. I guess the Enlisted can get bagged on every once in a while, lord knows Officers are always getting bagged on.

    well there's my two cents... rant over!


  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Aitrus View Post
    UMDStudent24- Thank you for posting this. I'm hoping to try to get through NROTC myself so this was very encouraging.

    With no disrespect intended towards any Marines on here, to be honest I've found much less encouraging materiel on here for Officer hopefuls than I have for enlisted men (which is of course no surprise, because the majority of people on here are enlisted). Not that I haven't found any at all, there's definitely still been some very helpful information on here. But after hearing an ex-Army friend of mine chew up 2nd Lt.'s and talk about all the negative things about them it's encouraging to hear something positive .

    -Aitrus
    The information you're looking for can likely be found on MarineOCS.com.


  14. #14
    In my eyes they are really just overpaid Privates for the first year.


  15. #15
    Marine Free Member jrhd97's Avatar
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    We had a butter bar take over our platoon. He didn't know the ropes ,or what and how LAR worked, but he tried hard to learn. He honestly listened to Gunny and the First Sgt. as well as his NCO's. Sure he made some boot mistakes, but who hasn't? He was turning out to better than the 1Lt he replaced. The man could pt the hell out of us.


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