Priors who go to OCS
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  1. #1

    Priors who go to OCS

    If any Marines are interested in going to OCS, I just want to give a little information.

    There were a few prior enlisted guys in my platoon at OCS. We had 3 Lance Corporals (Infantry, Military Police, and I forget what the last was... he was a 92-day reservist and hadn't been to MOS school yet); a Corporal (Motor -T); A Sergeant (Artillery - 1 deployment); and a Staff Sergeant (Reconnaissance Marine, interestingly he was music before he made recon.)

    It is important to remember, every comparison I make is not validated by my own experience. I have never been to Boot Camp. My sister has, and the priors have. My knowledge of the experience at Boot Camp is from their accounts and from information available online and elsewhere.

    To begin:

    OCS receiving is much less dramatic. Candidates all arrive via different sources of transportation. There is no bus and there are no yellow footprints. We are not recieved by Drill Instructors. We are moved in a herd from place to place by NCO handlers. We are assigned our Company and Platoon and are grouped accordingly. Our in-processing takes 5 days. We recieve all of our 782 gear, our utility uniforms, large bag issue, small bag issue, etc. Things are very lackadasical; there is no discipline. The process has not begun and it does not feel real. In this stage you are required to pass medical and earn a 1st class PFT (225+). Those who do not earn a 1st class PFT are given one more chance the next day to do so. If they fail to earn a 1st class PFT, they are sent home. There is no PCP. If you're not physically qualified, you are dropped.

    After those 5 days, everyone who remains is administratively joined to OCS and will undergo pick-up. At OCS, pick up consists of a speech given by the Battalion Commander, the presentation of our staff, followed by a return to the squadbays. The Batalion Commander, for my OCS class, asked that we all put forth maximum effort for 4 weeks and evaluate if this is what we truly want to do. (You can quit OCS after 4 weeks. It makes for an entirely different feeling according to the priors.) Here is the first important distinction between OCS and Boot Camp. OCS is about finding out who among the candidates will be capable of leading Marines in stressful situations and sending home those who cannot. The attrition rate is very high; historically around 36%. Those who decide they do not want to are encouraged to get the hell out. Those who just can't cut it are sent home. Obviously, at Boot Camp, the fastest way out is to graduate. You're there to be turned into a Marine.

    Upon the return to the squadbays, Candidates meet their instructors. Instructors at OCS are referred to as Sergeant Instructors, not Drill Instructors. They are all former Drill Instructors. We do not have a Senior, a kill hat, or a drill hat. We have a Platoon Sergeant, and two Sergeant Instructors. My Platoon's Instructors and Platoon Sergeant were all Gunnery Sergeants.

    At pick up we learn that our new vocabulary will be this candidate, these candidates, those candidates, as well as yes (rank), no (rank), and aye aye (rank). This is another big distinction from Boot Camp. When an Instructor speaks to us, we respond with his rank; not with Sir. However, at Pick up, priors said things pretty much acted out exactly as they did at Boot Camp. Everything is done by the numbers and counted down. At 1, it would be DONE GUNNERY SERGEANT DONE! Commands would elicit, "TAKE THE SQUAD BAY AYE GUNNERY SERGEANT!, "READY", then the response, "READY", response, "MOVE", response and carry out the order.

    Anyways, the first week mirrors Boot Camp except that we have no Indivual Incentive Training. We're told the philosphy behind this is that OCS is not about instilling discipline; those who do not follow orders will simply be sent home. So, this makes getting called out pretty anti-climatic once you adjust to the yelling. However our instructors still made plenty use of Platoon-wide Incentive Training. This was utilized for creating stress and forcing teamwork. The Platoon wide Incentive Training came more into play as the Instructors backed off.

    After the first week or two (my memory is fuzzy,) Candidates run the show. We all know the daily schedule. Sergeant Instructors no longer march the platoon from location to location. Sergeant Instructors no longer tell us the gear we need, nor do they run our Daily Basic Routine, nor our morning routine (unless they felt they needed to do those things as a punishment, because of a lack of cohesion or lack of overall discipline.) Candidates are placed in billets from Fire Team leader all the way to Company Commander. The Candidate Platoon Sergeant bears most of the responsibility for running the Platoon, while the Candidate Platoon Commander gets most of the trouble if the Platoon Sergeant screws up. Candidate Squad Leaders and the Candidate Guide enforce the Candidate Platoon Sergeant's Commands and maintain Platoon discipline.
    At the Company level, Candidate Company Staff ensures the entire Company gets from place to place on time; ensures the Company has the proper gear; ensures all Rifles are accounted for; ensures that the Candidate Platoon staff from each Platoon is doing their job. Formation, with the exception of the first two weeks, is done b Candidates.

    This (and physical fitness), according to the priors, is the biggest difference between OCS and Boot Camp. At OCS, you're expected to be able to run everything and make sure everyone is prepared for training and evaluation while the Instructors berate you. Everyone gets a chance in a billet and it is very clear which Candidates are strong leaders and which ones are not. Being a poor leader will get you sent home in a heartbeat. I cannot count how many times I personally witnessed that happen.


    The other major difference, again, according to the priors is physical fitness.
    (Just for reference, I had a 270 as my initial PFT score heading into OCS with my worst run time in months.)
    We do not have PT every morning. However, to put into perspective; the PFT and CFT were BY FAR the easiest physical days we had at OCS. Every PT session involving a run was more than 3 miles and typically run at better than **officially** a 7 minute pace. (I went into OCS able to run 3 miles in 21 minutes and change and left OCS able to run in the 19's and I was more than sucking wind with every run, so that 7 minute figure IMO is inaccurate.) There were many many times that we ran 4 or 5 miles at better than a 6 minute pace. We do not divide into rabbits, turtles, and medium. Every time you fall out of a run, you are given a physical fitness failure. (We have total scores based upon all of our evaluations at OCS. Average below an 80 in any category and you are sent to a board to be dropped.) The categories broke down as follows, Physical fitness (25% of the total), Academics (25% of the total), and Leadership (50% of the total.) Our physical fitness events included:

    The Endurance Course (hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life.) 33 minutes for a 100 -- a perfect score, 43 minutes to obtain an 80 -- a passing score. (Failing the endurance course is an automatic board and likely, being dropped from OCS.) I scored a 41:24

    The Obstacle Course. 2 minutes for an 80, 1 minute for a 100.

    The 9 - mile hike. (Pass/Fail) If you failed, the 12 mile hike was your chance to pass OCS.

    There is much more, but I found a site that covers PT extensively, so I'm gonna cut this section short and post the link. Here it is:
    http://manlypat.wordpress.com/2009/0...raining-guide/


    We also recieve liberty every weekend after the first 4 weeks. Liberty was probably the best and worst thing about OCS to me. Being allowed outside of the training environment for 26 hours or so allowed you to think about how much things suck and get you out of your routine. Being able to quit makes it that much harder to come back after you get to relax. It really changes the entire feeling of training. It also gives you time to rest your bodyand get things done; like laundry and uniform prep for inspections.

    I hope this helps any Marine considering OCS.

    To simplify; from the priors:

    OCS is harder physically, easier mentally. There are more expectations of you at OCS than at Boot Camp but you're not punished nearly as harshly.

    As far as calling one harder or easier overall or in any category; I cannot make that call because I have not been to both. Those comparisons were made by priors in my platoon not by me.

    That is all.


  2. #2
    typo! Supposed to read 'formations are done by candidates.' Not, 'done b candidates.'


  3. #3
    josephd
    Guest Free Member
    great thread/post...

    a few friends of mine are Lt.'s and they have been through both OCS and boot, they have both said OCS is harder by a long shot. At bootcamp you know whats expected of you everyday and as long as you move fast, sound off, and do what you need you need to do its easy (relatively). But OCS depending on you billet at that time you are expected to lead and carry people on to of the physical aspect.

    I had my package set up to go to OCS this next year but I don't have the motivation to finish school this year. Would rather go on deployment and do my enlisted time and go from there.


  4. #4
    Marine Free Member Wyoming's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by josephd View Post
    great thread/post...

    a few friends of mine are Lt.'s and they have been through both OCS and boot, they have both said OCS is harder by a long shot. At bootcamp you know whats expected of you everyday and as long as you move fast, sound off, and do what you need you need to do its easy (relatively). But OCS depending on you billet at that time you are expected to lead and carry people on to of the physical aspect.

    I had my package set up to go to OCS this next year but I don't have the motivation to finish school this year. Would rather go on deployment and do my enlisted time and go from there.
    Interesting. You would rather bartend.

    Nothing against bartenders, as they are some of my best friends, but your lack of motivation now, can, and most probably will, carry over.

    Your LT friends, trust me, they are going on a different path. You are not on it, nor can you join in their reindeer games.


  5. #5
    josephd
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigAlHolmes165 View Post
    Interesting. You would rather bartend.

    Nothing against bartenders, as they are some of my best friends, but your lack of motivation now, can, and most probably will, carry over.

    Your LT friends, trust me, they are going on a different path. You are not on it, nor can you join in their reindeer games.
    hahaha no I would not rather bartend, I am not doing that anymore either...I havent changed my profile since I first came here.

    As long as everything goes well, I will be getting deployed here this winter.

    I just see the responsibilities they have as Lt.'s and that is not something I want.


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by josephd View Post
    I just see the responsibilities they have as Lt.'s and that is not something I want.
    At least you're an honest Marine. Too many people today assume they can be both enlisted and officers, or they assume that because they went to college that they should become officers.

    Being an officer is simply not for everyone.


  7. #7
    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    I got pestered all through my military career (Marine and Air Guard) to become an officer. They just couldn't understand that I really liked being an NCO. I could have done the job, I didn't want to deal with the side BS that went along with it.


    NCO: YOU FRICKIN' SH*THEAD! GET YER SORRY AZZ OVER HERE!

    Officer: PFC, report over here.


    NCO: AIN'T NO FRICKIN' WAY THAT SH*T IS GONNA PLAY WITH ME!

    Officer: I'm afraid it cannot be done that way.


    NCO: F*CK YOU!

    Officer: I'm frightfully sorry, but no.


  8. #8
    Nice post UMD. I assume you just went through OCS as well as you described the latest pick up (no more dump your junk on the parade deck...). I just wanted to add one thing with regards to priors at OCS.

    The main thing I saw with priors at OCS were academics and attitude. First, it may surprise some that priors would struggle with academics, but some did. A lot of what you learn at OCS are the very basics and is either easily forgotten from recruit training, or is very different from the Fleet. For example, you would think that every Marine would get high scores at the weapons handling exam. Negative. Some of the Marines got very low scores as a buddy of mine (a prior AD Sgt. WITH a few tours in Iraq) did this current class. He likely wasn't wrong...just the stuff they have you do at OCS is very Barney style. My advice is to study the knowledge as if you had never seen it before in your life. My Plt Sgt. told one prior that failing academics was one of the number one problems for priors at OCS.

    Second, some priors can run into attitude problems. I will say that a NCO style of leadership is encouraged while holding billet positions, but some priors run into problems by running the show as if they're a DI...when they're not. Sometimes this is bad, but if you're a PFC or LCpl with little other experience other than recruit training, often times yelling without a solution will not put you into much favor with your peers (and there are peer evals which can boot you out). We had two priors kicked out of our platoon at OCS (both Corporals). One quit (he was older, was out of the Corps, and had a job and family and didn't want to take the flak...) the other was very nasty. He didn't belong there to be honest. Other priors that I know got kicked out were dropped for integrity reasons. One skipped obstacles during the E course, another got caught steeling money. As the OP said, integrity is everything...Marine or not...don't be an idiot.

    Lastly, and this might surprise some as well. Some priors (although, I don't know of any getting dropped for this reason...) struggled with PT. The standards are high at OCS. Many of the guys in our plt were scoring in the 290+ range. While OCS has shifted more from running to Cross Fit/combat fitness type workouts, the bottom line is you still got to be in great shape. I hear that at the current class, there is a prior Hat that fell out of the initial 4 mile hump and the Fartleks. From what I hear from the guys in his platoon, his attitude is lacking as well...like I said spotlighting candidates (without any solution to the problem) like a DI will not win you any points with candidates or staff. I'd be surprised if he made it.

    IMHO, priors will either excel or not do so well (with the overwhelming majority excelling). By default, everyone looks up to the priors and as well they should. The best priors were the ones that showed that they could lead and provide the non-priors the knowledge they learned from the Fleet or Recruit Training. Leadership styles will always be different. One prior in my platoon was a LCpl infantry reservist who was locked on in every way. We looked up to him because he was the epitome of the leadership traits. Another, and one of my closest friends, was a prior active duty Sgt. He joked around a bit more, but he always got the job done...and when he struggled...he put in the effort. We looked up to him, because we overall admired his personality. He was that guy that would do anything for you, and you would do the same for him in return.

    Anyways, I hope this helps those priors going to OCS. I have many enlisted friends looking to go down the officer route (some in cycle now) and I told them the exact same thing!

    R/s,

    Geagles.


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by UMDStudent24 View Post

    To simplify; from the priors:

    OCS is harder physically, easier mentally. There are more expectations of you at OCS than at Boot Camp but you're not punished nearly as harshly.
    I disagree with this. While the PT is definitely much more demanding at OCS, you are not getting slayed by the Sergeant Instructors all the time, like you are at Recruit Training. If you get away from the structured PT, it was much easier physically.

    Mentally it is much more difficult, because there is the fear of always getting dropped. At Recruit Training you will pass. As long as you don't quit on yourself, you will keep getting recycled until you graduate. At OCS, you **** off the wrong Sergeant Instructor and get a couple chits, your done, don't pass Go, don't collect $200, just get on the plane and head home.

    I remember going through the chow line and telling one of my buddies from another platoon that I had just found out my wife was pregnant, he smiled, and a Sergeant Instructor saw him, then accused me of smiling. When I said I didn't, I was called an integrity violator and got a chit for it. This was like the second week of training and I thought for sure I was getting kicked out for it. That screws with your head much more than any DI yelling at you and throwing a foot locker around.

    Also, I would go as far as to say the punishments, while not physical in nature mess you up more than any IT would do. In boot camp I was in a fairly small platoon, (I think we graduated 45ish) and thus had firewatch just about every night. I still got at least 6 hours of sleep most nights. At OCS, I was lucky to get 4 or 5.

    Finally...the PLCers..having to go back for 6 more weeks, holy crap, sucks for them...

    Anyways, thats just my .02, from someone who's been to both OCS and Boot Camp.


  10. #10
    Sergeant,

    I will agree with the mental aspect of worrying about being dropped driving you crazy. I remember that on the first gear inspection, I did not have my poncho liner. (A candidate one rack down from me had two, but didn't notice this until a couple of days later.) This was sometime during the first week and one of my Sergeant Instructors called me forward and lit me up. He told me he would never let me become an Officer of Marines since I couldn't even keep track of my own gear. He proceeded to tell me how I was an absolute piece of ****.
    After that point I was constantly worried that I was going home. That drove me crazy, and I will agree on the lack of sleep. The only time I ever had more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep was weeks 8, 9, and 10.

    As for the rest of it, you're probably more accurate in your comparisons than I am considering that you have gone to both.


  11. #11
    Geagles,

    Almost exactly, that was my experience with priors as well.

    Also, I went this past summer for PLC-C. I was Bravo Company.

    I also see you're from Annapolis; I went to Severna Park High School, so I'd say we're pretty much from the same area. Small world. What office did you contract out of?


  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by UMDStudent24 View Post
    Geagles,

    Almost exactly, that was my experience with priors as well.

    Also, I went this past summer for PLC-C. I was Bravo Company.

    I also see you're from Annapolis; I went to Severna Park High School, so I'd say we're pretty much from the same area. Small world. What office did you contract out of?
    Ah you bravo bastards lol...still thinking of the big pugil stick bout. I was the first fight, and you might remember, but I was the one that our DI made go warm up against the tree...lol.

    Yeah, I grew up there, but really spent most of my time near the DC area. Went to Gonzaga HS. But my place in Annapolis was right off Spa creek and the bridge. I contracted out of the Fairfax OSS. I assume you were Hyattsville under Capt. P.? When's your comm date? Both our OSSs are doing an event at the O course at Ft. Meade next month. I might be there. Anyways, it's nice being done ain't it?!


  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by DIBLO7 View Post
    I disagree with this. While the PT is definitely much more demanding at OCS, you are not getting slayed by the Sergeant Instructors all the time, like you are at Recruit Training. If you get away from the structured PT, it was much easier physically.

    Mentally it is much more difficult, because there is the fear of always getting dropped. At Recruit Training you will pass. As long as you don't quit on yourself, you will keep getting recycled until you graduate. At OCS, you **** off the wrong Sergeant Instructor and get a couple chits, your done, don't pass Go, don't collect $200, just get on the plane and head home.

    I remember going through the chow line and telling one of my buddies from another platoon that I had just found out my wife was pregnant, he smiled, and a Sergeant Instructor saw him, then accused me of smiling. When I said I didn't, I was called an integrity violator and got a chit for it. This was like the second week of training and I thought for sure I was getting kicked out for it. That screws with your head much more than any DI yelling at you and throwing a foot locker around.

    Also, I would go as far as to say the punishments, while not physical in nature mess you up more than any IT would do. In boot camp I was in a fairly small platoon, (I think we graduated 45ish) and thus had firewatch just about every night. I still got at least 6 hours of sleep most nights. At OCS, I was lucky to get 4 or 5.

    Finally...the PLCers..having to go back for 6 more weeks, holy crap, sucks for them...

    Anyways, thats just my .02, from someone who's been to both OCS and Boot Camp.
    Yeah I'll agree here as well. While I am not a prior, I did do a "mini OCS" wknd where IT was allowed. In fact, one of my OCS plt sgt's told me that the mini OCS wknd was similar to how they trained recruits at the RDs. That being said, those 3 days of mini OCS were much more physically demanding than real OCS. Getting IT'ed sucks and it sure works. It instills discipline FAST.

    The PT at OCS was not all that bad especially since they moved away from the "run you into the dirt" philosophy. PT was what like 4x a week and most of the time it was your avg 3-4 mile Fartlek. PT was a strong point for me (298 PFT), but I still think that provided you're in decent shape and trained beforehand that most shouldn't fail because of PT. If you're under the 250 mark, you might struggle...but I've seen other guys do it...the mind is a powerful asset!

    The mental game is what makes or breaks you at OCS. This is what got a lot of the priors. Pick up and the first few weeks of OCS in terms of intensity are not as bad compared to boot (from what the priors tell me). Yeah they yell at you, kick around your trash, etc. but if you've been there before it should all be familiar. However, the same priors that were saying how "easy" it was were the same ones at week 6 scared sh*tless whether they'd be there another week. The fear of getting dropped is a complete mindf*ck. Even liberty is part of that game. No doubt, having liberty is a complete luxury compared to our enlisted counterparts, but it is still a certain part of the evaluation. It tests to see how you handle your free time. Many guys got dropped for getting sloppy drunk on liberty and come back failing the academics exam or PT stuff, etc. As one DI told me afterwards, they pay attention to everything...who's the first guy out the door when liberty sounds, etc. It really isn't easy switching from "liberty" mode back to training mode in the matter of 24 hrs (less really).

    I think prior or non prior it's one of those things you can't really explain till you're there. I told our poolees before they shipped last month that there WILL be that point where you are going to want to quit (and you can). Well everyone laughs it off, but come this first liberty, and I got multiple calls saying oh my god, this sh*t is miserable! Goes to show you...for those poolees looking to go to RT or OCS, train hard and study now...it'll make your life just a little bit better as you go through the evaluation process.


  14. #14
    I think I was there the same time as ya'll, though I was over in in the trailers with Golf Company.


  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by DIBLO7 View Post
    I think I was there the same time as ya'll, though I was over in in the trailers with Golf Company.
    That's rough...lol, that was like 1.5 mi route step just to get to the chow hall!! Golf Co. was MECEP/bulldog right? Or that might have been India? Can't remember.


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