Army Officer Candidate School

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog, and that’s because I’m held up in what my friends and I call “prison college.” We call it that, because it’s significantly better than basic training, we have our own college style dorm rooms, and are allowed some basic privileges like internet and phone access. The “prison” part stands being that we are still in a training environment and really have no control over what we are doing.

In general the atmosphere here is a lot better. We still get yelled at when we screw up, but the feedback is much better. They treat us like intelligent human beings and use those moments to teach us, where as at basic training it was used more to make us conform to authority of those above us. They are definitely catering to different audience here since the majority of basic training trainees aren’t ever going to be officers. Since all of us here will become officer’s there is a much bigger emphasis on understanding the context of what we are doing so that we will eventually be able to present a why what we do matters to our subordinates. Hopefully in that way we can motivate those soldiers under us to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

I didn’t know what to expect for OCS when I first got here, but I’ve settled in and gotten used to the expectations of the classes, training, and field exercises that make up our graduation requirements. I’ve learned a lot more about the history of this school and about some of the great Americans who have gone through. There are numerous generals, politicians, and public figures, including the likes of Bill Gates Sr., who have attended this school. Our class received a speech from the president of the OCS Alumni Society and then were shown several videos on the history and notable attendees. I can’t find the video of the the Hall of Fame Honorees, but the video below is a brief overview of the history up until this point.

While tasks can be frustrating and some people can be the same, those are the minority. On the whole there are some impressive people here. Academically there are people with master degrees, doctoral degrees, law degrees, and former college professors. Athletically there are former D1 and D2 athletes from basketball, wrestling, track, cross country, and baseball backgrounds. One Officer Candidate played professional basketball overseas in Europe and Australia. One was an All-American wrestler who made the Olympic trials. A lot of people have really high character and overall competency. It’s an awesome blessing to be able to be around a group of individuals like this that I get the privilege to call my classmates.

I’ve done a lot in my full 5 weeks here so far and still have 7 more weeks to go. One major thing we did was land navigation were we spent a week out in the field waking up out of our sleeping bags at 3am to start wandering through the woods with a grid map, 5 points, and a compass to try and find all 5 points. It was a grueling week and I tallied over 50 miles walking in three days, but I was able to pass on test day with 5 out 5 points! When we were assigned weapons I volunteered to carry the M240 which is a big machine gun. I volunteered because not many people wanted to carry around the 27 pound weapon. We also received classes on military writing, law, ethics, training management, and many other topics from retired special forces and other high ranking officers. We had the privilege to hear a general speak to our class at one point. We’ve learned how to call in artillery strikes in a simulator. We’ve been tested on assembling and disassembling 3 different types of weapons for time. We’ve been tested on general first aid. We’ve done a lot that’s for sure! We’ll continue doing a lot and hopefully I’ll be back home in no time.

Army Officer Candidate School