What Is OCS?

Officer Candidate SchoolThose who are looking for careers to follow after earning their four-year degrees may find themselves asking after military options, such Officer Candidate School. What is Officer Candidate School, or OCS? It is a viable career path for many military personnel who want to use their knowledge and skills acquired through study to further themselves beyond the massive corps of enlisted personnel in the armed services. OCS candidates want to become those who give the orders rather than always having to take them.

About OCS

Each of the five primary uniformed services of the United States, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy, has its own Officer Candidate School. There are differences among them that reflect the different approaches taken by each branch of service, but all fundamentally share the same goal: to train the corps of officers necessary to ensure the effective operation of the world’s premiere military power. Training courses run from twelve weeks for the Army and Navy, to seventeen weeks for the Coast Guard. All training courses introduce candidates or trainees to:

Necessary physical fitness routines and standards

Military service is fundamentally a willingness to fight, which is physically demanding. Those who will lead others in fighting need to be able to not only carry out actual combat, but to serve as examples to those who are doing so. They must be able to perform alongside those under their command or at a higher level.

Military discipline and tradition

Officers are leaders who guide the men and women under their command. They must embody the values and moral character expected of those who represent the United States. This means that they have to understand and adhere to the rule of law in all their dealings. They must also understand and respect those who have served before them.

Academic information necessary to effective command

This is where the various schools will differ most in their offerings. The background knowledge necessary to effectively command differs with each branch of the military. An Air Force officer is more likely to need to understand aerospace engineering, while the captain of a Navy destroyer need to have an intimate understanding of the effects of salt water on the metal hulls of their ships. Since the information in OCS is more specific to each branch, and not general education, those who enter officer training or candidacy are expected to have completed four-year degrees or higher.

Related Resource: JAG

Other skills and expertise needed to effectively oversee the conduct of enlisted personnel and execution of operations. In some senses, leadership is intangible. In others, it is a set of quantifiable skills, not all of which are obvious. Each requires refinement, and so each is taught in the military’s officer training schools. The skills the military needs to train their leaders is exactly what our men and women will receive in Officer Candidate School.