Candidates Moving Between SULEs

Small Unit Leadership Evaluation (SULE) – Part 3

In the first and second parts of SULE information there was a lot of general material covered. This section is going to focus on providing applicable tips to help you perform better come time to show your competence. Not every increment is the same and things are always changing so take this advice with a grain of salt.

You will get hit from the side

At OCS you are going to mainly be doing frontal assaults as a squad. This doesn’t mean that the enemy is going to be attacking you from the front. The majority of the time the squads are going to be attacked from the side. As a squad leader, you have to be able to shift the squad into a position such that a frontal assault is possible. It is critical that you prepare the fire team leaders for different scenarios during the briefing. Below is an example to give you an idea how a squad leader could reorient the squad. It looks easy on paper, but the reality is that things are going to be loud, the FTs are likely disbursed over several hundred feet, and fire team leaders may not hear you so they will start giving their own orders that creates more chaos.

SULE Example Assault

There are false distractions

This doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes things occur that are meant to throw the squad off. For instance, you could be walking on a road and then you get hit by artillery on the left. Everyone drops to the ground and gets ready to start rushing. A squad leader who starts to freak out might give an order rush, but if you only waited a few seconds to gather yourself you would realize that there is no enemy fire. Get the squad up and keep moving forward.

Estimate the end point

Sometimes you can make an educated guess as to what is about to happen. Pay attention to your surroundings and use common sense. For example, if the squad has to cross a bridge there is a decent chance the enemy is on the other side. Before crossing give the FT leaders instructions on what to do if they take enemy fire.

Be afraid of squad stupidity

Yes, everyone in the squad has graduated college, or is currently attending a university. To assume that such intelligent colleagues have common sense and good judgement is a mistake. During one increment a squad leader lost points because one of the FT leaders had the FT rush through an area with signs that said “Mine Field”.

**MOST IMPORTANTLY** The Enemy Is Not Always The Mission

It is imperative that you understand what the MISSION of your SULE is. For example, assume the MISSION is to deliver supplies to a nearby friendly position. The squad is walking on the road and takes contact on the right. You engage and destroy the enemy. A large number of candidates would assume that they are done. They put the squad in a consolidated 360 position and take reports from the FT leaders. The squad leader walks confidently over to the instructor, gets on one knee, and gives a full report with confidence and vigor knowing that the enemy was destroyed. The evaluator tells the squad leader they just failed SULE.


The enemy assault was only a distraction. For the most part, you will not be assaulted a second time. The only thing you had to do was get the squad back in formation and continue along the road. The instructor will probably stop you immediately afterwards. It was a test to determine if you as the leader understood the MISSION.

Some will fail SULE because of this so make sure that the MISSION is understood before anything else.

Candidate Preparing an OPORDER

Small Unit Leadership Evaluation (SULE) – Part 2

SULE is the most important event at OCS and requires diligent preparation starting right now. Practice is going to be more valuable than anything else you can do, but not everyone has the resources to be able to simulate a true training environment. Those in NROTC are hopefully getting what they need from their units, but the PLC and OCC candidates are a bit out of luck. The information here will get you half way to where you need to be. The rest will come when you actually get into the field.

If you haven’t yet read Small Unit Leadership Evaluation (SULE) – Part 1 you should start there first.

SULE Requires Combat Fitness

Throughout the day you are going to do 50+ buddy rushes. This means you will be falling to the ground, firing a few rounds, getting up, sprinting through the harsh terrain, and repeating. Some SULEs come with extra gear, such as ammo cans, that will makes things more difficult. Being physically fit enough to do this throughout the day is critical to success. Luckily, SULE is towards the end of OCS so you will time to adapt your body to the training regiment.

Form Good Relationships Early On

It has been said before that leading your peer is difficult, and it’s easy to end up with bad relationships. SULE requires serious effort from everyone in the squad. If you become a candidate that is viewed as lazy, an idiot, a jackass, a screw up, or a bad leader then chances are your squad is going to make things more difficult for you. Starting on day one of OCS you must present yourself as a leader worth respect. Don’t screw around when instructors aren’t looking, and don’t be the candidate pretending to fix a rack while others are on their knees sweeping the deck.

Know The Operations Order

If you don’t know the OPORDER like the back of your hand then you’re pretty much screwed and nothing here will help you. The foundation of SULE is built upon the OPORDER. You will get an order, create an order, and deliver an order within about 5 minutes. The details of the orders done at OCS is nothing compared to TBS, but just focus on learning what you need to. For instance, the only “Signal” you will use is “HAVOC”, Hands and Arms Voice On Contact. It isn’t necessary to become an expert in pyrotechnics.

Here are the best resources for getting practice.

  1. The Operation Order lesson from the OCS book – This is the best place to start if you have no knowledge of the OPORDER
  2. The Combat Orders course from TBS – The pdf contains material at a slightly higher level than OCS, but still low enough to understand. The main thing you should focus on is the section about delivering an order.
  3. skeleton order – You should print, laminate, and bring a few copies with you to OCS. Use a map pen so that you can reuse it once laminated. The skeleton can be downloaded as a document file, so feel free to make changes to suit your needs. The skeleton is meant to help you think as little as possible so you can focus on the important things.
  4. An example set of abbreviations – Use whatever shorthand works for you. This list is a good place to start.
  5. An example platoon level order – You will be a squad leader so this is an order that you would receive. Read and transpose it to the skeleton. Use shorthands and then practice reading it aloud, preferably to someone else training for OCS.

Part 3 is going to contain hands on tips for SULE success.

Candidates During SULE

Small Unit Leadership Evaluation (SULE) – Part 1

The Small Unit Leadership Evaluation, or SULE, is the culminating event at Marine OCS. It’s a day long endeavor that tests ones ability to lead a squad through a mission. In some instances, you may end up taking more than a day to complete the evolution. This will be dependent upon how quickly the squads in the company rotate through the various missions, and weather conditions. During one summer session a few years ago, SULE was halted for close to an hour after a candidate found a live round in the field. A few candidates who hadn’t gotten evaluated had to go back out with their squads to finish the next day.


Depending on which OCS program you are going through there may be two events for SULE.

PLC Juniors: SULE I

PLC Seniors: SULE II


Bulldog Program (NROTC): SULE II

Candidates During SULE

The Rundown

You will be in a squad of 10-15 candidates. It will most likely be made up of others in your platoon. Sometimes you may end up with a straggler from another company or platoon.

Every candidate carries an assault pack, 2-3 MREs, a camelbak, a rifle, and some blank rounds.

In the early morning, candidates are shoved into buses and squads are dropped off at various locations.

All of the squads in the company begin commencing their first SULE at dawn. Hopefully, you get staged early enough so that everyone can get on the same page before things kick off.

The evaluator will eCandidate Preparing an OPORDERither pick the first squad leader, or let someone volunteer. It’s probably best to try and get your evaluation sometime in the middle of the day. At that point, the squad will be more cohesive and you can learn from the mistakes of others. At the end of the day, a lot of the candidates who have already finished aren’t going to be putting out as much effort. It is important that you DON’T be one of the candidates that slacks off towards the end. It will hurt your fellow candidates who are getting evaluated.

Each mission lasts between 20-40 minutes. That is from the time you get to a station to when you leave. As a squad leader you will be receiving an order, developing a plan, delivering an order to the squad, and executing the mission. All of those things together make up your SULE grade which is a huge chunk of the leadership portion of your overall OCS grade.

At the end of an evaluation, the instructor will give the squad leader a breakdown of what went well and what failed miserably. They will then choose, or ask for, a new squad leader. That squad leader is given a general set of directions and they are then in charge of getting the squad to the next mission.

Candidates Moving Between SULEs

The stations are roughly 0.5 to 1 mile apart from each other. The move between stations is actually going to be quite enjoyable. There are no instructors with the squads as they move from point to point. You are expected to move quickly, but it’s not like you have to sprint there. What’s also nice is that the MREs are available for you to eat whenever you want. This is a bigger deal than you might expect. Although, some candidates ran out of food by lunchtime. Be smart and conserve your chow.

The day is very long and you will cover about 10 miles. Overall, it is nerve wrecking, stressful, and tiring, but it’s also a great experience.

There is a lot to talk about when it comes to SULE. Therefore, information will be broken into several detailed posts.

Part 2 will discuss what candidates need to do to prepare beforehand.

Marines Training At MCB Quantico

How The Reduction In Manpower May Affect You

In the midst of budget cuts and a war that is winding down, it should come as no surprise that the Department of Defense is continuing to reduce manpower. With the Marine Corps having the smallest budget of all the services, it is even less surprising that we are getting hit hard. What does this mean for new officers, the number of NROTC scholarships, and OCS applicants? You won’t find a definitive answer here, in fact much of this information is speculative. However, there seems to be some evidence supporting a lot of the chatter going around.

Newly Commissioned Officers And The Basic School

If you weren’t aware, TBS is having serious trouble trying to manage the flood of new Lieutenants that are making their way into the Corps. Many of these officers signed on several years ago when the budget situation and outlook of the war was much different. For instance, most NROTC Marine Option Midshipman graduating today got in at least four years ago.

The solution has so far been to place new officers on hold, or more formally in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). In some instances, the holding time could exceed a year.

In addition, it has recently come to my attention that TBS is giving new officers the option to:

  1. Extend their time in the IRR, or
  2. Resign their commission

As of today, there are NO available TBS slots until April of 2015. Those who have an upcoming ship date can delay their entry further. This may be ideal for someone expecting a child, or dealing with other personal, financial, or private industry work related issues. The second option does seem a surprising at first, but when you examine the severity of the reduction it makes sense.

NROTC Scholarships – Can you still pick one up?

Although speculative, you can pretty much guarantee that the Marine Corps is going to be much more careful in determining who gets a full ride through college. When you think about it, the amount of tuition paid for a single person can range between $50k to $200k and up depending on the university. Given that Marine Officers coming out of NROTC only have a 4 year commitment, it doesn’t seem likely that the Corps is going to invest very heavily in this particular path given budget cuts.

As an example, my old unit, one of the smallest, generally gets between 3-5 Marines Options on scholarship each year. Last fall they only received 1.

OCS Applicants – Will You Get Picked Up For OCC/PLC

Can’t really say too much here, except that you are likely to see the same patterns. Traditionally, OCC graduates went straight to The Basic School with little time between the two. However, don’t be surprised if you end up in some temporary admin job waiting to pickup for real training.

Don’t be discouraged. The Marine Corps will always need new officers, and the best pool of applicants still have the chance to claim the title of Marine Officer. Things will balance out in the years to come.

PFT Run at OCS

Benchmarks And Workouts For TBS. A Good Reference For…

The Basic School and Marine OCS require officers and candidates to be physically prepared for the training ahead. These are the recommended benchmarks and suggested workouts for Marine Officers preparing for TBS. This information was obtained from eMarines, and will give you a general idea of what to expect.

There isn’t much difference when it comes to OCS prep. If you can do these workouts and meet the benchmarks then you won’t have any trouble.


1. Hike 3-5 miles for 3-4 consecutive days with 15-35 lbs
Justification: Hiking is a consistent exercise and function at TBS. Hiking to and from field exercises and training areas will be consistent. Simply being on your feet all day with body armor can be a challenge for some.

2. Perform running 3-5x week on multiple surfaces and terrain (approximately 12-18 miles per week)
Justification: You will encounter uneven surfaces and varied distances such as the Endurance Course, Land Navigation, and Field Exercises. Building a consistent base of running will be helpful.

3. Perform plyometrics exercises such as: Squat jumps, burpees, jump rope, box jumps
Justification: maneuvering up and down obstacles such as logs, over streams, walls, and barriers will be necessary in a variety of events.

4. Perform weight training exercises with machines, free weights, or Olympic weight
Justification: There are many benefits to weight training and load bearing exercise such as increasing bone density and increasing muscle strength. Have a weight training program at minimum 2 times a week.

There are many conditioning programs available with a wide variety of goals. Try the below exercise program to see if joint or muscle pain become significant.

Sample Exercises

Clean & Squat OR Clean & Overhead Press 10 x 95lb
Box Jump 15x (approximately 16-20 inch)
Kettle Bell Swing 15x 26Kg
Decline sit up 20x
Clap and push up 10x
(Scale weight as needed)

For those with lower extremity pain, injury or surgery

Single leg hops equal in HEIGHT to the unaffected side
Single leg bounding equal DISTANCE to the unaffected side
Range of motion equal or near equal to unaffected side
Single leg squat strength with stable hip and knee
Martial Arts: Leg sweeps, heavy bag kicks, push kicks

For those with upper extremity pain, injury, surgery

Pull ups without pain
Single arm press resistance equal to unaffected side
Clapping push ups
Dynamic side planks
Wall hand stand
Range of motion equal or near equal to unaffected side
Martial Arts: forward shoulder roll, heavy bag strikes, break falls

Sample Workout Programs For OCS/TBS Prep

Week 1


Morning: Low impact cardio 30 mins
Evening: Weight training (M)


Morning: Run 2 miles moderate
Evening: Weight train (L), run sprints


Morning: Off
Evening: Sprints


Morning: Weight train (H), Low impact cardio
Evening: Run 3 miles


Morning: Lo Impact
Evening: Weight train (L), Plyometric, run 2 miles


Morning: Foam roller, flexibility
Evening: Run 1 mile interval x 2

Week 2


Morning: Off
Evening: Weight training (M)


Morning: Run sprints
Evening: Weight training (M)


Morning: Run 2 miles
Evening: Weight Training (H)


Morning: Flexibility, foam roller
Evening: Sprints 5×100


Morning: Weight train (L)
Evening: Plyometric, run 2 miles


Morning: Foam roller, flexibility
Evening: Weight train (H)

(L) = Light weight exercises: Body weight, 50% of maximal effort, allowing for repetitions between 15 and 20.
(M) = Moderate weight exercises: Body weight + weight vest, 70% maximal effort, allowing for repetitions between 10 and 15.
(H) = Heavy weight exercises: Near maximal lifting capacity, 85-90% maximal effort, allowing for repetitions between 6 and 8.
Plyometric = Jump routine with jump rope, box jumps, bounding jumps
Foam roller & Flexibility = development of warm up and stretching for range of motion, flexibility training and recuperation.