Marines training tactics The Basic School

The Basic School Blog I Cannot Start … Yet!

The Basic School is still several months away for me, but I am too eager to wait to write my first article related to TBS. At this point, there is nothing for me to write about that would be very useful to anyone. What I want to do is outline what I plan to write about once I get to TBS. This is also an opportunity for everyone out there to comment in with topic suggestions. Perhaps there are specific things you want to know and I can address them as soon as they come up. By the way, the picture I have added is of something I wish I were doing right now, but instead I work a 9 to 5 job in a cubicle (which I actually very much enjoy in many ways … that is quite sad).

TBS Phase Updates

There are currently five distinct phases to TBS. I’m not yet aware of the details surrounding each one, or what distinguished them from each other. However, my first goal will be to write an articles at the end of each phase outlining what went on and key things to be aware of.

Week By Week

This goal may end up in the trash considering my life while at The Basic School will not include much free time, or so I hear. I will try my best to write a quick update every week. I’m hopeful that doing so will help me unwind about what has occurred and get all of the fresh memories written out before I forget. The most helpful things we learn from each other are generally the small details. Weekly posts will allow me to most effectively convey tips to everyone. Don’t hold me to this one.

Range Week

I hear that range week is brutal. There should be some downtime once we get out to the range. If so, I will take notes of what is going on so that I can write up a special post pertaining to range week. This is going to be important because it is our time to get rifle qualified.

War

The culminating event at The Basic School is called “War.” I know little to nothing about it right now. Considering it’s importance, I hope to write about all the details pertaining to this event. What things would be helpful for other to know? How can you prepare early on? The good and bad things that I do that will give others better insight.

That is all I can think of right now. TBS is months away from the date of this writing, but I am eager to hit the field and learn more about our beloved Marine Corps. If you have any specific questions pertaining to TBS please leave a comment. If are at TBS or have completed it and would like to contribute here let me know as well!

OCS Tarzan Course Officer Candidates School

The Only Thing Not To Do On The Tarzan…

The Tarzan Course is considered a physical fitness event at OCS. I will tell you right now that it doesn’t require any significant amount of physical fitness. The course is more geared towards coordination and mental fortified … I guess some candidates are afraid of heights or something? I want to say that this is an event that occurs during week 5 or 6 for the seniors course. I’m not sure if PLCĀ  Juniors does this course and OCC candidates probably do it around week 8 or 9.

So, why am I writing about the Tarzan Course. Is it graded? No, it doesn’t affect your score at OCS. Is it difficult? You have got to be kidding me. Is it the “funnest” thing you are going to do at OCS? Maybe, I actually quite enjoyed doing the course. There is even a decent zip-line at the end where you go over the infamous Quigley. The truth is I more or less just wanted to tell a story. In fact, this has got to be one of my favorite stories from my time in the depths of Quantico.

A little background is necessary to fully understand what occurred. I attended OCS during the summer of 2012. For the past year, the Tarzan Course was closed due to renovations (see that nice mesh of rope in the picture that is there to catch you). The candidates at OCS during the summer of 2012 were the first ones to break in the new ropes. How exciting, right? Well … if you happen to be the FIRST CANDIDATE to fall off the new course it might not be too exciting anymore. A candidate in my platoon, not me of course, lost his balance and fell into the safety net after getting past just the first obstacle. Our drill instructors had a field day with this one. It wasn’t anger that overcame them it was shear embarrassment that one of their candidates was the first to fall off the ropes.

OCS Tarzan CourseIn an effort to both embarrass the candidate who fell from the course and entertain all of OCS, one of our instructors had us shouting a new cadence for the rest of the day.

Instructor: “Candidate, (I won’t embarrass the poor guy)”

Platoon: “Fell off the Tarzan Course”

Repeat: 1000 times

In all seriousness, our instructor made it his goal to make sure that everyone at OCS knew which candidate fell off the Tarzan Course. We literally marched around to different buildings at OCS shouting the new cadence. It was quite hilarious and very few in our platoon were able to hold their bearing. The candidate who fell off I’m sure was embarrassed, but in the end the event brought about a slight bit of joy that is ever so hard to find in a place that so closely resembles hell. So, my lesson to you is to save yourself some embarrassment and watch your footing. If someone else happens to fall off then maybe you too can expect a small bit of debauchery that will make the day more memorable.

Platoon in Formation at Marine Officer Candidate School Officer Candidates School

Be Prepared For The “Moment Of Truth” at OCS

The “Moment Of Truth” is a part of OCS in which you are given the opportunity to disclose various types of information about yourself that may have been overlooked by your AMOI, MOI, or OSO. Essentially, the Marine Corps needs to know about any laws you may have violated. I do not remember all of the details surrounding this activity, but I will try my best to point out some of the major things you need to be aware of. I cannot stress how important it is to make sure these things are documented properly. It is a real possibility that you could be sent home if you overlook even the smallest thing. Purposely hiding crimes is a sure way to get thrown out for falsifying your application.

Parking Tickets or Other Small Fines

You should keep track of all parking tickets that were received under your name. If you have a car registered in your name and someone else gets a ticket with your car then you should keep a receipt of the payment. These are not going to be a big deal once you get to OCS, but it is good to have them documented in your record. The AMOI at my NROTC unit had all of the Marine Options get copies of the receipts showing parking tickets had been paid. Again this is not a huge deal, but you might as well start making sure they are noted.

Fines over $350

This is the important one! The $350 number may be a little off, but there is a key dollar amount that requires you get additional paperwork. For instance, if you got a speeding ticket for $200 all you need to do is disclose it. However, if the ticket was for $375 you need to disclose it, provide a receipt showing payment, and get a police background check in the county in which the violation occurred. You CAN AND WILL get sent home if the Master Sergeant at OCS is unable to track down the documents you need.

How my time at OCS was almost cut short because of a speeding ticket I received when I was 17
To demonstrate the seriousness of the “Moment Of Truth,” I am going to tell a quick story. When I was 17 years old I received a speeding ticket in the state of Texas. I am from the state of California. During OCS, I disclosed that I had received a ticket, but I wasn’t sure how much the fine was. I guessed that it was around $400. Well…that of course meant that I need more documentation. The problem was that because I was from California and the ticket was in Texas there are no easy way for them to do a background check. I, of course, was ill prepared and didn’t even know where in Texas I got the ticket. This complicated matters and made my first few weeks at OCS quite uneasy because I wasn’t sure if a ticket from my teenage year was going to crush my dreams. I was told point blank, “you may be going home.” Luckily, the staff at OCS in conjunction with my AMOI and parents (yes, mom and dad saved me) were able to track down the information they needed. In the end, the ticket was only around $200 so you can imagine how frustrating that was.

Public Intoxication or Other Offenses

Any incident that may have been documented should be disclosed. I cannot stress how important it is to reveal everything about yourself. If you were on campus and got cited for being intoxicated you need to make a note of that. If you got into a fight in high school and the incident was put in your record you should disclose that as well.Obviously, I can’t think of every scenario that may be important. Some of these things may turn out to be insignificant, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

I have a good friend who also nearly got sent home from OCS because there was a bridge toll violation for his vehicle that he didn’t even know about because someone else had borrowed the vehicle during that time. I caution you to be aware of the “Moment Of Truth” and prepare in advance everything you need to disclose. The best time to get these things added to your record is prior to OCS. Make sure that the AMOI, MOI, or OSO taking care of you has copies of all your receipts and has noted in writing all offenses.

Marine OCS Candidates sitting in the classroom OCS Academics

3 Tips To Stay Awake During Class At Marine…

Everyone who has endured Marine OCS knows that staying awake during class can be quite brutal. The schedule at OCS is no joke. There is always something going on and it can become very exhausting. Imagine trying to get through a schedule such as this:

2100: Night Land Navigation
0000: Get to sleep in the field
0045: Wake up to prepare for watch
0100: Start standing watch
0200: Back to sleep
0330: Wake up to start preparing for the hike
0400: Prepare for formation
0415: Start 4-6 mile hike (while trying not to hallucinate in the pitch black darkness and twist your ankle)

0900: 1 HOUR CLASS ON “LEAVE AND EARNINGS STATEMENTS” (BRUTAL!!!)

The schedule above is sort of made up on my part, but it is in way far from the reality that ensues Marine OCS. Until you have experienced sitting in class after enduring all of the above you will not completely understand what I am saying. Here I want to throw out a few tips you might be able to utilize to stay awake during class. Believe me when I say that falling asleep in class is not something you want to make a habit of.

1. Stand Up (Obvious, I know)

The standard tactic that you are encouraged to use at OCS when drifting into a nice slumber is standing up. This is a very common method that you will be told to use. If you fall asleep all hell will break loose and standing up during class is going to become mandatory for you. Candidates should always look out for each other. If you see someone falling asleep nudge them and tell them to go stand up. Billet holders especially need to constantly watch other candidates.

2. Hold Water In Your Mouth

I learned this one during my time at OCS. The first method should always be used when the feeling of sleep is overcoming you. However, if you think you can stay awake, but aren’t completely sure then this method may be suitable. Essentially, the idea is to put water in your mouth and hold it. If you nod off the water will spill all over you, thus waking you up. I tried this a few times and thought it was useful, but you seriously shouldn’t let water spill all over you. The embarrassment of such a thing happening should be enough to keep you awake.

3. Little Sip, Little Sip, Little Sip

It may not seem like it at the time, but water does help you stay awake … a little. Honestly, since candidates are constantly drinking water the liquid itself may not help all that much. However, the action of drinking water will help keep your mind occupied. Every 30 seconds to a minute take a small sip. I would actually recommend taking very small sips, and maybe even just enough to add moisture to your mouth. I say this simply because you don’t want to have to make a head call every 5 minutes. By the end of week two you probably have to go like every 15 minutes already. Aggravating the issue while in class may not be the best decision. You will become familiar with your body and be able to decide for yourself.

Making it through the classes can sometime be much harder than the fitness events. The room is comfortable and the lights even go out for videos occasionally. Remember that it does not look good on you or your platoon if you fall asleep. It is tough, but you want to be a Marine right? How can you expect the attention of the Marines you will lead in the future if you can’t even give it yourself.

Enjoy some beer while in the individual ready reserve Marine Officer

Enjoy Your Time In The Individual Ready Reserve

So you graduated college and got commissioned as a United States Marine Corps Officer, but what do you do if the Corps has decided to throw you into the individual ready reserve. If you were fortunate to get an assignment to The Basic School with only a few months to relax then you probably don’t have any worries. Move back home with the parents, or stay around school and keep working your day job. Sadly, that will not be the case for many new officers such as myself. With a 12+ month waiting period ahead of me there is no wonder I started this website in the first place. Fortunately, I am going to do my best to offer some advice to those who are scheduled to twiddle their thumbs for the foreseeable months.

Get a job…SIX+ MONTHS BEFORE YOU GRADUATE!

Chances are you have a desire to put some money in the back, pay off some loans, pay rent, etc. The best, if not only, way you are going to be able to do that is by getting a job. I HIGHLY encourage those of you still in school to start looking months beforehand. Even if you already have a job that you enjoy there is no reason to sell yourself short. The last job I worked at college was doing technical support. I was very happy with the job, people, and better than average $14.00 an hour. However, that did not stop me from searching for new opportunities to use my degree. I applied for a job as a computer engineer in December of 2012. It wasn’t until March of 2013 that I was contacted. A month later I did a series of interviews and two weeks after graduating in June I started as an engineer. I don’t say this to be boastful, rather I want you to understand that it takes a long time to find a good job. If you put it off the opportunities for short term employment will shrink.

Enjoy some time as a fat body

Hopefully you ended senior year in peak physical condition. If so, I would say take some time to live a little. IRR is horrible in so many ways, but it does give us some time to relax and enjoy a purely civilian life. Criticize me in the comments all you want, but I say eat fried pork and drink beer to your hearts desire. There will be a day when you need to turn the fun off and get back in some boots. DON’T SHOW UP TO TBS A FAT BODY!

Travel. Explore. Disappear.

Marines in the ready reserves don’t get much from our military status, but they do get Space-A! If you don’t know, Space-A is a way for service members and their families to travel on military flights at a low cost. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to use this great benefit, but I do know it is available. Consider getting together with some fellow graduates and taking a trip somewhere. It could be a flight across the world, or a road trip for a few days. There will not be another opportunity for you to do this for years. Who knows you might not get the chance to travel freely and without worry until you retire.

There are not a whole lot of reasons for you to be happy about being put in the Individual Ready Reserve for an extensive period of time. My hope is that you will take up a better attitude about the situation and make the most of it. Enjoy time as a civilian and don’t worry too much about TBS. The time will come when the Marine Corps becomes interwoven into your lifestyle so cherish the moments you have left with your families, friends, pets, favorite restaurants, bars, stores, and whatever else you love.