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.

SULE I and SULU II

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

PLC Juniors: SULE I

PLC Seniors: SULE II

OCC: SULE I and 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.


USMC Officer

As a Marine Corps Officer, my goal is to help and educate those who have obtained, or are aspiring to earn, the title of Marine Officer.

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