Making Marine Corps Officers

Listen to THIS while reading this post!!!

Officer Candidates School

“Ductus Exemplo” – Lead by Example


The mission of Marine Corps Officer Candidates School (OCS) is “to train, evaluate, and screen officer candidates to ensure they possess the moral, intellectual, and physical qualities for commissioning, and the leadership potential to serve successfully as company grade officers in the operating forces”[i] of the United States Marine Corps.  OCS in the Marine Corps focusses on the candidate becoming a follower first, and then a leader.  The training is individualized, and centered on the candidate’s initiative to get the mission accomplished.  OCS puts them into scenarios where the candidate has to take charge, and where they have to lead.  Among many other things, OCS teaches the candidates:

  • How to act
  • How to conduct themselves as officers
  • How to be physically fit
  • How to establish a command presence (bearing)
  • How to lead by example
  • How to lead Marines
  • How to be confident
  • The ability to make quick, rapid decisions in a time compressed environment under pressure

Leading by example, and leading from the front, are two of the most important attributes of a United States Marine Corps officer.  At OCS, this is instilled in them very early and very quickly in their training.  Along with that comes the willingness to do the things that you asking your people to do.  You can’t ask your people to do something that you are not willing to do yourself.

The officer candidates are evaluated on if they are able to think and make decisions on their own, their ability to get their company from point A to point B, their ability to communicate, and their overall leadership capabilities.

Marine Corps officers must have integrity; to do the right things when nobody is looking.  They must conduct themselves as professionals at all times.

A leader in the Marine Corps needs to be humble and treat people with respect, no matter what rank they are.  It doesn’t matter what job you have, or what rank you are, the Marine Corps places a premium on leadership; from the private to the four-star general.  Officer Candidates School gives them an understanding of what basic leadership really is.  It not only provides them the leadership skills to be successful in the Marine Corps, but it prepares them for life.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson


Related Content –

Do’s and Don’t’s of Marine Corps OCS (

The Ultimate OCS Preparation Workout (

How Academics are Taught at OCS (

OCS Academics Intro Leadership —> Introduction to Marine Corps Leadership (

OCS Academics Leadership Fundamentals —> Fundamentals of Marine Corps Leadership (

Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (

Footnote –

[i] “OCS Mission” – Officer Candidates School – – Accessed 5 March 2012 – United States Marine Corps Training Command (Quantico, Virginia) –

8 Responses to “Making Marine Corps Officers”

  1. What is the scenario for leadership in the Iran military?

    Obama refuses to listen to US military leaders yet continues to negotiate diplomacy in Iran.

    He refused to provide the requests of generals in Afghanistan where the terrorists now have our pullout date. The apology, which countries teach it?


    • U.S. military leaders keep all of their options open. No senior military official has recommended any action. They have only said that, if military action is necessary, the U.S. military has various options and plans to conduct military action, and would be ready to take such action. Although our senior military officials advise the president of the various situations and readiness, the president must employ and exhaust all possible diplomatic and economic sanctions accordingly. Obama is not refusing to listen to his generals and admirals. I think we all know that U.S. diplomacy will be superceded by Israeli military action.

      Obama’s military strategy, and the ‘voice’ he has used to convey that strategy, is unfortunate. I’m sure Obama doesn’t play poker or chess. As president, you never publicly declare your intentions to the enemy, and you never open the doors to the war room for the World to see and hear how you are interacting with your military leaders. Obama has to be a little bit more ‘diplomatic’ on the homefront with his military, as much as he seems to be when he is trying to ride the fence with our enemies and allies.


      • Leaders make decisions. There is no fence, all efforts have long been exhausted.

        Obama told America all options are on the table, a table he has never seen. Obama is very good with words yet unable to face the people without a teleprompter in front of him. He cannot employ the military.

        Israel wants America to take action on Iran. If Israel does not Iran will have a nuclear warhead.


  2. Military leaders cannot expect those beneath their rank to follow or respect them or their orders if they show any sign of not having respect and support for orders from the Commander-In-Chief. It is my view that many General and Admiral grade officers are picked as much for their political pragmatism as they are for their military experience. They are the gentlemen that Col. David Hackworth referred to as the “perfumed princes”, exemplified by General Wesley Clark, US Army, retired.

    Others, like General David Petraeus or Admiral Giambastiani are true military leaders with a breadth and depth of leadership and achievement that few can approach. They are warriors who care about their troops and about the mission they are assigned with equal ferver.

    They are also leaders who know that the mission is the path that safeguards the nation and the troops are their to open and keep open that path all the way to success – no matter the odds or obstacles; including political obstacles. These are the leader who men follow willingly into any scenario or conflict with the utmost of confidence and commitment to succeed.

    These are the leaders who take as well as they give while giving as much as they can to the nation and the office of the President. They expect and insist that those below them act with the same national interest foremost in thought and deed and reward those who do so well.

    It is unfortunate that war can’t be run by the military, because it would be run much more efficiently, with less casualties on our side, and with lower costs in national treasure. It’s easy to forget; however, that the military does not exist for its own sake. It exists as a diplomatic arm of our political leaders with the hope that its strength alone is enough to deter aggression. It exists for those occasions where deterence is not enough and retaliation is essential to the national interest.

    It is an advisory branch of the government first and a war machine second. It is run by civilians and controlled by persons less qualified in war but, perhaps, more qualified and equipped in diplomacy and peace. Perhaps we could join with Israel or encourage Israel to act independently and attack Iran.

    Perhaps, as a result, the situation in the Middle East would calm down if we concurrently collapsed the theocracy that now runs that country. But, there is a greater than 50% chance that we could unify Moslims and end up with the Middle East more reflective of what has occurred in both Egypt and Libya that what we see in more western friendly Arab-Moslim states.

    The days of all out war without regard to collateral damage or civilian casualties are over, unless we are engaged in another global war. Our military will never be able to firebomb cities as we did to Dresden, Germany, or carpet bomb massive populations as was the case with Berlin using conventional weapons. We will never be able to get away with using nuclear weapons without the great possibility of provoking a thermonuclear reaction from other nuclear armed states with politico-economic interests in the target nation.

    So for the reasons listed above, we must keep the military on some kind of a leash most of the time and leave the ultimate and more deadly global considerations to our political leaders. This last is the ultimate reason why elections matter and votes cast by a rational, informed and freedom loving electorate is critical during these tense political times.

    In that sense we are all leaders and should be leading by example by getting and remaining informed on critical issues, but getting and remaining informed on politicians, their views and their compatibility with the long term benefit of the nation as opposed to the short term benefit of small intrest groups. But most importantly, we should lead by instilling in our own children the importance of a participatory democracy in preserving and strengthening a free Republic and teaching them whatever it is they need to grow up free and live as free adults one generation at a time.

    Great topic, Dale. Thanks for the article and inspiring me to think enough to feel comfortable commenting. Best to all!


  3. […] Making Marine Corps Officers « Command Performance Leadership. Share this:MoreLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]


    • ‘Perfumed princes’ is insightful. This administration’s problems relate to politics. Yesterday’s press conference was void of America’s needs or America’s goals, as usual our leader represented only his.

      Strength deters aggression and Obama has nothing but contempt for strength. Military cuts are taking place in the National Guard, states are losing thousands, our military is being thrown out into the streets, and it has only just begun.

      China’s new defense budget is about $106 Billion, about 13% above last years, more than all other Asian countries combined. The Budget Control Act cuts half a Trillion in addition to $487 Billion over the next decade. I do not recall the weapons, fighters, ships, brigades… eliminated.

      China’s goal is to control America. When our military is depleted and China can invade our alliances in their area, what happens to our strength and independence? How does their influence on other terrorist countries affect the same?

      ‘Deadly global considerations’ and their affect on America’s freedom are being ignored by Obama as he deteriorates our military. The record is there.


      • Because I am all for freedom of speech, and I agree with burstupdates’ comments here, I will allow the comment to stand. However, when I saw this comment pop up in conjunction with the “Making Marine Corps Officers” post, I did a double-take; I was initially confused…where did this come from?? Obviously, this comment does not fit the context of the blog post, and certainly is out of place for this blog’s overall theme and premise. Command Performance Leadership is not a politically-oriented or political action blog. This comment does not reflect the views of the author of this blog, nor should it be seen as an endorsement when I keep the comment up for view. Again, I believe in freedom of speech. HOWEVER, if random comments appear similar to this going forward, all unrelated content will come down, including this comment.

        Thank You!!!

        Dale R. Wilson
        Author of Command Performance Leadership


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