I went to Army National Guard Accelerated OCS in the summer of 2010; shortly after I returned home from Iraq. There are a few locations we can go to, and most Oregonians go to South Dakota. However, since I had just gotten home from deployment, I needed to wait until the end of July to get everything squared away and my gear out of our ISU 90 containers. I am going to share with you what I learned and gained during my experiences at Camp Fretterd, MD and Fort Indiantown Gap, PA.
Accelerated OCS is the National Guard’s version of Federal OCS, except it is condensed into 8 weeks, and you get zero down time (very late nights and very early mornings 7 days a week). It is broken down into three phases. Phase one focuses on the land navigation course, and it is required to pass both day and night iterations to move on to phase two. Phase two has a lot of class time, operation order OPD, and your physical requirements of APFT and ruck marches; you also do a huge company defense in the field. Phase three is the culmination of your training; you will be evaluated on either a platoon or squad level opord – your receipt of it, digestion, and mission planning. You need to be sharp on your land nav skills and ability to do basic infantry tasks. We did a company mission at the very end, and we all enjoyed it a lot.
Accelerated OCS is not for the faint of heart. While I felt well-prepared mentally and physically for the challenges of an 8 week intensive program, I saw how it affected people that did not show up in great shape or ready to have a lot of expectations placed on them under stress. I was happy that I had spent so much time the year before running long distances, as it made my mind more sharp and able to focus through stress.
Accelerated OCS makes you understand how NCOs function in your unit. I learned more about being an NCO at OCS than being an officer. This is because we have to rotate between leadership positions every 1-2 days and get evaluated on them, and there are only a few officer positions in the company. This was easy for a lot of us that were former NCOs or had deployed. I would say about half of my company had deployed before, and 2/3 of that group came as NCOs. Most of us were SGTs, there were a few SSG and one SFC. I believe, while most of us did not have a problem functioning in the NCO positions, this was good for the junior enlisted to get a picture of what their NCOs actually do in each unit.
Accelerated OCS is fast and furious, and very physical. It is said that OCS produces field leaders, while ROTC produces officers who understand paperwork and doctrine. I would say, from my evaluation, that this is true. I feel very comfortable in the field, as most of our time was spent out there planning missions. While I could physically handle everything that happened there, I came home feeling much older and half broken. I probably shouldn’t have ruck marched the Portland Marathon a couple weeks later, but I did it anyway.
OCS produces your peers, make sure to network and stay in touch. I am still friends with many of the people I went to OCS with. We are all in the Guard all over our wonderful country, and many of us have a lot of contacts and can help each other out when needed. One of my friends was keeping his eye on the fed rec tracker for those of us in the same peer group to track when we all made 1LT last March/April time frame, and sent us continuous updates. The intensity of our training brought us very close together, especially those of us that went through all 8 weeks together.
Final Thoughts: I never would have done it any other way. Accelerated OCS is fast and furious, but better for people to immerse themselves and get it over with. Make sure you are in peak physical condition! I got my highest APFT score ever at OCS, but that was only because I showed up there in shape already.
Did you attend accelerated OCS? Tell us about your experience. If you have any comments or questions, please post those below. Thank you.