Army Officer Basic Course

The Army Officer Basic Course is the first course offered in the Officer Professional Development Educational System for new Second Lieutenants.

OBC is for newly Commissioned Officers, officers pending commission, and officers up to the rank of First Lieutenant.

Each Army branch within the Army offers their very own branch specific Officer Basic Course.

Several examples of different branches include Infantry, Armor, Quartermaster, Finance, Ordnance, Medical Services, Adjutant General, Engineer, etc.

In all, there are approximately 25 different branches.

Upon graduation from college, West Point, or OCS, newly commissioned Second Lieutenants will be assigned to a specific Army branch.

In R.O.T.C., we learned what our Army branch was at the beginning of our senior year.

Branches are picked by the Department of the Army.

Before you receive your commission you can normally pick your top three choices, but ultimately the Army will decide which branch each officer gets.

Once a new Second Lieutenant is assigned to a specific Army branch, they will attend their respective Officer Basic Course.

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What the Course is about

The purpose of the Officer Basic Course (also known as OBC), is to provide new Army Officers a basic overview of their specific Army branch.

In addition, newly commissioned Second Lieutenants will learn about military leadership, correspondence, physical fitness, drill and ceremonies, operational terms and symbols, Warrior Task Training, staff organizations and operations, land navigation, etc.

During OBC, new Second Lieutenants will participate in classroom discussions, prepare papers, take oral and written exams, do research, get hands on experience with Army equipment, and participate in Field Training Exercises.

Most OBC courses are about 90% classroom time and 10% (or less) field time.

However,keep in mind that each branch varies.

Typically, combat arms branches spend more time in the field and on tactics than other branches do.

Each OBC Class is normally led by a Major or Senior Captain, often referred to as the TAC Officer or Instructor.

In addition, there are other instructors to teach specific subjects.

Sometimes the instructors are other Officers, sometimes they are NCOs and occasionally there are civilian instructors.

For the most part, students will have the weekends off to study, travel and relax.

On some rare occasions, the students might have training during a weekend.

This could include a Staff Ride or Field Training Exercise.

Typically, students can expect to have most weekends off though.

Normally, the class week starts at 0630 hours each day for physical fitness and the class ends around 1700 hours.

Most students will stay in either post lodging or a hotel for the duration of the Officer Basic Course.

They will be on Temporary Duty Orders (TDY) and will receive per-diem.

This can equate to an extra $500 to $1500 per month in addition to your basic pay and allowances.

If you will be attending OBC anytime soon, I would highly suggest that you save some of this extra per-diem money.

This can help you pay off debt, put a down payment on a new home, or build up your emergency fund.

Most Officer Basic Courses last somewhere between two and six months.

Typically, the Aviation Branch OBC classes are the longest, because of additional training requirements.

Upon graduation from the Officer Basic Course, new Second Lieutenants will by no means be subject matter experts.

Instead, they will simply have basic fundamental book knowledge.

They will know the “basics” but will still need plenty of “on the job training,” and mentorship from their NCOs and Company Commander.

After graduation from OBC, new Second Lieutenants will travel to their first duty assignment.

Most of the time, a new Second Lieutenant will first serve as a Platoon Leader.

But depending on their Army branch they might also serve as a primary or assistant staff officer, until a Platoon Leader slot becomes available.

At this point, new Second Lieutenants will learn the real world hands on, on the job training.

Most new Second Lieutenants will work directly with a seasoned NCO who has plenty of experience.

The NCO will teach new Second Lieutenant the ropes about how the Army works.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the Officer Basic Course also known as OBC, is a fun and exciting time for new Second Lieutenants.

New Army Officers should strive to be a “sponge” and soak up all of the information they are taught during Army OBC.

In addition, they should network with other Second Lieutenants and cadre and try to have some fun.

If possible, it would be a good time to start saving money and setting some career goals too.

What are your thoughts?

If you ever attended Army OBC I would love to hear from you.

Which OBC did you attend?


What did you like or dislike about it?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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4 thoughts on “Army Officer Basic Course”

  1. This seems to be the equivalent of an enlisted person's technical or follow on training. Most of what you will learn is simply a good foundation from which to build at your unit. Definitely be a sponge and soak in the information and advice, but remember when you reach your unit you are a DAY 1 2nd LT to them. The smart officer will learn from his NCO's and fellow officers.

  2. It sounds like the Officer Basic Course does a pretty good job preparing new LTs for the real Army. Learning about your branch, military history, customs and courtesies, leadership, PT and marksmanship are all important things for any leader to know.

    1. Debbie,

      I think that OBC is a good starting point, but nothing replaces real world experience. Until you put this newly learned information into practice, it is nothing more than theory.


  3. Thank you for providing this great overview of what the Army Officer Basic Course is all about. Your advice about Army Officers being a “sponge” is good. You never know when a small bit of something you learned in OBC is going to be helpful in a future situation. It’s actually good advice for any training situation … keep your eyes and ears open, because there is a reason you are learning this stuff, even if it may not seem immediately relevant.

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