Officer Candidate School or Officer Cadet School (OCS) are institutions which train civilians and enlisted personnel in order for them to gain a commission as officers in the armed forces of a country.
How OCS is run differs between countries and services. Typically, it is of a short duration (less than a year), and the focus of the course is on military skills and leadership. This is in contrast with service academies which include academic instruction leading to a Bachelor degree.
During WWII the U.S. Army Signal Corps ran an Officer Candidate School located in the war zone labeled as the South West Pacific Area (SWPA, at Camp Columbia, Brisbane, Australia. From photographs taken by the U.S. Army it is apparent that this course was integrated with the U.S. Army's Signal Corps OCS program at Ft. Monmouth, Georgia. Contemporary records indicate that the course was branch immaterial — perhaps the first branch immaterial course in the Army. Unfortunately, there is little information about the particulars of how SWPA OCS was operated, such as its length, subject matter content, training routine, etc. In particular, its years of operation and other reliable statistical information are not readily available. One thing that is known is that regarding the course at Camp Columbia, LT Ralph Faulkner, a graduate of the U.S. Army Signal Corps OCS program at Ft. Monmouth (91 years old and still going strong as of Jan 2012)was an instructor at that facility.
Officer Cadet School of Australia - Portsea (OCS Portsea) commenced training officers for the Australian Army in 1951 and continued through to the end of 1985. Since OCS Portsea's closure in 1985, all Australian Army Officer training has been conducted at the Royal Military College, Duntroon Canberra.
In the Philippines, Officer Candidate School was originally formed out from the defunct Reserve Officer's Service School or ROSS that was established pursuant to the provisions of then Philippine Commonwealth Act Number 1 or otherwise known as "The National Defense Act of the Philippines" in the 1930s. This was created in preparation for the Defense capability of the Philippines-10 year program of training of Filipino Servicemen and Civilian Volunteers (Reserve) forming the Philippine Army as the main ground forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. A transfiguration took place with some military personnel from the Philippine Constabulary as its nucleus to form the Philippine Army. However, that 10 year program would not be completed at the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific, ROSS training was stopped, and with enough enlisted personnel trainees to be officers were immediately called to active duty to serve the war most particularly with the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). The need for commissioned officers after the U.S. liberation of the Philippines in 1940s prompt the ROSS to reemmerge as the School for Reserve Commission before it became the Officer Candidate School. Early trainings were held in Camp Tinio, Bangad, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Nichols Air Base in Pasay City and Fort Bonifacio in Metro Manila. Some graduates of these classes were sent to conflicts in both Korea and Vietnam. Later, OCS training location was moved to Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal and had its glorious turn out of graduates from Class 1 in 1987 to Class 27 in 2005. The officer candidates with the rank of Probationary Second Lieutenant and Probationary Ensign have to undergo and pass the 12-month Officer Candidate Course before they can be commissioned as Regular and Reserve Officers in the Philippine Army, the Philippine Constabulary, the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Navy and the Technical Service (Medical Administrative Corps and Women's Auxiliary Corps). In 1993, OCS started accepting two foreign officer candidates from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces which joined the Officer Candidate Course "Balikatan" Class 12-94. In 1994, five female OCs belonging to AFPOCS "Balikatan" Class 12-94 graduated to become the first female officers of the AFP and were not included anymore as Women's Auxiliary Corps officers. Some Filipino officer candidates were also sent to train in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Today, Officer Candidate School in the Philippines were distributed on each armed services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) - Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy, these armed services conducts each of their officer's training annually on separate locations such as Philippine Air Force Aviation OCS in Fernando Air Base, Lipa City; Philippine Army OCS in Camp O'Donnell, Capas, Tarlac; and Philippine Navy OCS in San Antonio, Zambales.
In Singapore, Officer Cadet School is a school within SAFTI Military Institute, which serves as the main center for training officers of all ranks. Other schools within the SAFTI MI complex include SAF Advanced Schools and Singapore Command and Staff College.
Like the other schools on SAFTI MI, OCS is a tri-service institution which trains officers of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. A great deal of symbolism exists within the SAFTI MI complex to remind officers and aspiring officers of the tri-service nature of the Singapore Armed Forces.
Unlike other countries, OCS is the only route to a commission in the SAF. Even selected cadets who hold scholarships to train in friendly service academies must complete two thirds of OCS and receive their commission before undergoing further training overseas.
OCS in Singapore lasts approximately 38 weeks. The first term consists of military knowledge applicable to all services, including military history and military law. Subsequently, Officer Cadets are streamed into their services based on aptitude and personal preference, and receive training specific to their service.
In the United States Armed Forces, Officer Candidate School (OCS) or the equivalent is a training program for college graduates and non-commissioned officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen to earn commissions as officers. The courses generally last from six to seventeen weeks and include classroom instruction in military subjects, physical training, and leadership.
- The Officer Candidate School of the United States Navy is located at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. It has been based there since the fall of 2007 after relocating from NAS Pensacola, Florida. In the 1990s, OCS had departed Newport to combine with Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) at Naval Air Station Pensacola. On its return, it brought the tradition of USMC drill instructors (a la "An Officer and a Gentleman") from NAS Pensacola. Upon completion, graduates are commissioned in the rank of Ensign (ENS) in the U.S. Navy.
- The Officer Candidates School of the United States Marine Corps is at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. All Marine officers are initially trained at OCS, with the exception of those who come from the United States Naval Academy. Entrance to OCS is obtained through the Platoon Leaders Class and Officer Candidates Course programs. Candidates who enter the Platoon Leaders Class attend either two six-week sessions or one ten-week session during college. Those who enter the Officer Candidates Course attend one ten-week session after graduation from college. Naval ROTC midshipmen in the Marine Option also attend for one six-week session prior to commissioning. Graduates are commissioned as Second Lieutenants (2ndLt) in the U.S. Marine Corps.
- The Officer Candidate School of the United States Army is a 12 week long program held at Fort Benning, Georgia for both prior service and non-prior service candidates. Candidates with no prior military service will first attend Basic Combat Training. There are also National Guard Officer Candidate Schools that allow a National Guard soldier to train without deviating from the "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" training program; this is called 'Traditional', as it is the original method for the National Guard, and takes 18 months to complete. In addition, National Guard soldiers do have the option to attend the Federal course (if offered), or to attend an accelerated eight-week program which happens in conjunction with other states. Both Federal and state programs are accredited by the U.S. Army Infantry School. Upon completion of either OCS programs, graduates are commissioned as Second Lieutenants (2LT) and then attend the rest of their Basic Officer Leadership courses. In 2006, the officer commissioning programs changed, making the entire process, 'Basic Officer Leadership Course', occurring in two phases (BOLC-A and BOLC-B). Phase A is the original commissioning source (OCS, ROTC, USMA, Direct). BOLC B is the Officer Basic Course which trains the new officers into their Basic Branch skills and includes three weeks of basic soldiering skills.
- The Officer Training School of the United States Air Force is located at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. There are three programs offered at OTS. The first is Basic Officer Training (BOT), for those seeking a commission to the active duty USAF. It is a 9-week long program consisting of two parts. In the first part, officer trainees will learn military skills, USAF history, and other classroom and skill courses needed for serving in the Air Force. In the second part, trainees are given ranks from Officer Trainee O-1 (2d Lt) to Officer Trainee O-6 (Col), and will learn how to be a leader and be given the opportunity to lead other Officer Trainees. Graduates are commissioned as Second Lieutenants (2d Lt) in the U.S. Air Force. The second program is Commissioned Officer Training (COT), a five week introductory program to the USAF for those who have been directly commissioned in the USAF, primarily as chaplains, doctors, and lawyers. Trainees in COT range in rank from O-1 to O-5 and will report directly to their respective units after training. The third program is the Academy of Military Science (AMS), a detachment of the Air National Guard Readiness Center that is embedded at OTS. AMS is a six-week program designed to train and commission officer candidates to fulfill USAF and Air National Guard (ANG) requirements. The AMS program covers the same subject areas as BOT and COT, but also provides education in ANG heritage and the role of the "Citizen Airman". The majority of AMS students are prior-enlisted and many may also have civilian careers. Once AMS candidates successfully complete all OTS graduation requirements, they receive the oath of office and receive state and federal commissions as second lieutenants in the ANG with both state and federal responsibilities.
- The Officer Candidate School of the United States Coast Guard is at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where it has been located since August 1998. Prior to August 1998, Coast Guard OCS was located at the Coast Guard Reserve Training Center (RESTRACEN) in Yorktown, Virginia. OCS is a 17 week long program, the longest of the 5 military services. Graduates are commissioned in the rank of Ensign (ENS) in the U.S. Coast Guard and may report to Coast Guard cutters, sectors, or directly to flight training.
- U.S. Army Signal Corps OCS Association; www.ArmySignalOCS.com
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