Officer Candidate Course | Quantico

Officer Candidates School
“Testing Time”

As the third week unfolds at OCS, your candidate stands on the threshold of breakthrough and adaptation in their transformative journey. Week three is a pivotal period during which candidates begin to acclimate to the environment, stress, and expectations of OCS, marking a significant turning point in their Marine Corps experience.

Close-order Drill

Starting in week 3, candidates will focus on close-order drill, academic classes, and rigorous physical training. Each step in a close-order drill is meticulously taught, demanding precision and teamwork as recruits march in synchronized formations.

Drill fosters discipline and lays the foundation for military bearing. Meanwhile, academic classes center on Marine Corps history, ethics, and core values, while relentless physical training pushes recruits to their limits, building the strength and stamina needed to earn the title of Marine.

The Purpose of Close-order Drill

  • To move a unit from one place to another in a standard, orderly manner.
  • To provide simple formations from which combat formations may be readily assumed.
  • To teach discipline to the troops by instilling automatic responses to orders. To increase the confidence of the commander, by giving the proper commands and the control of drilling troops.
  • To give Marines an opportunity to handle individual weapons.

Building Confidence

Candidates plunge into the heart of the confidence course, a series of grueling physical and mental challenges. Towering logs, high ropes, and muddy crawls demand strength, agility, and a healthy dose of grit.

Fear and fatigue gnaw at the recruits, testing their determination as drill instructors relentlessly push them to conquer each obstacle. It’s a pivotal point in their transformation; the confidence course breaks down hesitation and builds the unwavering determination that defines a United States Marine.

Time to Challenge the Mind and the Body

Candidates will kick off the Basic Reaction Course (BRC). The BRC is an event where Candidates are briefed on a situation, given a mission, and then expected to formulate a plan and execute it. This is an essential building block in developing tactical leadership.


Week 3 introduces candidates to the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC), a challenging scenario in which they lead a fire team (four candidates) through a series of physical and mental obstacles. OCS staff and peers will assess their ability to make quick decisions, communicate effectively, and adapt plans under pressure. This is just one example of the leadership exercises that account for 50% of their overall grade.

Additionally, candidates will learn about Marine Corps uniforms this week and dive deeper into Marine Corps history. They will conclude the week with a 4-mile hike.

Thanks for reading along for week three. I’ll see you next week with more insights and stories during this pivotal time for you and your candidate.

Semper Fidelis,
Sgt. Maj. Paul Davis