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An Overview of Army OCS

The idea for the modern Officer Candidate School for Infantry was conceived in June 1938, when a plan for an officer-training program was submitted to the Chief of Infantry by Brigadier General L. Singleton, Commandant of the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia. No action was taken until July 1940, when Brigadier General Courtney Hodges, Assistant Commandant of the Infantry School, submitted a revised plan. The new program went into effect in July 1941, as the Infantry, Field Artillery, and Coastal Artillery Officer Candidate Schools. Other branches later followed with their own Officers Candidate Schools. On September 27, 1941, the first Infantry OCS class graduated 171 second lieutenants out of the 204 men who started the 17-week course.

The man credited with establishing the format, discipline, and code of honor still used in OCS today was General Omar Bradley, then Commandant of the Infantry School. As the Commandant of the Infantry School, General Bradley emphasized rigorous training, strict discipline and efficient organization. These tenets remain the base values of today’s Officer Candidate School.

Between July 1941 and May 1947, over 100,000 candidates were enrolled in 448 Infantry OCS classes, of these approximately 67 percent were commissioned. After World War II, Infantry OCS was transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, as part of the Ground General School. All other Officer Candidate Schools were discontinued.

On November 1, 1947, the Infantry OCS program was discontinued. The final class graduated only 52 second lieutenants.

A shortage of officers during the Korean conflict caused Infantry OCS to reopen at Fort Benning on February 18, 1951. At this time, the course was lengthened from 17 to 22 weeks. The name was changed from The Infantry Officer Candidate School to the First Officer Candidate Battalion, Second Student Regiment. The strength of OCS increased rapidly. As one of eight branch programs, Infantry OCS included as many as 29 companies with a class graduating every week. During the Korean War, approximately 7,000 infantry officers graduated from OCS at Fort Benning.

On August 4, 1953, OCS was reduced from eight to three programs: Infantry, Artillery, and Engineer.

Shortly before the onset of the Vietnam Conflict OCS had been reduced to two programs, Infantry and Field Artillery. During the height of the Vietnam Conflict, Infantry OCS was one of five programs and produced 7,000 officers annually from five battalions at Fort Benning. Towards the end of the conflict OCS reduced to two programs, Infantry and Female OCS. Infantry OCS was reduced to two battalions and presently maintains one battalion.

In April 1973, a Branch Immaterial Officer Candidate School was created to replace the branch specific courses and the length of the course was reduced to 14 weeks. OCS for female officer candidates remained at Fort McClellan, Alabama until December 1976, when it merged with the branch immaterial OCS program at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Today’s officer candidates enter the school from throughout the force. OCS continues to provide commissioned officers to the total force for all sixteen basic branches of the Army.

On June 12, 1998 to further integrate the Army, the Army National Guard OCS Phase III candidates began training alongside their active duty counterparts at Fort Benning. Officer Candidates from the National Guard and Army Reserve conduct the final phase of training before commissioning during their two-week annual training period. Over 650 future officers were trained for the Army in the first year, with similar numbers being trained in subsequent years.

The mission of OCS remains; to train selected personnel in the fundamentals of leadership; basic military skills; instill professional ethics; evaluate leadership potential; and commission those who qualify as second lieutenants in all sixteen basic branches of the Army.

Standards! No Compromise!

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Army Museum



Graduating AAA OCS Class # 11 receiving the Oath of Office. 19 February 1953. Theater No. 1, Fort Bliss, Texas



Graduating AAA OCS Class # 11 presenting itself to the Reviewing Officer at graduation parade. 19 February 1953.



Reviewing officers and graduating AAA OCS Class # 11. 19 February 1953.



Inspecting AAA target sleeve. Inchon AAA Range, Korea. October 1953.

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