It has certainly been a while – hasn’t it?
I’m currently a few weeks into Officer Candidate School. I finished up Basic Combat Training a few weeks ago at Fort Jackson.
Basic Combat Training was an adventure, for sure, and a lesson in patience! Depedning on the perspective I choose, I can make it seem awesome, boring, easy, tough, or life-changing. For entertainment’s sake, we’ll stick with awesome.
But first, a performance recap:
APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) Score: 348 on the extended scale. 58 pushups, 98 situps and a 13:23 two mile run time. Highest score in my platoon!
That’s right – I ran two 6:42 miles back-to-back. I ran with Alpha group (the fast kids) during my time at BCT. I alternated between hanging in and feeling awesome, and falling out after the first 1.5 miles – on those days, I called myself “A minus” and considered it a victory to not get lapped! My speed definitely improved, and I managed to avoid injury. I’m no longer afraid to run hard on a regular basis, but I’m very glad I had a relatively solid running base entering BCT.
Some BCT highlights:
The grenade range. It was somewhat anti-climactic because you don’t actually get to watch the grenades you throw go off – you’re taking cover behind a thick concrete wall. But, I got to throw two live hand grenades, which is pretty awesome.
Advanced Rifle Marksmanship. This included using scopes, lazers and – my favorite part – night vision goggles. We also did some close contact drills, which involved shooting “controlled pairs” (a.k.a. Double tapping) targets at close range.
Urban Operations. We were trained on the proper techniques of breeching and clearing a room. It was super fun. It’s a lot like what you see SWAT teams and military personnel do on TV when they kick in the door and rush into the room. I was usually the door-kicker. It seemed complicated at first, because there is a lot that happens in a really short period of time, but as long as each team member understood their objective and performed it, it was actually pretty smooth and easy.
Field Training. We had three different field trianing events – the last one being 5 days long. At the last one, we got to execute a lot of the different things we had learned and work as a squad. My squad was great and we worked well together. We did drills that tested our ability to react to contact, react to snipers, identify IEDs, break contact, search and clear areas, and even treat/rescue injured friendly forces.
OCS is going well so far! It’s very competitive. We’re all ranked on a points scale, and the points count towards two things:
Branching. All of the Active Duty people are competing for their desired officer branches. As a National Guard member, I already have my branch, so this doesn’t matter to me.
Class standings. The top 20% will be considered Honor Graduates. This is what I’m shooting for.
We get scored on physical events, tests, leadership and field activities. So far, the physical events have been a huge factor in separating the top OCs. I’ve never been happier to be a runner. Seriously, if anyone out there is thinking about OCS, start running now. There isn’t much training time here to really improve run times. Our timed 3, 4, and 5 mile runs are in the first 5 weeks. When you’re with a bunch of smart people and they’re scoring 100s on their tests, your running can really give you a bump to the top of the class standings.
OCS comes with much more freedom than BCT. I’ve been off-post once for a volunteer event, and I’ve gotten to go to the gym on post – which contains a pool (YES! SWIMMING!), a rock wall, a few spin bikes, and the usual gym equipment. I’ll have to track down a few good spinning workouts… I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t spend time on craigslist looking for a cheap bike to buy… but having to go everywhere with a battle buddy makes adventures like that seem unlikely.
So, what’s on the horizion?
First of all, kicking butt at OCS. LOTS of studying, additional running/exercise when my training allows – phsyically as well as what permissions I’m allowed through my cadre.
Second, working out a rough plan. I’ve got one school left after OCS, and I’m trying to work a tri schedule around drill weekends and school. I’m also still on contract with my job – and that is up in September. So, there’s a lot to consider, many different plans to be formed, and probably a large number of decisions to be made.
Third, get my butt back to Tucson and jump in with both feet – socially, with training, and with life in general. Things have been so restricted for me since January, and will continue to be through June. I’m itching to get back to the freedoms associated with real life, even it if means sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day again to facilitate my fun, or until some alternative can be put in place.
So, what have I missed??