An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Vermont National Guard Logo News
Articles
News | May 18, 2017

Leadership through Officer Candidate School

By Spc. Avery Cunningham 172nd Public Affairs Detachment

There are multiple ways to become an officer in the Army; college students could join the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps while pursuing their degree, attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, receive a direct commission or attend the Officer Candidate School.

OCS is the program tailored for currently serving Soldiers or recruits with a four-year degree to earn their commission.

“It’s a program [Officer Candidate School] where we take enlisted Soldiers from the Army National Guard and we train them and turn them into commissioned officers,” said Capt. Mathew Higgins, a senior instructor with Hotel Company, 2nd Modular Training Battalion, 124th Regiment (Regional Training Institute), Vermont National Guard.

For the National Guard, each state has its own OCS program, so a state can be self-sufficient in officer training.

“The advantage of OCS is you can be an enlisted soldier for several years and as long as you meet that minimum college requirement, you can come here and do this on the weekends and two, two-week resident phases, so it makes it a little bit easier for citizen-soldiers that have full-time jobs and families,” said Maj. Sam Weber, Delta Company, 195th Regiment (RTI).

The National Guard breaks the training down into four phases. The first phase, Phase Zero, is the preparatory phase, lasting between two to six months. The second phase, Phase One, is their first annual training. For Region One Soldiers, this is hosted at Camp Niantic, Connecticut. This focuses on basic Soldier tasks and skills.

Phase Two is the longest phase as it consists of monthly drills throughout the year being conducted with other officer candidates. It builds on foundational skills while also introducing troop-leading procedures, five-paragraph operations orders, how to lead, and how to train each other.

To progress to Phase Three, Region One OCS candidates take part in a four-day training event held at New Hampshire National Guard Training Site in Center Strafford, New Hampshire. This event occurred from May 18 to May 21 for the officer candidates of Region One.

Phase Three is the final phase consisting of a three-week course and a final evaluation. Qualified candidates receive their commission after this phase.

“In under two years, they go from being an enlisted Soldier or an NCO to being a commissioned officer,” said Higgins.

The transition from an enlisted Soldier to an officer can be challenging, but Higgins says they want to produce the best leaders possible.

“The leaders are the ones who have the foresight and vision to drive the Vermont Army National Guard to get us where we need to go,” said Higgins. “This is not an easy thing to do, it’s definitely not for everybody. It’s a challenge and you will be challenged, you will be stressed, but that breeds success and weeds out all but the best.”
National Guard News
Members of Higher Headquarters Company 117th Military Police Brigade, Michigan National Guard, deplane at the unit’s welcome home ceremony from a deployment to support Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay in the Southern Command Area of Responsibility, Detroit, Mich, April 9, 2024.
Michigan Guard Military Police Soldiers end Guantanamo Mission
By Master Sgt. Helen Miller, | April 15, 2024
LANSING, Mich. – The water spray arch of two Detroit Metro Airport firetrucks marked the homecoming of 62 Michigan National Guard Citizen-Soldiers with the 177th Military Police Brigade following their deployment to Joint...

Pfc. Cassandra Vazquez receives an Army Achievement Medal from the Georgia Army National Guard command team of Maj. Gen. Dwayne Wilson and Command Sgt. Maj. John Ballenger during a battle handoff ceremony April 13, 2024, in Fort Stewart, Ga.
New Georgia Army Guard Soldiers say ‘Send Me’ Overseas
By Maj. Charles Emmons, | April 15, 2024
FORT STEWART, Ga. - On April 13, 194 new Soldiers joined the Georgia Army National Guard during a battle handoff ceremony that followed basic and military occupational specialty training. Most will now report to one of the...

A 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II refuels a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk during training over Alaska Jan. 11, 2021. A 210th RQS Pave Hawk carried out two medical evacuation missions April 4-5, 2024, one of them with a 211th RQS HC-130 and both with 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angels.
Alaska Air National Guard Helps 3 Alaskans During 2 Missions
By David Bedard, | April 15, 2024
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alaska Air National Guardsmen evacuated a mother and premature baby and rescued an injured snowmachiner in two missions at remote locations across Alaska April 4-5. The first mission...

Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 3rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team conducted a training proficiency exercise April 11, 2024, at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. The team was evaluated by a U.S. Army North team.
Pennsylvania Guard WMD Civil Support Team Completes Exercise
By Wayne Hall, | April 12, 2024
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania National Guard’s 3rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team conducted a training exercise April 11 to validate its proficiency. In the exercise scenario, potentially contaminated...

Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marine Forces Reserve, and Maryland National Guard pose for a photo during Deliberate Response '24 at Warren Grove Range, New Jersey, April 6, 2024. The exercise demonstrated the partnership between the Maryland National Guard and the AFBiH through the State Partnership Program.
Maryland Guard, Bosnia and Herzegovina Conduct JTAC Training
By Master Sgt. Christopher Schepers, | April 12, 2024
WARREN GROVE, N.J. - Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in their first live-fire training exercise with state partner the Maryland National Guard April 2-6 at the...