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These are some questions I recently answered from a young man wanting to know the differences between OCS and Bootcamp.

I will now answer some of your questions. My responses will be in all caps and in red within your email below.

Jason D. Grose
Lieutenant
United States Marine Corps
http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

Subject: Marines

Dear Lieutenant Grose,

I'm very interested in joining the Marines as an officer because I feel they have discipline, honor and integrity.  Their sense of teamwork and esprit-de-corps is also very impressive.

I read the book "Making the corps" and found it to be most illuminating.  The recruiter I spoke to suggested that to get to know what life in the Marines is like, I should speak to actual Marines. I thought that speaking to you would be ideal as you have been in the enlisted ranks and are now an officer so you have see both aspects of Marine life ( I enjoyed reading your accounts of boot camp).

I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about the Marines, from the point of view of someone who is in the corps.  For example, are the accounts of integrity and discipline (in books and on the web) accurate or are they exaggerated?

WE SET OUT TO TEACH YOUNG MARINES THE IDEALS THAT THEY ARE EXPECTED TO MAINTAIN. WE STRESS THAT THEY ARE UPHOLDING THE REPUTATION PAID FOR OVER THE YEARS BY MILLIONS OF MARINES BEFORE THEM. WE TRY TO INSTILL  A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY AND THEN HOLD THEM TO THIS. IT IS LITERALLY PERSONALLY INSULTING TO US WHEN WE OBSERVE MARINES NOT LIVING UP TO THIS CODE AND WE ARE QUICK TO CORRECT THEM. WHEN THEY LET DOWN THE CORPS, THEY LET DOWN NOT ONLY EACH ONE OF US, BUT ALL THE MARINES THAT EVER BORE THE EAGLE, GLOBE, AND ANCHOR.
 

Do most Marines live by these values and ideals or is it just lip service?

THE MARINE CORPS DRAWS IN MEMBERS FROM THE SOCIETY AT LARGE. THEREFORE, WE ARE MADE OF A CROSS-SECTION OF SOCIETY AND CANNOT ENTIRELY UNDO THE ATTITUDES THAT HAVE INFESTED SOME OF TODAY'S YOUTH. WE HAVE OUR "PROBLEM-CHILDREN" JUST AS ANY ORGANIZATION HAS. WE JUST HAVE A BETTER SYSTEM IN PLACE TO DEAL WITH THEM THAT MOST. BUT TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, THE VAST MAJORITY STEP UP AND INTERNALIZE THOSE CORPS VALUES WE TEACH THEM.

How are the black sheep who don't live by these principles dealt with?

THERE IS A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUNG TROOPS AND THEIR LEADERS. WHEN A MARINE IS PUT IN A LEADERSHIP POSITION, WHICH COMES VERY FAST, THEY ARE EXPECTED TO GET ACTIVELY INVOLVED WITH THOSE UNDER HIM. HE IS TO MAINTAIN TIGHT DISCIPLINE AND SET THE EXAMPLE FOR THOSE UNDER HIM. IF THAT DOES NOT WORK, THE NEXT LEVEL OF LEADERSHIP GETS INVOLVED. THIS KEEPS GOING UNTIL THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED. YOU CAN PROVIDE COUNSELING INFORMALLY OR FORMALLY. INFORMALLY, YOU JUST TALK TO HIM, CHEW HIM IF YOU HAVE TO, AND LET IT GO AT THAT FOLLOWED BY CLOSER SUPERVISION. IF YOU GO THE FORMAL ROUTE (ONLY AFTER THE INFORMAL METHOD FAILS TO PRODUCE RESULTS) INVOLVES PUTTING COUNSELING ENTRIES IN HIS RECORD. THE NEXT LEVEL WOULD BE NONJUDICIAL PUNISHMENT WHERE THE COMPANY COMMANDER HOLDS A TYPE OF TRIAL AND THEN DISPENSES PUNISHMENT. THE NEXT LEVEL IS THE SAME THING BUT AT THE NEXT HIGHER LEVEL (THE BATTALION) FOR MORE SERIOUS OFFENSES. NEXT, YOU HAVE COURTS MARTIAL.
 

The book I mentioned clearly illustrated people who finished boot camp but didn't quite live up to the ideals of a Marine.  What are your experiences in your years of service?

WHAT SOMETIMES HAPPENS IS THAT THEY GET OUT OF BOOTCAMP AND THEN GO TO A UNIT WHO DOES NOT SUSTAIN THAT LEVEL OF DISCIPLINE OR EXPECTATIONS. THEY ARE NOT TREATED IN THE RIGHT MANNER AND SOMETIMES BECOME DISILLUSIONED. IF THERE ARE IMPROPER ROLE MODELS, THEY THINK THE MARINE CORPS IS NOT REALLY WHAT THEY THOUGHT IT WAS. AS THEIR ATTITUDE LAGS COMBINED WITH POOR LEADERSHIP EXAMPLES, THEY GET INTO TROUBLE OR JUST MARK TIME UNTIL THEY CAN GET OUT. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT THEY NEED THAT INITIAL LEADERSHIP ROLE MODEL ONCE THEY ARE DONE WITH BOOTCAMP TO SHOW THEM WHAT THEY SHOULD STRIVE FOR.
 

What are some typical problems that a Marine faces while serving in the corps at different points of his career?

I TOUCHED ON A FEW BUT OTHERS INCLUDE SLOW PROMOTION, LONG HOURS, AND BASICALLY HARD WORK. BUT THEY HAVE TO REALIZE THAT IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE THAT WAY. LONELINESS ALSO PLAGUES MANY MARINES BUT THAT IS SO WITH ANY TYPICAL TEENAGER WHEN THEY LEAVE HOME.

 What are the typical reasons Marines leave the corps?

DISILLUSIONMENT WITH THE CORPS BUT TO ADD TO THIS, I WILL TELL YOU THAT I HAVE HEARD LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE TELL ME THAT THEY MISS THE CORPS AFTER THEY LEFT AND THE CIVILIAN WORLD WAS A LOT WORSE THAN THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD BE. THEY SAY THEY NEVER KNEW HOW GOOD IT WAS TO BE A MARINE UNTIL THEY HAD TO DEAL WITH THE "REAL WORLD."

I would really appreciate what you could tell me since the decision to join is obviously a very important one.  Do you have any suggestions how else I might be able to get a "feel" of what life is like before I make the decision?

YOU ALREADY DID A GOOD THING BY READING "MAKING A CORPS." ALSO, I WOULD SUGGEST READING "MARINE" BY TOM CLANCY. YOU CAN TALK TO MARINES SUCH AS RECRUITERS OR ONES AT THE LOCAL NROTC UNIT IF YOU LIVE NEAR A COLLEGE.

Could you tell me about life in OCS?  I heard that it's even tougher than bootcamp, which makes it all the more challenging.  The recruiter I spoke to mentioned that integrity and leadership are very important considerations in OCS and that an officer candidate will not be given a second chance for a violation in these areas.  Could you tell me about that?
 

THAT IS PRETTY MUCH TRUE. I DO NOT THINK OCS AND BOOTCAMP ARE FAIR COMPARISONS BECAUSE THEY ARE DIFFERENT, YES, THE ENVIRONMENT IS HARSH AND THEY ARE BOTH MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY DIFFICULT. BUT OCS, AS YOU POINTED OUT, IS ABOUT LEADERSHIP AND INTEGRITY. IT IS A WEEDING OUT PROCESS TO SEE IF YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE AN OFFICER. BOOTCAMP IS TEACHING YOU MORE OF THE BASICS ABOUT BEING A FOLLOWER AND LEARNING ALL THE BASICS ABOUT BEING AN ENLISTED MARINE. IN BOOTCAMP, IF YOU GET TO THE END AND THE DI STILL CAN'T REMEMBER YOUR NAME, YOU HAVE DONE WELL. YOU WANT TO BE A BRICK IN THE WALL. BUT THIS CANNOT HAPPEN AT OCS BECAUSE YOU ARE CONSTANTLY BEING PUT IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS AND THEN EVALUATED ON HOW YOU LEAD.

Thank you very much, sir.  Semper Fi!

Howard
 

LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY MORE QUESTIONS.

--Lt Grose


Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

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