Special 75th United States Army Officer Candidate School Diamond Anniversary
The Army Officer Candidate School Alumni Association has announced a Special 75th United States Army Officer Candidate School (USAOCS) Diamond Anniversary Celebration and Reunion 24-28 April 2016, Columbus, GA. The association represents all Army officers commissioned through the Officer Candidate School, regardless of previous school locations and branches. Thousands of OCS graduates (combat arms, combat support, combat service support, & special operations) have been instrumental in meeting the Army’s leadership requirements during peace and conflict. OCS continues to serve as a principal officer accession program for the Army. This reunion will also represent a great opportunity for OCS Mini-Reunion activities. Demonstrations and briefings related to OCS, tours, grand opening of the remodeled Wigle Hall, Memorial/Monument Walk, OCS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and Patterson Award Dinner at the National Infantry Museum. The reunion will be conducted 24-28 April 2016, Double Tree Hotel, 5321 Sidney Simmons Blvd., Columbus, GA 31904, Tel (706) 327-6868. Reservations for the “OCS Alumni Association Reunion 2016” are being accepted at a special rate. For more information, contact Nancy Ionoff, (813) 917-4309 or www.ocsalumni.com.
ARMY OCS: 75 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE
In 2016 the Officer Candidate Schools program celebrates its 75th year of training and commissioning the finest young men and women in America to be officers in the United States Army. Hundreds of thousands of OCS graduates have been instrumental in meeting the U.S. Army’s leadership requirements during peace and conflict. OCS continues to produce more than 30 percent of today's commissioned Army requirements.
AN URGENT NEED
The OCS program was established in early 1941 when the Secretary of War, the War Department, and the Army Chief of Staff agreed that a training program was needed to quickly commission new officers. The selective service draft program had brought nearly a million men into the Army by the spring of 1941. Leadership was needed desperately and OCS stepped forward to fill that need, just as it has in every war since then.
Initially an Infantry OCS was established in April 1941 using instructors and facilities already present at Fort Benning, Georgia. The first class graduated in September of that year. Later that month, the War Department announced that OCS would be expanded to 10 branch schools with an initial total enrollment of 2,300: Infantry, Signal Corps, Armor, Artillery, Coast Artillery, Quartermaster, Medical Corps, Engineering, Cavalry, Ordnance.
These enlisted men, some with as little as three months of service, were tested and those who showed promise of sufficient leadership ability were given 12 or 13 weeks of the most intensive scrutiny and training in the Army’s history. There was no room for failure. Lives would depend on ruthless adherence to the highest standards. “Standards, No Compromise” was the motto then and still is to this date.
Those who survived the ordeal were commissioned second lieutenants—the famed “ninety-day wonders” of World War II—and by war’s end there were approximately 280,000 OCS graduates. The momentous decision to start an OCS program proved to be very wise, as OCS became the leading source of commissioned officers during the war. It was also absolutely necessary to provide enough leaders for the rapidly expanding army of 8.3 million soldiers by late 1945.
At the end of World War II, the 8 million troops of the Army was reduced to less than 20 percent of that strength in one year and down to seven percent in three years. Commensurate with that reduction, by the end of 1946, all OCS training was transferred to the Army Ground General School at Fort Riley, Kansas. Officer production slowed to a trickle until 1950.
JUNIOR OFFICERS NEEDED AGAIN
The officer requirements of the Korean War resulted in the reactivation of six branch OCS programs in 1951: Infantry, Artillery, Signal, Engineer, Ordnance, and Antiaircraft. By the end of 1952, a combined total of 16,800 candidates had graduated from the six schools. All the reactivated schools except Infantry, Artillery and Engineer were closed by the end of 1952. The Engineer OCS closed in June 1954.
ANOTHER URGENT NEED
Once again, OCS quickly responded to the increased need for officers as the start of the Vietnam buildup began in 1965. Reappearing were the Engineer, Signal Corps, and Armor programs, and something unique was added: Armor OCS would give the initial 13 weeks of training to candidates in Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Transportation branches. Candidates in those branches would go on to complete the final weeks of OCS at their branch schools. Concurrently, Infantry OCS would give an initial 13 weeks of training to candidates in Adjutant General, Army Intelligence and Security, Chemical Warfare Corps, Finance Corps, and Military Police. Likewise, these candidates would attend their assigned branch service school to complete the course.
Within two years, all schools except Infantry, Artillery, Engineer, and the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) OCS were deactivated.
During the height of the Vietnam conflict, Infantry OCS produced about 7,000 officers annually from three battalions at Fort Benning. The program was reduced to two battalions toward the close of the conflict and presently maintains one battalion. Finally, in April 1973 the Branch Immaterial Officer Candidate Course was created at Fort Benning to replace all other OCS courses except the WAC OCS which remained at Fort McClellan until 1976, when it too merged with the course at Ft. Benning.
In the decades since the OCS branch immaterial program was implemented in 1973, OCS continues to provide commissioned officers to the total force for all basic branches of the Army. The demand for well-trained junior officers has expanded and contracted during those decades, which included major conflicts such as the 1991 Gulf War, peacekeeping operations in the Balkans, the Iraq War, and continuing operations in Afghanistan. The War on Terror is still underway as U.S. forces continue to be a vital part of the intervention against the Islamic State.
Since its inception 75 years ago, through major wars, the Cold War, and participation in numerous operations and conflicts all over the world, the Officer Candidate School continues to demonstrate uncommon flexibility, professionalism, and the unmatched ability to provide the U.S. Army with competent, well trained, and fearless officers in the shortest and most responsive time. They have met the ”standards with no compromise.”
HONORING AND SERVING OCS GRADUATES—PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
The U.S. Army Officer Candidate Schools Alumni Association (USAOCSAA) perpetuates the history and traditions of the officer candidate programs of the United States Army. The alumni from OCS programs represent all ranks from general officers to second lieutenants. The Association stands with and salutes the OCS graduates who take their place in the long line of tradition and excellence.
Each year the OCS Alumni Association hosts the annual Officer Candidate Schools National Reunion at Fort Benning, Georgia. Concurrently, USAOCSAA partners with the Officer Candidate Battalion to sponsor the Officer Candidate Schools Hall of Fame Induction and the OCS Patterson Award/OCS Alumni Reunion Banquet.
April 2016 will be a very special OCS reunion as the OCS alumni and Officer Candidate Battalion celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Officer Candidate Schools program. Activities such as demonstrations and briefings related to OCS, tours, grand opening of the remodeled Wigle Hall, Memorial/Monument Walk, OCS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Patterson Award Dinner at the National Infantry Museum will be featured from 24-28 April.
CONGRATULATION TO OCS ON ITS 75TH ANNIVERSARY AND A MODERN
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