December 19, 2008
On November 18-19, a JINSA delegation co-chaired by Board of Directors members Jonathan Hochberg and Jonathan Loew visited Marine Corps Base Quantico to observe the making of United States Marine Corps officers. Quantico is home to the Officer Candidate School (OCS), which serves as a boot camp for officer candidates and The Basic School (TBS), where newly minted Marine second lieutenants learn the art and science of being an Officer of Marines.
Lieutenant General Earl Hailston, USMC (ret.), a member of JINSA's Board of Advisors, personally led the group, sharing his experiences at Quantico, as well as his experiences in the Untied States Marine Corps which include his tenure as Commander of U.S. Marine Forces for Central Command where he led the Marine component into Afghanistan and Iraq.
OCS annually trains, evaluates and screens more than 2,500 officer candidates to ensure that they possess the moral, intellectual and physical qualities for commissioning and the leadership potential to serve successfully as company-grade officers in the operating forces.
Each year, TBS educates more than 1,700 newly commissioned or appointed officers in the high standards of professional knowledge, esprit de corps and leadership required to prepare them for duty as company grade officers in the Fleet Marine Force operating forces with particular emphasis on the duties, responsibilities and warfighting skills required of a rifle platoon commander.
TBS also conducts the Infantry Officer Course to provide additional infantry skill training for officers in preparation for duty as platoon commanders of rifle, weapons, anti-armor, heavy machine guns and mortar platoons within the infantry battalion and as platoon commanders within the light armored reconnaissance battalion.
Quantico, known as the "Crossroads of the Marine Corps," is also home to the Corps' Combat Development Command, which develops Marine Corps warfighting abilities and develops doctrine, organization, training and education.
The JINSA visit began with a dinner at the Officers Club with special guests from the Combat Development Command, the Training and Education Command, the Marine Corps War College and the Capabilities Development Directorate. JINSA was honored that Brigadier General Timothy Hanifen, Deputy Commanding General of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, presided over the dinner and made remarks on the important role Marine Corps Base Quantico plays in the screening, training and education of Marine Corps officers.
The following day, the JINSA delegation was briefed on the Marine Corps Vision and Strategy 2025, including the goal to create joint seabasing capabilities through the use of the sea as a maneuver space thereby eliminating the need for host countries. Commanders at the Combat Development Command also discussed the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) formed for combat operations in which substantial combat forces of both Marine aviation and Marine ground units are included in the task organization of participating Marine forces.
At a luncheon meeting, the JINSA delegation had the opportunity to interact with TBS staff and personally engage them in discussions about TBS, where all newly commissioned officers are sent to learn the art and science of being an Officer of Marines and are given extensive classroom, field, and practical application training on subjects ranging from weapons and tactics to leadership and protocol.
The JINSA group was also afforded with the opportunity to have "hands-on" experiences while at Quantico. The delegation visited the Night Vision Training facility, put on night vision goggles and went through the obstacle course – the same course used to train Marine Corps officers.
In 2001, the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program was developed to train Marines in unarmed combat, edged weapons, weapons of opportunity, and rifle and bayonet techniques. A group of Marines and their instructor put on a demo for the JINSA delegation on the various training tactics.
The program was concluded with a visit to the Weapons Training Battalion (WTB). The WTB schedules, coordinates and executes rifle and pistol qualifications for newly commissioned Marine officers, as well as re-qualification for all Quantico Marines. Furthermore, the unit also is the parent organization of the United States Marine Corps Shooting Teams, encompassing the rifle, pistol, and international teams. Additionally, the battalion is the home of the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Instructor courses and houses a weapons manufacturing and testing facility that builds and maintains the M40A1 and M40A3 sniper rifles, various Marine Expeditionary Unit (special operations capable) weapons and all the competition rifles and pistols in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve.