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Tough new rules for applying to OCS

Jul. 28, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Officer candidates take part in a tug-of-war at Officer Candidate School this summer. New rules for applying to OCS are challenging.
Officer candidates take part in a tug-of-war at Officer Candidate School this summer. New rules for applying to OCS are challenging. (Army)
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Soldiers interested in applying for the federal Officer Candidate School program should consult:
■ Army Regulation 350-51 (Officer Candidate School)
■ MilPer Message 13-180, dated July 19
MilPer Message 13-188, dated July 22.

Quality standards have again been tightened for active and reserve soldiers applying for the federal Officer Candidate School program.

Several changes announced by the Army on July 19 build on stricter application crieteria that have been introduced in phases as the Army draws down.

The new rules will apply to in-service enlisted soldiers submitting applications for the two fiscal 2014 selection panels that will meet Dec. 9-13, 2013, and May 5-9, 2014. Application packets must be received at Human Resources Command by Oct. 25 for the December panel, and March 21 for the May board.

Soldiers in these categories and statuses are not eligible to apply for OCS under the policy changes and items of interest announced July 19:

■ Soldiers with civilian or military arrests or convictions who are under any kind of investigation, including letters of reprimand, Article 15s, flags, bars to re-enlistment, civilian arrests or detentions, regardless of conviction, and including expunged arrests and dismissed charges.

■ Soldiers with tatoos that are visible above the collar of the Army Service Uniform or on the hands or are not in compliance with AR 670-1 (Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia).

■ Soldiers with more than nine years of service, and soldiers more than 33 years of age. Policy requires that soldiers must be commissioned by age 34.

■ Soldiers who have served less than six months on their current tour, and soldiers with less than 12 months of service in their military occupational specialty. Also, soldiers who have received assignment instructions for a permanent change of station, or who have been selected or scheduled for training or schools not associated with unit training, such as Drill Sergeant School or Recruiting School.

■ Soldiers who have been alerted for deployment.

■ Soldiers with General Technical scores of less than 110 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, and soldiers who previously have held a commission from any branch or component.

■ Soldiers who have been selected or are eligible for separation under the Qualitative Management Program or the Qualitative Service Program.

■ Soldiers in the grades of E-8 and E-9.

As part of the application process, soldiers must complete a DA Form 61 indicating their preferences for a career branch.

Under the revised procedures, male soldiers of the active component will select 10 basic branches, not to include any of the Army Medical Department branches, the Chaplain Corps and Judge Advocate General’s Corps. These soldiers must choose two combat arms branches, with at least one being in the top three, two combat support and two combat service support. Other choices will be at the applicant’s discretion.

Active-component women will select in the same manner except that they will select only one combat arms branch, not to include Infantry or Armor. Women are not required to designate a combat arms branch in their top three choices.

Reserve-component soldiers have one choice, and that branch should coincide with the vacancy they will fill at their unit.

Under the new application procedures, soldiers are required to participate in a structured interview with a commander in the grade of colonel or higher.

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