In the midst of budget cuts and a war that is winding down, it should come as no surprise that the Department of Defense is continuing to reduce manpower. With the Marine Corps having the smallest budget of all the services, it is even less surprising that we are getting hit hard. What does this mean for new officers, the number of NROTC scholarships, and OCS applicants? You won’t find a definitive answer here, in fact much of this information is speculative. However, there seems to be some evidence supporting a lot of the chatter going around.

Newly Commissioned Officers And The Basic School

If you weren’t aware, TBS is having serious trouble trying to manage the flood of new Lieutenants that are making their way into the Corps. Many of these officers signed on several years ago when the budget situation and outlook of the war was much different. For instance, most NROTC Marine Option Midshipman graduating today got in at least four years ago.

The solution has so far been to place new officers on hold, or more formally in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). In some instances, the holding time could exceed a year.

In addition, it has recently come to my attention that TBS is giving new officers the option to:

  1. Extend their time in the IRR, or
  2. Resign their commission

As of today, there are NO available TBS slots until April of 2015. Those who have an upcoming ship date can delay their entry further. This may be ideal for someone expecting a child, or dealing with other personal, financial, or private industry work related issues. The second option does seem a surprising at first, but when you examine the severity of the reduction it makes sense.

NROTC Scholarships – Can you still pick one up?

Although speculative, you can pretty much guarantee that the Marine Corps is going to be much more careful in determining who gets a full ride through college. When you think about it, the amount of tuition paid for a single person can range between $50k to $200k and up depending on the university. Given that Marine Officers coming out of NROTC only have a 4 year commitment, it doesn’t seem likely that the Corps is going to invest very heavily in this particular path given budget cuts.

As an example, my old unit, one of the smallest, generally gets between 3-5 Marines Options on scholarship each year. Last fall they only received 1.

OCS Applicants – Will You Get Picked Up For OCC/PLC

Can’t really say too much here, except that you are likely to see the same patterns. Traditionally, OCC graduates went straight to The Basic School with little time between the two. However, don’t be surprised if you end up in some temporary admin job waiting to pickup for real training.

Don’t be discouraged. The Marine Corps will always need new officers, and the best pool of applicants still have the chance to claim the title of Marine Officer. Things will balance out in the years to come.