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What is The Basic School (TBS) USMC?

Marine Officers at TBS playing tug of war
TBS Officers

Becoming an officer in the United States Marine Corps is a tremendous responsibility that requires specialized training and preparation. The Basic School (TBS), located at Camp Barrett in Quantico VA, serves as the launching pad for newly commissioned officers, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead Marines effectively. In this article, we'll delve into what this post-Officer Candidate School course entails, including its purpose, instruction methods, duration, and what follows after completion.

TBS is designed to train and educate newly commissioned or appointed officers in the art and science of being an Officer of Marines. This comprehensive program prepares officers for their roles as company-grade officers in the operating forces, with a particular emphasis on fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of a rifle platoon commander.

Lasting 26 weeks, TBS offers a combination of classroom, field, and practical application training. The curriculum covers a wide range of subjects, including weapons and tactics, leadership, protocol, and combat skills. Regardless of the commissioning source, whether from the Naval Academy, NROTC, or Officer Candidate School (OCS), all new Marine officers embark on their journey at TBS. Additionally, during TBS, officers are selected for a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that aligns with their interests and aptitudes, such as Infantry, Military Police, or Naval Aviator.

Phases of Instruction: TBS is divided into four distinct phases, each building upon the knowledge and skills acquired in the preceding phase:

  1. Phase I - Individual Skills (7 Weeks): This phase focuses on developing leadership abilities and individual proficiency in areas like rifle and pistol qualification, land navigation, communications, combat lifesaving, and combat mindset.

  2. Phase II - Rifle Squad Leader Skills (6 Weeks): In this phase, officers learn decision-making, combined arms operations, rifle squad tactics, weapons proficiency, and scouting/patrolling techniques.

  3. Phase III - Rifle Platoon Commander Skills (6 Weeks): Officers further enhance their leadership skills by mastering rifle platoon tactics, convoy operations, engineering principles, and crew-served weapons employment.

  4. Phase IV - Basic MAGTF Officer Skills (7 Weeks): The final phase emphasizes skills necessary for Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operations, including urban warfare, force protection, expeditionary operations, legal/administrative duties, and more.

To complement classroom learning, TBS incorporates field exercises (FEXs) that allow officers to apply their knowledge in realistic scenarios. FEXs occur at various levels, from squad to platoon reinforced, and cover a range of combat operations. These exercises involve both blank-fire training and live fire ranges, ensuring officers become proficient in combat techniques and decision-making under pressure.

Upon completing TBS, officers will proceed to attend additional specialized schools based on their assigned Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). These schools further hone their skills and expertise in specific areas before being assigned to a unit within the Fleet Marine Force. The knowledge and leadership gained at TBS serve as a foundation for officers to fulfill their roles and responsibilities in leading Marines and contributing to the mission of the Marine Corps.

The Basic School plays a crucial role in shaping the next generation of Marine Corps officers. Through its rigorous curriculum and hands-on training, TBS instills in newly commissioned officers the core values, leadership skills, and combat expertise necessary to lead Marines effectively. As over 1,700 officers pass through TBS each year, the Marine Corps ensures a continuous supply of competent and capable leaders who are prepared to face the challenges of service to their country.


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