Posted on Feb 26, 2015
CPT Chris Loomis
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What do you feel are the pros and cons of each of the Army Commissioning sources (i.e., ROTC, OCS, USMA, etc.)?
Posted in these groups: Officers logo OfficersUs army ranks 319 Commission
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Responses: 6
SGT Jim Z.
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From my honest opinion each has their merits.

USMA is the prestige and elite of the commissioning roads. The downfall not everyone can attend.

ROTC provides college students the road to commissioning. Downfall they are not part of the "ring knocker club"

OCS provides an avenue for an enlisted Soldier to soar and play with the big boys. Downfall not part of the "ring knocker club" nor are they ROTC grads. Personally I like officers that went this route because they have an understanding or can recall what it means to be enlisted.
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CPT Chris Loomis
CPT Chris Loomis
8 y
SGT Jim Zajc One of the biggest points that I make when stating my "mission statement" as an Officer is that I was an Enlisted Soldier before I received my bar. Therefore, I have some idea of what the Enlisted Soldiers I serve with are going through. Furthermore, I make it a point to remain with said Enlisted Soldiers as much as possible. Not only for the mere "presence" but to share in the experiences together. And bluntly, I prefer to be out there amongst the "Joes."

I recognize that there is a certain time and place to wear the Officer cap and get the job done. And that there is a distinction between Enlisted and Officers. However, I seek an equilibrium.

I also explain that philosophically I believe that we are all Soldiers. The difference with my Officership is that I merely have a greater responsibility and different methodology to complete our mission.
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MAJ Operations Officer (S3)
MAJ (Join to see)
8 y
2LT Loomis - Seeing this response, that helps me a bit....so let's just look at you. I don't think your question really revolves around commissioning source, but the pros and cons of you being prior enlisted.

My experience with prior enlisted officers, the difference is usually seen at the company grade ranks. They show many of the characteristics that you describe in your reply to SGT Zajc.

You know what the soldiers have to go through based on the decisions of higher ups, the BS, the painting leafs and raking rocks BS. That shared experience as being a rifle carrier, a gun bunny, a truck driver; helps you connect to them. This does not mean you are going to be a good officer though. Could have been a crappy soldier and be a great officer, or a great soldier and a crappy officers, or a crappy/crappy, or good/good combo. So being prior enlisted has nothing to do with how you will be now.

As an officer, you always have to wear the officer cap, there is not specific certain place and time, it's all the time. That does not mean you can't help Joe sweep the sidewalk, help unload ammo out of a truck, change track etc, but you are always an officer.

You will have an ability to translate what happens in Officer Land to Joe Land so that they understand it and not only follow directives, but buy into them as well. That is something huge you bring from your prior service.

Work with your enlisted as much as possible, but don't remain with them as much as possible, I think there is a difference. The person you should be remaining with as much as possible are your PSG and SQD LDRs, and your XO and CO for professional development.

It's a really fine line to walk because we would all prefer to be with Joe as much as possible, they need to love you, want to follow you, trust you, and you need to know them, love them, lead them with care.......one can explain their philosophy as much as they want....but you should know from your past, they are going to pick up on what you do, not what you say. Show them your philosophy.
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LTC Deputy Support Operations Officer
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Edited >1 y ago
I really wouldn't put one over the other. If I had the opportunity to do it all over and go to West Point, absolutely! West Pont graduates are part of a powerful Alumni. I went through ROTC, and yes, it is the largest commissioning source, but we come from over 300 colleges and universities. It was the best way for me to enter the Army after serving as a Navy enlisted man however. OCS is the most efficient way to transition Army NCOs into Army Officers. The bottom line is that we should go through a commissioning source so the NCO Corps can get a good look at us before we are commissioned.
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LCDR Sales & Proposals Manager Gas Turbine Products
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As a "ring knocker", I am humbled...and surprised by some of the comments herein. The academies are not, despite "rumint", closed societies-Not only were many of my classmates prior enlisted (Marine infantry, even a SEAL in my class), but most of us came from backgrounds where the scholarship was a major financial offset to obtaining a degree. By that measure, I suppose it could be said you "can't get there" on the average...but then again, that should be the point of any selective training opportunity, correct?

As regards ROTC, most of the officers I met in my career went this route, and I found that they tended to be a little more "academic" than academy grads, a little more "boot", if you will initially, unless they had former enlisted service. I suppose this is because the academies attempt to mirror other active duty components of their parent service in a total immersion experience as opposed to one that runs parallel to obtaining a degree. I would never claim to have "been through" what an E1-E3 endures in the Fleet, but I will say that I've often felt like the experiences my junior enlisted sailors related to me sounded very familiar. That said, I have found that ROTC officers are better at adapting to life in the Fleet, have better financial and social acumen, and quickly become strong leaders.

OCS has always struck me as it's own entity, incomparable to the other two (or three; let's not forget Direct Commission). OCS officers always seemed a little more "salty" to me, and I learned a great deal from observing them as a junior officer. I think there's a perception it's the only true "meritocracy" when it comes to earning a commission because you have to do so much prior to entry to justify your place...whereas the Academy and ROTC essentially make an investment in your proven potential. I would equate it to internal hiring for management in the civil sector.

At the end of the day, I believe we all hit a confluence around O-3 that determines if we are going to be "good" officers, destined for future command. A lot of "good guys" who care for their people and listen well have stellar first tours, and many talented JOs have great second tours because they know how to step up and show individual progress. Unfortunately, this alone does not a CO make, and all services have their "wickets" any officer must pass to make it to scrambled eggs. Much of that is showing evidence of loyalty to the service and mission, a high level of professional maturity, and a flawless track record of meeting goals. No one...and I mean no one, regardless of source of origin, is going to overcome documented financial problems, questionable commitment to the service, or the ghost of technical failure to attain their own command.
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LCDR Vice President
LCDR (Join to see)
>1 y
LCDR (Join to see) As a Mustang and someone who spent two years side by side with ROTC folks there are pros and cons to every commissioning source to include the path I took. For anyone to suggest that better officers come from a specific source is just plan wrong. It is the character and drive of the officer coupled with a good team, Chief, and leadership sprinkled with some good luck that make the leader.
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LCDR Sales & Proposals Manager Gas Turbine Products
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>1 y
Absolutely Bill! Probably the best officer I ever knew was a former enlisted Marine E-5 who came up through, I believe Navy OCS. I never knew a more respected JO, as evidenced by his relationship with his sailors, senior enlisted and superiors. The results spoke for themselves as pertained to his Division's performance. I am glad to say this officer is still serving, I believe at the Department Head or XO level, and will undoubtedly have his own ship one day.
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