Thanks to recent graduate Avery Soong for sharing his perspective on the differences and similarities between Marine Corps PLC Juniors and PLC Seniors. Check out his Youtube channel for more insight on OCS.
I often get questions addressing the differences between Marine Corps PLC Juniors and Seniors; thus, I will address the major differences and then share my personal experiences. OCS made a lot of adjustments and changes to the period of instruction and details such as performance nutrition packs (a snack pack) and physical training changes.
- Combat Course
- Muscular Endurance Course
- Fire and Movement Course
- Obstacle course (although I swear the Seniors one is higher)
Marine Corps PLC Juniors Main Events:
- SULE I
- Day Land Navigation
- Stamina Course
- Fireteam assault course
- Transition and Adaptation Phases
- OSMEAC Portion of 5-Paragraph Order
- Marine Corps History 1-3
- Juniors Fartlek/ Extension
- 4 and 6-mile hikes
What It’s Like
My personal experience with Marine Corps PLC Juniors was interesting because my enlisted staff was led by none other than the feared GySgt B I talk about in my videos. The day we met him he said, “You will be the best platoon and have discipline; God help you if you don’t.” So, for him, he would make no compromise and we would give him his volume, move with speed and intensity and be worthy of leading Marines or pay the price. So, my days at Marine Corps PLC Juniors involved a lot of running around and yelling as well as playing a lot of interesting “games.” My staff also had three Sergeant Instructors and one platoon sergeant.
It’s Their Game and Their Rules
My platoon commander was more of a behind-the-scenes leader as he let the enlisted staff take the lead on the training. One thing he said that really stuck with me was “We play a lot of games, right? Well when I went through, there was a war (Afghanistan Offensive) going on and the training and staff were extremely intense, so I don’t want to cheat you proper training and I want to make sure you’re ready to lead Marines.” When you’re holding things out in front of you or running and touching trees you may not think it helps at all but it builds discipline and makes you tough (Main Packs get heavy after a long time).
The one thing I noticed, during Marine Corps PLC Juniors, was for the first three training weeks I was really stressed out and just plain exhausted all the time, I remember I slept 11 hours on my first liberty. Getting your body destroyed and having instructor-induced stress really does wear you out in addition to the PT and Field time. Overall, I didn’t think the events or exams at Juniors were really that hard, it just plain sucked.
Marine Corps PLC Seniors Main Events:
- Night Land Navigation
- Endurance Course
- Transition phase, directly to the decision making and execution phase
- Marine Corps History 4-6
- BAMCIS Portion of 5-Paragraph Order
- PT on the PT field almost every day
- Seniors Fartlek/ Extension
- 6 and 9-mile hike
What It’s Like
Seniors was completely different, I’ll start with the moment I got to the D.C. airport. I went to the USO and got ready to embark the buses to Quantico, the Executive Officer of OCS a Lt Col said, “Ah how are you doing son! I really like your videos!” and the Master Sergeant with him said, “Well, you better graduate.” At that point, I was like “Uh-oh, better go over all those billet SOPs because I got some Candidate Company Commander incoming.” I spent all of in-processing with a target painted on my back and to be honest it stressed me out a little. Now fast forward to pick up day and the instructors march out on the stage and march us back to Graham Hall and do gear inventory with our main packs.
So, the first major difference was rather than the staff being led by a fearsome platoon sergeant, it was led by a 42-year-old prior enlisted man named Captain “D”. The man had reached the rank of GySgt before he was accepted into the MECEP program and commissioned. Did I also mention he did a stint at MCRD Parris Island as a drill instructor as well? So, I noticed the platoon commander everywhere always watching us and observing our little habits and idiosyncrasies. He would always tell us “Somebody is always watching and annotating everything that you do!”
Contrary to the Juniors period of instruction (POI), there was much less time to spend holding things out in front of us, thus the staff didn’t really play any games with us at all, which was quite shocking to me.
Once we picked up, the billets and POI started immediately and made time go fast. I remember the end of the week was the first time we went to the field and did night land navigation practical application (which I failed). Then, I had my billet as candidate platoon commander, and at the end of my three-day billet, back to the field again for the night land navigation test (on which I got a 100).
One piece of advice I have for PLC guys is to get with the ROTC guys if you have questions on the land navigation, tactics, and the operations order because some of them are really helpful and well trained (Shout out to my buddy Cole).
The Endurance Course is no joke! I run in the 18’s for my three mile and only ran a 38 minute on it.
SULE II is much harder as it takes all day and it rained after the 9-mile hike and soaked my feet and cammies which led to bad chaffing, but as long as you know how to land navigate and can rattle off a good operation order you’ll be fine. Honestly, I wasn’t really stressed out by the POI as I was pretty well prepared. But, towards the end I started getting really bored and frustrated as being in Quantico for 12 weeks was getting old.
The one big difference is that they started giving performance nutrition packs, which are little snacks before PT and eating morning chow after PT, which was a major improvement. Also, there was less running and more “core strength and conditioning” which according to some priors was just a company-wide IT session. The final difference was that field chow was virtually non-existent and they fed us at Bobo almost every day, which really helped me retain weight. Oh and also, I got my Eagle, Globe and Anchor after the Medal of Honor run and I walked across that parade deck a United States Marine…