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The Basic School (TBS) is where all newly commissioned United States Marine Corps officers are sent to learn the art and science of being an Officer of Marines. TBS currently lasts 26 weeks. During those 26 weeks, the new officers are given extensive classroom, field, and practical application training on subjects ranging from weapons and tactics to leadership and protocol. Whether commissioned from the Naval Academymarker, NROTC or one of the other Officer Candidate School (OCS) routes, TBS is the first stop for new Marine officers. During TBS, the officers are selected for a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) ranging from Infantry to Military Police to Naval Aviator. Following TBS, the Officer will attend one or more additional schools to be trained in that particular specialty prior to being assigned to a unit in the Fleet Marine Force.

The course has 1585 hours of training; spending 932.6 hours (60%) in the classroom and 652.5 hours (40%) in the field. Classroom events include platform instruction, tactical decision games (TDGs), sand table exercises (STEXs) and small group discussions. There are various field events, beginning with fireteam and squad level, moving all the way up to platoon reinforced events. The field events consist of realistic blank-fire training, SESAMS (similar to paintball), and live fire ranges.

The Basic School, a formal school within Training Command, is located at Camp Barrett. Camp Barrett is 11 miles west of Marine Corps Base Quanticomarker in Stafford Countymarker, Virginiamarker. Each year, over 1,700 new officers are trained to lead Marines.

Mission Statement

Train and educate newly commissioned or appointed officers in the high standards of professional knowledge, esprit de corps, and leadership in order to prepare them for duty as company grade officers in the operating forces, with particular emphasis on the duties, responsibilities and warfighting skills required of a rifle platoon commander.

Instruction at TBS

The most critical aspect of instruction at The Basic School is the Five Horizontal Themes. They were created to clearly define the expectations of every student officer at TBS. These themes are not only taught to the student officers at The Basic School, they cross all subordinate units; from the instructors all the way down to the private who issues the student his weapon at the armory. The purpose for this is consistency, unity of effort and shared vision among all personnel at TBS.

  • A Man or Woman of Exemplary Character
    • Has a clear understanding that a Marine commission brings with it "special trust and confidence" and the highest expectations of the American people.
    • Devoted to our Corps Values of Honor, Courage and Commitment
    • Possesses a moral compass that unerringly points to "do the right thing" - an ethical warrior
  • Devoted to Leading Marines 24/7
    • Embraces the "exceptional and unremitting" responsibility to one's Marines and their families
    • Inspires and instills confidence in his/her Marines during times of adversity
    • Adheres to and enforces standards regardless of time of day, location or duty status
    • Treats all Marines and Sailors with dignity and respect
    • Dedicated to a lifetime of study and learning about the profession of arms
  • Able to Decide, Communicate, and Act
    • Can think critically and arrive at an acceptable decision based on sound tactical thinking within their commander's intent
    • Communicates clearly both orally and in writing in tactical and administrative situations with emphasis on issuing clear, meaningful orders and guidance
    • Has a bias for action - seizes the initiative and acts instead of waiting for the perfect sight picture or direction from higher
    • Once action is initiated, acts with boldness and determination
  • A Warfighter
    • A competent combat leader, grounded in the basic infantry skills, and characterized by sound judgment and aggressiveness in execution
    • Educated in the fundamentals of maneuver warfare, tactics, combined arms, and the time-tested principles of battle
    • Maintains an offensive mindset throughout - proactive, not reactive
  • Mentally and Physically Tough
    • Imbued with a warrior spirit and able to thrive in a complex and chaotic environment and persevere despite the obstacles to mission accomplishment
    • Possesses the self-discipline to push past preconceived limits

Phases of Instruction

  • Phase I (7 Weeks): Individual Skills
    • Leadership
    • Rifle/Pistol Qualification
    • Land Navigation
    • Communications
    • Combat Lifesaving
    • MCMAP (Tan Belt)
    • Combat Hunter Mindset

  • Phase II (6 Weeks): Rifle Squad Leader Skills
    • Decision-making
    • Combined Arms
    • Rifle Squad Tactics/Weapons
    • Scouting/Patrolling

  • Phase III (6 Weeks): Rifle Platoon Commander Skills
    • Rifle Platoon Tactics
    • Convoy Operations
    • Engineering
    • Crew-served Weapons

  • Phase IV (7 Weeks): Basic MAGTF Officer Skills
    • MOUT
    • Rifle Platoon (REIN) Tactics
    • Force Protection
    • Expeditionary Operations (AMFEX)
    • Legal/Platoon Cmdr’s Admin

Field Training Exercises (FEXs)

TBS students prior to a live-fire exercise

  • FEX I - A three day evolution that acts as an introduction into infantry squad level tactics. The first two days are blank fire against smaller sized opposing forces and the last day is the live fire attack with automated targets.
    • Day 1, 2 - Squad attacks and offensive maneuvers using blank ammunition with a new "squad leader" for each separate attack.
    • Day 3 - The students conduct a squad attack at a live fire range. There is a day attack and an illuminated night attack at the range. Artillery simulations are detonated on the range during the conduct of the attack to simulate explosions, artillery, and mortars.

  • Patrol FEX - A two day evolution that focuses on the detailed planning, preparation and conduct of a patrol to include the necessary post-patrol debriefs with the different elements of the command structure.
    • Day 1 - Students conduct an initial daytime security patrol, called I-Day.
    • Day 2 - Students conduct a daytime security patrol, immediately followed by a nighttime ambush patrol.

  • FEX II - This is a platoon "pure" FEX, as the platoon has no attachments, detachments, or supporting arms that are not organic to the platoon. This is much like FEX I, but on a larger scale, being a platoon operation instead of a squad operation.
    • Day 1, 2 - Students conduct platoon level offensive and defensive operations.
    • Day 3 - Students conduct a platoon pure live attack at a live fire range. The attack is broken up into one squad as a support by fire element that suppresses the objective while the other two squads act as a maneuver element and assault the objective by rushes.

  • FEX III - This is a platoon "reinforced" FEX, as platoon attachments, detachments, and supporting arms become available for the students to utilize. Specifically, students will learn about and utilize mortars, anti-mech, machine guns, and during this FEX. FEX III is one entire week of constant day and night operations.
    • Day 1 - Movement to Contact and Deliberate Attack
    • Day 2 - Night Attack
    • Day 3, 4 - Platoon (reinforced) in the Defense

  • Convoy - This is a two day long FEX that prepares students for operations with motorized vehicles. Reaction to IEDs, ambushes, and conducting motorized patrols are all part of this FEX.

  • MOUT FEX (Military Operation in Urban Terrain) - This is the longest FEX the students go through at The Basic School. This FEX is designed to prepare students for operations in urban terrain, beginning with individual actions and ending with platoon offensive operations in a hostile urban environment.
    • Day 1 - Students receive classes in the mock urban towns and do practical application
    • Day 2 - Students conduct multiple squad level attacks on fortified enemy positions with SESAMS training rounds.
    • Day 3 - Students conduct more SESAMS training, this time squad defensive operations as they are attacked by a platoon size element. Later, students conduct a cordon-and-knock search with motorized vehicles at a nearby village. They also receive vehicle checkpoint (VCP) training with practical application.
    • Day 5 - Urban Lane Training is conducted. The students receive classes with practical application on the proper reaction to a sniper, IED discovery procedures, urban patrolling, snap VCP, employing guardian angels, and reaction to a complex ambush.
    • Day 6 - Students conduct a squad reinforced urban patrol. Multiple realistic scenarios occur during the patrol using role-players to accurately simulate the "Three Block War."

  • AMFEX (Amphibious Familiarization Exercise) Students spend two days at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base and Norfolk Naval Base gaining a basic understanding of amphibious ships and their capabilities. The time also gives the students an idea of what life will be like living on a ship while deployed with a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

School Staff Personnel: Instructor Battalion

The Basic School is run and taught by the permanent personnel who are stationed at Camp Barrett, Marine Corps Base Quantico. The Marines are members of The Basic School's Instructor Battalion, and come from a wide range of MOS's and ranks.
  • Instructor Battalion The mission of Instructor Battalion is to provide combat instruction and training support to The Basic School in order to prepare Company grade officers for duty in the operating forces. "Every Marine an Instructor" is the mantra embodied by all the personnel assigned to the command.
    • Commanding Officer - Lt Col Barrett
    • Executive Officer - Major Allen
    • BN Sergeant Major - Sgt Maj Smith
      • Headquarters and Service Company (H&S Co.)
      • Commanding Officer
      • Company First Sergeant
        • Warfighting Section
          • The Bullpen (Officer Warfighting Instructors)
          • The Dugout (Enlisted Warfighting Instructors)
        • Battalion S1
        • Battalion S3
        • Battalion S4
        • Supply Platoon
        • Ordnance Platoon
        • Medical Platoon
      • Combat Service Support Company (CSS Co.)
      • Commanding Officer
      • Executive Officer
      • Company 1st Sgt
        • Artillery Instructor Battery (AIB)
        • Communications Platoon
        • Motor Transport Platoon (MTO)
        • Motor Transport Maintenance Platoon (MTM)
        • Assualt Amphibious Platoon (AAP)
        • Track Vehicle Maintenance Platoon (TVM)
        • Combat Instructor Company (CI Co.)
      • Commanding Officer
      • Executive Officer
      • Company 1st Sgt
        • Infantry Platoon
        • Weapons Platoon
        • Engineer Platoon
    • Martial Arts Center of Excellence (MACE)
    • Corporal's Leadership Course
    • Infantry Weapons Officer Course (IWOC)

See also


  1. The Basic School official website



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