Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Officer Candidate School and The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Jan. 27, 2016 to see how Marine Corps candidates and officers train.
Mabus began his visit at OCS, where he was introduced to Marine Corps leaders from OCS and their higher headquarters. He observed a platoon of officer candidates perform Marine Corps drill, toured candidate squad bays, and discussed training with OCS drill instructors.
The drill instructors talked about their responsibility to screen and evaluate officer candidates at OCS and the need to constantly be present during training to observe candidates. They pointed out that that presence is continuous and extends into each platoon's squad bay. The squad bay serves as an integral part of the Marine Corps entry level training model and is the first place Marines learn how to act as a cohesive unit. Having drill instructors there maximizes learning opportunities for future Marine officers.
After the tour of OCS concluded, Mabus proceeded to TBS where he observed students in the Infantry Officers Course conduct machine gun training and ate lunch with students and staff. He also visited a classroom of officers to talk about future initiatives in the Marine Corps.
The officers used this chance to ask the Secretary about what they had to look forward to regarding technological advancements and weapon systems.
"I am always impressed with the quality of leadership and the quality of the Marines who are going through OCS and TBS," said Mabus. "They are going to be leading very soon from the front as Marines always do, and the questions I have gotten, the concerns I have gotten, and the understanding of the mission of the Marine Corps is always incredibly impressive and this visit is no different."
At both schools, Mabus took the time to meet with staff, students and leadership to talk about future gender integration policies and receive their feedback about the topic.
When discussing the correlation of gender and standards, Mabus used the phrase "equal shot, not equal result." When a staff noncommissioned officer asked, "do you see a situation in the future in which we will be encouraged to lower the standards if we are not producing the number of desired females in combat MOSs?," Mabus assured the Marine that he would not allow standards to be changed in order to allow a certain group into an MOS.
Mabus had two primary messages throughout the visit. The first: standards will be driven by operational requirements and those set for individual jobs will not be relaxed. The second: a more diverse force is a more capable force.
"Marines have been integrated for years; women have been in combat for years. We are just opening up the last few MOSs and now it is just setting up the standards for those MOSs and making sure they are job related," said Mabus. "It's not about the groups we are bringing in or that are serving, it's about the different experiences and the different thought processes that make up a more lethal military.
"We have the greatest expeditionary fighting force in history, and it is part of our job to keep it that way," said Mabus.