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Military Services:  National Guard Officer
Photo:National Guard.

OVERVIEW

Officers in the Army National Guard hold positions of tremendous authority and responsibility for their country, their troops, and themselves.

To become an officer in the Army National Guard, applicants need to complete a commissioning program and earn a college degree. For applicants that don’t already have a four-year degree, the Guard can help soldiers get it with their educational benefits packages. Some soldiers qualify to enter the Reserve Officer’s Training Corp (ROTC) straight from high school or college, or to enter Officer Candidate School with as few as 60 credit hours (or 90 hours to enter the accelerated program). Check with a officer recruiter for details.

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BECOMING AN OFFICER

There are three different categories of officers in the National Guard: Basic Branch Officers, Specialty Officers, and Warrant Officers. Basic Branch Officers include officers in any of the 11 Combat Arms branches (like Infantry, Armor, Artillery and Military Intelligence) or Combat Service Support branches (such as Finance, Transportation or Quartermaster). Specialty Officers include officers with specialized professional skills, including Medical Professional, Chaplains or Judge Advocate General (JAG Officer). Warrant Officers are commissioned officers who lead as experts in their area of specialty.

To become an officer in the National Guard, Soldiers need to complete the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC), a two-phase course designed to prepare for the rigors, responsibilities, and rewards of life as an officer. As an officer candidate or Cadet, Soldiers attend advanced training and education in order to acquire and hone the skills necessary to lead troops. An officer recruiter will have the most up-to-date information. BOLC-A

During BOLC-A (the Pre-Commissioning Phase), candidates learn more about the Army's values and traditions, and about what it means to be an officer. Soldiers will complete one of the following programs:

  • U.S. Military Academy
  • Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC)
  • Officer Candidate School (OCS) Officer Candidate School (OCS)
  • Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS)
  • Receive Direct Appointment
U.S. Military Academy

The United States Military Academy, located at West Point, New York, offers Bachelor of Science degrees with majors in both engineering and liberal arts. Graduates earn a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Admission to the academy is very competitive. Appointments are generally made through nominations from U.S. Senators and Representatives. Applicants should begin their quest for entry into the academy no later than the middle of their junior year in high school.

Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC)

Army ROTC is a college elective where guardsmen and women can earn a commission straight out of college as a second lieutenant in the National Guard. Army ROTC consists of two phases.

The Basic Course is comprised of elective courses that take place during the first two years in college. Students learn basic military skills including the fundamentals of leadership and start the groundwork toward becoming an Army leader. Students may take Army ROTC Basic Courses without a military commitment.

The Advanced Course takes place during the last two years in college as elective courses. Students learn advanced military tactics and gain experience in team organization, planning, and decision-making. Entering the Advanced Course requires a commitment to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army after graduation.

College-bound high school students and students already attending a college or university may be eligible for merit-based Army ROTC scholarships worth up to $20,000 for tuition and a $4,000 living allowance for each school year. Scholarship students must meet minimum eligibility criteria and agree to accept a commission and serve in the Army on active duty or in a Reserve Component (U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard).

Officer Candidate School (OCS)

There are three options for attending Officer Candidate School (OCS). State OCS (Traditional) is offered at your state’s Regional Training Institute, or RTI, for one weekend a month for 16-18 months, plus 2 two-week periods; National Guard Bureau Accelerated OCS is an 8 week course held 3 times a year. Or there is the Federal OCS which offers 14-week-courses year-round at Fort Benning, Georgia. . All applicants for Federal OCS must have a bachelor’s degree. Applicants may begin State OCS with as few as 60 college credits, and accelerated OCS with 90 college hours. . After speaking with a recruiter, you'll choose the best OCS Course for you based on your specific circumstances, such as your work and

Direct Appointment

The Army National Guard offers direct appointment opportunities for civilian degreed professionals in selected legal, medical, and ministerial career fields. Current ARNG enlisted soldiers who have a college degree and have demonstrated exceptional leadership ability may be nominated by their chain of command for a direct commission. Professional experience can even earn a direct commission officer a higher entry grade, if qualified.

Warrant Officers

A National Guard warrant officer is an officer appointed by warrant of the Secretary of the Army, based on a sound level of technical and tactical competence. The warrant officer is a highly specialized expert and trainer who gains progressive levels of expertise and leadership by operating, maintaining, administering, and managing the Guard’s equipment, support activities, or technical systems for an entire career.

Becoming a warrant officer requires great skill in a specific occupational specialty. Army warrant officers must demonstrate leadership abilities and have the desire and dedication to perfect their technical proficiency through professional development, training, and education. Through schooling, experience, assignments and promotions, they are trained to perform effectively in the highest, most demanding positions within their career specialties. A local Army Recruiter can provide up-to-date information about how to qualify to become a warrant officer.

For more information about becoming an officer or warrant officer in the Army National Guard, visit nationalguard.com. At the “Become an Officer” webpage there are videos of others who made the decision to become and an officer. You can also complete a “Contact a Representative” form and a recruiter near your home will contact you to answer your questions and provide a list of officer vacancies in Army National Guard units near you.

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