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Charlie Co. candidates from the Officer Candidates School, participate in a medical evacuation exercise during a second Small Unit Leadership Evaluation aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico on July 25, 2013. The event evaluates leadership, command presence, communication and decision making.

Photo by Pfc. Samuel Ellis

Candidates’ leadership is tested before graduation

25 Jul 2013 | Pfc. Samuel Ellis

A dozen young men listened intently to their squad leader, Max Lechner, a candidate at Officer Candidates School, as he explained objectives in accomplishing the mission they were facing.

The squad was tackling a simulated casualty evacuation, one of 18 possible obstacles  that candidates can be tested on during the period of Officer Candidates Course known as Small Unit Leadership Evaluation II, or SULE II.

“We are applying everything we’ve learned during the Officer Candidates Course,” said Lechner. “This is a good culminating event.”

SULE II was the last large, graded event for the 157 Charlie Co. members who started the evaluation on July 25, 2013. It is designed to test the knowledge and character of the individuals who have spent 10  weeks aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico trying to become Marine officers.

The event is a 9.2-mile course that includes various combat related scenarios such as simulated casualty evacuations, ammunition resupplies and ambushes, said Maj. Jason Koeck, officer-in-charge of SULE II. We are looking for several things from the participants including command presence, decision making abilities, communication, and leading subordinates.

According to Capt. Erin Demchko, executive officer of Charlie Co., candidates are challenged in simply getting to the day-long event.

Before they arrive at SULE II, the candidates finished a two-day field exercise, said Demchko. They also completed a 9-mile hike, starting at 1 a.m. on the day of the evaluation. It’s not uncommon to have candidates fail to make the event.

According to experts, those who make it to the event can expect to be challenged and graded on their decisions.

“The candidates are constantly being evaluated,” said Capt. Craig Thomas, OCS protocol officer. “They have a 360-degree evaluation process in that they are being evaluated by their staff and peers, and ranked by their academic and physical fitness standings.”

Approximately 300 staff members, many of them summer augments, will usher seven companies through training and to their graduation day this summer. For the members of Charlie Co., who are slated to graduate on Aug. 9, completion of SULE II marks one of the stepping stones on the path to becoming officers of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Correspondent: samuel.l.ellis@usmc.mil