My OBLC experiences

  1. I am currently at OBLC (Officer Basic Leader Course) in Ft. Sam Houston. I will try to give a brief overview so future students can have an idea and hopefully be prepared.
    I am not in the ANC (Army Nurse Corp), I am a Clinical Laboratory Officer in the MSC (Medical Service Corp). I am a licensed practical nurse and am working on my BSN.

    Our class started on April 9th, 2007. This 1st week was mainly administrative type tasks, like ID cards, filling out travel vouchers, submitting dependent information, brief dental exam, immunizations, etc. We did have lectures and workshops on things like military leadership, writing skills, etc. too.

    Even though the OBLC website showed a class size of about 230, our class is only about 135 soldiers.

    Thoughts from week 1:

    1) Many of us are prior service. Learn from the prior enlisted Army soldiers! Incredibly helpful. My prior service was Navy so some basics like military courtesies and military bearing I knew, but the Army does do many things differently. Be patient and listen. They will teach you.

    2) I have noticed that a few soldiers who are straight from civilian life have had some issues with being on time for formation. Trust me, you do not want to be late!! You are not in college anymore!! This is the military. Be early!! You do not want the huge negative attention you will receive not to mention the anger of your fellow soldiers that have to be there earlier and earlier because some can't make it on time.

    3) Bring all of the documents listed on the OBLC website. Makes life easier for you. Don't forget shot records. You can't prove it, you get stuck again!

    4) You definitely should get at least 1 set of ACU's (Army Combat Uniform) prior to arrival. We wore PT outfit 1st day and ACU's after that. A few did not have ACU's and wore PT gear the 2nd day. You don't want to stick out like a sore thumb. There are mail order sources if you are not near a post. Don't forget ACU name tags. I ordered mine through U.S. Cavalry and am very pleased with them.

    5) Do NOT fall asleep in class!! It is hot, humid and sometimes you have been up since 0330 or so. Again, you do not want this negative attention on yourself. Only water is allowed in the auditoriums and classrooms, so I bring Vivarin and take if I need. Also, standing up and moving to the back is acceptable and not a negative on you.

    6) If at all possible bring a laptop or desktop computer. It will make your life easier. Bring a printer if you can. I was one of only a few that had a printer in their room so many people were coming to me to print stuff.

    Thoughts from week 2:

    1) Sadly we are still having issues with some people being tardy. The unfortunate consequence of this is all of us will now have to be in formation 3 times a day for accountability. This takes away from our already sparse free time during the week. I realize this will seem strange to non prior service. In the military you are a team and even if only a few do not conform, frequently there will be consequences for the whole unit.

    2) PFT (Physical Fitness Test): Oh boy, this was unpleasant for many. You would be wise to heed their advice to be in shape when you arrive here. Approximately 1/3 of my class did not pass the PFT. The test consists of push ups, sit ups, and a 2 mile run. If you fail any part, you fail it all. Most people had problems on the run. Now, usually when you fail a PFT, you are "flagged". This basically means you are ineligible for positive actions including promotion. The PFT is taken quite seriously. For those who failed, they do morning PT 5 days a week. The rest do PT 3 days a week. At the end of the course, there will be another PFT test for those who failed the 1st one. You can download an Excel spreadsheet from here which will show you what your minimums are for your gender and age:
    I have been told direct commissions "off the street" are a special category and have 180 days to pass, but they really strive to have everyone pass before leaving OBLC.

    3) This week has kicked into high gear with PowerPoint presentations. They jokingly call it "Death by PowerPoint". Some of it is interesting, other subjects quite dry. Not being able to drink coffee in there is absolutely brutal for many of us, including me. Oh well. Don't forget, standing up in the back of the class is OK if you can't stay awake.

    4) A little item I did not know before this. Apparently in the Army (not sure of other services), 2nd lieutenants do not salute 1st lieutenants. I do get a salute from a 2nd lieutenant occasionally, but rarely.

    5) There are a lot of E-1 through E-4's here. Here is a website showing the rank insignia:
    Many are just out of BCT (Basic Combat Training). Some, for whatever reason, walk by without saluting. At first myself and my classmates were unsure how we were supposed to handle this situation. Our cadre (our instructors and leadership) instructed us that we DO NOT have the authority to "smoke" them (Make them do push ups, etc.). But, they told us that if we do not correct the problem, then we are part of the problem. So, now if it happens, we get their attention and ask them if they forgot to do something. Most at this point come to attention, apologize and salute. You don't have to be an ass to help them. They get enough of that from their drill sergeants!

    Thoughts from week 3:

    1) The long PowerPoint days continue. We each had to give a short PowerPoint presentation. This is another time you will be happy if you have a personal computer. Also very nice to have PowerPoint installed and if you have no clue how to use PowerPoint, at least learn the basics before you get here.

    2) PT continues 5 days a week for those who did not pass initially. Just another reminder that reporting here in decent physical condition will make life easier on you.

    3) We are going to the field the next 3 weeks for FTX's (field training exercises). We do come back to FSH (Fort Sam Houston) on the weekends.

    4) Tardiness issue has improved drastically. Thankfully, people are getting the idea now.

    Thoughts from week 4:

    1) Had our first FTX (Field Training Exercise). For those prior service Army/Marines, I'm sure it is a cakewalk, but for those of us who have never done this, it was a bear. Most days about 12-13 hours from reveille till your free for the day. Thursday was about 17 hours.

    A rough list of tasks: M-16 & M-9(9mm) training/qualification, CBRN(Chemical,biological,radiological, nuclear) training, land navigation, 3 mile ruck march, basic tactical formations, and a practice medevac casualty exercise on Friday.

    2) Gas, gas, gas! Part of your CBRN training is enduring the infamous CS Gas chamber. Look, it sucks, but everybody has to do it and you will survive. Not one of us died! You also get to put that wonderfully hot chemical protective suit and mask on in the sweltering Texas heat until your instructor tells you all clear. Fun day, heh.

    3) Land navigation. You will learn how to use a compass and map to plot and navigate. There is a daytime and night time land navigation exercise.You will also be taught a basic GPS handheld and will also have a mounted land navigation exercise in a vehicle.

    4) You will learn how to field strip a M16A2 rifle down and reassemble it with a complete function check within 4 minutes. Many of you will be able to do this blindfolded! I never would have believed it but I witnessed it. Unfortunately I couldn't quite get the 4 minutes blindfolded, but I felt I did quite well considering I had never even touched this weapon prior to OBLC. You will also learn how to disassemble and reassemble the 9mm, which is easier.

    5) Some items to consider that may not be on your packing list:
    Benadryl (if you need help sleeping)
    ibufrofen (or whatever your preferred painkiller is)
    moleskin plus (many people developed blisters)
    luggage tags or similar for your duffel bag (they all look the same)
    small knife/multi-purpose tool (always useful in the field)
    sunscreen (this is Texas!)
    bug repellent (these mosquitoes can be vicious) chiggers too; also recommend a small container of repellent you can carry with you.
    hand sanitizer
    earplugs (up to 38 people per tent, some snore!, alarms beeping, storms; I like the silicone type)
    wet wipes (at this time there are no showers)
    electric razor
    ziploc bags (to keep stuff dry)
    plenty of socks as many times they will get soaked from trekking through wet fields or if it is raining
    small pillow (I got a compressible Thermarest from REI)
    bed cushion (Those cots are rock hard, at least for me. I bought a roll able, self-inflating bed roll from the PX)
    hyrdrocortisone/Benadryl creme (for those inevitable bug bites)
    Gatorade/Propel, etc. to flavor that nasty tasting drinking water. Many brands come in little tubes that work well in a canteen.
    Small notebook (you can buy waterproof ones at the clothing sales PX)
    Extra sets of ACU's (they will get wet/filthy/smelly. Consider though, it is difficult to get them completely clean again so they will unlikely be "perfect" ACU's anymore.)

    Thoughts from week 5:

    1) This week was group oriented type tasks versus individual tasks last week. We did things like LRC (Leader Reaction Course), MOUT (Military Operations Urban Terrain) which was 4 person teams clearing buildings and urban warfare training, 2 days of convoy ops training, and retesting for those who did not pass night and/or day land navigation last week.

    2) This week still had some long days but seemed to be a slower tempo and less traveling around via the deuce and a halfs.

    Thoughts from week 6:

    1) The op tempo seemed higher than week 5, but still less intense than week 4. This week was the grand finale AMEDD FTX. Monday was just movement to the FOB and some CLS (Combat lifesaver) classes. Tuesday through Thursday were the exercises. There were three groups which each day rotated through the 3 main areas. We also had the BOLC (Basic Officer Leader Course) group with us this week.

    2) The mornings were more training sessions, then the exercise was in the afternoon followed by the evaluation/discussion.

    3) I was lucky to be picked as a "casualty" a few times. This is a good experience as you get to see the whole process from a 1st hand perspective. Volunteer for this if is offered to you.

    4) Friday we did a 5 mile road march and then toured a scaled down CSH (Combat Support Hospital).

    Thoughts from week 7:

    1) Last week!! The tempo was definitely more relaxed this week. Still doing PT. Another PT test was administered for those that did not pass initially.

    2) More classes on subjects like OER (Officer Evaluation Reports), NCOER (Non-Commissioned Officer Reports), writing awards, etc.
    Officership type material.

    3) Next week we enter our AOC specific tracks.

    4) Graduation ceremony was fairly quick and easy. Family members were allowed. Our uniform was ACU's.

    Well, it's done for me now. Hopefully this information will make future OBLC students transition into the Army a bit smoother.

    1LT Joseph L Cheser
    Last edit by IU95 on May 26, '07 : Reason: added material
  2. Visit IU95 profile page

    About IU95

    Joined: Dec '05; Posts: 80; Likes: 13
    Clinical Laboratory Officer


  3. by   IU95
    Quote from Gennaver
    Just how shorts are the shorts and what sort of pants do they use?
    The shorts are a standardized Army PT uniform short. Be sure and have the winter components too as the mornings can be chilly and it is a requirement that you have those components also.

    Quote from Gennaver
    If your day starts at 0330 how long does it usually go until?
    Varies, but usually around 1630-1700. Not every day starts so early. Sometimes we don't muster until 0745. Depends on what is happening that day. And the 0330 time I gave was waking up for a 0430 muster time.

    Quote from Gennaver
    If you have time, I am curious how much time is for PT, (hours, days of the week) and how much is classroom?
    Well, this first week we actually did not have any organized morning PT. I believe there was supposed to be one day but something happened and we did not. Many of us have been doing our own PT in the evening though.

    It is my understanding organized AM PT will happen from now on though. 3 days a week for all and 5 days a week for those who do not pass the PT test tomorrow morning.
  4. by   IU95
    Quote from Gennaver

    I can hardly believe that its only been your first week! Congratulations again IU95, (LT-saving your name for privacy even though you posted here).

    Looking forward to your updates on the next, is it, 8 or 7 weeks?

    7weeks for all, then AOC specific tracks which range from 0 days to 5 weeks. Mine, 71E, is 2 weeks. ANC is also 2 weeks.
    Last edit by IU95 on Apr 16, '07 : Reason: added material
  5. by   JaxiaKiley
    Wonderful information. Thanks for sharing. I cannot wait to read the rest
  6. by   Rme4life
    always nice to get updates on what is going on right now in the course. i am scheduled to go in aug. some of the people i have talked to went months-years ago and so not the most current info. i hope you enjoy your time there. good luck with your training. thanks for the tip on bringing a printer. look forward to seeing other tips, keep them coming.
  7. by   Rme4life
    Quote from Gennaver
    Hello Rme4life,

    This is something that had me confused my first "go round" with my ship date. By the way, in the end I haven't changed it.

    So, as a new direct accession I understand that there is an "extra" week of training prior to OBLC and that OBLC starts in September but, my ship date won't be until mid-September when I receive my license.


    my understanding is that they used to have a week of training for anyone who was not prior service, rotc or active duty. this week was used to go over basic army things and sort of catch you up to speed. when they updated the course, they stopped this. now you show up with everyone else and start at the same time. they have posted a lot of these basic information classes on line via power point presentations that you can access through the school website. so i was told that when your paperwork states report date of aug 5 (or whenever) that this is when you report, along with everyone else who will also be starting on the same day. so no extra week of training. you have to have in hand your nclex results prior to them cutting you orders though. so i am sort of confused on your comment about that. i take the nclex in june. if i do not have my results back by late july (i forget the exact day) then i will be dropped from my aug 5 class (even though i have a slot) and will be put into the next available class date. maybe i am just confused though on what you are trying to say/ask. i don't even see a class date for september on the school website. they have one for 8 april that is going on right now, one for 5 aug and then the next one is not scheduled until 8 october.
  8. by   IU95
    Everyone here had the same report and start date regardless of prior service status.
  9. by   PRicanRN
    I feel stupid but what does OBLC mean. I am hopefullly shooting for a date of aug. 19 COTS date. Is COTS different than OBLC?
  10. by   IU95
    OBLC = Officer Basic Leader Course. This course is for AMEDD (Army Medical Department) officers. This is what the Army calls it. Other services have different names. The military loves acronyms!

    OBLC is held at Fort Sam Houston and is 7 weeks. Each AOC (Area of Concentration) aka your job, then has a specific track which most are 2 weeks. Another term you will hear is MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). You will hear officers use this but it is technically incorrect. Enlisted have MOS's, officers have AOC's.

    By the way, the other term you may hear or read is OBC (Officer Basic Course). That is the old name for OBLC but is still used sometimes.
    Last edit by IU95 on Apr 20, '07 : Reason: content
  11. by   Rme4life
    i have a question that i hope you might be able to shed some light on. Class A uniforms. ok, so they are getting rid of these things and supposedly the wear out date is 2011. but also heard that you can already buy the new blues or dress uniform. so are they still requiring you to have the class A's at oblc??? if you look at the info online they want you to have the class A's and it says you can wait to buy the blues, but usually, once the new stuff is out you no longer need to have the old uniform. I would love not to have to buy class A's (and maybe even dress blues -old ones i mean because i am not possitive about the new ones are actually out) and then have to buy the new uniform. i would love to save a few hundred dollars on something that i would end up putting on what, a few times at oblc. anyway, love the updates on oblc and hope things are going well for you.
  12. by   IU95
    There are still questions about the class "A"'s and blues at this time here. As of this moment, we are being told NOT to buy either one. Of course that could change on a moment's notice.
  13. by   Rme4life
    glad to hear that they are trying to work with you guys. hopefully by august, things will have worked out and they will be down to one uniform. really appreciate the update.
  14. by   Gennaver
    Quote from Rme4life
    glad to hear that they are trying to work with you guys. hopefully by august, things will have worked out and they will be down to one uniform. really appreciate the update.
    Hello Rme4life, and IU95,

    This had me wondering also. I was told to have one set prior to arrival at OBLC but that is indeed a chunck of change that I don't have. So far all I really know is that when you report you are in your pt gear, right? Then after that you are in ACU's for the rest, right?

    I am glad that you asked this because I have read that once we are in Ft. Sam Houston that we will not really be able to make purchases since they are out of most things.

    p.s. trying to complete the final month of school successfully here, working hard...