WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 20, 2007) - Soldiers seeking to attend Officer Candidate School now have an alternative to appearing before the board. They can apply for direct OCS selection.

Installation commanders may select up to 20 eligible Soldiers to attend OCS in 2007 and waive the local interview board.

The Accessions Human Resources Command initially made the exception to policy last year to meet the challenge of recruiting 300 more officers. The need for more officers, said Col. Jayne Carson, Combined Arms Support Command chief of staff, is related to the Army's growth through modularity.

"We have increased our force structure, and the number of officers is higher in modularity," Carson said. "Even now, with the current force, we don't have enough officers."

Soldiers must still meet eligibility requirements and complete an OCS application in accordance with Army Regulation 350-51, "United States Army Officer Candidate School." Applicants may up to age 42, and must have at least 90 semester hours of college credit and a minimum general technical score of 110.

Soldiers may also pursue both routes of getting into OCS, as did 2nd Lt. Mario Moreno, 267th Quartermaster Company, 240th QM Battalion, 49th QM Group. Moreno attended the OCS board in 2005 but also submitted his packet for direct selection to the Quartermaster Center and School commandant at the time.

"Going to the board isn't something you can study for," Moreno said, "It's your character and how you do things. A lot of it has to do with leadership, so if you are already a good leader, you will do well."

OCS board members are made up of two captains and a major. They review the applicant's packet and look for discrepancies or disqualifiers before seeing the Soldier.

It's the Soldier's responsibility to properly put a packet together and not assume that his chain of command will straighten it out, said Capt. Adam Clark, CASCOM, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, who was a board member from June 2005 through March 2006.

Board members look at the Soldier to see if he pays attention to details on his Class A uniform, posture, speech, attitude and even the way he sits.

"We are looking for initiative, motivation, leadership, attention to detail and drive," Clark said. "We have 30 minutes to evaluate someone we have never met, and we are trying to get a feel for his mental toughness, emotional toughness, his decision-making process, and how he executes and learns."

At the end of the interview, board members prepare their own evaluations and recommendations and forward the results to the Department of the Army for final selection.

For more information, visit the OCS Web site at www.infantry.army.mil/ocs.

(Jorge Gomez writes for the Fort Lee "Traveler.")