Maj. Eric Deeds, company commander of Officer Candidate School, 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment, and instructors Capt. Adam Taylor and Sgt. 1st Class Dominic Cantu walk back to the starting point of an exercise at the conclusion of the final situational training exercise of the day for class 64. Class 64 conducted training at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex, June 27, 2020. Cadets trained in preparation for the final phase of their journey to become officers. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Eric Deeds, company commander of Officer Candidate School, 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment, and instructors Capt. Adam Taylor and Sgt. 1st Class Dominic Cantu walk back to the starting point of an exercise at the conclusion of the final situational training exercise of the day for class 64. Class 64 conducted training at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex, June 27, 2020. Cadets trained in preparation for the final phase of their journey to become officers. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.) (Photo Credit: Capt. Lauren Orr) VIEW ORIGINAL
Maj. Eric Deeds, commander of the Officer Candidate School, 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment, gives valuable advice on potential improvements during the candidates’ operations order brief. Class 64 conducted training at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, Kansas, June 27-28, in preparation for the final phase of their journey to become officers. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Eric Deeds, commander of the Officer Candidate School, 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment, gives valuable advice on potential improvements during the candidates’ operations order brief. Class 64 conducted training at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, Kansas, June 27-28, in preparation for the final phase of their journey to become officers. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.) (Photo Credit: Capt. Lauren Orr) VIEW ORIGINAL
Sgt. 1st Class Dominic Cantu, training noncommissioned officer of the Officer Candidate School, critiques a recently given operations order brief in order to refine the candidates briefing skills before they depart for Phase III of their OCS training. Officer Candidate School Class 64 of 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment conducted training at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, Kansas, June 27-28. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. 1st Class Dominic Cantu, training noncommissioned officer of the Officer Candidate School, critiques a recently given operations order brief in order to refine the candidates briefing skills before they depart for Phase III of their OCS training. Officer Candidate School Class 64 of 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment conducted training at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, Kansas, June 27-28. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.) (Photo Credit: Capt. Lauren Orr) VIEW ORIGINAL
Officer Candidates Douglas Fears and Yordanos Yohannes of Officer Candidate School class 64 discuss their next move during a situational training exercise at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, Kansas, June 27, in order to prepare for Phase III of their OCS training. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Officer Candidates Douglas Fears and Yordanos Yohannes of Officer Candidate School class 64 discuss their next move during a situational training exercise at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, Kansas, June 27, in order to prepare for Phase III of their OCS training. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.) (Photo Credit: Capt. Lauren Orr) VIEW ORIGINAL
Officer Candidate Brandon Wall of class 64 gives his operations order brief to his peers as he prepares to lead his squad on a situational training exercise. Class 64 conducted training at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, Kansas, June 27, 2020, in preparation of Phase III of their OCS journey. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr,105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Officer Candidate Brandon Wall of class 64 gives his operations order brief to his peers as he prepares to lead his squad on a situational training exercise. Class 64 conducted training at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, Kansas, June 27, 2020, in preparation of Phase III of their OCS journey. (Photo by Capt. Lauren Orr,105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.) (Photo Credit: Capt. Lauren Orr) VIEW ORIGINAL

SALINA, Kan. – Class 64 of Officer Candidate School, 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment, conducted situational training exercises at the Kansas National Guard Range Training Complex in Salina, June 27 and 28.

Their training was geared toward increasing readiness to complete Phase III of OCS which will take place in Fort Lewis, Washington, in July and August of this year.

Phase III is designed to test the candidates leadership ability and knowledge of various Soldier skills they have acquired. Upon successful completion and graduation of Phase III, the candidates will move forward and commission as second lieutenants in the Kansas Army National Guard.

Maj. Eric Deeds, OCS company commander, has a hands-on approach in his leadership style and did not hesitate to jump right in on the training.

He followed along to observe the candidate-led missions and offered constructive input as they planned their attack strategies.

“This weekend our junior class, who are in pre-OCS stage, are doing land navigation to prepare for Phase I, which is coming up next month,” said Deeds. “For the senior class this is a much more stressful environment for them. They had a 12-mile ruck march this morning, and will be out here in the field conducting STX lanes the rest of the weekend so we can evaluate them on making decisions and controlling their teams and units through a mission scenario.”

Officer Candidate School is a unique unit to be a part of in the Guard. It is geared toward transforming individuals into competent leaders ready to accept the responsibility of a platoon leader position once they graduate. It is a lot of hard work, but it takes place in a fun and engaging environment.

“I was commander of a forward support company unit, but being here is totally different,” said Deeds. “Obviously we have a different objective and that is to train Soldiers to be leaders. It’s one of the best positions I’ve had in the guard; I thoroughly enjoy it.”

In addition to the training and the mentorship they receive from their program officers, OCS candidates benefit from the experiences and guidance of their NCOs. Non-commissioned officers serve a vital role in the OCS program by offering valuable insight as to what qualities a good officer should embody. Sgt. 1st Class Dominic Cantu has been a part of OCS for a year. Throughout the weekend he acted as one of the primary evaluators on these STX lanes, constantly offering valuable feedback to the candidates as they conducted their training.

“I really feel that being here I’m helping contribute,” Cantu explained. “As a platoon sergeant coming from an armor unit, I can help show them what a good platoon leader should do. I’ve seen some good ones and some bad ones. I’m giving them that knowledge and advice so they can go to their units they are assigned to and hopefully succeed and excel and take the knowledge we give them here and put it to good use.”

Officer Candidate School is a challenging program designed to produce ready and capable officers immediately following commissioning. There are a variety of factors that influence people in their decision to undergo the training. Officer Candidate Brandon Wall considered his family’s military legacy when he decided to join.

“My whole family has been active duty military, so I always knew it was in my future to do something military,” said Wall. “They were all enlisted and non-commissioned officers, so they wanted me to do something better and higher. So I joined the National Guard and wanted to go the officer route.”

Wall is set to commission along with his class in August and will enter the Quartermaster branch to work in the field of logistics in the Kansas Army National Guard. As he nears the end of his experience with OCS, Wall says he expects the knowledge he gained in the program will serve him well on future assignments.