Cpt. Fritz interview on Officer Candidate School
Officer Candidate School
Alright Captain, good morning! First to get things started and to warm up, can you tell us about your history with the 29th ID, your progression, and some of your proudest achievements and how you got to your position today?
Sure thing, I think a lot of people might say that I progressed rather quickly through the ranks. In less than two years I was a 2nd Lieutenant, less than three, a Captain. I see it in relation to life. I was simply at the right place at the right time doing the right things and there was a need for an officer where I was placed. Everything is circumstantial, you just need to show you're doing what it takes and you need to do that over and over again. In my case, it was AP1 and those boys needed someone who was new to that platoon to set them on the right footing.
With that said, I think some of my proudest moments were when I lead AP1. Those guys won me 3 scrims: two OCS scrims, and one official deployment. I'll never forget both my second OCS Scrim and the official deployment against the 352nd VD. For the OCS, I still remember the last moments when - I think it was - PFC Smith and PFC McIntosh came running around corners killing the last few guys that were hunting me down. Likewise for the deployment, I put AP1 through hell to ensure that we were the best platoon that we could be for that action. And funny enough it showed as we lost very few guys in both the attack and defend rounds. Everyone knew what they had to do and they did it with 29th ID efficiency. Likewise, leading Able Company as a whole was a lot of fun. I worked really hard at changing the culture and image of the Company. I wanted to create environments where people both learned and had fun and that we had the leadership that both enjoyed what they did and had the support to carry out what they needed to. In comparison to what it used to be, I think I did a decent job at that. My reason for thinking that is because of the two new games we moved to, a lot of the leadership to fill the squad and platoon level positions came from Able Company. There is a drive in those guys to do new things, to test the waters. Knowing that the majority of my guys decided to do something new is awesome. Likewise to the ones who stayed in Able, they're still doing the same thing the guys that left are doing and that requires a different type of dedication and passion.
With all of those achievements and positions, could you give me a portrait of yourself within, and if possible, without the 29th and what has that helped you become what you are in the unit?
A portrait of me in the unit? Jeez, well I hope I'm not disliked. I know the distance between Squad level and Company seems like a mile but it doesn't always have to be. I like to think that I'm rather easy to approach and easy going enough. Likewise though, I will hold you to my expectations and try to push you to get there and even surpass them. Without the unit, I'm more or less the same. With that in mind, I'm professional and eager in the real world but I'm also really laid back. I think you'd find those similarities if you met me in person, I'd probably just be less eccentric. As far as all that helping me achieve things in the unit, where I am now in and outside of the unit, I'm spending a lot more time on theoretical thinking for the future of the unit. That correlates with my Graduate studies at school. Instead of getting knee deep in the details, I take the approach of wondering how things work or why they're interpreted in this way, or how can this be done better, what does this mean, how will it be seen? Those are the things I'm finding myself doing more and more in the unit now-a-days.
Over a year ago, 2Lt. Bergstrom and myself reformatted OCS. By looking at something in the unit and applying critical analysis, I think that we show we're not taking anything for granted and we're always looking to improve on things. Nothing is perfect, however we achieved a format for OCS that is able to take in more candidates and get them done at a faster pace than what had been achieved before. Even my time in Able, the same sort of process was achieved, how can we fix things, how can we support people, and how do we get to a position in which we can thrive.
Alright, so on the subject of OCS, can you give us a brief rundown of the process going on when a candidate is selected for OCS? Like what does he/she need, what kind of recommendation is required, what are some of the common re-evaluation methods?
From my Platoon Leader, 2Lt. Nelson, I learned that there are 2 persons involved in the training of an officer candidate. Could you describe some of the chemistry and dynamics needed between those 2 persons to get the most out of a candidate?
I can't answer the first question, but I can answer the second. The officer corps of the 29th, as small as we may be, truly desires to produce the best officers we can in OCS. To do this, there are usually a few officers taking interest in the OCS candidate. For instance, I could say I had five officers that in some form throughout my OCS, approached me and talked about what it meant to be an officer in the 29th, or how they dealt with things or some funny stories that had some sort of lesson to it. It's not so much a chemistry between two or three people, but more of a creation of a bond between a group and the new guy. We all take interest into what each other are doing and we all want to see each other succeed. On the outside, you'll often see us in our own platoons doing our own stuff, but the flip side of that is it’s not uncommon to see two officers chatting it up in private somewhere or with a few others. It's something that's hard to describe, like trying to talk about a squad culture. I guess the best way to sum it up would be to say it’s fraternal in a way.
So like a not-so-secret secret society of some sorts? That's understandable.
In your first answer you mentioned that "2Lt. Bergstrom and myself reformatted OCS". Could you further elaborate on what has developed within OCS, like how the program has evolved throughout the history of the 29th? A simple answer is enough if you don't want to go into the details.
On 2Lt. Nelson, he was one of the few squad leaders to graduate from OCS this year, namely 2Lt. Wolf, 2Lt. Kear, 2Lt. Barclay. Is there a general goal or target of how many officers to be created, or just to lead platoons and companies? If someone is an officer with a staff position only, does he/she have to go through the same process as other in more, active, positions?
To answer the first question, we streamlined and modernized it. Now, I'm not saying that the OCS model that we had before then wasn't streamlined nor modern, but all things need a little updating over time. Nothing is ever perfect.
A year ago, the 29th had very few officers. I'd argue we still have few officers but we're starting to fill in the gaps. Just like in all levels of leadership, we aren't going to fill a spot just to have it filled. There isn't necessarily a specific goal per year or anything like that. The overall goal is to obviously fill the gaps and build a full roster but we'll carefully vet and choose who will go into that spot. We don't want to put the wrong person there because we all know what happens when bad leadership exists.
As far as officers who run the staff offices, those guys have history running platoons and such. In the case of Cpt. Jacobsson, he ran a company back in the day. He runs the staff offices now and has done an amazing job with keeping them active. He carries more responsibility than me being a Commanding Officer of Dog Company in comparison to everything he has to do. However, the role is more or less the same. He just has more eggs in the basket.
Alright, Captain, I think that's all I need.
Thank you for participating in this interview and I wish you a Merry Christmas, and good luck in your future endeavors with your unit!
Thanks for taking your time and have fun in Charlie in the New Year!