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  • Captain Harper

Why Would Anyone Become a Reserve Marine Officer?

Updated: May 15, 2023

Prior to joining the Marine Corps, I had zero interest in the reserves. Most of that lack of interest stemmed from huge knowledge-gap. So first and foremost, what is the Marine Corps reserves? The mission of Marine Corps Forces Reserves is to augment the Active Component with trained units and individual Marines as a sustainable and ready operational reserve. In short, the Reserve Component (RC) augments and reinforces Active Component (AC) forces for employment across the full spectrum of crisis and global engagement. 

Note: Only college graduates and college undergraduates in their junior year can apply for the Reserve Officer option.

Alright, with that out of the way, let's start out with what is the same between the Active and Reserve components. The training pipeline is exactly the same as your active duty peers. You will attend Officer Candidates School (OCS), The Basic School (TBS), and your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) school just like your active duty cohort. Additionally, you will automatically be enrolled in a "1 year Professional Development Tour" (sometimes called a 1 yr experience tour). That means you will serve 1 year of active duty upon the completion of MOS school. You can opt-out of the 1 year experience tour if you so choose.

Side note: You most likely will serve 1 year of active duty for training (OCS+TBS+MOS school) prior to getting to your reserve unit. If you opt for the 1 year experience tour then you will ideally have 12 months of active service prior to returning to the reserves. This will entitle you to 60% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Your time at OCS, TBS, and MOS school is considered "basic entry-level and skills training" so it does not generally count towards qualifying service. Click here to see the detailed regulations regarding these benefits and how a reservist could attain them.

Now to the differences. At TBS you will conduct an MOS selection removed from your active duty peers. If you so desire, you will have geographic preference; meaning you are entitled to an MOS that is at a unit in vicinity of the city/state you indicate on your service agreement with your Officer Selection Officer. Reserve Officers work 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks out of the year for annual training. They have "Active Reserve" or Active Component staff called Inspector Instructors (I&I) that keep everything running during the rest of the month that the reservists are not working. If that unit deploys, the reservists are the ones who deploy while the I&I and "active reserve" Marines stay behind. As a reservist, you will also have the ability to apply for certain deployments as an Individual Augmentee (IA). These billets are located at here. Reservists can also request temporary active duty status with their reserve unit called Active Duty Operational Support (ADOS). ADOS is limited and based on the needs of your unit.

State Active Duty (SAD) through the New York Naval Militia is unique to New York residents or reservists whose primary drilling location is located within New York State. These are orders to various State Missions which entitle reservists to their full pay (BAH, BAS, and Basic Pay) in exchange for working on a State Mission.

All and all, the Reserve Component makes sense for many individuals. It allows you to gain the Marine Corps experience while simultaneously pursing a graduate degree or pursuing another career. This also gives you the job security and peace of mind to know that if anything happens in your civilian career, you can quickly and easily pursue State Active Duty (SAD) or Active Duty Operational Support (ADOS) orders, apply for an opening on an individual augmentee billet, or apply for the Active Reserve program.

If you're interested in learning more about this opportunity give me a call at 917-346-5469 or e-mail


1. Professional Development Tour
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2. Reserve FAQ for Applicants
Download DOCX • 15KB


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