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MARS Training [Merged]

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RyanNS

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Hey all,

Basically I just have a few questions about the MARS Officer program and what I can expect to be doing should I follow this route. I am graduating from university with an Arts degree in 2005 and would be entering as a DEO. I don't know any MARS officers that I can speak with to find out more information about this, and all my Navy friends (NCM's) don't really know much about MARS officers.

1) How tough is the MARS course? What is involved? I mean academically more than anything. I'm not particularly strong in Math or Science.

2) What would my schedule be like as soon as I enlist? I've looked at the basic description of a MARS officer on the Navys recruiting sight, but it seems rather vague and doesn't give much of a timeline.

3) It says that training will be done on a Destroyer. Are all MARS officers trained first only on Destroyers or are Frigates a possibilty?

4) What is daily life at sea like for a MARS officer? Living conditions? Daily routines?

5) What are career options for MARS officers after they leave the forces?

Any information anybody can help me with would be greatly appreaciated. I've found lots of information on the web about MARS officers, but basically I am still pretty vague about specifics and some real world input, other than what Navy sites say, would be great.

Also I read that somwhere that there was high failuer rate for MARS candidates? Is this true and if so why?

Thanks again

Ryan
 

winchable

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I can help you with a few queries there;

How tough is the MARS course?
As it's been explained to me, it's one of the hardest (read: longest and mentally faitguing) courses in the forces.
Since MARS officers are required to basically take in information from all dept's of the ship and make a very big decision on a regular basis, they are screened out thoroughly.
Which will answer your last question with a big "yes"

What are career options for MARS officers after they leave the forces?

Well, logically, any job requiring someone to be extremely disciplined and in charge of a large number of people would be ideal for a MARS officer.
But if you're asking about nautically related jobs, the bridge watchkeeping certificate you get through MARS is good just about anywhere. fom what I understand.

Best bet is to talk to a recruiter really they'll give you a much better idea.
I don't want to say anything that I've been told that's just hearsay or speculation, training changes and most of the things I hear are from geezers :D
 

Torlyn

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Ryan,

  I'm in the process of DEO'ing as a MARS officer, and have been fortunate enough to interview a few of them.  I'll try and answer the questions as best I can, but keep in mind that your best bet is to contact your local Naval reserves, and ask to interview someone..  (Worked for me, anyway.)

RyanNS said:
Hey all,

Basically I just have a few questions about the MARS Officer program and what I can expect to be doing should I follow this route. I am graduating from university with an Arts degree in 2005 and would be entering as a DEO. I don't know any MARS officers that I can speak with to find out more information about this, and all my Navy friends (NCM's) don't really know much about MARS officers.

1) How tough is the MARS course? What is involved? I mean academically more than anything. I'm not particularly strong in Math or Science.

2) What would my schedule be like as soon as I enlist? I've looked at the basic description of a MARS officer on the Navys recruiting sight, but it seems rather vague and doesn't give much of a timeline.

3) It says that training will be done on a Destroyer. Are all MARS officers trained first only on Destroyers or are Frigates a possibilty?

4) What is daily life at sea like for a MARS officer? Living conditions? Daily routines?

5) What are career options for MARS officers after they leave the forces?

Any information anybody can help me with would be greatly appreaciated. I've found lots of information on the web about MARS officers, but basically I am still pretty vague about specifics and some real world input, other than what Navy sites say, would be great.

Also I read that somwhere that there was high failuer rate for MARS candidates? Is this true and if so why?

Thanks again

Ryan

1) THe training is very tough, if you make it past the selection board.  Like the website says, 27 months of training.  You have to excel in spacial ability, math, etc.

2 & 3) First, BOTC (15 weeks) then you'll do your french language training (if required) then either Halifax or Esquimault for your training, which is both at sea and on shore.  The training is generally done for reg forces on destroyers, but there is always potential to be on other ships, save the MCDV's, which are staffed primarily by reservists.

4) Daily routines can be tough.  Aside from your normal duties during the day (whichever shift you're on) you also have a 4 hour stint as bridge officer.  At that point, the only people on the ship who outrank you are the XO and CO, who are generally sleeping at that time.  So, let's say you run your ass off for 12 hours a day (7 am - 7pm, for example) and you draw bridge watch at 2am.  from 2-6 you are awake and on the bridge, then you go back to your regular duties at 7am.  Specifics are different for every MARS occupation, res or reg, so that's all the input I can provide there.

5) As Che said, sky's the limit.  I know of a few ex-MARS officers that are captains of various ocean-going liners (from tankers to cruise ships), and the like.  Hope that helps, and good luck.  Remember that the selection boards for the MARS officers are done in November and March, so if you're hoping to get in soon after you graduate, I would think about applying sooner than later.  (Don't wait until 2005, you can still apply if your degree isn't quite done...)

T
 

RNW

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I applied for DEO MARS two years ago...almost there, I believe. Hopefully you haven't lived outside of Canada recently and you don't have prior service...

In two years I've learned a lot about going MARS and I've talked to young MARS officers and other applicants who have actually made it to the Naval Board. It is true that it is a major challenge, but that is part of what interests me. I have been told that math and physics knowledge is not of vital importance, though brushing up can never hurt. Apparently you can also go through MARS school twice, so failing the first time around doesn't mean you are done. I have read that two-thirds fail the first time around. I expect by the second time around one's chances of passing are greatly increased. If you do fail again I believe you can transfer to another occupation in the CF; after all, by that time you will be a commissioned, bilingual young junior officer, and much time and money will have been invested in you. Anyway, interested to hear what others have to say.
 
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RyanNS

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Thanks for the input guys. I'm completing my application within the next two weeks and we'll see what happens from there. I have lived outside the country in the past couple years though. Ireland (2 mos), Mexico (2 mos) and a few Central American countries (all less than 6 mos.) is where I have been. One recruiter mentioned that issue, but didnt seem to think it would be a problem as I have never really been outside the country for longer than 6 months a time. Once again thanks again.


Ryan
 

Sheerin

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I, like you, am considering DEO'ing as a MARS, what type of grades are they looking for from university?  I'm assuming i'd be in the running considering my cumulative average is in the high 80s.  Do they give special consideration to those who have good grades coming out of their degree, and finally, does having an honours degree make any difference?

 

Torlyn

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Sheerin said:
I, like you, am considering DEO'ing as a MARS, what type of grades are they looking for from university?  I'm assuming i'd be in the running considering my cumulative average is in the high 80s.  Do they give special consideration to those who have good grades coming out of their degree, and finally, does having an honours degree make any difference?

From what I got from my recruiter, better grades do help once you get to the selection board, but there are other variables they look at.  (How your interview went, CFAT scores, etc.) So, all things being equal between you and one other person, if you've got better scholastic marks, I'd imagine that might tip the scales.  A caveat to that would be the type of degree...  An honours degree in fine arts might not carry as much weight as a BSc in Math (given math and science are required for the MARS program).  Hope that helps, and again, this isn't gospel, so please contact your recruiter for 100% solid info.  (The stuff I write here is what I've gotten from my recruiter, so I hope it's accurate...  ;D)

T
 

winchable

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I applied with highschool and first year university marks (God bless the reserves)

Extras help, things other than marks do count for something.
They like to see that you've had experience in leading and they like it even more if it's possible that you've been evaluated on that leading.
 

RNW

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RyanNS: I'm not sure if your time abroad will be an issue. I spent a year away in the UK and Thailand during 1999, working and travelling, and I believe it has seriously delayed my application. Post 9/11 they have to do more intensive checks to ensure I am not a shady Taliban operative. They told me 9-18 months for the security check, which seems unbelievable. It's been about 13 months now. All CFRC testing/interviewing was finished over a year ago. Hopefully your situation won't be simillar because you didn't do one straight stint away.
 
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Dreadnought

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Hey Che? your a Mars Reserve Officer right?  If you are then how long did it take for you to get accepted into the program.  It doesnt make sense for someone to get accepted around now for reserve officer because what will you do at your base unit or who will teach you the ways?  By the way I am waiting to hear from my naval unit to when I get to start for Officer Training.
 

winchable

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There was a Board that decided, It was early 2004.
So I assume it will be early 2005 next?
I was in a unique situation from most so I was already in the NavRes.

Chances are you'll do some in unit training. Getting you adjusted to the many nuances of the unit and the people in it, as well as some details relating to the MOC.
If you have specifics, just PM me.
 

MissHardie

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RyanNS,

I just went through BOTC and MARS II this summer, so maybe I can help answer some of your questions...  note, though, that I've only ever sailed on a YAG (a 100 footer from 1953, used for training purposes but being replaced 2006-7ish), so for actual sea experience on a 'real' ship I'll be useless. :)

1. MARS training: Like Torlyn said, you go through BOTC (which was only 12 weeks long for me - is it different between Reg Force and Reserve? I know they've been revamping BOTC and I may have been the 'lucky' shortened class.  I say lucky because this summer needed to work out a lot of bugs... However, a hallmark of the MARS officer is being able to deal with stress, such as the annoncement that you're going to have 3 exams over the course of two days - starting tomorrow - and if you fail look forward to a TRB (Training Review Board, what they sent you to if they're deciding whether or not to keep you).).  BOTC consists of a whole bunch of PT, basic military knowledge (such as digging a trench and putting on camo), 3 weeks total spent in the field acting like army cadets, and leadership training, culminating in 2 leadership stands - you must pass both; if you fail the first time, as I and half my class did, they'll retest you, but if you fail again, you're TRB'd, and gone - I found the first test to be the hardest, though it was only 90 minutes long as opposed to the 6 hour long stand that can take place either during the day or at night. This is where most people fail.  The same deal goes for the second test, though nearly everyone passes that one. That's the 6 hour long stand, all of which are done on a 24-hour rotational basis - get used to little sleep and hard, hard work for 3-4 days.

After BOTC, you do MARS II training.  This is basic naval knowledge, where you learn parts of the ship and naval history and etiquette (this part done in MARS II part II for us Reservists, so next winter for me), small boats stuff, ship organization... etc.  All that useful information that you'll only really understand after you go on a boat and learn what it all means.  You'll also do NBCD, firefighting, and flood control (which is a blast, btw.).

MARS III is the in math intensive course.  They say MARS training is the toughest stream because of MARS III, IV, and the Fleet Navigation course.  You'll have to be good at mental math (a very practisible skill; it just takes time to learn), which is dealing with angles and fractions in your head and calculating distances. MARS III is where you learn to navigate.  MARS IV is where you learn to be Officer of the Watch, the second most important position on a ship at any given time (Captain being first, of course!). 


2. Schedule after enlistment:  There is a severe shortage of MARS officers in the Canadian Navy at the moment, but they all seem to bottleneck at MARS III.  I wanted to take that course this fall, right after MARS II, but there are just so many people waiting for the course I couldn't get on.  Right now there are a bunch of MARS II graduates in the Reg Force who are attending French School or other filler courses whilst waiting to be loaded on MARS III.  I don't know if this situation will ameliorate in the near future, but we can hope.

If you want clarification on what I've said or more personal experiences, feel free to ask.  You'll find that those who get through the MARS training all think it's worth it and are having the times of their lives.
 

MissHardie

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mdh,

A leadership stand is jargon for a practical leadership test - you're in charge of a group of 5-6 people and you have to accomplish a given task using the NATO SMESC format.  An instructor marks you on your abilities to lead and follow the given format properly - it's basically the end of BOTC test.
 
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JRR

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This is specifically for RyanNS and all those who are thinking about getting into the MARS trade and are looking for more information.

First, try to find someone who is actually going through the process rather than the recruiting centre.  You are much more likely to get information that is current.  Or if you need to go to the recruiting centre, ensure that you ask to speak to a MARS officer.  There are some basic changes that are made to course curriculum each course, however, we all follow the same avenue and those with experience will be able to provide more insight than an Air Force or Army captain who has read the same information as yourself. 

I am currently in the Reg Force going through MARS III training so I will try to enlighten you as much as possible about the instances I have gone through so far and what I will be expecting in the very near future.

All officers following the DEO programme in the CF will follow essentially the same route, regardless of element.  We all spend the first 13 to 14 weeks of Basic Training in St Jean, Que.  The focus, as it should be, is on leadership and the basic ability to function as part of the military organization.  The course is both physically and mentally demanding however it is far from being impossible to get through.  The instruction is professional and the basic skills attained are generally relevant.  However, the instruction is based solely on Army knowledge and abilities.  You will find very little to do with the Navy during your basic training.

Upon successful completion of the Basic Officer Training at St Jean, you will be moving to Esquimalt on Vancouver Island - a very nice spot.  Flowers blooming in February and cutting grass a few weeks later.  Depending on what is happening at the Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC) you will either complete the Naval Environmental Training Programme for Officers (NETP-O) or you will go to the Base Language Training Centre for second language training.  For myself, I spent 33 weeks completing a French course.  It does seem like a long time, however your proficiency in a second language should be ameliorated upon leaving.  All Reg Force officers in the CF are expected to maintain a bilingual proficiency of some degree - all officers are not completely bilingual.  This if for both anglophone and francophone personnel.  In the infancy of your naval career, a second language may not play an important part; however, a proficiency in a second language will allow you to engage with all members of a ship's crew and in a tight race to determine who gets promoted, your second language proficiency could put you higher in the standings than those of other members.

Completing second language training, you move onto NETP-O.  This is a 10 week introduction into the different aspects of naval life.  This includes the history of the Canadian Navy, the organization of a ship's company, basic fire fighting and damage control as well as basic seamanship evolutions including the transfer of fuel and stores from one ship to another while at sea.  Essentially, NETP-O is suppose to make you feel like you are in the Navy and build up some basic information.  You will also go on a YAG trip for approximately two weeks where you will be able to put to use some of the basic skills you have learned, at sea.  Rarely do people fail out at this stage in their MARS training.

Following NETP-O is MARS III.  Indeed, MARS III is a "weeding out" course for those going through the MARS process.  The good news is that a majority of those who go through the MARS III course have already jumped through enough hurdles and have undergone sufficient examination by those with experience in the Forces to determine if they will be successful.  MARS III is the introduction to basic navigation and shiphandling in the Canadian Navy.  The range of topics in this course are too numerous to mention.  The course lasts for approximately 4 months and is academic oriented.  The ability to spatially reason and apply simple mathematics is essential.  However, you do not need to be a mathematical wizard to succeed.  The greatest factor you can have to passing the MARS III course is the determination to succeed and the willingness to put in the requisite time to fully understand the information you are being taught.

MARS IV is a continuation of the MARS III course with an emphasis of actually moving the member closer to getting into a "heavy".  The emphasis here is on being the OOW - Officer of the Watch - the person charged with responsibility of a ship at any given time and directly responsible to the Captain and the Executive Officer.  The sea phase of MARS IV is approximately 4 to 6 weeks long.

That will complete your time at the NOTC.  From there, the MARS officer will move into the Fleet and begin to work towards being competent to stand as Officer of the Watch in any of HMC Ships.  If you have any more specific questions you need answered, post here again and I will try to answer your question or at least find some information for you. 

NOTC's motto is To Learn, To Serve, To Lead.  If you are prepared to dedicate yourself to these three components of being a successful MARS officer, then we in the Navy are prepared to Welcome you Aboard.  Good Luck with finishing your degree and apply now to a recruiting centre nearest to you.  The sooner the CF is aware that you are ready to join, the better they can work for you and your application.
 

RNW

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JRR: Thanks very much for your insight. I applied as a regular MARS officer two years ago and am waiting to hear about acceptance to the Board. Testing etc. was finished over a year ago. My file is taking its time due to a VFS (I was an Army Reserve NCM during university) and the fact that I lived out of the country for a year post 9/11...or so I'm told. Anyway I'm 27, employed as an office manager, with a degree on my belt, anxiously waiting. My degree was in History so my math/physics knowledge is minimal, but I'm brushing up and studying those subjects as best I can to prepare for MARS trg. Can you suggest specific math/physics areas/skills I should focus my studies on? Narrowing down the individual areas to review would be a great help.
In addition, the nasty rumour is that up to 3/4 fail MARS 111. I have heard that it can be taken twice, so I assume a good number of second-attempters end up passing, making the 3/4 figure perhaps a little deceiving. Any truth to this?
Finally, should one fail MARS 111 twice, is there an opportunity to transfer to one's second, third or fourth officer options (in my case, all army)? Or are you given your walking papers from the CF after all of that training? I'm confident I can because a MARS officer, but I'm curious as to the worst case scenario options. Anyway, thanks for your time. Cheers.

 

Garbageman

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Lethbridge U said:
JRR, were you able to do your second language training in Esquimalt, and not St.Jean?   :cdn:
I know you didn't ask me, but as another example, a guy I was on SLT (second language) with in St Jean was MARS, but got to finish it up the next summer in Esquimalt.  That was in 1999 for what it's worth.
 
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JRR

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To answer a few of the questions that have been asked since last time.

First, the SLT for most MARS completing Basic Training is done in Esquimalt, BC.  There is an entire Centre dedicated to instruction on SLT.  It is not only for junior officers but also for senior officers looking to acquire a higher profile in their Second Language standing.  Depending on where you are in your career, the SLT profile could help with promotion or in some cases, such as LCdr and above, a certain standing is required for promotion.

As for what someone can do to improve their chances.  You may get varied responses to this one.  Some senior officers suggest that some people simply get the concepts involved in being a MARS officer and some do not.  Others suggest that to be successful, you simply need to put your mind to it.  Well, like most opinions, it is probably somewhere in the middle.  A little bit of natural talent to be able to grasp new concepts will definetely serve your interests.  However, putting in the requisite time will also help tremendously.  The math skills involved are fairly basic.  As you progress through the system though, you will be required to apply these basic math skills quicker.  The courses are designed as if you know nothing about the concept.  However, the learning curve is steep and you may be required to complete a test on the info you just learned within the week.  Dedication to the course and the willingness to put in the time and effort to the course is your most likely chance of being successful.  There is nothing you should be working on now to improve your chances with respect to math.  If you want to start taking a look at the Nautical Rules of the Road that could be something you could start on.  Their importance is paramount in the MARS world.

As for the failure rate of MARS III.  The typical course of 20 persons usually lose between 8 and 10 people by the end of course.  You have to remember that the people assessing have served in the Fleet and before passing a member, the assessors want to ensure that the member will serve the Fleet well.  A second chance should not be automatically assumed nor should a third chance at trying to make it through be ruled out.  The decision of the Training Review Board will likely be based on how you have handled yourself and the effort you have put into the course.  But before all of this process happens, one has to fail.  Put all your efforts into your first attempt and you should come out on top.  Worry about a recourse if the necessity comes about.  The MARS IV failure rate, because of the quality of the people completing MARS III successfully, is usually significantly less than MARS III.  MARS II failure rate is close to zero.

Should you not be successful in the MARS world, your career manager and HR will most likely look at what other assets you possess that could advantage the CF.  Keeping your avenues open means not quitting MARS, even if you are having a hard time.  Perhaps not for everyone, but those people who quit MARS usually are offered a limited selection of other career paths they can follow.  And many end up quitting the CF all together because the choices offered do not reflect the member's selection.  If you are told that MARS is not for you after a TRB sits, then you may be offered a wider variety of carreer options.  The military does not like quitters.

Hope this helps.  Ask more questions if you need more answers.
 
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