Situated at Camp Pendleton, the West Coast base of the U.S. Marine Corps, The Lieutenant focuses on the men of the Corps in peace time with a Cold War backdrop. The Lieutenant explores the lives of enlisted Marines and general officers alike. The title character is Second Lieutenant William Tiberius Rice, a rifle platoon leader and one of the training instructors at Camp Pendleton. Rice is a recent graduate of the United States Naval Academy and had been assigned his first command, that of a rifle platoon. Rice is a young, educated idealist who still has much to learn from an older mentor. Also featured is Captain Raymond Rambridge, Rice's company commander, an up-from-the-ranks officer.