By MordeaniisChaos 5 Comments
I realized I never posted this to my blog: this is actually the piece I wrote for the United States Marine Corps page on Basic Training. So here you go!
Recruit Training (Boot Camp)
Marine Corps Recruit Training is generally considered to be the most intensive and difficult basic training of any branch of the US Armed Forces. Over three months of constant training and education goes into forging hardened, battle willing Marines. Recruits are broken down, and built up as superior soldiers for today's battlefield and military occupations.
The Marines are America's first and front line warriors. Every Marine knows how to and must be expected to fight in some of the world's most dangerous and demanding conflicts. In order to prepare Marines for this, they must go through the living hell of Recruit Training. They will be asked to do things that they never before would have attempted, let alone believed could be possible. From the miles of hiking with full battle gear to the dreaded gas chamber, Marine Corps recruits are put through a very special kind of hell. It weeds out those few to get so far as Basic without what it takes to graduate, and makes Marines of the survivors. MCRD is easily the most important cog in the Marine Corps machine, making men of boys, giving them raw strength and ability and forcing it into an incredibly strict and harsh reality. Few would question the results of MCRT techniques.
The Marine Corps holds it's Marines to the highest of standards, especially when it comes to physical condition. To ship to Basic, recruits must be capable of passing the Initial Strength Test before shipping. However, they will be required to perform the Physical Fitness Test, a more rigorous version of the IST, periodically through Basic, so most recruits would be wise to meet PFT standards before they leave for boot camp.
The requirements for male and female recruits are as follow:
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Marines begin their training in one of two MCRDs (Marine Corp Recruit Depot); San Diego, California or Parris Island, South Carolina. Male recruits West of the Mississippi ship to MCRD San Diego, while male recruits East of the Mississippi, as well as all female recruits, ship to MCRD Parris Island. While practices differ somewhat from coast to coast, the results are largely the same, and what few differences there are are minor in the grand scheme of things.
When recruits arrive at their assigned MCRD, they first are put through Receiving, which quickly shows the recruits that the next 13 weeks of their lives will not be a joke. Generally recruits will not sleep the first night, as they fill out paperwork, arranging for things like medication, base pay, and being issued basic gear, turning in all civilian possessions. They will also be given their recruit haircut, cut close to the scalp, as well as medical and dental screenings.
All through Receiving, you will get a taste of what the 12 week "training" portion of Basic will be like. You will spend several days being ordered around and barked at by Drill Instructors, being shown the ropes, and ordered to do any and everything "by the numbers" from showering to making your rack (bed).
Recruit Training is broken up into three phases: Basic Learning, Rifle Training, Field Training. Each will cover particular aspects of the requirements of the Marine occupation. Throughout all of these phases you will go through physical, mental, and academic training. You will continue to be physically active throughout the next 3 months. Just because the focus of the second phase is marksmanship does not mean you will stop marching, stop running, stop PTing in any way.
In fact, just about every day recruits will get a bit of every Marine's bread and butter: Physical Training (PT). PT is performed early in the morning to warm up recruits, starting with a number of limbering exercises and then up to 15 reps of the "daily dozen" (side-startle hops, bends & thrusts, rowing exercise, side benders, leg lifts, toe touches, mountain climbing, trunk twisters, push-ups, bend and reach, body twists, and squat benders). This should create a habit in recruits for after basic to perform PT as often as is healthy and possible.
During training, you will usually get a full night of sleep: 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. As with everything else at recruits training, however, there is of course a list of exceptions; such as when a recruit is required to perform guard duty, fire/security watch, mess duty, or when the series/company is engaged in scheduled night events, where recruits can expect a minimum of 6 hours of sleep. During The Crucible, Recruits generally get approximately 4 hours of sleep per night.
You will also be afforded some free time, at least an hour a day when in garrison, starting on the first official training day. During this free time no training will take place and no instructions will be given by Drill Instructors. This time is used for recruits to tend to personal needs, read and write letters, or watch Instructional TV. Before free time every day, mail will be handed out by your DI.
Phase One: Basic Learning
After receiving, recruits are introduced to what everyday life at Basic will be like, where they finally get to meet their new best friend: their Senior Drill Instructor. They will also be taken to the barracks, where they will be staying for the next 12 weeks, barring some field training. Recruits will learn (or practice, if they came prepared) how to march, how to wear their uniform, secure their weapon, and most importantly follow orders. This process is called "forming" and it will prepare you for the training ahead of you.
Recruits also learn how they will be required to speak from that point on until their graduation: in the third person. There is no me, I, or you. Recruits will say "This recruit" or "that recruit" or "those recruits". There is no floor, it is called a "deck". The latrine is a "head". Upstairs is "topside", and down stairs is "down below". The direction your facing is "forward", behind you is "aft", left is "port" and right is "starboard". The list of new vocabulary is long, and by no means optional.
Once you graduate, you may drop the third person speech, but the rest of the terms learned during forming will continue to be used throughout your career as a Marine.
DISCIPLINE: Incentive Physical Training
While Drill Instructors are not permitted to use profanity or physically touch recruits (save for safety reasons), the Marine Corps Drill Instructors have a special means of keeping recruits in line: IPT or "Quarter-decking."
IPT consists of prescribed exercises (a maximum of five minutes outside in "the pit," no maximum inside). Exercises one can expect if one is "quarter-decked" are: bends & thrusts, leg lifts, side lunges, mountain climbing, running in place, side straddle hops, and push-ups, done as fast as the D.I. can "encourage" you to perform them.
Recruits can expect to be "quarter-decked" frequently during "forming" as they will not be familiar the the tasks that they are being assigned, and will make mistakes. As Training progresses however, this 'punishment' will reduce in frequency until it hopefully comes to a near halt.
Week one of Basic Learning starts with an introduction to Close Quarters Combat (Yes, CQB!), primarily bayonet fighting and familiarizing you with your M16A2 rifle, before moving on to the basics of close combat. Marines will be taught the need to be aggressive and to over power their opponents when they are introduced to "pugil sticks", which recruits are required to strike at one another in one on one matches of pure offense.
You will start learning basic first aid, continue with pugil sticks and close combat, and move on to core values, weapon handling, and other academics.
Soon after this, you will be introduced to one of the great morale boosters of Recruit Training: the Confidence Course designed to give recruits confidence in their abilities as they navigate a daunting obstacle course that has them climbing, running, swinging, crossing bodies of water with nothing but ropes, and much much more.
After this, recruits will experience on of the biggest events of recruit training: Combat Water Survival. Marines are an amphibious force and all Marines must be capable and confident in the water. If a recruit cannot meet certain standards in Combat Water Survival they will not graduate, though they will be given additional attempts if they do not succeed at first.
After CWS, recruits will come to a milestone of progress, undergoing their first major inspection and as always, continuing their academics.
Phase Two: Rifle Training
During weeks six and seven, recruits will go through basic rifle training. Starting off, recruits will learn basic stances and firing positions, how to fire their rifles and adjust their sights, and understand the basic fundamentals of marksmanship. After a week of dry firing and familiarizing yourself with your rifle, you will get a chance to fire it for real on a known distance range. Recruits will fire live rounds at targets between 200 and 500 meters away.
During weapons training, recruits will also receive training on grenades and other common weaponry used by Marines in the field.
After learning to fire at stationary targets on a range, recruits will then learn how to engage targets in the field, firing on multiple moving targets under a variety of conditions.
Week eight is "Team Week" which means recruits get something of a break from the usual training to spend their time in the mess hall or another similar duty. While it doesn't sound particularly enjoyable, recruits will get to enjoy the relatively gentler nature of Mess Sergeants as opposed to their Drill Instructors.
Week nine has recruits diving right back into their training, focusing on firing their rifles in the field in preparation for the final phase of training, Field Training. Recruits will also experience a 10 mile hike with packs, which is sure to give blisters to even the most resilient recruit.
Phase Three: Field Training
Field training is when you learn to take everything you've learned, and apply it all to operations in the field. You'll operate and live in a simulated combat environment, and learn the fundamentals of patrolling, firing, setting up camp, and more. Basic Warrior Training introduces recruits to field living conditions, preparing them for the USMC School of Infantry, where the majority of their field training will take place.
During this final phase of training, recruits must go through the "Gas Chamber" designed to teach recruits how to don their gas masks in the case of a chemical agent at use. The Gas Chamber is one of the more difficult tasks at recruit training, despite lasting only a few minutes. While in a sealed room filled with riot control gas, recruits must repeatedly remove and don their gas masks, all the while coping with the extreme sensations caused by the gas. Breathing the gas causes a choking sensations, making recruits gag and cough. It irritated the eyes, making them water profusely. It burns the recruits' skin, and often makes them panic. But in order to leave the room they must overcome their fears and remain in control so they can go through the exercise and quickly as possible.
The Gas Chamber proves to recruits that their masks will protect them from harmful substances, and see that they have the ability to apply the masks in times of need, giving them much needed confidence in themselves and their equipment.
Week eleven comes around, and recruits have just two more weeks left until graduation. Though they are tired and sore, most recruits have gained incredible confidence and become extremely capable. Week ten marks the end of most training, with weeks eleven and twelve set aside to test the recruits one final time. Recruits will first go through the Company Commander's Inspection, which will demand the utmost from the recruits, requiring them to do everything perfectly, from the way they wear their uniform to the way they handle a weapon.
The final portion of United States Marine Corps Recruit Training is The Crucible. During this fifty-four hour test of weeks of training, and pure resolve and strength of body and character, recruits will be pushed to show that they are worthy of the title "United States Marine."
Recruits will be sleep deprived, they will march approximately 40 miles, and go through a number of events designed around the requirements and expectations of the Marine Corps. Recruits are on the cusp of earning their Eagle, Globe, and Anchors, and they know it. They must work to show that they can work cohesively as a unit to solve a wide variety of problems, demonstrate complete field capability, and quality of character. A final foot march will conclude with a Morning Colors Ceremony and a "Warriors" Breakfast."
The famed "Eagle, Globe and Anchor Ceremony" is conducted immediately after the Cruicible. The Eagle, Globe and Anchor is the Marine Corps Emblem -- It signifies that they are members, always and forever, of the few and the proud. Once open to loved ones, the ceremony is now a private affair, and only Marines attend. As of the ceremony, that includes every recruit that made it through the Crucible.
Marines at last
Now that the recruits are no longer recruits, but Marines, things change quite a bit. Their remaining time at Basic has them speaking once again in the first person, wearing the rank insignia they have earned, and taking on more responsibilities. The Drill Instructors, who often allow the new Marines to call them by their rank, rather than "Sir" or "ma'am", step back and let the Marines adjust to their new life.
The final days are spent mostly on academics as well as practicing for the graduation ceremony, where Marines will be reunited with loved ones for the first time since leaving home.
The minimum (core) graduation requirements are:
- Pass the physical fitness test and be within prescribed weight standards
- Qualify for Combat Water Survival at level 4 or higher
- Qualify with the service rifle
- Pass the batallion commander's inspection
- Pass the written tests
- Complete the Crucible
Time Spent in Training:
- Instructional Time (The Crucible / Combat Water Survival / Weapons and Field Training): 279.5 hours
- Core Values / Academics / Values Reinforcement: 41.5
- Physical Fitness: 59
- Close Order Drill: 54.5
- Field Training: 31
- Close Combat Training: 27
- Conditioning Marches: 13
- Administration: 60
- Senior DI Time (nightly free time): 55.5
- Movement Time: 60
- Sleep: 479
- Basic Daily Routine: 210
- Chow: 179
- Total: 1518 hours