United States Marine Corps Recruit Training

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United States Marine Corps Recruit Training, commonly known as “Boot Camp” is a program of initial training that each recruit must successfully complete in order to join the United States Marine Corps. All enlisted individuals entering the Marine Corps, regardless of eventual active or reserve duty status, will undergo recruit training at one of the two Marine Corps Recruit Depots (MCRD): Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California. Male recruits from west of the Mississippi River (with exceptions such as Wisconsin, Michigan, the Chicago metropolitan area, and New Orleans) are sent to MCRD San Diego. Male recruits from east of the Mississippi River, as well as all female recruits, are sent to Parris Island.

Those desiring to become officers attend training at Officer Candidates School in Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

Marine Corps Boot Camp

Marine Corps Boot Camp

Marines generally hold that their recruit training is the most physically and mentally difficult amongst the Uniformed Services, often by citing that it is longer, a more demanding Physical Fitness Test (PFT), and the strictest height and weight standards.

Diet and Fitness

Prior to arriving at recruit training, all prospective recruits undergo a physical examination by a doctor at a Military Entrance Processing Station. Recruits receive their initial weigh-in during the forming phase. If the recruit is under or over the height and weight standards, the recruit is placed on double rations if underweight, or in a “diet” status if overweight. Recruits on double rations, or “double rat recruits”, are given twice the usual amount of food. Conversely, diet recruits are put on a strict diet composed of fewer calories and lower-fat foods such as baked fish and rice.

All recruits receive three meals a day (also known as “chow time”), with the exception of the Crucible. These are either served at the mess facility while in garrison, a boxed A-ration when travelling to a mess facility is not practical, or a Meal, Ready-to-Eat during field training. Meal time can last 30 minutes or less, depending on how quickly the platoon gets in line at the chow hall. Recruits are mandated a minimum of 20 minutes to consume each meal.

The Crucible

The Crucible is the final test in recruit training, and represents the culmination of all of the skills and knowledge a Marine should possess. Designed to emphasize the importance of teamwork in overcoming adversity, the Crucible is a rigorous 54-hour field training exercise demanding the application of everything a recruit has learned until that point in recruit training, and includes a total of 48 miles of marching. It simulates typical combat situations with strenuous testing, hardship, and the deprivation of food and sleep. A recruit is given three MREs (previously two and half) and four to eight hours of sleep through the entire 54-hour event. For this event, recruits are broken into squad-sized teams (possibly smaller) and placed under the charge of one drill instructor. West Coast recruits are returned to Edson Range for the Crucible. Parris Island recruits will conduct the Crucible in the derelict Page Airfield on the south end of the depot.

Throughout the Crucible, recruits are faced with physical and mental challenges that must be accomplished before advancing further. Teamwork is stressed, as the majority of tasks are completely impossible without it; each group must succeed or fail as a whole. The others will result in failure unless every recruit passes through together, requiring the team to aid their fellow recruit(s) who struggle in the accomplishment of the given mission. Also stressed are the Corps’ core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Many challenge events are named after Marine Medal of Honor recipient or otherwise notable Marines, and drill instructors will often take the time to read the citation of the award and hold a guided discussion with the recruits to evaluate their moral development. Drill instructors are also vigilant for those recruits who succeed and fail in leadership positions.

Some of the challenges encountered during the Crucible are various team and individual obstacle courses, day and night assault courses, land navigation courses, individual rushes up steep hills, large-scale martial arts challenges, and countless patrols to and from each of these. Often, these challenges are made even more difficult by the additions of limitations or handicaps, such as the requirement to carry several ammunition drums, not touching portions of an obstacle painted red to indicate simulated booby traps, and evacuating team members with simulated wounds.

On the final day of the Crucible, recruits are awoken and begin their final march (known as the “Reaper” march on the west coast). Immediately following this, recruits are offered the “Warrior’s Breakfast”, where they are permitted to eat as much as they like, even of previously forbidden foods, such as ice cream. Following this is the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor ceremony, where the recruits receive the eponymous emblem, and thereby cease to be recruits, finally becoming Marines. In recent years, this ceremony has been moved to the day before graduation, and signals the start of Family Day.

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