United States Marine Corps Recruit Training

United States Marine Corps Recruit Training (commonly known as "boot camp") is a 13-week program "including in & out-processing" of initial training that each recruit must successfully complete in order to serve in 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. The training and standards are identical between the two bases, though the order of some training events differs from east coast to west coast. Male recruits from the 8th, 9th and 12th recruiting districts (areas west of the Mississippi River except Louisiana and including parts of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan) are sent to MCRD San Diego. All recruits from the 1st, 4th and 6th recruiting districts and all female recruits are sent to Parris Island. Those desiring to become officers attend training at Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia.


In the earliest years of the Corps, training was performed by the individual Marine barracks where the individual was recruited before being assigned to a permanent post.[1] Marine non-commissioned officers were responsible for instructing privates in discipline, drill, weapons handling and other skills. Commandant Franklin Wharton established a formal school for recruits at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. in approximately 1808, but no records indicate that this served as a centralized recruit depot and the training regimen remained inconsistent and primitive due to manpower shortages and lack of funding. For example, recruits at Washington were hastily formed into a battalion in July 1861 and drilled as they marched on their way to the First Battle of Bull Run.[2]

In 1911, Commandant William P. Biddle standardized a mandatory two-month recruit training schedule (including drill, physical exercise, personal combat and intensive marksmanship qualification with the recently adopted M1903 Springfield rifle) and set up four depots at Philadelphia, Norfolk, Puget Sound and Mare Island.[1] In 1915, the Norfolk depot was shifted to its current location at Parris Island, while the Philadelphia and Puget Sound depots were closed and merged with the two remaining depots. As the United States entered World War I, the number of recruits being trained surged from 835 at any given time to a peak of 13,286, while follow-on training was provided at Quantico and in France. During the summer of 1923, the West Coast recruit depot was moved from Mare Island to its current location in San Diego and the training program was modified to include three weeks of basic indoctrination and three weeks on the rifle range and the final two weeks were occupied in bayonet drill, guard duty, drill and ceremonies.

After Congress authorized an increase in manpower in preparation for World War II in September 1939, the syllabus was halved to four weeks to accommodate the influx of recruits.[1] After standards and marksmanship plummeted as a result, the seven-week schedule was returned and additional training was given at Camps Lejeune or Pendleton for Marines, based on specialties, before being assigned to a unit. An additional segregated depot was established at Montford Point for roughly 20,000 African American recruits, who would not be integrated until 1949. Overall, half a million recruits were trained by the end of the war at the three depots.

During the Korean War, training was shortened from ten weeks to eight, but returned afterward to ten.[1] The Ribbon Creek incident in 1956 led to considerable scrutiny and reform in recruit training, such as an additional layer of command oversight and the distinctive campaign cover.[3] During the early 1960s, the training period was increased to 13 weeks, including three weeks of marksmanship training at the Rifle Range. The Vietnam War-era syllabus was shortened to nine weeks and again saw infantry recruits attend follow-on training at Lejeune and Pendleton.


In Helmet for My Pillow, his World War II memoir, journalist Robert Leckie wrote of Marine Corps Recruit Training:

It is a process of surrender. At every turn, at every hour, it seemed, a habit or a preference had to be given up, an adjustment had to be made. Even in the mess hall we learned that nothing mattered so little as a man's own likes or dislikes ... Worst in this process of surrender was the ruthless refusal to permit a man the slightest privacy.[4]

Leckie added: "If you are undone in Parris Island, taken apart in those first few weeks, it is at the rifle range that they start to put you together again".[4]

Daily schedule

An average day typically begins at 4:00.[5] Reveille is sounded and all recruits present themselves for accountability. After personal hygiene and morning clean-up, recruits will perform physical training (only on Monday through Saturday). After the morning meal, the recruits begin the day's scheduled training, which may include classes, drill or martial arts. On Sundays, recruits are offered the morning to attend various religious services and personal time (often called "Square-Away Time"). After the noon meal, the day's training continues until the evening meal, typically around 17:00 to 18:00 (5:00 to 6:00 pm). After this time, recruits will have hygiene time to shower, clean their weapons and clean their barracks. Recruits also get roughly 1 hour of square away time after this, personal time for recruits to engage in personal activities such as preparing uniforms or equipment, writing letters, working out or doing laundry. Recruits are not free from their Drill Instructors (DIs) or allowed to leave the squad bay during this time. In preparation to sleep, recruits may hydrate, pray together for five minutes, ensure footlockers and rifles are locked and often recite the Rifleman's Creed or Marines' Hymn before lights-out. Lights-out can range from 20:00 to 22:00 (8:00 to 10:00 pm), depending on the next day's activities. Throughout all of recruit training, a guard, or ”firewatch”, is posted for the entire night. Four recruits at a time will stand one hour shifts during which they keep order in the squad bay, clean, or carry out whatever task the drill instructors assigned them that night. Extra firewatch is frequently assigned as punishment for minor infractions.

Organizational structure

Recruits are organized by regiment, battalion, company, platoon, squad and often fireteam. A Recruit Training Regiment is composed of three recruit training battalions (at Parris Island there is an additional battalion to train female recruits). All three of the male battalions are made up of four companies, while the female battalion comprises three. Each company is broken down into two series, designated as Lead and Follow, which may have between one and four platoons, depending on the number of recruits in the company at the time the training cycle begins.

Each company is much like a class at a civilian education institution; each company begins and finishes recruit training together (with the exception of those who are dropped for medical or personal reasons to a different company), thus each of the companies will be at a different stage in the thirteen-week training cycle.

Each series is broken down into a number of platoons, usually from two to four in each. These platoons will be the basic unit for recruit training, assigned a four digit number as identification. Drill instructors are assigned to each platoon and will usually stay from the beginning to the end of training. The Senior Drill Instructor of each platoon will select recruits to billets of responsibility, to mimic command and staff positions of a Marine unit. The selections often change on the whims of the drill instructors and can include:

  • the platoon guide, the senior-most recruit responsible for carrying the platoon's guidon
  • four squad leaders, each in charge of one-fourth of the platoon; they may choose to further subdivide their squads into four-man fire teams
  • a scribe, responsible for maintaining administrative records such as the interior guard schedule
  • a whiskey locker recruit, known as a whiskey pig, responsible for maintaining the platoon's supplies
  • house mouse, who cleans the normally off-limits drill instructors' offices
  • a prack recruit, responsible for leading the platoon in memorizing and reciting academic knowledge

Drill Instructors

Central to the experience, training and development of Marine recruits is the Drill Instructor (DI). The tough treatment of Marine recruits by Drill Instructors is legendary. As one magazine described it:[6]

[T]he Marine boot still steps from the recruit train with 74 other victims in his platoon to face crushing defeat at the hands of a merciless staff-sergeant drill instructor and his two assistants. For eight weeks, the DI attacks his blundering confusion with rigid discipline and a blistering barrage of vocal abuse until the boot is bullied and battered into a Marine. He's a "meathead," "goon," "skinhead," "idiot," "yardbird," or "numb" ... Slightest mistakes are greeted with tirades. To a sheepish boot who blinks at him during a chewing out, the DI roars. "Eyes front! Why do you stare at me? Do I fascinate you, meathead?" ... During vicious upbraidings, [the recruit] is continually reminded that he should have joined the Army instead of the Marine Corps.

In his World War II memoir With the Old Breed, Eugene Sledge described Corporal Doherty, his Drill Instructor, as having:

[T]he coldest, meanest green [eyes] I ever saw. He glared at us like a wolf whose first and foremost desire was to tear us limb from limb. He gave me the impression that the only reason he didn’t do so was that the Marine Corps wanted to use us for cannon fodder to absorb Japanese bullets and shrapnel so genuine Marines could be spared to capture Japanese positions ... Most Marines recall how loudly their DIs yelled at them, but Doherty didn't yell very loudly. Instead he shouted in an icy, menacing manner that sent cold chills through us.[7]

After Sledge and others went to see a nearby airplane crash, "[w]hen we got back to our area, Corporal Doherty delivered one of his finest orations on the subject of recruits never leaving their assigned area without the permission of their DI. We were all impressed, particularly with the tremendous number of push-ups and other exercises we performed instead of going to noon chow". He wrote:[7]

[W]e didn't realize or appreciate the fact that the discipline we were learning in responding to orders under stress often would mean the difference later in combat—between success or failure, even living or dying ... By the end of eight grueling weeks, it had become apparent that Corporal Doherty and the other DIs had done their jobs well. We were hard physically, had developed endurance, and had learned our lessons. Perhaps more important, we were tough mentally. One of our assistant drill instructors even allowed himself to mumble that we might become Marines after all.

Sledge concluded "I disliked [Doherty], but I respected him. He had made us Marines".[7]

Each platoon is assigned three or more Drill Instructors, sometimes informally referred to as "hats" due to their distinctive campaign cover. The drill instructors of a platoon are responsible to the Series Commander, a level of command added below that of the company commander, as a safety measure put into place following the Ribbon Creek incident. Drill instructors are trained at the drill instructor schools at each MCRD. Those drill instructors who successfully complete three years or a total of 30 months of duty are eligible to receive the Drill Instructor Ribbon.[8]

Physical strength and fitness

The United States Marine Corps requires each recruit to pass the Initial Strength Test (IST) upon arriving to the Marine Corps Recruiting Depots. The three tests consist of pull-ups/push-ups, crunches, and 1.5 mile run. The minimum requirements are as followed:[9]

Initial Strength Test (IST) Minimum Requirements
Tests Male Female
Pull-ups/Push-ups 3 Pull-ups


34 Push-ups

1 Pull-up


15 Push-ups

Crunches 44 Crunches 44 Crunches
1.5 Miles 13 Minutes 30 Seconds 15 Minutes

Throughout recruit training, recruits will run the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) 2-3 times.[10] The PFT requires higher standards on each of the three tests. Pull-ups/push-ups and crunches are the same as the IST, but there is now a 3 mile run.[11] The requirements for each test varies depending on which group an individual fall under depending on age.[12] Prior to 2017, women did flexed arm hangs instead of pull-ups. As a result of the change, the option of push-ups instead of pull-ups was included in the fitness tests.[13] Any individual that chooses to do push-ups will only be able to score a maximum score of 70, compared to a maximum of 100 on all others tests.[11] Another change to the PFT in 2020, is that Marines will be given the option of planks instead of crunches.

Diet, additional fitness and medical care

Before 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.[14] If the recruit is under or over the height and weight standards,[15][16][17] 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"), except during the Crucible. These are either served at the mess facility while in garrison, a boxed A-ration when traveling 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 though more often than not they do not take anywhere close to that amount of time, often they only need 10 to 15 minutes.

In some cases, recruits may fail to meet certain physical fitness standards or may inadvertently suffer an injury which prevents them from continuing training. These two types of recruits are moved from their initial training platoon and company to the Special Training Company (STC), which retains a disciplined, "boot camp" style environment while being oriented to the improvement of the individual recruit's physical and mental ability to train. The Special Training Company is divided into three platoons. While platoons in normal U.S. military parlance denote a group of around 15-20 personnel, each STC platoon is as large as necessity dictates and may often contain 500 or more recruits along with their assigned drill instructors and other personnel.[18]

Recruits who fail the initial fitness test, as well as those who fail to perform adequately later in training, are dropped to the Physical Conditioning Platoon (PCP) at STC, informally known as the "Pork Chop Platoon" or "Donut Brigade". Recruits in PCP are engaged in a vigorous regimen of physical exercise to prepare them for reentry into training. On the other hands, recruits who are injured become part of the Medical Rehabilitation Platoon (MRP), in which they are closely monitored and treated by naval medical personnel while receiving implicit instruction about the Marine Corps and performing whatever small tasks, such as cleaning, they may be capable of. In some cases, it may be necessary for a recruit who has recovered from illness or injury in MRP may need to be moved to PCP to regain an appropriate level of physical fitness and avoid further injury or illness before they eventually rejoin a training platoon.

Finally, there is the Evaluative Holding Platoon (EHP). This is a generalized platoon that encompasses all recruits who for any reason are unable to continue with their training platoon and are being evaluated for possible discharge. This platoon may include recruits who have failed to adapt to the conditions of the Marine Corps' boot camp or have refused to continue training. Any recruit in Special Training Company is carefully assessed for physical, mental and moral fitness and when he or she is considered to be prepared to resume training will generally be placed with a platoon at the last training level the recruit had completed.

Medical care is provided by the Naval medical personnel: doctors, physician assistants and corpsmen.


The intense nature of recruit training lends itself to competition and rivalry between recruits at every level, from squads and platoons up to the rivalry between the two recruit depots. Each platoon in a given company competes to win trophies for having the highest collective scores in marksmanship, close order drill, academic testing and the final physical fitness test. Platoons that do poorly are sometimes nicknamed the "booger" platoon. In addition to the formal tests, platoons will continuously compete in everyday activities. The most frequent competitions involve seeing which platoon can recite knowledge the loudest. While each company will be at a different point in the training cycle at a given time and thus not able to compete directly, graduates and drill instructors foster an atmosphere of friendly rivalry. However, the rivalry between MCRDs Parris Island and San Diego is much more pronounced. Marines trained at San Diego are often referred to as "Hollywood Marines"[19] because of the base's location in Southern California.

Training schedule

Recruit Training is 13-weeks, this includes a week of receiving, followed by 12 rigorous weeks of training. In February 2018 the Marine Corps added a 4th phase to the matrix that previously only have 3 phases. This 4th stage allowed for an additional week after the Crucible. This week allows new Marines to adjusts from being a recruit to actually being a Marine.[20] Both MCRD Parris Island and San Diego follow the outline of a 4 phase matrix, however, individual weeks and days vary.[21] The following schedule breakdown is of recruit training at MCRD San Diego

Phase 1

Receiving Week

The initial period of Marine Corps Boot Camp is called the Receiving Phase, which begins as the new recruits are on the bus en route to their recruit Depot. Recruits will always arrive to the Depot when it is dark out[21] and they are "greeted" by a drill instructor, who acquaints them with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, to which they are now subject. Disembarking from the bus, they line up on rows of yellow footprints painted on the concrete which is their first formation and learn how to stand at attention.

The recruits are given the opportunity to phone their next of kin and inform them of the recruit's safe arrival, then are searched for contraband. They are issued utility and physical training uniforms and toiletries. From here, the males receive their first military haircut, where they are left essentially bald. Females are instructed in the authorized hairstyling, which allows hair to be short enough to not touch the collar or in a bun (MCRD Parris Island).

The remainder of receiving involves completing paperwork, receiving vaccines and medical tests and storing civilian belongings under the eye of drill instructors set aside specifically for receiving. This takes approximately three days, usually without the opportunity to sleep, and ends with the Initial Strength Test (IST).[22]

From this point, recruits experience "Black Friday", where they meet their permanent Drill Instructors. They also meet their Company Commander, usually a captain, who orders their Drill Instructors to train them to become Marines and has them recite the Drill Instructor's Creed. At this point, recruit training truly begins. Recruits are familiarized with incentive training as one of the consequences of disobedience or failure to perform to a Drill Instructor's expectations. The Drill Instructors physically, psychologically and mentally harass the recruits, including yelling at maximum volume and intimidation, to simulate stress of the battlefield and elicit immediate compliance to instructions. The remainder of receiving is made as confusing and disorienting for the recruits as possible to help distance the recruits from civilian habits and to prepare them for Marine Corps discipline.

It is at this point that a recruit must come to terms with the decision he or she has made and develop the true determination needed to make it through the process of becoming a United States Marine. The final "moment of truth" is offered to those who have been dishonest about their eligibility, such as drug use, judicial convictions or other disqualifying conditions.

Weeks 1-3

Phase One lasts approximately four weeks including Receiving. Discipline here will begin to be instilled in recruits by disorienting them and effectively cutting them off from civilian habits and mindsets, as well as reinforcing the mental and physical standards needed to perform under stressful situations that will be simulated in subsequent phases and experienced in combat situations. Recruits are required to learn and strictly use language and terminology typical to the Marine Corps, often derived from naval terminology.

The purpose of the first phase is to psychologically break down the recruit. At this point, civilian thoughts and habits are considered detrimental to training, so they are squashed during this period by intense physical training, unchanging routines, strict discipline and heavy instruction. The process is designed to enable recruits to learn to survive in combat situations and generally to adapt and overcome any unexpected situation. One of the principal ideals learned during this period is that recruits are not to think of themselves as individuals—they are not permitted to use first person or second person pronouns. Instead, recruits are required to use third-person referrals, such as referring to themselves as "This recruit" and accomplish all tasks with teamwork. Any actions that put the benefit of an individual over the benefit of the other recruits are not permitted and recruits are expected to conform to a standard that does not tolerate personal deviance or eccentricities. Speed, intensity and volume when speaking are valued as well.

The bulk of first-phase education consists of classes about the Marine Corps and its history and culture, first aid, rank structure and insignia,[23] protocol, customs and courtesies, the 11 General Orders,[24] aspects of the five paragraph order, prepare equipment for use (such as how to properly make a rack), regulations regarding uniforms and other topics. Recruits learn through the use of rote memorization and mnemonics—recruits are expected to be able to recite a passage or quote in unison, without error and on demand.

Close order drill is an important factor in recruit training, and begins from their first formation on the yellow footprints. In the first phase, they learn all of the basic commands and movements, memorizing the timing through the use of "ditties", or mnemonics, that help synchronize a recruit's movements with the rest of his or her platoon. Constant repetition and practice are used to facilitate muscle memory, so that any given movement can be rendered immediately and accurately upon order without hesitation. To aid in this development, drill movements are worked into other parts of daily life to help increase the platoon's synchronization and muscle memory—this same technique is used with other non-drill activities as well. For example, a recruit is instructed to hold his/her food tray in a similar fashion to holding the butt of a rifle during "shoulder arms".

During this phase, recruits are familiarized with their rifle. This weapon, never referred to as a "gun", stays with the recruit through the entirety of recruit training, being locked in an armory in the recruit's squad bay at night or when not in use. Platoons will stack their rifles and post a guard on them during situations where retaining them is impractical, such as during indoor classes or chow. Recruits must memorize the rifle's serial number, the four weapons safety rules, the four weapons conditions and go through preparatory lessons in marksmanship. In addition, recruits use the rifles in close order drill and will spend considerable time cleaning their weapons.

Recruits begin work toward earning their tan belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). Physical training gradually becomes more and more intense as recruits begin to get stronger and their bodies accustomed to the strain. Periodic fitness tests assess which recruits need more attention, and those who consistently fail to meet the minimum are in danger of being sent to the PCP. Recruits will conduct pugil stick bouts and are introduced to various courses, including, obstacle, combat and circuit. There also will be training on combat care, to address how to care for individuals who become injured.[10] The final week of first phase includes an inspection from the Senior Drill Instructor[10] and the initial drill competition against other platoons.[21] By the end of the first phase, recruits can march, respond to orders, and keep up in physical fitness.

Phase Two

Week 4-Swim Week

Swim week consists of 4 days of water survival qualifications exercises followed by MCMAP and pugil sticks, the first physical fitness test and an additional obstacle course.[10] Recruits are taught swimming and water survival. This is the first event where failure to pass will result in a recruit being dropped to a different company to restart training and attempt to qualify again. If a recruit fails twice, he or she will be evaluated to see if a third chance is warranted, or if the recruit will be deemed unable to qualify and administratively separated from service. Certain MOS's require a more advanced swim qualification in boot camp. Recruits who fail to achieve this qualification may be reclassified into a different MOS. Completion of Combat Water Survival training is necessary for each recruit to graduation from recruit training in the later weeks. The following exercises are completed in order to meet the Combat Water Survival qualifications:[25]

  • 25-meter swim
  • 10-foot jump followed by 25 meter swim
    • Recruits must follow proper technique while jumping in order to perform the skill safely
  • Tread water
    • Time requirement: 4 Minutes
  • Shed gear
    • Recruits must take off their rifle, helmet, and vest
    • Time requirement: less than 10 seconds
  • Swim with pack 25-meters

Week 5-Team Week/Interior Guard

Recruits will continue building physically throughout this week, by performing log drills and strength and endurance courses. This week they will be given the opportunity to have their first uniform fittings and receive haircuts. The week will end with their first Combat Fitness Test and a 5K hike.[10] Team week give recruits the opportunity to complete other jobs unsupervised by drill instructor and instead with other Marines. These tasks help to build a team atmosphere that not only will benefit later in recruit training, but also late in each recruits career.[26] Team week is accompanied by lessons in interior guard. These classes teach recruits the importance of guard duties. An example of this would be fire watch. These lessons include fundamentals and tasks to be accomplished while on guard, along with consequences that can occur if duties are not completed accordingly.[27]

Week 6

This is the final week of Phase 2, leading to the end of the week when recruits are bused to Camp Pendleton until after completion of the Crucible during the 10th week of training. The week begins with the second of three Physical Fitness Tests. Recruits will learn to master the use of a bayonet, as well as, complete the final pugil stick training. An inspection will be completed by a commander and recruits will be given their first written exam on material they have learn thus far during recruit training.[10] Recruits will learn to master the guide and brake in order to safely lower themselves down the 60 foot Rappel Tower.[28] Finally recruits will be issued uniforms, this is the first time that the uniforms they wear will say U.S Marine Corps. Recruits will then be moved North to Camp Pendleton.[10][21]

Phase 3

Week 7-Grass Week

Because MCRD San Diego is located in the center of a dense urban area and directly behind San Diego International Airport, it is impractical to conduct rifle qualification and field training there. Instead, recruits are sent to the Edson Range at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. This week is partly spent in a class setting to learn about marksmanship principles of the M16 and how to shoot efficiently. When not in class, recruits are snapping in, or practicing their firing positions. Recruits are taught how to shoot by a Marksmanship Instructor. There are four different positions that recruits will have to learn:

  • Sitting
  • Prone
  • Kneeling
  • Standing

Recruits will spend nearly the entire week mastering these positions, learning to use the scope that they had been issued and being able to adjust to additional challenges like the weather.[29] At the end of the week, recruits will complete an 8K hike.[10]

Week 8-Table I

Table I is to teach recruits to shoot from a distance. The distances are from 200, 300, and 500 yards. Half of the platoons will fire the standing, sitting, kneeling and prone positions—the other half will mark targets in the pits. Friday of that week is qualification day, where recruits must qualify with a minimum score in order to earn a marksmanship badge and continue training. Each shot will be given a score of 5, 4, 3, 2, Miss (0). After 50 shots, recruits will have the opportunity to receive a perfect score of 250 for Table I.[30] The week ends with a 13K hike and a review of MCMAP material learned during Phase 1.[10]

Week 9-Field Week/Table II

Week 9 begins with field week, where recruits will have to learn to navigate the land with only a map and compass.[31] Table II is to follow field week, recruits will practice shooting at a much closer range of only 25 yards. They will have 50 rounds and will be scored 2,1, miss (0). They will be able to score a maximum of 100 points.

The recruits qualify for different levels of Rifle qualifications, the score from Table I & Table II qualifications are added to meet the following levels:[30]

Rifle Qualification Levels
Marksman 250-279
Sharpshooter 280-304
Expert 305-350

Phase 4

Week 10-The Crucible

The days leading up to the crucible recruits, will complete their second written exam, make travel arrangements to get home after graduation, and endure the Confidence Chamber.[10] Recruits must enter an enclosed building filled with CS gas and perform various movements with their gas mask, including calisthenics and removing the gas mask. Recruits who attempt to flee the gas chamber are ordered back in—a failure to comply results in the recruit being dropped.[32]

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 in 1996[33] to emphasize the importance of teamwork in overcoming adversity, the Crucible is a rigorous 54-hour field training[34] 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.[35] It simulates typical combat situations with strenuous testing, hardship and the deprivation of food and sleep. Recruits are given two MREs (a self-contained, individual field ration).[36] The recruits are only allowed six hours of sleep through the entire 54-hour event.[35] Recruits are broken into squad-sized teams (possibly smaller) and placed under the charge of one drill instructor.

Throughout the Crucible, recruits are faced with physical and mental challenges that must be accomplished before advancing further.[37][38] Teamwork is stressed, as the majority of tasks are impossible without it—each group must succeed or fail as a whole. The others will fail 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"—events sometimes present a moral challenge.[33] Many challenge events are named after Marine Medal of Honor recipients 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 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. These challenges are often 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 (including "The Reaper" a forced march up a steeply inclined hill to the top of Edson's Ridge on the west coast) when they arrive the drill instructors will offer the recruits the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor (EGA) emblem which give them the title Marine. Immediately after this, Marines hike back down The Reaper and are then 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. During this meal, the new Marines have the opportunity to eat and talk with their Drill Instructors informally for the first time.

The following days Marines, hand back in their gear and return back to MCRD San Diego.[10]

Week 11

Also known as Marine Week, the new Marines will be given addition time with the drill instructor, but are provided with the opportunity to now ask the questions they could not before. These new Marines will be responsible for themselves and be able to use what they have learned the over the past 10 weeks.[20] During this week, Marines are instructed in some of the recruit behaviors that are no longer appropriate as Marines, such as referring to self in the third person. They will have their final uniform fitting, along with a blood drive, and a visit to the Marine Corps Museum on base at MCRD San Diego. Marines will have their final Physical Fitness Test and have a review on MCMAP before being tested for their tan belt. Lastly they will have an inspection by the Company Commander.[10]

Week 12-Family Day/Graduation

Week 12 begins with graduation practice, liberty, and a final commander inspection.[10] The last full day before graduation is called Family Day. The public day begins early with a "Motivational Run", when the new Marines run (by company, then by platoon) yelling Marine Corps Cadences, past their families; circling the base; and ending at the parade deck. After a brief ceremony explaining to the families what type of training they have gone through, the newest Marines are dismissed to on-base liberty with their families from late morning until early evening. During this time, they are free to roam about the base and show their families around, although they are not permitted in certain areas, nor are they permitted to leave the base. During the last night, some platoons allow the new Marines to host a gong show, where they perform skits regarding humorous moments during training, especially of their drill instructors.

The next morning, the new Marines form for their graduation ceremony, march across the parade deck, have their guidons retired and are dismissed from recruit training by their senior drill instructors.

Continuing education

After this rigorous recruit training, these new Marines will receive ten days of leave and possibly more if they are assisting their local Marine recruiter with recruiting. The leave is a time to rest up and reflect on what they have accomplished, as well as incorporate their newly found discipline into their civilian life. They are expected to conduct themselves during leave as a disciplined Marine would and maintain their physical and mental fitness. After the leave has expired, Marines will attend the School of Infantry (SOI); east coast graduates will attend SOI East at Camp Geiger; while west coast graduates will return to Camp Pendleton for SOI West. Non-infantry Marines will attend a course called Marine Combat Training for 29 days, then proceed to the appropriate school for their Military Occupational Specialty (which vary in length). Infantry Marines attend the Infantry Training Battalion for 59 days. Then these newly trained Marines are assigned to their first unit in the operating forces.


Due to poor training, lack of professionalism & or unfortunate events, there have been a number of recorded incidents of death and/or abuse during Marine Corps basic training.

Ribbon Creek incident

On the night of 8 April 1956, Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon, a junior drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, marched his assigned platoon into Ribbon Creek, a swampy tidal creek. The incident resulted in the deaths of six Marine recruits. In the end, McKeon was acquitted of manslaughter and oppression of troops. He was found guilty of negligent homicide and drinking on duty. The sentence was nine months of confinement at hard labor, rank reduced to private, a $270 fine and a bad conduct discharge. After a review of the evidence and numerous high profile Marines providing strong and positive testimony to McKeon's character, the Secretary of the Navy later reduced the sentence to three months in the brig, reduction to private with no discharge and no fine. McKeon went back on active duty. He was never able to regain his former rank and was medically retired from the Marine Corps in 1959 as a corporal because of a back injury.

Henry W. Hiscock incident

On 3 January 1976, Private Henry W. Hiscock was shot through the hand by an M16 rifle fired by Sergeant Robert F. Henson from fifty yards away. Henson, attempting to frighten Hiscock, had loaded a blank round into his rifle, stating that he was going to kill Hiscock and then firing the weapon at Hiscock as he ran away. Once firing the blank shot, Henson chambered another round believing it also to be blank, but in fact the round was live and struck Hiscock once fired. Later reports indicated that prior to firing the second round, Hiscock had been told by other drill instructors that Henson was seriously intending to kill him and that he had best "say goodbye" to his platoon. After the incident, Henson and other drill instructors attempted to cover up what had happened, submitting false reports that Hiscock had cut his hand in the rifle range latrine and also had coerced other recruits who had been on the range that day to stay silent out of fear of reprisal. The coverup led to a scandal and several criminal convictions.[39][40]

Lynn E. McClure incident

Private Lynn E. McClure died in March 1976 after being beaten during a mock bayonet drill at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, leading to accusations of boot camp brutality.[41][42]

Jerrod M. Glass incident

On 15 November 2007, Sgt. Jerrod M. Glass was sentenced to six months in the brig and was given a bad-conduct discharge for abusing 23 recruits. He also received a reduction in rank to private and pay forfeiture. He had faced a maximum sentence of 10 years of confinement, dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of pay and benefits.[43]

Earlier, the prosecutors recommended he spend two years in the brig and receive a bad-conduct discharge. Captain Christian Pappas, the lead prosecutor in the case, argued that Glass slapped, beat and ridiculed nearly all 40 recruits in his platoon for two months, showing a "complete disregard and contempt" for rules that ban such maltreatment. Pappas told the jury that Glass had struck recruits with flashlights and tent poles, choked a recruit, made recruits drink water until they vomited and repeatedly referred to a Latino recruit with a homophobic slur in Spanish.[44]


Specific citations
  1. "History of Marine Corps Recruit Training". United States Marine Corps History Division. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  2. Sullivan, David M (July 1997). The United States Marine Corps in the Civil War: the First Year. volume 1. White Mane Publishing Company. ISBN 1-57249-040-3.
  3. John C. Stevens III. Court-Martial at Parris Island: The Ribbon Creek Incident. ISBN 1-55750-814-3.
  4. Leckie, Robert (1957). Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific. 186,204: Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-90748-3.
  5. MRCD Parris Island. Recruit Training Archived 3 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Dempewolff, Richard (January 1954). "Here Come the Leathernecks!". Popular Mechanics. p. 97. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  7. Sledge, E. B. (1981). With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Presidio Press. pp. 9–12, 14–15.
  8. "United States Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon Military Decoration Information". www.military-ranks.org. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  9. "CHANGES TO THE PHYSICAL FITNESS TEST, COMBAT FITNESS TEST AND BODY COMPOSITION PROGRAM: ADVISORY 1-17 > The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website > Marines.mil - MARADMINS". www.marines.mil. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  10. "Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego > Recruit Training > Training Matrix". www.mcrdsd.marines.mil. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  11. "Physical Fitness and Training". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  12. "PFT/CFT". www.fitness.marines.mil. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  13. Bacon, Gina Harkins, Lance M. (7 August 2017). "11 things Marines need to know about the new PFT, CFT and body composition rules". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  14. Marine Corps Order 1510.32D. Recruit Training 25 Aug 2003 Archived 9 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. "About.com ''Marine Corps Recruit Weight & Height Requirements – Male''". Usmilitary.about.com. 9 April 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  16. "About.com ''Marine Corps Recruit Weight & Height Requirements – Female''". USmilitary.about.com. 9 April 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  17. Marine Corps Order P6100.12 W/Ch 1. Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test and Body Composition Program Manual 10 May 2002 Archived 9 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  18. as accessed on 12 January 2012 Archived 24 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Tomajczyk, Stephen F. (2004). "Appendix 1: Marine Speak". To Be a U.S. Marine. Zenith Imprint, 2004. p. 153. ISBN 0-7603-1788-7. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  20. Schogol, Jeff (12 October 2017). "Big change to boot camp: Recruits will spend two weeks in 'Phase 4'". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  21. Inc, MarineParents com. "The Recruit Training Matrix". RecruitParents.com™. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  22. Smith, Stew. "Marine Corps Initial Strength Test (IST)". Military.com. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  23. Enlisted Rank Structure. USMC Guide. Retrieved on 23 July 2013. Archived 31 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  24. 11 General Orders. USMC Guide. Retrieved on 23 July 2013.
  25. "Co. C plunges into Swim Week". Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  26. "Team week allows recruits to build teamwork, camaraderie". Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  27. "Interior Guard training develops alertness, high levels of readiness". Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  28. "Overcoming the rappel tower at MCRD « U.S. Marines – United States Marine Corps". Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  29. Inc, MarineParents com. "Grass Week & Shooting Positions". RecruitParents.com™. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  30. Sandboxx (11 July 2016). "Marine Corps Rifle Qualification". blog.sandboxx.us. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  31. echo5fox (20 October 2011). "Field Week". Transformation of Marines. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  32. "Recruits feel effects of Confidence Chamber". The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  33. Cheney, Steve (January–March 2008). "No Torture. No Exceptions". The Washington Monthly. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  34. MRCD Parris Island. The Crucible.
  35. Garamone, Jim (14 January 2003). "The Crucible". Armed Forces Press Service, United States Department of Defense. Rite of Passage: Making Basic Training Tougher. Retrieved 20 June 2006.
  36. Inc, MarineParents com. "The Crucible During Marine Corps Recruit Training". RecruitParents.com™. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  37. "The Recruits' Final Test". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  38. "The Crucible", U.S. Marine Corps. (Retrieved on 20 June 2006.)
  39. Washington Post, "'I’m going to kill you.' The often-forgotten boot camp scandals that dot Marine Corps history", Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  40. New York Times "Marine abuse Continues", Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  41. Crawford, Clare. "Boot Camp Should Be Tough, but Never Brutal: Gen. Wilson Tells That to the Marines". People.com. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  42. Parris Island: Once a Recruit, Always a Marine - Eugene Alvarez. Google Books. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  43. "Marine Sgt. Sentenced For Abusing Recruits". CBS News. Associated Press. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  44. "Trial opens in Marine recruits abuse case". Los Angeles Times. 7 November 2007. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
General references

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

Da Cruz, Daniel (1987). Boot. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-90060-0.
Krulak, Victor H. (1984). First To Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-785-2.
Ricks, Thomas E. (1998). Making the Corps. Scribner. ISBN 0-684-84817-1.
Woulfe, James (1999). Into the Crucible. Presidio Press. ISBN 0-89141-707-9.
Champie, Elmore A. (1958). A Brief History of the Marine Corps Base and Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, 1891–1956 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Historical Branch, United States Marine Corps.
Champie, Elmore A. (1958). A Brief History of the Marine Corps Base and Recruit Depot, San Diego, California (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Historical Branch, United States Marine Corps.
Fahey, John Edward (1974). History of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego 1911–1974 (Masters Thesis). History Department, University of San Diego. Archived from the original on 3 August 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2006.
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