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Marines observe how Army puts combat into basic training

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By Leader Staff Reports

For some Marine drill instructors, seeing how the Army transforms civilians into Soldiers provided valuable takeaways for the improvement of their own boot camp.

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A group of Marine DIs were at Fort Jackson, South Carolina July 11-12 to observe how the Army trains because “the Army provides more combat training” during basic training, said Marine Staff Sgt. Xavier Jordan, a drill instructor from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.

The Marine Corps’ emphasis during Boot Camp is on discipline, drill and ceremony, and military history, Jordan said.

Boot camp is three months long, he added, and contains four phases. According to Jordan, the first 18 days focuses primarily on discipline, with the remainder of the first, second and third phases aiming mostly at discipline, drill and ceremony and military history. Phase four focuses on how Marines conduct themselves outside of the military.

Marine recruits do get rifle marksmanship training, but not as extensively as the Army trainees because “more extensive combat training” takes place after boot camp.

This differs significantly from Basic Combat Training, where trainees are immersed in rifle marksmanship from the outset.

The DIs also found other areas of BCT contrasted greatly from boot camp, namely “The Forge” and the wearing of wristwatches.

The Forge, the capstone exercise of BCT, was based loosely on the Marine Corps ‘Crucible” exercise where recruits put all their training to the test.

According to the MCRD Parris Island website, the Crucible “is a 54-hour training exercise that validates the physical, mental and moral training they’ve endured throughout recruit training” where they “face challenges testing their physical strength, skills and the Marine Corps values they have learned throughout training. Throughout the event, the recruits are only allowed a limited amount of food and sleep.”

Trainees going through the Forge will walk roughly 45 miles and face a series of obstacles and challenges that put their entire BCT experience into focus.

A group of Marines told Army Sgt. 1st Class Lee Kent that the amount of ruck marching during the Forge was ‘significant.”

One other difference Jordan noted between boot camp and BCT was time.

Jordan said he found it “intriguing” that basic trainees were allowed to wear a wristwatch. Marine recruits only learn what time it is through the various bugle calls throughout the day, and at 4 a.m. when they wake up each day, and 8 p.m. when they go to bed.

Editor’s note: Information in this article was compiled by Ron Lester.