Recruit Training

Find the willpower you never knew you had, the strength you never knew you needed,
bonds that will never break, and a lifelong desire to serve a purpose far greater than self.

12 WEEKS

It is appropriate that a river as defining as the mighty Mississippi determines the path for those who aspire to defend our great nation. Reside east of her, and your passage begins at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, where sand fleas await in open swamps. West, and your journey takes you to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and the unforgiving hills of Southern California, where aching muscles and burning lungs become as familiar as the landscape. All female recruits, regardless of their geography, train at Parris Island. Regardless of which Marine Corps Recruit Depot you reach, the path ahead is equally intense. Those who prevail after 12 demanding weeks will emerge completely transformed, prepared to defend our nation and each other.

WEEK 1

Receiving

Beginning the Transformation

Every recruit begins their transformation into a Marine on the same iconic yellow footprints. Tens of thousands of Marines have stood there before them, but as the recruits look around they know that not every recruit who stands next to them will be standing with them at graduation. To become a member of the world's finest fighting force, they must first make it through the world's most demanding recruit training and earn the title Marine.

It all starts as a Drill Instructor explains the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Then, recruits are issued gear and must undergo a number of medical evaluations as well as perform the Initial Strength Test before they are ordered to report to the barracks and meet their permanent Drill Instructors for the first time.

Week 2

In the Barracks

Enforcing a Daily Routine of Discipline

With only 12 weeks to turn 40 recruits into a unified platoon, Drill Instructors use every moment of the daily routine to teach and enforce discipline and teamwork. In the barracks, there are a number of Marine Corps Regulations concerning hygiene and protocol that must be followed. Drill Instructors teach recruits how to follow these regulations and care for their equipment, inspecting every detail. Recruits learn to move as a unit while quickly completing basic tasks to instill order and attention to detail.

Week 3

Bayonet Assault Course

Finding the Warrior within

Drill Instructors work relentlessly to bring out the warrior in every recruit. On the Bayonet Assault Course recruits learn to channel their intensity towards a target. Drill instructors teach recruits how to properly use a bayonet (the removable fighting knife that attaches to the muzzle of the rifle) to kill an opponent. After bayonet training, recruits will be able to attach a bayonet quickly before charging towards an aggressor.

Week 4

Pugil Sticks

Facing Opponents for the First Time

After engaging targets on the Bayonet Assault Course, recruits will undergo more close combat training, this time against an actual opponent. Using Pugil Sticks, a padded pole used to simulate rifle combat, they must fight on wooden bridges and in simulated trenches. For many recruits, pugil stick training is the most intense physical combat they have ever experienced. They have to learn to act despite fear in order to outmaneuver and overpower an opponent.

Week 5

Martial Arts Program

Learning Marine Corps Martial Arts

The motto of the Marine Corps Martial Arts program is "One Mind. Any Weapon." Recruits must learn how to combine unarmed techniques from various martial arts with armed techniques designed for hand-to-hand combat. More than just self-defense training, MCMAP fuses together mental and character building with combat disciplines. Recruits also study martial arts culture and history and Marine Corps values. There are five colored belt levels in MCMAP. In order, they are: tan, grey, green, brown and black. To earn the title United States Marine, every recruit is required to qualify for his or her tan belt.

Week 6

Rappelling

Overcoming Fear

For a Marine, quitting isn't an option in combat or in life. Rappelling is a controlled slide down a rope that helps prepare recruits for deployment from helicopters, navigating difficult terrain and gaining access to buildings during raids. Recruits must learn to overcome their fears and prove they can rope down, brake and land safely. Drill Instructors use rappelling training to instill confidence and courage in recruits.

Week 7

Grass Week

Learning Rifle Safety and Techniques

Every Marine is a rifleman, but there's a difference between pulling a trigger and being a rifleman. A rifleman has complete control over their rifle and their body at all times. During Grass Week, recruits learn safety and marksmanship principles as they practice firing their M16 without ammunition. They learn how to shoot from every firing position: sitting, kneeling, standing and in the prone.

Week 8

Firing Week

Firing Live Rounds

Once they've learned the basics, recruits start training with live rounds. Drill Instructors make sure their recruits are concentrating on taking well-aimed shots from all positions with their M16. Building accuracy, recruits begin with 50 rounds of slow fire, one shot at a time, and move up to rapid fire, 10 shots in a row. At the end of the week, recruits undergo qualification and strive for their highest score out of 250 points on the Field Fire portion and the Known Distance course. They will earn the Rifle Marksman badge, the Rifle Sharpshooter badge or the coveted Rifle Expert badge.

Week 9

Confidence Course

Overcoming Obstacles

Marines must be ready to move towards the sounds of chaos without hesitation. The success of their mission demands complete focus and confidence. During week nine, Drill Instructors focus on building confidence in recruits by motivating them to overcome the 11 unique challenges of the Confidence Course. In phase one, recruits complete the course individually. In phase two, taller obstacles are added and recruits must now complete the challenges in four man fireteams. Drill Instructors push each team of recruits to work together and overcome the obstacles, leaving no man behind.

Week 10

Day Movement

Simulating Tactical Scenarios

During Day Movement exercises, recruits learn to stay together in simulated, tactical scenarios and ensure the safety of the Marines to their left and their right. Over the deafening noise of simulated weapons fire, recruits communicate with hand signals as they navigate their way over walls and under barbed wire. Combat-experienced Drill Instructors show recruits how to respond to evolving situations on the battlefield and complete the mission together.

Week 11

The Crucible

54 continuous hours of physical and mental challenges

The Crucible is the final phase of Marine Corps Recruit Training that tests every skill learned and every value instilled. Recruits will be challenged for 54 continuous hours with little food and sleep. To complete this final test, recruits must have the heart—and the intestinal fortitude, the body—and the mind, the desire—and the ability. The recruits must pull together or fall apart. Win as one or all will fail. Succeed, and you will carry a sense of accomplishment that will last forever.

Week 12

The Emblem Ceremony

Receiving the Eagle, Globe and Anchor

At the end of The Crucible, recruits march to the Emblem Ceremony where Drill Instructors present their platoons with the Marine Corps Emblem — the Eagle, Globe and Anchor — and address recruits as "Marine" for the first time. Over the last 12 weeks, the recruits have been transformed from individual civilians into a tight-knit group of Marines. Every struggle and challenge has prepared them for this moment when they will stand beside their instructors at graduation as Marines.

 

PROVING GROUNDS

From conventional warfare to counter-insurgency and disaster relief, Marines are the first to deploy on a wide array of missions. If you earn our title, you will be superbly prepared to handle each one. This is the training required to face down the threats of our time at the tip of our nation's spear. Prevail, and you will gain more than the ability to withstand adversity. You will learn Martial Arts, and how to overcome a larger opponent in hand-to-hand combat. You will learn marksmanship, and how to measure and adjust for the effect of wind on bullet trajectory. You will learn about the world's ever-evolving spectrum of threats, and how to quickly improvise and adapt to overcome them. There is a reason those who complete this journey are called the Few. 

VALUES AND ETHICS

Live by our
core values

Marines fight and win our nation's battles with honor, courage and commitment. Recruits learn through physical training and classroom instruction, that to be a Marine is to become both an elite warrior and an honorable one. Earning the title "Marine" requires a commitment to live by the values of the Marine Corps. Honor, Courage and Commitment form the bedrock of every Marine's character, and guide every decision they will make all around the world. Under demanding conditions, these are the values Marines count on, so that their nation can count on them. 

PHYSICAL TRAINING

Develop strength
and stamina

There is not room in our ranks for those who fall behind. Because of this, we repeatedly take recruits to the brink of exhaustion, where commitment is truly tested. These moments of truth not only separate the capable from the unable, they build exceptional strength, stamina and confidence in those who find a way within themselves to continue.

This is the physical fitness training that prepares recruits, physically and mentally, to meet the uncompromising fitness standards for which the United States Marine Corps is known. Marine fitness isn't achieved in a gym. Obstacle courses develop upper body strength and give recruits the ability to quickly maneuver over barriers. Martial Arts training builds core strength, providing the technique Marines rely on in close combat. Three- to nine-mile conditioning marches with fully loaded packs develop endurance to lead from the front. After 12 weeks of intense training, every recruit will develop the physical strength and mental endurance required to win our nation's battles.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Lead from the front

Leadership is a hallmark of the Marine Corps. During their 12 weeks of training, recruits learn leadership skills and receive opportunities to practice them in simulated combat scenarios. By the time they become Marines, every recruit is prepared to lead with confidence.

Recruits must learn the 11 Leadership Principles and 14 Leadership Traits. As they develop their leadership skills, they are constantly applying the principles in recruit training by:

  • Leading their teammates through challenges on the obstacle and confidence courses
  • Accomplishing tasks with minimal direction as they progress in training
  • Taking on leadership roles within the platoon

MARINE CORPS MARTIAL ARTS

One mind.
Any weapon.

Driven by the philosophy of "One mind. Any weapon." the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) teaches Marines to act decisively in hand-to-hand combat situations with or without weapons.

More than just self-defense training, MCMAP fuses together mental toughness and character building with combat disciplines. To train the mind, recruits study martial arts culture and history. To build character, recruits are grounded in the Marine Corps values of Honor, Courage and Commitment. To master physical discipline, recruits study hand-to-hand combat training and fighting techniques.

There are five colored belt levels in the Marine Corps. In order, they are: tan, grey, green, brown and black. To earn the title United States Marine, every recruit is required to qualify for his or her tan belt by demonstrating proficiency in the following fighting techniques:

  • Bayonet techniques
  • Upper and lower body strikes
  • Basic chokes and throws
  • Defensive counters
  • Responsible use of force

CLOSE ORDER DRILL

Many recruits. One platoon.

Moving as a unit is essential in combat. To learn how to move as a platoon, recruits practice Close Order Drill, marching in formation, from the day they arrive through the day they graduate.

Platoons must execute the Drill Instructor's exact commands focusing on precision as they move throughout the base. They will be tested on this skill in weeks 5 and 11.

In battle, the discipline they learned through drill and ceremonies will keep their platoon working together as one team and focused on the mission.

BAYONET TRAINING

Charge with
lethal precision

A bayonet is a removable fighting knife that attaches to the muzzle of a rifle barrel. In close combat situations where a rifle cannot be fired, the bayonet is an indispensible, lethal weapon. Learning how to effectively use a bayonet is an important part of Marine Corps training.

On the bayonet assault course, recruits learn to attach and detach the bayonet from the rifle quickly and to engage targets aggressively.  They become masters of offensive and defensive fighting techniques.

PUGIL STICKS

Overcome hesitation
and your opponent

Pugil stick training is the first time recruits face an opponent in close combat during recruit training. They learn to act despite fear. It is a crucial step in their transformation from civilian to warrior.

Pugil sticks are heavily padded poles used to simulate melee combat. These weapons are an effective and safe way for recruits to develop the intensity, confidence and combat techniques of a Marine. They will learn how to decisively engage and defeat their opponent.

There are three levels of pugil stick training:

  • Level I: recruits learn the safety precautions and rules of fighting
  • Level II: recruits fight on wooden bridges 2.5 feet above the ground
  • Level III: bouts are conducted in simulated trenches and confined spaces

 

ACADEMICS

Think like a Marine

Recruit training is more than just a physical challenge. Recruits must learn to make the right decisions, quickly and confidently, in any situation. In combat, the lives of Marines and civilians depend on it. They will be tested on everything they learn, both on paper and in practical application.

Personal conduct:
  • Standards of professionalism and personal conduct
  • Traits and principals of good leadership
  • Proper occasions to wear each Marine Corps uniform
  • Upholding the values and ethics of the Marine Corps
Academic studies:
  • Military history, innovations and terms
  • Marine Corps culture and traditions
First Aid training:
  • Basic skills to respond in any emergency
  • Preventing and treating environment-related conditions like heat stroke

GAS MASK TRAINING

React calmly in chaos

In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, Marines gain the advantage through their superb training and discipline. They must keep their composure in order to solve complex problems and take ethical and decisive action on the battlefield. The element of chaos in recruit training is never more present than during Gas Mask Training. After learning how to protect themselves and breathe calmly wearing the M40 Field Protective Mask, recruits are exposed to a non-lethal CS gas (a standard riot control agent). This training teaches recruits how to protect themselves during a chemical or biological attack and prepares them to react calmly under pressure. 

RAPPELLING

Descend
into battle

Recruits learn rappelling, a controlled slide down a rope, to prepare them for deployment from helicopters, navigating difficult terrain and gaining access to buildings during raids. Recruits rappel from the top of the tower, focusing on the proper way to brake, regulate their speed and land safely. During rappelling training, recruits learn several, different techniques from fast roping to wall rappelling. 

CONFIDENCE COURSE

Overcome obstacles.
Build confidence.

The Confidence Course not only builds self-confidence, it builds physical strength. During the two rounds of the Confidence Course, recruits will face 11 unique challenges, each one more demanding than the last. Recruits first complete the obstacle course individually and then in 4-man fireteams, using teamwork to conquer more difficult obstacles.

Confidence Course I
A test of strength and balance, including low obstacles like:
  • Arm Stretcher
  • Parallel Bars
  • Over and Under
Confidence Course II
A greater test of determination, including high obstacles like:
  • Skyscraper
  • A-frame
  • Slide for Life

 

THE CRUCIBLE

Complete the transformation

There are few reputations more deserved than that of Marine Corps Recruit Training. This reputation is earned through 12 weeks of intense training and culminates at the Crucible: the final phase of training that tests every skill learned and every value instilled. To complete this final test, recruits must have the heart—and the intestinal fortitude, the body—and the mind, the desire—and the ability. The recruits must pull together or fall apart. Win as one or all will fail. Succeed, and you will carry a sense of accomplishment that will last forever.

These are just some of the training elements recruits will face during The Marine Corps Crucible:

  • Obstacles that must be negotiated with teamwork
  • Day and nighttime marches
  • Night infiltration movement
  • Combat resupply and casualty evacuation scenarios
  • Combat field firing as a team
  • A few MREs and minimal sleep, simulating combat
  • Leadership tests
  • Core values training

 

COMBAT WATER SURVIVAL

Train for Any Contingency

Whether they arrive knowing how to swim or not, combat water survival training will help recruits develop confidence in the water. Combat Water Survival Instructors teach recruits how to swim with gear and supplies, rescue and aid a casualty and personal survival techniques.

There are three levels of water survival qualification: basic, intermediate and advanced. At the basic level, recruits train wearing a utility suit and combat boots. They must also complete a full gear shed, entering the shallow end of the pool wearing their rifle, helmet and flak vest with heavy ballistic inserts and removing the gear in 10 seconds. At the intermediate level, recruits must shed their gear while treading in deep water. At the advanced level, recruits train in full combat gear and must assist a casualty who is also wearing a full combat load.

MARKSMANSHIP

Every Marine a rifleman

No matter what their Military Occupational Specialty is, every recruit must qualify with an M16 rifle after two weeks of dedicated marksmanship training.

Week 1: Grass Week:
During Grass Week, recruits learn the basics of safety and Marine Corps marksmanship. They practice marksmanship principles without firing ammunition while sitting, kneeling, standing and lying down. Marksmanship instructors teach recruits that the principle difference between pulling a trigger and being a rifleman is having complete control over their rifle and their body.

Week 2: Firing Week:
During Firing Week, recruits conduct live fire exercises, learning to fire from any position and at ranges of 200, 300 and 500 yards. Recruits build accuracy by beginning with 50 rounds of slow fire, one shot at a time, and progressing to rapid fire with 10 shots in a row. Instructors make sure that recruits are concentrating on every shot.

On qualification day, recruits strive for their highest score out of 250 points on the Field Fire portion and the Known Distance course. They will earn the Rifle Marksman badge, the Rifle Sharpshooter badge or the coveted "Crossed Rifles" badge of an Expert Rifleman. Marines requalify with their rifles each year.

BASIC WARRIOR TRAINING

Prepare for
the battlefield

Basic Warrior Training (BWT) teaches recruits how to operate in a combat environment. They will demonstrate these skills in Day and Night Movement exercises during The Crucible.

Field and infiltration skills
  • Preparing equipment for battle
  • Negotiating obstacles such as barbed wire
  • Camouflage, cover and concealment
  • Hand and arm signals
  • Mine and Improvised Explosive Device identification
Land Navigation training
  • Determining one's position on a map using landmarks
  • Using a compass and military topographic map

EMBLEM CEREMONY

The title.
Earned.

At the end of The Crucible, recruits march to the Emblem Ceremony where Drill Instructors present their platoons with the Marine Corps Emblem—the Eagle, Globe and Anchor—and address recruits as "Marine" for the first time.

Receiving the emblem signifies that the recruits have earned a place in the Marine Corps, and what's earned is theirs forever. They will now stand side by side with their instructors at graduation as part of the Few.