Future of the Corps forged at Drill Instructor School

Future of the Corps forged at Drill Instructor School

An instructor (middle) of Drill Instructor School, Recruit Training Regiment, leads two students on a sprint during interval training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, July 22. Drill instructors use interval training as one method to get physically in shape for the rigors of recruit training cycles. Photo by LCpl Pedro Cardenas.

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (July 26, 2013) - "I say something you respond gentlemen!" yelled SSgt Michael D. Riggs, instructor, Drill Instructor School, Recruit Training Regiment. "What I demand of you is what you will demand of your recruits."

Students of Drill Instructor School go through a rigorous process of more than 500 hours of academics, physical training and practical applications in order to become drill instructors.

Drill Instructor School is a leadership academy where sergeants, staff sergeants and gunnery sergeants are trained to become basically trained drill instructors, according to GySgt Carlos M. Weiss, chief instructor.

"The mission of Drill Instructor School is to develop NCO's (noncommissioned officer) and staff NCO's to become effective leaders, basic drill instructors. Drill Instructor School is a leadership academy, probably one of the best within the Department of Defense."

Each year, the school convenes a total of four training cycles—all equally demanding and lasting 56 training days.

The process to become a drill instructor is critical. The application requirements disqualify many of the candidates. Even minor administrative offenses exclude candidates since they are expected to make ethical decisions at all times, explained Weiss.

"The candidate needs to be a high integrity individual since the commanding officer (school director) signs off on their application package."

Once the application is accepted, candidates report to Drill Instructor School where they learn about different subjects and skills relating to Marine Corps leadership including drill, physical fitness, core values and integrity.

Students must also master field skills such as land navigation, hand and arm signals and small unit tactics. However, the most important tool in a drill instructor's toolbox is the drill manual.

Drill instills instant obedience to orders and enables troop leaders to maneuver a platoon with speed and efficiency.

Drill instructors are the duty experts and learning all drill movements is essential. If one cannot understand drill, one cannot teach drill, explains Weiss.

Instructors expect students to give maximum effort in every training evolution.

Students were challenged during an interval running session on July 22. During the event, they had to run approximately 400 meters before they are allowed to rest for an allotted amount of time. They continued this process until they completed six repetitions. Instructors demanded commitment in every repetition.

"You cannot demand from others (recruits) what you don't demand of yourself," said Riggs.

Drill instructors spend the majority of a three-month training cycle teaching, molding, guiding and mentoring young recruits; therefore, they need to lead the future leaders of the Marine Corps by example.

"I cannot tell someone to be of good moral character and at the same time I go somewhere else and do something wrong. We are Marines 24/7," Weiss said.

It is a tough process to become a drill instructor but once they graduate, they will have the opportunity and pride to train, mentor and guide recruits to earning the title "Marine."

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