Drilling Discipline in Recruits

Discipline is defined at Parris Island as the instant, willing obedience to orders.

Recruits demonstrate their understanding of this trait during the ninth week of recruit training, when platoons face off in a competition called Final Drill.

“Drill is the foundation of discipline,” said Staff Sgt. Jorge Guerrero, the senior drill instructor for Platoon 1012, Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. “It shows the recruits’ abilities to follow orders no matter the circumstance.”

From the moment recruits arrive on Parris Island, they are taught the basic fundamentals of drill.

Guerrero said there is an overwhelming difference between recruits competing in Initial Drill, their first test of proficiency and Final Drill.

“Their precision and attention to detail has improved a great deal by that time,” said Guerrero, of Harlingen, Texas. “During week nine, the transformation from civilian to Marine is almost complete. You don’t see that during the week of Initial Drill.”

He said the recruits’ attitudes have a major factor in how well they perform.

“You have to have fun with it. If you’re not enjoying yourself, you won’t do well,” Guerrero explained. “You have to be proud of yourself before anyone else can. Once they realize that, the rest comes naturally.”

In addition to having a positive attitude, the judges, known as drill masters, look for how well a platoon performs each drill movement.

“We look for a platoon to execute the drill movements correctly,” said Gunnery Sgt. Victor Marroquin, the Recruit Training Regiment drill master. “Part of it is making sure the platoon executes the movements together. It plays a big role in the way it looks, and we look at the final product.”

Marroquin, of Hempstead, N.Y., said how well a recruit performs drill can tell a great deal about his drill instructors. “The efforts the drill instructors put toward their platoon shows in Final Drill,” Marroquin explained.

He said some of the most challenging drill movements are the special drill movements, such as “column-of- files” and “stack arms.”

“Every drill card has a special drill movement,” he said. “Those are usually the hardest because the platoon doesn’t know which movement they’re going to get.”

Recruit Kyle Dennis, a squad leader with Plt. 1008, called column-of-files the most difficult special movement.

“It’s hard because the squad leaders give the command instead of the drill instructor, and our squads need to keep pace and alignment,” said Dennis, of Springfield, Ohio.

When recruits are given the command column-of-files, each of the four squads that form a platoon either break off to the left or right to form one long column.

He said this drill movement requires camaraderie among the platoon, because recruits are following orders from their peer leadership.

“Drill in general brings a platoon together, because we’re all moving as one,” Dennis said. “We’re trying to accomplish that one sound … that one look.”