Inspecting for Sharp Minds and Bodies

Thirteen weeks have passed for the young men of 1st Battalion, Company B first stepped onto the yellow footprints of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. From day one, these young men have been under the watchful eyes of their drill instructors being challenged physically and mentally every day.

Since first meeting their drill instructors, Company B has trained virtually non-stop. They have learned close-order drill, hand-to-hand combat, rifle marksmanship, and the history of the Corps. However, the drill instructors have also passed on the meaning of the Corps’ values of honor, courage and commitment.

One major test is the Crucible, this 54-hour training evolution where the recruits are put into a combat-simulated environment with rationed food and very little sleep, tests all the physical training the recruits have received and their ability to accomplish tasks in a high stress environment.

After the completion of the Crucible, the young men receive their eagle, globe and anchor and are called Marines for the first time. Though the new Marines have finally earned their emblem they still have to pass the Battalion Commander’s Inspection.

Before inspection by the battalion commander the recruits underwent fine tuning through the Senior Drill Instructor’s Inspection and the Company Commander’s inspection. From the outside being inspected so many times may seem unnecessary however, to produce only the finest Marines these examinations are absolutely necessary.

The Company Commander’s Inspection is done before the crucible to ensure the recruits are thinking on their toes, and sharp both in mind and body for the riggers of the crucible.

“They did well,” said Sgt. James Ramsey, senior drill instructor, platoon 1033, 1st Battalion, Company B. “I’m confident they are good to go for the Battalion Commander’s inspection.”

The Marines are evaluated on their uniform appearance, bearing, weapon cleanliness and Marine Corps knowledge.

During the inspection, the inspecting officer or drill instructor evaluates the Marines’ appearance in uniform while the Marine is asked questions on Marine Corps knowledge, such as the maximum effective range of their rifle and the proper measurements of uniform articles, such as belt and trouser length. But they are also asked personal questions about what has been the toughest event or obstacle during their time on the depot or what leadership trait is most important to them.

The questions are designed to not only test whether the new Marines have retained the basic knowledge they have been taught throughout recruit training, but also to test their military bearing.

“I believe the whole company did well, they only had little things to improve,” said Ramsey. “I’m proud of how they did and they will be ready (to be Marines).”

First Inspection

Bearing is defined as the way one conducts and carries him or herself in a manner that reflects alertness, competence and control.

Recruits of India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, displayed their bearing during their senior drill instructor’s inspection. Only 16 days into training, the recruits were also tested on Marine Corps knowledge, uniforms and rifle manual at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 5.

The purpose of the SDI inspection was to test the recruits, while under the pressure of drill instructors, on what they’ve learned in recruit training.

“The senior drill instructor inspection shows us where the baseline is for the recruits’ confidence and bearing,” said Gunnery Sgt. Cornell S. Cornish, drill instructor, Platoon 3209. “It shows the drill instructors what they’ve instilled in their recruits and what they need to work on.”

The inspecting drill instructor faced each recruit and snapped his heels together coming to the position of attention, which signaled the recruit to report to the drill instructor by sounding off with his name, hometown and military occupation specialty. After reporting, the inspector began drilling the recruit with Marine Corps knowledge questions and then inspected his uniform.

At the same time, other drill instructors swarmed the platoon creating chaos, which tested the recruits bearing, one of the Marine Corps leadership traits.

“It’s challenging to hold your bearing while a drill instructor is screaming in your face and asking you several questions while you’re performing different movements with the rifle,” said Recruit Dustin A. Rits, Platoon 3209. “Marines must be able to react under pressure or in the middle of chaos in a combat environment. Your actions of what you do or don’t do could risk the life of a fellow Marine.”

It was crucial for the recruits to remain calm, keep their eyes forward while at the position of attention and answer the questions they were asked. It is a sign of confidence – another trait drill instructors were looking for.

“The biggest challenge the recruits will face is getting over the stress factor,” said Cornish, a 30-year-old Bronx, N.Y., native. “When you have a bunch of drill instructors swarm the platoon and create chaos, it makes it uncomfortable for the recruits and makes it hard for them to keep their composure.”

Rits, a 17-year-old, Denver, Colo., native explained Marines find themselves in stressful environments, especially on deployments. When things go wrong in combat, Marines must be able to stay calm and react to the situation without freezing up or second guessing their decisions. Thus, upcoming Marines must be trained to adapt, whether it’s drill instructors yelling or in a combat situation while being fired upon.