US Marine Training

Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Parris Island are the birthplaces of basically trained Marines. It is here where America’s young men are transformed into Marines. It is believed that Marines are forged in a furnace of shared hardship and tough training. This shared, intense experience creates bonds of comradeship and standards of conduct so strong that Marines will let nothing stand in their way. This belief will continue to be the basis upon which we make Marines.

Holding on to the high character of the Marines of the past, we look for ways to inculcate the strong values that have become synonymous with the Marine Corps. Through the MCRD’s challenging recruit training the Marine Corps is preparing its Marines for the 21st century.

Marine Corps recruits are trained not only physically and mentally, but morally as well. Forming the bedrock of any Marine’s character are the Core Values — Honor, Courage and Commitment. By incorporating these values into recruit training, the Marine created is not just a basically trained, morally conscious Marine, but also a better American citizen who will return to society following his or her service to this country.

It has been said time and time again by former Marines that Marine Corps recruit training was the most difficult thing they ever had to do in their entire lives. In order to train the world’s most elite fighting force, it has to be that way.

Upon arrival at the MCRD, a new recruit begins a virtually non-stop journey, the end of which results in the transformation of that recruit into a new Marine.

Recruit Receiving

The first stop is at Recruit Receiving, where new recruits spend the first few days of their recruit training experience. Here they will receive their first haircut and their initial gear issue, which includes items like uniforms, toiletries and letter writing supplies. During this time recruits will also be given a full medical and dental screening, and take the Initial Strength Test. This test consists of a one and a half mile run, sit-ups and pull-ups to test recruits to see if they’re in shape to begin training.


Forming is the period when recruits are taken to their training companies and they “meet” their drill instructors for the first time. During Forming’s 2 days, recruits learn the basics: how to march, how to wear their uniform, how to secure their weapon, etc. This period of time allows recruits to adjust to the recruit training way of life before the first actual training day.


Drill is the basic way in which platoons march and move from place to place. At first, recruits will practice just staying in step with the rest of the platoon and the drill instructor. However, as training continues, the platoon becomes a well-oiled machine performing synchronous, complex drill movements. During recruit training, platoons will also compete in two drill competitions. Drill is mainly used to instill discipline, team pride and unit cohesion.

Physical Training

Physical Training, or “PT” as it is often called, comes in many forms aboard the MCRD. Recruit training uses a progressive physical training program, which builds up recruits to Marine Corps standards. Recruits will experience Table PT, a period of training in which a drill instructor leads several platoons through a series of demanding exercises while he demonstrates on a table. Recruits will also run, either individually or as a platoon or squad. Other PT consists of obstacle courses, circuit courses, or 3-, 5- or 10-mile conditioning.

Academic Training

Recruits will also exercise their minds through academics training in subjects ranging from Marine Corps history, Marine customs and courtesies, and basic lifesaving procedures. Recruits will also take an academic test while in recruit training.

Confidence Course

The Confidence Course is an 11-station obstacle course that helps recruits build confidence as well as upper-body strength. Recruits will tackle this course twice while aboard the MCRD.

Combat Water Survival

Training in Combat Water Survival develops a recruit’s confidence in the water. All recruits must pass the minimum requirement level of Combat Water Survival-4, which requires recruits to perform a variety of water survival and swimming techniques. If a recruit meets the CWS-4 requirements, he may upgrade to a higher level. All recruits train in the camouflage utility uniform, but those upgrading may be required to train in full combat gear, which includes a rifle, helmet, flak jacket and pack.

Field Training

Field Training introduces recruits to field living and conditions. During the 3-day field training evolution, recruits will learn basic field skills from setting up a tent to field sanitation and camouflage. It is also during this training that recruits go through the gas chamber.

Marksmanship Training

Marksmanship training teaches recruits the fundamentals of marksmanship with their M-16A2 service rifle. This training takes place over two weeks, the first of which is called Snap-In Week. During this week, recruits are introduced to the four shooting positions (standing, kneeling, sitting and prone) and a Primary Marksmanship Instructor shows recruits how to fire, how to adjust their sights, how to take into account the effects of the weather, etc. Recruits also have the opportunity to fire on the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Training machine. During the second week of marksmanship training, recruits actually fire a known-distance course with ranges of 200, 300 and 500 yards. Recruits prepare for rifle qualification on Friday of that week.

Field Firing Range (FFR)

FFR is a portion of training devoted to firing weapons in a field condition. During marksmanship training, recruits learn how to fire at a single target while in a stationary position. During FFR recruits learn how to fire at moving and multiple targets, while under low-light conditions and wearing their field protective (gas) mask.

The Crucible

The Crucible is a test every recruit must go through to become a Marine. It tests every recruit physically, mentally and morally and is the defining moment in recruit training.

The Crucible takes place over 54-hours and includes food and sleep deprivation and over 45 miles of marching.

The entire Crucible event pits teams of recruits against a barrage of day and night events requiring every recruit to work together solving problems, overcoming obstacles and helping each other along.

The obstacles they face range from long marches, combat assault courses, the problem-solving reaction course, and the team-building Warrior Stations. Each Warrior Station is named for a Marine hero whose actions epitomize the values we want recruits to espouse. During the crucible, recruits face obstacles that require them to work together.

Bottom line — The Crucible is a rite of passage that, through shared sacrifice, recruits will never forget. With that memory and their Core Values learned in recruit training, they can draw upon the experience to face any challenge in their path.

Transition Phase

The last four weeks of training are spent aboard MCRD and are filled with final required events such as the Practical Examination, Physical Fitness Test, Battalion Commander?s Inspection and Company Drill. This is also the period in which the recruits begin to transition from the role of recruit to Marine. The culmination of this is the presentation of the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, signifying the new Marine’s successful completion of recruit training.

Family Day

Family Day and Graduation take place on the last two days while on MCRD. Family Day occurs on Thursday and gives new Marines a chance to see their family and friends for the first time during on-base liberty. Graduation is conducted on Friday at the completion of the Transition Phase. It is a formal ceremony and parade, attended by family and friends and executed on the Shepherd Field parade deck.

What’s Next?

Following recruit training and graduation, the new Marines will go on to further their training.

To do this, the Marines will report to the School of Infantry which is located at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marines who are designated as infantry Marines are assigned to the Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry for military occupational specialty training. After graduating, these Marines will be assigned to their first permanent duty station.

All non-infantry Marines are assigned to Marine Combat Training (MCT) Battalion, School of Infantry for training. MCT reinforces and expands on the basic Marine-combat skills learned in recruit training.