PARRIS ISLAND --
Last week, Combat Instructors from Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry East, visited the Depot to observe training, share teaching approaches and brainstorm ways to streamline the transition between recruit training and combat training.
The group spent two days with companies at Page Field, studying basic warrior training and the instructional techniques employed by drill instructors and Weapons and Field Training Battalion personnel.
“The purpose of this trip was to come down here to Parris Island, to learn what the privates are getting taught before they come to us,” said 1st. Sgt. Jerry Robertson, company first sergeant of Charlie Company, ITB. “We want to see what infantry skills are being taught at Parris Island.
“We spent two days with a company at BWT observing the things they’re teaching here,” said Robertson, of Philadelphia, Miss.
Robertson said SOI is constantly revisiting their training curriculums to ensure subjects taught at both recruit training and subsequent combat training schools are consistently covered.
For example, hand-and-arm signals, improvised explosive device recognition,
patrolling techniques and other topics taught at both places were examined to verify uniformity.
Capt. Scott Helminski, Charlie Co. commander, said one focus of the trip was to see if the two training centers are teaching consistently—“are we teaching the same things in the same way for the subjects that overlap, or are we teaching something completely different at SOI than they learned here?”
Additionally, the periods of observation allowed the group to get a feel for their students’ existing knowledge base.
“Coming here, we can see where the Marines should be when they come to us, said Helminski, of Rockford, Ill. “We have our expectations of what they should know, but we want to see the baseline of skills, so we’re not setting the bar too high or low, right off the bat.
“We need to know how disciplined we should expect them to be, and how much infantry-specific stuff to expect out of them, and how proficient should we expect them to be with their weapons,” Helminski continued. “We need to know where to start so we can develop them as much as we can before they move on.”
Additionally, it will help them re-evaluate periods of instruction, to avoid re-teaching topics the Marines are already familiar with, Helminski said.
Recruit training features an efficient system of in-processing new members to prospective training units that the visitors from SOI seek to emulate.
“We’re interested in starting a forming and receiving section at SOI,” Robertson said. “Right now, they just get off the bus and trickle in 12 or 20 at a time and it’s like a two-or- three day process for us to get them together. There’s no receiving process at SOI like there
“It’s an initiative we’d like to push to see if it’s feasible, to try and help out the training companies,” added Helminski. He said the instructors spend a lot of time with the unique administrative situations young Marines find themselves in—new marriages, buying a car, a speeding ticket, which results in lost training time.
If there was an established receiving platoon, he said, some of these issues could be resolved before the training cycle begins.
With these goals in mind, the group hopes to not only make recommendations to improve the logistics of SOI, but also the way its instructors are trained.