MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
From the first moment recruits of Company D heard a drill instructor tell them to get off the bus their first day here, they have had little time to think for themselves. Though recruits may have thought they were just being told how and when to accomplish many tasks, the drill instructors of Co. D have been instilling the characteristics and traits of a United States Marine into each of them.
The Crucible puts all their training to the test.
This 54-hour cumulative training exercise where recruits receive rationed food and only 12 hours of sleep to instill teamwork under stress is held at Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
One portion of the Crucible is called the Leadership Reaction Course, or more commonly known as the 12-Stall because of the 12 areas of the course. This section of the Crucible challenges the exhausted recruits to a test of teamwork and problem solving while developing communication and small unit leadership.
All of the obstacles revolve around the same mission objective: to get recruits and additional gear through the obstacles without touching the danger areas.
The danger areas are designated with red paint or the gravel pit below the obstacles. Once the gear touches any part of the red paint or drops into the gravel, the recruits must find a new way to continue on without it. If recruits touch the danger zones they are eliminated from the mission and can no longer help their squad accomplish the task at hand.
Before fully engaging each mission, each small squad of recruits must pick a leader, different from their last area, to read aloud each scenario represented by that station. In order to accomplish the mission, the squad leader must listen to his fellow recruits while taking charge and directing them on how to complete the station.
“As drill instructors, we try to make sure recruits who haven’t had a leadership position get that opportunity,” said Sgt. Joseph Fields, drill instructor, platoon 1074, Co. D. “It gives them the chance to communicate with their peers while finding their own leadership style.”
Though each station varied in levels of difficulty, some recruits faced another challenge of leadership.
“Coming up with a plan on the spot and following through was the most difficult aspect,” said Recruit Brandon Jones, platoon 1075, Co. D. “That, and getting the squad to listen and work as a team once the plan was set.”
As the squads worked through each obstacle, drill instructors diligently watched them to make sure that they kept within their assigned time and stayed aware of their surroundings.
“Each station has a set time limit,” said Fields. “As drill instructors, we are mostly just observing and making sure the task is completed with integrity.”
After the obstacles of the Leadership Reaction Course were completed, the recruits continued with the larger task of working as a team and fine tuning small unit leadership skills to complete the rest of the Crucible. After they were done, they earned their eagle, globe and anchor emblems and the title of United States Marines.