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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
Phase One: To become a recruit

By Sgt. Whitney Frasier | | September 23, 2011

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- “Recruits need to remember why they came here and what they wanted to be,” said Sgt. Van A. Black, “If they forget why or they are not here for themselves, they probably won’t make it at all.”

Black is the Senior Drill Instructor for platoon 2149, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion. He and Staff Sgt. Anthony Glenn II, SDI, platoon 2155, Co. G., 2nd Bn , have seen many recruits go through training during their time on the drill field. Both of them agree that phase one of recruit training is to turn civilians into recruits.

Once recruits get here, they still talk and act like civilians, said Black, 29, Arlington, Texas. They are taught how to be recruits by marching to places and being taught how to speak and understand military language, among other things.

During the four days of forming, which takes place in week one of training, the recruits are exposed to an excessive amount of controlled chaos.

Some drill instructors think these days are most crucial to success in boot camp.

“That’s when they get the most stress and culture shock,” said Black. “If they don’t get the initial shock, they usually won’t adapt well to anything else.”

During this time, the drill instructors get the recruits acclimatized to the tempo of recruit training, said Glenn, 33, Atlanta. It’s important that they pick up on instant obedience to orders and discipline.

Pick-up, or commonly known as Black Friday, can set the tone of what the drill instructors expect from the recruits and what they will experience during their training cycle.

The first phase consists of several important events. These events include, but are not limited to, Initial Drill, Initial Physical Fitness Test, Swim Qualification, the Confidence Course and the Obstacle Course.

These events are only the tip of the sphere, and what Black considers an introduction to boot camp. All the basic classes are covered in first phase, and will be revisited over the course of training.

“Breaking the cycle up into phases prevents the recruits from getting tunnel vision and actually feel like they are making progress,” said Glenn, who has served 13 cycles as a drill instructor. “Once the recruits make it through first phase, they feel like they made it as a team and are ready to move forward.”

Everything is earned, nothing is given, explained Glenn, including Company G’s completion of first phase.

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