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TECOM Training & Education Command

United States Marine Corps

Earning that smokey bear: The Corps newest drill instructors

By LANCE CPL. ISAAC LAMBERTH | | September 18, 2009

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Sixty-five Marines earned the right to wear the distinctive campaign cover Wednesday, after enduring a 12-week course at the Drill Instructor School aboard
Parris Island.

The course was filled with countless hours of drill, intense physical conditioning and stern reiteration of Marine Corps history and
core values.

“When you graduate from here, you become the Marine that people visualize a Marine should be,” said Sgt. William Barter, a DI
School graduate.

“The instructors here do such a great job of molding these Marines into drill instructors,” said Gunnery Sgt. Efrain Alanis, the assistant drill master at
DI School.

Instructors at DI School drill students for countless hours to not only ensure discipline, but to instill unit leadership abilities.

“Drill is the bedrock of discipline,” said Staff Sgt. Peter Stephens, an instructor at DI School. “You can really hit home on the instant, willingness and obedience to all orders. Drill instructors must be very capable of leading units and must know how to properly correct them.”

They are also taught how to correctly teach and explain drill so they are able to teach
their recruits.

“We make them do something called ‘teach backs,’” said Stephens, of Arcadia, Calif. “They have to explain to us, not show, how to do drill movements step-by-step. We go through seven blocks of movements. Each one becomes progressively more complicated with the movements involved.

“Everything is embedded into you,” Stephens added. “You have to know everything. You can’t be in front of a recruit and not know the answer to
a question.”

In addition to learning drill, students also cope with two hour combat conditioning sessions three times a week. All students who graduate from DI School are required to run a first class physical fitness test.

“We PT three times a week in the mornings just like recruits do,” said Barter, of Boston. “We do it in formations and sound off as loud as we can. It shows us what we’re going to be putting recruits through. We have to be physically fit as well, so that we can rightfully demand the best from
our recruits.”

Those who attend DI School voluntarily go through it and share a common goal to become drill instructors. Still, their reasons for coming vary from person to person.

“I always thought wearing the cover and belt would be cool,” Barter said. “My master sergeant inspired me to come here and become a
drill instructor.”

Besides drilling and physical conditioning, time management and unit leadership are also stressed to ensure drill instructors are capable of
leading recruits.

“This is a premier leadership school,” Stephens said. “We focus less on Marines trying to get promoted and go back to the core fundamentals of leadership, mentoring Marines and managing time wisely.

“In training, we give them just enough time to do the things they need to get done,” Stephens added. “We stress time management a lot during training, because when you’re in a training cycle, there’s never enough time in a day to get things done, and that’s one thing we try to get across to them in school.”

All 65 of the new drill instructors are now ready to make an impact, not only in making Marines, but in the rest of the Corps as well.

Alanis, of Moultrie, Ga., said he believes the new graduates from DI School are ready to train the next generation
of Marines.

“This class is fantastic,” Alanis said. “They’re ready to go out and spread their wings and do great things. It opens up your mind on how many lives you impact in the Marine Corps, and I’m confident this class graduating is going to do
great things.”

 


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