What is Marine Corps Basic Training?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann
Marching may be learned during basic training.
Marching may be learned during basic training.

Marine Corps basic training is the place where civilians are transformed into Marines. Physical exercise and memorization of the Marine Corps policy and creed are practiced on a daily basis. There are two bases where recruits may undertake basic training. Parris Island, South Carolina, is perhaps the most notorious and romantically known of the two, while San Diego, California, is referred to as the "Hollywood" base. Basic training consists of 12 weeks of training.

Recruits failing to attain corps standards while in basic training will be placed in a special platoon.
Recruits failing to attain corps standards while in basic training will be placed in a special platoon.

While the Parris Island base is the most well-known for many people, the training is the same in San Diego. Those living in the eastern part of the United States are most often placed at Parris Island, while those from the western states are typically sent to San Diego. A request for either base can be made at time of enlistment; however, it may not be recognized. In the end, the Marine Corps will do what it sees as the best option for the corps.

For those wishing to join the Marine Corps, physical training is recommended prior to enlisting. Recruits failing to attain corps standards while in basic training will be placed in a special platoon. This platoon will stress physical fitness and the recruit will not be allowed to leave the platoon until full physical fitness requirements are attained. Marine Corps basic training is considered by many the toughest of all of the military services in the United States.

Once entering the reception station at whichever base the recruit is assigned to, all civilian articles of clothing as well as personal items are confiscated. The recruit will only be allowed to posses Marine Corps issued property and clothing. These items will be issued at the time of arrival and the recruit's hair will also be cut. The recruit will be issued everything that will be needed to complete basic training. Even military-issue eye glasses will replace contact lenses and civilian glasses for the duration of training.

Marching, hand-to-hand combat tactics as well as marksmanship with the rifle will be taught during Marine Corps basic training. The proper terminology for common items will be learned. For example, the words toilet, wall and window are replaced with head, bulkhead and porthole. Severe physical encouragement will accompany any misuse of the proper terminology. Drill instructors are not allowed to physically punish recruits; however, punishment in the form of physical training is allowed to motivate those who are not able to readily grasp the concept of Marine Corps principals.

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Discussion Comments


@Izzy78 - There is Marine Corps recruit training for enlisted and commissioned individuals, but they happen in different places. The article is just talking about enlisted officers (privates up through sergeants). Officers start out at Quantico, Virginia.

Since all officers have to serve at least one active tour, they still receive all of the same combat training as enlisted Marines. In addition to regular training, they also go through leadership courses and develop skills in a certain area such as ground warfare, technology, communications, etc.

Not speaking from experience, but from others I've heard talk about it, I think Marine Corps boot camp for enlisted Marines is usually a little bit more physically and mentally demanding, since they are usually going to be the more hands-on "soldiers."


Is basic training only for enlisted soldiers, or do Marine Corps officers have to go through basic training, too?

I know I have seen a lot of the shows that follow recruits through basic training through Parris Island. I haven't been involved in any part of the military, but I would agree that the Marine Corps does seem to be a little bit more training than the other branches. I guess they deserve to be considered kind of the elite branch.

I know in one of the shows I was watching, one of the people couldn't pass the beginning exam, so he got put in the special group. They basically had to do odd jobs around the base until they were able to pass the test. The person I saw was one of the servers in the mess hall. I'm not sure what happens if they never pass, though.


@jmc88 - I would say there is a high likelihood that a Marine Corp recruiting officer visits your school at least a couple of times a year. If you aren't sure, I would check with the guidance counselor or some other administrator. They can tell you.

As far as the qualifications to get in, it really all just depends on what you are wanting to do in the Marines. If you are wanting to go in from high school, you would only be able to qualify as an enlisted Marine. If you're interested in being an officer, you would have to have a college degree, so the ROTC might be for you.

The physical requirements aren't extremely difficult, but you might want to do some training ahead of time depending on your fitness. I don't recall the exact requirements, though.


I am not old enough to get involved in the military yet, but what are the requirements to get in? Do you have to do a certain test or something before you start?

Unfortunately, no one in my family has been in the military, so I don't really have a good reference to talk to. I am a freshman in high school now and know that a lot of people get started towards the end of high school.

Also, does anyone know what all is involved in marine recruiting? Who do I need to talk to, and how do I find them? Are there any other special qualifications I should know about?

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    • Marching may be learned during basic training.
      By: Oleksii Nykonchuk
      Marching may be learned during basic training.
    • Recruits failing to attain corps standards while in basic training will be placed in a special platoon.
      By: zonch
      Recruits failing to attain corps standards while in basic training will be placed in a special platoon.