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What is a Marine Drill Instructor?

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  • Written By: R. Anacan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A Marine drill instructor is a non-commissioned officer of the United States Marine Corps who is responsible for the training of new Marine recruits. The Marine drill instructor is viewed as one of the most important and honored position in the Marine Corps because they are the individuals charged with turning civilians into Marines. It is a voluntary position in the Marine Corps, and drill instructors serve in that capacity for three years.

The United States Marine Corps is widely considered to be the toughest and most physically demanding of the American armed forces and its recruit training is correspondingly considered to be the toughest of all of the recruit training programs as well. Recruit training is a 13 week program that is designed to push recruits to their mental and physical limits. The attrition rate for recruit training is approximately 10%, which is due mainly due to injuries or other conditions which do not allow a recruit to continue. Every element of recruit training is part of a well choreographed system designed to prepare civilians for their new life as a Marine.

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A recruit’s first encounter with a Marine drill instructor is generally right as he or she arrives at boot camp. As buses arrive, drill instructors board the buses and scream at the incoming recruits to exit the bus and line up on yellow footprints that are painted on the sidewalk. From this moment until graduation, the Marine drill instructor will be at the front and center of a recruit’s training program and will play a vital role in developing the skills, discipline and mindset necessary to be a successful Marine.

When the 13 week program is completed, the drill instructor has the honor of pinning the Marine Corps emblem on a recruit’s uniform, signifying his or her transition from recruit to full-fledged Marine. While many Marines have stated that training was the toughest period of their lives and that they did not like their drill instructor during training; they also acknowledge that the accomplishment of becoming a Marine would not have been possible without their drill instructors.

To become a Marine drill instructor candidates must be between the ages of 22 and 37 and have achieved the rank of sergeant. In limited situations, a corporal may be eligible for drill instructor training, but this is generally rare. Candidates must also successfully complete a 12 week drill instructor training program.

Contrary to popular belief, drill instructor training is not necessarily a reprise of boot camp. While still very demanding, an observer may be surprised at the lack of yelling and screaming so commonly associated with recruit training. The focus of the Marine drill instructor training is to help candidates develop the positive leadership skills and the physical fitness necessary to effectively train new recruits. Once the training is completed, the new Marine drill instructor joins a long line of honored men and women who have helped thousands of people become Marines.

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