The United States Marine Corps has been a part of the Department of the Navy since June of 1834. The Marines were first established in 1775 Philadelphia to serve as infantrymen able to fight on land and at sea. Now, the U.S Marine Corps protects the world in more than 170 locations of embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions in addition to duty stations around the globe.
What do the Marines do when there is no war? During enlistment, Marines choose a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), represented by a four-digit code. The most familiar is 03xx Infantry, made famous in movies like Full Metal Jacket. When there is no war, every Marine does the job of the MOS they chose or in the case of Infantry Marines, they practice their job.
The U.S. Marine Corps has a total of 37 occupational fields from which to choose. Whether a Marine enlists as a 13xx in order to become an engineer equipment operator or a 55xx musician for the Marine Band, every Marine attends School of Infantry (SOI) after boot camp.
Every Marine a Rifleman
Beginning with the marksmen of the Revolutionary War, Marines have been known for their expertise when it comes to handling firearms. During the Vietnam War, the Marines fought fire with fire by using highly skilled snipers to take out enemy marksmen and personnel. The most famous sniper, Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock II, had a record of 93 confirmed kills and by his count, 300-400 enemy kills during his time. So many in fact that the North Vietnamese put a bounty on his head of $30,000.
The Corps mantra “every Marine a rifleman” lives on through the requirement of attending the School of Infantry. The Infantry Training Battalion (ITB) is reserved for Marines who chose the MOS 03xx. The ITB program is 59 days of training in the techniques and methods of the United States Marine Corps.
During the Infantry Training Battalion, Marines will:
- Learn the skills of a rifleman, machine gunner, mortar man, and TOW (Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided missile) gunner
- Be versed in convoy operations, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), military operations in urban areas, combat formations, navigating the land, patrolling, and Marine Corps Martial Arts
- Receive education in the classroom as well as out in the field
- Practice both offensive and defensive combat operations during daylight and at night through training scenarios
- Participate in a myriad of strenuously brutal hiking to build strength and stamina
For the rest of the 36 MOS career choices, Bootcamp graduates attend Marine Combat Training (MCT) at the School of Infantry. This condensed version of ITB lasts for 29 days. Marines who attend MCT will learn how to handle and fire weapons such as grenade launchers, rocket launchers, machine guns, and automatic weapons used by the military. They will also receive instruction on all of the fundamentals of combat and Marine Corps fitness training.
After the completion of ITB, Infantry Marines are assigned to their Permanent Duty Station (PDS). PDSs are located throughout the United States and in foreign nations. All other Marines attend school related to their chosen military occupation before being assigned a PDS. The location of a Marine’s PDS is directly related to his or her MOS career.
Members of the U.S. Marine Corps pride themselves on being the best of the best. They have earned that title from working hard, complete dedication to the Corps, and an exorbitant amount of physical training (PT). Each year, every Marine must pass two types of fitness tests, the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and the Combat Fitness Test (CFT).
The Physical Fitness Test is designed to gauge a Marine’s readiness for battle. The focus of the PFT is to measure an individual’s physical condition and stamina. The test consists of three events, a 3-mile run, 2-minutes of crunches, and a choice between pull-ups and push-ups.
A total score of 100 points can only be obtained if the Marine chooses pull-ups. An automatic deduction of 30 points occurs if the Marine chooses push-ups. This is because pull-ups require the Marine to be able to lift the weight of their entire body. Push-ups only result in approximately 70 percent of the Marine’s body weight, hence easier to complete.
The Combat Fitness Test (CFT) is used to evaluate the level of a Marine’s functional fitness and ability to perform under pressure. The CFT is comprised of three events: Movement to Contact, Ammunition Lift, and Maneuver Under Fire. While men and women are tested differently, both are striving for the perfect score of 300.
The first event in the CFT is a timed, 880-yard dash intended to simulate the stress of running during battle. The Movement to Contact sprint is used to determine a Marine’s endurance. In the Ammunition Lift event, Marines see how many times they can lift a 30 lb. ammunition over their head, locking their elbows on each lift. The final event, Maneuver Under Fire, is made up of a 300-yard challenge course. The battle-related challenges include military actions like crawls, throwing grenades, agility run, and the drag and carry a fellow Marine to safety.
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Daily Life of a Marine
For every Marine, getting up before the sun is just part of the job. A typical day in the Marines begins with a healthy dose of physical training to get the body and mind charged up. After working up a sweat, it’s time to shower, clean up, and hit the chow hall for breakfast.
After breakfast, Infantry Marines most often attend class. All other types of Marines head off to their respective jobs. Around 11:00, Marines of all kinds are given time for lunch and to run any personal errands. Some will use this time to clean the barracks or get in some more time at the gym.
Then it’s back to work or in the case of Infantry Marines, it’s time for weapons training, action drills and learning urban combat techniques. At approximately 16:00, the workday is complete and Infantry Marines receive a debriefing. How long that lasts all depends on how well the day went for the platoon.
Types of Deployment
When civilians hear the term deployment, most probably assume that means the troops are gearing-up and heading into a warzone. However, fewer than 1 in 5 currently enlisted Marines have been deployed into battle. This is due in part to the turnover found in the Corps as well as the reduction of U.S presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the U.S. Marine Corps, Combat Zone deployment is only one of six types of deployment a Marine could encounter. One important type of deployment is called a Marine Expeditionary Unit, also known as a Float. During MEUs, Marines work alongside Sailors aboard Naval ships to be taken to a drop-off point or they stay-aboard for the duration of the deployment.
MEU deployments are used in conjunction with two other types of deployments: Relief Efforts and Unit Deployment Programs. During Floats, Marines may be involved in assisting countries with humanitarian aid during and after natural disasters. For example, Marines will aid in the evacuation of residents and maintaining order during a hurricane.
The second type of MEU deployment, Unit Deployment Programs, are used as a way to improve unit continuity. These programs are designed to boost the level of training by traveling to different environments. This gives Marines the opportunity to practice techniques in a variety of conditions to ensure they are ready for anything.
Another deployment possibility for Marines is to non-hostile countries to maintain ongoing operations. Countries like Australia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Japan, and Syria all have Marine installations currently operating. In a number of these countries, Marines are there to sustain security or in the case of Kuwait, just passing through.
The final type of Marine deployment is to one of the 171 locations of U.S Embassies, Consulates, and diplomatic missions. Marine Security Guards are in place to protect U.S. citizens and government property. They are also there to prevent the compromise of classified information and materials. From the U.S Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan to the Embassy in Zimbabwe, the U.S. Marine Corps is everywhere.
Where do most new Marines get stationed?
There are five locations that the majority of new Marines will be stationed at after they have completed the School of Infantry and Military Occupation Schooling. The two largest are Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina and Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. The other three Marine Bases are located in Hawaii on the island of Oahu, Okinawa, Japan, and Quantico in Washington D.C.
What does the acronym OPSEC mean and who does it affect?
Operations Security (OPSEC) means keeping the enemy from obtaining Department of Defense information that could put U.S. operations in jeopardy. Often times, the success of a mission depends on secrecy in order to maintain the element of surprise. It is the responsibility of everyone, both military and civilian, to be cautious of what they say in public and especially what they share online.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
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