Further instruction: Training company teaches warrior trade to recruits
By Cpl. Jess Levens
| | June 17, 2005
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
While preparing for the Corps, recruits learn the ways of the institution from their drill instructors, with whom they spend the majority of their time. What they don't learn from their drill instructors, recruits learn from Instructional Training Company. The ITC instructors are responsible for the recruits' education in several subjects. In the classroom, ITC's Academic Instruction Platoon instructors teach the recruits Marine Corps history, general military subjects and first aid. In the three months of boot camp, recruits sit through 19 classes, according to Gunnery Sgt. Jose Cariman, AIP staff noncommissioned officer in charge. At the end of the training cycle, AIP administers a practical application test, which recruits pass 98 percent of the time. Outside from classrooms, recruits strap on for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, taught by the Close Combat Section. All recruits leave training with a tan belt, which means they are certified in the first level of MCMAP. Forty-seven techniques are taught by ITC. While practicing these techniques, safety is paramount. The ITC instructors are thoroughly trained in life-saving techniques including CPR. Also, when the recruits are out there knocking each other around, the training company's drill instructors patrol the ranks to guarantee safety measures are followed. Before each training exercise, ITC instructors meet with the drill instructors to make sure everyone is up to speed."The drill instructors all know these techniques already," said Staff Sgt. Roger A. Taylor, close-combat instructor. "So they are constantly fault-checking the recruits."ITC instructors also incorporate other fighting into the training: the bayonet assault course and pugil sticks. On the bayonet course, recruits wear gloves, Kevlar helmets and carry training rifles through barbed wire and ditches, a over a wall and rope bridge, striking dummies along the way with learned bayonet techniques. To make the training more lifelike, ITC loops a soundtrack of combat noise over the loudspeakers. Pugil sticks, which are training weapons with padded ends, are incorporated in a competitive event that pits recruits one on one in a ring. This is where the recruits practice bayonet techniques on each other, rather than on dummies. Recruits wear football helmets, flak jackets, mouthpieces and codpieces to reduce injuries. ITC oversees this event."This training is to make sure Marines know what to do in case the worst happens," said Gunnery Sgt. Alex L. Vallete, ITC's close-combat staff noncommissioned officer in charge. "Now, war is usually just pushing buttons and long-range fighting. But if a Marine is in a close-combat situation, and he's out of rounds, we make sure they know what to do." Once the recruits know how to fight, they need to know how to maneuver across a battlefield. This is where the confidence course comes into play. This course is made up of 15 obstacles that make recruits climb to new heights of more than 35 feet."Some recruits are terrified of heights," said Taylor. "And sometimes, recruits don't know they are scared of heights until they get up. But we encourage and motivate them to complete the obstacles, and once they do, it's a great sense of accomplishment and they leave for Camp Pendleton ready to take on any challenge."The course ends with the Slide for Life - where recruits shimmy down suspended cables over a swimming pool.But the Slide for Life's pool is dwarfed compared to the swim tank at Parke Hall, where recruits learn water survival. In this muggy indoor pool, ITC's Water Survival Section teaches recruits different swimming techniques and how to function in the water while wearing combat utilities and carrying a rifle. This training is to make sure if in combat, the Marine can cross water or abandon ship, according to Staff Sgt. Edwin Ligorria, water survival staff noncommissioned officer in charge."Basically, we make sure every recruit leaves here with the knowledge to survive a water combat situation," said Ligorria. "It's a graduation requirement."Water survival instructors are constantly on alert to assist and teach recruits. For many recruits, this is their first time swimming, and some recruits are scared. The instructors are ready to act fast in case of emergency.In addition to marksmanship training and the drill instructors' tutelage, ITC Marines are responsible for preparing recruits to dominate the battlefield and respond to adverse situations.