For enlisted recruits, the Marine Corps entry level training (ELT) pipeline spans a four phase continuum that begins during recruiting and (for most) participation in the delayed entry program; continues at recruit training (boot camp); progresses to Marine Combat Training at one of the schools of infantry; and concludes with military occupational specialty (MOS) training at a formal learning center. ELT produces basically trained Marines who are ready for their initial assignments in the operating forces or supporting establishment. The entire process—from the day a recruit signs his or her enlistment contract to graduating from MOS school and reporting to their first unit—can take 5-14 months.
The Marine Corps’ recruit training model focuses on creating a training environment that enhances the individual performance of recruits and new Marines; inculcates a sense of unit cohesion; and fosters an environment of mutual respect. Over the past 22 months, the Marine Corps has instituted substantive reforms to recruit training and believes these are bearing fruit. Additional reforms will be implemented in the near future, and we are confident that these reforms will maintain the right balance and continue to produce basic Marines who serve our nation with distinction.
After boot camp, all new Marines are assigned to one of the two schools of infantry for follow-on training in combat skills. New Marines who are assigned an infantry MOS immediately begin their eight week long MOS training in the Infantry Training Battalion. All other new Marines undergo a four week long basic combat skills course in Marine Combat Training Battalion before MOS training.
Consistent with its philosophy for “making Marines,” the Marine Corps invests heavily in entry level training. For an overwhelming majority of enlisted Marines, past and present, boot camp proved to be an enormously challenging, life-changing event and fundamental in establishing a corporate identity and reputation for excellence that is the envy of all the other services. Nearly as important are the training programs for all new Marines at the schools of infantry, where their mission is to make our claim “every Marine a rifleman” a reality, not just a slogan.
For officers, the ELT pipeline is similarly a four phase continuum but with some notable differences. As with enlisted recruits at boot camp, Officer Candidates
School (OCS) is where the Marine Corps ethos is instilled, and the length of the training program is roughly equivalent. However, OCS is different in that its mission is to evaluate and screen individuals for the key qualities required for commissioning as a Marine officer. Along with officer candidates from college-based commissioning programs, all enlisted Marines seeking to become officers must successfully complete OCS as well.
Following OCS, all newly commissioned Marine officers attend the 27 week Basic Officer Course at The Basic School in Quantico, VA prior to attending their primary MOS school. The Marine Corps is alone among the services in requiring all its new officers to attend a common school before branching out into their MOS schools. The Marine Corps prides itself on its ability to fight as a combined arms team, and our new officers’ experience at Quantico is unique and essential to building the capability to accomplish this.
Skill progression training consists of advanced MOS skills and enhanced unit/team skills and is provided by Training Command and MAGTF Training Command, respectively. Skill progression training contributes to operational capability in the following areas:
- Advanced MOS qualification training
- Leadership development training
- Billet-specific skills training
- Amphibious training
- Combined arms training
Candidates with Delta Company march during their close-order drill practice at Officer Candidate School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia on Oct. 21, 2016. Close-order drill is one of the key elements to teaching candidates teamwork and discipline. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. John A. Martinez Jr.)