Mideast edition, Saturday, May 5, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — Marines will now face the grueling “Crucible” exercise in the second-to-last week of basic training. Afterward, they will be full-fledged Marines.

During the Crucible, Marines must March about 40 miles over 54 hours with little food or sleep.

Until now, Marine recruits at San Diego have gone through the Crucible during the eighth week of their 12-week basic training and recruits at Parris Island, S.C., have done the exercise in week 10, Maj. Gen. George J. Flynn said.

Now Marines at both San Diego and Parris Island will go through the Crucible during week 11 of basic training, said Flynn, commander of Training and Education Command.

“We want to make the Crucible the true culminating event that it was originally designed to be. … At the end of this 54-hour event, you will be recognized as earning the right to be called a United States Marine,” Flynn told reporters Wednesday.

The change is effective this month at Parris Island and Oct. 1 at San Diego, Flynn said.

The final week of basic training will now be known as “Marine Week,” during which Marines will focus on the transition from recruit to Marine, he said.

“It’s a transition from going to a very restrictive environment to learning about how you’re going to function as a Marine when you reach the operating forces,” he said.

During this time, Marines will learn to understand the role of noncommissioned officers who are not drill instructors, he said.

The moves come after the commandant, Gen. James Conway, tasked TECOM last fall with reviewing entry-level training for Marines, Flynn said.

The Corps also plans to give drill instructors more time to talk about a variety of topics with recruits, Flynn said.

“It could be from everything about what it’s like when you first get to a unit, and what leadership to expect; it could be how to deal with financing; it could be about how to behave when you’re on boot leave; it could be about just about any topic you could think of where you have what Gen. [John A.] Lejeune referred to as the ‘teacher-scholar relationship,’ or the ‘father-son relationship’ that he talked about,” Flynn said.

The Marine Corps is also considering giving all Marines an extra week of training after they leave boot camp. The extra week would give Marines more time to emphasize convoy operations and counter-roadside bomb training and practice on crew-served weapons, Flynn said.

The extra training would provide “a better-trained Marine to the operating forces,” Flynn said.

“We should know whether we can do that or not probably in another month, and then we’ll take the appropriate action on that” he said.

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