Though the Army and Marine Corps both field forces that fight primarily on land, there are many differences between the services in terms of mission, training and culture. For this reason potential recruits should carefully investigate both services and find out which is a better fit for them.
The two services have an initial training phase for recruits. The Army calls this phase Basic Combat Training (BCT) while the Marines call their program Recruit Training (RT). On the whole, RT has slightly higher physical-fitness standards. Marine recruits have to run three miles on their test as opposed to the Army's two. The Army uses sit-ups as opposed to the Marine Corps' crunches. Also, the Army uses push-ups while the Marine Corps uses pull-ups. The number of reps for these exercises is generally a little higher in the Marines.
Probably the best-known aspects of Marine Corps Recruit Training are the intense, intimidating Drill Instructors (DIs). These DIs have the recruits under total control and tell them when to wake up, where to walk, when to eat and even when to go to the bathroom. The point of all this control is to instill in the recruit discipline and instant obedience, as well as creating the ability to think clearly in stressful situations. Army Drill Sergeants are also intimidating, though they don't do as much yelling. Still, Army recruits face the same mental stress when it comes to learning huge amounts of information and having to take responsibility for other recruits.
The Army has five basic training sites. Fort Jackson trains the majority of female recruits, and Fort Sill and Fort Leonard Wood train the rest. Fort Benning trains only male recruits for Infantry and Fort Knox trains males for Armor. At Jackson, Sill and Leonard Wood, male and female recruits live apart but train together. Marine training occurs at two locations: Parris Island and San Diego. Parris Island trains all female recruits and male recruits east of the Mississippi River. San Diego trains male recruits west of the Mississippi. In the Marines, men and women are separated in training.
Soldiers who enlist in the Army have their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) stated in their contract. This means that as long as they complete basic training on schedule, a seat is reserved for them at the preferred school. In the Marine, specific MOSs are not guaranteed. Marine Corp MOSs are grouped into Occupational Fields. For example, someone who wants to be a Combat Engineer (1317) can only be guaranteed the OccField 13 (Engineer, Construction, Facilities and Equipment). This OccField contains other jobs such as Metalworker and Engineer Equipment Officer. Generally around the fourth week of RT, recruits choose an available job from their guaranteed OccField.
The Army's culminating event is the Night Infiltration Course (NIC). During NIC, recruits run obstacle courses, conduct road matches and move under live machine-gun fire. It is meant to incorporate all their training into one exercise. After NIC, recruits receive their battle coin and are then formally considered soldiers. For the Marines, the Crucible is the final exercise. It is more physically exerting because of its length (56 hours) and the lack of food and sleep the recruits must endure. After the Crucible, recruits go through the Eagle, Globe and Anchor Ceremony. This emblem signals their successful completion of RT, and receiving it finally allows recruits to call themselves Marines.
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