Marine Combat Training Matrix
Every platoon at Marine Corps boot camp has a few recruits that get a hold of the training matrix/schedule, but finding a schedule for Marine Combat Training (MCT) is another story. I’m not sure an up-to-date MCT schedule even exists. The Marine Combat Training schedule recently just changed from 22 training days to 29 training days.
The below information has been compiled from my first-hand experiences at MCT SOI East Coast at Camp Geiger, NC. I attended MCT from 2010 January 26 – 2010 February 23. I was Second Platoon (Red), Hotel Company.
Graduation Dates For Marine Combat Training
Click to View 2011 MCT Graduation Dates (pdf). It is easy to figure out when a Marine will graduate from MCT. Your Marine’s MCT graduation date will be on a Tuesday, 29 days after his check-in date or his class-up date (if he/she isn’t held in a waiting platoon). Check-in dates are on a Monday. Simply add 4 weeks and 1 day to the date that your Marine (or you) classes up, and you’ll have your Marine’s MCT graduation date.
SOI & MCT Address
Rank and Name
Co., Class, Platoon
SOI – East MCT BN
PSC BOX 20166
Camp Lejeune, NC 28542 – 0166
The first day of MCT receiving/check-in is chaotic. You literally hit the ground running. Make sure you know what you need to take to MCT. You’ll change from your Alphas into cammies and start your admin work. You’ll get a bone marrow pitch, go to medical, take a drug test, and then you’ll get assigned a platoon. The platoons on the east coast have about 10-15 females and about 80-85 males. The platoon trains mixed-gender, but the females live in separate barracks.
You’ll get issued all of your gear on day 2 or 3 of training. You’ll be issued additional gear outside of the basics that you received at Boot Camp.
Some of the items include:
M16A4 w/ Rail, Pec Laser Sight & ACOG Battle Scope
Tactical Vest (duece gear)
Kevlar Cover (1)
30-rd. Magazines (4)
Grenade Pouches (2)
E-Tool (Folding Shovel) (1)
Magazine Pouch (2)
Dump Pouch (1)
Canteen Pouch (2)
Canteen Cup (1)
The good news is that the barracks at MCT are REALLY nice compared to boot camp. You’ll have real wooden oak racks, wall closets and cleaner heads (bathrooms). The bad news is that you won’t spend very much time in the barracks. You’re in the field for a good amount of time. The chow hall is REALLY nice too. Take advantage of it while you can… you’ll live off MREs for the last two weeks of MCT. The chow hall usually has a minimum of two different lines open, a fast food line and a dinner line. They’ll split you up, but nothing is stopping you from jumping to a different line. It’s not like boot camp where you have to eat with one hand, skip desert, and remain silent the entire time. You’re slightly more free now. You’ll still need to eat fast and be vigilant, but you won’t be out in the sandpit if you get caught trying to open a ketchup packet with two hands.
Week 1a: Classes & Practical Application
The first week of Marine Combat Training you’ll spend doing simple classes and practical application. You’ll take a class in the morning and then do the prac app in the afternoon. The first few weeks of class consist of learning about radios, automatic weapons, first aide, the grenade launcher, the AT-4 and other field equipment. In the afternoon you’ll work hands-on with the equipment to learn its parts and functions. The classes are fairly boring, but the practical application is actually fun. For a lot of Marines, this will be their first time getting to ‘play’ with real military equipment. Pay attention, because everything taught at MCT is real-world, and it may end up saving a life one day.
Week 1b: IEDs, Detainment & Patrolling
The second week is spent learning about improvised explosive devices (IEDs), binoculars, how to detain a suspect, how to search a suspect, how to setup checkpoints, and how to patrol. You’ll hit the classroom first and then do some hands-on work in the afternoon. The hands-on work will consist of performing patrols, spotting IEDs, detaining personnel, and operating checkpoints. The first two weeks are sort of a breeze.
Week 2: Field Exercises & Ranges
Week three of Marine Combat Training starts your field exercises. First comes the range (M249, M240, Grenade Launcher, AT-4, Frag Grenade and Night Fire). You’ll sleep in a small airplane-like hanger with no heat or A/C. Marines at this stage used to sleep in tents, but Mothers of America had that changed by complaining, so now we get a giant tin can. NO SHOWERS HERE… NONE! You’ll hygiene out of your canteen or a puddle of water for a week. On the East Coast, you’ll wake up for a week and hike each day out to the ranges. You’ll hike anywhere from 2-4 miles a day with your assault pack, Kevlar, flak, rifle and deuce gear. The hikes sound easy, but they’ll kick your butt on very little sleep and having to put up with the weather. I went through in the winter, so the snow and below freezing temperatures made my Marine Combat Training (MCT) experience a miserable time. If you’re on the West Coast Marines, then your ranges are right outside your barracks (last I heard), so you won’t be doing as much hiking this week as the East Coast.
Weapons Pre-Training at Marine Combat Training School
Before firing each weapon, you’ll shoot it on a simulated computer system called the IZMIT. You’ll be using the actual weapons hooked into a high-tech computer system that shows your shooting results. They have an air-pressure gauge that produces small amounts of recoil to try and simulate the real thing. You’ll have more jams and failures to feed in the high-tech simulator then you will with the actual weapon system.
On The Range at Marine Combat Training
Now your at the range, waiting in line all day to shoot a weapon for 20 seconds. As fun as the shooting is, the waiting barely makes it worth the trip. You’ll have time to use the head, eat MRE’s and sit on your packs… only after you’ve fired. Try to get to the front of the line, that way you’ll be done and can head back to your pack. Otherwise, you’re stuck waiting in line for possibly up to 5 hours. You can’t head to your pack until you’ve fired. People at the end get screwed because as soon as you’re done firing you’ll police call and head to the next range, or back to camp. Take advantage of any down time to eat chow, use the head, and make friends. Don’t waste your time writing letters – MCT will be over before they get mailed out.
Meal Ready To Eat (MRE)
Be prepared to eat a lot of MREs during Marine Combat Training. The bad news is that you’ll be issued somewhere around 36 MREs for your two weeks in the field. The good news is that they don’t taste too bad, and the new ones come with chemical heaters. There will be a lot of trading, buying and selling of MREs during MCT. Do not get involved in this. Keep your food. If you’re going to be training during the cold months, then take some advice – save your heaters. I went through in February, and there were times when nothing mattered except trying to find heat and stay warm. Sleep did not matter. Food did not matter. I just wanted my fingers and toes to not feel like they were digging through broken glass. You can activate your MRE heaters and put them in your blouse pockets, use them as hand warmers and even put them in your boots to prevent your toes from getting frostbite. Just wait for the steam to simmer off of them before putting them in an enclosed area.
Week 3: Camp Devil Dog & Basic Skills Retention Exercise (BSRE)
After the range, you’ll head to Camp Devil Dog for the second phase of your field week. Here you’ll learn the basics in mounting and dismounting a seven-ton armored vehicle, patrolling, IED detection and procedures, security check points, vehicle and detainee searches, night assaults, ambushes, crossing danger points, map reading and more. After a few days of classes and practical application, you’ll start the BSRE (Basic Skills Retention Exercise) which will test you on everything you have learned during Marine Combat Training. You’ll be split up into smaller squads and put into war-like scenarios for three days on virtually no sleep, no showers and you will shoot a ton of blanks. The blanks dirty your weapon more than actual rounds do, so you’ll be field-cleaning your rifle about 3 times a day. You’ll also get good at putting on cami paint. If it’s cold out and your hands are cold. Fire through a bunch of blanks and then hold the barrel of your rifle. You don’t really need the blanks. Besides, if a Marine runs out of ammo in real life, he or she will still have a bayonet.
After you complete and pass the BSRE, you’ll prepare for your 10 mile hike back to main side. It is pretty comparable to the crucible hike, on less-even ground. The distance is the same, but the MCT hike seemed a bit more demanding than the boot camp crucible hike. Maybe it was due to less motivation, in the fact that in boot camp you earn the title Marine after the hike. You’ll make head calls in the woods about every 45 minutes to an hour.
Week 4: Final Exam, Gear Turn-In & Admin
The next few days you’ll spend studying for your final written exam, turning in gear, getting orders, going through admin again and practicing for your twenty-minute graduation. It’s the worst part of MCT.
Be prepared to be treated like crap at East coast MCT. Yes, you’re a Marine, but apparently part of the training there is to still treat you like a recruit. Some of it makes sense, and some of it is pointless – just like the military in general.
Written Exams at Marine Combat Training
The exams at MCT are similar to boot camp exams. They are a bit tougher as far as the material goes and you’ll have to study more on your own, but they are all multiple choice. You shouldn’t have any worries here.
Phone Calls & Free Time at Marine Combat Training
This isn’t boot camp. You get about 5 hours of free time during your entire month-long training and it will be spent showering and prepping your gear.
As for phone calls. If you’re lucky you’ll get your phones out of the armory every Sunday for about 15 minutes. If you don’t bring a cell phone, then you won’t be able to make a phone call unless you borrow one. Bring your charger too, and make sure your phone is marked.
Combat Instructors at Marine Combat Training
They’re a little lighter on you than Drill Instructors, but you’ll learn quick that they still treat you like you’re still in boot camp. Some refer to MCT as Phase 4 of boot camp. Most of the combat instructors at the Marine Combat Training School of Infantry East are Infantry (03XX). At times you’ll feel like you’re back in boot camp (on the East coast) and you’ll end up getting screwed because of what other Marines in your platoon do. If you’re on the west coast it will be a bit easier. You’ll get weekends off and be treated like the Army 😉
Fire Watch at Marine Combat Training
You still do fire watch at MCT. In fact, it’s much worse than at boot camp. You can get anywhere from a 2-6 hour shift of either fire watch, armory watch, or gear watch. Fire watch is the real deal here too. Get caught sleeping and you’ll have an NJP to look forward to rather than an extra set of push-ups or the sand pit the next morning. You’re not a recruit anymore… don’t act like one.
Graduation at MCT
If your family is within 5 hours (my wife drove 8 because she REALLY loves me), then have them come. They will be able to spend five hours with you the day before graduation and then about 2 hours total the day of graduation. The ceremony is short, so don’t come unless you can make it for family day the day before. There is a pizza joint you can hang out at that is pretty legit, and the PX is fairly nice. Some people just stock up on junk food and stay at the barracks.
Leaving For MOS School
You will leave for your Military Occupational School (MOS) IMMEDIATELY AFTER you graduate. You might, if you’re lucky, have about 30 minutes to change over to civilian clothes, grab your bags, say goodbye and jump on the bus. The buses will be lined up outside your barracks waiting for you. You’ll know the day before which group you are in, and which bus you are supposed to get on. Have some cash for a meal on the way to your school. If you’re flying to your MOS, then the bus will just be taking you to the airport. If your MOS school is within 8 hours of driving, then you’ll be on the bus the entire trip.
You’re not being watched or babysat, so be on your best behavior. You’ll arrive at your school, change over and check-in the same day, or the very next day (depending).