PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- Marines watch over their base by continuously patrolling the perimeter and protecting it from possible threats, a skill they first learn during recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
From the first day of training, recruits take hourlong shifts, known as “fire watches,” making sure their squad bays are safe. During second phase, the bar is raised by having the recruits guard the entire battalion area, as well.
Interior guard requires the recruits to patrol in pairs, around each company at night, always keeping alert and challenging anyone they see during patrols.
“This is their time to show us everything we’ve taught them, all the procedures they have to take when commanding a post,” said Sgt. Jose Berrios, a drill instructor for Platoon 3013, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.
When recruits see someone during the patrol, they immediately seek cover and demand the individual to stop and identify himself.
After the individual is identified, the recruit will order him to walk forward, and if they are an unfamiliar person, they are requested to place an identification card with a photograph on the ground and back away.
While one recruit checks the card, the other remains behind cover and watches the individual for sign of attack.
Once identified, the recruit allows the individual to continue on his way.
This, at times, is a challenge for the recruits because the “strangers” are their drill instructors.
“When you deploy, you are going to have some kind of post,” Berrios said. “They need to know the procedures. They need to know what the escalation of force is.”
The escalation of force is the procedure Marines use when a stranger is uncooperative. This escalation is designed to move from a verbal command up to physical manipulations, until the individual becomes cooperative.
From there, if the individual attacks, Marines are allowed to block their hits, hit back and eventually fire if the individual has a weapon and there is potential for an injury. In training, however, recruits never go past raising their voice.
Their drill instructors challenge them to see how they recruits will react.
After the recruits are posted, they are tested by their drill instructors, Berrios said. The goal is to see how they react and if they use their training.
The recruits must remain calm and keep their bearing, even though they are giving instructions to their drill instructors, he added.
While it may be uncomfortable for them, the recruits understand that they must overcome their fear for the safety of their fellow Marines.
But the recruits understand their duty is not a game. It is training for real-life scenarios.
Standing watch is one of the biggest responsibilities Marine have when they get to the fleet, said Recruit Austin Jones, an 18-year-old from Piedmont, Ala. If a Marine falls asleep on duty, someone can sneak in and place a bomb at the gate. Learning how to properly stand guard now can save lives in the future.