San Diego --
Recruits of Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, overcame challenges of the final Combat Fitness Test aboard the depot, Feb. 20.
The purpose of the CFT was to ensure recruits were ready for the arduous demands of combat operations.
“The Marine Corps implemented the CFT due to our combat focused orientation,” said Sgt. Mark D. Reconsal, drill instructor, Platoon 3210. “This event will train their combat mindset and make them realize not everything is basic physical training type events of running and pull-ups; it’s a dynamic obstacle.”
The CFT events recruits went through were a timed 880-yard run, 30-pound ammunition can overhead lifts for two minutes and a maneuver-under-fire-event, which consisted of sprints, low and high crawls, buddy drags, fireman’s carry, dummy grenade toss and ammunition can carries. Recruits performed the event wearing boots and the camouflage utility uniform.
To begin the 880-yard run, recruits were broken into groups of 15 and lined up on the track. An Instructional Training Company instructor then blew a whistle to signal the start of the event for the first group. The time recruits received correlated to a score, which for males of the age of 26 and below, a perfect score of 100 was 2 minutes, 45 seconds.
After recruits completed the run they were taken over to the next event which was the ammunition can lifts. Recruits were partnered up; one performed the lifts while the other counted the repetitions. ITC and drill instructors walked down the line to ensure recruits were utilizing proper form for the repetitions to count. Recruits received a perfect score of 100 in this event, age 26 and below, if they performed 91 lifts in the two minute time period.
Recruits moved on to the next and most challenging event, the maneuver-under-fire. By this time, recruits were exhausted from the previous events, which is the exact the purpose of the CFT.
“We learn how much we can push ourselves even though we want to quit,” said Recruit Nathan E. Houser. “We think we can’t go on anymore, but afterward can look back and realize we can actually push hard and do well.”
Recruits started the event by sprinting out, followed by dropping to the ground to low crawl and then high crawl. Recruits had to navigate through a set of cones before they reached their partner to drag and carry back to the start point. As recruits progressed through the event, they were forced to look deep in themselves to keep going.
“After we ran out there to buddy drag and fireman carry our partner back, I set my partner down and looked at the ammunition cans and thought ‘oh man, I have to go back out there again,’” said Houser, a Sioux Falls, S.D., native. “I was absolutely exhausted, but knew I still had to push hard to get a good time.”
Finishing strong was one area drill instructors noticed recruits struggled with during the event.
“There are multiple areas that challenge recruits during this event,” said Reconsal, a Honolulu, native. “They struggle with running with the fireman’s carry and keeping the recruit on their back, but have trouble the most on pushing to the end. Some become so tired on the final stretch that they give up and walk the last little bit.”
For this event, recruits, age 26 and younger, received a perfect score of 100 if they finished the course in 2 minutes, 14 seconds. If recruits were able to throw a dummy grenade and land it inside a target area at the end of the course, five seconds was deducted from their time. If not, five seconds was added to their final time.
As they progressed through the test, recruits began to realize the significance and importance the CFT is for Marines.
“It shows how we react to strenuous activities and the stress of a drill instructor constantly beside us pushing us,” said 24-year-old Houser. “In combat nothing is certain, in regards to what physical aspects you may encounter. This was a quick test of our mental courage, toughness and dedication to mission accomplishment. If you can’t get through this then you signed up for the wrong job.”
After they completed the CFT, Co. I recruits came away with a new perspective about themselves and their abilities. Building a recruit up, both physically and mentally, is one of the main goals during recruit training. It is something the Marine Corps has been very efficient in since its inception.
“I’ve done something I’ve never done before and excelled,” said Houser. “I’m excited to keep pushing hard to grow and strengthen my body and mind to be the best.”