What's daily life is like for the average infantry person in the U.S. Marine Corps?

I’m wondering specifically about those Marines who are assigned infantry type jobs. If they don’t ship out to Iraq, what do they do after basic training? I assume there is some kind of advanced training, suitable for the more specific type of job they are assigned. What happens then? Do they play war games every day? Are they out on the range every day?

I guess I’m interested in what daily life is like for the average infantry person in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Training exercises, PT, Training Exercises, PT, etc, etc, etc.

Guard duty, perhaps? Plenty of stuff to guard: bases, weapons, generals, barracks, your mom…

I honestly don’t know.

Come on, there have to be some Marines here!

Training, equipment maintenance, equipment repair, and PT.

You might like this related video from The Onion.

Physical therapy? Patrol Torpedo? Potty training? Phantasy Tour? Prothrombin Time?

I spent 4 years in the Marine Corps infantry back when the world was relatively quiet (1995-1999), so I can offer my experiences, though much may have changed with the increased operational tempo of the ‘War on Terror.’

Basically, robby hit it on the head. Every day (with few exceptions) starts out with hour or two of PT first thing in the morning, followed by time to shower and change into the uniform of the day, usually camo utilities but sometimes back into clean PT gear.

After that is the morning Company Formation, where the company Gunnery Sergeant or First Sergeant gives the ‘word’, or any new and plans for the day.

Then, the plan for the day may be:

  • Draw your weapon and spend all day on weapon maintenance, which is a not unpleasant day sitting around scrubbing a gun. Weapon maintenace is a very regular occurrence. It is often used as a default when there isn’t anything else going on.

  • Small or large classes on a wide variety of topics, or practical application exercises of skills such as first aid, patrolling tactics, or map reading. Infantry also cross-train with other weapon specialties, and spend time in familiarization with other MOSs.

  • Working parties. Requests for working parties to perform a wide variety of tasks filter down from the Battalion or Base level every day. Being chosen for a working party may be a cake day when you ride around in a hummer dropping off water cans, or you could spend a sweaty crap day sorting dirty flak jackets.

  • Range days, obviously infantry spends a lot of time shooting. Range time includes annual qualification which consists of 1 week of ‘snapping in’ and 1 week of target shooting, and also other tactical range scenarios throughout the training cycle.

  • Study time. Marines are (or were) required to complete what are basically correspondence courses called MCTs related to their rank, which must be completed for them to be eligible for promotion. We always looked forward to MCT time, because it usually meant you could find a way to take a nap.

  • Parade practice. Changes of command of battalion or above always seemed to require a parade, which didn’t involve any floats or candy, but did involve getting an entire battalion to march onto a parade field and stand there while some General and Lt. Col gave a speech on loudspeakers that you couldn’t hear. These were always dreadful, as you spend every day for a week marching on and off of a field in the sun, wearing a helmet.

  • Any fun and games that anybody who outranked you could come up with!

Lunch was usually two hours long. It seems like a long time, but it gave you time to fix your uniform for the afternoon if it got messed up, go to the gym, or run errands out in town. If you had to go to town, you had to change into civilian clothes since Marines are not allowed to wear utilities off base.

The day ends with yet another Company Formation, and we usually got out of there around 5. So in all most days were 11-12 hour days.

Physical Training - running, calisthenics, conditioning.

Living near the Ft. Lewis army base near Tacoma, I notice soldiers in utilities all the time. Are the Marines stricter with clothing regs than the Army, or have the rules changed since 1999?

They can also be embarked as part of an Amphibious Assault Squadron . You get to do all the above stuff confined on a ship for several months at a time with 3,000 of your closest friends. The bonus is having near constant helicopter and Harrier jet operations going on 24/7.

Yeah, I never heard of that either.

If a Marine is not deployed, then they are preparing for their next deployment. During the period of time immediately after getting home the daily schedule will generally follow what Sicks Ate said. This is the relaxing time. Marines would be granted their leave, and even have half days on Fridays. It’s the time that for units to conquer the routine administrative stuff that builds up after deployment, and to handle much need maintenance. This period is known as “rest.”

After about 6 months the unit would move into “reset” mode. Training schedules are gradually intensified, and replacements filter in to replace Marines who have moved to other units or have left the Marine Corps. It’ll start with a weekend or so in the field, and move into ever increasing amount of time. A lot of this work up is so Marines learn to work together. Focus will start with the fireteam, then move to the squad, platoon, and so on. At some point while getting close to the deployment date the Marine will be spending most of his time training, and have less and less free time. Eventually they’ll be given one final liberty, and then fly far, far away.

Then lather, rinse, repeat.

Marine Corps regulations prohibit the wear of the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (called “digis”) for anything other than work. A Marine can’t even stop at a grocery store to pick up something on the way home from work in digis. There used to be an exception for emergency stuff like bread, milk, or baby formula but as I understand it they’ve really tightened it down. The Army has no such regulation.

What is the reasoning behind this regulation?

The regulation was implemented before I went in to the Marine Corps, but according to scuttlebutt (which is never wrong!) it had something to do with professionalism. At some point a Commandant of the Marine Corps was concerned people would confuse Marines (presumably near a Marine Corps base) with members of their local militia.

It’s not considered professional. The uniform is appropriate for combat, not tooling around town.

We had similar regulations back when I was in the Navy in the '90s, though things may have relaxed since then. At sea on a submarine, we wore coveralls (called “poopie suits”). However, whenever we came back to port, the whole crew was required to put on proper uniforms (cotton-based “working uniforms”). The working uniforms could be worn on base, but not out in town. The reason was because they usually looked like crap, with grease stains and so forth. We had a higher class of uniforms (usually polyester- or -wool based) that was allowed off-base. This uniform included your ribbons (i.e. awards), which would never be worn on a working uniform or coveralls.

Since I’m going on about the Navy, I will add that daily life for a submariner consists of:

Training, equipment maintenance, equipment repair, and standing watch (i.e. operating a watch station, including driving the submarine, to manning a sonar panel, to monitoring the reactor back aft, etc.)

We were also supposed to do daily PT (that’s “physical training,” i.e. working out, Tom Tildrum), but it had much less emphasis than for a Marine. PT was the first casualty when workdays exceeded 12 hours. However, if a sailor failed the semiannual physical fitness test, they would likely be ordered to increase their weekly amount of PT.

Do Marines on base or at sea ordinarily have Sats. or Suns. off duty, or both?

In any event, many thanks to you all for your service to our country.

Unless you have a job that requires 24 hr. duty (flight line, chow hall, MP, etc.) you normally have all weekend off. Some exceptions would be guard duty or field exercises.

Edit - Above applies to on base. I only had the great fortune to be deployed at sea for a month, and on ship weekends were pretty much no different than any other day. Someone with more sea time may be able to further elaborate.

I acgree with robby and think the reason is basically that BDUs, unless you put a lot of effort into them, generally look like crap.

We also had the option of wearing the Class B or C uniform (depending on the season), but I don’t know of anyone who ever did.

I can’t even remember the last time I saw a Marine wearing his charlies for no particular reason.