In 2007, a Drill Instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sergeant Jerrod M. Glass, was charged with 244 counts of recruit abuse. Shortly after, Sergeant Brian M. Wende, Sergeant Robert C. Hankins and Sergeant Mark A. Delarosa were brought up on similar or related charges.
For Sgt. Delarosa, one of his former recruits said he had been spit on and had been kicked in the shin during drill practice. Captain Patrick J. Callahan, part of Delarosa’s defense counsel, tried to claim that Delarosa simply cared about how his recruits would perform in battle in Iraq and made statements about how the Marines are not like the Air Force or Army. “We push these recruits. We say mean things to recruits.”
This is a poor example of DI behavior. There are strict guidelines about what is allowed and not allowed in boot camp and the rules and guidelines set forth in the standard operating procedure (SOP) are there partially to protect recruits.
It is intentional for Drill Instructor to seem like “Gods” to the recruits. Drill instructors create an environment where recruits are made to feel that they are always being watched. Most of the time, this is not a bad thing as, at its root, the objective is to get recruits trained to obey the chain of command and really focus on their goals. But effective training also requires recruits to have trust in their Drill Instructors, and that means Drill Instructors must absolutely adhere to a set of boundaries.
There is often an old-school mentality that recruits come from undisciplined backgrounds and need the tough-love attitude to wake them up and show them what its like to be tough. How else are they going to be ready for battle right?
Wrong. Thousands of Marines are trained every year by dedicated Drill Instructors who successfully complete their training responsibilities without ignoring standard operating procedures. There are thousands of former recruits, current Marines, who are or have been in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan who performed remarkably without being trained by undisciplined, wayward Drill Instructors.
The USMC takes it seriously, so recruits, if your DI is breaking the law, you do have the USMC’s own rules on your side. The Senior Drill Instructor is personally responsible for the behavior of DI’s under their command and at any time in your training, you may report abuse. During the 3rd phase of training, the Company Commander will hold a hearing with each recruit to ask, point blank, if your DI ever made inappropriate contact with you. If you end up receiving any medical treatment, you’ll be asked how it happened and any infraction or suspicion is supposed to be investigated.
Are Drill Instructors allowed to swear and cuss at recruits?
No, drill instructors are not supposed to swear or cuss at recruits. They do yell…a lot. Drill instructors are known to come up with some much more interesting alternatives than swearing that, at least in retrospect, gives recruits much more memorable “words of wisdom”.
Can drill instructor’s hit you?
Absolutely not. No. Drill Instructors are fully capable of challenging you without abusing the recruit-drill instructor power dynamic. They can instill discipline through working you out until you cry, but if a DI hits or kicks a recruit, they may lose their rank or even be court marshaled.