One of the most challenging events during recruit training is the Marine Corps log drill.
Each year, tens of thousands of young Americans travel to a Marine Corps Recruit Depot to begin their journey as United States Marines. For many, it is their first time away from home and their first taste of military discipline. They face daily physical training, close-order drill, and a series of obstacle courses designed to test an individual’s strength and ability to work as a team.
What is the Marine Corps Log Drill?
A log drill is a physical fitness challenge that challenges recruits to work as a team and tests strength, stamina, and ability to lead. In teams of 6-8, recruits line up and lift logs that weigh anywhere from 250-300 lbs. Recruits must carry the logs on their shoulders to various workout stations, and then complete bicep curls, overhead presses, sit-ups, side-benders, and log squats.
Overall, recruits must carry the logs a distance of over half a mile — and if any recruit is seen slacking, they are reprimanded immediately for making everyone else in their squad work harder. The combination of distance plus strength exercises — while carrying a massive log —tests many recruits to their limit.
Why are Marine Corps Log Drills Important for Recruits?
Marine Corps log drills teach recruits the value of teamwork. In order to successfully complete the drill, recruits must work together as a team and use their individual strengths to help their squad. If any individual recruit doesn’t do the work, it becomes harder for the rest of the squad. A lot harder!
When a recruit in a squad decides they aren’t going to carry their own weight, it means that every other recruit has to make up the difference. A common saying is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link — and in this case, a squad is only as strong as its weakest recruit.
The log drill also reveals recruits who have innate leadership traits, like helping to motivate their fellow recruits, or picking up the slack and moving more weight than the other recruits. Additionally, it reveals weaknesses in some recruits — like those who quit when things get hard, or those who get overwhelmed by the feelings that stress and physical exhaustion create. It provides an opportunity for both types of recruits to work on their strengths and weaknesses, and discover what it means to be a part of a team.
Often, Drill Instructors push hard enough so that the squad structure starts to break down, recruits begin arguing about who is carrying how much — and then the Drill Instructors encourage the recruits to stop arguing and figure things out. Combat will test them a lot harder than a log will — so it’s an important part of recruits being able to handle high levels of stress.
How Difficult are Marine Corps log drills?
You might think that lifting a 250 lb log with your friends is an easy task — and it may be when you’re fresh and well-rested. But at this point during recruit training, recruits have been running and working out 6 days a week. And they’ve been experiencing sleep deprivation due to having to stand fire watch at night.
In addition to fatigue, log drills are only the first physical event of the day. Afterward, recruits are still required to run from each location into their platoon formation and do sets of pull-ups around the base. Each of the next two days, recruits will face a 2.5-mile Strength and Endurance course that consists of quarter-mile sprints interspersed with push-ups, squats, pull-ups, and more.
Marine Corps recruit training is the longest basic training of all United States military and is often considered the most difficult basic training. When you watch recruits go through the log drill — it’s easy to understand why.