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Marine Recruits' Leadership Skills Tested During 12 Stalls
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas - October 28, 2015

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Week after week, recruits face different challenges of recruit training. They must learn to work together and are tested daily on the skills they learn as they grow as recruits.

Recruits of Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, honed important team building and leadership skills by participating in 12 Stalls event of the Crucible at Edson Range, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California on Sept. 23, 2015.

The Crucible is the culminating event of training that allows the recruits to apply all the skills and knowledge they learned during training. They spent nearly 12 weeks working up to it by conducting events such as the Bayonet Assault Course, the Obstacle Course and the Confidence Course, which developed problem solving, physical conditioning and teamwork skills.

The 12 Stalls is a set of 12 different challenges designed to test the recruits' mental strength. The recruits are formed in to squads to complete the challenge and are given only the task, basic equipment and minimal guidance from the drill instructors.

Recruits of Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, carry a barrel over a wall during the 12 Stalls event of the Crucible at Edson Range, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA Sept. 23, 2015. For every task given, recruits were instructed to avoid the areas of the obstacles painted red. If the recruits or any part of their equipment touched the red areas, the squad was required to start the challenge over. Today, all males recruited from west of the Mississippi are trained at MCRD San Diego. The depot is responsible for training more than 16,000 recruits annually. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas)
Recruits of Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, carry a barrel over a wall during the 12 Stalls event of the Crucible at Edson Range, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA Sept. 23, 2015. For every task given, recruits were instructed to avoid the areas of the obstacles painted red. If the recruits or any part of their equipment touched the red areas, the squad was required to start the challenge over. Today, all males recruited from west of the Mississippi are trained at MCRD San Diego. The depot is responsible for training more than 16,000 recruits annually. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas)

“It allows them to utilize the skills they've been taught throughout training,” said Sgt. Jon E. Austin, drill instructor, Charlie Company. “It gives them the chance to think outside the box.”

Before the event, drill instructors briefed the recruits on overall expectations for mission success. Recruits were required to work together to complete the missions ahead of them.

The responsibility of being squad leader changed with the different challenges, allowing different recruits the opportunity to be in a leadership position. For some, taking leadership roles was a new experience.

“12 Stalls is important because it is the definition of small unit leadership,” said 29-year-old Austin. “It forces the recruits to participate in a leadership role, and for some it can be challenging, especially when trying to effectively execute a plan.”

It is not uncommon for recruits to argue during this event. Often times, each recruit believes his way will be the most successful. That is where leadership comes into play. Squad leaders had to bring their team together to try and make sense of their next task. The squads contemplated different plans of action and tried several different methods until the challenge was successfully completed.

“It had a lot to do with discipline and trust,” said Recruit Joshua W. Harvey, Charlie Company. “All this teamwork helps us build patience with one another, and it's important that we learn how to communicate as a team. It's not easy, but we're learning.”

Some of the obstacles involved standing on high pillars and figuring out how to cross them with only a plank of wood. In one case, the challenge was to get the squad and a barrel over a wall using nothing but a rope that was attached to the top of the wall.

To make the challenges a bit trickier, certain obstacles had red areas painted on them, and recruits who touched the areas with any body part or equipment became a casualty. All casualties had to be moved to an evacuation point, leaving fewer members of the squad to complete the challenge.

At the evacuation point, the casualties were required to run a marked course with 30-pound ammunition cans before returning to their squad.

“I think it's good to have the mindset to never give up because our bodies can always push us further than we think they can go,” said 18-year-old Harvey. “It's also the fact that we get to say we've done it that makes it that much cooler.”

With just a handful of days until Charlie Company graduates, the company drill instructors believe the recruits are ready to move on to their next stage of training.

“It's interesting to watch their transformation and to just see how far they've come,” said Austin, native of Minneapolis.

More photos available below

By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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