The RECON Marine Screener is conducted every month in Lejeune and Camp Pendleton. Motivated Marines who wish to join the reconnaissance community are offered the chance to take the RECON Screening Test and see if they qualify for the RECON Primer Course. The test is the following: 500m swim in cammies, USMC PFT (pullups, crunches, three-mile run) obstacle course, pool skills that include treading, brick swim, gear retrievals, long ruck, and several other very physically demanding events.
The Screener Details and Qualifications
The beginning challenges of becoming a reconnaissance Marine takes place at monthly screening locations conducted at the East and West Coast pools and begin bright and early at 4:30 a.m. Any Marine wishing to obtain the reconnaissance military occupational specialty, 0321, must be a United States citizen and releasable by their MOS monitor. The Marines must meet the following basic requirements: have a general technical score of 105 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, obtain a first-class score on the physical fitness test, possess a combat water survival 1 qualification, be eligible for a secret clearance, have no page 12 entries in their service record book and have a minimum of 18 months remaining on current enlistment contract upon completion of the basic reconnaissance course.
In addition, the Marine's Battalion or Squadron Commander must submit a written endorsement for them to take part in the screening. Many qualifications are mandatory for becoming the eyes and ears of ground forces. Some go through the screening process several times before obtaining the RECON MOS or in this case, access to RECON training (Basic RECON Course). Due to this screener program and the RECON Primer Prep Course, the attrition rate is front-loaded into the training. Having fully capable and qualified Marines attend the Basic RECON Course is the goal of the Screener and Prep. The attrition rate at BRC is small comparatively.
Corporal Christopher B. Davis, patrolman, Provost Marshal's Office and Twentynine Palms native explained he has "been out to the screening on a few different occasions, but I'm not going to give up until I succeed." It takes motivation, discipline, and persistence to be successful in this training pipeline and many Marines learn the first time the level of fitness and swimming proficiency needed to be successful the next time.
With the logistical concerns out of the way, the screening process starts off with a 25-meter underwater swim, a deep water rifle retrieval, a tower jump, a 30-minute water tread, a five-minute flotation with trousers and a timed 500-meter swim in uniform. After the pool portion of the screening was completed, the Marines perform a physical fitness test.
The Next Step: Primer Course
After the Screener, the RECON Primer is next. The Basic RECON Primer Course (BRPC) lasts five weeks and is designed to prepare and select marines that are physically ready to attend and pass the Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC). BRPC focuses on swimming skills, pool drills, running, rucking, high repetition calisthenics, log PT, obstacle courses, land navigation and much more. The course is designed to test Marines both physically and mentally. All students regardless of rank must attend and complete BRPC prior to attending the Basic Reconnaissance Course.
While BRC training can be physically challenging it takes more than just brute strength to be successful. Mental strength weighs heavily in navigating the rigors of training.
Staff Sgt. Anthony J. Rivera, training staff, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, explained, "to be successful, you can't just say it takes one type of person. You just got to have heart. You just have to have that desire."
The motivation for desire can stem from different sources, whether it is the opportunity for travel or the advanced training the reconnaissance MOS provides.
Davis said, "(Reconnaissance) is something different, I wanted to be more pro-active instead of reactive."
First Sgt. Erik Shirreffs, Headquarters and Service company first sergeant, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, explained another source of motivation, "Recon Marines have a reputation as the best of the best. We bring the finest the Marine Corps have to offer."
Once selected, Basic Recon Course Marines can expect to spend a lot of time in the water learning how to negotiate the surf and training with a Zodiac boat. Communication and land navigation skills are also covered during training.
Screenings are held weekly at Camp Pendleton and at the end of every School of Infantry training. All screenings are open to local Marines. For more information, contact First Sgt. Shirreffs at DSN 361-2936 or (706) 763-2021.