Sunday, May 15, 2011


The Marines have a series of obstacles they have recruits master called the "Confidence Course." These obstacles are physically challenging to the individual recruit and mentally challenging to corporate groups of recruits.

Our guide was probably five feet two inches tall and built like a brick wall. Our DI introduced him as the Parris Island weight-lifting champion in his weight division.

They let us try some of the obstacles if we wanted. The obstacles started off relatively easy.

The dude above on the wall is a former Marine and works for a Huntsville-based paper. He was hilarious. We talked about the "Bed-intruder" incident & he claimed that his paper did not pick up the story because they knew it was a scam. It was a set-up, he said. The "hero" actually ended up in jail the week before our trip. 

 They wouldn't let us do this one. If the recruit fell, he had to wade out in waist-deep water.

I was so intrigued with the slide for life that I forgot to take a picture of it in action.

I forget what this was.

 This was a complicated inclined p-bar obstacle where you had to exclusively use your arms (no legs at all).

The following obstacle demanded that you advance the obstacle going over one log and under another.

Each of the obstacles emphasized personal coordination and corporate coordination. While a few of them looked easy enough, consider that these are exercises, that if duplicated in combat, become extremely difficult to accomplish.

 The classic monkey bars.

The female recruits were close by, preparing to pugil stick fight each other.

 The wall climb was rather tall. I am not sure if this obstacle required somebody help you over the wall.

The sky scraper required that three people advance, two people at any given time on one stage. I loved the brilliance behind this. It meant that if two people were above you and you were the one below, they had to wait for you or help you onto their platform before one of them could advance to the next stage. If you were the one above and there were two people below, you had to wait for both to advance before you went to the next stage. The Marines reinforce this kind of "buddy" system at every phase in recruit training. It is about the man to the right and left of you.

Our instructor was a hoss.

The pugil stick fighting was towards the end of the Confidence Course (You can see the female recruits in the background preparing to fight).

This was an interesting obstacle. Two recruits had to advance at the same time. Once they got from the second to the top. One of the recruits says "I go, you stay." The other recruit responds "I stay, you go." The Marines call this "accountability": a reciprocal understanding of an order with an acknowledgement of that order.

 Ah, if it works during war, it must work during peace.

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