What To Expect At MCT – Everything You Need To Know About Marine Combat Training

Published by Goooooose on

You just graduated boot camp. You flip the bird to your respective depot as your bus departs the gates, ready for bigger and better things. You’re a Marine now, and you’re ready to get treated like it. Yeah, don’t hold your breath.

What is MCT?

Marine Combat Training is a three to four week course attended by Marines with a non-infantry MOS. It builds on the combat training you’ll get in boot camp. You’ll learn more about patrolling, how to better use your rifle, how to operate a radio, how to camouflage yourself – as well as recognize people who have camouflaged themselves – but most of the training that goes on there is mental.

You’ll live primarily off of MREs, short for Meals Ready to Eat, during your time at MCT. MREs are small packages of preserved food that provide enough calories for you to function in the field. They can actually be pretty good if you can get creative. Keep reading to get some top tips on that.

MCT is all about simulating combat stress, so there will be many days when you’re unsure when your next meal is. On top of that, you won’t be getting more than a few hours of sleep each night, sometimes none at all. You don’t really exercise that much, either.

One of the few physical events you’ll do is a 15k hike. You’ll receive a load-out the night prior and push early in the morning. For tips to make military hiking easier, check out this article.

MCT is trying to move towards implementing a semi-online curriculum, so you may or may not be able to have your phone with you. Officially, you can’t use it for anything other than classes during training hours. It completely depends on your company and how they experiment with your class.

Once you receive all your training, you’ll apply it all in a culminating event. I won’t give anything away on that, though.

Where Do I Go For MCT?

With women now being able to train at either recruit depot, you’ll either attend MCT at Camp Pendleton, CA, or Camp Geiger, NC. It’s the same curriculum, except Camp Pendleton has big hills and they still get to throw grenades. Marines at Camp Geiger are no longer afforded that opportunity, unfortunately.

How Is MCT Different Than Boot Camp?

Boot camp is rough, but officially, you’re supposed to get 8 hours of sleep each night and 3 meals a day, mandated by Mothers of America. MCT has no such requirements. You eat and sleep when the combat instructors feel like letting you.

You get a little more freedom in that you and your platoon are responsible for meeting deadlines, rationing MREs, etc. If you mess something up, you will get messed with. Unfortunately, a lot of mistakes are made when people are tired, hungry, and exposed to extreme weather. Don’t be surprised if you have to rush out to formation at 2 am because someone didn’t wake up for fire watch.

In boot camp, your day is scheduled down to the minute. You’re always doing something, or being “productive” while waiting for your next bit of training. MCT consists of a lot of “standing by.” There will be many hours where you just sit around waiting for chow, your turn on the rifle range, the px, etc. It feels like a colossal waste, but it’s really a blessing to have so much down time. One good thing is that chow is continuous, so you can use your time standing by to eat, as well.

Is MCT Easier Than Boot Camp?

Boot camp and MCT both kind of suck, just in different ways. You’ll have a different experience depending on what time of year you go, since the weather can have a huge impact on your attitude.

For me, MCT was harder than boot camp. It was ridiculously cold and rainy the whole time and we spent the entire day outside. I’d imagine it would be much easier when the weather is decent. But like every sucky experience, you come out of it with a lot of great memories and friendships.

There are a few things that make MCT worthwhile. For me, it was getting to shoot machine guns, improving my range skills, and the culminating event, which I’m still going to remain tight-lipped about, by the way.

Looking back, I’m glad I did it. You’ll do a lot of confidence-boosting training while at MCT, and you’ll be incredibly proud of yourself once you graduate. It definitely sucks while you’re going through it, but it is 100% worth it, even for just the stories.

Top Tips

• Buy a power strip on your liberty at boot camp and bring it with you. If your company allows phones, people will literally pay you to use one of your outlets.

• Same goes for a portable charger. I’ve seen people trade an entire MRE for a full charge. Food is the only viable currency in the field.

• Ration your MREs. You get a certain amount before you go on your exercise, and when they’re gone, you’re screwed. so plan out how you eat. The food can be bland, so get creative with seasonings, too.

• Practice what’s called, “field stripping” your MREs. Separate all the snacks from the main meal and trade them for better things. A pack of candy can get you an entire main meal, and you can end up having more food than what you started with. Easy life.

• If need be, be the one to step up and make sure your platoon makes your deadlines. They won’t play as many games if your platoon is on top of things.

• You won’t get a lot of time to hygiene, but make the most of it. It’s tempting to skip a shower to get an extra 20 minutes of sleep, but it’s important to stay on top of your personal hygiene. Check out this article to get tips on how to stay clean in the field.

MCT is a great experience, and will teach you a lot about handling yourself in combat. No, it’s not as extensive as the the schooling received by infantry Marines, but it’s a decent introduction. Work hard, stay on top of your duties, and you’ll make it through just fine. After all, it’s less than a month long.

If you’ve been to MCT, what was your experience? Make sure to share in the forum.

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Hi! I’m the developer of this online community. I’m a Marine currently stationed in Japan, and I decided to finally actualize my dream of creating a space just for female service-members (including those that are looking to join).
Some of my hobbies, other than web development, are 
-Scuba diving
-Hiking (recreationally)
I hope to grow this into a far-reaching community, and that starts by engaging with members. Feel free to hit me up on email and I’ll make sure to get back to you.