Oh, woe is the man or woman who enters Marine Corps boot camp visibly afraid. There is nothing wrong with fear as long as it is used constructively. Fear is what lets us know we are alive and that danger is near. It is fine to feel it as long as you channel it into constructively dealing with it. If you stand there however, shaking and peeing in your pants awaiting your doom, you are going to be in a lot of trouble.
There is a good reason the Marine Corps’ mascot is the bulldog. It represents many things, first of which is reminiscent of the drill instructor image. Their ferocious barking manner and attack mode makes it difficult not to think of them as animals. In World War II, the Germans gave Marines the nickname of “teufelhunden” which means devil dog. Our reputation is rightly earned and often precedes us.
Drill instructors are excellent at zoning in on those who are afraid and bringing it to the surface. They will expose that fear and encourage it by prolonged sessions of screaming and demanding recruits obey orders. The more frightened a recruit is the bigger and shinier the target they have on their back. The trick is not to show that fear. Breakdown in front of your drill instructors and you are done. It isn’t that they are soulless beings, it is because the best way to get over that fear is by immersion therapy. Eventually, a recruit will get used to the screaming on running around. The most important thing for a recruit to remember is that the secret to success in Marine Corps recruit training is that it is mind over matter.
A recruit’s frame of mind will determine whether he or she will survive to graduate boot camp. It really is that simple. Yes, there are certain requirements that recruits need to pass in order to progress through training. How they progress is dependent upon their attitude and determination. One important realization that recruits should understand is that there have been thousands who have come before them. They made it through and so can the recruit. What one can do, so can I.
If a recruit is lacking in the mental determination to succeed there is nothing that anyone can do for him or her. Each recruit makes a decision as to how their time in boot camp will go. Recruits who are mentally weak will be thrashed consistently because their actions will fall in line with their mental attitude. Recruits who are strong in mind will often be in leadership positions while those who are weak will strive to go unnoticed. During boot camp many recruits will transition from scared, weak beings into leaders. The trick is to understand that all of this is happening to the recruit for a reason. If they trust in that, then they will succeed.
Drill instructors are there to turn civilians into Marines. If they smell fear they will use it to benefit that process. Drill instructors know that boot camp is scary for many recruits. They also know it is this fear that will assist them in transforming recruits into a fighting force.
Source: Personal experience