CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Sergeant Luke T. Hudson huddled his class of 20 Marines into the safety bunker and watched from afar as the high-explosive charge they put together obliterated a concrete target.
As a combat instructor, it is Hudson’s job to teach. However, instead of teaching them how to bake pies in home economics, he teaches them net explosive weights, and instead of teaching them how to climb ropes in gym class, he teaches them breaching and room-clearing.
According to Hudson, a combat instructor with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, teaching is what gives him fulfillment.
“I’ve always liked teaching what I know and building up these new Marines,” said Hudson. “A lot of the guys here are the same. They want to pass on what they know so that the Marine Corps becomes a better place in the long run.”
Combat instructors work long hours to ensure companies of approximately 300 Marines are technically and tactically proficient before the end of the 59-day ITB and 29-day Marine Combat Training courses.
“The biggest challenge would be the long working hours. We put a lot of effort into the job and do a lot of behind-the-scenes work,” said Sgt. Joshua Larson, a combat instructor with Bravo Company, ITB, SOI – W, “We work more than a hundred hours a week and the more time we dedicate the better the new Marines are when they hit the fleet. That’s time away from our families and personal lives.”
Combat instructors teach new Marines infantry weapons systems such as the M240B light machine gun, the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle and the M252 81mm mortar. For students going through ITB, the course allows them to qualify for their military occupational specialty, such as machinegunner, assaultman, mortarman and rifleman.
They also teach basic ground combat skills like land navigation, military operations in urban terrain and the fundamentals of the Combat Hunter Course.
Becoming a combat instructor can be very beneficial for Marines’ careers by allowing them to qualify for other infantry occupational specialties, which can help them get promoted.
“Being a combat instructor allows you to cross-train and get certified with the other infantry job specialties,” said Larson. “It helps you become very proficient at ground combat skills.”
According to Capt. Mike Davidson, executive officer with Alpha Co. ITB, SOI – W, being a combat instructor is about more than teaching. It is also about mentoring Marines and setting a high standard for them to emulate.
“We’re the first impression these Marines have as infantrymen. They come in with the expectation that their leadership is going to be knowledgeable and demonstrate the skills and virtues that they are supposed to have as they transition into the fleet,” said Davidson. “It is a lot of pressure and it takes a high-caliber individual to succeed as a combat instructor.”