Can Boot Camp Prepare Recruits For Iraq?

In all, 30,000 new recruits come into the Marine Corps each year. Their average age is 19, and they almost certainly will end up in Iraq, CBS News correspondent David Martin reports. Before they leave boot camp for more advanced training, they have to make it through what the Marines call "the crucible" — 54 hours on the move with little sleep and less food, always under the eye of an impossible-to-please drill instructor.

There's no question the training is tough. They have a 32-mile march, for example. But does it prepare young men for what they will face in Iraq?

"Who thinks they know what in the Marine Corps we feel about honor?" Drill Sgt. Mike Brown asks.

"Sir, this recruit believes that honor is doing the right thing when no one is looking, sir," a recruit answers.

Brown, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, runs his recruits through the Marines' mantra — honor, courage and commitment.

"For three solid months, 13 weeks, that's all we do is teach them over and over and over about Corps values and making the right decisions, about Marines making the right decision," Brown says.

Rodriccos Williams, 18, is straight out of high school and says that's what's going to get him through the crucible.

"With the honor, courage and commitment, you have something that pushes you and helps you to make it every time," Williams says. "It's an important factor in becoming a Marine."

Enduring the relentless harassment and pressure from the drill instructors requires both mental and physical strength. Which is tougher, the mental or the physical?

"The mental, because the human mind acts in different ways when it's being pressured. When you get angry you want to hit something, you want to act out, you want to swear. But here it's teaching you how to keep your bearing and how to stay focused," a recruit says.

The Marines now under investigation for giving in to their anger and committing possible war crimes in Iraq went through the same do-the-right-thing training as these recruits. So how do they translate their training in an airfield in South Carolina to Iraq?

"There's really no way you can actually make that happen," Brown says.

That's because even the toughest boot camp can't fully prepare a young man for the chaos and cruelty of combat.