How Marine recruits train inside a tear gas chamber at boot camp

  • We got an inside look at how United States Marine Corps recruits are exposed to tear gas during basic training.
  • Senior video correspondent Graham Flanagan spent five days at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, SC, where he observed various stages of training.
  • Recruits are exposed to CS gas, more commonly known as tear gas. Side effects include burning on the skin and in the eyes, and profuse discharge of mucus.
  • While wearing a gas mask, the recruits spend approximately five minutes inside a gas chamber where CS tablets are burned to create the gas.
  • Recruits break the seals of their masks in order to feel the effects of the gas and to understand how their masks work during exposure.
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Following is a transcript of the video.

Instructor: Gas, gas, gas!

Narrator: These Marine recruits are being exposed to CS gas, more commonly known as tear gas, to experience its effects and to know how to properly use a gas mask.

SSgt Antonio Garay: Gas chamber's important because it builds confidence. Confidence in the gear, confidence in the drill instructors, and then confidence in themselves.

Narrator: Here at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, this gas chamber is used to train recruits in CBRN defense. CBRN stands for chemical, biological, radioactive, or nuclear.

Instructor: Gas, gas, gas!

Narrator: Before entering the chamber, recruits are briefed on the components of the gas mask, how to properly put it on, and how to clear it.

Instructor: Get shoulder-to-shoulder!

Narrator: We were not allowed to film inside the gas chamber.

Instructor: Say something to me now!

Narrator: But the Recruit Depot provided this footage of what it's really like inside. Once inside, the instructor burns CS tablets, which creates the gas. Its effects are quickly felt. Recruits use their fingers to break the seal of the mask, letting the gas seep in.

Recruit: You feel like the air's attacking you but if you know how to just kind of take yourself into that moment, relax, and apply everything that the instructors have been telling you, it's not too bad.

Narrator: The recruits do a variety of physical exercises to get a better feel for how the mask works during exposure. After around five minutes, the recruits run out of the gas chamber. But the painful effects of the gas can last for 10 to 20 more minutes. The effects can include intense burning felt in the eyes, throat, and on the skin...

Instructor: Get it off!

Narrator: As well as a profuse discharge of mucus.

Recruit: Definitely, you thank God for fresh air. It's really nice to be able to breathe in and not feel an instant burning sensation.

Narrator: The recruits then wash their masks in barrels of water.

Instructor: Faster!

Recruit: Feels like those few minutes felt like an hour. You come outside, you feel that fresh breeze and you're like, "Wow." You just kind of recollect on what you just went through and you're just trying to catch your breath for the most part.

Garay: It really forces them to start building confidence in themselves and in the gear and in everything that they've been instructed to do while being in the gas chamber. You can definitely see the type of confidence that they have after that.

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