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By Daniel Trotta CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Reuters) – The U.S. Marine recruits, both women and men, patrolled through a mock village that suddenly was struck by simulated machine gun fire and explosions. When the dust cleared, women emerged carrying men across their shoulders, and vice versa, practicing how to extract casualties from the battlefield.

Others lifted dummies on a litter as if they were wounded comrades, passing them over a wall, before moving on to sparring in a cage with other recruits and an obstacle course. It is all part of “the crucible,” a 54-hour test of strength and spirit …

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