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What to Expect in Army Boot Camp

Drill instructor yelling at recruit

Not all professions have an indoctrination; an event that serves as a rite of passage. If an individual wants to learn a trade, they attend classroom and on-the-job vocational training and then take tests to earn certifications once their studies are done. Similarly, if an individual goes to college, they attend classes and their education culminates with graduation. For individuals who pursue military careers, basic training, known in the ranks by various unofficial titles such as boot camp, BMT, BCT, and basic, is the entry-level military training program that enlisted personnel must attend before they can wear a U.S. military uniform.

How long is basic training? The answer depends on which branch of service an individual chooses. Army basic training is 10-weeks long, the Navy’s is seven weeks. Air Force BMT is eight weeks along with Space Force. The Marines have the longest boot camp, 12 weeks.

Army Basic Combat Training is an introduction to the U.S. Army. An individual learns Army traditions, history, tactics and methods of soldiering. However, a potential recruit could be misinformed or misled if they believe that training is just 10 weeks in duration. Training lengths vary depending on the military occupational skill that is selected by a recruit. Some professions like military police, infantry and armor, have one station unit training where the entire basic combat training class begins to train together in their military profession once basic training ends. That extends training, so potential recruits should be sure to ask how long is basic training for their chosen professions.

Basic training is more than just a crash course in discipline, physical fitness, uniform wear, grooming and drill and ceremony. Trainees learn the value of working together as a team.

Army basic combat training has three phases; red, white and blue phases. The red phase is designed to help a recruit transition from civilian life. During this phase recruits get orientations and lots of briefings. They are issued military uniforms and are briefed on expectations. They are required to learn the Soldier’s Creed and Warrior Ethos, but also to begin living by those words.

Drill instructor starring at recruit

The red phase of Army basic combat training can be, for some, a period that has them asking themselves how long is basic training because of the amount of information and tasks that are thrown at a recruit. Most manage it with no problem. Recruits participate in physical training, drill and ceremonies, first aid training and fan favorite, the gas chamber where recruits must properly utilize their gas masks. After three weeks, recruits move into the white phase of training.

During the white phase, recruits are introduced to rifle training. They learn basic marksmanship and they are also introduced to hand-to-hand combat. Recruits increase their physical training and are required to navigate obstacle courses and rappel from the 50-foot Warrior Tower. At the end of this phase, trainees have been at basic training for six weeks. By this point, they are likely no longer asking themselves, how long is basic training?

The final phase of Army basic combat training is the longest, the blue phase, which lasts four weeks. Recruits will continue their physical fitness training and continue to build on skills already learned, but they will also be expected to perform advanced marksmanship and learn to maneuver and engage threats as a team. In this phase, recruits throw live grenades, set mines and fire machineguns. They are also required to participate in and pass a multi-day land navigation course that tests all of their soldier skills before they earn the right to be called an American soldier.

Those interested in Army enlisted service asking themselves how long is basic training should think about the fact that they will learn many Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills. This knowledge serves as a foundation of their individual soldier skills. Warrior Tasks come in four forms; shoot, move, communicate and survive. Battle Drills are team-based tactical skills that teach recruits how to react to enemy contact, evacuate wounded personnel, and perform various tasks in combat.

In order to graduate from Army basic combat training, a recruit must complete and pass a fitness test, show proficiency with their assigned weapon, demonstrate the ability to use a protective mask, show proficiency in all Warrior Tasks, Battle Drills and first aid, negotiate the obstacle course, complete hand-to-hand combat training, qualify with a hand grenade, complete a 10-mile tactical foot march, pass a land navigation course and complete assigned field training and training exercises.

While basic training can seem daunting for those who are civilians, once a recruit is immersed in the military culture, working as a team and in the rhythm of the training days, they will have little time to reflect on the fact that they once asked, how long is basic training. For some it will be a slog, for others it will pass quickly and be a blur. For all, it will be their indoctrination into the U.S. Army ranks and earn them the right to be called, U.S. soldiers.

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