Many people often wonder what happens within the confines of the Army’s Basic Training camps. This is especially true for those new enlistees who are just about to embark on this perilous journey. It causes lots of anxiety and apprehension when you imagine yourself on the ground doing pushups until you collapse. The thought of marching for miles upon miles and running relentlessly in the early morning can bring butterflies to your stomach. You may keep asking yourself, “will I make it?”, or “will it be too hard for me?”. These thoughts are common among many new recruits. However, be rest assured, if you truly have a desire to push through, you’ll be fine.
After you have signed your contract and finished all your paperwork and orientations in your hometown, you are given a plane ticket to your Basic Training base. You will have only one small bag of which to put all your personal belongings. Don’t bring too much, you won’t need it. After you arrive at the airport you will find your bus that will take you to the base.
Once you arrive at Basic Training, you will be placed in a processing company where you will fill out even more paperwork, have your pictures taken, and be assigned your gear and uniforms. During this time you will do a lot of standing in line. You will be on your feet for 14 hours nonstop. At no time will you be allowed to move around or sit down unless specifically directed. The important thing to remember is that this stage is not officially the start of your Basic Training. This is only the administration phase. It lasts about one to two weeks.
Once you finish the administration phase you will be harshly introduced to your Drill Instructors. They will shout at you and tell you to get moving. You will have a lot of heavy gear to carry and there will be pressure to move as fast as you can.
Basic Training is divided into three phases. Phase I is your indoctrination and military customs training. Phase II is the weapons training phase where you learn about all the basic weapons used by soldiers in the Army. Phase III is called the “Warrior Phase” where you will bring together all that you have learned in a series of tests and qualifications.
This phase lasts two weeks. Here is you will be taking classes and learning Army doctrine such as the Army values and basic soldierization skills in a classroom setting. This doesn’t sounds so hard, until you realize that it is incredibly difficult to stay awake. Every morning you wake up at about 4:30am so you can be prepared for inspection by 5:30am. Lights out isn’t until 9pm and sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep. Needless to say, sleep is limited and sitting in class for 7 hours a day will test your ability to stay conscious. If you fail to stay awake, then God help you.
This phase lasts another four weeks. During this time you will be taking more classes but this time it will be in a field setting. You may either march into the field or take a bus. It is here you will learn about the AT4, the M249 SAW, grenades, and of course, the M4/M16. You will not be using live ammunition for most of this training. You will, however, throw two live grenades. You will learn Basic Rifle marksmanship and the techniques needed to accurately fire your assigned weapon.
This is the final three weeks of your training. You will go to countless ranges to qualify with your weapon as well as continued training for the Army Physical Fitness Test. Also you will be practicing drill and ceremony for your final graduation. There will be a surprise 20K march to finish your field training. More individual skills will be trained and tested. You must pass all events in the Basic Warrior Task and Drills skillsets. Towards the end there is a final ceremony where family members can attend and congratulate you.
During the entire course of Basic Training you will be put under more mental stress than anything else. This is done on purpose to break you down mentally to a state where you are heavily depressed. You will experience a non-stop barrage of insults and dissatisfaction from the Drill Sergeants. There is nothing you will be able to do to make them happy. However, the better you perform as a unit, the easier life will be. This is probably the biggest challenge in Basic is attempting to unify the platoon you are assigned to. You will have a platoon leader who is also a trainee. It is he who will often act as a go-between for the Drill Sergeants and the platoon. He will need your support as much as possible. Follow him and do whatever he asks. Do your best to cooperate with your fellow trainees as much as possible. There will be some animosity among a few of you as certain trainees are more rebellious then others. Try your best to ignore the ego issue that your fellow trainees may be suffering from.
In conclusion the most important thing to remember is to stay quiet. The less attention you bring to yourself, the less trouble you’ll get into. Also remember that what you are going through is only temporary and it will be over soon. Let the things you hear and do roll off your back. Do your best to follow instructions and when in doubt, follow the crowd.