All new enlisted recruits go through basic training, more commonly referred to by service members as "basic". The course lasts 10 weeks. During this time, you'll learn basic soldier skills, discipline and Army values. The program isn't easy. Preparing before you arrive will help you get through the rigor. Things that can help you prepare include exercising more, gathering appropriate belongings, taking care of personal affairs and learning to wake up before sunrise.
Breaking Down Basic
As of 2013, the U.S. Army conducted basic training at five military bases; three designed to include females. Recruits live in barracks, essentially cut off from the civilian world. As a new recruit, you'll arrive at a reception station at your designated base. A few days later, the Army will assign you to a company. From there, you'll be guided by a drill sergeant, an overseer of sorts, who'll constantly reside in your presence, guiding you day by day throughout your training. Army leaders will structure your day down to the last minute; an hour or so will be given for personal time. Classes will consist of land navigation, drill and ceremonies, surviving nuclear warfare and daily physical training.
Start working out before shipping out. While the Army doesn't expect you to show up in top physical shape, it's a good idea to exercise regularly before departing for duty. This will help you perform better on long runs and aid in pushup and situp improvement. Always seek the advice of a physician before beginning your exercise regimen. If cleared, focus on building your endurance through cardiovascular exercise, pushups, situps and weight lifting. Most mornings will include physical training. Talk to your recruiter about fitness options. Some recruiters will either work out with you or find you resources.
Take care of personal business prior to leaving or get somebody trustworthy to handle your affairs. Once you in-process at your training unit, you will have little time to tend to personal matters. Make sure your bills are caught up and paid in advance a couple of months if you can. If not, inform your creditors of your upcoming absence. Many companies are military friendly and will grant you a reprieve on your bills. If you have children, you must have guardianship legally arranged for their care if you are a single parent or dual-military family.
Review your packing list and pack appropriately. The Army is specific on what you can and cannot bring to basic. Limited amounts of clothing, hygiene items and certain documents are the extent of approved items. Your clothing should fit in one small suitcase and consist of one day's worth of clothing and a few undergarments. Documents include your Social Security card and driver's license. If you have dependents, you must bring their birth certificates. Prohibited items include your personal vehicle, razor blades and alcohol. You can find a complete list of approved and prohibited items at www.goarmy.com.
Start waking up early. There isn't a lot of mental preparation you can do before basic, but learning to live by a military clock will lessen the shock of a new routine. Your days in basic will start before dawn, around 5 a.m. or earlier as training needs require. It's hard to predict exactly when bed time, or lights-out will be, but will probably be late. Discipline yourself to stay awake all day so you can sleep better at night.
Look at your upcoming experience as an opportunity to learn. Contrary to what some believe, your drill sergeant is not your enemy, and he is not out to hurt you. It is his job to train and discipline you. Drill sergeants have a wealth of knowledge to share. If you have a personal emergency, they will allow you some latitude in calling home. In short, do your best and you should be fine.
- Go Army: Soldier Life - Preparation Checklist
- Base Ops: Army Basic Training
- Go Army: Soldier Life - Basic Combat Training
- Part Time Commander: How to Prepare for Army Basic Training
- U.S. Army: A Little About BCT (Basic Combat Training)
- U.S. Army Basic: Basic Training Locations
- Military: 9 Top Tips About Basic Training
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