Basic Training Schedule for an Army Soldier

During basic training, soldiers' time is highly regulated--even while eating.

Soldiers in Army basic training are subject to rigid time constraints. Every activity is carefully planned, from eating to sleeping, and each day is scheduled according to training requirements. Basic training days generally begin around 4 a.m. and end by 9 p.m.; however, there are rare exceptions.

1 Wake-Up

Soldiers in Army basic training usually wake by 4 a.m.

In the basic training schedule for an Army soldier, wake-up is generally around 4 a.m. Soldiers are given a limited time to conduct personal hygiene, make their beds and clean their living areas (usually between a half-hour and 45 minutes).

2 Eating

Military DFACs are cafeteria-type environments in which soldiers eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The basic training schedule for Army soldiers does not allow more than 10 minutes for breakfast. Soldiers wait in line outside a military dining facility (DFAC) and walk through a serving line to receive their food. Drill instructors are strict about the amount of time each soldier is given to eat, because they have to ensure the rest of the soldiers are fed within rigid time constraints.

3 Training

Basic training is nine weeks long, and drill sergeants have to ensure all soldiers in their care are properly trained. The Army mandates a certain number of hours for each subject, which must be reached in order to consider a soldier's training complete. After breakfast, soldiers train for at least three hours. They are released for lunch at a military dining facility (DFAC) or eat specially packaged meals (MREs) and resume training immediately. Afternoon training is conducted for at least five hours, and soldiers are released for dinner.

4 Lights Out and Fire Guard

At lights out, all soldiers must be in their bunks and properly accounted for.

Lights out is generally between 7:30 and 9 p.m. Because of the rigorous training taking place during daylight hours, most soldiers are eager to get to bed. Every soldier is required to take a one- to two-hour guard shift (scheduled by the bay leader or drill instructor) during the night. Depending on the number of soldiers in the bay, this may occur every night or once every two nights. Soldiers on nighttime guard shifts are referred to as "fire guard," and are responsible for ensuring other soldiers stay in their bunks and are accounted for during their entire shift.

5 Field Exercises

Field training exercises (FTXs) are exceptions to the basic training schedule for an Army soldier. During FTXs, soldiers eat, sleep and train in a field environment, living in tents and eating pre-packaged meals. Soldiers are awakened at varying times and sleep whenever possible; so much training takes place during FTXs that a regular schedule is impossible.

6 Other Exceptions

During Army basic training, Sundays are reserved for soldiers to attend the church service of their choice.

On Sundays, the basic training schedule for an Army soldier is different. Little or no formal training is conducted on Sunday, and soldiers are free to attend the church service of their choice if they desire. Soldiers who are not actively attending church or choose not to participate in church services are kept busy cleaning their living areas, latrines and common areas.

7 Misconceptions

During Army basic training, drill sergeants are only required by the Army to ensure soldiers get four hours of sleep per night. According to Army regulations, the sleep does not have to be in a four-hour block; it can be spaced out in 15-minute increments should the drill sergeant choose.

A professional writer since 1994, Eva Talent was trained as a journalist by the U.S. Army. She received two Army Commendation Medals and an Army Achievement Medal for journalistic excellence. Her press releases are frequently featured on the websites of the Department of Defense and the Army. Talent holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Michigan.