The Changes to Basic Training

It always seems as though no matter when someone went through a school, that was the last hard year. Basic training stories of trudging through water up to the neck, ruck marching almost 100 miles, and having to do it with a 120 pound ruck are everywhere. Things get interesting when the Army decides to make basic training longer, more challenging, and introduces more tests to succeed.

Just a few months back, the military added additional requirements for graduating basic training. These included new tests and brought back some of the older ones. Changes included bringing back the wear and use of camouflage, combatives and Pugil stick fighting; more land navigation and in smaller groups; and rifle marksmanship in the same equipment that FORSCOM units are required to wear.

Some of these changes included the goal of segregating what gets taught at the first assignment, and what gets taught at basic training. Each unit is likely to have its own established SOPs, and therefore the basic training can focus on foundational training to prepare a soldier to learn the next level. This allows the basic training instructors to dedicate more time to the basics such as physical training and marksmanship, and less time to classes such as ‘interactions with news media, growing professionally and personally; and what is culture.’

BasicNew changes that are being discussed are to increase the time at basic training from the current 10-week model in order to add more elements to training. In the current model, the trainees attend a three-phase process known as red, white, and blue phases. The first two last three weeks, with the last being four weeks long. Extending basic training allows instructors to require that trainees test out of each phase, accomplish additional drills, conduct peer evaluations, and if necessary, recycle trainees.

The advantages to this seem obvious. When a soldier shows up at their first unit, the expectations are that the soldier can meet the basic requirements of the military, and that they are malleable and ready to learn. More time spent training means more foundation building, which means better prepared soldiers in the long-run. It is important to remember that more time training is always better, especially if training is done to standards.

As the military continues to decrease in size, the branches are looking more and more for higher quality service members. While this will require more out of the volunteers, it should be seen as an opportunity to consistently improve and grow. Trainees should continue to strive to better themselves physically and mentally for their next duty station, and ensure that they are displaying the maturity as well. Everything from additional testing to the peer process will challenge new soldiers as they are initiated into the military lifestyle.

Basic training instructors and planners are taking the opportunities to ensure that these trainees are as prepared as possible. This process of increasingly challenging them will only benefit the military as a whole and one can only hope that these future soldiers become better as a result of it.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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5 thoughts on “The Changes to Basic Training

  1. My wife and I are currently stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO where she is a BCT Company CDR. I am a National Guardsman and I work on post dealing with Trainees daily. I wholeheartedly endorse increasing training time and focusing on the basics- discipline, professionalism, Soldier skills. In my experience, both with the younger Joes in my units and the Trainees I work with daily, these are all sorely lacking. This sounds like a great improvement and I will be glad when this new POI goes into effect and we start seeing the results of it.

  2. Never really understood why any branch lowered their requirements and the length of time in basic skills. The payback later is immeasurable.

  3. I agree. We need quality Soldier’s joining the ranks and I decided to take action in accomplishing it. I recently graduated from The United States Army Drill Sergeant Academy. In my opinion, even though the Army has gone to a soft training technique I believe it’s a positive because it forces leaders to think unconventionally. It builds interpersonal communication skills and as a whole this is what is required to shape the culture and ultimately the future of the best military in the world.

    Good read from this article. I’m going to add, that a couple sentences were confusing to read initially because the phrasing is a little off. For example, “The first two last three weeks, with the last being four weeks long.” First portion of that sentence “last” made me believe both portions were last. Overall, I enjoyed it, Sir.

  4. If they want to cut the numbers, how about giving the Drills the power to dismiss a recruit from training for failure to pass what ever test they are given. EOD is required to achieve scores of 85 and above and are usually given no more than 2 chances to pass each test and there are about 60-70 tests over the period of a year. If you fail twice on the same test, chances are you’re gone. And an instructor doesn’t even have to fail you on academics. If they wholeheartedly believe you’re not fit for the job, you’re out and on to another MOS. So, why not allow the Drills to do the same? Many MOS’s are already in precision reenlistment due to the draw-down and cannot handle new recruits. EOD is one of them.

  5. When I was in the Army Basic Training was 8 weeks, and that seemed sufficient. As time passed, this was increased to 9 weeks, and then 10. Now even that isn’t enough. What will be enough? I suspect if basic were to be increased to 48 weeks, that still wouldn’t be enough, for those always demanding an increase in the length of Basic Training.

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