Training is the process of preparing men and women for their careers in the military. Training is progressive and continues all the way through an individual’s career; being a mixture of mandatory, optional, individual and collective training and educational programmes.
The purpose of the US Army’s initial training is to turn civilian recruits into fully-trained soldiers by inculcating recruits with the values, standards and ethos of the Army, and to provide them with the skills, knowledge and qualifications required for their specific job/role.
This initial training is known as Initial Entry Training (IET) and is divided into two phases, although a number of IET programmes have been streamlined into a new combined training programme.
The responsibility for this initial training lies with the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) with actual training delivery conducted by a number of subordinate organisations located across the US mainland.
The US Army’s initial military training produces fit, motivated individuals capable of carrying out a variety of tasks in any operational environment. Those who successfully complete IET are fully prepared to embark on the next phase of their Army career.
This article is divided into seven sections for easier reading with part one providing some background information, whilst Section Two looks at the organisation of training in the US Army. Section Three outlines the Basic Combat Training syllabus, delivered at four sites, that is common to all recruit soldiers. Section Four highlights the two phases of Advanced Individual Training (AIT), whilst Section Five briefly outlines One Station Unit Training (OSUT). Section Six provides another perspective on initial training and Section Seven identifies some useful links and documents.
1.1 Initial Entry Training
Initial recruit training within the US Army is known by the term Initial Entry Training (IET) which encompasses two phases of training:
- Phase 1: Basic Combat Training (BCT): converts civilians into partly trained military personnel. Training programmes follow a common military syllabus (CMS) to ensure consistency across the board. This phase is ubiquitously known as ‘boot camp’. Redesigned in Summer 2018 (Cox, 2018a & 2018b).
- Phase 2: Advanced Individual Training (AIT): also known as special-to-arms and professional training which provides military personnel with the skills, knowledge and qualifications required for their specific job/role.
- Combined Phase 1 & 2: One Station Unit Training (OSUT): for a number of jobs/roles, phase 1 and 2 training has been streamlined into a combined training programme known as OSUT. This means the recruit will complete all of their IET at one location, rather than move on after BCT.
BCT is conducted at four locations within the US, whilst AIT is conducted at 26 locations.
- Initial Military Training (IMT): Term that encompasses all initial Army training including enlisted, warrant officer, and officer.
- Initial Entry Training (IET): Training presented to new enlistees with no prior military service. It includes BCT, AIT and OSUT.
- Basic Combat Training (BCT): Training in basic military subjects and fundamentals of basic combat skills, to all newly enlisted Active/Reserve personnel without prior service.
- Advanced Individual Training (AIT): Training given to enlisted personnel, after completion of BCT, to qualify for the award of a MOS.
- Military Occupational Specialty (MOS): An IET Soldier is considered MOS qualified upon successful completion of all BCT and AIT/OSUT requirements).
- One-Station Unit Training (OSUT): IET conducted at one location, in one unit, under the same cadre, with a Program of Instruction tailored to a specific MOS.
- Deputy Commanding General – Initial Military Training (DCG-IMT): establishes policies for the conduct of IMT; manages and assesses the IMT programme.
- Individual Training Record (ITR): Records the training/standards achieved by the Soldier).
- Mandatory Release Date (MRD): A predetermined release date that is part of the Reserve Component enlistment contract; established at the home station to allow students and seasonal employees to enter and complete BCT during IET).
- Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills (WTBD): Skills taught in BCT and the BCT portion of OSUT to train Soldiers how to survive in combat.
2.0 Training Hierarchy
This section provides an overview of the training hierarchy from the perspective of initial training for enlisted personnel.
2.1 Commander, Training and Doctrine Command
The Commander of Training and Doctrine is the head of TRADOC; one of three commands that report directly to the Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA). The Commander, a General (OF-9), is responsible for ensuring that sufficient men and women of the right quality are recruited, trained and educated to meet the needs of the service.
2.2 Training and Doctrine Command
TRADOC was created on 01 July 1973 under General William E. DePuy. TRADOC is responsible for recruiting and training the Army’s soldiers; developing leaders; supporting training in units; developing doctrine; establishing standards; and building the future Army. As such TRADOC operations can be divided into four inter-related functions:
- Recruit and train soldiers, and support unit training;
- Developing adaptive leaders, both soldier and civilian;
- Guiding the Army through doctrine; and
- Shaping the Army by building and integrating formations, capabilities and materiel.
The TRADOC headquarters is based at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and has six major subordinate centres and commands:
- Army Capabilities Integration Centre, based at Fort Eustis;
- Combined Arms Centre, based at Fort Leavenworth;
- US Army Centre for Initial Military Training, based at Fort Eustis;
- Combined Arms Support Command, based at Fort Lee;
- US Army Recruiting Command [LINK], based at Fort Knox; and
- US Army Cadet Command, based at Fort Knox.
Recruiting is carried out across the US and overseas through 1200+ recruiting centres, and individual training is conducted at 32 schools (organised within eight Centres of Excellence (COE)). TRADOC facilities approximately 80,000 new hires each year, 500,000 students and interacts with 1.1 million customers.
2.3 US Army Centre for Initial Military Training
As part of TRADOC, the US Army Centre for Initial Military Training (USACIMT) is responsible for all initial training within the US Army. USACIMT is headquartered at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Where a soldier conducts their initial training will depend on their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) (i.e. the job/role they have signed up to).
The USACIMT is an umbrella organisation encompassing a number of schools and centres which are configured into training battalions and brigades (discussed in the following sections) and outlined in the following document.
Therefore, the purpose of the USACIMT is to instil the skills, knowledge, and attributes required for soldiers to contribute to their first units of assignment.
2.4 Key Training Personalities
- Cadre (1): Cadre are all military, permanent party members or civilian personnel that command, supervise, instruct, train, or directly support IET Soldiers. Some examples include: Executive Officers; S1-S4, S6 and any assistants; Supply Sergeant/Specialists; Training NCO/Specialist/Technicians; Human Resource Sergeant/Specialists; Motor Vehicle Operator/Armorers; Chaplain or EO Assistants; Legal or Security Sergeants/Clerks; and Instructors Cadre support the brigades, battalions, and companies in creating and maintaining a positive IET environment that assists with the transformation from civilian to Soldier.
- Cadre (2): are responsible for the planning, resource management, teaching, and unit administration of various courses in IET. Cadre are required to maintain their MOS and training proficiency.
- Brigade: Provide guidance and mentoring on BCT/AIT/OSUT to an average of five subordinate battalions. Responsible for all aspects of training and leadership techniques of soldiers to ensure they are prepared for war and peacetime operations.
- Battalion: Provide guidance and mentoring to a battalion level staff and around five subordinate companies. The Battalion Commander implements policies and standards of the performance, training, appearance, and conduct of enlisted personnel.
- Company: Responsible for discipline, training standards, and morale of all soldiers and cadre. Prioritises unit resources including time, equipment, money, and facilities to accomplish assigned missions and necessary training of soldiers.
- Command Sergeant Major (CSM): The CSM advises and initiates recommendations to the commander and staff in matters pertaining to the local Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) support channel.
- First Sergeant (1SG): Serves as the principal NCO in the company. Trains and supervises Drill/Platoon Sergeants, responsible for professional development of the NCOs and enlisted soldiers; represents the Executive Officer and Commander in their absence.
- Drill Sergeant (DS): The Drill Sergeant in an Initial Entry Training environment is responsible for the welfare, training, and discipline of BCT Soldiers. Plans and conducts training in Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, physical conditioning, react to man-to-man contact, individual and small unit tactics, first aid, inspections, and basic rifle marksmanship. Responsible for producing physically fit, disciplined, tactically and technically proficient soldiers.
- AIT Platoon Sergeant (PSG): Platoon Sergeants in an Advanced Individual Training environment are responsible for the welfare and discipline of AIT soldiers. They plan and conduct the movement of soldiers to and from learning locations, in addition to conducting tactical training in the evenings and weekends. Responsible for training soldiers to be physically fit, disciplined, and MOS proficient. Although instructors teach much of the MOS material, AIT Platoon Sergeants must refine the teaching and help Soldiers learn.
3.0 Basic Combat Training
The purpose of Basic Combat Training (BCT) is to convert civilians into partly trained soldiers and is delivered at four locations across the US mainland:
- Fort Benning, Georgia;
- Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri;
- Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and
- Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Regardless of training programme (BCT/AIT or OSUT) all recruit soldiers will follow a common military syllabus during their basic combat training. In the US military training system, a training programme is known as a programme of instruction (initial training) or POI. Within BCT there are three distinct stages:
- Stage 1: Reception (or in-processing), typically 3 ½ days.
- Stage 2: Three phase basic training programme.
- Red Phase: Weeks 1-3
- White Phase: Weeks 4-6
- Blue Phase: Weeks 7-9
- Stage 3: Graduation (Week 10).
“Basic training is being increased from 14 to 22 weeks.” (The Economist, 2019, p.19).
In the Summer of 2018, BCT was redesigned with the intention of building “….more discipline after many commanders complained that new soldiers often show up to their first units with a sloppy appearance and undisciplined attitudes.” (Cox, 2018a). As of June 2018, there is no mention of extending BCT beyond 10-weeks (Cox, 2018b).
The redesign placed more emphasis on:
- Drill and ceremony;
- Pride in military history;
- Physical fitness;
- Communications; and
- First aid skills.
The new programme of instruction (POI) will also feature three new field training exercises (known as Hammer, Anvil, and Forge) that place a greater emphasis on forcing recruits to demonstrate Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, the list of key skills all soldiers are taught to survive in combat:
- Weapons qualification: Recruits will be required to qualify with backup iron sights instead of just on close-combat optic sights.
- Physical Fitness Standards: Score at least 60 points on all three events of the APFT instead of 50 points on each as a graduation standard.
- Combatives Training: 33 hours, up from 22.
- First Aid: Increased amount of tactical combat casualty care training such as basic combat lifesaver.
However, the hand grenade qualification and land navigation course qualification have been removed as graduation requirements – training time has not been reduced.
The final FTX, Forge, is a culminating FTX and is a graduation requirement; lasting 81-hours with 40-miles of tactical road marching that is conducted through a series of tactical events and mini FTX’s.
It will also include a night infiltration course and a medical evacuation mass casualty exercise. There will be ethical dilemmas soldiers have to negotiate as well as:
- A battle march and shoot;
- A resupply mission which involves moving supplies, ammo, water to a link-up point;
- Patrol base activities;
- Combat patrols; and
- An obstacle course.
3.1 US Army Values
During training all soldiers will be inculcated with the US Army’s seven values (spelling LDRSHIP):
- Loyalty (leaders who demonstrate loyalty):
- Bear true faith and allegiance in the correct order to the Constitution, the Army, and the organisation.
- Observe higher headquarters’ priorities.
- Work within the system without manipulating it for personal gain.
- Duty (leaders who demonstrate devotion to duty):
- Fulfil obligations – professional, legal, and moral.
- Carry out mission requirements.
- Meet professional standards.
- Set the example.
- Comply with policies and directives.
- Continually pursue excellence.
- Respect (leaders who demonstrate respect):
- Treat people as they should be treated.
- Create a climate of fairness and equal opportunity.
- Are discreet and tactful when correcting or questioning others.
- Show concern for and make an effort to check on the safety and well-being of others.
- Are courteous.
- Don’t take advantage of positions of authority.
- Selfless Service (leaders who demonstrate selfless service):
- Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and subordinates before their own.
- Sustain team morale.
- Share subordinates’ hardships.
- Give credit for success to others and accept responsibility for failure themselves.
- Honour (leaders who demonstrate honour):
- Live up to Army values.
- Don’t lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those actions by others.
- Integrity (leaders who demonstrate integrity):
- Do what is right legally and morally.
- Possess high personal moral standards.
- Are honest in word and deed.
- Show consistently good moral judgment and behaviour.
- Put being right ahead of being popular.
- Personal Courage (leaders who demonstrate personal courage):
- Show physical and moral bravery.
- Take responsibility for decisions and actions.
- Accept responsibility for mistakes and shortcomings.
3.2 Outline of Training Day
Table 1, below, provides an example outline of a typical Monday to Saturday training day (especially during the Red or Black Phases of training).
|0550||First formation of the day|
3.3 Fort Benning
From 1940 to 2005 Fort Knox served as the Home of Armour before moving to Fort Benning as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission’s decision to consolidate a number of schools and installations to create the “Centres of Excellence” concept. Fort Benning has been the Home of the Infantry since 1918.
Currently, the Manoeuvre Centre of Excellence (MCOE) is commanded by a Major General (OF-7), with a Brigadier General (OF-6) as deputy. The MCOE encompasses the Infantry School and Armour School which are both commanded by Brigadier Generals, with Fort Benning itself commanded by a Colonel (OF-5). Fort Benning delivers BCT, AIT and OSUT training.
Figure 2 provides an overview of IET within the MCOE.
Figure 2: Overview of IET within the MCOE
- The 30th Adjutant General Reception Battalion: receives, processes and ships newly arrived soldiers to training (typically 7-14 days); rehabilitates injured Soldiers and returns to training; and separates Soldiers who do not meet Army standards while providing the best first impression of the US Army. View [00,09d – 30th AG Reception Battalion, 3-Day Processing Schedule] for an outline of the first few days as a recruit.
- The 194th Armoured Brigade: conducts:
- 198th Infantry Brigade: transforms civilians into disciplined Infantrymen who embody the Warrior Ethos in order to support an Army at war.
3.4 Fort Leonard Wood
Currently, the Manoeuvre Support Centre of Excellence (MSCOE) is commanded by a Major General (OF-7), with two Brigadier Generals (OF-6) as deputy. The MSCOE encompasses the Infantry School and Armour School which are both commanded by Brigadier Generals, with Fort Leonard Wood itself commanded by a Colonel (OF-5).
The MSCOE provides BCT, OSUT and AIT training for transportation (88M), engineering (?) and military police (MP) (31B/E) personnel via the training units identified in the MSCOE organisational chart above.
All recruits are processed by the 43rd Adjutant General Reception Battalion on arrival at the MSCOE.
3.5 Fort Sill
Fort Sill, located in Oklahoma, is the home of the Fires Centre of Excellence (FCOE) and is commanded by a Major General (OF-7). The FCOE is home to the Field Artillery School and the Air Defence Artillery School, commanded by a Colonel (OF-5) and Brigadier General (OF-6) respectively. The FCOE is also home to the electronic warfare branch. Fort Sill delivers BCT, AIT and OSUT training.
BCT for Field Artillery (FA) soldiers is conducted by the 434th Field Artillery Brigade, via four Battalions, with the 95th Adjutant General Battalion conducting reception or in-processing functions. AIT is provided by the 428th FA Brigade, via three Battalions, as outlined:
- MOS 13B: Cannon Crewmember (AIT is 5-weeks, 4-days).
- MOS 13D: Fire Control Systems Specialist (AIT is 7-weeks, 1-day).
- MOS 13F: Fire Support Specialist (AIT is 8-weeks, 4-days).
- MOS 13M: Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Crewmember (6-weeks).
- MOS 13P: MLRS Automated Tactical Data System Specialist (AIT is 6-weeks, 4-days).
- MOS 13R: Fire Finder RADAR Operator (AIT is 10-weeks).
- MOS 13T: Field Artillery Meteorological/Survey Crewmember (AIT is 10-weeks, 1-day).
Training for Air Defence Artillery (ADA) soldiers is conducted by the 30th ADA Brigade, with the 2-6 ADA Battalion providing training for C-RAM, Sentinel and Stinger/Avenger whilst the 3-6 ADA Battalion provides training for Patriot.
All soldiers, regardless of MOS will complete 10-weeks of BCT. AIT on the other hand is dependent on MOS as outlined:
- MOS 14E: Patriot Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer (AIT is 20-weeks).
- MOS 14G: Air Defence Battle Management System Operator (AIT is 16-weeks).
- MOS 14H: Air Defence Enhanced Early Warning System Operator (AIT is 11-weeks).
- MOS 14S: Air & Missile Defence (AMD) Crewmember (AIT is 10-weeks).
- MOS 14T: Patriot Launching Station Enhanced Operator/Maintainer (AIT is 13-weeks).
3.6 Fort Jackson
Fort Jackson is located within the city of Columbia, South Carolina, and encompasses 52,00 acres, and 53 ranges and field training sites in order to prepare soldiers for their future careers; providing both BCT and AIT training.
It is the US Army’s main production centre for BCT and is commanded by a Major General (OF-7). Fort Jackson trains approximately 50% of the Army’s BCT load and 60% of the women entering the Army, and as such has a throughput in excess of 36,000 BCT and 8,000 AIT soldiers every year.
It also supports a number of other training missions to include the United States Army Soldier Support Institute, Drill Sergeant School (which trains all active and reserve instructors), the United States Army Chaplain Centre and School, the Defence Academy for Credibility Assessment, and two AIT schools.
When a recruit first arrives at Fort Jackson for BCT they are assigned to the 120th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) where they complete their in-processing. On average, a recruit will stay with the Battalion for 7-10 days before being assigned to a BCT unit.
- 165th Infantry Brigade (encompassing: 1-34 Infantry Battalion; 3-34 Infantry Battalion; 2-39 Infantry Battalion; and 1-61 Infantry Battalion).
- 193rd Infantry Brigade (encompassing: 1-13 Infantry Battalion; 2-13 Infantry Battalion; 3-13 Infantry Battalion; 2-60 Infantry Battalion; and 3-60 Infantry Battalion). 193rd Infantry Brigade Welcome Guide.
- 171st Infantry Brigade (encompassing: 120th AG Battalion; and 187th Ordnance Battalion (trains apprentice-level Light Wheel Vehicle Mechanics (MOS 91B) in support of the Army’s maintenance mission)).
4.0 Advanced Individual Training
Advanced Individual Training (AIT) follows BCT and focuses on the job/role that soldiers will be doing during their career. As soldiers learn their specific jobs/roles, they continue to reinforce those skills learned in BCT. AIT courses vary in length from five weeks to over one year depending on their MOS. Although supervision varies more in AIT, soldiers still work long days and many weekends.
4.1 Black Phase
4.2 Gold Phase
5.0 One Station Unit Training
One Station Unit Training (OSUT) combines BCT and AIT in the same unit. OSUT is organised for certain MOSs such as Infantry, MP, Engineer and Armour. The transition from BCT to AIT is seamless, and graduations are celebrated at the end of OSUT. Again, hours are long and training is conducted on weekends.
6.0 Another Perspective: Training, Inspections and Parades
If you would like to read some interesting, if not thought-provoking, articles on military inspections, parades and basic training then view:
- Military Inspections: What’s The Point?: http://www.vexen.co.uk/military/inspections.html
- Army Basic Training: Weeding Out The Weak: http://www.vexen.co.uk/military/weeding_out_the_weak.html
- Military Drill: Its Theory and Purpose: http://www.vexen.co.uk/military/drill.html
7.0 Useful Links
Listed are some links which the reader may find useful:
- US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC): http://www.tradoc.army.mil
- US Army Centre for Initial Military Training (USACIMT): http://www.tradoc.army.mil/dcgimt/index.htm
- Army Training Network (ATN): http://atn.army.mil/
- Doctrine and Training Publications: http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/, a comprehensive online library providing access to hundreds of publications relating to the US Army, as well as training and doctrine.
- Fort Benning (Manoeuvre Centre of Excellence): http://www.benning.army.mil/
- Fort Leonard Wood (Manoeuvre Support Centre of Excellence): http://www.wood.army.mil/newweb/index.htm
- Fort Leonard Wood: From Civilian to Soldier (2010): http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1qn51/2010FORTLEONARDWOODT/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yudu.com%2Fitem%2Fdetails%2F272979%2F2010-FORT-LEONARD-WOOD-TRAINING-GUIDE
- Fort Sill (Fires Centre of Excellence): http://sill-www.army.mil/
- Fort Jackson (Army Training Centre): http://jackson.armylive.dodlive.mil/
- A very thorough document ‘Informed Choice? Armed Forces Recruitment Practice in the United Kingdom’ written by David Gee in 2007 and available from: http://www.informedchoice.org.uk/informedchoice/informedchoiceweb.pdf.
7.1 Useful Documents
- Soldier Training Publications (STP):
- STP 21-1-SMCT – Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Skills Level 1 (2014-04-14).
- STP 21-24-SMCT – Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Skills Level 2, 3, and 4 (2008-09-09).
- Jackson Journal: is a professional journal that provides a forum for original thought and discussion on all aspects of training and leadership as they pertain to Initial Entry Training.
Cox, M. (2018a) Low Recruit Discipline Prompts Army to Redesign Basic Training. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/02/09/low-discipline-new-soldiers-prompts-army-redesign-basic-training.html. [Accessed: 02 June, 2018].
Cox, M. (2018b) The Army wants to make basic training tougher to prepare its newest soldiers for a major conflict. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.businessinsider.com/army-wants-basic-training-tougher-2018-3?IR=T. [Accessed: 02 June, 2018].
The Economist. (2019) Bringing out the Big Guns. The Economist. 02 March 2019, pp.19-20.