U.S. Army Boot Camp

US Army Boot Camp is where a civilian recruit is transformed into a US Army Soldier. Army Basic Training has evolved and today’s training is specialized to best prepare you for the eventual deployment into the combat zone.

You’ll spend the best nine weeks of your life learning what it means to be a soldier in the US Army. And when it’s over, you’ll discover some amazing things. Your mind will be sharper, your body will be lean and hard, and you’ll be more confident than you’ve ever been before. US Army Basic Training only lasts 9 weeks – but you will remember those 9 tough weeks the rest of your life! Today’s recruit will immediately move on to advanced level training such as Airborne School, Advanced Infantry School, or even Ranger School, then begin preparing for the first deployment to the combat zone. Training is highly specialized such that the soldier is best prepared for the rigors of Iraq and Afghanistan.

You’ll be asked to do a lot during Army Basic. But you’ll never be asked to do anything you can’t do. If you work hard and listen to your instructors, you shouldn’t have a problem. Remember, literally millions of soldiers have come before you and many of them didn’t think they could get through Basic. The vast majority of them did. And chances are, so will you. Remember, the last easy day was yesterday!

Basic Training starts early and with a bang – you will arrive at your Boot Camp base and be issued your personal gear and uniform items. Then, you will turn in all of your personal “contraband items” and in process to include a full assortment of vaccinations. You will quickly assemble your gear in your open-bay barracks – your new home for the next nine weeks. Now is when the Drill Sergeants will get in your face and give you some personal mentoring as you progress through the daily regimen of training, briefings, physical training, and drill and ceremonies.

A Day in the Life of a Basic Training Private

Your days in Basic Training are very repetitive. You begin bright and early at around 0500 and quickly make your bed, tidy up your personal area, brush your teeth, shave, and other personal hygiene. Following that, you meet with the rest of your squad and divide the cleaning duties and other tasks given to you. Then you are off to your first formation of the day with your rifle in hand. Your Drill Sergeant calls roll at formation and your platoon marches out to do morning physical training (PT).

You will normally start off by running some warm up laps followed by stretches and calesthentics led by your Drill Sergeant. Next, you will return to your barracks and change into the approved uniform of the day. Save time by squaring away your uniforms ahead of time and have them ready to be thrown on at a moments notice – your Drill Sergeant will likely give you but a few minutes to change into a new uniform. Oh, by the way, don’t leave the barracks a mess – tidy up as you go.

Back in formation, you will march as a platoon to the mess hall for breakfast. You will be under tight time constraints to get your entire company into the mess hall (one platoon at a time) and fed, then back out again. It may result in only about 7-8 minutes per platoon to eat. It’s all about time management – even while you are eating.

Back to the CQ you march after you are done eating. Your Drill Sergeant will now brief you on the rest of the day’s activities.

This is when you will be divided into smaller groups to accomplish different training objectives. These include marksmanship, drill and ceremonies, briefings, and a multitude of other important classes and lessons.

You will continue to train throughout the day eventually marching back to the mess hall for dinner around 1900. Following supper you will have your final formation of the day where the NCOIC takes final roll call and lets you know what to expect for the next day and what gear and uniforms are expected to be used. You will finally be released back to your barracks where you divide up the remainder of the night before lights out to clean your bay, write letters home, and try to relax.

Before lights out, you will need to secure your rifle, perform more personal hygiene. During the night you will also be permitted to do your laundry and take showers. And the whole routine begins again early the next morning!

Army Basic Training Video

The mission of the Training Brigade is to conduct Basic Combat Training to Training and Doctrine Command standards for initial entry training Army soldiers who are then prepared for advanced individual training. This is done by training the soldiers in many basic combat skills. These skills include basic rifle marksmanship, hand grenade qualification, physical training, training in a field environment, and a variety of common task skills.

The Training Brigade primarily trains combat service support military occupational specialties. Some of these are medical, military intelligence, communications, transportation and supply specialties.

The rigors of Basic Training include intense competition between different companies in the BCT on all manners of topics including bayonet course, obstacle course, and APFT scores. By winning certain events or scoring top times, your company will earn streamers to hang from its guidon.

Your days will be dominated by physical events such as road marches with heavily laden packs, intense calisthenics exercise periods (usually doled out as a disciplinary action), and a whole lot of running. Your training will continue to progress to include topics such as military chain of command, the use of military radios, combat life saver (first aid, buddy care), and marksmanship. To further your infantryman core skill sets, you will spend a lot of time perfecting your land navigation skills – this means navigating a land route using nothing more than a compass, a map, and timing.


Army Basic Combat TrainingNot only will you learn the basics of how to look and act like a soldier, you will slowly but surely become a soldier. You will become physically fit, self-confident and willing and able to tackle anything that comes your way! You will become intimately familiar with your assigned M16A4 rifle and everything it does, as well as fire a machine gun, a grenade launcher and a host of other weapons in the US Army arsenal. You will learn to become quick on your feet by participating in hand to hand combat and a bayonet assault course. You will learn how to be quick mentally and overcome your fear by tackling challenging obstacles, some over 40 feet high! You will gain confidence in your equipment by entering the gas chamber. Mentally, your brain will be challenged every day with new skills and tasks, inducting you into “the Army of one”. Lastly, you’ll make lifelong friends who can share in the trials and tribulations of army basic training and join the life-long club of being a basic training graduate…certainly something to be proud of!

Daily Training Schedule

5 a.m. – Wake up
5:30 a.m. – Physical Training
6:30 a.m. – Breakfast
8:30 a.m. – Training
Noon – Lunch
1 p.m. – Training
5 p.m. – Dinner
6 p.m. – Drill Sergeant Time
8:30 p.m. – Personal Time
9:30 p.m. – Lights Out
Are you motivated? Learn about Army Special Forces.
Got What it takes? Check out the Special Forces Qualification Course
Deploying soon? Check out our Afghanistan Gear List and prepare for your deployment in
support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Search Your Army Records

Looking for historical information such as old class photos or rosters of your Basic Training class? Have questions about your previous Army units or want access to past records? Try our comprehensive military records search resource.

Character is the foundation for all you will do as a soldier and all you can become. Throughout your training, you’ll learn the Seven Army Values:

  • Loyalty
  • Duty
  • Respect
  • Selfless Service
  • Honor
  • Integrity
  • Personal Courage

These values form the basis of your soldier character and they sustain a soldier in times of both peace and conflict. You’ll study Army ethics, standards of conduct, human awareness, race relations, and prevention of sexual harassment.

While at Army Basic Training, trainees receive nine weeks of Army Training where they learn to become soldiers. This training is divided into three, three-week phases.

Upon arrival, trainees receive their army haircuts and are issued uniforms and gear. This phase orients the trainees and teaches them soldierization skills, including the Army Core Values, military customs and courtesies, along with drill and ceremony. You will be responsible for a host of tactical gear including: ACH (Kevlar Helmet), IBA (Individual Body Armor), LBV (Load Bearing Vest), Ruck Sack, Knee and Elbow Pads, Eye Pro (Shooting Glasses), Canteens and Sleep Systems (Sleeping Bags). You will have to maintain, store, clean, and ensure this gear is serviceable throughout your training.
Additionally, during the Red Phase, you will learn about Army heritage, the 7 Army Core Values, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The Red Phase involves vigorous physical activity including 2 and 4-mile road marches, Conditioning and Confidence Obstacle Courses, rappelling from the confidence tower, and hand to hand combat. You will also receive an introduction to your rifle, the M-16A4 and how to field strip and re-assemble your weapon. You will learn the basics of land navigation – reading maps, navigating with a compass, and orienteering while marching to an objective. You will also spend time solving problems on the leadership reaction course (LRC). You will learn how to protect yourself during a nuclear, biological or chemical attack, how to identify unexploded ordinance after an attack, and you will even have a few lessons on improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The Drill and Ceremonies (D&C) training includes how to march, stay in-step, maneuver your squad of soldiers, and all the regular commands required of a military formation. Additionally, you will receive training on military customs and courtesies including how to salute and how to interact with and address superior NCOs and Officers.
The White Phase Introduces the new soldiers to basic marksmanship training. It is during this phase that the trainees learn to fire and qualify with their M-16 rifles. Trainees will learn how to zeroize thier rifle sights as well as shoot for tight groupings on the target. They also learn about the M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), and the M203 grenade launcher. It is also during this phase that the trainees learn hand grenade safety and qualification. Learn more about Special Operations Weapons.

During this phase the recruit gains more confidence through challenging training. You will learn field hygiene, field fire, and execute 4 and 6-mile road marches (complete with ruck sacks and laden with gear). Additionally, you will receive training during pugil stick fighting, and ground fighting techniques. You will spend a lot of time on the obstacle course, including at times in full “battle rattle” along with your heavy pack. You will learn the skills required for individual tactical training and patrol base operations. Now you are ready for the advanced training of Phase 3.

Is when the trainees learn more individual skills and prepare for the rigors of the night infiltration course test. Here is where you will pick up additional advanced weapons training including on the AT4 anti-tank weapon. You will also receive advanced rifle marksmanship training such as close quarters marksmanship, how to engage moving targets, reflexive fire, battle march and shoot, convoy operations, and moving under direct fire. You will continue to refine your marksmanship skills as well as your land navigation, individual tactical training, and rapelling tower skills.

You will be introduced to advanced topics such as rules of engagement, operational security, fire team training, convoy live fire, and squad tactical training.

This training is aimed at preparing the trainees for success when they reach their Advanced Individual Training (AIT) units, followed by their permanent party units.

To graduate from Basic Combat Training, soldiers must complete all training events during the nine week cycle. Some examples are:

  • Qualify with their M16A4 rifle
  • Pass their Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)
  • Qualify with hand grenades
  • Pass the End Of Cycle Test (EOCT)

The day before graduation, the Battalion Commander meets with soldiers’ family and friends and discuss your soldier’s Basic Combat Training experiences and answer questions. You will also meet the drill sergeants that trained your soldier and observe some soldier skill demonstrations. You will also, finally, get a chance to meet with your soldier and congratulate your soldier on having successfully completed 9 weeks of training!

How to Prepare for Army Basic Training

Get in shape! Make sure you show up to Boot Camp in excellent shape – make sure you can pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) and are able to run several miles at a good pace. Don’t stick out when you arrive at Boot Camp – don’t shave your head, don’t wear obnoxious military surplus clothing or fatigues, skip the combat boots, shave your face and make sure your hair is neat and combed when you arrive. Sticking out of the crowd will buy you some immediate extra attention from the Drill Sergeants!
Prepare yourself for the mental and emotional challenges – some of your company-mates will be away from their families for the first time ever.

If you have the time, try to memorize your three General Orders prior to arriving at Basic Training:

General Order Number 1 – “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.”
General Order Number 2 – “I will obey my special orders and perform all of my duties in a military manner.”
General Order Number 3 – “I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions to the commander of the relief.”

Next, if you have the time, memorize the Army officer and enlisted rank structure. Obviously, you want to make sure you know who is an officer and who is enlisted or an NCO (don’t get caught calling your Drill Sergeant “sir”!) Next, learn all the different rank insignia so that you can identify the ranks when worn on a uniform. Refer to the official US Army website to study the symbols and insignia.
Arrive with a good attitude and a desire to learn and be trained. Your Drill Sergeants will give you impossible tasks in improbable time frames all while harassing you – understand that it is all part of military training and the stress you encounter in Basic Training is nothing compared to what you will encounter in Iraq, Afghanistan, or other battlefields abroad.

Lastly, you can prepare by reading the best Basic Training guidebooks available:

The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook

This book will prepare a recruit, mentally and physically, for basic training in the U.S. Army. It offers practical and unique solutions to challenges encountered by new recruits. Inside you’ll find an 8-week fitness program specifically designed to improve your fitness test scores, study guides, an instructional “How to…” chapter, a list of what to bring (and not to bring) to basic training, tips for success, and much more. For those entering the Army don’t miss Sgt. Michael Volkin’s The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook: Tips, Tricks, And Tactics For Surviving Boot Camp: it covers the ‘new world’ of the military – new to novices entering the forces, that is – and covers everything from exercises and acronyms to what to take along to basic training. With The Ultimate Basic Training Handbook in hand, you’ll know everything possible about the gas chamber, locker inspections, meals, schedules and more.

This book pretty much tells you everything you need to know to prepare for Basic Training. There are a couple other books out there but they don’t offer a fitness program like this one. The fitness program really whips you into shape too. Also, the book has a helpful packing list which includes EVERYTHING you need to bring to basic training, down to the last pair of socks. I highly recommend this book for anyone entering any branch of the military.

This is a good resource for information about basic training. Like the author, prior to finding this book, I searched everywhere for information. And, like him, I found a few blogs where people recorded what they could remember of their personal experiences, but that was about it. This is the first example I have found of a source that has input from many people, gathered over a serious amount of time. After reading it, I definitely learned things I did not know after months of searching, and I found answers to some specific questions I had. This was well worth the money. You will not regret purchasing it.

The Basic Training Workbook

I bought this book directly from the author after reading his Guidebook to help me prepare for boot camp. It was definitely worth it. There’s lots of real helpful info in both books, and the Workbook had a lot of extra content, like the multiple choice questions and things on the author’s website. (There are icons in the book so you know when to jump on to the author’s website for extra info, video clips, photos, etc.). There is a small problem with some of the flashcards in the book. The words don’t match up correctly on the front and back when cut out. An obvious printing error, and not the author’s fault. I was not going to cut out the phonetic alphabet cards anyway, so I just used index cards and made my own. If you want to use the cards in the book, I guess you could just write the answer on them. No big deal and it does not detract from all the great info inside this book. Mandatory reading, no exception.

Army Physical Fitness

You need to report to basic training in the best physical condition possible. To ensure that you are, start a physical training (PT) program at least two or three months before reporting to Fort Leonard Wood. Whatever you do, don’t charge into a PT program with your eyes closed. Make sure you do not try to push yourself too far, too fast. This page and its related links are a good starting point for your PT program. Before you start a PT program, see if your recruiter will give you this quick test. Do as many pushup and sit-up that you can in two minutes. Divide the total number by three. You will use these amounts for your muscular strength and endurance (MSE) days. Time yourself over a 2 mile course. Divide this time by eight, and subtract four seconds this gives your 1/4 mile run time. For your rest period (walking), double your work time. These times you will use on your cardio respiratory (CR) days by going to a track and running 1 fast lap followed by 1 slow lap. Every other day just go out for a nice slow jog for an extended distance. You will use these as starting points in your PT program. Train now and get fit – check out the Army Special Forces Workout to prepare you for basic training.

Push-up and Sit-up Improvement

Your MSE program should be done every other day. A good rule of thumb is Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On your MSE days you can include a short slow run as part of your warm-up exercise, just make sure that your main effort is on MSE. You can set up any order to doing your exercises, just do not start off to fast. A good starting point is to use the number you came up with when you divided your test score as the number of repetitions for one set. Do three sets of both the push-ups and sit-ups with a 30 second to one minute break between sets. After one week you should add three to four reps to each set. Continue working this way until you have added 20 reps to each set. Once you have added 20 reps, take the test over and start over with your new amounts.
More techniques to help you improve push ups.


Your Cardio Respiratory program should be run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Use the times from your two mile run for your sprint day program (Thursday). On sprint days, you run 1/4 mile in the time you calculated from your two mile run, then you walk 1/4 mile in your rest period time. Start out doing four sets of sprints and work your way up to doing eight sets. Once you are able to do eight sets in your 1/4 mile time, retest yourself over the same two mile course. Start over again using the new time. On your other two run days you need to run between one and three miles at the same pace that your ran your two mile test. As you improve you’ll be able to increase your distance and lessen the time.

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