How Long is Army Basic Training

Before you embark on your Soldier career, you’ll want to get to know the Army a little better, and how to prepare yourself, and your family and friends for the journey. Regardless of how soon you or your recruit ships-out to Army basic training (also referred to as Basic Combat Training), Sandboxx is here to help you through out the entire journey.

Basic Combat Training (BCT) is a training course that transforms civilians into Soldiers. Over the course of 10-16 weeks depending on your military occupational specialty (MOS), recruits will learn basic tactical and survival skills, along with how to shoot, rappel, and march. They will also learn the basics of Army life and military customs – including the Army Values.

The Army has four different locations where BCT takes place:

  1. Fort Jackson
  2. Fort Sill
  3. Fort Benning
  4. Fort Leonard Wood

Regardless of what location you go to for BCT, each training location will have the same training schedule and qualifications to meet in order to graduate as a Soldier in the United States Military.

Your recruiter should also provide you with a list of what you can and must bring, and what you cannot. As with all military boot camps, tobacco products are forbidden. So, if you smoke or chew, now would be a good time to quit.

Army basic training
U.S. Army drill sergeant at Fort Jackson instructs a recruit as he high crawls during a training exercise on the team live-fire range(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jeremiah Woods)

Army basic training is physically intense. If you are not physically active, you’ll want to start preparing yourself. Also, your arms will thank you if you take some time before shipping out to memorize the Army officer and enlisted ranks, phonetic alphabet, Army General Orders, Soldiers Creed, and Army Values.

A quick side-note: Get ready for a lot of acronyms. Each branch of the military has their unique way of identifying programs, weapons, tactics, and pretty much anything else that you can imagine turning into one.

The typical day in BCT start 0500 hours – you got to get up very early in able to do more before noon then most people do all day – and lights out at 2100 hours.

Army basic training
New U.S. Army soldiers in basic combat training wait for further in-processing after receiving their initial haircuts at Fort Jackson, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Micky M. Bazaldua)

Army Basic Training: Red Phase

The first three weeks of BCT are considered the Red Phase. Recruits arrive for general orientation and are given haircuts and issued Army uniforms. During BCT Red Phase, recruits will learn about the Army heritage, command structures, their leadership, and undergo an Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) – to help determine their physical aptitude. The APFT will not only be routinely administered throughout BCT, but their military career.

Upon the completion of Reception Week, recruits begin training and participating in field exercises while learning the importance of teamwork and leadership – key components in the Army Values. In this phase the Army ensures every recruit is physically and mentally prepared.

If you haven’t already heard, recruits have the opportunity to experience the Gas Chamber during this phase. Parents, don’t be alarmed, this is a controlled training environment – part of the Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) program.

Army Basic Training: White Phase

The White Phase is the second of three BCT phases. Recruits go through marksmanship and combat training, execute a tactical foot march, learn engagement skills and how to rappel at the Warrior Tower, overcome the Confidence Obstacle Course, and conduct situational and field training exercises. This training is intended to not only to teach recruits valuable skills, but also to instill confidence.

Army Basic Training: Blue Phase

During the Blue Phase, recruits will become familiar with the use of automatic weapons and hand grenades during weapons training – specifically, the .50 Caliber Browning M2, M136 (anti-tank) AT-4, 7.62 Caliber M240B Machine Gun, and 5.56 Caliber M249 (squad automatic weapon (SAW)) Machine Gun.

Lastly, recruits will put all of their training to the test – as they negotiate Field Training Exercises (FTX), Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training, and nighttime combat operations in the Night Infiltration Course. There is no access to the dining facility (DFAC) during these exercises, so meals are given in the form of either meal ready to eat (MRE) or field chow.

Some BCT companies conduct their FTX over a period of days, where the Drill Sergeants will allow recruits to exercise primary decision-making, and join in simulated combat scenarios, with intense competition to prove their particular company is the better trained.

Army basic training
A new Soldier hugs her mother at the conclusion of the Basic Training ceremony for “Family Day” at Ft. Jackson, SC. (US Army photo by D. Myles Cullen)

After passing all their tests and challenges, recruits congregate for the Rite of Passage. Army basic training has pushed the recruits’ minds and bodies to new limits, giving them a deeper respect for themselves and those around them. Now, the time has come to celebrate their efforts and the strength they’ve gained. Graduation is the day that families and friends gather to watch recruits transition from citizens to Soldiers.

There is a lot to look forward to as you begin to prepare for BCT and as you can tell there will be many challenges to come. One of the best ways to help keep your recruit motivated through out training and to help them be successful is to send Letters. Mail call is one of the most anticipated times of the day. Sandboxx makes it easy to stay connected to your recruit by sending Letters from your phone. To learn more read How does my Sandboxx Letter get delivered.



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4 thoughts

  1. You got the calibers wrong when talking about the weapons they will shoot. It’s not .762 but 7.62 & it’s not .556 but 5.56.

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