Preparing for Air Force Basic Training

If you’ve made your commitment to enlisting in the United States Air Force you have successfully taken the first step to becoming an Airmen. The journey to becoming a United States Airmen will begin at Basic Military Training (BMT) on Lackland Air Force Base. To help you be the most successful trainee at BMT we’ve compiled a list of the top things you should know to help prepare you for Air Force Basic Training:

  1. Rank Structure
  2. Reporting Statement
  3. Airman’s Creed
  4. BMT Chain of Command
  5. Air Force Song
  6. Air Force Core Values
  7. Military Time
  8. Military Salute

Read below to learn exactly what you need to know about each item and our Sandboxx Tips on how to memorize these topics in order to help you prepare for Air Force Basic Training.

AF_Download Sandboxx_Text_short.png

1. Air Force Rank Structure

As you’ll quickly learn, every person in the military has a rank. While at BMT you will be considered a Trainee. A military rank will identify what level of leadership an individual is at. Upon graduating for BMT you will be ranked as an Airman Basic. Knowing what your rank is will not be important during BMT, but knowing everyone else’s rank and what the ranking structure is will be.

Enlisted Ranking

Pay Grade Title Insignia Spoken Description
E-1 Airman Basic (AB) No Insignia No Description
E-2 Airman (AMN)  Airforce-E2-Airman Chevron of one stripe.
E-3 Airman First Class (A1C)  Airforce-E3-Airman First Class Chevron of two stripes
E-4 Senior Arman (SrA) Airforce-E4-Senior Airman Chevron of three stripes with a silver star in the center.
E-5 Staff Sergeant (SSgt)  Airforce-E5-Staff Sergeant Chevron of four stripes with a silver star in the center.
E-6 Technical Sergeant (TSgt)  Airforce-E6-Technical Sergeant Chevron of five stripes with a silver star in the center.
E-7 Master Sergeant (MSgt) Airforce-E7-Master Sergeant Chevron of six stripes, with one inverted and a silver star in the center
E-7 First Sergeant (1stSgt)  Airforce-E7-First Master Sergeant Chevron of six stripes with one inverted, a diamond and silver star in the center
E-8 Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt)  Airforce-E8-Senior Master Sergeant Chevron of seven stripes with two inverted and a silver star in the center
E-8 First Sergeant (1stSgt)  Airforce-E8-First Senior Master Sergeant Chevron of seven stripes with two inverted, a diamond and silver star in the center
E-9 Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) Airforce-E9-Chief Master Sergeant Chevron of eight stripes with three inverted and a silver star in the center
E-9 First Sergeant (1stSgt)  Airforce-E9-First Chief Master Sergeant Chevron of eight stripes with three inverted, a diamond and silver star in the center
E-9 Command Chief Master Sergeant (CCM) Airforce-E9-Command Chief Master Sergeant Chevron of eight stripes with three inverted, a silver star in the center
E-9 Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (CMSAF)  Airforce-E9-Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Chevron of eight stripes with three inverted with the eagle from the Great Seal of the United States centered between two five-pointed stars

Officer Ranking

Pay Grade Title Insignia Spoken Description
O-1 SECOND LIEUTENANT (2LT)  2nd LT One Gold Bar
O-2 FIRST LIEUTENANT (1LT)  1st LT One Silver Bar
O-3 CAPTAIN (CPT)  captain Two Silver Bars
O-4 MAJOR (MAJ)  major Gold Oak Leaf
O-5 LIEUTENANT COLONEL (LTC)  ltc Silver Oak Leaf
O-6 COLONEL (COL)  col Silver Spread Eagle
O-8 MAJOR GENERAL (MG)  mg Two 5 Point Stars
O-9 LIEUTENANT GENERAL (LTG)  ltg Three 5 Point Stars
O-10 GENERAL (GEN)  general Four 5 Point Stars

Memorizing the rank structure before going to basic will help you be able to focus on all of the other material you will learn at BMT.

Sandboxx Tip: Make flash cards with the rankings on them.

2. Your Reporting Statement

Through out your career as an Airman you will be called upon to report to a “superior”. During basic training your superior will be your Military Training Instructor (MTI). Anytime that you are spoken to by an MTI you will want to respond first with your reporting statement. Your reporting statement will always be:

“Sir/Ma’am, trainee (last name) reports as ordered.”

Remember that your reporting statement should always be the first words to come out of your mouth during basic training. While giving your reporting statement you will also want to make sure that you are at the position of attention.

This text is enclosed in a box.

Sandboxx Tip: Practice with a friend or family member. Have a family member periodically ask you to report when you least expect it.

3. Airman’s Creed

I am an American Airman.
I am a warrior.
I have answered my nation’s call.

I am an American Airman.
My mission is to fly, fight and win.
I am faithful to a proud heritage,
A tradition of honor
And a legacy of valor.

I am an American Airman:
Guardian of freedom and justice,
My nation’s sword and shield,
Its sentry and avenger.
I defend my country with my life.

I am an American Airman:
Wingman, leader, warrior.
I will never leave an Airman behind.
I will never falter,
And I will not fail.

Sandboxx Tip: Memorize one paragraph at a time. Practice it along with this video. 

4. BMT Chain of Command

President of the United States
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of the Air Force
Chief of Staff
Air Education and Training Command
Commander, 37 Training Wing
Vice Commander, 37 Training Wing
Commander, 737 Training Group
Vice Commander, 737 Training Group
Squadron Commander
First Sergeant
Training Superintendent
Team Chief (your head Military Training Instructor)
Instructor Team (your Military Training Instructor)

Sandboxx Tip: Draw out the chain of command in a diagram. It’s often easier to remember and learn when you can visualize the actual structure of the command.

5. Air Force Song

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun.
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder.
At ‘em boys, give ’er the gun!
Down we dive spouting our flame from under,
Off with one hell of a roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame.
Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!

Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder,
Send it high into the blue.
Hands of men blasted the world asunder,
How they lived God only knew! (God only knew!)
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings, ever to soar!
With scouts before and bombers galore,
Nothing’ll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Here’s a toast to the host
Of those who love the vastness of the sky.
To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old
Then down we roar to score the rainbow’s pot of gold,
A toast to the host of men we boast, the U.S. Air Force!

Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true.
If you’d live to be a gray-haired wonder,
Keep the nose out of the blue!
Flying men guarding the nation’s border,
We’ll be there followed by more!
In echelon we carry on.
Nothing will stop the U.S. Air Force!

Sandboxx Tip: Focus on getting the first paragraph memorized. You will have time during BMT to get to the rest, don’t overwhelm yourself.

6. Air Force Core Values

An Airman is a person of integrity, courage and conviction. They must be willing to control their impulses and exercise courage, honesty and accountability in order to do what is right even when no one is looking.

An Airman’s professional duties take precedence over personal desires. Every Airman is expected to have the discipline to follow rules, exhibit self-control and possess respect for the beliefs, authority and worth of others.

An Airman strives for continual improvement in self and service in order to propel the Air Force further and to achieve greater accomplishment and performance for themselves and their community.

Sandboxx Tip: Make flashcards with these core values and what they mean. Practice them with your rank structure flash cards.

7. Military Time

While in the military you will ALWAYS refer to time on a 24 hour clock. This means you will no longer have a 5pm rather a 17:00. Military time may seem confusing but is an easy adjustment.

Learn how to Tell Military Time so you can start practicing before you get to BMT.

Sandboxx Tip: Change the time on your phone to a 24 hour clock so that you can start to get familiar with military time.

8. Performing the military salute

To salute, raise the right hand up the center line of the body. Form a straight line from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. Tilt palm slightly toward the face and keep it flat with the thumb along the forefinger. Upper arm is slightly forward and parallel to the ground. Tip of the middle finger touches the appropriate contact point.

Sandboxx Tip: Practice saluting in the mirror. Practice makes perfect and you’ll be able to see and correct your form. 

Whether you have a few weeks or months before you ship to BMT it is never too early or late to start preparing for Air Force Basic Training. You will be challenged mentally and physically, but putting in the effort to learn these now will help you be more successful when you arrive and begin your journey to becoming a United States Airman.

While at Air Force Basic Training you’ll quickly learn that mail call is the best time of the day. Receiving mail will be the best morale boost while you are at training. Have your friends and family sign up for Sandboxx so that they can send you Letters and support your throughout your training. Create your account on Sandboxx now and invite them to sign up.

AF_Download Sandboxx_Text.jpg


Author: Nicole at Sandboxx

The daughter of a United States Marine, I grew up with a passion and love for our troops, which led me to pursue a career in a field where I could give back to the military community. In my free time you can find me spending time with my significant other who is currently an Officer in the Marine Corps.

5 thoughts

    1. Hey Bruce about 15 to 20 percent of all trainees will be recycled throughout basic training. If a trainee fails the final PT they will most likely be recycled. An Air Force Recruiter would also be a great resource to ask as well.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.