The process of transforming civilians into soldiers, sailors, marines or airmen has been described by military historian Gwynne Dyer as a form of conditioning in which inductees are encouraged to partially submerge their individuality for the good of their unit. Dyer argues that this conditioning is essential for military function because combat requires people to endure stress and perform actions which are simply not present in normal life.
The nature and extent of this conditioning varies from one military service, and one nation, to another. Some systems of training seek to totally break down the individual and remold that person to the desired behavior. Other systems attempt to change the individual to suit the organization, whilst retaining key elements of the recruit's personality. The differences between the two approaches are often subtle.
Standard uniforms are issued and recruits typically have their hair cut or shaved in order to meet grooming standards and make their appearance as uniform as possible. The haircut is one method intended to increase cohesion. Recruits are generally given a service number. A significant part of basic training is psychological. The reasoning seems to be that if a recruit cannot be relied upon to obey orders and follow instructions in routine matters--be they folding one's clothing, standing at attention, paying proper attention to hygiene--it is unlikely that he or she will be reliable in a combat situation, where there may be a strong urge to disobey orders or flee. The recruit who cannot work as part of a team (the unit) and comply with the routine tasks of basic training, therefore, is more likely to place him/herself, comrades, and the mission in jeopardy. The training regularly includes physical fitness, and instruction in military courtesy, tradition, history, and uniform care and wear.
Recruits are typically instructed in "drill": to stand, march, and respond to orders in an unquestioning manner. Historically, drills are derived from 18th-century military tactics in which soldiers in a fire line performed precise and coordinated movements to load and fire muskets. Although these particular tactics are now obsolete for the most part, drilling performs a psychological function by inculcating the response to commands and training the recruit to act unhesitatingly in the face of real combat situations. Learning drill commands also enables the modern infantry soldier to maintain proper position relative to his peers and thus maintain the shape of his or her formation (arrowhead, line abreast, etc) whilst moving over uneven terrain. Drill can also serve a role in leadership training. Combat situations include not only commands to engage and put one's life in danger, but also commands to disengage when military necessity so demands. This conditioning, which ideally results in instant response to commands, is essential for military function, because without it, a military unit would likely disintegrate under the stress of combat and degenerate into a mere armed mob. According to Finnish Army regulations, the close-order drill serves four functions:
A criticism of drill is that it is a fairly inefficient method of training, based on behavioristic method, which does not enable the subjects to learn anything by heuristics, and can be used only to instill very simple and trivial things, like series of movements, therefore consuming resources from combat and weapons training.
Recruits are usually subjected to rigorous physical training, both to prepare for the demands of combat and to weed out the less able or insufficiently motivated. This also builds morale and provides a sense of accomplishment for the remaining recruits who have met the physical requirements.
Army and Marine recruits are nearly always trained in basic marksmanship with individually-assigned weapons, field maintenance of weapons, hand-to-hand combat, physical fitness training, first aid, and basic survival techniques. Navy and Coast Guard training usually focuses on water survival training, physical fitness, basic seamanship, and skills such as shipboard firefighting, basic engineering, and signals. Air force training usually includes physical fitness training, military and classroom instructions, as well as field training in basic marksmanship, first aid, and protective equipment usage.
Most of the recruit training in the Australian Army is currently held at Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) at Kapooka, near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. Recruit training is 80 days long for members of the Australian Regular Army and 28 days long for members of the Australian Army Reserve. In basic training recruits are taught drill, weapons and workplace safety, basic equipment maintenance, marksmanship, fieldcraft, radio use and defensive/offensive ops.
The Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force were unified into one service, the Canadian Forces in 1968. The Canadian Forces Training System, a unified system for all the services, was devised and remains in place today. Most non-commissioned CF recruits in the Regular Force (full time) are trained at Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Regular Force officers complete their Basic Officer Training and Initial Assessment Phases at CFLRS as well, before moving on to Second Language Training and their occupational training. After basic training, personnel are trained in the specialty of their "environment". Members of the Maritime Branch undergo a five week sea environment training course and members of the Land Forces Command undergo a 20 day Soldier Qualification course.
Reservists, particularly the Army Reserve, may conduct basic and trades training part-time, generally alternating weekends. Due to increased integration of the Regular and Reserve Force, many reservists attend courses hosted by the Regular Force. Members of the Army Reserves complete an 8 week BMQ/SQ course (Basic Military Qualification and Soldier Qualification) during the summer. The Naval and Air Reserve jointly conduct BMQ for its recruits at the Naval Reserve Training Division Borden equivalent to Regular Force BMQ, at Canadian Forces Base Borden. The Navy trains its personnel in seamanship, firefighting, damage control and other skills after BMQ, in the Naval Environmental Training Program (NETP) in either Esquimalt or Halifax.
Individuals desiring to become officers must apply to be trained at a facility in the Negev desert called "Bahad One" (abbreviation of "Basis Hadracha", Instruction Base). They must abide by a Code of Conduct and can be dismissed at anytime for failing to abide by that Code, which includes failure to pick up a piece of paper on the ground or failing to offer a seat on a bus to an elderly individual.
Enlisted Men undertake training at the Regimental Center of their chosen regiment.
Some services present a badge or other award to denote completion of recruit training. The United States Army typically issues the Army Service Ribbon (issued after completion of Advanced Individual Training), and the United States Air Force presents the Air Force Training Ribbon and the Airman's Coin. The United States Marine Corps issue the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor once initial training is complete to signify that the recruits are now Marines. The United States Navy replaces the "RECRUIT" ball cap the recruits have worn throughout training with the "NAVY" ball cap upon successful completion of "Battle Stations".
For honor graduates of basic training, both the Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force present a Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon. The Navy and Marine Corps often meritoriously advance the top graduates of each division one pay-grade (up to a maximum of E-3).
Recruit training for United States Coast Guard is held at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May, New Jersey. The training lasts for 8 weeks. U.S. Coast Guard is unique in that it fires the Sig Sauer P229R pistol during the training. The training also covers basic seamenship, drill, and firefighting. Although the USCG is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard is fully a military service, USCG personnel are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and "Coastie" boot camp is just as "military" as the other U.S. services, though there is an additional emphasis on maritime law enforcement. During their time at TRACEN Cape May, the recruits are subjected to the usual "boot camp" atmosphere of yelling and motivation. The recruits are designated as Seamen recruits (SR). They must adhere to strict rules such as hygiene and uniform regulations and obey all lawful orders. Coast Guard drill instructors are called "Company Commanders."
After completing boot camp, recruits can select their rate and then attend an "A" school. "A" school is a long-term technical school providing specific instruction about a rate. The "A" schools last 2 to 5 months. Some rates receive apprenticeship training instead of attending an "A" school.
It was announced in Feb. of 2006 that an additional 2 weeks of BMT will be added. The additional time will be used for "warfighting skills" that would be encountered in a deployed location.
As of Sept. 2007, Air Force basic training is still conducted in 6-1/2 weeks. The additional 2 weeks is to be added to the program on November 1, 2008. The training will be 8-1/2 weeks long and has been tailored to incorporate some of the additional warfighting skills within the current program.
In the Army, the location where a recruit is sent for Basic Training depends on his or her chosen Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS, which is selected upon enlistment.
Basic training is divided into two parts, which commonly take place at two different locations, depending on the chosen MOS:
The U.S. Army has five sites for BCT:
Basic Combat Training is divided into three phases. During Phase I, (Also known as "Red Phase") recruits are subject to "Total Control," meaning their every action is monitored and constantly corrected by drill sergeants. The first week of training is commonly referred to as "Hell Week," due to the intense period of adjustment required on the part of the new recruits. Marches are common throughout basic training. Recruits are sent to the "gas chamber" during Phase I, as part of training for defensive chemical warfare. They are also introduced to their standard-issue weapon, the M16A2 assault rifle.
Phase II (Also known as "White Phase") is where soldiers begin actually firing weapons, starting with the assault rifle (M16A2). Other weapons the recruit becomes familiarized with include various grenades (such as the M67 fragmentation grenade) and grenade launchers (such as the M203). Recruits are then familiarized with the bayonet, anti-tank/armor weaponry and other heavy weapons. There is also an obstacle course which the soldiers are expected to negotiate in a certain amount of time. Additionally, there is continual, intense PT, as well as drill and ceremony training. At the conclusion of Phase II, soldiers are expected to demonstrate proficiency with the various weaponry in which they trained.
Phase III "Blue Phase" is the culmination and the most challenging of all the training phases. During the first week, there is a final PT test. Recruits that fail are frequently retested, often up until the morning of their cycle's graduation. If they do not pass they are recycled to another platoon until they meet the fitness standards. The final PT Test is the Standard Army Physical Fitness Test. A minimum of 150 points is required to pass US Army Basic Training. During this phase, the recruits move on to longer and more intensive "Bivouac" (camping) and FTX (Field Training Exercises), such as nighttime combat operations. Drill sergeants will make much of this an adversarial process, working against the recruits in many of the night operations, trying to foil plans, etc.
United States Marine Corps Recruit Depots are located at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. All female enlisted Marines go to Parris Island. Men go to either, depending on whether they were recruited east or west of the Mississippi River. The Marine Corps' 13-week long recruit training is the longest in United States Armed Services.
Marine Corps Recruit Training is divided up into three five-week phases and further broken down to individual training days. While there are 69 training days, recruits also go through pre and post training processing. Phase one mainly consists of learning recruit life protocol, PT, MCMAP training, academic classes, Pugil stick fights, first aid training, initial drill, a series inspection, and the confidence course. Phase two is completely in the field for west coast recruits, with half of the time is spent on marksmanship training on the rifle range, the other half with field week and the crucible where skills such as patrolling with squads and fire teams, land navigation, the gas chamber, and more. For East coast recruits, phase two is swim qualification, rifle qualification, and Team Week, a week of maintenance duties for the island as a sort of relative break from training. Phase three brings the San Diego recruits back to the recruit depot where they finish up with swim qualification, final drill, final inspection, more PT and confidence courses, and graduation. Parris Island recruits finish with field training, final drill and inspection, the Crucible, and graduation. Note that recruits going to either depot receive the exact same training, if in a different order.
Recruit training for Marines is a 12-week long program, and is followed by infantry training which is mandatory for Marines of all military occupational specialties (MOS) at the Schools Of Infantry located at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (for Parris Island graduates) and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California (for San Diego graduates). Marines with an Infantry MOS (03XX) are assigned to Infantry Training Battalion (ITB) companies A-D for two months of training. Marines with non-infantry MOS designations go to Marine Combat Training Battalion (MCT) companies E-H for 3 weeks of training. ITB and MCT are both run by the School Of Infantry, but MCT is a more generalized form of training whereas ITB is longer and MOS-specific. After graduation from the School of Infantry, Marines who have a non-infantry MOS will continue on to yet another school for training in their specific job field. Infantry Marines will normally proceed directly to their fleet unit.
The U.S. Navy currently operates boot camp at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, located at Naval Station Great Lakes, near North Chicago, Illinois. Instead of having Drill Sergeants or Drill Instructors like other U.S. Military branches, the U.S. Navy has RDC's (Recruit Division Commanders) that are assigned to each division. Training lasts approximately eight weeks (although some recruits will spend as many as nine weeks in training due to the somewhat complicated processing cycle). Days are counted by a system that lists the week and day that they are on, for example 7-3 for week 7 day 3. The first approximate week is counted P-1, P-2, etc. which denotes that it is a processing day and does not count as part of their 8 week training period. Recruits are instructed on military drill, basic seamanship, basic shipboard damage control, firefighting, familiarization with the M9 pistol and Mossberg 500 shotgun (the Navy no longer gives instruction on the M-16 in boot camp), pass the confidence chamber (tear gas filled chamber), PT, and the basic essentials on Navy life. Recruits also attend many classes throughout boot camp on subjects such as Equal Opportunity, Sexual Assault Victim Intervention, Uniformed Code Of Military Justice, Recognition of naval aircraft and vessels, and more. In order for recruits to pass boot camp, they will be physically and mentally tested on a 12 hour exercise called Battle Stations which consists of 12 different scenarios consisting of firefighting, first aid knowledge, survival at sea, mass casualties, bomb detection and many other skills that they have been learning in the past 7 weeks. After completion of boot camp, freshly minted Sailors are sent either to various "A" Schools located across the United States, where they begin training to receive their ratings (jobs) or to apprenticeship training, where they then enter the fleet without a designation.
The Navy formerly operated Recruit Training Centers in San Diego, California, Orlando, Florida and Port Deposit (Bainbridge), Maryland. As of 2007, only RTC Great Lakes is currently in operation with no plans to open new training centers or re-open past training centers.
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