Recruit training

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(Redirected from Boot camp)
U.S. Army recruits learn about bayonet fighting skills in an infantry Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
U.S. Army recruits learn about bayonet fighting skills in an infantry Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Recruit training is the initial indoctrination and instruction given to new military personnel, typically in the enlisted ranks.



The process has been described by Canadian 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 to another. Some systems of training seek to totally break down the individual and remold that person to the desired behaviour. 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 may have their heads shaved in order to make their appearance as uniform as possible. The haircut is one method intended to increase cohesion. Recruits are generally given a service number. Even some military personnel have said training is a mildly traumatic experience intended to produce a bond by shared experience.

The training regularly includes physical fitness, and instruction in military courtesy, tradition, history, and uniform care and wear.

Training topics

Recruits are 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 weapons. Although these tactics are now obsolete, 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, it can also serve a role in leadership training. This includes not only commands to engage in combat in which the soldier is putting his life in danger, but also commands to disengage when military necessity demands. Most military commentators say that this condititioning is essential for military function, because without it, a military unit would likely disintegrate under the stress of combat, becoming merely an armed mob.

Recruits are usually subjected to rigorous physical training, both to prepare for the demands of combat and to weed out the less able or motivated. This also builds morale for the remaining recruits who have met the physical requirements.

Army and Marine recruits are trained in basic marksmanship with regularly assigned weapons, field maintenance of weapons, hand-to-hand combat, first aid, protective equipment usage, and basic survival techiques. Navy training focuses on basic seamanship, and skills such as firefighting, basic engineering, and signals. Air Force training includes physical fitness training, military instructions, academics, and field training.

United States

Some services present a badge or other award to denote completion of recruit training. The United States Army typically issues the Army Service Ribbon, and the United States Air Force presents the Air Force Training Ribbon. The United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard do not follow this practice.

For honor graduates of basic training, both the Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force present a Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon.

Air Force

The U.S. Air Force’s Basic Military Training (BMT) is six-and-a-half-weeks long and is conducted at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. During BMT, personnel are referred to as trainees until they have completed Warrior Week during their fifth week of training, after which they are referred to as Airmen. Trainees receive military instruction (including the Air Force core values, flight and individual drill, and living area inspections), academic classes (covering topics such as Air Force history, dress and appearance, military customs and courtesies, ethics, security, and alcohol/drug abuse prevention and treatment), and field training (including protection against biological and chemical attack, basic marksmanship on the M-16 rifle, and first aid). Following BMT, airmen go to a technical school (or “tech school”) where they learn the specifics of their Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC, which is similar to the Army and Marine’s MOS).


The U.S. Army has five sites for basic training:

In the Army, the location recruits are sent to depends on their MOS which they select when they enlist. Female Army recruits go to Fort Leonard Wood, or Fort Jackson, which have gender-integrated training. The follow-up training, called “AIT,” for “Advanced Individual Training,” is usually in another portion of the base.

With some MOSes, the Army has a group of recruits with the same MOS go through the two training phases together as a unit with the same cadre of instructors. This is called “OSUT,” for “One Station Unit Training.” For example, the infantry MOS entails nine weeks of basic training, followed by four weeks of infantry training. A similar program is followed for cavalry scouts and field artillery.

Marine Corps

U.S. Marine boot camps are 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.

Basic training for Marines is 13-week long program, which is followed by infantry training which is mandatory for Marines of all military occupational specialties (MOS). This follow-on schooling is conducted at the Schools Of Infantry located at Camp Geiger, North Carolina (for Parris Island graduates) and Camp Pendleton, California (for San Diego graduates). 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.


The U. S. Navy currently conducts its basic training at NS Great Lakes, near North Chicago, IL. However, it had centers at San Diego, CA, and Orlando, FL. Advanced training, called A School, is conducted at several other bases, including NAS Pensacola, and NS Groton, depending on the sailor's Rating.


  1. USAREC (2003). US Army DEP Guide: Army Terminology ( United States Army Recruiting Command. Fort Knox, KY (USA).

See also


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