My husband, an E-5 in the Army at the time, spent two months training for BNOC at Ft Gordon in GA from the end of July to mid Sept. He said that in the past the course was nicknamed BeerNOC. However, when he went through the training it was anything but easy. I was lucky enough to be able to join him during that time (we rented an apartment for us to stay about 20 minutes from he base) since as newlyweds we wanted to spend as much time as possible together.
During the day he attended classes in various computer rooms on base where instructors mostly taught off computer slide shows. The class wasn’t too engaging. There were on-line mini workshops that he had to view and answer questions as home work. In addition, his class had to develop and a complete a community service project on the weekend (They cleaned up the children’s park and raised money for new lawn mowers for BNOC).
Soldiers are given a test about once a week. If you fail the first test than you are ask to attend a tutorial session to study for a retake. In addition, soldiers rotated the responsibility of platoon stg., etc (my husband said that it was better in his opinion to volunteer in the beginning for an assignment than take it on later during the course.)
The unfortunate part of BNOC was outside the classroom setting. My husband was made to complete a lot of mowing, sometimes cutting the same grass three days in a row after their 4:30 PM dismissal time. It was difficult to plan dinner when he had to sit around to wait for the mowing of grass to be cut in 90 degree weather.
When soldiers in the barracks didn’t clean their bedrooms to Army Code then everyone, even those that passed inspection, had to strip the floors and wax them. What made this even worse was that the Army didn’t even have enough supplies to wax all the floors they wanted to see completed (they expected for the soldiers to buy the products). As well, when they made like 30 guys stay to mow the lawn they only had one working mower and that was because a solider brought it from his own home.
When my husband learned about the 2nd week that he didn’t have to do this extra yard work if he handed in his keys to the barrack room he gladly gave them back to the Army. In addition, they lost my husbands request for a weekend pass and changed the time off (unfortunately, my husband and other soldiers bought tickets that had to be changed.) During the last week of BNOC soldiers practiced for their graduation ceremony.
My husband said that the Army is trying to change the reputation of the BNOC training down to it’s name. I just felt that they weren’t treating our soldiers with the proper respect they deserve as men and woman that have gone through 2, 3, or even 4 deployments to Iraq. I felt that BNOC shouldn’t have felt like boot camp. I hope they find a happy medium soon.
If your spouse isn’t tired from mowing lawns than on the weekend you can find some things to do. If you are creative and have a car you can see some interesting things. While we were at Ft. Gordon we visited the Downtown area on a Friday Night and it was so lively. There were street performance (Fire performers, bands, clubs, neat shops, etc.) as well as hot little clubs/coffee houses. We visited some great restaurants downtown (one named after a cotton bug that is famous for their big and tasty deserts), visited to all five museums, and walked along the historical water walkway. In addition, we saw a movie at a theater for only 3 dollars a ticket! In addition, there is a spooky Swamp that we visited if you are into that sort of thing.
My advice for those leaving to BNOC at Ft. Gordon is: If you can, rent a small place to avoid the excessive mowing assignments. We rented a one-bedroom from a cooperative apartment agency, where they furnish apartments for you to rent for a week, month to 6 months. If that is out of your price range there is a 1-800 Value Place hotel that has rooms with a stove, microwave, and Fridge but you have to bring your own cookware. The Value Place isn’t the Ritz but its great if you are on a budget and it is literally two minutes off base.
There is also on base lodging however, if you are joining your spouse you can’t reside in them for long periods of time. Also, buy cream for red ant bites because your spouse will get bit sometime during PT. I would encourage spouses to attend the Graduation Ceremony with a camera because it does make you feel proud to see your man shine. Wives should dress casual cute, babies in strollers are welcomed as well as grandparents. The whole Ceremony was about 40 minutes, you are given a nice program as a memento, and your husband receives certificates for completing the course.
I hope this helps answer some questions about the BNOC experience from an Army Wife’s perspective.