Army Basic Training Overview

Please note: Basic training has now been extended to 10 weeks. You can read about that here.

This week by week information is adapted from the Guide for New Soldiers and Their Families, which is published by the U.S. Army.

The first stop for Army basic combat training is at reception. This can last for a few days or possibly even a few weeks. Many Army soldiers describe this phase as incredibly boring. For the sake of your soldier, hope that he moves quickly from reception to BCT.

During the first few weeks of BCT, he is under what is referred to as “total control.” In this phase, he will have very little free time, his showers and meals will be timed, and he will have little contact with his family outside of mail. After he makes it successfully through the first few weeks, he will begin to earn privileges – to shower for more than two minutes, to earn passes for a few hours or for the majority of a day, to earn phone privileges and his food choices will be expanded. His freedoms will continue to expand as long as he does well. Keep in mind that privileges for the entire company can be taken away with the mistake of ONE person in the company.

Please keep in mind, this is only a guide. Training can be adapted or changed as needed as far as the schedule is concerned by your soldier’s drill sergeant.

During week one, he will:

§         Be introduced to the seven core Army values

§         Take his first APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test)

§         Learn how to march

§         Learn how to prepare his barracks

§         Practice Drill and Ceremony

§         Learn Special and General Orders

§         Learn the Military Justice System

§         Learn how to disassemble, reassemble, clean and sight his M-16A2 rifle

During week two, he will:

§         Learn unarmed combat skills

§         Learn first aid

§         Learn map reading and navigation

§         Rappel from a 30 foot platform (Victory Tower)

§         Learn the Army value of Loyalty and the importance of teamwork

§         Learn how to set up a tent for a bivouac

During week three, he will:

§         Be introduced to the bayonet and basic bayonet movements

§         Become more familiar with his M16A2 rifle as he practices basic marksmanship

§         Learn to defend himself from chemical attack

§         Continue to improve his fitness through physical training

§         Learn the Army value of Duty

During week four, you will:

§         Learn to respect his fellow soldiers and their accomplishments as a team

§         Continue to practice basic rifle marksmanship

§         Learn multiple target detection

§         Take his second APFT

§         Learn the Army value of Respect

During week five, he will:

§         Qualify on his M-16A2 rifle (earn Marksman, Shooter or Expert badge)

§         Learn the Army value of Selfless Service

§         Learn how soldiers have continuously given of themselves throughout the U.S. Army’s history

During week six, he will:

§         Take his third APFT

§         Become familiar with a variety of U.S. weapons

§         Learn tactical movements techniques

§         Participate in a defensive live-fire exercise

§         Learn the Army value of Honor

During week seven, he will:

§         Take his final APFT

§         Learn the Army value of Integrity

§         Take the confidence course

During week eight, he will:

§         Learn the final Army value of Personal Courage

§         Participate in the Warrior Field Training Exercise (FTX)

During week nine, you will:

§         Prepare for graduation

Of course, along with all of this training, he will also be subject to lots of “smoking.” This is simply where the drill sergeant (DS) makes him do a variety of physical training exercises if he messes up or if someone in his company does. This can range from running to push-ups to flutter kicks. Sometimes his smoking is short and sometimes it can *seem* to last for hours. But it is all a part of making them physically and emotionally prepared for what lies ahead of them.

He may also have to do push-ups to receive his mail. Trust me when I say, he will gladly do push-ups to get his mail. Don’t short him on letters so he can avoid push-ups. He will end up doing them any way for some other reason, the DS will make sure of that. At least this way he gets a reward (your letter!) when he is done.

One final note, I have received emails from many wives and moms who are overly concerned when their soldier is participating in FTX. There is no need for any more concern during these few days than during any other part of their training. As my husband told me, FTX was like a camping trip. That’s not to say it wasn’t demanding but it is not any more so than other parts of his training.

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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  1. Stacey, thank you SO much for all these amazing articles. my FH is going into the army in the next few months and everything you’ve written is just so helpful!!

  2. Hi, My Boyfriend is leaving for basic training today Aug 7th. You have said Basic training is 9 weeks long? Isn’t it 3 months?

  3. Hi! My husband is wanting to join the Army. We have three kids together and want to be with my husband as soon as possible on base. Is it after basic training that we would possibly get housing or after AIT? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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