A Basic Account of Army Basic Training a.k.a. BOOT CAMP
Basic Training Graduation
The first day of Basic Training is defintely something to remember. I was lucky, and I came in with the general knowledge of what to expect. It's a personality trait of mine that can only be described as an insatiable hunger to learn, and that included my need to learn about what I had gotten myself into. It also helped that my fiancé remembered Basic Training so vividly as well, so naturally I pummeled him full of questions. All of this just to say that I wasn't as shocked as everyone else, but it was still very different.
Right away in my initial point in training was a lot of push ups, muscle failure, and yelling. It's all a part of the "soldierization process" that takes you from civilian to U.S. Soldier. Fortunately for me, I exercised before I joined and my body wasn't as shocked with the training as it would have been. Unfortunately, many of my fellow trainees were not as ready for the muscle failure and the yelling.
Everything was different than life before the training. You lived in one big room with lockers along the length of the walls and bunks branching away from the lockers. In the very middle of the room, the floor was a polished black rectangle that no one was allowed to step on, it was only for Drill Sergeants and Officers. We all got in trouble and did more muscle failure training because one female stepped on the black part of the floor. About 60 trainees were crammed into this room, with only a handful of toilets that broke one by one.
Basic Training is difficult because of the people you live with and their actions. This is why: In this initial point in training, for three months, when a battle buddy did something wrong everyone got punished for it. No exceptions- unless the Drill Sergeant decided to allow the misfit to stand and watch while the rest of us were smoked*.
The training itself isn't difficult at this stage, it's the conditions we had to endure in order to go through the training. Early wakeups were expected and even the "fireguard" we had to do during the night. Fireguard meant that there were a certain amount of people awake for a certain amount of time doing certain chores and guarding the entrance to the room. The amount of people and the amount of time depended on good behavior. If someone was selfish and they wouldn't wake up for fireguard, then the next night half of the 60 would be on fireguard for 2 hours and then the next half would wake up for the other 2 hours and so on. It's mandatory by law that we must get at least four hours of sleep, but no one said that it had to be four complete hours of sleep. An hour of sleep here and an hour of sleep there, just as long as it added up to four hours, it was all good.
Right away after wakeup was the run. We ran 2 1/2 miles every day on all sorts of terrain. After the run, everyone had 15-30 minutes to clean the room, the bathroom, and change into the Army Combat Uniform (ACU's). Next was the 30 minute (minimum) wait for breakfast. Once we sat down to eat, we had exactly five minutes to shovel everything down and get out of there.
You can imagine the shock everyone was feeling as we were herded from one place to another. With the shouting and yelling as our music.
*Smoked- it's our Army term for a lot of mandatory physical exertion whether it be pushups, killers, the plank, or any other torture device said to make pain in the guise of physical exercise. Duration of a smoking is up to the person giving the smoking. Interminable.
Just "Yes Drill Sergeant!" and Bear it
Basic Training is pretty much just do what you're told and do your job well. Whether you are mucking out the bathroom stalls at 2 a.m. or doing some really Hooah training, you must always do your job efficiently and correctly. Basic Training is not the time to mess around. Do what you need to do and get out of there. The fastest way out of Basic Training is to hold out until graduation day.
There will be more military training. After Basic there is your Advanced Individual Training (AIT) which is tied to your MOS (job) learning. Depending on your job, AIT will be either really psycho or a lot like college but with physical exercise and training. So get through Basic Training successfully and you may just have a life afterwards!
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